Letters for Friday, March 9, 2012

KIUC out of control Aloha spirit reminder

KIUC out of control

The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors election is of vital importance to Kaua‘i’s sustainable future. Since approximately 75 percent of the members of our cooperatively owned energy company didn’t even bother to vote in the last election, one can almost excuse the current and past boards for operating as though we didn’t exist. No matter how many members voted, if the board had integrity and they acted as a co-op, why do we not have photovoltaic systems and solar hot water heaters on every roof on Kaua‘i? That is inexcusable.          

I believe it is because KIUC has only been interested in selling us electricity. It has effectively operated as a for-profit company, even though as a co-op, it should be doing its utmost to cut costs, lower rates and do everything possible to provide its members with sustainable and renewable energy. How many years and decades have gone by since we all knew that dependence on oil can’t go on forever and that millions have died because of the greed for procuring that oil at any cost? We all have that blood on our hands because of our energy policies.    

If it weren’t for Adam Asquith opening the can of worms known as the Free Flow Power/FERC debacle, we might still be going back to the plantation mentality of business as usual, down the tracks on the gravy train. The genie is now out of the bottle, and concerned citizens are working hard to see to it that KIUC acts like a co-op and not a corporate sacred cow. Since several other co-op members joined Adam in exposing the cash giveaway, not only have we not heard much of anything from FFP, but the board decided in secret to spend another $11 million of taxpayer money on the notorious smart meters.  

Who’s co-op is this — ours or the people making decisions on our behalf in secret? According to former judge Laureta, we should just let the administration and the directors do their jobs and not question their decisions. That model doesn’t work. Just look at the U.S. Congress, the military industrial complex and the colossal mess we’re in because of that philosophy.

KIUC’s administration, with the rubber stamp of the board of directors, have created a monster and we, the membership, are supposed to just shut up and write the checks for the huge debt load, the inflated executive salaries, outrageously high rent payments, etc. We’re to swallow the shady backroom deals, little or no transparency, the highest rates in America and the genocide of endless war for oil.

Our family is voting for Ken Stokes, Pat Gegen and Karen Baldwin, three eminently qualified candidates, who stand head and shoulders above the rest. They will help us take control of our most important community-owned asset.

Fred Dente, Kapa‘a  

Aloha spirit reminder

I want to tell a story of an unpleasant experience we had at a local restaurant on Jan. 17.

My husband and I own a home in Kapa‘a and have been coming to Kaua‘i since 1983. Kaua‘i is our second home. We work and play there. We have many friends there. Also we know and love the Hawaiian people and their heritage.

If we buy anything, we make sure it is Kaua‘i- or at least Hawaiian-made. We buy from the local farmers markets. We go to shows to see great local talent. We support many local functions. In our lives, we try and live aloha every day, where ever we go, not just in Hawai‘i.

This year, we had the good luck to be able to spend three weeks there. We cook most of our meals at home or haunt the small local eateries like the Mermaid Café. Our routine is to get coffee at Java Kai every morning before we head out for the day.

Our first morning there, we felt tired and  it was raining, so we got our coffee at Java Kai and decided to eat breakfast at a restaurant. Since it was close, we picked the Olympic Café. Once seated, the girl asked if we would like coffee. I lifted my stainless steel cup and said, “No, thanks.”

She asked where we got the coffee. I said Java Kai. She said, “Oh, we can’t serve you. You’ll have to leave.” She stood there looking at us. I grinned, thinking she was kidding. She was not. My husband and I looked at each other and got up and left.

Now, we may not be rocket scientists, but we, at age 55 and 65, have seen a lot of things. To us, a more appropriate way of handing it might have been choices, like “could I pour those in our cup” or “I’m sorry I’ll have to ask you to dump that,” which we probably would not have done. But for this young waitress to tell us to leave was beyond rude and unprofessional.  I own my own successful business and have for over 20 years. I deal with people all the time. My husband has been in management for the past 29 years and he, too, deals with people all the time.

That young person is not only doing damage to that business, it is really sad her attitude lacks any sign of the “aloha spirit.” We sincerely hope the owners of that restaurant read this article and take their employees aside and give them some good instruction on how to treat people with respect.

I hope this letter reaches people who may need a reminder. These are tough times for us all. Now more than ever, we need to stick together and always, always have the aloha spirit in our hearts and in our actions, take it with us wherever we go, walk lightly and try to leave things as good or better than we found it.

Cathy Schezer, California


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