Letters for Tuesday — April 18, 2006

• Actions seen as ‘chilling’ misuse of power

• Holding ponds may help

• Apapane should be cul-de-sac

Actions seen as ‘chilling’ misuse of power

The recent legal proceedings by the county against former police commissioner Michael Ching are a chilling misuse of governmental power and a peril for those who have volunteered their time for public service and offend the sensitivities of the establishment.

Specifically, Mr. Ching was accused of violating Section 20.02 of our county charter and a similar provision in the Kauai County Code. Section 20.02 says no officer or employee of the county shall “use his official position to secure a special benefit, privilege or exemption for himself or others.” Let’s examine this provision. Mr. Ching was charged with soliciting support from SHOPO for Mr. K.C. Lum to be chosen to be our police chief. No such support was forthcoming. The section does not by its terms inhibit an unsuccessful attempt. Mr. Ching certainly obtained no benefit for himself, instead he is now, despite his resignation as police commissioner, the target for a proposed fine. Mr. Lum’s 2004 designation first as acting police chief and then as police chief occurred from the vote of the police commission, and not from any action solely by Mr. Ching. Indeed if the section is to be read to prohibit the appointment or voting for election of persons to a position of public service with the county, the actions by the mayor to appoint members of county boards and commissions or department heads and confirmations of any such actions by the county council would also be violations.

The proceedings against Mr. Ching which we are told is costing the county $150,000 of county — our — funds is but a step in the concerted effort being made by county officials to oust Mr. Lum as police chief. Nothing has emerged publicly to suggest that Mr. Lum is not doing a remarkable job under very difficult circumstances. It appears regrettable that the mayor and the council are seeking to intervene in a matter that is not their responsibility, but rather that of the police commission. It is another illustration that our county badly needs to be better governed than it presently is.

  • Walter Lewis

Holding ponds may help

Even though the rains we just had were as long as they were hard we have had wet times before, especially in 1982 and before. Even though we had incredibly hard rains, I can’t remember flooding like the kind of flooding that we had.

When the plantations closed a lot of people warned about monitoring the ditches up mauka. The plantations kept most of the chutes closed to conserve water, but during the heavy rains the ditchmen opened up, as many chutes were necessary starting up mauka, and working their way makai. Instead of irrigating a field or two the water was spread out over as much land as necessary. It all wasn’t channeled down just a few streams, streams that don’t have the carrying capacity to accommodate this kind of volume of water.

Since most of the mauka lands are state, has anyone from the state, assumed responsibility for making sure the water is being diverted, when it needs to be diverted?

If they were then thank you to whoever did it, but the question still remains, what can be done to alleviate some of the flooding in the future to make sure that when it happens again the results won’t be quite so disastrous?

It’s doubtful that our reservoirs were built to accommodate the volume or height they now have and it’s obvious our streams and rivers have exceeded capacity. As more land is developed it will only increase the stress on the infrastructure.

Before the plantations came in and built the dikes along roads and communities the water runoff used to flood the lowlands, there are stories of the Hawaiians paddling their canoes from Waimea to past Mana, across taro fields. These natural dams would replenish the aquifers and protect the reefs from the fresh water and silts.

Even when the plantations redirected the water the aquifers were somewhat replenished when the lowlands were somewhat flooded which right now, doesn’t appear to be happening. If that big red stain around Kaua’i is any indication, the future of our artesian wells, not to mention our reefs, is probably pretty bleak.

It might be worthwhile seeing about building a series of holding ponds at various points around the island to divert the flooding to, to preserve the reefs, give us future water resources and prevent the massive flooding from wreaking so much havoc when it occurs.

  • Eric Toulon

Apapane should be cul-de-sac

I would like to comment on the article regarding Ulu Ko residents and Nuhou Street on Sunday’s front page. As a concerned resident of Ulu Ko I would like to make it known that many of the residents on Apapane Street in Ulu Ko are not in agreement with the focus of the article. Most of the residents on Apapane Street are not in favor of changing Nuhou Street to a four-lane road behind Ulu Ko.

After attending some of the public hearings and listening to comments from Ulu Ko residents, one of the main concerns was making Apapane a through street. Some of us met with Mike Furukawa at Grove Farm and he was very helpful and explained the history of this development and listened to many of our concerns. In fact we were very pleased to see the master plan for Ulu Ko III had been drafted with Apapane Street as a cul-de-sac. We on Apapane Street, feel this is the important issue: to keep traffic outside our neighborhood streets where our children are. The current plan to connect a small residential road behind Apapane Street is better than having a four-lane highway there.

Mr. Furukawa also showed us that although the Nuhou Street extension would take some of the current “park,” they would be giving some back on the other side. I believe this park is very under-utilized now and hope the county and Grove Farm will enhance it during this process. The Rice Street park is the size and has far more to offer young children. If a new Ulu Ko park was fenced in and landscaped properly it could be a major enhancement to the neighborhood. A playground with more jungle gyms and age-appropriate equipment would be much better than the one swing set currently called a “park.” There could even be a basketball court and small picnic pavilions if the county would maintain it. With all the new residential development planned in this area a better park is really needed.

In closing I would like to thank the county planning commission and Grove Farm for listening to the concerns of all sides of these issues. With-out public participation things can be changed that impact all of us. This is the only way to hear all opinions and understand all the issues.

  • Cliff Pappas

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