Give credit to those fighting for checks, balances

I am astonished, but not really surprised at how some writers to The Garden Island feel that they have the right to express the thoughts and feelings for the entire island.

I usually refrain from mentioning any names because my opinions are just that. Opinions. They are not meant to degrade or insult the opinions of others; I feel that to do so is inappropriate and unprofessional. However, recent personal attacks on some friends of mine require some things to be said.

Mr. Parachini calls my friends “gadflies” because they spend so much of their own time addressing the county council, not just on the county manager issue, but on many different issues. They do this not for any personal gain, but just for their love of our island and for the betterment of the people of Kauai.

Pertaining to the county manager system, Mr. Parachini, who is currently the chairperson of the county’s Charter Review Commission, and is appointed by the mayor, recently wrote the following:

“In fact, reviews of the fiasco that ultimately derailed the proposal suggests that the people of Kauai County do not want this system, or are at best lukewarm toward it.”

I wonder to what “reviews” he is referring. Perhaps we should thank Mr. Parachini for his June 5 letter under Guest Opinion. It exposes the misleading tactics that are being used, and will continue to be used by the opposition to a county manager system.

Many writers present data in their opinions that are implied as factual, when in actuality they have no basis whatsoever for that data. For some reason, they are under the impression that they are somehow authorized to speak for everyone.

There are more than just a few Kauai residents that feel that a change to a county manager system would be an advantage.

As one of the “squeaky wheels,” as Mr. Parachini called us, I’d like to explain that our intent is to share our knowledge and experience of the county manager system with the council and the people of Kauai to let them know that there is an alternative to what we currently have. There is no personal gain involved here. We do this for the love of our island and the people of Kauai.

Our goal is to get as much information as possible out there to the people of Kauai. This is why the county manager system is discussed repeatedly and this is why we write and send the information to The Garden Island newspaper. We want the people of Kauai to know about the system so they can vote intelligently on the issue when it is on the ballot. This is how we let the County Council know what the people want.

That is how a democracy works.

So why are there some so opposed to doing that? My guess is that they are afraid of change, which is an extension of the plantation mentality. All competent and confident county employees should endorse a change to a county manager system. Through better efficiency, it could provide a range of opportunities for them.

A county manager will be accountable to the seven council members which will include an elected mayor. All departments will be accountable to the county manager. Failure of a department will reflect directly on the performance of the county manager which is closely monitored by the council.

Some council members have frequently mentioned that the existing system provides “checks and balances.” They imply that a county manager system would not. In our current system, the council annually approves the operating budget and the CIP budget. But once that’s done, they don’t seem to have any control of those funds. In fact, it seems as though they don’t even have the right to inquire as to the expenditures of those funds. Where’s the “checks and balances” in that?

In a county manager system, the council annually adopts an operating budget and a CIP budget but then has complete awareness of all expenditures. The “checks and balances” in a manager system is that all council actions are a matter of public record. And it is up to the electorate, the people that elect those council members, to monitor their performance. It is also the responsibility of each of those elected officials to monitor the performance of each other.

In closing, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to those individuals who make such a great effort and have the nerve to get up and speak before the County Council. Not just on the county manager issue, but on any and all issues. If it were not for these people, there would likely be no “checks and balances” at all. I thank them for their unselfish motives and their extreme patience in sitting through many hours of sometimes boring council agenda items while many of us sit at home pretending that there are no problems.

I guess some feel that if they don’t know what’s going on, then everything is OK. However, those are likely the first ones to complain when their taxes go up.

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Larry Arruda is a resident of Kapaa.

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