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Neighborhood Commission

 

 

CONFERENCE OF CHAIRS

SATURDAY, MARCH 1, 2014

BLAISDELL CENTER MAUI ROOM

 

CALL TO ORDER: Chair Sylvia Young called the meeting to order at 9:04 a.m. Chair Young referenced the Neighborhood Plan 2008 §2-11-203 “Conference of chairs.”

 

Commissioners Present:  Robert Finley, Loryn Guiffre, Claire Tamamoto, and Sylvia Young.

 

Guests: Greg Knudsen (Chair - Hawaii Kai NB 1), Elizabeth Reilly (Vice Chair – Hawaii Kai NB 1), Ed Schell (Vice Chair – Kuliouou/Kalani Iki NB 2), Lyle Bullock (Chair – Kaimuki NB 4), Barbra Armentrout (Member – Diamond Head/Kapahulu/St. Louis Heights NB 5), Eric Eads (Chair – Chair – Manoa NB 7), Ron Lockwood (Chair – McCully/Moilili NB 8), Serena Kyi Yim (Vice Chair - McCully/Moilili NB 8), Larry Hurst (Chair – Ala Moana/Kakaako NB 11), Joe Duax (Vice Chair – Nuuanu/Punchbowl NB 12), John Donaldson-Selby (Member – Downtown NB 13), Raymond Rudie (Vice Chair – Downtown NB 13), Wesley Fong (Vice Chair – Liliha/Puunui/Alewa/Kam Heights NB 14), Christopher Wong (Chair – Kalihi Valley NB 16), Michael McDonald (Vice Chair – Kalihi Valley NB 16), David Yomes (Vice Chair – Aliamanu/Salt Lake/Foster Village NB 18), Ron Mobley (2nd Vice Chair – Aiea NB 20), Cruz Vina, Jr. (Chair – Pearl City NB 21), Larry Veray (Vice Chair – Pearl City NB 21), Rito Saniatan (Chair – Waipahu NB 22), Kevin Rathburn (Chair – Ewa NB 23), Joe Hartsell (Vice Chair – Ewa NB 23), Johnnie Mae Perry (Chair – Waianae Coast NB 24), Cedric Gates (Vice Chair – Waianae Coast NB 24), Richard Poirier (Chair – Mililani/Waipio/Melemanu NB 25), Jeanne Ishikawa (Chair – Wahiawa-Whitmore Village NB 26), Burt Greene (Vice Chair – Koolauloa NB 28), Flora Oyabashi (Chair – Kahaluu NB 29), Roy Yanagihara (Chair – Kaneohe NB 30), Chad Kuakani (Vice Chair – Kaneohe NB 30), Charles Prentiss (Chair – Kailua NB 31), Larry Bartley (Vice Chair – Kailua NB 31), Wilson “Kekoa” Ho (Chair – Waimanalo NB 32), Evelyn Souza (Chair – Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale NB 34), Kioni Dudley (Vice Chair - Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale NB 34), Dean Hazama (Chair – Mililani Mauka/Launani Valley NB 35), Cynthia Rezentes (Chair – Nanakuli-Maili NB 36), Richard Landford (Vice Chair - Nanakuli-Maili NB 36), Mayor Kirk Caldwell (Mayor of the City & County of Honolulu), Nicole Velasco (Executive Secretary of Neighborhood Commission Office); Bryan Mick, Catherine Proctor, Marie Richardson, Nola Frank, Kazu McArthur, Rise Doi, Noelle Wright, and Jenilea Heath (Neighborhood Commission Office Staff),

 

Welcome Remarks by Mayor Kirk Caldwell: Mayor Caldwell expressed his appreciation for the dedication of the Neighborhood Board (NB) members. It was noted that NB members represent those closest to grassroots.

