Letters for Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Visitors, don’t blame others if COVID papers not in order

Visitors, the airport screeners are not responsible for your delays and quarantines if your paperwork is not done properly, or is not in order.

Those screeners do not deserve to be profanely sworn, yelled or screamed at. They deserved to be treated better than that. They are just following the rules that were/are expected of them to do. You want to come and enjoy your visits to our islands, then get your paperwork the right way.

Oh, yeah. You’re in Hawai‘i, and if you expect to have the aloha spirit as many of you deserve, then be nice, kind, considerate and courteous, show a little more couth. Screaming, yelling and swearing will never do the trick.

Ray Domingo, Lihu‘e

3-team KIF football squads are tough

Our island of Kaua‘i finally got the monkey off its back when the 2021 Kapa‘a High School football team brought home the state Division 2 championship in smashing style last week.

Decades of near-misses were finally set aside, a lot of hard and gritty work was rewarded, and COVID-related threats to the season were thankfully navigated and overcome.

It’s worth a few moments to look back at Kaua‘i football history and at some of the near-misses and to tip our hat to high school football on Kaua‘i and to the three teams that comprise the KIF (Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation).

We’ll see that this year’s championship team stood on the strong shoulders of some past great Kaua‘i football teams. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to avoid mentioning names of coaches or players, and there have been some great ones. Also, if I named some I would inevitably overlook some highly deserving names.

First, a brief history of the state of Hawai‘i high-school football championships, to the best of my understanding. In 1973 the “O‘ahu Prep Bowl” was initiated, pitting the season’s champion private school versus the champion public school. This continued until 1999 when the HHSAA (Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association) changed things a bit, and from 1999-2002 the overall state championship became known as the state tournament.

Then in 2003, this tournament was divided into two divisions, D1 and D2. Then in 2016, the tournament was further divided into three divisions: Open (i.e., the big powerhouses), D1 and D2. D1 and D2 divvied up smaller O‘ahu teams and the neighbor island teams into these two separate divisions as fairly as possible and as determined by HHSSA executives.

In case any of you aren’t confused enough, at one point in the late 1980s and early 1990s there briefly was a neighbor island championship tournament.

In the early years, KIF championship teams were given a berth in the state tournament bracket. This would typically pit us as a No. 7 or 8 seed against the “big boy” O‘ahu powerhouse #1 and 2 seed teams, and for the most part our Kaua‘i teams were overmatched.

However, the legendary Waimea team of 2001 was narrowly beaten by mighty Kahuku in a semifinal game, before Kahuku cruised to being crowned state champion in the final. One can easily argue that had there been two — much less three — divisions, the 2001 Waimea team and maybe some of the other great Waimea teams of that era could well have been Kaua‘i’s first state champion.

Meanwhile, in the short-lived-but-highly-entertaining neighbor island tournament that has been alluded to, two very powerful KIF championship teams, one from Kapa‘a in 1989 and one from Kaua‘i High in 1991, narrowly and heartbreakingly lost the neighbor island championship final to strong Maui teams. Some of us still lose sleep thinking back on those nail-biting games.

More recently, three Kaua‘i High teams (2006, 2009, 2013) and four Kapa‘a teams (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019) reached the championship game of the state tournament. (Note: The three Kaua‘i High teams were playing in the D1 tournament, before there was a D2).

Yes, our teams all lost their championship games, in most cases in very narrow and tough-to-swallow fashion. Talk about some of us still losing sleep!

But we mustn’t overlook the terrific semifinal wins that got these teams to the championship game. These wins came against O‘ahu teams that had multiple college D-1 players, and the wins were considered major upsets, and they raised eyebrows around the state. Hey, you better be ready when you take on those boys from Kaua‘i!

The bottom line to this piece is that the KIF is tough, the KIF is scrappy and gritty, KIF football isn’t for everyone, and the three-team KIF competition does a great job of hardening up their champion for the state tournament.

Usually outsized by opponents who have a bigger population base to draw from and who sometimes can do some recruiting, the KIF has a long and proud history of good, tough football, and of preparing young men for the future challenges of life itself.

Let’s win some more state championships!

Monty Downs, Lihue

On possible policy change to retain character of communities

Retention of our enduring population is the most crucial challenge I see in the next year as a policymaker who is privileged to be on the county council.

The national economic forces that have impacted our island in this pandemic window risks replacing what is the backbone of our communities.

All of us, including the new people we are welcoming onto Kaua‘i, need the wisdom of the generational families in understanding how to steward the land, manage in a storm, understand our wildlife, waters and so much more.

Our working people and businesses help every aspect of our island to function in its resilience. Rising rental rates and housing costs are replacing our workforce with economically independent new residents. Winning strategies are possible for us to thrive together by working together to guide the direction of these changes.

Keeping people who have homes in their homes is a vitally important next step.

