Kauai Council Rule Changes

SUBHEAD: Consider the following Kauai County Council meeting rule changes. By Ken Taylor and Linda Harmon on 18 March 2011 - Image above: The seal of Kauai County hangs on the wall behinf Jay Furfaro as he chairs a County Council public meeting. From (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_3769fc9a-04d2-11e0-b96d-001cc4c002e0.html). Consider the following Kauai County rule changes regarding how the County Council conducts meetings. Many people have been frustrated by the current Kauai County Council public meeting policies or lack of. Say they may have taken the morning off from work to attend a meeting. Item one on the agenda is of great importance to them. Once the meeting starts they find their agenda item is not handled in order and is bumped from the morning until after lunch. The whole day of work will be lost. After lunch the council decides to go into a closed door session. There is a long break in the meeting. When the public hearing continues it is decided to hit a controversial agenda item that takes the rest of the meeting. The item of importance to you is rescheduled for the next meeting. Ouch! In this article are five ways we suggest for improving the County Council Meeting rules: We think these changes will make Kauai government more democratic and encourage public participation.
  1. Regarding closed sessions. Often enough mid way through the meeting the council will decide to break for a closed door session rather than dealing with the matter after or before the public meeting begins.
  2. Public comment period. Many councils around the country allow for public comment on matters relevant to the council that are not on the agenda. This is a method of addressing the council as a body and allowing the viewing public to hear both grievance or accolade that otherwise might never get aired. The council is there strictly to listen.
  3. Holding evening sessions. Evening sessions allow more public participation. We hear it is too costly to pay personnel over time. We don’t see the need for all the personnel present in the first place. The evening session would be strictly for matters of public concern. The routine communications of the council with different departments would be scheduled during that same morning or during the afternoon along with scheduled closed sessions.
  4. Live television broadcasts meetings. This is commonplace in cities and counties across the country and makes for government more accountable and accessible to the public.
  5. Following agenda order. The matters of greatest importance to the public should come first to allow more public participation.
Below are excerpts from a few counties and city councils that exhibit items on their legislative body agendas that would enhance our own democratic process at the Kauai County Council level: 1. Regarding closed sessions. Kauai County Council should schedule closed sessions after or before the public hearing so they don't interrupt the public meeting. Require the county attorney summarize the findings of the closed session during the following public hearing. - Goleta, California The City Council will meet in closed session: Conference with legal counsel - Anticipated Litigation, pursuant to the provisions of Government Code Section with respect to potential initiation of one matter of litigation. (Note: In Golita the city attorney regularly reports to the public hearing that follows what transpired at the closed session of the city council.) 2. Public Comment Period Have period for public to comment on Kauai County Council business not on meeting agenda. - Goleta, California At this time the public shall have an opportunity to comment on any non-agenda item relevant to the jurisdiction of the City. It is requested that each speaker complete a "Speaker Request Form" and submit it to the City Clerk. Reasonable time limits are imposed on each topic and each speaker. No action or discussion may take place by the Council on any item not on the posted agenda. The Council may respond to statements made or questions asked, and may direct the staff to report back on the topic at a future meeting. - Napa, California Public Comment: Speaker cards are available; it is requested but not required, to submit a card to the City Clerk before the meeting begins. Speakers will be limited to five minutes and will comply with the City rules of order. If your comments pertain to a specific item on the agenda, reserve your comments until the item is before the City Council Board. Time limits will be enforced by the Mayor to facilitate the fair and efficient conduct of the meeting. - Santa Barbara County, California Persons desiring to address the Board must complete and deliver to the Clerk the form which is available at the Hearing Room entrance prior to the commencement of this comment period. The Public Comment Period is reserved for comment on matters within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board of Supervisors. Each person may address the Board for up to three minutes at the discretion of the Chair, for a total Public Comment Period of no more than 15 minutes. When testifying before the Board of Supervisors, personal attacks and other disruptive behavior is not appropriate. (Note: Public Comment Period is commonly held at the beginning of council and commissions allowing freer flow of concerns by the public.) 3. Evening Sessions or split sessions (1:30 for county business/house keeping...6:00pm for issues that may affect the public.) Hold Kauai County Council meetings in the evening to allow the working public to participate in them. - Goleta, California Council Meeting at 6:00P.M. 130 Cremona Drive, Suite B Goleta, California 4. Live Televised Meetings Televise live Kauai County Council meetings so the public can see what is transpiring in their behalf. - Bozeman, Montana Commission meetings are televised live on cable channel 20 and streamed live at www.bozeman.net. City Commission meetings are re-aired on cable Channel 20 three times per session. Wednesday at 4 pm, Thursday at noon, Friday at 10 am and Sunday at 2 pm (Note: All 5 community councils (or the like meetings) we checked out offered live televised meetings for public viewing) 5. Follow Agenda Item Order The Kauai County Council should follow the order of the written agenda of its meetings in consideration of the attending members of the public. JoAnn Yukimura has been chairing the subcommittee with members Derek Kawakami and Nadine Nakamura. They like the idea of allowing 15 minutes at the beginning of the meeting for comments on strictly agenda items however. This would allow early birds to say their piece and leave. Attached are the rule changes they will vote on at the March 30th council meeting. Now is the time to let your councilpersons know your wishes. If you want to participate in County Council Rule changes email your suggestions to: councilmembers@kauai.gov. To review the submitted changes to rules see this (http://www.islandbreath.org/2011Year/03/110321cok.pdf) 860KB. .

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