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
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.
Kaua’i Group Sierra Club