  • History: The NB System was started in 1975 by Frank Fasi with a vision of reaching out to the community. The first NB was Mililani – Waipio NB 25. There are a total of 33 boards at this time.
  • Gratitude: Mayor Caldwell expressed his gratitude to the Commissioners.
  • Diversity: Mayor Caldwell noted that there are people from all aspects involved in the NB System. He expressed the need to reach out to the younger people and get them involved.
  • Message: Mayor Caldwell asked that everyone come together, work hard, talk about the common issues, and report back to the communities on how to make the system better. It was requested to think of the bigger picture and not focus on egos.
  • Executive Secretary (ES): Mayor Caldwell thanked ES Nicole Velasco and noted that she is a future leader.

 

Update from NCO Executive Secretary Nicole Velasco: ES Nicole Velasco expressed gratitude to Mayor Caldwell. Velasco noted that once a week, Mayor Caldwell meets with his Cabinet members to hear what is going on in the community, just like the boards do. Velasco explained the housekeeping rules.

  • Guidebooks: The guidebooks were distributed to the members of the audience. The current guidebook has new information that all board members need to know. A copy is posted on the NCO website.
  • Memos: The commission office wanted to relay more information to the board members. It was noted that the memos are not singling out anyone. They are a great way for board members to know what is going on throughout the system and how to handle common situations.
  • Community for Keiki Month: Velasco noted that the keiki are the only population that is not represented on the boards. The month of April has been dedicated to raising issues and concerns regarding keiki. A handout was provided to the chairs with the option to participate in “Community for Keiki” month. The office is working with the different agencies to get information pertaining to keiki. It was noted that ultimately the agenda is at the discretion of the chairs, but there is hope that all will participate.

 

Self Introduction of Attendees: ES Velasco had all the attendees introduce themselves.

 

Update form Commission Committee Chairs: ES Velasco introduced the Committee chairs who provided the following committee updates:

  • Neighborhood Plan (NP): Committee Chair Finley recognized previous Commission members, Ron Mobley and Kekoa Ho. Finley noted that in Chapter 20 of the NP, requires a complete review every 10 years, so the next scheduled one is in 2018. There is a two (2) month period to hear comments in reference to the proposed amendments. It was noted to look out for the next committee meeting agenda.
  • Finance: Committee Chair Tamamoto referenced page 27 -29 of the Guidebook. Tamamoto noted that authorized expenditures include only operating and publicity. It was noted that all purchases over $25 needs to be submitted to the NCO via a Request For Purchase (RFP) form. Board chairs have discretion is using up to $25 without board approval.
  • Survey: Committee Chair Guiffre noted that the intention of the Survey committee is evaluate the various aspects of the NB System as a whole. They are currently in the planning phase and the whole survey process should take a year. Attached to next months agenda, a letter announcing the survey process will be included. The will be three (3) surveys created; demographics, service of the NCO, service of the Commission. The surveys will be disseminated at the NB meetings. ES Velasco noted that the survey committee is a brand new initiative. Currently there is no demographic information about the people in the system.

 

Q&A with the Commission and the Office: ES Velasco introduced Bryan Mick of the NCO. Chair Young noted that there is representation from every board.