A protective policy would be to shift away from our intense permit-violation-penalty fees of $10,000/day/violation that are complaint-driven (with a required lien filed on unresolved cases) and replace this with a proportionate-penalty structure that is compelling to each economic layer and application without being ruthless.

We need a fine structure that won’t create pathways to drive a home, farm or small business into a forced sale for a family of modest means that doesn’t have the income stability to hire a lawyer.

At present, the county has been able to work constructively with most homeowners to make changes before needing to complete fines. In the hot real estate market of the COVID migrations this existing ordinance risks laying older neighborhoods, business locations and informal housing arrangements vulnerable to predatory speculative action.

We must build a policy today that protects the future for whatever fresh government may develop.

On a bright note, so many of our arriving residents who are making Kaua‘i their home are generous with their abundance, helping keep our businesses strong, creating new jobs, nourishing nonprofits and directing their volunteerism in ways that demonstrate eagerness to become valued members of our island ‘ohana.

I have confidence we can recover from what has been a rough season of changes into a happy future if we build protective strategies and hold open hearts.

Felicia Cowden, Kilauea

• Editor’s note: In a Monday story about the County Council’s upcoming legislative session, a statement about permit-violation fines was misstated. Permit-violation fines can be $10,000 per day for any violation, not just on illegal vacation rentals. Councilmember Felicia Cowden expressed concern for residential housing, not illegal vacation rentals, which the article stated.

  1. james January 5, 2022 7:46 am Reply

    Felicia; So if I understand the gist of your letter, you are saying there should be different rules for different people. If two families break the same law, one should be treated differently because they happen to be born here instead of moving here 20 or 30 years ago? Or one family that commits a crime should be treated differently because of their race? Or one family that commits a crime should be let off the hook because they live in an older neighborhood? First, I doubt that this is in any way legal. Secondly, how can you possibly think that this is in anyway fair? You can’t decide which people can break laws and be exempt from being responsible for those crimes, while someone else is held responsible for the very same crime. This is one of the dumbest ideas I have heard in a long time. No one is above the law, nor should they be.

    1. kauaiboy January 7, 2022 7:53 am Reply

      James: So, if I understand the gist of your comment, we should continue the threat of $10,000/day fines for long time, local residents who are doing whatever they can to survive in this economically difficult situation, such as putting a non-permitted long term studio rental in their garage. You describe their actions as “crimes”, but they are generally innocent infractions, harming no one and creating a living space for a needy family member or working person.

      You are a heartless person. Well, good luck in finding workers willing to work on your property or detail your Mercedes Benz. When this island is filled with 90% independently wealthy folks like yourself and 10% workers, I hope you realize that attitudes like your own are what created an upside down society.

      Felicia for Mayor!!

  2. Doug January 5, 2022 10:16 am Reply

    Sorry Ray, didn’t you know that Kauai is Disneyland west? How dare the rules interrupt a vacation during a covid surge? Unfortunately this is the kind of tourist we will get (and have been getting) until Covid finally settles down and the intelligent tourist comes back. And get ready for more fun, cruise ships are set to sail this spring. Woo-hoo!!

  3. Sheeples January 5, 2022 11:01 am Reply

    Felicia means well, but it will constantly be a race towards the bottom for any locals living hand to mouth. A well known local real estate agent stated it to me best, “the future of kauai is super wealthy elites, and third world(Philippines) imporTed indentured servants.” This is by design and will happen. Luckily climate change will have us all taken care of within a few years after the first Arctic blue ocean event.

  4. terry p kamen January 6, 2022 3:23 pm Reply

    I usually never comment but am quite amused by all the back in forth in the discussions.
    My daughter’s friends came to visit last week. All four adults fully vaccinated and boosted. The eleven year old was vaccinated as well. The Seven year old was not vaccinated but was tested in Colorado, negative result. At the airport the seven year old was told that the Colorado Testing service was not approved by Hawaii’s testing contractor. She was sent to ten day quarantine or told to leave. They left and went to Disneyland instead.
    The airport folks admitted it was stupid but there was no work around. So a family was punished because their testing company was not compatible with our Safe travel program.
    If we are going to continue with the Safe Travel program lets correct the flaws.

    We now know that Omircon is here and spreading. our Safe Travel program failed in protecting the Island. Maybe it is time for a rethink. My guess we will all catch it.

    Many of my vaccinated friends are getting symptoms but nothing too bad. My unvaccinated friends are getting very sick. Two people incubated. I believe in personal freedom, but be prepared to get really sick if you refuse to vaccinate.

    1. derp January 9, 2022 7:56 am Reply

      No one was punished. They failed to follow the procedure for visiting.

  5. Hirondelle January 8, 2022 10:53 am Reply

    The Safe Travels program has been modified this week, eliminating the Health Form and reducing the quarantine from ten to five days. Now might be a good time to modify the “Trusted Partners” component to more accessible forms of testing.

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