Letters for Saturday, November 29, 2008

• If I amplify you, I amplify myself

• Path needs better planning

• State’s responsibility

If I amplify you,  I amplify myself

Everyone I’ve talked to is concerned about the council meeting as reported by Luke Shanahan in TGI on Nov. 25. We see angst on the faces of all council members, the ones we trustingly voted to lead us.

Is it even legal to bring in an assignment of committees and members that must have been written before the council officially began? Isn’t it the council’s job as a whole to collaborate on the island’s needs?

Different council members express the different opinions of our island. That makes the mix richer. To predetermine who will be in what group, and to prevent certain members from being together demonstrates fear. Of what? That is the question.

In my heart I will continue to believe that every council member ultimately wants the good of the whole island, and not special interests. It is also our responsibility to see that we inform our council members of what we believe is the best for all.

I’ve been blessed to be on the Mea Ho‘omanao committee originally conceived of by Bryan Baptiste to help Kaua‘i remember aloha. Its slogan is “Aloha begins with me.”

On Nov. 18, an intergenerational summit was held to ask how to bring aloha back to this island. It was determined that aloha cannot be taught from books or words. It must be demonstrated. People have to see and feel aloha in action for it to become real.

One of the kupuna teachers stated, “I would not allow in my classroom the disrespectful behavior that was demonstrated by the council last year.” We all had hopes that the new council would be different. Let it be so. If the start of this year was “rocky,” it can be undone.

The country of South Africa lives by “ubuntu.” It is very similar to aloha. The Rev. Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes ubuntu people in the book “Believe” as “friendly, hospitable, generous, gentle, caring and compassionate … someone who will use his or her strengths on behalf of others — the weak and the poor and ill — and not take advantage of anyone. This person treats others as he or she would be treated.” To take advantage of anyone diminishes oneself. To publicly diminish another diminishes oneself. Prejudging people diminishes them. 

Ubuntu is also demonstrated by forgiving, and enabled victims of unspeakable violence to forgive their perpetrators when they could prove that they acted on orders, were truly sorry and asked for forgiveness. Forgiving undoes past hurts. Not to forgive diminishes oneself. If they can forgive such violence, then let us hope that we can forgive rocky starts and mistakes.

Kawaikapuokalani Hewitt teaches Hawaiian ho‘o pono pono. He states that it makes things right all the way back to creation, where we recognize that we are all connected.

I humbly ask the council members, teachers, other leaders and those in the public eye to demonstrate aloha in your interactions. Ask questions and have empathy for others. You never know when someone is watching and can learn from you.

We all make mistakes, and appreciate forgiveness and kindness. Acting with aloha amplifies us, and if I amplify you, I amplify myself.

• Annaleah Atkinson

Path needs better planning

I regards to David Stuart’s letter (“Path opening postponed again,” Letters, Nov. 21),  hopefully the following testimony that I gave before the council on Nov. 19 may offer you more insight as to the real history of this path:

This communication states that a status report will be given for July, August and September on the county’s bike and pedestrian pathway project.

I believe it is way past time that this administration give an update on this total path — itemization of the money spent so far for work done; total money obligated for work now being done; prospective money needed to finish the entire 16 to 23 miles of path (length having changed several times since the start) including land acquisition, condemnation and all variables; a copy of the original contract with the federal government showing what funds were asked for, the exact route as outlined to the feds; a copy of the final EA done on the entire outlined route remembering that the comprehensive exemption list for the state DOT states under exemption class 1 that operations, repairs or maintenance of existing structures, facilities … not proposed new ones as Doug Haigh once told the council that they were.

On Oct. 18, 2007, the council by a 4-to-3 vote approved an audit of this path by the state auditor to “examine expenditures, permitting and compliance with grant requirements.” This audit was highly fought by all path proponents including three members of this council but, as KipuKai Kuali‘i so wisely said, “It’s the administration’s mismanagement of this entire project that leads responsible people like Rapozo and Iseri-Carvalho to call for an audit. If we don’t have anymore nonsense and incompetence to hide (and/or correct) then why should we oppose an audit? The citizens of Kaua‘i, if you ask me, deserve an audit as much as we deserve a path.”

This path was ill-planned from the get-go and the chances of it ever being completed are slim to zero, especially in this highly unstable economy. I just returned from Broadbeach, Australia and there are some beautiful walking, jogging paths there. But the roads have huge bike lanes along them (the lanes are as big as for cars) and the true bikers ride fast on them.

Their paths, as so many on the Mainland, were programmed into the community before the area was developed — not like the path we are trying to retrofit here on Kaua‘i.

Had those who proposed this path tried to put it mauka instead of makai it might have had a chance to be built. However, as I have repetitively said, our tax dollars have way too many places of high priority to be used before even thinking about a bike path.

Remember that Doug Haigh once said that no study had ever been done on the usage of this path but the question screams for an answer, why? Before you spend millions of dollars on a project you certainly need to know the bang you are getting for your buck.

• Glenn Mickens, Kapa‘a

State’s responsibility

I was appalled when I read Wednesday’s newspaper.

To have Pflueger pasted on the front page, taking the fall for what was the county and the state’s responsibility to make sure that proper procedure was followed in maintaining the Ka Loko Dam.

Our government needs to step up to the plate and accept some of the responsibilities, and not try to sweep it under the rug as they have been doing for many many years.

How are we as a state expected to move forward when we have these type of people running our government? It disgusts me to know that our children and their children will grow up into this type of democracy.

• Mizdebz DeSilvaCarveiro, ‘Ele‘ele


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