Kauai’s mayor-council system not working

Jay Furfaro writes an interesting article about the Council in TGI “Other Voices” Sept. 27, in which he says that “the Kauai County Council faces significant issues and it needs business maturity and experience to resolve them.”

Since our past councils and administrations have buried us in the present mess we are in, how can the taxpayers expect this council to simply need “business maturity and experience” to solve the problems?

Doesn’t the old truthful saying “only an idiot will do something wrong over and over and expect positive results” fit?

The only way we can dig ourselves out of this mess is by changing the system and bringing in new blood with new ideas. Yes, if we had experienced, qualified, dedicated people running our government, it might suffice.

But in my 25 years on Kauai I have yet to see a council and a mayor do anything to correct the many major problems that face us. When Mayor Maryanne Kusaka finished her terms of office, there were a little over 700 employees of the county providing adequate services to the people. The surpluses were much lower and yet the county did not experience furloughs, RIF (Reduction in Force) or layoffs. Now the county has almost doubled with even lower quality of services being provided.

The council has failed in its very important role for the people as the general overseer of county operations. The council, especially the current one, with the exception of Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa, has been supportive of the county administration in increasing taxes and fees without any improvements. Roads are at their worst conditions, the size of patronage jobs increasing and the bureaucracy keeps growing with support of increased taxes and fees.

Even the Office of the County Clerk has substantially increased in size in comparison to those under Chairs Kouchi and Asing without noticeable improvement in services. So both the administrative and legislative branches of government supported to grow in size at the expense of us, the taxpayers. These two branches of county government believe in “tax, tax, spend, spend” mentality. We cannot afford to be in this mode, which would lead us to bankruptcy like other counties on the Mainland such as those in California.

The people voted for an auditor and we got Ernie Pasion, the best. He and his staff showed honesty, integrity and above all else results that indicated what changes had to be made. Read the eight audits that he did and you will see what a great job that was done.

Regretfully (actually it should be gratefully), his audits uncovered activities that those in power didn’t want to see surface. And when they were shown, retaliatory actions took place that cut the auditor’s budget so drastically that he couldn’t continue to do the job he was hired to do.

And, make no mistake about it, both the administration and the council can take equal blame for allowing Mr. Pasion’s budget to be cut so radically — politics at its extreme worst.

Without a county attorney, prosecuting attorney, or attorney general delving into this wrong doing, a man who anyone would be proud of that has been so efficient at doing his job may lose his position and the people will be the real losers.

The strong mayor/council type of system on Kauai has not and is not working. Only changing to a county manager/council type of government will give us a chance to let this island become a place that every citizen can be proud of.


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