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MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING FOR JANUARY 29, 2007
CALL TO ORDER: Commission Chair Grant Tanimoto called the meeting to order at 7:13 p.m.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Sheila Apisa, Clara Ching,
MEMBERS ABSENT: Robin Makapagal.
STAFF: Joan Manke (Executive Secretary), Michelle Kidani (Executive Assistant), Cameron Heen (Community Relation Specialists), Bryan Mick (Public Relations Assistant), Nola Frank and Marie Richardson (Neighborhood Assistant).
GUESTS: Ron Mobley (Aiea Neighborhood Board No. 20), Cruz Vila Jr. (Secretary) and Myrtle Nyuho (Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21), Ron Lockwood (Chair, McCully-Mo’ili’ili Neighborhood Board No. 8), Robert Finley (Chair) and Ray Gruntz (Wakiki Neighborhood Board No. 9), Patty Teruya (Chair) and Cynthia Rezentes (Waianae Neighborhood No. 24), Steve Glanstein (Aliamanu Neighborhood Board No. 18); Barbara Miller, Roxie Berlin and Linda Wong (Diamond Head, Kapahulu, St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board No. 5); Tom Smyth (Chair) and Lynne Matusow (Downtown Neighborhood Board No. 13), Don Kitaoka and Paul Herran (Deputy Corporation Counsel),
ROLL CALL OF COMMISSIONERS: A roll call of Commissioners was taken; a quorum was present with seven (7) members.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF OCTOBER 23 AND NOVEMBER 27, 2006: Corrections to the Regular Meeting Minutes of October 23, 2006 included:
Ø Page 2, Budget Committee report, item 1 – under the Questions portion, should read, “Ching questioned, as part of the video agreement, whether a recording was to be provided as…”
Ø Page 2, the following paragraph, third line, delete the phrase, “someone in the audience”; insert “Yuri Farrant, whose expertise with videotaping said…”
Corrections to the Regular Meeting Minutes of November 27, 2006 included:
Ø Page 1, first line following the Executive Secretary’s Report, delete “regarding the”; insert - “administrative process to”;
Ø Page 1, third line, same paragraph, should read, “Manke replied the staff minutes are generally checked for accuracy by Dean Chu; ..…”;
Ø Page 1, sixth line following the Budget Committee report should read, “Ching questioned whether videographer should be required to provide DVD’s of the meeting.”
Sakamoto moved, Gall seconded to approve the Minutes of October 23 and November 27, 2006, as amended. The motion carried, 6-1-0. Aye: Gall, Kaahanui, Nekota, Sakamoto, Tanimoto and Young. Nay: Ching.
Executive Secretary’s Report: Manke reported the Commission is focusing on the complaints status and the upcoming elections.
Budget Update – Sakamoto reported that there was no budget update and that the Budget Committee will review Ching’s inquiry about videographers providing a DVD recording of the board meetings.
Training Update – Nekota reported:
Ø Training surveys were distributed to all neighborhood board members in late November through December. Of those surveys distributed 30% were returned, collected and the results were compiled.
Ø To assist with elections and recruitment, informal sessions were held on Saturday, January 13 in
Ø The next training meeting is tentatively scheduled for Monday, February 26 (in Kapolei); if a regular Commission meeting is not held an alternative date would be on Monday, March 5.
Teruya commented that public input/concern was not posted on the agenda. Chair Tanimoto noted the item was inadvertently deleted. Rezentes added that a motion with a two-thirds vote would make the agenda item official. Sakamoto moved to add to the agenda item 7 – Public Input, followed by item 8 – Adjournment; and it was seconded. No discussion followed. The motion carried by unanimous consent, 7-0-0. Aye: Ching, Gall, Kaahanui, Nekota, Sakamoto, Tanimoto and Young.
Commissioner Apisa arrived during this portion of the meeting (8 members present).
Elections/Recruitment Update – Kidani reported:
Ø Nekota briefly covered the elections/recruitment session held on January 13 at the Candidates Informational briefing held at Kapolei/Honolulu. A total of nine individuals who attended both the Kapolei and
Ø An ad was placed in the Star Bulletin about the informational sessions, and various radio stations carried public service announcements to encourage people to sign-ups as candidates.
