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Neighborhood Commission

                                                                                                                                                                  

 

REVISED DRAFT – REGULAR MEETING MINUTES

MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011

HONOLULU HALE, ROOM 205, CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE MEETING ROOM

 

CALL TO ORDER: Chair Brendan Bailey called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m.

 

Members Present – Brendan Bailey, Bob Finley, Ed Gall, Ron Mobley, Jeanette Nekota, Robert Stubbs, and Claire Tamamoto.

 

Members Absent – Wilson Kekoa Ho and Sylvia Young.

 

Guests/Staff – Charles Zahn and Michael Golojuch, Sr. (Member, Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board No. 34), Mike Golojuch, Jr., Tom Heinrich (Member, Manoa Neighborhood Board No. 7), Philmund Lee (Office of Councilmember Tom Berg), Bert Narita (Chair, Diamond Head/Kapahulu/St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board No. 5), Daisy Murai, Lynne Matusow and Tom Smyth (Members, Downtown Neighborhood Board No. 13), Ron Lockwood (Chair) and Joel Tomyl (Member, McCully-Mo`ili`ili Neighborhood Board No. 8), Tom Soupter, Carolyn Golojuch, Elisabeth Contrades and Kamilla Chan (Deputy Corporation Counsel), Bryan Mick (Acting Executive Secretary) and Pilialoha Gaison (Neighborhood Commission Office staff).

 

ROLL CALL OF COMMISSIONERS: A roll call of Commissioners established a quorum of seven (7) members present.

 

UPDATES FROM THE NCO: Acting ES Bryan Mick presented the following updates:

 

  • Introduction of Executive Secretary Appointee – Tom Heinrich has been selected by Mayor Peter Carlisle as the appointee for the Executive Secretary position. He will begin with the NCO on April 1, 2011. The first City Council hearing for confirmation is scheduled for April 20, 2011.

 

  • New Neighborhood Assistant – The NCO has filled the Neighborhood Assistant vacancy with Shanel Almonte; currently the office is at full staff.

 

  • Election Update – The NCO has awarded the contract for printing and binding to Hagadone. As of today, five vendors have submitted bids for the online election process and a final report will be issued tomorrow, March 29, 2011. The candidates’ profiles are being edited and will be posted to the NCO website.

 

  • Petition to Dissolve Koolauloa Neighborhood Board – More than 100 signatures have been collected. These signatures will be submitted to the City Clerk for verification that these individuals are registered voters in the district of Koolauloa. Once the City Clerk has verified the names, the issue of dissolving the Board will be handed over to the Commission.

 

  • Complaints – There were many complaints regarding changes in board members, and/or districts that are now irrelevant due to time sensitivity. These are being sorted and eliminated.

 

  • Training Video – Acting Executive Secretary Mick has found a vendor that is willing and able to edit the training video. He is planning to schedule a time with the vendor and review the video.

 

  • Neighborhood Plan and Guidebook Copies – This is work still in progress. Corporation Counsel (COR) is working on the Plan amendments, and the NCO hopes to have it available by July for the newly elected board members.

 

            There was an unofficial request for review regarding a complaint to fill a vacancy on the Makakilo NB No.       34. The NCO has determined that there was no violation and that the Chair was in compliance with the     Neighborhood Plan. A letter has been sent out addressing this request.

 

            A question was raised whether the Neighborhood Board Chairs could receive a list of candidate        addresses in order to hold a candidate forum for their respective boards. The NCO indicated that distributing the addresses was not an option, but agreed to distribute a letter to the candidates on behalf     of the Chairs upon request.

 

PUBLIC CONCERNS:

 

Conflict of Interest – Michael Golojuch, Jr., complained that Evelyn Souza voted on an agenda item at her Makakilo NB meeting and did not disclose that there might be a possible conflict of interest because she is employed by Councilmember Tom Berg. It was suggested that staff members who are also board members need to disclose the possible conflict of interest.

 

Concerns of How the Neighborhood Commission Handles Business – Ron Lockwood, along with other members on his McCully-Mo`ili`ili NB, passed a resolution that will hopefully get the attention of the Commission. He voiced disappointment about how the Commission is performing its fiduciary duty to the members of the NBs, and strongly encouraged that the Commission discuss these matters openly as a group.

