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Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted May 23, 2016
Charter proposal: Abolish neighborhood boards on Oahu
SA: The Honolulu Charter Commission might ask Oahu voters to consider eliminating neighborhood boards, using the money saved to fund other means of increasing civic participation (Caldwell administration propaganda).
A subcommittee tasked by the commission to look into open-government proposals released a report May 16 that calls for the Neighborhood Commission to develop a strategic plan and timeline for “restructuring the delivery of information to community members through implementation of current communications technologies,” and subsequently to “sunset the neighborhood board system.” …
The commission will discuss, and take public testimony, on the proposal at its meeting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday….
But some veteran neighborhood board members criticized the proposal.
Robert Finley, chairman of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, who also serves as vice chairman of the Neighborhood Commission, said the community welcomes the opportunity to interact with elected officials and, where there is a large military presence, military representatives.
“They want to do a one-on-one, face to face,” he said. “Electronically, when you’re looking through a computer screen, the other guy can just click you off if he wants to.”
The Neighborhood Commission oversees 33 boards on Oahu with a staff of 17 and an annual budget of about $931,784, the report said.
Supporters view the boards as a grass-roots level of government that the public can access, while critics say they constitute an unnecessary expense and extra layer of bureaucracy….
The report said the primary mission of the neighborhood board system is “to increase citizen participation in (support for) the decisions of government,” and ultimately concludes the idea is obsolete, given the vast growth in electronic media to support citizen participation (Caldwell).
The proposed Charter amendment question lists “television, Internet and email” as the type of electronic communications (commercials) that should be increased….
While it’s difficult to chart public attendance at the meetings, evidence points to an uptick in candidates in 2015 from 2013 in the all-electronic elections.
In 2015, 610 people signed up to run for 437 available seats, up from the 468 that vied for seats in 2013. Commission office staff said it was the highest number of candidates in a decade.
The election filled 418 seats because there were no eligible candidates for 19 of the seats. In 2013, 388 seats were filled in the election.
The Neighborhood Commission has, on occasion, needed to seek midterm candidates on a few of the boards in order to fill enough seats to make a quorum.
There were 19,722 ballots cast in 2015, a return rate of 10.1 percent. That was an increase from the 2013 elections when 15,318 ballots were cast, an 8.6 rate of return….
Kathleen Pahinui, chairwoman of the North Shore Neighborhood Board and a board member for more than 15 years, called it a “dumb idea” to propose eliminating neighborhood boards….
“Our neighbors have gotten used to having a voice,” he said. “And they’re not all going to march down to City Hall,” he said, noting that it’s a lengthy drive for people in more rural areas.
“I don’t think we’d have the same citizen participation if we got rid of the system,” he said.
To see the report, go to bit.ly/HNLCharterOpenGov16.
The Charter Commission has until Aug. 22 to submit Charter amendment questions for voters to consider in the Nov. 8 general election.
read … No to Democracy
Hawaii Lawmakers Again Balk At Ethics, Lobbying Reform
CB: The Hawaii State Ethics Commission tracked more than 16 bills related to ethics and lobbying this past legislative session, which ended May 5. Each and every one died, many without so much as a public hearing….
One of the only measures to get any legs would have funded a task force to undertake a comprehensive review of the state’s lobbying laws. The task force would have offered recommendations to the Legislature before the next session on how to make the statutes more effective…. Senate Bill 3024 didn’t seek new funding for the task force, estimated to cost $80,000. It just would have redirected some of the $130,000 that was appropriated last year for the commission to develop an electronic filing system….
Bills to toughen the existing lobbying laws failed to gain any traction, despite support from government watchdog groups including Common Cause and the League of Women Voters….
The Legislature almost passed House Bill 813, introduced by LoPresti, which would have closed or narrowed gaping loopholes in the fair treatment law, by separating out certain limitations placed on task-force members from those placed on legislators.
read … Hawaii Lawmakers Again Balk At Ethics, Lobbying Reform
AG launches of criminal probe into alleged misspending by ex-Bishop Museum CEO
HNN: About a month after the Attorney General's office's charities division opened a civil investigation into questionable spending by the Bishop Museum's former CEO, Hawaii News Now has learned that the AG's office has launched a separate criminal probe.
Multiple sources tell us that the museum is cooperating with the criminal investigation and has handed over a number of documents relating to its former president Blair Collis' use of his museum credit card.
Sources tell us that the criminal investigation is wide-ranging and could lead to theft, fraud and even money laundering charges.
But legal experts said it's a difficult case because the museum board allowed the questionable purchases to go for years and did little to curb Collis' spending.
"They're really accomplices if they're enabling the people using the cards to use them for improper purposes," said defense attorney Victor Bakke….
read … Criminal
Hawaii Supreme Court skeptical of Office of Elections
ILind: …Given the nature and tone of the questioning, Thomas sees little chance the justices will side with the Office of Elections and allow them to proceed with in-house fixes.
More likely, he says, that the court will order the agency to adopt rules to cover such matters.
The unanswered question: “What will the court order the agency to do, and how detailed will it get?”
Attorney Lance Collins, who represents the plaintiffs in the case, contacted me to clarify one point.
“I also wanted to mention that none of the individual voter Plaintiffs are Green Party members,” Collins wrote. “They are either Democrats or independents from all over the state, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island.”
He also shared additional documents from the case, including the opening brief filed in the case before the Intermediate Court of Appeals, along with the state’s answering brief and the plaintiff’s reply brief. Collins says these documents lay out the underlying arguments that are referred to in the pending Supreme Court appeal….
read … Hawaii Supreme Court skeptical of Office of Elections
Money from California Behind Hawaii Anti-GMO Activists
KE: …One of those who participated in these “powerful” workshop training was Maui fashion designer and self-proclaimed ag expert Tiare Lawrence, who cites membership in the Aloha 'Aina Project — one of HCFS' new partners. In case you're unfamilar, it's headed by the man who would be king: Edwin de Silva and his ali'i mana'o advisor, Lanny Sinkin.
Neither MANA nor the Aloha Aina Project are registered with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
But they do get funding from Common Counsel, a California-based foundation that also began giving money to the HCFS this year. And they're both active in the anti-Thirty Meter Telescope project on Hawaii, with Sinkin speaking for the “king.”
Yes, it's not just an anti-GMO, anti-pesticide movement. tI's an anti-ag (except for organic), anti-science, anti-technology (aside from the kind that allows them to use social media) pro-independence movement.
All snuggled up together with overlapping members and funding. In short, it's a small group of people with some sizable dough trying to make their movement look a lot bigger — and a lot more mainstream — than it really is….
read … Musings: Proud as Punch
Legislature to Ige: Homelessness is Your Problem, Now
SA: …The Legislature’s $12 million allocation came in response to Ige’s request for $9 million. The additional funding represents “both a blessing and a burden,” said state Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “They recognize the gravity of the responsibility that’s put on them to make sure those resources are spent wisely. All eyes are on them.”
Tokuda said she plans to “be a pain” in tracking the administration’s progress before the start of the next legislative session….
Along with the extra state funding, Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator, said several developments are coming together that collectively carry the potential to change the way the state tackles the largest per capita homeless rate in the country:
>> The state’s contracts with 32 organizations that provide services such as homeless shelters and social service outreach all expire in December or January, and the state Department of Human Services is seeking new requests for proposals. The contracts are currently worth a total of $23.1 million — $20.9 million from the state and $2.2 from the federal government.
>> In April the state began participating in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program, which is designed to help states leverage Medicaid to better cover gaps in housing and homeless initiatives….
read … Lawmaker pushes Ige for results on homelessness