  • Facility Rentals: Knudsen noted the recent memo regarding facility rentals is very restricting. It was noted that there are some facilities that do not require a fee. Hurst suggested making the decision regarding facility rentals at the end of the term rather than the beginning. Hurst requested follow up regarding his board’s facility agreement. ES Velasco noted that the memo requested all facility agreements to be handled by the City due to liability issues. ES Velasco explained that if the contract is not through the City, the person making the reservation is liable if something happens at the meeting. ES Velasco will follow up per Hurst’s request.
  • Committees: Knudsen expressed his concern regarding the formal process of appointing members to committees. It was mentioned that in the past the chair appointed the members at the meetings. Discussion that followed:
    • Ease: Rezentes noted in the past it was easy to appoint board members to committees. Rezentes expressed frustration with the process to appoint community members to the committees. Rezentes feels this makes it difficult for people to participate.
    • Participation: Perry feels the mission of the NB system is to gain participation of the community not to put requirements on them.
    • Chair’s Authority: Rathburn inquired why the chairs’ aren’t empowered to appoint members. Prentiss noted that Kailua NB has five (5) standing committees. It was noted that he appointed the board and community members to the committees.
    • Sunshine Law: Hurst explains to his committees that they have to file notices, minutes, and agendas per the NP and Sunshine Law.
    • Guidelines: Rezentes noted that she drafted committee guidelines that were approved by the previous ES and Office of Information Practices. She has been utilizing these guidelines at her NB meetings. Young suggested submitting them to the NCO for review.
    • Committee Membership Numbers: Souza expressed frustration with the allowed amount of committee members due to the size of the board. It was noted that her board has nine (9) members and the committees may only have three (3) members.
    • Appointment of Members: Prentiss noted that the NP is silent on who appoints committee members. It was noted that when the NP is silent, then Roberts Rules of Order is the authority.
    • NCO Response: Mick reaffirmed that boards and committees are subject to Sunshine Law. With this said, the public needs to know who is on the committees. In reference to Souza’s concern about the committee membership numbers, Mick noted that there is no cap unlike with a Permitted Interaction Group (PIG). Mick noted the Commission is currently looking at amending the Plan to allow ad hoc committee members who would be non-voting and not counted for quorum purposes. It was also suggested to send proposed amendments (i.e. Committees) to the NP to Finley via email.
  • Roberts Rules of Order: Mobley noted that according to the NP, all boards and committees are to follow guidelines as in Roberts Rules of Order (RRO). It was suggested that everyone study RRO.
    • Kahaluu NB: Oyabashi noted that the Kahaluu NB does not follow RRO but does follow a modified version due to the demographics of the area. Obayashi feels RRO would impact effectiveness in her community.
    • Successful: Wong noted that Kalihi Valley NB follows RRO and it works.
    • Parliamentary Authority: Armentrout referenced page 66 of the Guidebook and noted that RRO is the parliamentary authority of all boards when Hawaii Revised Statutes, the charter, the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, and the NP is silent.
  • Seats: Wong noted that Kalihi Valley NB used to have a problem establishing quorum and now they are considering increasing the seats to 15.
  • Neighborhood Plan Review Period: Chair Young noted that the Commission is currently reviewing the NP and any suggestions should be submitted to Finley in writing for review.

 

Chair Young called a recess at 10:10 a.m.

 

The conference reconvened at 10:22 a.m.

 

FULL GROUP DISCUSSION – FACILITATED BY COMMISSION CHAIR SYLVIA YOUNG: Chair Young opened the floor to discussion. Chair Young announced that questions, comments, and concerns will be taken in order of neighborhood board number.

 

Facilities: Lockwood commented that facilities where the meetings are held can be problematic, noting that the lighting and acoustics affect the video taping quality.

 

Taping: Fong inquired about the pros and cons of taping.

 

Comments followed:

 

  1. Awareness: Veray noted that videotaping the meetings facilitates in spreading awareness to the community. Bartley noted having previous reservations about videotaping due to the occasional grandstander, but voiced support for videotaping the meetings, noting that lots of people watch. Kyi-Yim noted that since videotaping, the audience membership at McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board No. 8 had increased. Perry commented that videotaping allows the public to see what is going on in the community. Gates commented that videotaping increases community participation.
  2. Learning: Veray noted that from watching the video on Olelo, he learns how other Chairs run Board meetings. Perry noted that she watches other neighborhood board meetings to see how the meetings are run.
  3. Videographer: Veray raised a concern that the videographer needs to focus and move the camera onto the speaker. Souza noted that sometimes the videographer leaves the camera unattended during the meetings. Chair Young suggested contacting the Neighborhood Commission Office (NCO) regarding concerns with the videographer. Wong recommended talking to the videographer if someone does not want to be on camera.
  4. Board Members: Armentrout commented that Diamond Head Neighborhood Board No. 5 does not tape due to the embarrassing behavior of some of the members.
  5. Responsibility: Wong commented that Chairs are responsible for adhering to guidelines and calling points of order if Board members or other community members are disruptive. Wong noted support for videotaping, commenting that video allows for transparency. Lockwood commented that board members should remind the Chair to call points of order if necessary.
  6. Record: Souza commented that videotaping is necessary and serves as a record of what happened during the meeting. Perry noted that the video can serve as a record if there are concerns over what had happened during the meeting.
  7. No Video: Mobley commented that videotaping is not used at Aiea Neighborhood Board No. 20, noting that there are shy community members who do not want to be on camera. Obayashi noted that some people do not want to be videotaped.
  8. Livestreaming: Gates commented that livestreaming would allow for the community to connect through social media. Eads noted that livestreaming may increase public participation.
  9. Social Media: Gates noted that the Chair is the only one who can speak to the media, and asked about social media rules regarding who may speak from the Board. Chair Young noted that social media rules still need to be examined. Eads noted that social media can help increase public participation, commenting that public visibility of the board meetings is beneficial.
  10. Using Video as a Tool: Wong suggested using the videotaping as a tool, and noted that people can submit written testimony if they don’t want to be on camera. Wong noted that utilizing video helps everyone have a voice in the community.
  11. Accountability: Ishikawa commented that taping the neighborhood board meetings holds the elected officials accountable for their attendance.