Ø A total of 534 applications were received, of which 520 candidates qualified (postmarked by the January 16th deadline) to fill a total of 444 board seats. Applications that did not qualify were either due to late postmark dates or early withdrawal of applications.
Gall recognized the hard work put into the processing of candidate applications and Chair Tanimoto agreed.
Permitted Interaction Group Reports: Chair Tanimoto suggested changing the order of the PIGroup reports; no objections were made.
Neighborhood Board System Audit Update – Nekota reported that the PIGroup for the Audit has been in hiatus for the last two months due to the holidays. The group will start up again shortly.
Tanimoto asked Manke for an update on the Council’s Task Force on the Audit of the Neighborhood Board system. Manke reported that she attended two meetings and was out of town when the last meeting was held. The task force has been focusing on the recommendations given by the City Auditors and the review of a 1979 PacWest report. Members are interested as to whether recommendations from the report were incorporated into subsequent changes in the plan.
Discussion followed: 1) Smyth asked for the names of those on the task force and whether the meetings are subject to the “sunshine law”. In response Manke named
Neighborhood Plan Update – Chair Tanimoto gave a brief background of the work by the PIGroup and others since July. The proposed plan was transmitted to Corporation Counsel in November 2006 for review and comment. The Commission is awaiting word from Corporation Counsel and anticipates a response in February.
Status of Revised Neighborhood Plan – Don Kitaoka, Deputy Corporation Counsel, will be taking over for Deputy Jennifer Waihe’e. He indicated that Ms. Waihe’e will continue the review of the plan which is difficult and arduous. She expects to be completed within the next month. Kitaoka introduced Deputy Paul Herran as backup staff assigned to the Commission.
Chair Tanimoto called attention to the possibility of some upcoming items: 1) A Commission meeting in early March or late February to address the comments and recommendations by Corporation Counsel regarding the proposed neighborhood plan; 2) the NCO staff to explore dates/locations for meeting possibilities; 3) the Neighborhood Plan being applicable to the upcoming election with respect to its timeframe, candidate application deadline (January 16), withdrawal (January 26), and the candidate listing available by February 5. The Chair was open to any thoughts, ideas or suggestions.
Questions, comments and concerns followed:
5. Gall expressed his disappointment that Corporation Counsel has been in possession of the Neighborhood Plan for two or more months and has deemed it so unimportant. S. Glanstein asked about the status of the Plan and whether the Commission could at least be provided with the completed articles up until now. Kitaoka stated he would need to defer any response as he is not assigned the task of reviewing the Plan.
Smyth stated he worked with administrative rules on a regular basis. A consulting process should be used. The process should not be put on hold until Corporation Counsel is all finished. Whether it is section by section or part by part, each is separable and can easily be done in segments. For the record, Gall commented that members have volunteered to sit with Corporation Counsel (Waihe’e) over a period of several months, and/or that Waihe’e should have been present at the Saturday meetings.
Kitaoka advised that he will convey concerns to Deputy Waihe’e.
Discussion regarding possible bills to address Sunshine Law issues introduced at 2007 Legislature – Chair Tanimoto compiled a list (handed out to commissioners) of State House and Senate bills relating to Sunshine Law issues. As an individual, he emailed copies to neighborhood board chairs and suggested focusing specifically on bills addressing neighborhood board issues, rather than trying to change the sunshine law.
Discussion followed: 1) Rezentes expressed urgency with getting the bills heard before the first lateral. 2) Chair Tanimoto noted that neighborhood board members active with this year’s legislature include Cynthia Rezentes,
Smyth advised that the Public Policy Institute at the
Demonstration of On-line Voting for Elections – Mark Wong, President and CEO of Commercial Data Systems, introduced Paul Tan, Corporate Systems Analyst, Mark Gilbert, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Scott Watanabe, Director of Consulting, and Keith Griffin, Field Sales Representative.
