Posts Tagged ‘County’

Issues of Information

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Recently, two Council members have brought to our attention a list of concerns that they have. dealing with the posting of minutes online, the distribution of information, and the ability to place any item on the agenda. Some members of the public have written to the newspaper, sent emails, or have stopped me on the street to talk about this issue. My response is what I have always done, listen first. Gather the information. Then, make a decision based on the merits of the case. We are going to be having an open discussion on July 22 at which point, those two Council members will have every opportunity to state their case and we in return will have an opportunity to ask questions, get answers, reassess the situation, and move forward. I have looked at their website and I have questions for all parties involved.

What I can do is tell you where I stand on the issues as a whole. One of the first questions I asked our County Clerk upon getting elected is if we plan on having minutes posted online. For me, it is a matter of convenience and mobile technology. I can read my minutes virtually anywhere that I can bring my laptop. It is important for me to be as mobile as possible given the nature of my schedule. The answer I got is that we are working on it. Boards and Commissions are in the process of posting their minutes and when that is complete we will be working on ours. I was fine with that answer. Why? To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t in my top five priorities.

We were and are currently conducting council business in the open, we are televised on Ho`ike, and anyone who wants minutes can receive them per request within 30 days of the last meeting. So this issue wasn’t an issue of transparency or lack of transparency. It was about how can we provide a better service to our community. If I had perceived it to be an issue of transparency I would have reacted quite differently.

Executive session meetings that I have been in dealt with the consideration of the powers, duties, privileges, immunities and/or liabilities of the Council and the County as they relate to the agenda item. Every Executive Session has fully complied with the requirements of the Sunshine Law. If I am wrong, I challenge my fellow council members to bring any violation to my attention. There are no backroom deals being made, we focus on the item at hand and we stay the course. Once again, If I am wrong, I invite my fellow council members to point it out to me. So everything we do is out in the open, it is televised, it is reported on by our newspaper, and minutes of the meeting are available within 30 days of that meeting. Yet this has turned into a lack of transparency issue. Like I said, this will increase the level of service, but in my opinion, we are very transparent.

Next we are dealing with the distribution of communication. Quite frankly, the amount of information and communication we receive is tremendous. I have no idea what communication or information I am receiving that they are not receiving. If this is true, an explanation is warranted. All I can tell you is that we have cubbyholes assigned to us with stacks of communication and I do not have the time and effort to compare what I have with the next person. We each have a computer and we receive emails from our constituents and from various county departments. So in conclusion, what am I getting that you aren’t?

Issue of accessibility to the agenda. All bills and resolutions must be initialed by the chair or in his or her absence, the vice chair in order to be placed on the agenda. Is this the only mechanism? No. I believe that you can make a motion to add an item to the agenda and if it carries a 2/3 affirmative vote, should be immediately deferred to the following council meeting in order to comply with the Sunshine Law. So there are ways to get on the agenda.

In conclusion, I look forward to July 22nd so that I can listen to the facts behind these allegations. In closing, I would like to say that in a democracy, there is a minority and a majority. It is the democratic process. It is in my opinion that the minority should have an equal voice. They should be heard. But when the day is done and the chips fall on the table it is the votes that count. And whether or not we are on the winning end or the losing end we must respect the process and respect the decision of the body as a whole. Anything less is unbecoming of an elected official.