 

Liability: Fong noted that as volunteers, Board members should be defended if there is a lawsuit. Chair Young noted that Nicole Velasco will follow up.

 

Robert’s Rules: Perry noted she is in support of following the rules, and requested that Robert’s Rules be provided.

 

Issues: Chair Young recommended that the Boards not take a position on issues under litigation such as issues involving land use.

 

Comments followed:

 

  1. Representation: Souza asked why Boards could not take a stance on land issues, and noted that the Boards should take a stance and represent the community.
  2. Advisory Board: Rezentes commented that the Boards need to take a position, noting that the neighborhood boards are the voice of the community. Rezentes commented that the neighborhood board guidelines are too restrictive.
  3. Motions: Bartley noted that the neighborhood boards serve as an advisory group, and can deal with any issue as long as the motion is directed to a City or State agency. Bartley recommended that Boards not get involved in private disputes.
  4. Any Issue: Eads noted that Boards should be able to discuss any issue in any area of the island.
  5. Involvement: Dudley asked about voicing concern about development in other areas of the island, and how to get involved. Dudley noted that the neighborhood board rules should be rewritten so that Chairs can have a voice on various issues around the island.
  6. Mahalo: Greene thanked other Boards for their support in opposition of Bill 47 relating to the Koolauloa Sustainability Plan.
  7. Board of Chairs: Gates suggested creating a Board of Chairs to speak on various issues, and recommended bringing the Chairs together more often. Bartley noted there was a Council of Chairs in the past and it was not effective. Bartley recommended that if Chairs want to speak on other issues in the community, then the Chairs should attend other neighborhood board meetings as community members.
  8. Political Stances: Wong commented that neighborhood boards are a venue for the community, and the Boards should not be taking political stances.
  9. Precedent Setting: Reilly noted that neighborhood boards are important for precedent setting. Reilly noted that many issues raised in the boards are not political issues, but community issues.

 

Quorum: Wong noted that Kalihi Valley Neighborhood Board No. 16 had problems meeting quorum in the past, but now the Board wants to increase the number of seats. Wong noted that there are Chairs who hold the seat for 10 years, and a succession plan is necessary to ensure that the next generation has a say in participating in the neighborhood board process. Veray noted that Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 went five (5) months without quorum. Veray noted there needs to be flexibility in the Neighborhood Plan regarding adjusting quorum appropriately.

 

Knowledge: Wong suggested using a survey to measure the different neighborhood boards’ knowledge of adhering to the rules and standards. Wong commented it is difficult to move forward if everyone is not adhering to the same rules or lacking knowledge of the rules.

 

Technology: McDonald explained that Kalihi Valley Neighborhood Board No. 16 utilizes technology, using a projector to show maps during the meetings. Social media is also utilized on Kalihi Valley Neighborhood Board No. 16. Veray noted that the Boards need to learn how to use technology.

 

Social Media: Armentrout commented that the Neighborhood Plan needs to have a social media rule. Obayashi noted that the attendance of people attending the Board meetings is changing, and utilizing social media such as Facebook and Twitter is necessary.

