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Letters for Monday, August 18, 2008

• Slow down and relax Dear David in Berkeley,

• Stay affordable to the budget traveler

• Destructive policies warrant impeachment

• Surfrider volunteers came through


Slow down and relax Dear David in Berkeley,

Having discussed your experience with many of my friends and neighbors here on Kaua‘i, I’d like to share with you the most common reactions I heard.

We are very sorry that your visit was ruined. We sincerely hope that you will return and enjoy our beautiful island.

We thank you for the contribution your fine represents to the improvement of our infrastructure and operation of our community.

It is also our hope that the spirit of aloha reaches you. In our view, aloha means many things, including “relax and slow down.” We assume that the pace here is one of the reasons you came in the first place.

We want you to know that you were not targeted for your traffic citation as a visitor. Our county pays its bills primarily from property taxes. Fines are a tiny percentage of our income. If visitors are cited more often than locals, it’s probably because we are more aware of our low speed limits and more accustomed to the slower pace.

Next time you visit, hopefully you will be able to slow down, both spiritually and as you drive. We will all be safer, and you’ll feel better.

In the meantime, please don’t feel that you were somehow mistreated or “ripped-off.” You were speeding and you got a ticket. That doesn’t make you a bad person, nor does it make Kaua‘i a bad place.

James Thompson

Kalaheo


Stay affordable to the budget traveler

And now we know the rest of the story. Some secret commission has been working on changing the real property tax collections for over a year. Now the County Council has but two weeks to railroad it through so it can be implemented next tax year. Public input and debate can not happen within this timetable.

Gone will be the 2 percent cap and circuit breaker cap designed to help long-time residents and low-income pensioners keep their homes as the cost of living increases. Who do they think will buy these houses when the owners can no longer afford the taxes?

It has been customary to base the tax rate on zoning. This makes sense because residential areas require fewer county services. The only one I get without paying a fee is weekly trash pickup. Residential areas put far less wear and tear on roads and infrastructure as do commercially zoned lands.

As long as existing laws pertaining to the number of unrelated people who occupy a dwelling are enforced, the cost to the county remains the same whether one family lives in a house 52 weeks a year or 30 families live there one week at a time. The vacation rental is actually less costly in that it is seldom rented 100 percent of the time and a local family with teenagers is bound to have more cars than a similar family on vacation.

Your front page story hinted that the taxes charged will vary with use rather than zoning. Of course, this was a foregone conclusion that, once all vacation rentals had been registered, they would be hit with major tax increases as will time shares and other relatively reasonably priced accommodations.

If we drive out the budget traveler and accept only those who can afford $500 per night and up there will be major job losses in our tourist-oriented service businesses. It sounds good before an election — soak the tourists and keep residents taxes low.

But this is like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. And when the expected windfall from these new taxes doesn’t materialize, then homeowners no longer have any protection against the profligate county spending and resultant need for ever-increasing taxes.

The offer to increase the home exemption is ludicrous. I don’t know exactly when the current exemption rates were set but I know they haven’t changed over the last 30 years. Then you could buy a decent house or condo for $60,000. Today that property would be worth $500,000. A $40,000 home exemption was meaningful then — now even if it were doubled it would be just a slap in the face.

The saddest part of this is that they will likely all be re-elected this fall. Shame on us.

Stan Godes

Hanalei


Destructive policies warrant impeachment

How many of my fellow Americans were as surprised as I was to learn that American troops were in Georgia training the Georgian army and that Georgia possessed rubber-tired American Strykers which challenged battle-proven Russian tanks?

Remember that American President JFK threatened the Soviet Union with military retaliation in order to get them to remove their missiles from Cuba. The difference being that President Kennedy had a substantial army and navy to back up his action. The Bush-Cheney regime is in no position to protect Georgia militarily.

The result, as shown on American and British television, is thousands of Georgian battle dead and wounded and thousands of Georgians left destitute and homeless as a result of Russian bombing of strategic targets in Georgia.

Television also showed an equal number of burned out strykers and Russian tanks as a result of battle between the two countries which share a common border.

What kind of a message does this send to other countries that Bush-Cheney are attempting to “democratize?” Their obvious answer will be “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The way to stop this madness is for Pelosi and Reid to start impeachment proceedings immediately. This is the only way to show that the American people do not concur in the dangerously destructive policies of the Bush-Cheney administration.

Harry Boranian

Lihu‘e


Surfrider volunteers came through

A great big mahalo to Sheri Saari and the volunteers of the Surfrider Foundation for the clean-up of the forested area adjacent to Lumaha’i Beach.

During a hike through the area earlier this year, I was saddened to see huge amounts of rubbish all over the wooded area left there by campers and party-goers.

After making several inquiries about beach maintenance with local county agencies, my concern was referred to the Surfrider Foundation by Thomas Noyes of The Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park.

Surfrider volunteers came through. They collected and hauled away truckloads of rubbish from the area. The efforts of these volunteer organizations help keep Kaua‘i the Garden Island paradise that it is.

Chris Bischoff

San Jose, Calif.

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