Gavel-wielding power brokers take noteTo the Forum:

At a Planning Commission hearing April 27, a spokesperson for the Kaua’i Group

of the Sierra Club experienced a form of personal inquisitorial badgering that

has become an apparent pattern of late. On this occasion, Mr. McDowell was the

offending party, although others who recount similar recent “grillings” have

noted Chairman BaIdwin’s complicity in this sport as well.

We are not under

any illusion that the perspectives many of our members bring to public hearings

may not sit well with the prevailing prejudices of the hand picked

commissioners of this administration. Nevertheless, a modicum of dignity is

expected in this formal process of government. The alternative is to allow a

complete chill of our democratic process.

We value these hearings for the

opportunity to express the sometimes unpopular viewpoints that are otherwise

too easily swept aside in the political process. Indeed, we believe such

hearings were instituted to call just such attentions to complex matters.

All public hearings should be safe places with open deliberations among

decision-makers after receiving public testimony. They should not become

theaters for public humiliation or pontificating at the hands of gavel-wielding

power brokers.

A key element in the pending General Plan update is more

effective citizen participation. Soon, the Planning Commission will be

conducting hearings in all the outlying districts, trying to gather more

testimony on the General Plan.

If the Planning Commission sets any store

in preserving its tattered veil of legitimacy it must curb its abusive

behaviors now before it takes its show on the road.

R. Culbertson,

Vice-chair

Kaua’i Group Sierra Club

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