DONOVAN M. DELA CRUZ — Six amendments to the City Charter will be on the ballot this year.  When you vote in the General Election, you will decide on proposed changes to the Charter that serves as the governing document for City operations.  Significant changes could occur with public approval of these six proposed amendments:

Question No. 1

“Shall the revised City Charter be amended to create a semi-autonomous public transit authority responsible for the planning, construction, operation, maintenance, and expansion of the City’s fixed guideway mass transit system?”

This proposal creates a Public Transit Authority to oversee the construction, operation and maintenance of the rail transit system.  The Authority will consist of a total of 9 voting members.  The Authority will have the ability to execute contracts and project labor agreements; acquire property by eminent domain, purchase or lease (with Council’s approval); and promote transit oriented development.  To ensure transparency, the Authority will adhere to the sunshine law.  Meeting agendas will be posted, allowing for public input and decisions made in the open.

Question No. 2

“Shall the Revised City Charter be amended to prohibit a newly-appointed city officer, for a period of twelve months from the start of the officer’s current employment with the city, from participating in or making any decision with respect to any city matter with which he or she was directly involved while working for a private entity in the twelve-month period immediately preceding the start of the officer’s current city employment and where such prior involvement on behalf of a private entity may tend to impair the independence of judgment in the performance of the officer’s official duties?”

This proposal will strengthen the current conflict-of-interest provision in the Charter that prevents a newly appointed department head from using information gained from his or her previous job in any decision making as a department head. 

Question No. 3 

“Shall the Liquor Commission be allowed to hire and dismiss its Administrator and Deputy Administrator in the same fashion as department heads appointed by the mayor?”

This amendment allows the Liquor Commission to appoint and remove the Liquor Administrator.  This proposal was developed as result of the City Auditor’s report that stated the Commission’s oversight and management of its operations were inadequate. 

Question No. 4

“Shall the Revised Charter of the City and County of Honolulu be amended to remedy language inconsistencies and to clarify the provisions of the Ordinances by Initiative Power, Article Ill, Chapter 4, and to make conforming amendments to other sections of the Charter?”

The proposed changes will help to prevent potential disputes on differences of interpretation that resulted in litigation.  This charter amendment will make it clear to those who submit petitions, voting initiatives and recall petitions, the number of signatures needed and the timeline in which to file the petition and when the special election would be held.

Question No 5.

“Shall the Revised City Charter be amended to update provisions and to provide for the disposal of City personal property by rules and regulations of the Director of Budget and Fiscal Services, and other conforming amendments?”

The proposed amendment provides the City with more flexibility in disposing of personal property and allows the department to advertise by the least costly means.  The City can dispose of property by public actions, competitive bid or other appropriate methods allowed in the rules and regulations of the director.

Question No. 6 

“Shall the Revised City Charter be amended to create an office of housing directly under the mayor, to be headed by an administrator who shall be appointed by the mayor, subject to council confirmation, and who may be removed by the mayor?”

The Office of Housing will have two positions; an Administrator who will be appointed by the Mayor and subject to Council confirmation and an Executive Secretary.  The Office of Housing will be responsible for establishing and administering programs and projects for affordable, senior, and special needs housing and homelessness.  The Office of Housing will also coordinate the operations, program and intergovernmental agreements of the city relating to affordable housing, senior housing, and homelessness and work with private firms, nonprofit groups, community organizations, and individuals to address issues regarding affordable housing, senior housing, special needs housing and homelessness

Make your vote count!  I urge you to carefully consider your vote on these proposed Charter Amendments passed by the City Council.   You can learn more about the Charter Amendments by visiting the City Clerk’s website at http://www.honoluluelections.us/

 Donovan Dela Cruz is a councilmember on the Honolulu City Council

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