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President's Message (Grace Furukawa)
Nominating Committee Report for FY '99-2000 (Helen Griffin)
Bus Rapid Transit (Arlene Ellis)
Membership Orientation (Grace Furukawa)
Proposed Budget - FY 4/1/99 to 3/31/2000
Fight City Hall? (Robert M. Rees)

Fight City Hall?

Reprint from Honolulu Weekly Feb. 17-23 1999 "Honolulu Diary"

Mayor Jeremy Harris administration has filed a motion asking for attorney's fees from the League of Women Voters, after the LAW lost suits seeking to block Harris convening of a charter commission. The city is asking for $24,451.66 to pay one of its outside firms, Watanabe Ing & Kawashima, which handled part of the case - a bill that includes $1,100 for copying charges, including the copying of the nearly 500-page motion that asks for the fees.

The city reasons that since the League lost two suits and withdrew another, the League engaged in "blatant harassment." The city is also irritated that the League, in suing, didn't follow the procedures recommended by the city's Corporate Counsel's Office. (A memorandum in opposition to the city's motion asks, "Since when has an opposing party had the right to dictate how a claimant files?")

The city charges that the suit was frivolously filed. The fact is, however, that when Judge Kenneth Enright denied the League's motion for a temporary restraining order on Oct. 7, 1998, both the judge and the city's then-deputy corporate counsel, Chris Parsons, went out their way to note that the issues could be argued after the election.

The city has also acknowledged that there are real issues. In a May 12 memo, city Corporate Counsel, David Arakawa noted, "As with most legal issues, there may be other interpretations that may be argued and litigated in the courts. While no one can predict the outcome of any legal challenge, we believe that our interpretation is reasonable and can be defended."

In response, on May 14, 1998, the Office of Counsel Services, via a 10-page memo, opined "that a charter commission may not be convened and present Charter amendment proposals to the electorate at the 1998 general election."

The city's motion for fees is an attempt to punish the LWV, and to discourage legitimate dissent. Undeterred, the League has filed another suit, and this writer has joined that suit. (The City & County, in spite of its emphasis on costs, has already turned down a way to expedite the case to the state's Supreme Court.)

Robert M. Rees

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