Letters for Monday, September 5, 2011

• The Kipu Falls tragedy • Let’s see if

the governor walks the talk

The Kipu Falls tragedy

Like so many of us, I love the outdoors and I love outdoor wonderlands like Kipu Falls. I was sick to my stomach to learn that Kipu Falls is now closed to the public.

Most of the other great freshwater wonderlands of Kaua‘i have already been closed to the public. Kipu Falls may be the last great one left.

All of the popular beaches of Kaua‘i are subject to periodic injuries or deaths. Last December, a tourist broke his neck right next to me in the waves at Brennecke’s beach. I helped bring him to shore. I felt the tragedy deeply and was unable to sleep the first night afterwards. I can relate to the pain that the families and doctors must face in these tragedies.

I advocated that there should be more warnings for tourists. When tourists get off a plane to Kaua‘i, they should receive a warning that includes all the recent deaths and major injuries at the major recreational spots on Kaua‘i.

However, closing Kipu Falls is the equivalent of closing Brennecke’s beach, or any other popular beach, or closing all the beaches of Kaua‘i and closing the mountains as well.

My boys and I enjoy cliff jumping. The other options I know of are far more dangerous than Kipu Falls. They are much higher and more difficult to get back on land. You also must beware of landing on a turtle or near a shark. Now, in the name of safety, we have lost one of the safest places to jump.

Life is a risk. Life is an adventure (or at least it should be, in my opinion, especially for men and boys). To quote the movie “Braveheart,” “All men die, but not all men really live.”

I realize that Grove Farm owns this property. But, I believe they would be willing to keep it open if the public really wanted it open. I believe in private property, but the public should be able to enjoy the natural wonders of our island, like Kipu Falls.

I suggest that all of us outdoor lovers band together or we will continue to lose the great natural wonderlands of this island. Let’s make it a political issue for the mayor. As I understand it, the state already has laws protecting landowners who let the public enjoy their land. I urge the county to add additional protection in the form of an indemnification of legal risks for landowners. I urge the mayor to work to open up Kipu Falls and other freshwater wonderlands that have been closed in the past.

Mark Beeksma, Koloa

Let’s see if the governor walks the talk

It is always a problem when only one side of an issue is presented in the newspaper and Monday’s story on Gov. Abercrombie’s conversation with protesting teachers is a perfect example of one-sidedness.

While your news story was accurate in what you reported, you left out some items that would have made the story more accurate.

The governor stated repeatedly that he is willing to sit down and negotiate at any time with HSTA. He states that he has been willing to sit down since mid-June and that it is HSTA’s fault that negotiations have not occurred.

But your story failed to point out that when teachers pointed out to the governor that it was he who ended negotiations in mid-June, the governor had no response.

He just kept repeating how he has been waiting since mid-June. Waiting for what? Resumption of negotiations that he ended?

The most glaring omission from your news report was the governor’s failure to acknowledge that HSTA has, in fact, already presented him with an offer to end the current dispute.

That offer came after the last time the governor was caught on tape talking with teachers.

 In that video, the governor said he would mediate the dispute.

When HSTA took him up on that offer and presented it to him in writing “mediation for 50 days, followed by the use of a neutral third-party arbitrator “the governor’s office said that we shouldn’t take his “off-handed remarks” as an official offer.

You saw on the tape that when pressed with our proposal for an arbitrator the governor took two contradictory positions.

First, he said we didn’t need an arbitrator. Minutes later, he said he had no faith in the teachers to negotiate.

Isn’t that the circumstance when an arbitrator should be used “when neither side has faith in the other?

Teachers work hard and deserve under the constitution the right to collective bargaining. Gov. Abercrombie made a mockery of this constitutional right by saying take it or leave it.

Teachers will always put our students first, but the public deserves to know that our profession is being misrepresented.

We do not deserve a 5 percent pay cut when other unions do not have the same fate.

We do not deserve to have our medical costs double.

We deserve collective bargaining.

Let’s see if Gov. Abercrombie walks the talk he presented in front of protesting teachers by negotiating a fair contract.

Elen Verzosa, Kapa‘a High School teacher

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