Kauai, Hawaii: Media Block?

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Media block on Kauai

Good day people.

I am writing this note in hopes that you will take issue with our story. On the island of Kauai, in the state of Hawaii, there seems to be a rather obvious media block on any real information. On Tuesday of this week, a grass roots committee succeeded in getting the Mayor of the island to hold a "closed door" session with business and industry leaders on the island, as well as several county officials. In the meeting, the Mayor discovered there were problems of a very serious nature all throughout the county government. The county's "real property tax system was not compliant, and the county's IS manager said that due to the procurement process, it was unlikely that she would be able to sit down with a vendor for atl east six months before she could even discuss the problem, and perhaps a year before she could begin installing a new system. Further, it was discovered that the Department of Civil Defense had just purchased numerous medical machines which would not be compliant in 2000.

More frightening was the fact that our only major hospital quietly admitted that they had only recently begun their assessment phase, and had already found that their IV units (Ivacs) would not function after 2000. They had not even begun to explore the larger equipment for possible imbedded chip functions compliancy. The IVac machines seem to be at the core of a hospitals ability to perform. Without them , there would need to be a nurse present every time any patient received intravenous medicine.

Our representative from the Kauai Chamber of Commerce that she felt the whole Y2K thing was absurd, and thought it was blown way out of proportion. She stated proudly that the islands hotels were booked for New Years in 1999. She went on to state that our 1992 Hurricane Iniki was probably 10 times greater then Y2K's impact would be for Kauai.

Kauai Electric stated that they had a good handle on the problem. As one of only two representatives from the public invited to the meeting, I believed them. He explained that while the mainland power companies would not only be experiencing problems of their own Y2K compliancy, they would be experiencing problems with their neighbors compliancy because of the interconectivity of the "Power Grid". Kauai Electric was not a part of that grid, and like Kauai, was in fact a "Power Island".

Thus, on Kauai, our problem was not so much one of power production, but of power supply components, including oil from non compliant third world nations (i.e.. Indonesia) but of parts suppliers from around the world. The Mayor was told we would have power for at east the first month of 2000. As a citizens representative, I felt that this would be long enough for the island of Kauai to shift it's mentality from users, to conservationists, and perhaps extend power for two months as the island readjusted to a "post millennium lifestyle".

Our water department stated that they were already having problems keeping water treatment chemicals in backstock for 5 days above the daily need. This was very frightening. The list went on and on.

The Mayor moved immediately that the business and industry people, along with the county of Kauai create a monthly closed door session so as to talk freely, share ideas and information and create contingency plans.

Then she co hosted a meeting that took place two days later on the North shore of Kauai in which she pledged to bring the island of Kauai into a state of what she called "Community Compliancy" that would exist wholly outside the realm of technological aspects. She pledged this publicly as part of a panel of exerts that included island Bankers, the Utilities and various other specialists including Organic Gardeners, Dr's, Vetrinarians, Hawaiian Rights activists, IT professionals etc.

Though the meeting drew almost one hundred residents, some from as far away as 50 miles, our local newspaper was invited to this event and did not even bother to show up. I explained to one staff writer that this was a fairly historic meeting taking place. He knew that Oahu television was sending a stringer to cover the event, and that the North Shore business council had felt it was important enough to send out over two hundred faxes at the last minute. Still the paper did not bother to show. In fact when the paper's story came out on with the story on Tuesday's closed door meeting, the chose to focus on all the positive issues such as the fact that the island was "booked" for New Years in 1999. The opening comment of the paper was something to the effect that some residents of the island were "overly anxious and overly concerned" about the Year Two Thousand bug and how it might effect the Garden Island of Kauai. There almost seemed to be a veiled hostility that the citizens group (of which I am a representative member) keeps asking them to review information from primarily government sources regarding Y2K.

The fact that Kauai's Mayor pledged to bring Kauai into "community compliancy" by 1999 was a major news event. Correct me if I am wrong, but I am unaware of ANY politician in the US who has taken their knowledge of Y2K and made such a "risky" guarantee. She outlined strategies such as "neighborhood resource mapping" to identify strengths and weaknesses at the micro level, wide scale sponsoring of critical issues such as community gardens, county sponsored first aid classes, food storage seminars. Voluntary power conservation plans, neighborhood contingency plans for storage of precious and critical medicines such as insulin. The list went on and on but there was NO major media. Thank goodness for the farsightedness of our local cable station. They covered the event, and the island should be viewing the session by next week.

The work of Community Compliance will have to be carried out by the community. It is by it's very nature a grass roots, door to door fix. The county's part will be own of leadership, plan guidance and financing. As community partners, citizens and government can find pride in their Community or Social Compliancy actions. The very act of those actions will build bridges that will be in place before the flood waters of Y2K or any other natural and/or manmade disaster catches Kauai in it's midst.

How is it that the Mayor of a small county from one of Hawaii's smallest islands is taking these steps alone at the forefront? Why isn't the world watching, and why is the press choosing to cover a shoot out on Oahu, rather then airing what just might be an historic event, an introduction of such an innovative concept as "Community Compliancy".

Although you are busy, I hope that you might find time to address these issues in your column. If they are of interest I release any and all copyright claims I have on this material. You are free to cut and paste as suits you. Mahalo for your time, your consideration and perhaps your action.

Please email me for further discussion at : Y2K@aloha.net.

Email the Mayor of Kauai at: mayor@aloha.net

The Community Self Reliance Cooperative groups web site is at: http://www.hawaiiy2k.com. It is a meager site compared to what is out there, but we are attempting to make headway in a state that still sometimes regards those who raise questions, or puts forth new ideas as unpleasant, or distasteful.

While Kauai might not have the potential problems that the cold weather will cause if the power does go down, we are almost totally dependent on the mainland for most of our essential goods and services. The community deserves the right to comprehensive Y2K information from the media here on Kauai, so that the residents can make prudent preparation and contingency plans. The island food reserves have been estimated at two to three weeks. There will be no boats or barges or airplanes coming to feed us. Yet, if we started now, Kauai might be on of the safest and most pleasant places on the planet to weather the Y2K hurricane.

Aloha good people.

Karlos deTreaux
Community Self Reliance Cooperative

-- Karlos (y2kbug@gte.net), October 31, 1998

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