Letters for Monday, April 9, 2007

• Where do you stand?

• Vidinha’s track’s great but those lua…

• Charter work needs to be done


Where do you stand?

Jason, I believe you need a short history on the War on Terror.

This war has been going on since 1979 for the United States. Let’s start with the facts. The War on Terror is working. The billions we are spending to keep terrorists away from the U.S. is next to nothing compared to what we will lose if we lose this war. Do you recall Sept. 12, 2001?

The world’s economy stopped.

There was not a commercial plane in the sky … for close to a week. Layoffs afterwards were worldwide. The world’s economy depends on ours. Here in Hawai‘i we were hit especially hard as tourism hit new lows. Like it or not, we are the world’s largest economy. Our economy is larger than the next nine of the top 10 economies combined. The terrorists leaders have been calling for another attack on the U.S. since 9/11. It’s been 5 1/2 years of foiled terrorists attacks. Not a single successful attack on U.S. soil.

It is our way of life that is under attack by terrorists. They do not believe in free will, free speech or free press or self government. They believe in their hearts, we and our way of life must die. Tolerance is not in their vocabulary. We could not have a more dangerous enemy. The terrorists have not been successful only because of the leadership in the White House and the soldiers in the battlefield.

Lest you forget this is the United States. There is no “them” in the government. We, you and I are the government on this soil

Like it or not that includes you.

Even if you don’t vote you are still taking a stand. I pray we win this battle and never forget that the terrorists will not be happy until we lose our will or our life. If we as a people lose one we will lose the other to the enemy.

I have not lost mine.

Where do you stand?

Jim Tamme

Kapa‘a


Vidinha’s track’s great but those lua…

Just last year we celebrated the great new rubberized track at Vidinha Stadium. It really is a blessing for our student athletes who compete there. Now, when are we finally going to get sanitary rest rooms for the athletes and the public. The rest rooms at Vidinha are an embarrassment to our community. Plumbing that needs replacement. Mold and worse growing on the floors and walls. I have been forcing myself to try not to breathe when I need to use the facilities for years, and was totally embarrassed when we took a visitor to last Friday’s track meet and she got up to use the rest room. For pride’s sake. for sanitation’s sake, someone in county government … give us rest rooms where we don’t have to hold our breaths and aren’t afraid to touch anything. I guarantee that if the mayor and the county council had to use the rest rooms at Vidinha for a day or two, things would change. What do you say, guys? Are you up to the challenge?

Mark Huff

Kapa‘a


Charter work needs to be done

Last November, the voters approved a proposal allowing the charter commission to sit continuously for the next 10 years. The most popular item of unfinished business on the commission’s agenda is a county manager proposal to be voted on in 2008 and, if approved, implemented in 2010. About one-fifth of the time available to deliver a proposal to the county clerk has elapsed and the commission has yet to be activated.

Adopting a county manager system is the primary change required to align the county charter and government with current circumstances and needs. Since its adoption in 1969, the charter has been amended about 65 times, primarily with the aim of improving accountability and efficiency. The amendments, adopted in piecemeal fashion, have been like fingers in the dike.

 A county manager proposal is a way of saying it’s time to examine the dike as a whole; i.e. the basic structure of responsibilities and powers delegated to county officials by the voters. Under a county manager system the professionally trained head of the administration is directly accountable to the council and the council is accountable to the voters for meaningful, effective oversight.

The charter already provides for the possibility that it may need to be revised thoroughly and/or fundamentally. It authorizes the charter commission to propose a “new charter” when deemed necessary or desirable. Presumably such a decision would be driven in part by changed circumstances like the exponential growth in population, budget, and complex governance and social issues.

There are also less obvious factors to be considered, like the altered balance of power between mayor and council resulting from the four-year mayoral term. Again, when the charter was adopted the mayor probably was able to manage both charter-mandated executive duties and the ceremonial duties which now take up 30% to 50% of the mayor’s time, according to an estimate given to the charter commission by the administrative assistant. Carrying that double load is no longer possible, as indicated by the fact that recent mayors have designated the administrative assistant as the day-to-day “manager” of the administration.

 The charter does not include the administrative assistant in its list of county officers, and aside from serving as mayor pro tem in the mayor’s absence the assistant has no statutory authority to make independent decisions. Last fall the voters seem to have recognized the questionable validity and makeshift character of the current arrangement when they refused to change the title of the administrative assistant to “managing director” in the absence of any changes in status or responsibilities accompanying the title change.

I believe three things must happen if a county manager proposal is to reach the ballot in 2008. First, the Charter Commission needs to take seriously its mandate to study and review the operation of county government under the present charter. As long as deficiencies in theory and practice in the present system continue to be overlooked, excused, or explained away, neither the commission nor the voters can make a meaningful comparison between the present system and a county manager system.

Second, the commission will need to take the initiative in employing appropriate resource persons. To frame a proposal, formulate necessary changes in the charter, and identify the steps involved in making a transition to a county manager system, the commission will need legal and practical guidance from persons with competent knowledge and experience in the field who have no personal or political axe to grind.

Third, the work of the commission needs wide exposure and public involvement. The last commission set the standard when it welcomed public testimony, aired its sessions on Hoike, placed all information on the county’s Web site, scheduled area meetings, and produced a high quality public information campaign. It is essential to follow their example if we are to have a sound county manager proposal that includes community input and an informed vote on the proposal.

Horace Stoessel

Kapa‘a

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