Letters for Wednesday, May 16, 2012

• Mahalo to contributors • Increasingly uncivil society • Walter Lewis hit the nail on the head

Mahalo to contributors

I want to thank all the wonderful frequent letter writers to The Garden Island forum: Pete Antonson, Carol Bain, Jose Bulatao, Judge Alfred Laureta, James “Kimo” Rosen and too many others to list.

Your letters are almost always upbeat, articulate, and classy. I do hope you know — as well as all the readers of this forum — we have a discussion site you can easily reach, read, and respond to.

We welcome you. Come on in, the water’s fine.

Also, thanks to all you hard-working guys and gals, who keep this absolutely delightful local paper rolling, for including such a page. The forum, my favorite page, is the soul of the island.

The discussion site is the heart and mind of the people. A feisty, noisy bunch — brilliant, dull and dimwitted at times — the world tunes in and pays attention.

The whole world loves Kaua‘i.   

Bettejo Dux, Kalaheo

Increasingly uncivil society

After publication of a letter to the editor in The Garden Island, I received a letter at my home from a man who purported to be a resident of Kilauea. He did not include his own address on the envelope, which was postmarked Honolulu; and I hesitate to use the name he signed, in case it is false.

Reasonable people may disagree on any number of issues. The abusive, frightened or intellectually bankrupt will apparently look up a contributor’s address and send that woman a message that includes expletive words and — despite the national topic — a demand that she stay away from Kaua‘i.

Such a personal and obnoxious response to a public forum underscores the need for civil discourse in an increasingly uncivil society.

Suzan Kelsey Brooks, West Des Moines, Iowa

Walter Lewis hit the nail on the head

In his A Better Kaua‘i column of May 13, “Equitable taxes for Kaua‘i,” Walter Lewis once again hits the nail right on the head.

Mr.. Lewis has spent his life being a lawyer and fortunately for the people of Kaua‘i, he represents no special interest.

His research and opinions represent us, the people; and how badly we need this representation.

His latest issue is the unfairness of the tax structure as it pertains to the “12,000 residents who are holders of homestead exemptions.”

Mr. Lewis points out that “the mayor is seeking total tax revenues of $81.5 million of which, $9.9 million would be from the homestead class. Thus the tax office would collect 12.1 percent of its total from the homestead class, an increase of more than 42 percent from the 8.5 percent set in 2004.”

If this doesn’t open your eyes then nothing will!!

Please, citizens of Kaua‘i, read these numbers carefully and know that they are real and have a devastating effect on what the money you have left in your budget to live on.

Walter not only points out the unfairness of our tax structure but he offers a solution to the problem.

He has “urged the Kaua‘i County Council to consider reducing the tax rate for our resident homeowners to return the tax burden of these taxpayers to a reasonable percentage of the county’s total property tax revenue.”

Since “there are about 12,000 residents who are holders of homestead exemptions and who would be favorably affected by a rate reduction,” it would seem that this affected group would be deluging our council and administration with phone calls and emails insisting that Walter’s solution be implemented.

On this as well as most other matters it is difficult to obtain comments from our hard-working families. But they should realize that if Walter’s suggestion were adopted on average each family would save almost $300 per year. Maybe that would encourage our homestead families to speak up.

As Walter points out, the fair and equitable way to solve this problem was for “the county to have adjusted tax rates each year so that the total tax burden for homeowners was geared to a reasonable standard — such as the percentage of total taxes sought.”

However, the council chose to set a 2 percent limit on the amount of tax increase allowable in any one year. In an up market this formula worked fine but in this huge downturn taxes for resident homeowners have continued to climb whereas taxes for owners of all other classes of property have declined.

Thus Mr. Lewis solution is obviously the way to go if those in the 12,000 homestead class are to be fairly treated.

So why are the wise words of Mr. Lewis not being heard by those in power?

Our government pays consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars for every problem they encounter — the CAC in Kekaha, the Kilauea Gym debacle and outside legal counsel for every problem that surfaces.

Could it be that the free advice given by Mr. Lewis is right on target but by accepting it, the citizens would question why his and many other solutions given by our “common sense” people are rejected?

Looking for a rational reason, this is mine — how about you?

Please, people, it is your government and your money that is being taken, get involved and, thank you, Walter Lewis.

Glenn Mickens, Kapa‘a

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