Letters for Thursday — April 06, 2006

• Speaks for the community

• Alternative energy troubles

Speaks for the community

Everyone has a right to have an opinion about anything. This includes the topic of ethical breaches by former Police Commissioner Mike Ching during the selection process for Chief of Police. As we now know, Mr. Ching resigned rather than face impeachment proceedings for unethical conduct while serving as Police Commissioner. In your editorial of March 25, (Forum, County primer on ethics, bad news for Lum) you gave your opinion on this fiasco, which basically endorses Lum, notwithstanding your knowledge that the selection process has been proven to be a kabuki dance, where the outcome was scripted before the show ever began.

Although you have a right to your opinion, no one has the right to be wrong on their facts. This is particularly true for the editor of our only newspaper. You have misstated the factual background, and distorted the findings and conclusions of a highly respected and impartial retired Judge from Maui, John McConnell, who conducted a full evidentiary hearing to establish if the appointment of K.C. Lum as Chief of Police was rigged.

Here’s what you said: “The chief was not found guilty of any ethics violation, yet he finds himself tainted by the opinion.” Here are the true facts: Even though this particular hearing before Judge McConnell dealt only with Mr. Ching’s conduct as Commissioner, Judge McConnell still concluded from the testimony that Lum was definitely in the loop on this shameful selection process. Judge McConnell specifically found that “K.C. Lum could only have been tipped off by a Police Commissioner.” If Judge McConnell, who heard the case, concluded Lum was in the loop on this crooked process, how can you possibly conclude Lum is somehow “not guilty” and a victim of being “tainted by the opinion?” Perhaps we can rename your paper “The Garbled Island Newspaper.”

Then you said, apparently sarcastically: “Supporting a likely candidate who is qualified for an important community position raises all kinds of alarm bells and appears to be grounds for impeachment…” Putting aside the bewildering fact that your editorial overlooked that the whole process was found to be rigged from the beginning, here are the real facts regarding Lum’s qualifications for the job: Judge McConnnell specifically concluded, “Accordingly, K.C. Lum did not have the minimum qualifications or administrative experience which would qualify him to be Chief of Police.” Since when did an unqualified applicant who participated in a rigged selection process become “a likely candidate who is qualified,” as you put it? Earth calling editor.

Then you said, somehow seeing a link between the tainted Chief of Police selection process and the Hop Sing comment by Leon Gonsalves: “It appears there is nothing wrong ethically with making public a racial slur about a person of authority one is tasked with hiring and firing.” But here are the real facts: Gonsalves’ comment was made after the rigged Lum selection process was already over. Also, Gonsalves voted against Lum’s appointment, saying he found Lum to be unqualified to lead the department. His conclusion is now affirmed by Judge McConnell’s findings. Also, no matter what you may think of Gonsalves’ comment, it was not made publicly by him, as you stated. The truth is that it was said in a private email from Gonsalves to a friend. It was that friend who broadcasted the e-mail, without Gonsalves’ knowledge or consent. For you to say otherwise is inexcusable.

Your editorial blew it by not having your facts right. Hopefully you will restore your credibility by at least taking responsibility for your errors. Having a rigged selection process to appoint an unqualified Chief for an already troubled police department is bad enough for a community.

Having such conduct rationalized or condoned by the editor of the Island’s only newspaper puts your own credibility on the line.

The community is waiting.

  • Sam Blair

Alternative energy troubles

I would like to respond to a recent letter by Raymond L. Chuan titled “The trouble with alternative energy” dated April 1.

I would assume that all of Kaua‘i’s electrical consumers would agree that the cost of electricity is very high and that, as Mr. Chuan points out, KIUC has a big loan to repay for quite some time. The discussion about “stranded capital” appears to make sense to me but I am not an accountant or an economist; therefore, I have no quarrel with Mr. Chuan’s comments as presented.

Just to make it clear, my background has been in the electrical/electronic industry for more than 50 years. I have been fortunate enough to have designed, installed, and maintained many types of equipment ranging from vacuum tubes through micro-electronics; and, high voltage n high power utility systems through automation controls.

After reading his letter several times, I came to additional conclusions that hopefully add to Mr. Chuan’s thoughts. The first is that the high cost of our electric bills is not totally based upon KIUC’s loan payments. There are additional costs including, but not limited to: operation, maintenance, and, fuel. Regardless of previous costs to do this type of business, all of the above-mentioned expenses will naturally show an increase by themselves even if no additional changes are made to the system.

For example, operating costs go up because of increased wages and other normal factors such as: expansion of the system as new customers move to our island.

Maintenance costs go up due to the wage issue also; but, as equipment gets older, it’s harder to maintain and may reach the point of needing to be replaced. Kauai’s electrical distribution system is 100 percent above ground (as far as I know) and this makes for increased outages due to storms and accidents, for example.

Fuel costs are skyrocketing n and may be almost impossible to afford in a couple of decades. This is a “big” problem for the electricity industry as well as our own automobiles, etc.

Alternative energy sources, at this time, are not designed to immediately replace our existing fossil-fuel generators. Costs will go up n there is no way around this. The existing loan will be with us for some time; but, using the fossil fuel generators without planning to get away from them will just hasten the time when their fuel will just be too expensive.

I think the “trick” will be to try to plan (soon and wisely) for alternative energy sources so that our fossil fuel usage will be reduced; and, that the costs of adding these alternative sources will be cheaper than that of our continuing to burn up these fuels. We do not want to rush into any new project because we are panicked; but, we cannot postpone these decisions indefinitely.

  • Elton Davis

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