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Neighborhood Commission

 

 

DRAFT – REGULAR MEETING MINUTES                                                                       

MONDAY, MAY 23, 2011

COUNCIL COMMITTEE MEETING ROOM

 

CALL TO ORDER:  Chair Brendan Bailey called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. A roll call of Commissioners established a quorum of seven (7) members present.

 

Members PresentBrendan Bailey, Bob Finley, Ed Gall, Ron Mobley, Jeanette Nekota, Robert Stubbs, and Sylvia Young.

 

Members Absent – Wilson Kekoa Ho and Claire Tamamoto.

 

Guests/Staff – Charles Zahn and Michael Golojuch, Sr. (Members, Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale NB No. 34); Greg Knudsen (Chair, Hawaii Kai NB No. 1); Tom Smyth and Lynne Matusow (Members, Downtown NB No. 13); Ron Lockwood (Chair) and John Kato (Member, McCully-Mo`ili`ili NB No. 8); Kamilla Chan (Deputy Corporation Counsel); J. Thomas Heinrich (Executive Secretary), Bryan Mick, Marie Richardson, Aisha Wang, Leland Ribac, and Theona Kapoi (Neighborhood Commission Office staff).   

 

NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSION OFFICE (NCO) REPORTS:

 

Executive Secretary (ES) – ES Tom Heinrich reported that he will be meeting with the City’s Managing Director (MD) and Deputy Managing Director (DMD) for various reasons regarding the NCO. He will be discussing staffing, staff hiring, and staff retention all in relation to the June 30, 2011 stated date that all NCO staff will be retained until that date. The staff has been on edge because their deadline of knowing if they will be retained has been pushed back. Within the last four weeks, the NCO has lost two staff members to private companies that accommodate areas in their expertise and possibly at better compensation.

 

Briefly evaluating the 2011 election process, the amount of time spent by staff to man the walk in voting sites was not time well spent. There are many places that have access to the internet and can accommodate those who do not have home computers and wish to vote online.

 

ES Heinrich and Bryan Mick will be working on the 2011 Installation Ceremony Packet and it should be ready to go out by weeks end.

 

Chief Monitoring Officer – Bryan Mick noted that Pi`ilani Kaopuiki was unable to attend tonight’s Commission meeting. Kaopuiki was able to certify the Election Results earlier today at the NCO.

 

Chief Elections Officer – Bryan Mick reported the following:

 

  • Election Report: In comparison, the voter rate in 2009 of 6.35 percent to the voter rate for the 2011 election of 8.47 percent. The highest area of voting was in the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board, Sub-district 2 at 22.71 percent. The lowest area of voting was in the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board, Sub-district 4 at 5.07 percent. Mick noted that the votes called in by telephone accounted for roughly 14 percent of the total number of votes and 86 percent of the votes we conducted online.

 

  • Election Packet: The election packet was available and circulated in the audience for public viewing. Each Commission Member received a copy of the packet which included a report by Everyone Counts, a merged report showing contested and uncontested races, a breakdown of voter rates by ballot type, a breakdown of phone versus internet by ballot type and a chart of ballots cast per day.  

 

  • May 19, 2011 Election Disruption: Mick noted that two years ago, the NCO published Everyone Counts website. Many people had problems finding it because the URL was very long. Therefore, one of the recommendations this year was to publish the NCO website and link to the Everyone Counts website from there. The NCO also linked from the main City webpage www.honolulu.gov. For the past few months, the City has been switching over some of its webpage’s to use www1 address instead of www. The NCO website was one of those that have been switched. People could still be directed to www.honolulu.gov/nco as that automatically redirects people to www1. Some time after the close of business on May 19, an issue with the Citywide web occurred.

 

Mick read a statement from the City Department of Information Technology (DIT), “The problem occurred because of a maximum threshold was reached for the amount of people that can connect to the server at the same time. For some still unknown reason, over time the server(s) did not release the connections once a user ended their session. The cause of the problem remains unknown. We [DIT] have been getting this problem intermittently and rebooting seems to temporarily fix it, but with the web sphere project put on hold and technical support staff reassigned, the problem was never researched beyond just rebooting.”

