Tis the season for campaigning, and along with the yard signs and beef stew fundraisers and bumper stickers come pledges and promises that are perhaps heartfelt, but in the end prove to be essentially hot air.
I’m thinking in particular of one that the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste made upon taking office six years ago, when he pledged that combating ice was his number one priority.
And now the mayor is gone, but Kauai’s ice problem, alas, is not, although a few of the purple "End Kauai's Ice Age" bumper stickers remain. What’s more, we still don’t have a residential treatment center on this island, following the total collapse of Baptiste’s ill-conceived initiative to turn the old dog pound — a facility that former Humane Society director Sherry Hoe said was too dilapidated to warrant renovation for animals — into a rehab center for kids.
At yesterday’s ”drug summit” on Kauai, county drug czar Theresa Koki said the county now hopes to break ground on another facility by 2010, but offered no clue as to where we'll get the dough. As the Garden Island reports:
Finding additional funding to support anti-drug efforts is also a high priority. There are currently no state or federal grants available for the county’s substance abuse programs, states the report. Many programs rely on private foundations, corporate support and limited state grants-in-aid to get by.
“We want everyone to realize funding is a big issue,” Koki said.
Looking back, I see the state Legislature allocated $560,000 to rehab the old dog pound. One can’t help but wonder how much of that money the county burned through before it finally realized the project was never going to fly with westsiders, largely because it was so poorly designed that they feared runoff would damage the salt ponds.
I’ve got an idea. Why not transfer some of the millions that are being spent on the "bust ‘em and lock ‘em up" side — an approach that has proven an abysmal failure — over to the "heal ‘em and reintegrate them into society" side? As Hawaii U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo, who is not running for office but still has ample hot air, told those at the summit:
“Law enforcement is not the answer to every problem,” Kubo said, adding that treatment and prevention are key to a holistic approach to the drug problem.
Yes, Ed, we know that. So how come law enforcement gets all the money, but prevention and treatment have to scrounge for crumbs?
In other election season news, the Garden Island reports today that 19 County Council candidates and all four mayoral hopefuls share the belief that the Hawaii Superferry should not return to Kauai without an independent environmental impact statement.
Not to rag on the dead, but again, this was another issue where our dear departed mayor failed to show any leadership, even when it was ripping the island apart. It came to mind because I happened to run across this hot air quote of his in my files the other day: “No economic gain is worth destroying the community.” Uh huh. Yeah, right.
While we're on the topic of economic gain, did you know that Darryl Kaneshiro — the former councilman who lost the last election, but was invited back to serve out the remainder of Kaipo Asing’s term and is now running again — is not just a rancher, but a developer, too? Yup, he’s got a little “ag subdivision” in the works down there at the junction of Omao and Koloa roads. And even the water shortage in that area hasn’t hung him up, as he’s tapping into Kukuiula’s source. Guess it helps to have the right connections.
And finally, the County Council is, for reasons unknown, considering an inane amendment to the County Charter that would allow blank ballots to be counted as “no” votes on charter amendments.
The newspaper reports:
The proposed charter amendment would also redefine what “a majority of all the votes tallied upon the question” means.
“This majority shall constitute at least 50 percent of the total votes cast at the election ... this majority constituting at least 30 percent of the total number of registered voters,” the proposed resolution states.
In a line of reasoning that makes me worry about the mental capacity of the woman likely to be our next county prosecutor, Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, who introduced the amendment, defended her proposal:
She argued that theoretically in an election with 4,000 cast ballots, an amendment could pass with 10 people voting for it if only five people vote against it.
“Why should 10 people decide what’s applicable?” she said.
And why, Shaylene, should voters lose the right to cast a blank vote on an amendment? A blank is not the same as a yes or a no. A blank is also a way of saying, I’m not certain, or I don’t know enough to vote, or I’m neutral on this issue.
As Carl Imperato of the Kaua‘i Group of the Sierra Club noted in his very reasonable query:
“The question really is why do we need something like this?” Imparato said.
And the answer is, we don't, unless you want to make it very difficult for charter amendments to be approved.