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Friday, March 10, 2000

Kauai mayor
gives in, releases
committee names

By Anthony Sommer
Kauai correspondent


LIHUE -- Still insisting she has a legal right to keep their names secret, Kauai Mayor Maryanne Kusaka has made public the names of members of a committee she has appointed to recommend a replacement for the island's nearly full landfill.

Kusaka released the names only because they would have appeared this week in the minutes of a "visioning session" she had with the County Council several weeks ago. At the meeting, which was open to the public but no one attended, the mayor provided the names to the County Council.

The meeting minutes are controlled by the county clerk and not by the mayor's office and must be made public. Anything said at a public meeting cannot later be made secret.

The committee includes retired purchasing agent John Fernandes Jr., environmental health specialist Ted Inouye, construction executive Wilfred Kimura, management consultant John Love, engineer Ed Nakano, banker Curtis Tom, county Public Works controller Leonard Vierra and county Solid Waste Manager Troy Tanigawa.

Jean Camp, a chemical engineer, has been hired as a consultant to the group.

The mayor formally announced the formation of the committee on Feb. 18 and said she was keeping the names of the members secret so they wouldn't be lobbied by bidders. She also said their meetings would be closed.

County Attorney Hartwell Blake said state procurement regulations exempting the bidding process from the state Sunshine Law allow the county to conduct its business behind closed doors.

Critics of the mayor have disagreed, arguing to the state Office of Information Practices that the exception to the public records and open meeting laws applies only to the consideration of bids, not the entire process of deciding public policy on the handling of solid waste, one of the county's biggest budget items.

Moya Gray, director of the state Office of Information Practices, which attempts to resolve such disputes, said yesterday her office has made no decisions.

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