Wong presented a voting system developed by Commercial Data Systems (CDS), with the goal of increasing voter participation and awareness of the Neighborhood Board System. The term “online voting system” more often used is actually known as “integrated voting system”. A major component is the ability to generate the ballots, distribute, mail out and tabulate. CDS is not eliminating the mail voting system, but is making it a smoother and less expensive process. In the past, ballots have been very expensive to print. Moreover, there are postage costs to mail the ballots and return postage. Now CDS is automating that process.
Most people confuse “online voting” with the “electronic voting machine” whose design is so bad that Diebold, a major manufacturer, is considering pulling them off the market. Concerns about electronic voting machines are justified. The integrated voting system which is centralized and secured, has software that is audited, has multiple ways of tabulating, reconciling and storing the votes, and is done accurately and simply.
The integrated voting method is also a relatively new approach and has been used in three elections of Kids Vote
In setting up tonight’s demonstration, M. Wong indicated that he was able to set it up without any connection to the Honolulu Hale building, which is a perfect example that people can vote from anywhere. All the information is one-way – the person accessing the system would need an identification and password and once the vote is recorded, it can not be changed. This is very different from online banking where there is a two-way flow and information goes to the computer and back to the user.
The power point demonstration system will first prompt the user to a “Practice Voting” session which can be repeated; or “Proceed to Neighborhood Voting” which then takes the user to a secured network server. Step 1 – identification by a) describing an image, b) an access code given by the City, and c) password. Step 2 – selecting candidates on the official ballot; and Step 3 – reviewing your selection, reviewing candidate profiles, confirm or change your selection, and finally “casting ballot”. Step 4 – Ballot Received – your voting session is now complete.
The software provides instructions on the left side at each Step, it will enforce the number of votes required, and it will give you a warning message if you forget to vote.
Questions, comments and concerns followed:
More discussion followed: 1) Nekota said that the online voting was only an additional method to the paper ballot voting. But she is hearing that this is the chosen method. Most people will not bother to call the NCO for the paper ballot. 2) Young was under the same impression and is also concerned about the additional costs that will be incurred. CDS explained a post card notification would still cost 60% to 70% less. 3) Heen reported that the past neighborhood board elections: a) people were generally unaware and unable to participate in uncontested areas; b) there were complaints that signatures and the SSN were on the outside of the return envelope and a tear-off feature placing that information within the envelope may address that concern; and c) less than 200,000 ballots were mailed out with a less than 25% return. This system is trying to encourage roughly 400,000 registered voters on
Manke replied there are sufficient monies for this proposal in the budget. She explained that historically, in an effort to keep costs down, ballots were not sent to voters in uncontested races, voters who did not vote in the last election and to individuals who moved and forwarded notices were not mailed. In the 2003 election, of the 470,000 voters, 300,000 did not get a ballot because they fell into one of these categories. The NCO made a policy call to be inclusive and reach the 470,000 voters; however, sending the entire ballot and profiles was not affordable. The additional option of online voting appeared to be a possible solution that would reduce printing and postage costs. It should be noted that, historically, no matter how many ballots are sent out, the return rate remained dismal at about 25%. Over the years, the paper ballot option alone has not resulted in increased participation. Ballot returns have declined from 34% in 1993 to 24% in 2005. Manke stated that the time is now to introduce an additional option especially with the City’s critical audit noting the need to increase community participation.
The lengthy discussion continued: 1) In response to Apisa’s inquiry, Manke noted and Kidani verified there are 91 uncontested sub-districts out of 144 sub districts within the 32 neighborhood boards. More than 50% are uncontested. 2) S. Glanstein said it seems that the problem goes beyond the ballot issue and raised concerns relating to security training at the NCO which may compromise the ballot process. But being a parliamentarian he noted that the neighborhood plan prescribes a specific voting technique and he had some deep reservations and was not convinced that the prime objective of ensuring more community participation would be adequately addressed. 3) Ron Mobley explained being familiar with computers, but his wife was not and he would guarantee her non-participation and decision not to vote. A majority of the older people fit in this category. 4) Rezentes agreed and stated that is too quick without public notification. The expectation of implementation within the next two months and without massive education of the general public will surely confuse the 400,000 voters. 5) Young added she would probably vote online, but one of the biggest complaints from the previous elections was the arbitrary decision to not send ballots to the uncontested sub districts, denying uncontested areas from participation and exercising their right to vote.
