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Police commission powers, transit amendments lead in initial returns

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / DEC. 17, 2014

    This photo shows a Honolulu Police Commission meeting at the Honolulu Police Department headquarters on Dec. 17, 2014.

A Honolulu City Charter amendment to give the Police Commission greater authorities soared to approval with most of the vote counted late Tuesday.

That amendment, which earned more than 80 percent of the vote, will allow the commission to suspend or dismiss the chief of police, according to the city’s Charter Commission. The Police Commission would also have additional powers to investigate complaints concerning officer misconduct.

It’s one of 20 proposed charter amendments that Honolulu voters were asked to consider, part of a review that takes place every 10 years to review Honolulu’s city government and its operations.

Oahu voters also passed an amendment to establish a Honolulu Zoo Fund, with a minimum of 0.5 percent of estimated annual real property taxes. It passed with about 57 percent of the vote.

Voters so far aren’t accepting all of the key charter amendment proposals, however. Voters soundly rejected a proposal to increase the term limit to three terms from two for the mayor and City Council members.

An amendment that would have the city’s Department of Transportation Services handle operations for Oahu’s eventual rail transit, along with the existing bus and para transit system, while leaving the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to handle construction and give that agency’s board more decision-making powers, won with about 68 percent of voters approving.

An amendment that would create a city Office of Climate Change, Stability and Resiliency to promote better environmental practices on Oahu also won handily by about a 9-point margin.

Honolulu voters further approved changes to the city’s Affordable Housing Fund, allowing it to be used to develop rental housing for those earning 60 percent or less of the median household income as long as that housing remains affordable for at least 60 years. Proponents say they believe the move will encourage more affordable-housing development on the island.

On Hawaii island voters approved by a large margin an amendment that would expand the scope of that county’s general plan. On Kauai an initiative to rename and clarify the organization of the Civil Defense Agency also enjoyed a strong win.

Voters across the state also considered two proposed amendments to the Hawaii Constitution.

They defeated an amendment would ease congestion in the state court system by increasing the threshold for jury trials in civil lawsuits to $10,000 from $5,000. It received about 46 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, a second amendment to specifically authorize state lawmakers to set aside extra money in years when the state has been running a budget surplus to reduce public debt or pay down unfunded pension or health care obligations was passing by a razor-thin margin with several thousand votes left to count Tuesday. The night’slast tally had it winning with a 50.2 percent majority.

The proposed charter amendments need to win by a majority of votes cast for or against those particular proposals. Blank votes and over-votes don’t count to the total.

The proposed constitutional amendments need to win by a majority of all votes cast statewide, including the ballots where those proposals were left blank or contained over-votes.

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Star-Advertiser reporter Kevin Dayton contributed to this report.

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