 

The problem arose that the reboot did not automatically restore the redirect from www to www1. Compounding that, May 20 was a furlough day so DIT was at minimum staffing level, having only the Director and Deputy Director available for assistance. Although the actual voting website was running, the URL that had been published to get there was not. It took DIT about an hour and a half to correct the problem once they were alerted to it. After consulting with Corporation Counsel (COR) and Everyone Counts, it was decided to extend the deadline to vote by 24 hours. Mick sent out a press release and posted a note on the NCO website. Although the phone option was always accessible, NCO wanted to maximize the chance for people to vote.

 

            From a statistical point of view, this is what occurred:

 

Date

Phone Vote

Web Vote

Total Votes

May 17

76

403

479

May 18

73

421

494

May 19

170

327

497

May 20

217

685

902

May 21

30

198

228

 

There are several ways to address this issue; Publish both URLs or publish only Everyone Counts URL but continue to link from the NCO and City websites to the Everyone Counts website.

 

Questions, comments and concerns followed:

 

1.       Empty Ballots: Commissioner Nekota requested clarification for what was deemed an “empty ballot” in the results packet that was distributed. Mick clarified that empty ballots were submitted by residents that logged on to the website using their pass code and the last four of the social security number and did not choose any candidates.

 

2.       Election Disruption: Commissioner Mobley stated that there should be no excuses for a disruption in the system. The NCO has to find a way to stop this from occurring in the future. There should be ways the system can periodically check if it’s running smoothly. Shrugging shoulders and not finding out what the problem is not acceptable.

 

3.       Follow Up: Chair Bailey received clarification from Mick that DIT will continue to follow up with the concern and report any information to the Commission.

 

4.       2011 Neighborhood Board Election Irregularities: Greg Knudsen, Chair of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board No. 1 spoke on his own behalf regarding the 2011 Neighborhood Board Elections which he requested be noted for the record:

1)       In the first online posting of candidates, two Hawaii Kai members in separate races were listed as opposing each other. This was an NCO mistake that was corrected after the NCO was notified.

2)       Two Hawaii Kai members applied to run for re-election but were not accepted by the NCO. One was told his application was not received; the other was told he must disclose his exact address (although running at-large), but he refused on privacy grounds since his address was previously released to the public against his wishes. He was willing to verify his Hawaii Kai address to the NCO.

3)       One Hawaii Kai candidate who applied in the at-large race was moved by the NCO after the deadline to his sub-district and told there were no other candidates so he’d be automatically elected. After strong protest from Knudsen [me], NCO reversed its action and restored the candidate lists as of the deadline. This affected 3-4 other boards, too. Although the illegal action way by the NCO and Chief Election Officer, the Hawaii Kai candidate who Knudsen [I’d] assisted about the election, was upset with me and accused me of trying to prevent new members from joining the board.

4)       On the filing deadline day (February 18) at 4:15 p.m., the election officer tried to contact the Hawaii Kai member who he’d disqualified for not disclosing his address to say he would allow him to run. But the EO could not reach the candidate by the 4:30 p.m. deadline, so he remained disqualified.

5)       In early-April, the EO called me to say the other Hawaii Kai disqualified candidate’s application WAS found. The NCO had erroneously placed him in a Mililani race. NCO restored his candidacy, which was unopposed, and he was re-elected. This is the sub-district where the EO had tried to place the at-large candidate. So, if that action hadn’t been rescinded, it would have further complicated the matter due to the manipulation and errors of the NCO/EO.

6)       The Neighborhood Plan (Sec. 2-17-302) says: “The commission shall distribute ballots to voters by the fourth Friday in April of the election year” (April 22). Hawaii Kai residents did not receive their ballots until May 4 (two days after the election began). The election should have been from April 22 through May 20.

7)       Online voting was disrupted on Thursday, May 19, and Friday, May 20 – the final two days of the election – due to a computer crash. There was no immediate monitoring of the election, and not immediate response once notified by myself and other. Having the problem fall afterhours and on a “Furlough Friday” is no excuse; the final days of the election should have been closely monitored. The system was down from at least 8:00 p.m. Thursday to 10:30 a.m. Friday. I received a phone message at 3:20 p.m. and an email at 4:32 p.m. Friday saying that the election was extended one day. I was told that the board chairs and candidates were not notified because the NCO was not required by to do so by the Neighborhood Plan. I strongly believe that they should have been informed. The NCO sent out a news release, but it was not printed in the newspaper or given widespread media attention. The Neighborhood Plan does not address such a problem and it does not authorize the NCO/EO to extend the election.

