Letters for wednesday, September 3, 2008

• Unanswered questions

• What about the disabled?

• Let the driver beware

Unanswered questions

What began as a mistake by the Board of Ethics that could have been corrected rather easily has broadened into a cover-up that implicates the board, county attorney’s office, mayor and council. The longer the story drags out, the more questions it raises, including but not limited to the following:

Why did the Board of Ethics contradict its own published policy by giving two former county officials permission to violate the plain meaning of charter section 20.02D, which prohibits officers and employees from appearing in behalf of private interests before any county board, commission or agency?

Why did the board keep secret an after-the-fact opinion it sought from the County Attorney’s Office in the second case that it purportedly used to justify its decision to dishonor its published policy?  What higher authority than the charter could the county attorney have cited to justify ignoring or contravening 20.02D?

Why did an attorney sitting on the Charter Commission propose a charter amendment exempting board/commission members from the requirements of 20.02D as soon as the second case, which involved the chairman of the Charter Commission, became public? Why did the Board of Ethics then propose exempting everyone?

Why did two council chairmen and all council members turn a blind eye to the evidence I presented in support of my three requests over a period of five months for the council to exercise its oversight role by calling for a public accounting from the Board of Ethics? What accounts for their failure to acknowledge that they received the requests and that they have an oversight responsibility?

This case is not primarily about the board’s mistaken rulings but about the way county officials retreat behind a wall of secrecy and silence when faced with legitimate questions from the public about how public policy is being formed and conducted. The secrecy and silence flouts the Sunshine Law, mocks the purpose of the Code of Ethics to “establish a high standard of integrity and morality in government service,” and gives a hollow ring to rhetoric claiming that “we are held to a higher standard.”

For me, these considerations lead to a final question: “Where is courage to be found and where will it be found after the elections in November?”

Horace Stoessel


What about the disabled?

Today is Saturday of the Labor Day weekend. The holiday known for picnics and camping. Well, I work for a very nice private care home on the Westside. There are three residents who live there, ages 89 to 95, all dependent on wheelchairs to get around. At least once a week these residents are treated to some kind of outing. Today it was a picnic. There are a lot of different picnic areas on the Westside, but between the squatters and the “Sovereignty Ohana” there are not many choices for a place to accommodate the disabled or elderly comfortably. We decided on trying the new pavilions at Kekaha Beach. Amazingly there were a couple empty. With no cement walkways to get the wheelchairs there we decided the only way to get safely to our destination was to drive to the pavilion to unload them safely. There was a man working on a backhoe who immediately came to tell us we couldn’t park there. We explained we were just dropping them off and would be moving the car ASAP. He informed us again that the car could not be there. Needless to say we stayed and had lunch anyway. While we were there a moped rider drove right into the pavilion across from us, but he was not told to move his “vehicle” that was parked in the pavilion. What I cannot understand is that we’ve been hearing ever since the Kapa‘a Pathway was opened about the rights of the users of the path. What about the rights of the disabled? These pavilions were built for the public to enjoy, are the elderly and the disabled not considered the public. I think our elected officials should be making sure before taxpayer money is spent. All people can enjoy whatever their money pays for.

Darlene Soares


Let the driver beware

In 1985, I wrote Kaua‘i’s first Risk Management Program, as Transportation Coordinator for Kaua‘i’s bus system. This program when implemented lead to 100 percent safe driving.

Each time there is a fatality, or accident on Kaua‘i roads due to a driver crossing over the center line, I am reminded that I see an epidemic here. This epidemic shows itself to me each time I drive anywhere on the island and I am sure that many others see what I see.

Now, usually when an epidemic is acknowledged, all heads come together to research the problem and come up with a solution.

As a concerned citizen, I am suggesting an immediate special session or forum be initiated by our county administrators which would include public input on seriously considering a cure to our epidemic on the roads of Kaua‘i.

Mahalo for your consideration

Janee Taylor



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