KIUC media ‘policy’ has no vote

The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors announced last month that it had agreed not to individually comment to the media about co-op matters.

While not stipulated in the board’s policies or a requirement of the cooperative’s bylaws, Policy Committee Chair Alfred Laureta said at the Oct. 30 meeting that board members generally would defer media questions to the CEO and public relations staff. Chair Dennis Esaki was identified as the sole point of contact for board-related questions.

There was no vote, informal or otherwise, to determine support for the measure or formalize the guideline, nor was an explanation offered as to how a consensus was reached.

In the past six months, only Esaki and board member Carol Bain, who was elected in March on a platform of transparency, have talked directly to The Garden Island about KIUC. Bain commented on the record in recent months about energy alternatives as well as successful efforts to expand board Policy 16, which governs access to cooperative information.

According to Esaki, the intent of channeling comment through the chair is to ensure that the board speaks with “one voice,” as its function is to give direction to the president.

“KIUC has one Strategic Plan which guides the organ-ization, not one for each director,” Esaki said via e-mail. “Similarly, we have decided we should have one voice which represents the instruction given (to) the CEO, so as not to confuse the management and the public.”

CEO and President Randy Hee said he does not oppose board member communication with media on KIUC issues and that the board has full discretion in this regard.

Discussion on the subject originated in the Policy Committee’s Oct. 11 meeting before it was brought to the full board later that month. Committee meetings, while not subject to executive session priviledges, are open to the public by invitation only.

According to Policy 16, which the board expanded in September to make it easier for members to obtain routine documents, “minutes of all non-executive session meetings” are available to members without a formal request form.

KIUC staff along with the board’s general counsel, attorney David Proudfoot, say committee meetings do not fall under that category but can be obtained for proper purposes with the approved form.

TGI submitted a written request to view minutes from the Oct. 11 policy meeting, but as of press time the documents were not available.

When asked if the board will take any action to formalize the media policy, Esaki said they are “looking at putting it in writing.” The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Nov. 27 at the KIUC building in Lihu‘e.

For more information on board policies or the co-op’s bylaws, visit

• Blake Jones, business writer/assistant editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or


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