Tuesday, July 19, 2011


DIVIDING BY ZERO: Is it possible that the pablum that passes for the product of the press on Kaua`i is actually getting less informative? It's kind of like asking whether the sound of zero hands clapping is quieter than the sound of one.

We expected to get shafted with KIUC-spun articles in the FERC vote debacle, given that the electric co-op remains one of the local newspaper's biggest advertisers... that and the fact that it was made abundantly clear to the current business editor- who covered the story- that the last business editor was fired for not toeing the Chamber of Commerce line.

Coverage of the planning commission's wholesale permitting of the new transient vacation rentals on ag land shouldn't have to fall to Joan Conrow whose KauaiEclectic blog told the sad tale Monday of how "county planner Mike Laureta prepared Bruce Fehring’s TVR application" as well as other eyebrow raising horror stories from last Tuesday's meeting.

But in reading her exclusive report we could not help but ask how the planning commission is able to get away with violating the now-not-so-new, citizen-petitioned charter amendment that was supposed to give "teeth" to the growth numbers contained in the general plan.

The amendment essentially put a hold on the processing of any new tourist accommodations by the planning commission and gave that job to the county council unless and until the council enacts an ordinance delineating the nuts and bolts of how the limitations are to work and then and only then return the power to the planning commission.

At the last full council meeting just such a proposed ordinance finally returned from the scrutiny of the planning department and commission- albeit in the form of a totally new bill- which passed first reading and is headed for a public hearing on August 3 at 1:30 p.m.

Bill 2140- which, along with all the other documents accompanying council agendas, is still not on-line even though a year has gone by since they were supposed to be made available there- is apparently still a long way from being a legitimate reflection of the intent of the amendment, with some of the "creative interpretations" of the starting point that were contained in the previous version of the bill, still being a point of contention.

The point is that the pointed disregard of the charter shown in the planning commission's approval of these TVRs is just another example of the predictable results of the lack of effective media scrutiny of county government on Kaua`i.

Rote regurgitation of press releases and unquestioned repetition of officials' political talking points does not a watchdog make.

Our local newspaper is bought and paid for, there is no local TV and there are enough shenanigans in Honolulu to keep both the Honolulu newspaper and the on-line "Civil Beat" busy over there, eight days a week, thank you very much.

That has left Kaua`i citizen's with no recourse but to file expensive lawsuits in order to put a stop to these violations of the law, especially those dealing with land use where the big money interests have sewed up just about every attorney in town.

That makes the lack of funding secondary to the availability of a lawyer to take the case- and don't think they don't know and count on that.

Because when it comes enumerating potentially effective opposition to rampant lawlessness, it doesn't take very long to count to zero.

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