City welcomes ideas
to reshape Charter

The City Charter Commission is calling on the public to suggest changes to the Charter.

"This is to ensure the Charter, the city's governing document, is reviewed and updated to reflect the needs of the changing city," commission Chairman Donn Takaki said. "We are now ready to consider proposed changes by the public to our Charter that will hopefully allow our city to run more efficiently and effectively."

To offer your suggestions

The City Charter Commission is accepting proposed changes to the City Charter. Proposals must be submitted on the commission's form. Staff will be able to assist the public in making sure the proposals are in the appropriate format.

When: Until Oct. 31

Where: Commission office at 711 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 1485

Contact: 592-8622, fax 592-8633, e-mail charter@honolulu.gov

The commission will take the proposals between now and Oct. 31, and look them over as they come in during the next few months. The commission normally meets at City Hall at 4 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month.

A vote to determine the initial list of topics will be taken in December. A final vote on proposed amendments will be taken a year from now, followed by public education, before voters decide which changes will be adopted in the 2006 general election.

"This is a rare and great opportunity for everyone to have a say in our city," Takaki said.

City Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz said one of the issues the commission could review is whether the 1998 reorganization of the city done by Mayor Jeremy Harris is working.

"Is it working for our constituents?" Dela Cruz said.

He said questions could be asked about whether some departments combined under the reorganization are too big or should be split up.

"I know people definitely have some suggestions on certain departments that they feel could be run differently or more efficiently," Dela Cruz said.

He said other items that the commission could take up include whether to give the Ethics Commission the power to impose fines, and whether to change the corporation counsel from an appointed to elected position.

The Council considered some issues before deciding that it would be best to forward them to the Charter Commission for consideration, "because we didn't achieve consensus," Dela Cruz said.

He said the commission could also take up some "housecleaning" items, including changing when the Council and the mayor are sworn in.

Currently both are sworn in on Jan. 2 at noon, which resulted when Council terms were staggered.

"That means the Council won't ever get to go to the mayor's swearing-in, and the mayor won't ever get to come to the Council's swearing-in," Dela Cruz said.

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