Letters for Monday — January 02, 2006

• Presidential prediction

• Council districting

• Once was …


Presidential prediction

In parts one and two of my response to “Doc” Smith, I laid out the errors in judgment he made regarding the economy, and the part the democrats have played in it, and their nearly total absence regarding national security, and worse, their refusal/reluctance/resistance to make it a priority, instead of making the reacquisition of their power the priority.

Now I would like to address Doc’s presumption that there will be a President H. Clinton.

Ain’t gonna happen, Doc. Ever. The former First Lady, who carpet-bagged her way into the position of NY senator, is despised by more people than those who admire and support her. She has a history and carries such political baggage, not to mention a worse than lackluster record as Senator, that she has skillfully hidden (with help from a sycophantic press), that I would be surprised if she even gets the nomination. And that’s not even taking into consideration the nation’s rejection of the idea of ever allowing her ex-President husband access to the interns in the White House again.

The first female POTUS will be a conservative. And black. You heard it here first.

  • Kent D Gibboney
    Kapa’a

Council districting

The unstated assumption in proposals for council districting is that districting will strengthen the county’s legislative process by improving the performance of the council. Is the assumption valid? I think not. Conversely, the unstated assumption of those who oppose districting is that improving the performance of the council is not an issue. They do not claim that the status quo is perfect, but they believe it is adequate. Is their assumption valid? I think not.

My position as an independent voter is that the performance of the council is sorely in need of improvement, and that districting is not an answer.

I think most of us would agree that the quality of the council’s performance depends ultimately on (l) the ability and courage of its members to find and act on a proper balance between one’s personal preferences, the preferences of one’s support base, and the broad public interest, and on (2) the choices the voters make. Neither districting nor non-districting can improve the abilities of council members or the choices voters make. These fundamental realities cannot be altered by charter amendments.

So the question becomes, can the performance of the council be improved by means of charter amendments at all? Here is my take on the question.

I previously suggested that the county’s core problem is that we do not have a bicameral legislature. In terms of legislative structure, the council is a replica of the House and we make no provision for incorporating Senate values in the legislative process. On federal and state levels the Senate is intended to provide a countervailing force to the House and to add an element of unhurried, mature judgment to the process. The council must carry the burdens of both House and Senate. Moreover, the double burden is borne by part-time council members who are free to engage in other business and professional activities. This arrangement might have been workable in less complex times, but it hardly meets today’s needs. Districting would not change any of these fundamental realities.

I see only two ways to address the core problem by means of charter amendment. One is to make the office of council member a fulltime position. The second is to create new forms of citizen participation in the legislative process.

Until we address the core problem and possible solutions, I see the question of districting as relatively insignificant. It is not my purpose to mount an argument against districting per se. I will say that I see only three predictable results of districting, one of questionable value and the other two of negative value. Districting would guarantee a seat on the council for three or five geographical areas. There are points on both sides and I will not try to spell them out. The other two predictable results are negative. Districting will add to the labor and expense required to conduct elections, and it will lead to apportionment and gerrymandering battles involving additional labor, expense, and emotional fallout.

I close with a word about the role of the commission. You will decide whether or not a districting proposal reaches the ballot. Use your power wisely. When you decide to keep something off the ballot, you are making a decision for the whole island. Illustration: the 1996 commission withheld a proposal to create a separate Parks and Recreation department despite considerable testimony in its favor. On the other hand, when you place something on the ballot you are not determining the outcome of the vote. You are only stating your collective opinion that the voters deserve the chance to make the decision. On balance, I favor leaving districting off the ballot until such time as we deal with potential solutions to the core problem I outlined above.

  • Horace Stoessel
    Kapa’a

Once was …

When I went way out of my way to show the way to some long lost souls … hunting for Taylor Camp…

Once was … When you waved at the cars passing by who had the same model make or color as yours…

Once was … You gave a thumbs up to a van heading opposite, letting them know the waves were ono, and they did the same on the very next day…

Once was … When you invited those into your home who absent mindedly blocked your driveway

Once was … When you spent time telling of places to see, things to do, because you were proud to share the beauty of Kaua’i… no fees, no free breakfast, no strings attached.

Once was … Is now so long forgotten … in tall tales and eyes hiding from the fumes but not from the sugar cane.

Hiding from the traffic lights instead of the heat of Barking Sands.

Hiding from the noise at night … of vacation rental guitars and beer and rubber boards and sunscreening dollars with their nose in the air…

Hiding from the leashed dogs unable to run wild, hiding from the lines of cars parked that block me from hiding beyond my yard.

And this now the promise of a better life?

Once was: I was so stupid but oh so full of aloha….

  • Andy Melamed
    Hanalei
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