Solid waste debate rages on

LIHU’E – The whole gang was back at the Kaua’i County Council chambers

Wednesday morning to talk about garbage.

There was plenty of dumping on

each other and plenty of opinions were incinerated before further discussion

was set for Sept. 13 at 4:30 p.m.

Councilman Bryan Baptiste had requested

that the county administration come to a council Public Works Committee meeting

and provide an update on the county’s overall solid-waste management


But first, an old discussion on personnel was recycled.


Maryanne Kusaka and Jean Camp, executive on solid-waste, reiterated the need

for help for solid-waste manager Troy Tanigawa, who was working alone until

Camp climbed aboard in February.

According to Kusaka, at least two years

have been spent trying to get an engineer employed to assist


“Troy needs help. After four years of learning the process, Troy

has come a long way. Troy has worked at a gross disadvantage. We propose to

give him…training that will benefit the county in the long run,” Kusaka


She said the county could get a solid-waste manager that was more

advanced in his career than Tanigawa, but she implied it would be too


“We are fortunate to have Troy. He has not done a perfect job…but

who has? We could advertise, but we would pay $100,000 to $150,000 to do this

masterful job,” Kusaka said.

Kusaka suggested keeping Tanigawa in his

position, although no one in any recent public meetings had suggested he be

relieved of his duties.

To help Tanigawa, the mayor and Camp are seeking

two new hires: An operations maintenance supervisor and a clerical

administrative support person.

Kusaka also talked about training to get

Tanigawa “up to speed.”

Possible programs mentioned included college


“My real position in life is to help young people to gain

advancement,” Kusaka said, calling Tanigawa “a loyal employee. He’s worked here

for four years.”

Although no decisions were made at today’s committee

meeting, most of the council members went on record as supporting the Public

Works Department interviewing and hiring the two people Kusaka and Camp asked


The council will have to officially approve the requests at a later


There wasn’t such a consensus about the seemingly interminable

discussion—ongoing now for at least four years—about what Kaua`i should do

with its garbage.

Camp explained option A—a new landfil—and option B—a

dispersion facility combined with a landfill.

Estimated costs per ton of

the two methods hadn’t changed: $55 per ton for the landfill option and $89 to

$144 per ton for the incinerator-diversion plant/landfill option.

But no

one seemed able to answer Councilman Randall Valenciano’s question about how

much it would cost the taxpayers.

Tempers frayed pretty quickly during the


Councilman Gary Hooser was asking Camp some general questions,

and when she asked him a rhetorical question in return, Councilman Ron Kouchi

entered the fray.

“I’m a little confused. I thought we were paying you”

for information, Kouchi said.

Camp talked about price per ton, but

Valenciano wasn’t satisfied. He said it would be “difficult for me to approve

plan B without knowing the numbers beforehand or the impact on


Public comment didn’t cool the discussion.

Michael Edwards

asked why the Mayor was worried about spending $80,000 to $120,000 for a solid

waste expert while the county was entertaining the notion of spending millions

for a waste diversion facility.

“This is not an intelligent place to

scrimp. (Tanigawa) needs a mentor more than anything,” Edwards


Finally, the council asked for more information about the two

most-mentioned options for garbage disposal.

“We need to look at some other

sources and some other municipalities to see how they do it,” Councilman Daryl

Kaneshiro said.

“I would agree,” Kouchi said, “that irrespective of what

position we take (on landfill versus diversion plant), I am ready to support

the additional positions. But I feel like we are playing pin the tail on the

donkey and there is no donkey in this game. What are we willing to pay as a

community in regards to our environment? It’s absurd to think we can make a

decision at this point.”

Valenciano proposed a two-week deferral to gather

more information.

Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at

245-3681 (ext. 252) and


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