Letters for Wednesday, November 19, 2008

• Congrats, voters

• Hygiene limits spread of flu

• Ferry fish realities

• The grand conspiracy

Congrats, voters

Congratulations to the voters (“Voters approve 5 of 6 Charter Amendments,” A1, Nov. 5), for mostly getting amendments right despite navigating formidable ballot obstacles, but I feel one slipped by without our full comprehension. Ballot proposal, “Kauai County Charter conform to state law requiring all County Council meetings to be open to the public unless allowed to be closed under the Sunshine Law, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 92,” soon realizes. By voting “yes” we’ve omitted from our county charter 3.07E, more stringency allowed by Sunshine Law itself (HRS 92-71).

Questions of how and why this got to our ballot in the first place warrants further examination, the result of which deems a lesson in brilliant small-time, backroom handshake politics reliant upon voters ill-equipped to garner subtle trickery. Certainly though, nobody from the public solicited the Charter Review Commission for “conformity to the Sunshine Law.” I know because I was there. Regardless, votes tallied 17,205 “yes” to 4,685 “no,” a 4-to-1 ratio, a landslide victory for a constituency desirous of County Council secrecy.

Further irony reveals in recent months before the election, the public successfully made headway in council with 3.07E, “this newfound, 40-year-old charter law” that helped restrict executive sessions with “claims filed with the county clerk.” That’s right, it’d been in the Kauai Charter the whole time and only recently applied. If you look at the last 25 council agendas, the executive sessions all but disappear by fall ‘08. But the public hardly got a chance to see 3.07E work its ability for openness before expedient execution to ballot despite protest to its genesis and language before Charter Review.

Now the votes are in, our charter amends, and 3.07E dies a 40-year-old infant. We were so close. Look no further than the Charter Review Commission minutes for the responsible parties and rationale. Additionally, reporter Nathan Eagle accurately points out that, “the council already cites the Sunshine Law when it enters into executive sessions. The county attorney has penned a legal opinion on why the council has been able to do this despite the apparent conflict with the charter, but the opinion remains guarded under attorney-client privilege.”

The battle for county attorney opinion is already underway. No sour grapes, just an opportunity now for me to help sweeten our future through continued lobbying for public access. Looking forward, I will continue to support a more open county government and a public‘s right to know.

• Rolf Bieber, Kapa‘a

Hygiene limits spread of flu

As an infection control practitioner I have been interested in your letters concerning the flu vaccine for adults and children (“Flu vaccine controversy,” Letters, Nov. 18) (“Do vaccinate,” Letters, Nov. 14) (“Flu vaccine: Hope or hype?” Letters, Nov. 13).

A statement was made that there are no studies showing the effectiveness of flu vaccine. There have been numerous studies made. The outcomes vary and I thought I’d share one site for you to read accurate study reports and make an educated decision whether you or your loved ones should get vaccinated: www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/effectivenessqa.html

The most effective way to prevent the transmission of any infectious agent is, however, for everyone to practice respiratory etiquette by covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, using disposable tissues, and performing frequent hand hygiene using good friction to loosen and remove those nasty germs from our hands.

Teach your children diligently to practice this etiquette, wash their hands frequently with soap and water and good friction, and teach them to only drink out of their own cups and use their own utensils, and you will enable them to prevent the spread of disease.

• Anika Magwood, Jacksonville, Florida

Ferry fish realities

Responding to the letter, “Superferry concerns need perspective,” Letters, Nov. 17, from Peter Antonson where he states, “…hundreds of pounds of fish have not been removed from Maui,” and “During the summer, Maui’s mayor got hysterical about 400 pounds of fish in a month that never left Maui.”

Actually, fish and limu are allowed to be transported on the Superferry. It is the opihi, crustaceans, and rocks that are not allowed on the Superferry. In the case of opihi, unless they are immature, there is no penalty for being caught attempting to smuggle them aboard.  Fish and limu are allowed to “flow freely.”

And how much was that? When ridership on the ferry was low in the spring and fall it was not much, but when ridership was high May thru August the amount of fish and limu that was transported via HSF was significant. From Oversight Taskforce Committee/DLNR reports for fish: 370 lbs., 316 lbs., 488 lbs., and 190 lbs. in successive months. For limu it was:  477 lbs. and 475 lbs. in successive months. This does not include significant weights of opihi that were confiscated after having been harvested and killed nevertheless.

Let us be clear, with an inadequate governor’s EO and Act 2, Neighbor Island resource depletion is a real issue when the Superferry is running at high ridership. Thankfully it has been running at low ridership since late August, and not to Kaua‘i at all. 

For interested readers there is a new video on YouTube “Superferry Plunder: Kauai fishermen talk story” about this.

• Brad Parsons, Hanalei

The grand conspiracy

I think it is time to look at the reality of flu shots, superferries, bank bailouts.

How long will we continue to walk around with a “kick me” sign taped to our backs? We are being manipulated for the greed of some.

A flu shot is like a stab in the dark. The best defense against the flu is eating correctly and proper exercise. The Superferry controversy is the misunderstading of the millennium. The question that has never been posed about the Superferry is “Do you think corporations (Superferry) should be able to buy and hire our elected officials to supersede the laws that protect us and our island?”

This is very dangerous. This is what has happened, hence the need for the “special session” to change the laws they already violated. Crazy. If you have ever traveled to places where environmental laws are ignored, dirty water, dirty oceans, dirty living, you know what I mean. Meanwhile our government packs up a present full of money for the criminals on Wall Street.

The money is not being used to help people in mortgage crisis, nor is it being used for bonuses and buying other banks. So basically we the people, after being knocked down, are being kicked. I encourage you to seek out the truth behind our failed news media.

The news media works for our government to perpetuate misinformation. Sometimes the truth hurts but it is better to know than not know.

• Todd Anderson, Lihu‘e

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