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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Commission seeks ideas for a better-run city

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Honolulu Charter Commission wants to hear your suggestions for ways to make city government run better.

Schedule for charter changes

The Honolulu Charter Commission is asking residents to submit their ideas for changing how the city is run. Some may appear as proposed amendments to the City Charter that will appear on the general election ballot in 2006. Here are some key dates:

Oct. 31: Deadline for people to submit their charter-amendment proposals.

December: Charter Commission expects to come up with an initial list of proposed amendments.

February 2006: Public hearings may begin.

September 2006: Final list of charter amendment proposals published.

Nov. 7, 2006: General Election Day.

To reach the Charter Commission


711 Kapi'olani Blvd., Suite 1485
Honolulu, HI 96813

Phone: 592-8622

Fax: 592-8633

E-mail: charter@honolulu.gov

Web site: www.honolulu.gov/chc

Those suggestions will be reviewed and the 13 members of the volunteer commission will decide which of the ideas become proposed amendments to the City Charter, the legal document that spells out how the county government works.

Chairman Donn Takaki said the commission officially "opened" to accepting proposed changes last week and will be welcoming suggestions through Oct. 31. Takaki urges people to come forward to update the charter to reflect the needs of a changing community.

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

The charter requires that the mayor and the Council appoint a commission every 10 years to review the charter and submit suggested changes to the voters on the general election ballot.

City Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz said he expects the proposals to cover a wide range of issues. They would likely include: combining two separate city attorney offices — the prosecuting attorney's office, which handles criminal work, and the Corporation Counsel, which handles civil matters; making the Corporation Counsel's office an elected position; and reworking some city departments to make them more responsive to the public.

Dela Cruz said he has heard from people who want to revise some of the changes made in reorganizing city government under then-Mayor Jeremy Harris. Part of that restructuring combined separate departments.

He said there are proposals for more changes, such as scaling back the city Department of Planning and Permitting, which some complain has grown too big.

Past changes approved by voters included the creation of the city auditor's office; term limits for the mayor and council members; and changing the city races to nonpartisan contests, where the candidates state no party affiliation.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2429.