New KIUC board members sworn in

LIHU‘E — The first meeting with Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s three newly elected board directors was dominated by public testimony from a crowd of more than 40 members Tuesday in KIUC’s board room.

“According to KIUC’s Currents magazine, it’s the International Year of Cooperatives, and I hope it heralds a year of cooperation with the community,” said Michael Scholz of Wailua Homesteads in testimony to the board. “I’m disheartened to see no voices of the membership in this publication … I hope this can be a new beginning for the co-op.”

New directors Pat Gegen, Karen Baldwin and Calvin Murashige were sworn in after the first round of testimony was given, much to the dismay of co-op member Ken Taylor.

“It’s really wrong to start a meeting with newly elected members not sworn in,” Taylor said in testimony. “It’s an example of the (ongoing) lack of protocol. Hopefully, this year we will see a very new attitude from the board to the community. Let’s call it the start of a new slate.”

Murashige was absent from the meeting and was sworn in via conference call from San Francisco. 

In a second round of public testimony after the first meeting break, Adam Asquith, who filed a complaint March 16 in U.S. District Court in Honolulu to stop KIUC’s smart meter rollout, said he was displeased with the co-op’s response. KIUC issued a news release stating that “we are disappointed” at the filing of his complaint.

“It was obvious you were referring to me and identified me as a smart meter opponent,” he said. 

Asquith said he believes “these technologies are important to the co-op’s future,” but added that he feels threatened by the co-op’s stated intent.

“I am not comforted by the recent word play in which you reserve the right to invade my home with this technology at some time in the future,” Asquith said. “I will not live under that threat.”

He asked that KIUC acknowledge the sanctity of his home and not install a smart meter without his written consent.

“Is there any board member that will stand in right of my privacy?” he asked board members. None responded to him.

After Asquith’s standard allowance of three-minutes of testimony, board chair Phil Tacbian called on Tek Nickerson, among the co-op members who had requested time to testify Tuesday to the board.

Nickerson approached the chair and attempted to hand a thick document to the co-op’s legal counselor seated next to him. When he refused to accept the papers, Nickerson dropped them on his keyboard in front of him, he said.

“You have now been served with a federal summons,” Nickerson announced. “This is notification that a complaint has been filed against KIUC in  federal court. You are required to answer this complaint within 20 days.”

There was scattered applause from some members waiting to testify.

Tacbian and the counselor did not respond.

• Vanessa Van Voorhis, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 251, or by emailing vvanvoorhis@thegardenisland.com.

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