 

Verification of Address – Lynne Matusow stated that there was a violation of the Neighborhood Plan by Carlton Middleton and was upset about the way the NCO handled the situation. Mr. Middleton had moved from his apartment and failed to notify the NCO. Acting ES Mick agreed that Mr. Middleton had not notified the NCO, but believed that for the time period in question, Mr. Middleton was in transition and unable to define his residency.

 

Tom Smyth said it was critical that the NCO did not thoroughly follow-up and clarify the timing and placement regarding Mr. Middleton’s residency, for which the NCO was faulted.  

 

With regard to Lockwood’s statement about how the Commission handles business, Matusow agreed that there are a number of people very upset about the way this Commission conducts themselves and that people may need to be asked to resign.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

 

February 17, 2011 Special Meeting Minutes – Chair Bailey deferred the approval of the February 17, 2011 Special Meeting Minutes, due to a mix-up of multiple draft minutes that were circulated.  

 

February 28, 2011 Regular Meeting Minutes – The following correction was noted: 

 

  • Page 2, the last motion to add the “Appointment of Chief Monitoring Officer for the 2011 Election” to the agenda is reflected incorrectly. The motion was NOT ADOPTED and the vote should be reflected correctly as 0-7-0 (No: Bailey, Finley, Gall, Ho, Mobley, Nekota, and Stubbs); and not 7-0-0.  

 

There seemed to be a mix-up of meeting minutes that were circulated; therefore, Chair Bailey also suggested that the approval of the February 28, 2011 Regular Meeting Minutes be deferred to the next Commission meeting.

 

Matusow stated that the Commission was not following the Office of Information Practices Opinion Letter dated September 13, 2005 regarding the identification of speakers and the proper summarization of their remarks in the minutes.

 

Smyth added that testifiers, speakers and presenters do not have to identify themselves and it would be wise to put in the guidebook to have that distinction made.

 

Bailey moved to enter into Executive Session for the purpose of consulting with the Neighborhood Commission’s Legal Counsel on questions and issues pertaining to the Commission’s powers, duties and privileges, immunities and liabilities in relation to the review and approval of Executive Session Meeting Minutes of the Special Meeting of February 17, 2011. The motion was ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY by a vote of 7-0-0 (Aye: Bailey, Finley, Gall, Mobley, Nekota, Stubbs, and Tamamoto).

 

COMMISSION BUSINESS:

 

Appointment of Chief Monitoring Officer – Acting ES Mick recommended the appointment of Pi`ilani Kaopuiki, with the League of Women Voters, to the position of Chief Monitoring Officer for the 2011 Neighborhood Board Elections.

 

Discussion followed: NB members Heinrich and Lockwood testified in support of Pi`ilani Kaopuiki, as she was praised for her work ethic and accomplishments. Mobley moved to appoint Pi`ilani Kaopuiki as the Chief Monitoring Officer for the 2011 Neighborhood Board System elections; Stubbs seconded the motion. The motion was ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY by a vote of 7-0-0 (Aye: Bailey, Finley, Gall, Mobley, Nekota, Stubbs, and Tamamoto.)

 

Survey of Boards to Create a Strategy to Deal with Projected Budgetary Shortfalls – Commissioner Finley gave an overview of concerns that the Commission is not allowing the boards to comment on some of the decisions and therefore, Commissioner Finley made the following suggestions:

 

  • It was reported or rumored that the FY 2011-2012 City budget is $100 million underfunded. It is anticipated that all city agencies will be directed to make cuts in operating expenses.
  • The concern was that the Commission will not be able to allow a three-month period to the boards to agenda, meet, discuss and make recommendations about what actions they would prefer.
  • These are not actual numbers but if a 15% cut is anticipated for the NCO budget, which could result in the loss of up to three or four full time positions and a major portion of the boards’ operating funds.
  • Currently, each Neighborhood Assistant is supporting four to five meetings a month. This could reduce the ability of the NA’s to support up to 15 meetings a month.
  • If the NCO or the Commission got notice to cut immediately, there would be no time to poll the boards. This could mean that each board be limited to six meetings a year and that would create an uproar.
  • A recommendation would be that the ES poll the neighborhood boards with a deadline of June 20, 2011 and to make recommendations or suggestions for solutions to this Commission. Recommendations should also be included from the ES and staff on the reduced budget situation and give the board several options to discuss and comment on.

