Friday, May 27, 2022 |
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• Time to move on
• Liberty and justice for all
Time to move on
Walter Lewis sometimes gets it right — we need critical watchdogs like him to keep everyone on track. But no one is perfect and the facts show he got it very wrong in his Dec. 12 column (“KIUC fails to provide public access,” A Better Kaua‘i).
Mr. Lewis repeats his frequent criticism of the 2002 purchase price of KE to form KIUC. The fact is the state Public Utilities Commission and the state Consumer Advocate considered every concern presented to it by citizens and interveners — Mr. Lewis’s concerns included — and found the purchase price of $215 million was appropriate and fair. The fact is at the time of the purchase the County of Kaua‘i was in possession of a secret appraisal, not made public until well after the sale, stating the correct purchase price for the utility would be around $215 million.
Moreover, I’m certain Mr. Lewis is wrong because I was there.
Like Mr. Lewis I opposed the first attempt to form KIUC. Unlike Mr. Lewis, after the PUC withheld approval of that deal I accepted an offer to join KIUC’s effort to negotiate a better deal and bring the benefits of community utility ownership to Kaua‘i.
I was there throughout the financial modeling. I was there throughout the negotiations. I was there when the PUC and CA approved the deal.
This issue is simply a matter of decided fact. Repeating and repeating something that isn’t true will not make it become true.
Mr. Lewis opinions about KIUC’s bylaws are, unfortunately for your readers, as inaccurate as his often repeated financial misinformation. While providing no actual information about any specific bylaw revisions at KIUC he implies they were nefarious attempts to keep secrets.
The facts are the bylaws changes did such things as give more time between nominations and elections, change the date of the annual meeting, and remove unnecessary language about founding directors once the first election was past. Any attempt to dress up the bylaws changes as anything sinister is suspect.
Mr. Lewis questions KIUC’s one-member-one-vote democracy. I find his suggestion that it would be fairer if votes were based on the size of one’s utility bills specious. Every single rural electric cooperative — and there are about 900 in the USA — has found one-member-one-vote the best system and if Mr. Lewis had done his homework he would have found that too. I truly cannot imagine Mr. Lewis really believes the vote of a rich man who pays more taxes should count more in a county election than the vote of a poor man, and voting for KIUC’s Board of Directors is no different.
Mr. Lewis picks words out of context from several polices to try to prove some point about secrecy or cliquishness — but never actually gets beyond stating and restating opinion. His opinions do not bear up under examination of the facts.
The requirements for becoming a director are not some evil trick. The written, published by-laws and policies of KIUC are clear. The facts are candidates need only submit a petition signed by thirty-five members and attend and orientation if they want to run for the Board.
Mr. Lewis criticisms of KIUC seem to become less coherent as he continues. While he began by expressing unfounded, unsupported opinions critical of KIUC lack of openness, he goes on to criticize KIUC’s Director conflict of interest policy as too broad and requiring too much public disclosure of potential conflicts.
So is KIUC too secret or too open? This isn’t just a silly inconsistency in Mr. Lewis’ opinions. It highlights a significant point. Mr. Lewis looks for unrelated words and phrases in bylaws and policies here and there to be critical of KIUC but misses the big picture: The facts are KIUC is an organization that has never turned away a candidate who wanted to run for the Board of Directors enough to collect just thirty-five signatures.
KIUC is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the community by one-member-one-vote. KIUC has strived for openness and transparency with more governance information, financial information, and project information published in its magazine and on its Web site than any other rural electric cooperative that I am aware of.
Mr. Lewis, I have no desire to go tit-for-tat with you about co-op governance. Not just because I’ve received formal accredited training as a Credentialed Cooperative Director and you haven’t. Not just because I’m recognized as a expert in nonprofit corporate governance and teach classes in the subject and you don’t. Not just because I was on both sides of the formation of KIUC and you weren’t. And not just because you stubbornly ignore the facts on this.
I want to get past the discussion of co-op governance because it has become a silly issue when there are important discussions we need to have in our community about our nation, our state, our county, and yes, about our utility.
Walt Barnes, KIUC founding member
Liberty and justice for all
When any form of government fails to reflect political balance of its entire population, its in need of change. Complaints about the Kaua‘i County Council and the Charter Review Commission, where much political power is controlled, is sufficient evidence that transforming the system of local governance which empowers these centralized offices is necessary.
“Liberty and justice for all” is a meaningful ideal, but the unbalanced, centralized political power imposed on all Kaua‘i by the County Charter, which is a legally protected “corporate” entity, provides neither.
This will change only when Kauaians exercise their inherent, intrinsic, inborn, ingrained, instinctive, intuitive and inalienable natural right of sovereign freewill to act independently as in a public entity such as a democratic constitutional cooperative.
Triaka-Don Smith, Lihu‘e
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