Letters | 5-18-14
Energy Dept. needs our comments
I attended the Department of Energy meeting about the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement in Kona last Tuesday evening, about planning for the energy future of Hawaii. The idea is to get the state oil-free by 2030. Right now it’s 70 percent oil-fired and 30 percent renewables.
While this is admirable and desirable, we need to be careful that the Big Island is not unduly burdened supplying the state with electricity, i.e. geothermal.
We do have lots of solar and some wind but these are not firm, not online at all times. Another possibility which is definitely Dark Age is biomass, especially wood — eucalyptus. David Tarnas wants to build this up with a 20-year plan (doesn’t sound renewable to me) and add coal to the mix, real green. He promises that there is a plant at Ookala that can serve. He wants to regrow the genetically modified organism trees.
The DOE needs your comments: email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have about 30 days. They really are open to your manao, so stand up for your aina.
Ethics bill merits questioned
There was a letter to the editor published in West Hawaii Today on May 13 regarding the ethics bill proposed by the mayor. The letter described the advantages of not allowing companies owned by county employees or their families to contract with the county.
The merits of the part of the bill dealing with employees and their families contracting with the county is arguable as indicated by the council’s lengthy discussions.
The part of the bill that has not been discussed openly except by the council is the part that would not allow any county employee to disagree with or take any legal action against the “interests of the county.”
Any ordinance which does not allow a county employee to disagree with the county and seek to prove the point in court is violating the basic constitutional rights to free speech and seek redress by the judicial branch of the government. This is the basis on which America was founded. That basis is free speech and the right to discuss any difference of opinion with others. It also includes the right to take an issue to court in order to have an independent branch of the government hear the arguments and make an independent interpretation of the issue.
To make matters worse, there was no definition of the “interests of the county,” nor any guidelines as to who is to determine if the “interests of the county” are being violated. Theoretically, any person could stop almost any discussion and threaten legal action against anyone having an opinion different from theirs because it is claimed to be against the “interests of the county.”
The council is charged with the responsibility to make laws (ordinances) by which this county is to be governed. The threat of legal action if anyone deems the speech or actions of a council member to not be in the “interests of the county” would cause a chilling effect on all discussion or disagreement. This would result in the council not being able to do the job it was elected to do for the public.
All other county employees would also be at risk at any time they said or did anything that could be construed as not in the “interests of the county.” This could destroy the valuable feedback county employees provide that can help give better service to the citizens of this county.
I agree that good ethics are central to any good working relationship, business or government. Giving up basic American rights is never a good idea. In fact, it sounds unethical to me.
I’m hoping that the County Council will see the errors in this particular bill and either amend it or defeat it with the hope that it will be returned at a later date without giving up basic rights.