Letters for Wednesday – February 15, 2006

• Charter Commission proceedings will shape Kaua’i’s future

• Under the Big Tent

• Being incarcerated should be a dreadful experience


Charter Commission proceedings will shape Kaua’i’s future

The Kauai County Charter provides for a Charter Review Commission to be formed every 10 years to review whether the Charter is performing well and giving the citizens an effective government and to give voters the opportunity to decide on measures that could improve how we are governed.

The current Commission has been meeting for about a year now and is at a critical point in its deliberations.

County officials have testified before the Commission and have in substance told the Commission that they do not want to see any significant changes proposed by the Commission. The Commission has also heard testimony from members of the public who are saying that major changes are necessary to achieve a better government.

The public testimony is urging that the voters be allowed to decide such issues as should Council members be elected by district and have term limits on their service, should limits be imposed on County spending to stop the runaway increases that have been occurring, would a county manager system be more efficient, and should citizens petition rights be better protected.

It is important to realize that if the Commission presents measures for vote by the citizens their favorable vote will be required to enact them, but if the Commission fails to present matters there can be no vote and voters will have been precluded from considering them.

County officials rather surely are apprehensive about voter decisions. Their position was revealed in the matter of the Ohana Kauai Charter amendment which was adopted by nearly two thirds of the voters but vigorously opposed by County officials. Their view was apparently that it is all right for citizens to pay taxes but they shouldn’t have any voice in determining their amount.

It seems most likely that our County officials will be directly and indirectly applying pressure on Commission members to avoid giving the voters the opportunity to decide on questions that would materially change the present status quo. Some commissioners may find it difficult to resist such duress.

The proceedings of the Commission will shape the future of our County and its people. We all have a tremendous stake in their outcome. If you are content with our high taxes, free spending and inefficient performance stay silent. If you care about where we are going, attend a meeting of the Commission which occur on an announced schedule, write them at 4444 Rice Street, Lihu’e, HI 96766 or address them by e-mail at Charter@kauai.gov, give them your views and tell them to allow the people to decide how they wish to be governed. The voice of the people cannot be heard if it is not spoken.

  • Walter Lewis
    Princeville

Under the Big Tent

Some might accuse the head of the local Democratic Party of gloating in a guest editorial that appeared in last Thursday’s newspaper. But, why shouldn’t Mr. Martin Rice express pride over his party’s sudden control of the NON-PARTISAN elected Kaua’i County Council? Now that Jimmy, Mel, Jay and Shaylene are marching together in political lock step with their Democratic colleagues, all of us can breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that the proud traditions of our ONE-PARTY system are still intact. To think that non-Democrats were serving on the County Council in positions of responsibility is almost too unsettling to think about. If those subversive, non-Democratic party ideals had been left unchecked much longer, the very future of our cherished OLD BOY network would surely have been jeopardized.

This wholesale shift in political philosophies in an election year could be viewed by skeptics as nothing more than naked ambition and/or self-serving opportunism. Hogwash! If you don’t think it took real courage for Jimmy Tokioka and Jay Furfaro to turn their backs on the Republican Party just when it needed them most then you will never be able to fully appreciate why the Democratic Party has a donkey as its mascot.

How grateful we should all be to Ezra Kanoho for steering the woebegone Jimmy Tokioka, into the Democratic Party’s BIG TENT. Jimmy can now build his own little dynasty in the State House just like Uncle Ezra did for all those wonderful years. Come this fall at the Democratic Party’s coronation (General Election) all of us sheep … I mean voters will cheerfully stand in line to rubber stamp Ezra’s hand-picked successor. “Bertha, allow me to introduce you to Mr. Tokioka, in a past life he was a Republican, but he came to his senses and now promises not to switch parties again unless, of course, the political climate changes.”

And now that he’s no longer affiliated with those “hard to support in public” Republicans, how can we not love Jimmy Tokioka? Since his glorious transformation from Republican lost boy to the next Democratic Party hero, people tell me that Jimmy is walking taller, smiling wider and whistling a happy tune (actually it’s a song he dedicated to Uncle Ezra: “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”).

Yes indeed. this truly is a very joyous time for all of us Democrats who know that our past is not dead, but very much alive … thriving and conniving underneath the Democratic Party’s BIG TENT.

  • Stephen O’Leary
    Wailua

Being incarcerated should be a dreadful experience

I would think that the government of the State of Hawai’i could easily reduce the need to send criminals to the mainland if they would just do incarceration the way this man of Arizona, Sheriff Arpaio has done.

On Aug. 3, 1993, he started the nation’s largest Tent City for convicted inmates. Over 2000 convicted men and women serve their sentences in a canvas incarceration compound surrounded by a chain link fence. It is a remarkable success story and has garnered the attention of government officials and media worldwide.

Equally impressive are his get-tough policies. Arpaio doesn’t believe in coddling criminals, frequently saying that jails should not be country clubs. He banned smoking, coffee, pornographic magazines, movies and unrestricted television in all jails. He has the cheapest meals in the country too. The average inmate meal costs under 20 cents.

I just don’t understand why, here with this year around nice weather, Hawai’i doesn’t do these same things. Prison is not supposed to be some place one doesn’t mind going to. Wake up Hawai’i !!

  • Gordon “Doc” Smith
    Kapa’a
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