Update on County Rules
SUBHEAD: Rule changes will be the subject of this Wednesday's County Council Meeting in Nawiliwili Harbor. By Ken Taylor and Linda Harmon in Island Breath - Image above: Public participation in "Townhall Meeting" by Norman Rockwell. From (http://www.westboylston.com/Pages/WBoylstonMA_AdminBlog/I0272F677). We think these changes will make Kauai government more democratic and encourage public participation. 1.Closed sessions should be scheduled. 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 as is commonly done around the country. *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. The rule of courtesy would have to be met. Each person would be restricted to 3 min. and would take no more than 15 min. at the beginning of the meeting. *3. Consent Agenda. Council is proposing that housekeeping matters like communications from different dept. heads be bundled together and voted on summarily which would save sometimes hours of tedious council voting on one by one. However unlike when looked at individually where the public can ask for clarification and discussion the council wants to be able to pull a matter for further discussion and forbid anyone from the public from doing so. This is an infringement of the rights we now have when such matters are voted on one by one by the councilmembers. The public is now able to ask for clarification and ask questions and make suggestions before the councilmembers vote. 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 with matters of greatest importance to the public coming first to allow more public participation. As it is now the council can choose to change the order and in some cases cause public consternation when having to wait out much of the day to testify about a matter that has been moved to the back on the agenda. The council is proposing to allow first come first serve 3 min. public testimony at the beginning ( up to 15 min) of the meeting but only on matter of the agenda. We consider this is a subversion of our proposed public comment period. *6. The posting of agenda with supporting documentation on the county web page. Although the county now posts the agenda at the same time it is posted to the council members it isn’t a rule. Along with the agenda the supporting documentation isn’t available to the public unlike to the council members. There is no good reason for keeping it from the public. Supporting documentation can just as easily be provided with a change of computer program. *most urgent See also: Ea O Ka Aina: County Council Rules Changes 3/18/11 .