8)       The Neighborhood Plan (Sec. 2-17-309b) says: “The certified election results shall be made public on the first business day in June of the election year” (June 1). Tonight’s Commission agenda says the results are to be certified and released tonight, May 23. [And they were.]

 

In summary, this list of election irregularities is unacceptable. If this had been a special election for the City Council, the errors, manipulation, and legal violations would not have been tolerated or allowed. Ignoring such disregard and abuse of the Neighborhood Board election suggests a lack of priority and respect for our Neighborhood Board system.

 

5.       2011 Election: Lynne Matusow, member of the Downtown Neighborhood Board No. 13 noted that she will echoed some of the points made by the previous speaker. Matusow questioned why things were not done the way the Neighborhood Plan writes. She is not aware of who authorized the extension of the voting period deadline. It was requested that the Commission look at returning to the use of mailed ballots because it seems to work. If the Commission wants people to vote, they need to make it easy for them.

 

6.       Violation of the Neighborhood Plan: Commissioner Mobley noted that if the Neighborhood Plan states the elections should have ended on the third Friday of May, we are in violation of the Plan. It was questioned if the NCO was told to violate the Plan by the opinion of COR. Chair Bailey noted that Commissioner Mobley may be misstating what was told to the NCO by COR as he does not think COR will intentionally tell the NCO to violate the Plan.

 

7.       Profile Packet: Commissioner Nekota noted that in her pass code and profile packet she only received the profiles for the Mililani Mauka Neighborhood Board No. 35. Mick responded that the profile packets were separated by regional districts. It was commented that the regional packets confused a lot of people and they were not sure who to vote for.

 

COMMISSION BUSINESS:

 

Certified 2011 Neighborhood Board System Election Results – Mick noted in the Election Packet received by the Commissioners is a letter signed by Piilani Kaopuiki certifying the results of the 2011 Neighborhood Board Elections. In her letter, she recognizes that the election period was extended from 11:59 p.m., May 20 to 11:59 May 21, 2011.

 

 

Questions, comments, and concerns followed:

 

Criteria Used to Certify Results: Greg Knudsen questioned the criteria used to certify the election results as well as the role of Piilani Kaopuiki. He noted that the way NCO handled the 2011 Neighborhood Board Election would not have been tolerated by City Council.

 

Discussion and Preliminary Evaluation of the 2011 Neighborhood Board System Election – ES Heinrich noted that he would like to respond to some of the things said in general. First, the key coordination for the elections was done by Chief Elections Officer, Bryan Mick, the Commission, and the vendor Everyone Counts. Many of the issues that occurred go to the point of “next time.” It was also noted that many things are going to the direction of the internet and online methods.

 

At the May 2, 2011 Special Commission meeting, Karen Clakeley of Everyone Counts made a presentation regarding the 2011 Neighborhood Board Online Election Process. ES Heinrich is hoping Ms. Clakeley will be able to return to Hawaii for a follow up on the elections and process of the online voting. The discussion with Ms. Clakeley will include an evaluation of what happened, the possibility of coordinating with all county clerks as well as the “military and overseas” act, and the consideration of licensing a long term relationship with the vendor.

 

Another point of confusion during this election was the regional packets distributed to various households. It was noted that there should be less things in the packet for residents to have to worry about. A question was raised as to why all residents were not able to vote even in uncontested races. ES Heinrich agrees with the perspective, but it is dependent on the mail out and the largest amount of money used is from the neighborhood board system elections. It was clarified to Chair Bailey that at one point all registered voters were allowed to vote, even in uncontested races. It was when funding became less available is when uncontested races did not have ballots cast.

 

ES Heinrich noted that the Commission and NCO have to begin planning for the 2013 Neighborhood Board System election should there be one. It is possible that there need to be amendments to the Neighborhood Plan so that the process is clear to everyone.

 

Consideration of the Reorganization and Establishment of Neighborhood Commission Committees – Chair Bailey noted that this item was added to the agenda by the request of the ES.  ES Heinrich requested this be an agenda item as a suggestion for the Commission to consider. He wanted the Commission to keep in mind the July 1, 2011 date as a transition period. ES Heinrich would like to instigate the initial convening meeting where the election officers and the establishment of committees for the year occurs.

