December 1996 Home   Newsletters

January 1997

February 1997

President's Message (Astrid Monson)
League Testifies on Proposed Tax Changes (Astrid Monson)
December General Membership Planning Meeting (Jean Aoki & Astrid Monson)
Member Alert
This Land Was Your Land (Donella Meadows)
In Memoriam
Sexual Harassment (Ina Percival)
Vote Count (Arlene Ellis)
Domestic Violence and Welfare (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Planning & Zoning Committee Needs More Members (Astrid Monson)
Membership
Orientation Meeting (Grace Furukawa)

December General Membership Planning Meeting

Planning of League's program for the next fiscal year got off to a spirited start at the Honolulu League's general membership meeting on December 14th at the Sea Fortune Restaurant downtown.

There was some strong support for active participation in National League's Making Democracy Work campaign. Toni Worst spoke strongly for the need for the revitalization of democracy and others indicated strong support. Honolulu League's strategy on this needs to be developed immediately, and work on it should commence soon. We still have some copies of the starter kit for the campaign avail able so please call the office if you're interested in obtaining a copy or if you are interested in participating in this campaign.

Grace Furukawa recommended that we review the National League position on Social Security and introduced James Osborne, a neighbor of hers who she said was very concerned and knowledgeable about some of the problems facing the Social Security program. Much of the discussion centered around the practice of including the social security trust funds in the federal budget, and using the surplus funds generated annually to offset the deficit in the federal budget. This practice, instead of building up a fund readily available in future years when the FICA tax collected annually no longer would be sufficient to make the yearly payments to Social Security recipients, would necessitate repayment to the fund by future taxpayers. After some discussion it was decided that this study be recommended to State League. It is possible that the recommendations of this study committee, if approved by our membership, would be a call for action by the national League, since our position on Social Security is broad enough to allow for such action without further study at the national level.

Jean Aoki, Con Con chair, outlined all the possible activities for League on the pending Constitutional Convention, of course dependent on the courts ruling on the interpretation of the Constitution's provision on the voting requirement for calling a convention. This is a State League activity but will require the active involvement of Honolulu League members. Decisions will need to be made on the extent of our activities in the pre-convention, convention and post-convention phases.

The need to review and possibly amend some of our positions at the state level were discussed. Among the recommendations were the consideration of inclusion of direct partial public funding of campaigns in addition to the indirect public funding called for in our present position, a study of elections by mail versus the present poll-site voting since this promises to become an issue in the near future, term limits, and single and multiple member districts. Honolulu League has positions on term limits, but State League does not.

State League does not have a position on social policy or human resources although we have a Human Resources Committee which is operating using the rather comprehensive positions we have at the national level. With more and more of the social welfare programs being delegated to the states, League should consider developing its own position, borrowing heavily from our national positions which we helped develop. State League Human Resources Committee chair, Suzanne Meisenzahl stated that her committee will come up with a position on domestic violence for concurrence or a consensus questionnaire after their follow-up study in the coming year.

Astrid Monson recommended a study of our State tax policy. A suggestion that we recommend same sex marriage as a civil rights issue for State study brought on a lively discussion on the pros and cons of instituting such a study. With many members indicating an interest and willingness to work on such a study, the motion was passed unanimously.

There were no recommendations for Honolulu League studies, nor for reviews of any of our positions. The Honolulu Board will review all of the suggestions and the actions taken at this meeting and prepare its recommendations for the State Board. Gary Gill, Director of the State Health Department's Office of Environmental Quality Control, was the luncheon speaker. Before taking on his present job, he was a member of the Honolulu City Council. From 1987 to 1992 hi chaired first the Housing and Economic Development Committee and later the Transportation and Government Operations Committee. From 1992 to 1994 he was the Council Chair. During chest years, he developed and advocated legislation on such problems as energy conservation, rail transit recycling, affordable housing, and campaign spending reform. He was also instrumental in enacting the "motor voter" in Honolulu years before the Federal Enactment law.

In introducing his subject, Gill described the nature and extent of Hawaii's almost overwhelming environmental problems and the degradation that for many years has endangered many aspects of its once-pristine natural resources. He pointed out that this office was comprised of four staff members and himself, who between them are responsible for a wide range of environmental and administrative functions throughout the State.

These include reviewing and receiving public comment on legal documents such as 1] Environmental Assessments to determine whether a formal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be required; or whether a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) should be issued; 2] EIS Preparation Notices, again for public comment; 31 Draft the final EIS's responding to all public comments from the draft stage; and 4] Publications of the EIS Acceptance Notice, which the public has 60 days to challenge in court.

In addition, the OEQC publishes National Environmental Policy Act notices; posts notices of applications for Special Management Area Permits for development along with coastlines of all our islands and for Certifications of the shoreline to clearly establish the regulatory building setback from the shoreline; publishes notices of the meetings of the Environmental Council, a 15-member citizen board appointed by the Governor to advise the State on environmental concerns and make the rules that govern the EIS process; lists activities performed by government agencies declared exempt from the EIS process; lists activities performed by government agencies declared exempt from the EIS process; publishes applications for Conservation District Use Permits which are granted by the Board of Land and Natural Resources; and on many other ways keeps the public informed of any pending development or action which might impact the environment.

During the prolonged and lively discussion period that followed, a number of members described the frustrations they have experienced trying to participate in various public actions, and asked Gill how we could better provide useful input. Such pending issues as the Queen's Beach Gold Course, the Ka Iwi Regional Park, and the East Honolulu litigation consent decrees process, were discussed.

Gill urged League members to continue to make our opinions known and to work for protection of the unique natural environment which is so essential to our economy and to our way of life.

Jean Aoki
Astrid Monson

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