Letters for Thursday — April 13, 2006

  • Power to change Kaua‘i for the better
  • Congratulations, lynching party
  • Redemption complaint

Power to change Kaua‘i for the better

KIUC is supposed to be accountable to its members — the electricity customers, citizens, and voters on Kaua‘i. They state their mission is: “To provide high quality, reliable and competitively valued electric service in a safe and environmentally responsible manner consistent with sound business practices and the seven cooperative principles, and to improve the quality of life for our members and for Kaua‘i.”

That’s what KIUC says. In my opinion, however, KIUC acts like it is being run in the best interests of the oil refiners on O‘ahu!

Well over 90 percent of Kaua‘i’s electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels like diesel or naptha. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Kaua‘i is blessed with the agricultural resources to GROW a solution to to our energy problems. Ethanol could be produced on Kaua‘i from sugar and other crops like switchgrass. The state of Hawai‘i has already mandated that ethanol be blended into 85 percent of our regular gasoline. Kaua‘i is a “natural” to supply a lot of that ethanol. It could be an even bigger ethanol producer if KIUC started mixing significant quantities of ethanol into the fuel for its power plants — that’s exactly what HECO is planning to do on O‘ahu; and they don’t even grow ethanol feedstock plants like sugar on O‘ahu.

Another state law requires that 20 percent of the electricity produced in Hawai‘i be made from renewable sources, but that’s not effective until the year 2020. We don’t have to wait 14 years to start enjoying the benefits. I, for one, would like to see Kaua‘i enterprises lead the state and the nation. I’d love to see vast green fields again on Kaua‘i, stretching from Kekaha to Wailua. I’d love to see Kaua‘i reinvigorate its agribusiness base, and maybe end up exporting ethanol statewide, to the mainland, and even overseas. What is KIUC’s vision — more condos and timeshares?

Alas, KIUC will likely respond that they are “studying ethanol.” They will probably hire some expensive consultants, adding the cost of their studies to what is already the highest cost of electricity in America.

  • Allan Rachap

Congratulations, lynching party

History is replete, in its more sordid aspects, with stories of lynching parties. And history does not speak kindly of lynching parties, because in all such cases the perpetrators used false and irrelevant charges to “convict” the intended victim.

Our local lynching party with Police Chief Lum as the target is setting an unprecedented example when it comes to how bizarre the whole act has become in the months since the news media began publishing stories of some apparently encouraging increase in the frequency of drug enforcement actions by the Police Department.

First, the flip-flop position of the mayor — first asking the council to dismiss a member of the Police Commission for the use of a racial slur; then asking, instead, for the ousting of the intended victim — failed to accomplish the desired result. Then, members of the lynching party resorted, somewhat desperately, to even more bizarre steps beyond their thus far unsuccessful use of utterly unsupported and unspecific charges against the police chief, by using the ethics commission (which itself has a none too pristine record of ethical correctness — such as its chair deliberately staying in that position beyond the legally permitted term, until exposed by the public, and using as its deputy county attorney in a police matter when the said DCA is the wife of a member of the police force on this island) to depopulate the membership of the police commission, so that the mayor can appoint more pliable substitutes to finish off the intended goal of the lynching party. This now sanitized (somewhat) ethics commission has just proclaimed a revolutionary doctrine on how to rate the political correctness of members of the Police Commission.

Members of the police commission, according to our county charter, are exclusively charged with the responsibility of the hiring and firing of thechief of police. For a chief to be selected, a majority of the police commissioners are expected to vote for the candidate. The new doctrine that has been propounded by the current ethics commission is that, if the mayor or whoever decides he doesn’t like the choice, the commission will declare those police commissioners who voted for the candidate to have “unfairly voted in favor of the candidate,” and thus should be removed!! What a clever arrangement to assure the choice of a police chief is decided by the Mayor who appoints the ethics commissioners!!

Congratulations, the Kaua‘i lynching party! Just think of all the regimes from Iraq to Nigeria to Darfur to Washington, D.C. emulating your revolutionary doctrine of political correctness!

  • Raymond L. Chuan

Redemption complaint

After one full year of the container deposit bill it was reported that the state collected $57.8 million in fees and yet it returned to the consumer only $26.4 million in refunds. The state had other expenses of $10.7 million in administrative and handling fees. That still leaves a balance of $20 million in refunds not claimed.

Many consumers on Kaua‘i have to return the containers to a mobile redemption center. These centers are only open three hours a week if they are open at all. For the consumer like me, it means standing in line for as much as an hour-and-a-half to collect a small refund, in my case $7.20. I had counted my containers prior to bringing them to the redemption center but they will not accept the consumers’ count. The containers are weighed and the refund is based on the weight. In my case the refund was 30 cents less than that based on my count, which really is no big deal.

I have recycled containers, glass, cardboard and newspapers for many years pri-or to the container deposit bill and continue to do it for those items without the deposit. The items are dropped off at the transfer station or other recycling collection points on the island. I have noticed lately that a lot of deposit containers are included in the recycling bins. It is obvious that other environmentally conscious consumers would rather throw the deposit containers in with the other recyclable instead of waiting in line for an hour just to get their small deposits back.

What about our visitors to the island? They purchase beer, soft drinks, water, etc., pay the deposit and many times don’t even realize they have paid it. I would suspect a very, very small amount of these containers are ever brought back for their deposit. Most of the containers go directly into the trash because there is not a convenient way of recycling them.

In the meantime the state continues to collect millions of dollars that will never be paid back to the consumer. This in essence is a tax on the consumer disguised as a program to encourage recycling of empty containers. What will become of all the excess money collected?

All in all, I believe that the container deposit bill is ineffective and recycling can be achieved without charging the consumer a deposit and forcing him to bring containers back to get his money back.

Many cities have curbside recycling and even Honolulu is considering this. Just the availability of convenient places to bring recyclables or curbside pick-up will achieve the desired results of reduced trash in the landfill and increased recycling. There is no need to tax the consumer under the guise of the container deposit program.

  • Norm Swenson

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