 

Equipment: Duax commented that each Board should have a projector. Perry commented that she has asked for a laptop in the past, and asked how the Boards are supposed to utilize social media without equipment.

 

Paper Ballots: Bartley recommended that the voting system return to paper ballots, noting that people will not vote by phone or online. Bartley also suggested that the Board members’ term be increased from two (2) years to three (3) years. Prentiss noted that not having paper ballots was detrimental to the election, and the ballot system is the Neighborhood Commission’s responsibility. Chair Young noted the finance committee took down Prentiss’ concern, and will forward the concern to NCO to ask Mayor Caldwell for additional money to hold the election with paper ballots. Bartley emphasized that three (3) year terms could save money.

 

Refreshments: Souza commented that refreshments are beneficial for guests who attend the meetings after a long commute. Rezentes noted that it can take up to 1.5 hours to 2 hours to get to the Leeward side. Chair Young noted that refreshments may be donated. Chair Young added that Boards who purchase refreshments will not get reimbursed. Perry noted that refreshments are not provided at the Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board No. 24 meeting, commenting that the public should attend the meeting to participate, not for the free refreshments.

 

Evaluations: Souza raised a concern with evaluations of the Boards. Souza read an evaluation about her and noted the evaluation was ambiguous. Souza noted she was open to criticism, but the evaluations are detrimental when the feedback is not clear and constructive.

 

Permitting Process: Souza raised a concern that development groups may present to the Board, but that ultimately the Board’s motion to support or oppose a group’s development project does not matter. Souza noted that as long as the presenter is listed on the agenda, the requirement of the Department of Planning and Permitting has been fulfilled. Chair Young noted the Commission does not have jurisdiction over the rules for the permitting process, but will pass on the concern to the appropriate department. Obayashi noted that the neighborhood board can oppose development, but cannot control what happens after the permit is granted.

 

Meetings: Ho noted that Chairs run the meetings professionally, commenting that everyone should be allowed to speak. Ho cuts off speakers who raise concerns not relating to Waimanalo. Ho enforces time limits. Ho recommended that to save time, community members may talk to the presenter or official outside of the meeting. Ho noted the importance to settling problems and not creating problems. Ho advised the Chairs to control the dialogue and be respectful. Kaukani urged Chairs to utilize time limits. Kaukani noted that there needs to be guidelines regarding Facebook and Sunshine Law as to what can be discussed online. Vina noted that the Chairs are responsible for maintaining order and decorum. Mobley noted that the Chair of Aiea Neighborhood Board No. 20 runs meetings well, and everyone is respected.

 

Term Length: Commissioner Finley polled the Chairs and asked for a show of hands on who would like to see three (3) year terms. Several Chairs raised hands. Finley noted that the Neighborhood Commission tried to get the elections run concurrently with the State elections, but that idea was rejected. Reilly suggested contacting the League of Women Voters to start a conversation on counting votes. Reilly suggested putting the neighborhood board candidates on the City Council ballots, but Finley noted that the request was rejected. Dudley voiced support for two (2) year terms. Dudley also noted to raise the concern of putting neighborhood board candidates on the State ballot to the elected officials.

 

Agenda: Yanagihara noted that the format of the agenda needs to be tailored to the needs of each Board. Yanagihara commented that the secretary on Kaneohe Neighborhood Board No. 30 is having difficulties with formatting the agenda. Chair Young noted that Chairs may adjust the order of the agenda, and added that the Chair should be formatting the agenda, not the secretary. Ishikawa noted that she puts a topic on the agenda and contacts the representatives.

 

Three (3) Absences Letter: Obayashi raised a concern that a Board member received a three (3) absence letters, thinking the Chair asked him to resign, and the Board member resigned. Obayashi asked that the Chairs know when a three (3) absences letter is being sent. Chair Young noted that the three (3) absences letter rule is in the Neighborhood Plan.

 

Participation: Greene noted that residents who attend community association meetings might also attend neighborhood board meetings.

 

Special Meetings: Ishikawa noted that at the Wahiawa-Whitmore Village No. 26 Neighborhood Board, if there is a hot topic or heated discussion on an issue, a special meeting is held.

