Thursday, May 19, 2011


THIMK: Not much happens news-wise on Kaua`i that isn't fairly predictable. But sometimes the level of incompetence and downright stupidity in county offices is so outrageous as to force its way into the headlines.

Their latest hair-brained action was to remove the congratulatory banners for high school graduates that hang on the fences at the ball parks this time of year, spurred by an alleged "complaint" supposedly based on the county's sign ordinance.

Of course the mindless Greek Chorus - with 40 comments and counting at press time- complained about the "exemption" to the ordinance for political signs, even though the allowance for them is derivative of a court ruling...

But not-so-oddly enough, if the Department of Public Works, (DPW- the seat of all things lunatic in administrative governance on the island) had bothered to ask the county attorney they might have discovered that the the same first amendment free speech rights that protect political signs apply to other non-commercial expressions of speech.

First of all the county's sign ordinance is isn't operative here since it doesn’t apply to temporary signs. That's why many of those ugly banners in Kapa`a are allowed to exist as long as they are not fixed to the ground.

The real controlling legislation comes from the state where even temporary signs are banned on state-funded roads like Kuhio Hwy and Olohena Rd where the Kapa`a signs were located.

While political speech receives the highest free-speech-rights protection other non-commercial speech is also given protection as we found out when, back in the 80's, the country- and the island- was visually polluted by the famous "yellow ribbons" during the Iran Hostage Crisis and Ronnie Ray-Guns feel-good mini-wars.

As a young anti-war journalist activist we checked out the state law, called the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and got a statement from them that the yellow ribbons did indeed violate state law and would have to be removed. However when we plastered the news on the front page of the Kaua`i Community College newspaper it wasn't long before the attorney general stepped in to say that expressions of free speech were exempt from the state law on signs on state-funded highways.

Had the peabrains at the DPW bothered to stop and think for a minute- or better stopped to check with anyone- they might have saved the administration another black eye.

But then what would we do for something to kvetch about on an otherwise newsless Thursday?

1 comment:

KimoRosen said...

Beautifully written, true and witty! great job Andy!

I'm only sorry I didn't write the enclosed.