Letters for Wednesday, July 30, 2008

• Eastside’s community voice

• Third branch of government

• The right move

Eastside’s community voice

Mahalo to The Garden Island for great coverage of our Eastside community meeting with Steve Kyono (“Gridlocked: Community talks traffic solutions,” A1, July 27).

And, mahalo for Steve’s great work on our tangled highway issues.

Still, I think the big story is the Wailua-Kapa‘a Neighborhood Association (WKNA), itself.

It’s about time the Eastside grew its own community voice, on a par with, say, Koloa or Kilauea or Kekaha.

Not to take anything away from the Kapa‘a Business Association or the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a, mind you. I’m a member of the former and past president of the latter, yet I’ve always felt we also needed a community association.

Now that WKNA’s founding chair, Rayne Regush, and others are mobilizing our community in this way, I’m jumping in with both feet.

If you live in Kapa‘a or Wailua, you should, too.

WKNA is a great vehicle for forging consensus on community issues. Plus, if you join now, you can help grow this group into the kind of effective community voice we need.

Especially with the upcoming hearings on the East Kauai Development Plan, we can use this forum to lift up and hash out all neighborly concerns for our community’s future.

This new group is wide open for personal contributions of all kinds.

For example, as one of this group’s new board members, part of my job is to get the Kapa‘a Library key for our meetings on the fourth Saturday of each month, and put up WKNA’s curbside sign that morning.

Let us know if you want to join and get on the WKNA e-mail list for updates at wkna.org (where we could use some immediate help with our Web work).

Oh, and, if you were on this e-list, you would already know that our August meeting will actually be on a Thursday evening (the 21st), to accommodate a special guest speaker, Police Chief Darryl Perry.

Look for the sign. Be there. Join now.

Ken Stokes


Third branch of government

Did Ron Agor really say that the County Attorney’s Office is the third branch of government for the county (“Agor seeks County Council seat,” A3, July 27)?

The county attorney is a political appointee whose appointment by the mayor requires council approval. The office lacks the independent authority characteristic of the third branch of government and its opinions are subject to the same scrutiny by courts as any other opinions.

Even though county officials may find it convenient to hide behind opinions from the office as if they were court-mandated decisions, most notably when an opinion is an after-the-fact attempt to protect officials from the consequences of their mistakes, the charter defines the role of the office as one of giving legal advice and serving as legal representative. This is a far cry from defining the office as the third branch of government.

Horace Stoessel


The right move

My wife and I are in the midst of transitioning from Phoenix to Kaua‘i and have experienced some unexpected surprises. While Nellie has a medical background and will be continuing her work providing allergy relief and I will be retiring from academia as a theatre professor this fall, we both have a passion for the theatre.

You can imagine how delighted we were to discover so much live theatre in such a relatively small community. Last fall we were here to see “Big River” by the Kaua‘i Community Players and Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre.

The two organizations were clearly committed to providing quality theatre. Even in large cities it isn’t easy bringing such a large number of talented cast members together. What a superb job they did.

Not long ago I had the pleasure to see the Kaua‘i Community College production of “Man of La Mancha.” They deserve credit for taking on such a mammoth undertaking. This is by far one of the most difficult musical theatre productions to stage, yet they pulled it off beautifully.

We recently saw “Into the Woods” directed by Jen Downs of the Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre. In my nearly 40 years of acting, directing, staging fights and teaching, rarely have I seen a director pull so much talent out of a cast. And what makes this so remarkable is the age of her cast: 12 to 18.

This is a director that not only has the skill to bring her talent together as a tightly knit ensemble but also has the ability to help them understand each moment of the show as they portray their characters with honesty and integrity.

We took time to find her after the show to congratulate her and discovered her plans for keeping theatre in the lives of children both in their summer program and throughout the year in the school system. They doubled their membership over the prior year and that is a testament to how much these children crave this creative outlet and Jen’s ability to provide it.

At a time where most public schools are eliminating physical education and the arts in order to deal with painful budget cuts her efforts deserve the community’s support. While mastering the three R’s is vital in order to obtain a quality education, developing the whole person, i.e., the soul and spirit, not just the intellect, is absolutely vital in what is now a globally competitive work force.

Our children and our theatre-going community are very fortunate to have someone like Jen Downs and we look forward to seeing her doing a lot more directing.

We truly enjoyed the hysterically funny production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”

Ross Martineau, Tim Evans and Mike Scarbo played all the roles and reminded us of not only how entertaining and engaging the theatre can be, but how much more we, the audience, benefit when the actors truly enjoy their craft. And they showed us elaborate technical support is not required for good theatre since it was all done with great aplomb in the limited confines of the KAPA rehearsal space.

And then there was our theatre experience last night. A few friends asked us to join them to see the Women in Theatre’s production of “The Smell of the Kill.” I know all too well about the financial end of theatre and how difficult it is to sell enough tickets to cover your overhead without making the cost of each ticket so high the average audience member can’t afford to attend.

The way we typically attract large audiences is by doing something safe and familiar. This group of women, with Melissa McFerrin as president and Sandi O’Shaugnessy as their vice president, deserve our patronage and admiration. They are willing to explore works of art that challenge and engage as well as entertain. What a wonderful gift for the theatre-going audiences of Kaua‘i. There was one more experience that told us this is clearly the community for us. While standing in line at KCC to purchase my “Man of La Mancha” ticket I heard the box office person tell the woman in front of me, “We only accept cash or checks.” I mumbled “Uh-oh. I could be in trouble.”

A man standing next to me whom I have never met says, “I’ll be glad to cover your ticket and you can mail me a check later.” As it turned out I had enough cash but could not get over his response to my possible dilemma.

So between numerous theatre venues, unique and priceless opportunities for our youth, kindness of strangers, incredibly courteous drivers, great restaurants and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches — we clearly made the right move.

Cass and Nellie Foster



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