Letters for Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MediationUse for ‘worthless’ land

Mediation

I appreciate the letter from former police commissioner and pastor Tom Ianucci (Forum: Feb. 26) regarding the invitation for Mayor Carvalho and Police Chief Perry to sit as friends and have a conversation with Tom as a mediator to help sort out the issues of their misunderstanding and craft an agreement between them.

 As a court mediator for Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity (KEO), I would like to encourage them to try this method. Perhaps they are not sure exactly what mediation is. Many people confuse it with arbitration. In arbitration, the arbitrator listens to both sides of an issue and decides what both should do. Think of a judge presiding over a hearing.

In mediation, the agreement is generated by the parties through a process of discussion, clarifying needs and creating a solution whereby both parties’ needs are met as much as possible.

Mediators do not make the solutions. They ask pertinent questions which help the parties construct an agreement that seeks to help both sides fairly.

It is win-win oriented, and perhaps its greatest attribute in this case is that it is completely confidential. Both sides, and the mediator(s) present, sign that they will not speak about the case outside of the room, except for what is written in the consensual agreement. And even if not all issues can be resolved in mediation, many of them can be, and at least each side knows what the other side is thinking.

Mediation is also time-efficient. Rather than making statements and going through lawyers, the disputants talk directly to each other. Issues can be resolved quickly.

Mediators make sure that the disputants treat each other respectfully and stay focused on generating solutions to a problem. They make sure that each side sees the other’s point of view. The county already has a mediation program in place through KEO, which provides mediators to the 5th Circuit Judiciary Court for small claims, and TRO cases.

In Asheville, N.C., where I was initially trained and served on the mediation center’s executive board, the judiciary system determined that using mediation saved the courts (read people who pay the taxes) 90 percent of the cost of litigation and associated fees. There are also many lawyers who choose to use mediation, appreciating its many benefits.  

I would also like to point out that if the case goes to court, then one side loses. In my mediation experiences, I have been privy to people who so believed they were right that they went to court, only to lose more money than they would have gained by accepting the offer the other side made.

I was taught in my first mediation training that it’s only a matter of time before some kind of conflict comes up in a relationship, because people just don’t see eye to eye. It’s not about who is right or wrong, but where do we go from here?

 Mediation is taught to our high school students as a way to resolve conflicts, and even our elementary school students get some training in its principles through the Aloha Peace Project curriculum.

I cannot help but think of how mediating this conflict would be such a positive example for the people of Kaua’i to see their leaders willing to sit down together and decide how to resolve their issues, whatever they are. I believe in the wisdom and goodness within both of them to be able to do this for us, their beloved island ‘ohana.

Annaleah Atkinson, Kapa’a

Use for ‘worthless’ land

After reading John Hoff’s (Letters: Feb. 28) and Glen Mickens’ (Letters: March 2) excellent letters, concerning the Kaua‘i’ County government’s mishandling of the 138-acre airport land transfer, I was left with the question of whether this was a case of incompetence or malfeasance on the part of our county officials. It also raised the question in my mind whether such an unfortunate transaction would have been avoided if the county was managed by an appropriately qualified professional county manager.

However, that said, the question still remains as to what to do with the “basically worthless piece of land.” Perhaps there is still an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons. The county should consider turning some of this land into a remote airport parking lot for Kaua‘i travelers who leave the island for extended periods of time but must use their vehicles to travel to and from the airport.

Such remote, lower-fee parking lots are common in many Mainland city airports in addition to the parking lots located at their airports’ terminals. Access between  these remote parking lots and the airport is typically provided by a shuttle bus that is operated by the airport parking lot authority. Yes, there is often the inconvenience of having to wait an extra 20 minutes or so to get to or from your car — much the same as there is in accessing many airport car rental facilities.

However, the benefits may be significant. First there is the economic benefit of reduced parking rates for the traveler. Typically, remote lots charge from one-third to one-half the fee of centrally located lots. For a two- or three-week trip, this can add up to $60 or $70 or more.

Another benefit is the possibility that the county might also realize some revenue from the 138 acres. Still another benefit is the potential reduction in airport terminal and adjacent parking lot congestion, especially during peak travel periods such as  national holidays.

This remote lot may also be a solution to the current airport parking lot eventually being inadequate for a growing Kaua‘i resident travel population as our economy improves.

Peter Nilsen, Princeville

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