Letters for Thursday • June 1, 2006

• Terriers take a bite out of ethics

• Investigative reporting needed

• Timeshare users add to economy

Terriers take a bite out of ethics

Did the ex-ethics chair, Board of Ethics members, and Mayor violate the Kaua‘i County Charter?

According to public documents on Nov. 22, 2005, government watchdog Richard Stauber faxed the Mayor, Kaua‘i County Council, Board of Ethics, County Attorney, Charter Commission, and The Garden Island newspaper a document citing violations of the Kauai County Charter Sections 23.02.B.2G and Section 7.05. L claiming the County Charter had been violated.

In the fax, Stauber states the Board of Ethics chair (Sandy Helmer) had succeeded herself and served as chair of the Board of Ethics beyond the one-year term limit specified in section 23.02.B.2G. Stauber further states the Mayor (Bryan Baptiste) failed to enforce this section of the County Charter in violation of Section 7.05.L which states the mayor shall have the power to enforce the provisions of the Charter.

Stauber concludes by asking the question, “Will the law be enforced and when?”

Six months later in a two sentence letter to Mayor Baptiste dated May 8, 2006, Helmer resigned citing personal reasons.

Two days later on May 10, 2006 Helmer sent a two-page letter to the Board of Ethics citing personal reasons and launched an ad hominem attack on government “watchdogs” characterizing them as, “yapping terriers that nip at anyone and everyone’s heels, trying to draw blood.”

The larger unanswered question is, “If the law was broken by the Ethics Board chair, board members and the Mayor, are any actions that were taken by the Board of Ethics during the period of violation valid, or null and void?

  • Ed Coll

Investigative reporting needed

This month we have heard the Pulitzer Prizes for literature, including two for outstanding investigative reporting to The New York Times and the Washington Post. These reports would not have been possible were it not for unnamed sources.

Too often the press is viewed as a PR tool for government and business. They write a press release and hand it out to be published in the hope that people will believe it because it was reported in the news. Or individuals will be interviewed and quoted without any indication as to the truth of their statements. Since most people tend to believe what they see printed, we are subject to what might be called “fake news.”

The most important thing a community newspaper can do for us is investigative reporting. This reporting depends upon anonymous sources, leaks and whistleblowers to get closer to the truth. Thomas Jefferson has said not to be afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead. In order to protect the people’s democracy, there must be nothing hidden.

For this reason we must thank the few who spend time searching behind the scenes to expose what is happening. The report months ago by The Garden Island on problems with KIUC was a rare but valuable contribution. Many more reports are needed to search out what is behind so many of our island’s problems.

  • Frederick Wells

Timeshare users add to economy

As a lover of Kaua‘i and one of those oft-maligned timeshare owners, as well as a frequent reader of The Garden Island, I feel it is time to express some views that may show we Mainlanders are not all alike.

We don’t have the resources to move to the island and become full-time residents. Not yet. Nor do we have the resources to buy a house and become absentee landlords.

However, we have rented from one of them several times before we bought our timeshare weeks. The house is located where it should be, in Po‘ipu, and is well maintained with local staff taking care of it. I don’t know how much of our rent stayed in Kaua‘i, but I would guess it was a substantial amount.

Now we look forward to September in Kaua‘i, both in Lihu‘e and Po‘ipu, in our timeshare locations. We feel like this is our second home, so we try and participate in our limited way. We have formed friendships with local residents and visit every year to share talk story, and we also contribute to several Kaua‘i charities and non-profits.

We were very happy to watch the eyesores disappear in Po‘ipu as Marriott resurrected the Waiohai property. During our first stay, when the resort was about half completed, we discussed another Kaua‘i problem with the staff at Waiohai — the waste stream. We suggested that recycle bins could help the guests and the island. During our last visit the overflowing receptacles in the parking basement were not the trash but the recycling bins; guests were zealous in using those bins instead of throwing everything out.

Our visit to Kaua‘i is our annual “extravagance” for the year. You won’t find our funds going to Mainland corporations. We shop almost exclusively at Big Save, Foodland, Koloa Fish Market and local merchants and restaurants. This keeps local people employed and any profits can, hopefully, also stay local. One of our friends owns a shop in Kapa‘a and we help sustain this business and several crafts- people in Lihu‘e, Hanalei, Hanapepe and elsewhere.

I agree that many visitors treat the island like it’s another amusement park or tourist stop.

For us, it’s the second home that may be our first some day. We hope to join you and also join in the local communities to work for balance between visitors and their revenue and keeping Kaua‘i a great place to live.

  • Cliff and Andrea Greenber
    Castro Valley, Calif.

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