Friday, Aug. 12, 2022 |
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• Please, stop burning
• The illusion of transparency
• What’s worth hiding?
Please, stop burning
At a time when the islands are facing severe droughts from global warming, when rare birds of Kaua‘i are dying and on the Endangered Species List, people still continue to pollute the pristine air with their barbaric slash and burn methods of clearing yard debris.
Every morning, I wake up with a sore throat and irritated eyes from the nightly smouldering smoke.
The best and most respectful way of yard clearing is to use the debris as mulch, which will restore and nourish the soil. Mulching enriches and protects the soil, push it aside and it will help build a private barrier of ginger and ferns.
There are creative and environmentally friendly ways of transforming debris.
Jackie Marcus, Wainiha
The illusion of transparency
The devil is often in the technical details. The “transparency that appears to be coming to Kauai” is an illusion and actually designed to frustrate citizen participation in governance (“Council minutes posted online,” The Garden Island, July 3).
Council members Bynum and Kawahara’s Goal No. 2, “make key public documents readily available to the public on the County web site,” is laudable but not sufficient.
These documents should also not only be accessible (readily available) but useful as well. By useful, I mean the ability to do text searches of the document and easily copy and paste portions of the minutes from the Web site into another document.
Let’s say a citizen wants to submit testimony on an upcoming issue. In the preparation of such testimony it would be helpful to copy and paste quotes from the county document into the citizen’s testimony (as opposed to having to retype the quotes).
Retyping takes time and typographical errors can and are made. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to just cut and paste such quotes into your testimony? Of course it would.
What if (heaven forbid) there were people in government who wanted to limit citizen participation, and yet wanted to technically comply with Goal No. 2. Here is a road map to create a dilatory process to limit citizen participation:
Print out a hardcopy of the document, and scan it back into the computer as an image file, then convert that image file to a PDF file, and upload it to the internet.
Surprisingly, it appears this is what the county is doing before publishing the minutes online. What possible rationale is there for such procedure? The result of this process is a PDF file containing a non-text search-able, non-text copyable and non-pasteable document.
Citizens could access (look at), the document but find it very difficult to use in the creation of testimony. This is also a lot more work for county employees, but apparently hindering citizen participation is worth the extra effort.
The efficient thing to do would be to convert the word processing document into a text search-able, copyable, pasteable PDF file. This can be accomplished in a few keystrokes.
I hope Council members Bynum and Kawahara will flesh-out Goal No. 2 to prevent such dilatory tactics already being deployed to circumvent the intent of their laudable struggle for citizen transparency and access.
Ed Coll, Puhi
What’s worth hiding?
In 2005, our County Council went into an executive session (No. 177) to consider an investigation incident to the removal of Police Chief Lum. After two citizens asked the state Office of Information Practices to examine the legality of the session and OIP decided that the minutes of the session must be made public, the County sued OIP to prevent disclosure of them.
Michael Levine’s fine article (“Supreme Court to hear County v. OIP,” The Garden Island, July 2) reports that the State Supreme Court has now granted OIP’s appeal from lower court decisions favoring the county.
Many of us have wondered why the county has fought so hard to keep the minutes out of public view and how much of a burden the taxpayers incurred to meet the county’s legal costs for this effort.
As the county’s dogged struggle was made despite a very clear state law, Section 92F —15.5, which says that the county may not contest an OIP decision to reveal minutes, and our County Charter Section 3.07(e) did not allow an executive session to be held for the stated purpose, it seemed an attempt should be made to find out how much our county has spent on the case.
So I contacted our usually helpful Finance Department and asked for the amount that the county spent on outside legal counsel for the case — no telling how much in-house costs there were — since 2005.
They said that they have records on total expenses for outside counsel costs, but no data for individual cases and they referred me to the Office of the County Attorney for this information.
I have been told that only our County Attorney can release such records, and I am eagerly awaiting his call, but prospects dim with each passing day.
The public remains in the dark both as to why the county fought so hard on the case and how much it has cost taxpayers to do so. Our people are entitled to be better served.
Glenn Mickens, Kapa‘a
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