Letters for Friday – February 10, 2006

  • Boiling pot of political unrest
  • Fight the sign blight
  • Let’s get together

Boiling pot of political unrest

The case against Kaua’i county elected officials is gaining momentum among a growing number of voters as we enter this year’s election cycle. If enough voters decide it’s time for a change then it is possible that an upheaval in local government could occur.

The issue stirring up the most controversy of late involves the anticipated firing of a popular police chief for reasons that at least on the surface appear to be politically motivated. Unless those elected officials carping about the chief’s performance can produce credible evidence of malfeasance (other than the much ballyhooed budget fiasco) it might be hard to look voters in the eye when they start campaigning for reelection.

“Lumgate” is just the tip of a political iceberg that hypothetically speaking could disable and possibly sink any incumbent who winds up in the wrong boat when the turbulence subsides. Meanwhile, the county’s expensive legal battle to overturn a voter-mandated property tax amendment, the seemingly out-of-control pace of development, concerns over public access, traffic problems, and solid waste are some of the tough questions that most incumbents would rather not discuss, and for good reason; it’s hard to converse on a subject that you have done little or nothing about.

Kaua’i has probably, more than any of the other counties, given incumbent politicians the benefit of the doubt by re-turning them to office year after election year. Voters become downright squeamish when it comes time to actually discard a familiar brand-name politician in favor of an unknown or lesser known rival. Traditionally, the only way to get a politician out of one office on Kaua’i is to dangle another office in front of his nose as in the case of Jimmy Tokioka.

Every two years it comes down to the same threshold question: How much political mischief will voters accept from their elected officials? It is obvious many people on Kaua’i are not satisfied with the political climate, but how many of the disgruntled will actually go to the polls and vote? Discontent alone will not affect change — it can only be done through active participation from now until Election Day. On Kaua’i, less than 50 percent of the voting age population will cast ballots in any given election. So, the squeaky wheel not registered is just background noise; colorful rhetoric without substance or consequence.

Of course, when participating voters decide to abandon one incumbent or another then for whom do you vote instead? Qualified candidates are not exactly standing in line ready to perform the duties of governing the county or representing us in the State Legislature. To win public office at any level requires name recognition, money, determination and influence. Aside from rounding up the usual suspects, how many people on Kaua’i can you name who measure up to those qualifications and are willing to run for office?

  • Stephen O’Leary
    Kapa’a

Fight the sign blight

The blight of unpermitted signs is a statewide problem. Lack of enforcement has encouraged businesses and opportunists to post signs anywhere they wish with little concern for the visual insult they inflict. For Kaua’i, (and O’ahu) the Building inspectors are charged with enforcement of the sign ordinance. Doug Haigh, Building Division head, has recently completed revisions of this process to make the job easier for the inspectors. We are all hopeful this will provide more timely response to complaints and education of both sign providers and users. To report sign complaints, call Mr. Haigh at 241-6650.

In the Kaua’i County sign ordinance, Ordinance No. 723; No Portable Signs (example. sandwich board style), are allowed and yet they appear on sidewalks, roadways and in front of nearly every business on Kauai. On the North Shore, many abusers have adopted the policy of posting unpermitted signs on weekends when enforcement staff is unavailable for response. Reporting these offenses to the police has resulted in a reduction of illegal and hazardous signs.

The Outdoor Circle has championed community efforts to reverse the impact of illegal and inconsiderate signs in Hawai’i for many years. Good folks from this organization have tried valiantly to address this issue on Kaua’i and could use your help.

If you are interested in joining the Kauai Chapter, please contact:

Bob Loy, director of environmental programs

The Outdoor Circle

1314 South King St., Suite 306

Honolulu, Hawaii 96814

(808) 593-0300

  • Makaala Kaaumoana
    Kilauea

Let’s get together

The letters written by the readers of The Garden Island are both informative, and in some cases heartbreaking. It seems no matter what the political or religious perspective we have, there is one issue upon which we can all agree. Kaua’i is being ruined by over-building, excess traffic and a lack of care by our elected officials. We live on the most beautiful piece of rock in the world and have enjoyed a quality of beauty and lack of pollution that is the envy of everyone. That is why so many people want to come here, and why we are in a crisis.

We have a dilemma. A decision has to be made to either exclude people from living here, or turn this precious gem into another Maui or Honolulu. Now is the time for all of us to put aside our differences on other topics and put a stop to those who would rather make their money fast, and now, at the expense of Kaua’i. Developers have no thought about the impact. As long as they play by the rules they will develop until it’s over. I know, I’ve retired very comfortably and have made a lot of money through real estate on the Mainland.

This is not the Mainland.

Kaua’i is a fragile tiny island in trouble, and our elected officials obviously don’t have the experience to see what they are helping to destroy. The only development that should be accepted is for existing residents who can’t afford the high cost of owning a home on their cherished island. No more hotels, no more condos, no more polluting golf courses, no more private, high-end monstrosities.

Developers and politicians scream “If we don’t develop where else will government get the money?”

It’s easy, from the tourists that will come because this is the last place in America that hasn’t been ruined. Just $200 per tourist equals $160 million dollars a year. More than enough. They will gladly pay to see what we the people have preserved.

A movement needs to be started by the people of Kaua’i. A message has to be sent to the county council and mayor. Vote for anyone on the ballot except the incumbent. Every last elected official must be voted out of office in the next election. Every candidate running on a comprehensive anti-development message should be elected. If we are successful, the message will be so re-sounding those taking office will have to listen and things will change. It is our only hope. If you agree, we need to get together and begin the journey.

  • Gordon Oswald
    Kapa’a
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