March 1994 Home   Newsletters

April 1994

May 1994

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Vote Count Alert
Testimony before the State Legislature
Kakaako Makai Plan
Importance of Legislative Access (Jean Aoki)
Action Alert - Firearms Control Legislation
Action Alert - Public Access Legislation
Annual Meeting

President's Message

"Aloha" messages are always difficult to compose and this one is no exception. After eight years of writing messages for this publication, it still does not come easily. However as Astrid Monson and I discovered over the years, whenever possible, don't try to reinvent the wheel -- plagiarize from what you've written before and if it fits the bill, use it.

I found the following report I wrote on 10/23/91 that summarizes to some extent the direction that League took. The report follows.

In 1986, Honolulu League put into effect a long-range financial plan with the concurrence of the Board.

Initially we planned a deficit budget for 1987 by utilizing our savings account. Our plan included capital expenditures that would reduce future operating costs, such as the purchase of a $2,500 Xerox machine with which we could produce the Aloha voter, the roster, annual meeting booklets, in-house publications, and program services. Time proved us right -- because, though we have doubled the issues of the Voter distributed annually, put more pages into our roster and produced at least one multi-paged in-house publication annually, our costs for the above are negligible today, saving thousands of dollars.

We decided that we would shift our income production from funding-raising events-- and eventually, direct mailing -- and concentrate on vote counting, a proven income-producer. We discovered that fund-raising events and direct mailing cost the League more in time, effort and money than the net income produced. We concentrated on improving our vote count system and raising the fees from $3.50 to the present level' of $10 per hour per person. We are slowly moving into the flat fee rate per election to enable us to more accurately determine annual income.

The first year deficit was made up within a year and we slowly improved our financial standing. Our expenditures were kept to a minimum by our use of volunteer labor rather than paid professional services; and a stringent attitude on the use of money. The result was that our savings account increased, our revenues increased, and our expenditures decreased -- even with the addition of another room to the office, two more telephone numbers, and a donated FAX machine.

At the same time, we shifted our area of emphasis from heavy communication expenses to concentration on program services, Voter Services, and Citizen Education, because we felt this was what League was all about. Today, these areas are doubled and tripled in our budget -- although often we do not spend much of the budgeted amounts, and sometimes we spend much more.

We in Honolulu have found that one of the ways to get unsolicited contributions from members and the community is to get their attention -- to be visibly involved in important community issues. For example, in January of 1990, League received $6,500 in small contributions from hundreds of people in the community as well as Leaguers to pay for 2 1/2 page ads in the local papers over our battle with the City Council to retain the annual Development Plan review process. That effort we made to educate the public cost the League hours of time and support, but less than $200 in out of pocket expenses.

In May of the same year, we led a march down Kalakaua Ave in protest over the violations against the Waikiki Special Design District's height and density regulations at the International Market Place Convention Center project and called for long-range planning for Waikiki. We were donated a FAX machine as well as the costs of the signs we held. Even State League benefited when several members sent generous contributions in appreciation of our efforts.

The $500 donation received as seed money for our Xerox purchase, and the $2,000 we received last year were from organizations who agreed with us and appreciated the action we took on various issues. We must admit, however, that we did ask for the money.

The moral of this recitation is: 1) Have a plan of action; 2) Don't be afraid to use savings to implement the plan; 3) Tighten the purse-strings for administrative and operating costs; 4) Be willing to work for your money; 5) Find some important community issue and ACT ON IT; 6) Be VISIBLE in the community; 7) THEN ASK FOR MONEY.

The subsequent three years were filled with more of the same. We took arms against rail transit and the increase of the General Excise Tax to pay for it. We spent monies over budget to pay for advertisements and videos. We participated in picketing City Hall, wrote letters to the editor, gave viewpoints over the air, and appeared before the cameras whenever we could. Amazingly, we won. We opposed raising heights downtown, and lost. We accepted executive positions on-Vision for Waikiki 2020 working for a long range master plan for Waikiki and subsequently chaired the Vision for Hawaii 2020 to expand the long range planning concept to the entire island.

We worked on the Council's Transportation Task Force and came out with recommendations for alternatives to rail to address the transportation problems of Oahu.

We worked long and hard on amendments to the City Charter and bought a full page ad in the daily papers stating our recommendations for alternatives to rail to address the transportation problems of Oahu.

All this and more. Now we are embarking on untrod grounds when we present to our membership the concept of merging

the Honolulu and State Leagues. We recommend that all Leaguers consider this carefully. and come to the annual meeting prepared to discuss the pros and cons.

My thanks to all of you who have been so supporting and encouraging over the years. You have been family to me, and I enjoyed most of the moments.


Arlene Ellis

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