Gall said time seems to be running against the online voting and perhaps the route to go is using five neighborhood boards to do online voting and the rest of the election as always. 7) Apisa suggested that all uncontested races be allowed to vote online and those in contested races should be given the option to vote online or by paper ballot. 8) Ray Gruntz suggested the option to send paper ballots out as done in the past and have CSD come up with a printout on the voting status of online and paper voting. 9) Linda Wong referenced an article by Lee Cataluna about the passive/aggressive attitude. 10) Tom Heinrich said that much of what has been talked about really needs thorough evaluation, although he strongly supports electronic voting at some point providing the details are worked out. 11) Matusow referred to an article in Midweek of an interview with Joan Manke. It talked about the neighborhood board elections and that ballots will be mailed to voters. Nothing in the interview mentioned online voting. It is now being put out there at the last minute when people are expecting to vote as they have always done. It is disgraceful with all the secrecy and urged going forward with the paper ballots this year. 12) Ron Lockwood noted in the Neighborhood Plan on page 41, the NCO is authorized to engage in demonstration methods of election if determined to be in the best interest of community participation. He suggested a demonstration in one part of the island to view the results. 13) M. Wong, speaking as an individual, suggested to publicize that everyone who did not wish to vote online will get mail ballots and those who expressed interest can go to the website and vote online. 14) Mark Gilbert, also speaking as an individual, complimented everyone’s passion and regardless if the Commission goes with it or not, participating in this dialogue has stimulated awareness.
Teruya referred to a statement in the October 2006 meeting minutes regarding the election timeline for mailing ballots. Chair Tanimoto noted it followed a general schedule. Manke’s response was that the NCO worked very hard to fine tune the process to see if it could even be suggested to utilize online voting and at the time of the October 2006 meeting, online voting was not a done deal. Even at the time the interview was conducted, again it was not a done deal; and according to the Plan, the schedule still has to be followed. Teruya said perhaps there should be a correction to the minutes of October 2006. Manke indicated that the minutes documented the discussion that occurred in October 2006. Manke also responded to Matusow that there was no secrecy in exploring online voting.
Chair Tanimoto called for a 10 minute recess at 8:57 p.m.; the meeting reconvened at 9:06 p.m.
Approval to include Online Voting as an additional method of voting to increase community participation in Neighborhood Board Elections – Nekota moved and Sakamoto seconded the approval to include Online Voting as an additional method of voting to increase community participation in Neighborhood Board Elections. Discussion followed: 1) Apisa asked if it included uncontested areas. 2) Matusow would like to see that paper ballots are the main primary source included in the motion. Young replied that the motion reads, “…as an additional method of voting…”.
Gall entertained an amendment: that the NCO authorize the implementation of online voting for the 2007 candidate election, but limit implementation to five neighborhood board districts with the assurance from the vendors that those districts will receive regular paper ballots and the option to vote electronically provided there is no crossover or double voting. The amendment was not seconded; the amendment failed.
Apisa entertained an amendment: that online voting be used for the non-contested races as well as having the option to opt-in for anyone in contested races that would rather vote online than have a paper ballot; Sakamoto seconded the motion. Discussion followed. Ching said the amendment is fine, however, if the race is uncontested they do not need to be voted in. Apisa explained the purpose was to give people the option to vote, which she feels is their right. The motion carried, 6-2-0. Aye: Apisa, Gall, Kaahanui, Nekota, Tanimoto, Sakamoto. Nay: Ching and Young.
Back to the original motion; Tanimoto repeated: Nekota moved and Sakamoto seconded the approval to include Online Voting as an additional method of voting to increase community participation in Neighborhood Board Elections. The motion carried by unanimous consent. Aye: Apisa, Ching, Gall, Kaahanui, Nekota, Tanimoto, Sakamoto, Young.
2. In response to Teruya, NCO staff will follow-up on complaints filed against the Waianae Neighborhood Board.
ADJOURNMENT: Without any objections, the meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.
|Wednesday, March 07, 2007|