Letters for Friday — December 30, 2005

• County manager questions

• Ending the war can begin now at home

• Making a point


County manager questions

What changes might reasonably be expected to become possible under a county manager system? I suggest the following, with emphasis on what is possible, not necessarily what will actually occur.

1. A reliable system of accountability in the administration could be installed, beginning with the person at the top, who is working under contract.

Comment: In 1990 the first Salary Commission recommended hiring a consultant to help the County install a professional, merit-pay executive structure. Their recommendation went nowhere, and anyone studying the history of the Commission and the way our government is put together and operates will see why the recommendation still gathers dust.

2. Instead of one politician jousting with seven politicians in the credit and blame game, seven politicians will be on the same side of the street, and the political jousting will have a different shape.

Comment: The kind of irresponsible impasse connected with the failure to site a new landfill is less likely to occur with a manager directly accountable to the council, and the tension between core government services and “feel good” programs should decrease generally because the setting of policies and priorities will not change hands each time a new mayor takes office (the mayor will no longer serve as chief executive, but probably as a member of council who retains the protocol functions of the present mayor).

3. Viewers of Ho’ike will be less confused.

Comment: At present viewers must reconcile in their minds the incompatible pictures presented by the mayor’s program and the council’s program. The mayor’s program (costing taxpayers $457 an hour to tape) presents a professionally scripted and produced image of the administration. The council’s program (costing taxpayers $245 an hour to tape) is unscripted, occurs in public with unpredictable public input, and portrays “the other side” of the administration. With a county manager in place, viewers will see a single picture featuring council and county manager on the public stage. The council will be deprived of excuses for not holding the administration accountable, the public will be deprived of excuses for not holding the council accountable, and presumably there will be cost savings.

Footnote: The County will also avoid the inevitable lawsuit charging it with unfair election practices for spending taxpayer dollars that provide about 2800 hours of air time on Ho’ike over four years for an incumbent mayor. (The mayor’s program undeniably serves a legitimate purpose, but the incidental effect is to give the incumbent mayor a bonanza in the most valuable of all political assets, name and face recognition. Under the present system, the County may wind up having to provide equal air time for everyone running against the incumbent mayor.)

4. Boards and commissions might assume their rightful place in government, and might receive the training, support, and supervision they need.

Comment: With some notable exceptions, boards and commissions have suffered from benign neglect for so long that hardly anyone notices their plight. The big test is whether members of the public are willing and able to meet the level of expectations involved in equipping them to carry out their responsibilities and to serve as countervailing forces in the County’s power structure.

  • Horace Stoessel
    Kapa’a

Ending the war can begin now at home

Anger in the world seems to be worse now than when this “war on terror” first began. Most societies around the globe realize that the underlying issues behind this “war” and all this violence is oil, and our dependence on it.

Sooner or later oil will run out and we will be forced to find other ways to generate energy. Why not start now? Instead of driving those big SUVs or trucks everywhere, take the bus or walk. Buy a bike, pick up a hitchhiker (it’s legal) and at home we could turn out lights not needed or have less TVs around the house.

Someday soon when the oil runs out, we’ll all be walking. We can fight this “war” NOW by changing our own ways. We can think about the future NOW by cutting back on excess. Ending this war can begin now at home.

  • James (Kimo) McNorton
    Lihu’e

Making a point

Given your stated preference for brief communication, I recently submitted a one-sentence comment on local news coverage to an Associate Editor. Apart from the point made, I wondered if anyone else could intrude on the apparently endless personal and theological disputes of the few who monopolize your letter column day after day. It seems that one can not.

  • Richard (Mickey) McCleery
    Anahola

Mahalo for the coverage

Attn: Duane Shimogawa Jr. and The Garden Island

Mahalo for your perceptive coverage of and support for Pono Tokioka’s right to an interpreter to participate in Pony Baseball. You covered several of the many issues involved here, disability awareness, systems advocacy, disability discrimination. However, a concept that I haven’t seen (or heard) yet — regarding when there is a challenge or problem with communication — it is BOTH the hearing person’s and hearing-impaired person’s concern! The interpreter also enables the others to understand Pono! It is not just for Pono’s advantage; communication is an exchange. Hope-fully, his teammates and coaches realize that he has something to express, question, comment, or contribute that “would be worth their while” to understand.

As a hearing-impaired person my-self, I know that we “hear” on many levels, and as you mentioned, we tend to develop keen oberservation and insight. Each person has the potential of unique contribution, including the deaf and people with other disabilities. What messages are being sent to the other children?

Don’t the “rules keepers” realize that bad, ignorant, discriminatory rules need to be questioned, corrected, amended? Recently our nation memorialized another rule challenger — Rosa Parks!

Where are the petitions to sign? I am sure that there are people on our Garden Island, including children playing all sports and in our schools who would be interested in signing their support. Jimmy, Beth, and Pono, MAHALO for making the honorable effort to right a blatant wrong on behalf of so many others.

  • Karin Hassett
    Wailua Homesteads
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