 

Board Attendance: Perry noted that a Board member had recently attended a Board meeting for 10 minutes then left. Perry asked for clarification regarding what counts as a member being present.

 

Knowledge: Perry noted she gave the Board members the Neighborhood Plan, and wants the members to be educated about the rules and guidelines.

 

Timing Device: Vina noted he can set up a timing device. Kyi-Yim noted that a timer can be set on a smart phone.

 

Guidebook: Chair Young noted that a permitted interaction group (PIG) was formed to make the guidebook, and thanked Mobley for his work on it.

 

Q&A WITH THE OFFICE OF INFORMATION PRACTICES (OIP) – JENNIFER BROOKS

 

Why are the neighborhood boards subject to Sunshine Law? The boards fall under the written definition of “Board” as advisory boards. There are similar laws for advisory boards in other states. Board recommendations are intended to represent the neighborhoods.

 

What is the rationale for the State Legislature exemption? The Sunshine Law was meant for a small unicameral body, not a bicameral body like the State Legislature. No state legislature is subject to Sunshine Law.

 

How does Sunshine Law not infringe upon the First Amendment? Several appellate courts in the 1970s said it does not. By taking a position as a volunteer government official, with respect to the position, absolute freedom is given up. Board business applies to Sunshine Law, including items listed on an agenda. Discussing anything other than Board business is not allowed.

 

When should a permitted interaction group (PIG) be formed and what does the process require? Members less than a quorum are appointed to do work and report to the next meeting, and action can only take place at an additional meeting. A PIG should be formed to examine a specific issue. The PIG can discuss the issue without filing an agenda or keeping minutes. A PIG is not a standing committee.

 

Neighborhood Board Exceptions from Sunshine Law: OIP has no jurisdiction over exceptions. HRS 92-81 allows a neighborhood board to discuss information received during a public input section of the agenda, but cannot take action on the item until the next meeting. This section also allows for information to be received even if quorum is not met, as long as action is not taken. Less than a quorum is also allowed to attend meetings of other entities. According to HRS 92-83, an emergency meeting with less than six (6) days notice may be called in cases of public health, safety, and welfare. If the issue is an emergency regarding public health, safety, and welfare, the item may be discussed during a regular meeting even if it is not listed on the agenda. Prentiss noted that if the item is regarding public health, safety, and welfare, then the neighborhood boards should be allowed to add the item with a 2/3 vote.

 

Would OIP support an exemption that would allow more than a quorum to attend public meetings? OIP would be neutral, and would support a bill with neutral language relating to public agency meetings.

 

What is OIP’s position on using social media? OIP does not have a position on social media. Brooks noted that Council accounts are run by staff, and Council members are not friends with each other on Facebook. Anything discussed over social media or email is still subject to Sunshine Law. OIP recommended not being friends with Board members Facebook and if you are, you must refrain from discussing Board business. The NCO office would be able to post on behalf of a neighborhood board. OIP is not opposed to a PIG covering social media interaction policy.

 

When can a neighborhood board enter an executive session to discuss the health issues of an absent Board member? If the meeting is about the Board member’s health affecting the member’s ability to serve on the Board, then it is possible that an executive session be called to discuss a health issue. There is a constitutional right to privacy under HRS 925-A8.

 

OIP Information: There is a list of OIP’s opinions involving neighborhood boards on OIP’s website. For more information, call 586-1400, email oip@hawaii.gov, or visit oip.hawaii.gov.

 

FINAL REMARKS – COMMISSIONER CHAIR SYLVIA YOUNG: Chair Young thanked the audience members for attending the Conference of Chairs. Chair Young noted that although minutes are not required for the conference since it is conducted by a PIG of the Neighborhood Commission, minutes will be provided by NCO. The Neighborhood Commission will work on the suggestions that were offered.

 

The conference adjourned at 12:24 p.m.

 

Submitted by: Risé Doi, Neighborhood Assistant II, & Catherine Proctor, Public Relations Assistant.

 

 

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 29, 2014