Letters for Saturday, September 13, 2008

• Council changing law?

• Facing energy realities


Council changing law?

Voters should take a closer look at the weasel worded proposal No. 2 which will appear on the ballot in the General Election this November.

In The Garden Island on Sept. 11, County Council candidate Kaipo Asing asserts in “Council candidates answers,” A1, that he has and will continue to abide by State Sunshine Law. But is he complying with our County Charter? He may “abide” which means to put up with; tolerate, but he has neither “complied” nor “conformed” with County Charter Section 3.07E.

It has become more than apparent that under his guidance as council chair the County Council has continuously violated County Charter ethics item 3.07E by going into executive session for reasons other than “consultations with the county attorney on claims.” The state Office of Information Practices (OIP) has opined that 3.07E does not violate and is in compliance with State Sunshine law.

The council asserts it has a secret opinion from the county attorney which states that despite repeatedly going into executive session for reasons other than consultations with the county attorney on claims, the council has not violated 3.07E. The council claims “attorney-client privilege” but downplays their sole right as the client to waive that privilege and has stubbornly refused to do so for the public good and a more transparent government. Now they want to change a law they are already breaking.

The ballot question Proposal No. 2: Relating to County Council Executive Sessions is deceptively worded. The ballot question states “Should the Kaua‘i County Charter be amended to conform to state law requiring that all meetings of the County Council be open to the public unless allowed to be closed under the State Sunshine law, Chapter 92, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes?”

Here is the proposed deletion: With the exception of deliberations relating to confirmation of appointees, or consultations with the county attorney on claims, all council and council committee meetings shall be open to the public.

Pardon my analysis but what is to be deleted is the section 3.07E of the County Charter that the secret county attorney opinion asserts has not been violated. Why is our county attempting to change the law?

As County Charter Commission Chair Jonathan Chun is fond of saying “What’s the problem this proposal is attempting to address?” The weasel word in this proposal is “conform” implying that 3.07E is somehow in violation of State Sunshine Law when in fact 3.07E is in complete “compliance” with the State Sunshine Law. The weasel is in the difference in the meaning of the words “conformance” versus “compliance.” Conformance means an exact word-for-word match with the laws. Compliance means obeying the law and could provide even greater protections than the law itself. That is what our current charter section 3.07E provides: greater transparency. Our current charter in fact provides greater transparency than the State Sunshine Law, while being in complete compliance with that law.

The take home message for the voter is that this proposal implies the county of Kaua‘i is somehow not following the state law when in fact 3.07E provides even greater transparency than the State Sunshine Law requires which is in complete “compliance” with State Sunshine Law.

Why is the county attempting to trick the voter into voting for less transparency in government with this weasel-worded proposal?

If more transparency in government is what you want vote “No” on proposed charter amendment No. 2.

Ed Coll

Puhi


Facing energy realities

At the recent mayoral debates at Kauai Community College, I heard all four of the candidates talk about their commitment to helping with the energy problems on Kaua‘i, yet JoAnn Yukimura was the only one of them who cleared her calendar so she could participate in both days of the recent Renewable Energy Conference.

The number one message of the conference was the absolute urgency that we on Kaua‘i have with our current energy situation. All of the major landowners on Kaua‘i were there, top leaders from all sorts of businesses and industries were there, including Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.

Mayorla candidates Bernard Carvalho and Mel Rapozo made it for an hour or so on day two. I am not impressed. The urgent need to start producing energy on Kaua‘i through renewables right away was stressed again and again by Sen. Daniel Inouye’s chief of staff, Sen. Gary Hooser, Rep. Mina Morita, federal Department of Energy’s Bill Parks, former state of Hawai‘i DBEDT staff Maurice Kaya and other local, state, national and international energy experts.

They warned us that Kaua‘i is an isolated situation with abundant natural resources and is falling behind the other counties with using wind, solar, hydro, etc. to make electricity.

When O‘ahu, Maui and the Big Island are joined by an inter-island underwater electric cable, Kaua‘i will not be a part of it as our channel is too deep. Kaua‘i will be on its own. We have to get started right away to prepare for when the oil tanker doesn’t come into Port Allen or for when we cannot afford to pay for the oil tanker to come here. The prices are only going to get higher and right now we/KIUC make 90 percent of our electricity with fossil fuels.

KEDB has stepped up to the plate to help coordinate progress in the area of renewable energy generation on Kaua‘i, so contact them if you want to help. Get a solar water heater on your house and start saving 30 percent on your electric bill right away.

Ask KIUC how to finance it. Only 30 percent of the houses on Kaua‘i have solar water heaters now. Ask KIUC about their progress on the Kekaha solar farm and the expansion of the hydro power at Wainiha. And get over it about windmills being ugly; they can’t be any worse than all of the utility poles, the KIUC Port Allen facility and the abandoned sugar mill smokestacks that we already have.

Wake up Kaua‘i, the technology is available and alot of help is available but we the people of Kaua‘i need to decide how we want to generate our electricity beyond fossil fuels and tell our elected officials. And we need to do it now starting with this mayoral race by supporting the candidate who is the most informed and has always supported renewable energy, JoAnn Yukimura.

Mary Lu Kelley

Lawa‘i

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