 

ES Heinrich noted that his role as the ES has been a great learning experience. He would like to invite and encourage the Commission and Board members to work with the NCO and ES in the opportunities that draw upon volunteer service and with efforts that are more focused. There are many limitations between the NCO and the Neighborhood Commission, as the role of both has to be identified. Section 2-11-201(d), Neighborhood Plan 2008, is some what of a weak point for the Neighborhood Board System as it notes that, “The commission shall not be responsible for nor control the administrative affairs of day-to-day operations of the commission office.” This notes that the Commission can operate as a policy and adoption of process level.

 

ES Heinrich noted that there are three committees on the agenda and cannot recall if these Committees are a part of the Commissions standing committees. It was noted that some of the duties of the Neighborhood Commission is noted in Article 14 section 14-103 Powers, Duties and Functions of the City Charter noting that the primary responsibility is to evaluate and review the effectiveness of the Neighborhood Plan. It was noted that the without a standing committee at least for the Neighborhood Plan, it is hard for the Commission to fulfill this function.  

 

Questions, comments, and concerns followed:

 

1.       Committee’s Function: Chair Bailey noted that the Commission Committees as he is aware will make their presentation to the entire Commission and then make a motion to disband the committee. ES Heinrich noted that he will do the research and pose the idea of committees for the Commission to consider at the June meeting. Chair Bailey noted that the Commission can look into creating a Committee that will evaluate its standing committees.

 

2.       Standing Committee: Commissioner Mobley noted that a standing committee does not go away. The only way it does is by a document stating that it no longer exists.

 

3.       Training Committee: Commissioner Nekota noted that she has been waiting for a training DVD and cannot evaluate something that is not there.

 

4.       Agenda Suggestion: Commissioner Finley requested the Committee issue be added to the meeting of the Commission. It was also suggested that ES Heinrich strongly emphasize the NCO move to a more publicly accessible office. ES Heinrich noted that he would like the June 18th Installation Ceremony be an opportunity for the board members to advocate for the NCO move to the Mission Memorial Complex. The NCO may share the space with the Mayor’s Office of Culture and Arts, but none-the-less, NCO will be in a better area. It is hoped that the board members will be able to visit the complex and see for themselves first hand the possibility of a new location for the NCO.

 

PUBLIC CONCERNS:

 

Reapportionment – Tom Smyth requested the Commission consider reapportionment of the Neighborhood Board System. The Commission should look at the relationship to the people in the area. The Neighborhood Board System has to take into account if they are the same as they were 30 years ago. The inequality of population and density to the number of board members has to be evaluated. It would be something to look at as there will be recent data from the 2010 census. This is also a good time to look at it because it will be two years until the next election.

 

Commissioner Nekota commented that Commissioner Ed Gall brought the subject up before and since the constant change of the Executive Secretary of the NCO, the subject was not further researched.

 

House Representative Jo Jordan commented that as she speaks with other legislators, they note that there is not as much participation with some boards as there are others. It would be better to look at reapportionment to get the necessary City and State participation.

 

Lynne Matusow noted that if realigning exists, it is likely that they will have to do so every 10 years.

 

Follow Up – Lynne Matusow noted that something needs to be done by the Commission or the NCO when board members do not abide by the Neighborhood Plan. Carlton Middleton did not notify the Commission or the NCO about his change in address with in the 10 day period as noted in the Plan and his seat should have been vacated.

 

Reapportionment – John Kato agreed with Tom Smyth regarding reapportionment. The boards represent their neighborhoods and it has to be looked at as how they change and how they stay the same. The McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board is relatively the same and stable.

 

Neighborhood Plan – Commissioner Finley questioned if the Neighborhood Plan 2008 with the amendments were completed. Kamilla Chan, Deputy Corporation Counsel noted that Elisabeth Contrades is working on completing the document. ES Heinrich noted that he would like the document ready by the June 18 Installation Ceremony or by July 1 at the latest.

 

Rule of Thumb – Ron Lockwood, Chair of the McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board No. 8 noted that the Board began with 17 members divided by various sub districts. They are currently at 15 at-large seats. The rule of thumb the Board used to determine the number of seats for the district is one person to every 2,000 people, which seemed to work.

 

Congratulations to Tom Heinrich – Ron Lockwood presented ES Heinrich various gag gifts to welcome him as the NCOs’ new ES. He was presented with a set of magic eight balls, a compass, a kazoo, and marbles, all to which Mick noted were choking hazards.

