Monday, May 23, 2022 |
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• Affordable housing
• Salary definition
Ever since I have lived on Kaua‘i, I have been among those people bemoaning the lack of affordable housing. It has finally dawned on me that a solution is possible.
There is only one urgent question to be answered, and steps should be taken immediately to answer this question.
The crucial question is: Do the people who live here want to cede the island to wealthy outsiders and the property developers and real estate people who lure them to Kaua‘i — at the same time expecting local residents to carry the burden of providing all roads, utilities, police and fire protection, and all other public services?
A related question is: Do we have enough resort accommodations, or do we want to build more, simply to enrich the developers? If so, then we should just continue on with business as usual.
If, however, the answer is no, then the people of Kaua‘i should be empowered to instruct all Kaua‘i governing authorities to change course. Officials should be instructed, by the voters who elect them and pay them, to dedicate themselves to preserving the Aloha, the Kaua‘i way of life, for the local people, rather than providing a luxury lifestyle for the transplanted wealthy and lining the pockets of developers.
The only way to get a definitive answer to this question is to hold an island-wide referendum, as soon as legally possible, open only to those people who live here, to decide once and for all what kind of future they want for the island. This could be a special election, separate and apart from the usual election process, initiated by petitions signed by a majority of local residents.
There is no way to go back and change anything that has happened in the past, so we will have to live with the gated communities and chain stores we already have. But from this point forward, a decision should be made, and it should be binding until changed at some point in the future by future residents.
Salary is something an employer pays the employed for the satisfactory performance of a job. Supposedly we the tax payers are the employers, since, after all, it is our dollars extracted from us without our being consulted, that pay the salaries of both the appointed and elected officials of our government. An adequate salary acts both as reward and incentive in an ordinary employer-employee relationship. Herein lies a major problem with the latest headlines about giving the Mayor and members of the County Council hefty salary increases.
The reason offered by the Salary Commission, whose members are nominated by the Mayor and approved by the Council, for giving 50% and higher increases is that these officials have not had any increase for many years. So, obviously the salary is not an incentive, or these officials would have quit long ago for higher-paying jobs.
As a matter of fact, these officials work hard and spend bundles of money to get their “jobs”, and keep them, for decades. So there goes “incentive” as a fundamental function of a salary.
How about “satisfactory performance” of the job? On that score the Salary Commission seems to be predicting that the next elected officials will perform satisfactorily, because the Commission has announced that the raises are for the next Council. What if the next Council is the same as this one, as it is almost guaranteed to be on this island? Reward for satisfactory performance is thus clearly not the basis for these raises.
The 300-word limit on letters does not allow me to go into details on how these officials have not performed; but I’m sure almost everybody, especially those who have to keep on paying higher taxes, will agree that they have not performed much at all.
The unanswered questions is, therefore, still: “Why are these elected officials getting these huge salary increases?”
Raymond L. Chuan
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