Nearly three-fourths of Oahu voters surveyed for The Civil Beat Poll say the Honolulu Police Commission should be given greater authority to suspend or dismiss the chief of police and to investigate police misconduct.

Only 11 percent disagreed, while another 9 percent had no opinion.

Respondents were asked five questions related to some of the proposed Honolulu charter amendments on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The questions reflected the substance of the amendments but not necessarily their exact wording.

People’s responses reflect what Oahu residents think about the issues at stake but do not necessarily reflect how they will vote — or if they will vote at all — on the actual ballot questions.

Still, the new poll suggests that support for Charter Amendment No. 1 on Police Commission powers is strong.

“It cuts across age, race, income, the mayor’s race, ideology mostly — conservatives are a little less enthusiastic,” said Matt Fitch, executive director of Merriman River Group, which conducted the poll for Civil Beat. “The numbers are similar for all demographics, although men are slightly more supportive than women. But there is consensus.”

Misconduct among Honolulu Police Department officers is an ongoing concern, and the commission has been criticized for lax oversight in light of a federal investigation of Chief Louis Kealoha.

Longer Term Limits Opposed

There is less support, however, for allowing the mayor and City Council members to serve three consecutive terms instead of two.

Charter Amendment No. 15 explains that the mayor and nine Council members currently are allowed to serve two consecutive four-year terms, while the prosecutor has no limit. The amendment would set limits of three consecutive terms for all three offices.

Just 34 percent of respondents support the idea of adjusting the term limits, while 50 percent oppose it, 10 percent have no opinion and 7 percent were unsure.

Fitch described the poll results for term limits as “a hodgepodge.”

“Some oppose it because they do not believe in term limits and others really believe in them and do not want to extend them,” he said. “But it’s a mix of people, and it’s unpredictable how they might vote.”


On a third matter regarding proposed charter amendments, a clear majority (53 percent) emerged in favor of eventually transferring operations and maintenance of the rail system from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to the city’s Department of Transportation Services

Hawaii Elections Guide 2016

The goal of Charter Amendment No. 4 is to have the same agency that oversees TheBus and TheHandi-Van oversee the rail line as well, establishing “a unified multi-modal transportation system.”

“It’s just one more example of how voters don’t like HART,” said Fitch. “It has such a visceral reputation — it just leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths — that people like things being taken away from them.”

HART has come under repeated fire for its management of the over-budget, behind-schedule $8.6 billion rail project.

Earlier this year its board chair and its executive director resigned under pressure.

Zoo Tax, Office Of Climate Change

The Civil Beat Poll also measured voters’ views on the substance of two other ballot issues: creating a Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency, and dedicating a portion of the city and county’s property tax revenue to help the Honolulu Zoo regain national accreditation.

On the climate change office (Amendment No. 7), just 31 percent like the idea of creating it but 44 percent oppose it and 19 percent did not have an opinion.

On the zoo funding (Amendment No. 9), 45 percent do not want to tap property taxes, 38 percent like the idea and 13 percent declined to share their preference.

Civil Beat conducted a random survey on Oahu from Oct. 10 to Oct. 13. The margin of error for the full sample is 3.4 percentage points.

Voters reached by cellphone comprised 32 percent of those surveyed, while voters with landlines totaled 68 percent.

Coming Monday: What is the solution to stopping feral cats from endangering Hawaii’s ecosystem?

Get engaged! Join in the discussion of candidates and issues in the 2016 elections in our new Facebook Group, Civil Beat Politics. Connect with others and learn how to get involved in community issues that are central to this year’s elections.

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