 

NCO Website – Charles Zahn agreed with some of the points made earlier by Greg Knudsen. A lot of the things that happened shouldn’t have been done. Zahn noted that he did not receive an agenda for the Commission meeting until today. He emailed nco@honolulu.gov and did not receive a response to get the agenda. There needs to be better communication from the NCO. Mick noted that there are three people with access to that particular email.

Expenses Greg Knudsen noted that the Boards have had to cut back on expenses and he does not feel that every Board Member should receive a hard copy of the Neighborhood Plan. As more residents have become accustomed to the latest technologies, a PDF copy on the NCO website should suffice.

 

Governors Representative – It was requested for the Commission to advocate for a Governor’s Representative as they no longer have one at the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board. It was suggested to write a letter to them because their attendance at meetings is very important to the community. Lynne Matusow noted that a letter was sent to many of the Neighborhood Boards during the Lingle administration informing them that a Governor’s Representative will not be available.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: The approval of the following meetings minutes were deferred until the next regular meeting of the Commission:

 

·         February 17, 2011 Special Meeting Minutes

·         February 28, 2011 Regular Meeting Minutes

·         March 28, 2011 Regular Meeting Minutes

·         April 25, 2011 Regular Meeting Minutes

·         May 2, 2011 Special Meeting Memorandum for the Record

 

ES Heinrich noted that the minutes were not complete or ready for review by the Commission. He did not want to appear at tonight’s meeting with five sets of minutes that the Commission did not have time to review. ES Heinrich also noted that as there is no standard operations manual located in the NCO, he was not aware of the protocol of the correction of minutes prior to being sent in the mail out and was told COR reviews the minutes prior to distribution. He will follow up on the protocol of the Commission minutes.

 

Commissioner Mobley noted that it should not be given to COR for review as it is the minutes of the Commission.

 

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

 

Budget – Committee Chair Young noted that she has not seen a budget from the NCO for over a year. Mick noted that a budget was provided to the Commission two months ago.

 

Neighborhood Plan – Committee Chair Finley noted that the Neighborhood Plan Committee is dissolved and was done so by motion. It was requested that the formation of a Neighborhood Plan Committee can be placed on a future Commission Agenda.

 

Training – Committee Chair Nekota stated that she is waiting on the status of a video that is to be posted on the NCO website. Mick is working with Bob Farell of Makakilo.com to edit the training video.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

 

2011 Election – The voting period for the 2011 Neighborhood Board System ended on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

 

Installation Ceremony – The 2011 Installation Ceremony and other training activities for the newly elected board members are scheduled for the morning of Saturday, June 18, 2011 at the Mission Memorial Auditorium, located to the Diamond Head side of Honolulu Hale. All Neighborhood Commissioners, Neighborhood Board Members, and the general public are welcome to attend. More details will be available soon.

 

Questions, comments and concerns followed:

 

1.       Schedule of Ceremony: Commissioner Stubbs requested clarification of the schedule for the 2011 Installation Ceremony. Mick noted that the Ethics training will begin at 8:30 a.m., the Sunshine Law training by the Office of Information Practices will begin at 9:30 a.m., and the Ceremony will begin at 11:00 a.m.

 

2.       Conflict in Training: Commissioner Mobley noted that there is a conflict in the ethics training classes offered, as it happens during the Installation Ceremony. Mick stated that the ethics training for Commissioners will have to be rescheduled because it will happen at the same time as the Installation Ceremony.

3.       Required to Attend Ceremony: Charles Zahn questioned if returning neighborhood board members are required to attend the Installation Ceremony? He noted that Sunshine Law training is only required every two years and the last Installation Ceremony was on June 20, 2009, leaving two days for returning Board members to not attend the training. Chair Bailey noted that it would be a good refresher for all Board members and at the Installation Ceremony, all members are sworn in for the new term. 

 

Next Regular Meeting – The Commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 27, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at Honolulu Hale, Room 205 – the City Council Committee Meeting Room.  

 

Questions, comments and concerns followed:

 

1.       Recess: Commissioner Gall questioned if it would be possible for the Commission to recess in June. Chair Bailey stated he will make note of the request and follow up with the rest of the Commissioners.

 

ADJOURNMENT: The meeting adjourned at 8:37 p.m.

 

Submitted by: Theona Kapoi, Neighborhood Commission Office

 

Reviewed by: J. Thomas Heinrich, Executive Secretary

Last Reviewed: Monday, August 22, 2011