Having an open government is the key to solving some of Kaua‘i County’s biggest problems — affordable housing, traffic and drug use — says first-time Kaua‘i County Council candidate K.C. Lum.
Strategies to resolve such problems will be developed in due time through brainstorming, but for him, Lum said, the most important election issue is ensuring Kauaians have full access to public documents and participate in the running of the county government.
With data in hand, residents can join hands with government to help resolve nagging issues, he said.
The county can make information available to the public 24 hours a day on the county’s Web site, www.kauai.gov, he said.
“Look at the county Charter Commission,” he said. “All of its meetings have been televised. All their minutes are available as soon as they are transcribed. All documents submitted were posted on the charter commission Web site in a timely manner.”
So other county agencies can follow suit, Lum said he will propose a bill requiring them to submit public documents to the county Web site.
Furthermore, all confidential document claims will be independently audited.
Lum also said he will have a Web page with blog, where residents can discuss issues.
“Those who do not have a computer can go to the library and participate,” he said.
The lack of access to public documents may explain why only 46 percent of the island’s citizens voted in the Sept. 23 primary.
“Open government will give the facts to the average citizen and encourage public participation in our county government,” Lum said.
Instead, he says the council has stifled public input.
“As one watches Ho‘ike on the council meetings, one can see the council will chastise any member of the public for giving testimony which is not to the council’s liking,” Lum said.
He said the council uses up too many hours defending itself instead of spending enough time listening to what residents want.
“The council must understand that the public is the government,” Lum said. “Kaua‘i is not a totalitarian society. We, the people, have a right to know and also have a right to criticize, based on First Amendment rights.”
He says the council’s role is not to encourage totalitarianism; its role is to represent the people, and he wants the council to conduct business openly and expeditiously and give opponents equal time to voice their opinions.
Any presentation on behalf of the council will disclose the council’s votes for or against the presentation, he said.
“A change to this format will shorten unnecessary rhetoric, prevent sophism and give members of the public equal time in front of the public television, which is paid for with public money,” he said.
If incumbent councilmembers are re-elected, “Kaua‘i will be closer to the look and feel of Maui or Honolulu, but with the infrastructure lagging far behind,” Lum said.
Lum said he favors a moratorium on new building so a needs assessment can identity the number of issued building permits and infrastructure.
“No more building permits will be issued until the definition of adequate infrastructure is satisfied,” Lum said.
Lum says his business and government track record shows he can produce results, and will bring that experience to the council.
He won’t be a “follow-the-crowd” type of councilman, he says.
Starting as a West Kaua‘i patrolman with the Kaua‘i Police Department in 1983 and retiring as the chief this year, Lum says he knows how government works.
In those 23 years, he said he has worked with federal and state agencies in developing plans and implementing them.
Lum, who lives in ‘Ele‘ele, owns a coffee company with his wife.
Go to www.kclum.com for more information.