With one Constitutional deadline already missed and another bearing down on them, the state’s Reapportionment Commission is asking for more time.
But there’s no guarantee that will happen — the matter is now in the hands of the Hawaii Supreme Court.
UPDATE: The Supreme Court announced Thursday afternoon it is seeking applicants for the job.
The eight-member redistricting panel on Thursday voted to send the court a letter acknowledging that the commission has already missed the 30-day deadline to appoint a ninth member to become its chair.
The letter, which will be authored by interim commission chair and Hawaii Republican Party Executive Director Dylan Nonaka, will also inform the court that Nonaka and Democratic attorney Anthony Takitani will continue to discuss possible picks.
Nonaka said discussions to this point have not been fruitful.
“I think we should keep trying though,” Takitani told his colleagues.
If Nonaka and Takitani are able to come to an agreement before the full commission meets again on April 28, the body could endorse their selection. Even then, that pick would only be a recommendation to the court, which is now the only entity that can legally select a chair.
“All we can do is recommend someone to the Supreme Court,” Nonaka told Civil Beat after the meeting adjourned. He said the commission is optimistic that the court will follow its recommendation because “We don’t think the court wants to get involved.”
Still, there’s no guarantee the court will follow the commission’s lead or even wait for a recommendation. The eight commission members were certified to the Office of Elections in mid-March, and the 30-day window closed last week. Article IV of the Hawaii Constitution lays out the 30-day deadline and also states that the commission must be fully constituted by May 1.
The commission met briefly in executive session to discuss the matter with Deputy Attorney General Robyn Chun. She declined to go into specifics after the meeting but confirmed to Civil Beat that the commission no longer has the legal authority to appoint its own chair.
The Supreme Court has thus far declined to comment on the matter, saying it has yet to receive any communication from the commission.
UPDATE: The court announced Thursday afternoon that it is seeking applicants for the job. It has only five working days to make a selection before the May 1 deadline. It said all applications should be received by 2 p.m. Tuesday and that the selection would be announced by Friday, April 29.
The commission chair is just one of the players in the reapportionment and redistricting process that has yet to be revealed. Four island-specific advisory councils, each made up of four appointees, have yet to be formed. House Speaker Calvin Say, Senate President Shan Tsutsui, House Minority Leader Gene Ward and Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom each appoint one member to each island’s panel.
Tsutsui’s picks — Kauai County planner Kaaina Hull, Big Island farmer Richard Ha, Christopher Chang of the Hawaii State Teachers Association on Maui and Nathaniel Kinney of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades on Oahu — were announced in a letter to the commission included in the work materials [pdf] for Thursday’s meeting.
Say’s picks are Randall Nishimura, President and co-owner of Ron’s Electric on Kauai; Glenn Ida, a retired bus operator from Oahu; Mark Andrews, a former legislator from Maui who served on the advisory council of the last reapportionment commission; and James Arakaki, a former Big Island County Councilmember, former banker and current President of Dodo Mortuary Life Plan Inc., according to a letter the Office of Elections and information provided by the House of Representatives to Civil Beat.
Slom told Civil Beat that he’s tabbed Big Island attorney Ted Hong and former Maui lawmaker Fred Rohlfing and that he’s working on finding appointees from Oahu and Kauai. A message left at Ward’s office seeking the status of his picks wasn’t immediately returned.
The commission also adopted rules Thursday. Among the changes commissioners made to the draft rules circulated in the meeting materials [pdf] was switching the six-day notice for meeting announcements down to three days. Chun told members that they are not bound by the requirements in the state’s Sunshine Law.
The commission also created a two-member subcommittee to handle the hiring of four staff members and review the selection of a contractor to assist with technical and geographic data.
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