 

Questions, comments, and concerns followed:

 

  1. Options for Budget Cuts – To get a consensus, there should be a list of possible areas, objects, or expenses of options for budget cuts. A better understanding of looking at the budget issue is cutting or reducing the monies; this would give the public a sense of what is being done. These suggestions should come from the NCO.

 

  1. Combining Meetings:  A suggestion of combining meetings to save on facility rental costs was brought up for discussion. It has been done with the McCully-Mo`ili`ili and Manoa NBs and was rather successful.

 

  1. Fiscally Responsible:  It is an expectation of the Commissioners that the Boards conduct themselves in a fiscally responsible manner. The board operations should be economical and in order to do so, the boards should be made aware of where and how their monies are being spent. The suggestion was that the boards be informed about their operating costs; for example, how much does it cost for their facility and how many mail-outs are being sent each month?

 

Request to Add Agenda Item – Mobley recommended that the Commission form a committee which would help to decide what and how to promote fiscally prudent boards. Mobley moved to add an agenda item to have the Budget Committee work with the NCO to develop a plan on what to do and how to solicit input from the Boards on what could be done to meet a reduced budget; Gall seconded the motion. The motion  was ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY by a vote of 7-0-0; the necessary two-thirds (6) vote was achieved. (Aye: Bailey, Finley, Gall, Mobley, Nekota, Stubbs, and Tamamoto).

 

Budget CommitteeMobley moved to have the Budget Committee work with the NCO to develop a plan on what to do and how to solicit input from the boards on what could be done to meet a reduced budget; Gall seconded the motion. Discussion followed with the following comments:  

 

  1. Poor Communication – The NCO and the Commission were criticized for poor communication among themselves and to the Neighborhood Boards. The staff was said to be bombarded with other “city functions” that kept them from doing their jobs and serving the boards.
  2. Budget Cuts – Cutting the funding was a major concern because there was not much to cut. Some audience members were upset that the Commission did not save the City money by postponing an election if the budget was so tight. In preparation for the cuts, it was questioned who will pick-up the slack or the workload. Although it seemed simple, it was asked that the Commission find other places in the budget to tighten up.

 

  1. Consolidating Boards – Consolidating the boards or reducing them to half the number of boards was suggested. However, it was contested by another audience member who stated that cutting the boards was contrary to the Neighborhood Plan which is to increase participation.

 

The Commissioners then voted on the motion to have the Budget Committee work with the NCO. The motion was ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY by a vote of 7-0-0 (Aye: Bailey, Finley, Gall, Mobley, Nekota, Stubbs and Tamamoto).

 

Resolution Requesting the State Government establish a standard reduced rate for Neighborhood Board Facility Rental Fees in Return for the City Continuing to Exempt State Government Properties from Paying Real Property Taxes – During the budget review with City Council, the NCO was asked to look into finding government facilities to minimize the rental costs for the Neighborhood Board meetings.

 

Questions, comments, and concerns followed:

 

  1. Setting Standard Facility Rental Rates – Commissioner Finley believed that collecting information from the state about the use of school cafeterias may be too general. The principal of each school decides how much rent to charge. This usually covers the utilities and janitorial services.

 

            If it is decided to establish a standard rate across the board, the NCO may miss out on savings because      some facilities are charging a very nominal fee. The Commissioners requested a list of the current             facilities and the rental fees for each of them.

 

  1. Tax Exemptions – Real property taxes used to belong to the state and it has only been a few years since it has gone to the County. Therefore, the exemption is a state exemption not a county exemption. So the resolution is not offering them something they can do.

 

            Most of the properties where the neighborhood board meetings are held are schools and libraries, which       are independent of the governor. This means that it is not likely that the Governor would tell the schools             how to conduct their day-to-day business.

 

With the cost of electricity going up and the need for the lights to be on during the meetings, it may be difficult to ask for a low rental rate.

 

After this information was shared, it was suggested that no action should be taken on this resolution. There is a need for further discussion and brainstorming regarding the language and abilities of the parties involved.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

 

  • Next Regular Commission Meeting – Scheduled for Monday, April 25, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at Honolulu Hale, Room 205, City Council Committee Meeting Room.  

 

ADJOURNMENT: The meeting adjourned at 8:27 p.m.

 

Submitted by:

 

Pilialoha Gaison

Marie Richardson

 

Reviewed by: ES J. Thomas Heinrich

 

Last Reviewed: Monday, August 22, 2011