• It’s not to be
• Freedom to limit
• Welcome to Kaua‘i
• What we can do
It’s not to be
The recent decision by the County Council on the so-called “Big Box” issue once again calls to question the wisdom and ethics of our esteemed council.
Public testimony spoke favorably toward defeating the measure and allowing Wal-Mart to expand its existing store. A survey was made public that indicated the people of Kaua‘i were decisively against the measure and providing Kaua‘i with an alternative for higher food prices and poor quality merchandise and produce.
But that was not to be.
During the public discussion a councilmember stated that he had in his possession many letters in support of the measure. Apparently his vote was because of these letters. Alas, he did not follow the basic precepts of good government, namely by disclosing and making public those letters that by receipt to the council became part of the public record. All correspondence either sent to the members of the council or by members of the council are the property of the people and at all times subject to review by the public.
The question of whom we are to believe becomes a paramount issue. My comfort level would be raised if that councilmember made those letters public as he should. Let us see the letters. Just don’t make a statement that is pertinent to the issue and is not in public view.
This issue has become clouded by rhetoric, most true but some obscure. Unfortunately, the public has become accustomed to this sort of action by the council. When votes are taken and decisions are made based on facts and not by political pressures, this island will have taken a large step forward to achieving responsible and responsive government
Freedom to limit
I have heard many variations on the theme of “choice” and “freedom” in the last few weeks, as in “don’t deny Wal-Mart the freedom to build a 3-acre Superstore addition.” Most recently “Why restrict Wal-Mart from competing with Costco?”
This is nuts.
Kaua‘i has the freedom and choice to limit the height and area of retail structures. Communities have the right of self-determination. Wal-Mart has the freedom to build whatever kind of 74,999-square-foot structure they wish. No one is stopping them from competing against anyone.
Which is perhaps too bad.
I have the freedom to feel the “Big Box Bill” is just that — too big. One acre (43,560 square feet) under the same retail roof ought to be enough for any merchandiser. Has anyone ever heard of a retail campus?
Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, the council will recognize their area limit of 75,000 square feet was the equivalent of a building height limit of two palm trees, and downsize accordingly.
Welcome to Kaua‘i
It appears Ms. Comstock of Elk Grove, Calif., is new to Kaua‘i when she suggests the County Council is not representing the people’s wishes, and it might be time to take charge and put the vote into the hands of the people.
Well, Ms. Comstock, ostensively our country is a republic: a political system in which the supreme power lies with the body of citizens.
Not so on Kaua‘i.
Ever hear of the Ohana Kauai Amendment? This was a ballot initative that the majority of the voters approved to lessen our excessive property taxes. What did the County Council do? They sued us, the taxpayers, with taxpayer money.
She also states that “If the people’s wishes are not being heard, then it is time to take charge and put the vote into the hands of the people of Kaua‘i.”
What you don’t understand, Ms. Comstock, is that Kaua‘i is a third world type country. We have a “plantation” mentality here. Kaua‘i keeps electing the same councilmembers over and over, every election. I doubt our current council chairman can remember doing anything else — he’s been on the council so long. So we have exactly what we’ve asked for, year after year.
Tom Rice wrote a letter to the editor after the lawsuit that asked the council: “Stop the shameful attempt to subvert the voters’ clear decision about property taxes. Accept the will of the voters.” They don’t, they won’t, they don’t have to. We keep re-electing them. How sad. How sad,
What we can do
I am happy to see how many residents have voiced opinions on subjects like the Superferry, big box stores, bike paths, etc. … that will impact our way of life here on Kaua‘i. However, I am concerned that fewer people seem to grasp the serious and immediate threat of global warming.
Global warming is the granddaddy of all concerns for our future here on Kaua‘i and throughout the world. Scientists are saying that in a few short years, we could cross a temperature threshold that will lead to the melting of ice around Greenland and the poles, raising the ocean level by many feet. Climate changes like droughts and increased intensity of storms will also continue and get worse.
Yes, it’s scary, but it’s not too late to curve this dangerous path. Educate yourself of what’s going on. Read articles on the Internet or in magazines and newspapers. Watch the Discovery Channel or see “The Inconvenient Truth” documentary. Tell others about it. But most importantly, take personal action to reduce your contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and waste.
We all need to start doing things that are good for the planet, even if it’s personally inconvenient, and we need to teach this to our children. Here are some things that we can all do:
• Turn off computers at night and set them to sleep after 5 minutes of non-use (Screen savers do not save energy. Turning off your computer daily does not damage it).
• Unplug chargers (they continue to draw energy), use florescent bulbs in all fixtures, and turn off lights when possible.
• Install a solar power system ($2,000 federal tax credit, $5,000 state credit — you can get the state credit each year if you install over time).
• Drive less, carpool, take the bus, or buy a hybrid ($2,500 tax credit).
• Hang your clothes in the garage.
• Buy biodegradable products (G-diapers, biodegradable cat litter, biodegradable paper plates from Cost-U-Less, etc…).
• Use fewer paper products (try cloth and reusable cups/plates).
• Buy things with less packaging, not individually packaged food/drinks (Use powder drink mixes).
• Buy locally grown food from Sunshine Market and bring your own bag.
• Eat less meat (livestock uses land, grain, and water resources).
• Recycle everything (put yourself on the Opt Out list to reduce junk mail).
• Plant a garden and start composting.
• Buy less “stuff” you don’t need.
My family is trying hard to work together and rethink our old ways, and it has made us closer. Our bills are also much lower for electricity, gas, and food. So please, let’s all replace lip service with some real action today for our Island’s and our children’s future.