October 1998 Home   Newsletters

November-December 1998

January-February 1999

Annual General Membership Program Planning Meeting
President's Message (Grace Furukawa)
Revision of Land Use Ordinance Proposed (Astrid Monson)
Con Con / POC (Jean Aoki)
LWVUS Response to 60 Minutes (Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins)
HECO: 138-kv Project (Ruth Brantley)
Violence Prevention Committee Report (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Education Committee (Mary Anne Raywid)
Hawaii Clean Elections (Grace Furukawa)
Program Planning Sets the Course
Special Thanks to League Volunteers

President's Message

The Honolulu City Charter, like the U.S. Constitution, is not supposed to be changed lightly, frequently or to accomplish purposes that could be brought about through the legislative process. The recent appointment of a Charter Commission which presented for public approval eight Charter Amendments implementing the Mayor's current reorganization plan, is contrary to both the intent and letter of the 1992 City Charter. In addition to the obvious politics involved, it is a travesty of the Charter Amendment process to attempt an end-run around the Charter's own provisions for Charter Amendments.

The election is over and the results for the Charter amendments are a loss for us since the people voted for all the Mayor's reorganization plan amendments. This was not unexpected.

Prior to the election the League Board voted to continue our suit against the City and the Charter Commission. Our temporary restraining order to keep the amendments from being placed on the ballot was denied by Judge Enright in spite of the fact that our lawyer David Gierlach argued hard for points we were trying to make.

We decided then, at the Judge's suggestion, to bring up the matter of the illegal convening of the Charter Commission following the election REGARDLESS OF THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTION. The interpretation of the intent of the City Charter must be cleared up by the Courts.

The decision to proceed necessitated our finding a new lawyer, as Mr. Gierlach could not continue due to his case load. William Saunders of Bickerton, Saunders, Dang and Bouslog agreed to take on the case with the pro-bono help of a number of lawyers and clerks concerned also about determining the intent of the Charter. Despite the generosity of the research lawyers, we will need financial help as our suit proceeds - determined by length of time necessary to accomplish our ends.

Our suit will include a number of individuals and organizations also concerned with this issue. Mr. Robert Rees is one of the individuals who signed on as a plaintiff to the suit.

We have not been able to tell our members the details of the suit before. Our concerns are on the following fronts:

  1. The Charter specifically states a commission is to be appointed every ten years. It may be convened a few months before the date listed (2001) but not 4 years early. (If this could be done, why not convene a commission every year, or whenever the Council doesn't vote the way the administration wishes?)

  2. The Charter states clearly that the amendments proposed and approved by the commission must be placed on the ballot in the year SUCCEEDING the year the commission was appointed. This is for the purpose of giving enough time for careful study. These amendments went on the ballot a scant two months after the commission was appointed this June. The amendments were clearly placed on the ballot illegally and should be rescinded.

  3. The Charter says nothing about the Commission self perpetuating themselves by reconvening into and placing additional amendments on the ballot of the 2000 elections.

  4. The appointment of a commission this year places a question on the amendments placed on the ballot by the City Council and passed by the voters in 1996. The Charter states that there can be no amendments placed on the ballot by a Council without the Mayor's approval (which was not secured) within the period two years before and two years after a commission is appointed.

We are filing suit within a week. Watch for it in the press.

Grace Furukawa

October 1998 Home   Newsletters January-February 1999