Monday, October 20, 2014

Musings: Haunting House 2

Here is evidence of debris left on Joe Brescia's property by the high wash of the waves.  Not a storm, just normal winter surf, as happens every year. I have seen it with my own eyes many times.  At the bottom are two pictures of the ocean on the November day that these photos were taken.

As you can see, the debris was deposited quite a ways onto his landscaping, sometimes broaching a naupaka hedge. Everything makai of that debris line is public beach that has been stolen from public use.









Sunday, October 19, 2014

Musings: Haunting Hale

Michael Schmidt of Coldwell Banker Bali Hai Realty has lowered himself a little further with a distinctive offering: the house that Joe Brescia built atop burials at Naue.

Yes, for a cool $5.5 million cash – or a mortgage of $25,100 per month — you, too, can have the pleasure of living in a cemetery, of resting your head upon a pillow, knowing that iwi kupuna lie beneath the pillars that support the house, of eating, drinking, pissing and shitting in a place where kanaka of long ago laid their loved ones to rest.

Until Los Angeles developer/speculator Joe Brescia desecrated them so he could build — and now flip — yet another house along that once stellar shoreline. And the county and state went along, because nobody wanted to risk a “takings” lawsuit by telling Joe, “No, you can't build such a big ass house on a lot with at least 31 burials.”
Neither  the real estate ad nor the promotional video make any mention of the iwi kupuna beneath its foundation and under its lawn, nor of the angst that accompanied every step of its 2010 construction — the protests, the lawsuits, the arrests, the vigils, the pain, the tears, the anger, the anguish.

Only that, "Years of planning went into building this newer, well-maintained home." Mmm hmm.
Nothing is said about the dreadful precedent this house set of undercutting the authority of the Kauai-Niihau Island Burial Council when the state interpreted its decision to “preserve in place” as meaning it's OK to build right on top of iwi kupuna.

As I previously reported in the Honolulu Weekly, Brescia's house marked the first time the State Historic Preservation Division overrode a Burial Council and permitted construction on a previously identified burial site. As Alan Murakami, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. attorney who litigated the case, noted:

They just absolutely caved in response to development pressure. What is the point of having a Burial Council if they can only determine how high or how wide the buffers [around burials] can be? That’s a huge constriction on the power the Burial Councils previously had.

The ad does say “over 150' of white sand beach frontage wraps around the property which is widened by a legendary reef tombolo while also creating amazing privacy.”

But it doesn't disclose that Brescia stole much of that sand from the public with the blessing of Chris Conger — the same guy now advising the county on revisions to the shoreline setback law — and his “no history” approach to setting shorelines. Though that approach has since been thrown out by the Hawaii Supreme Court, Brescia has incorporated a large swath of public beach into his lot and landscaping, and we'll never get it back.
No, in the realm of advertising, it seems that Brescia's house also has no history. There's only the now of selling “this pristine home” for a hefty profit with the disingenuous promise: “Years of enjoyment can be yours today at Kaonohi Point.”

Really? What joy can ever be found in the heartbreak of others?

On a much happier note, let me close by saying the outpouring of support expressed in the comment section of my last post filled me with gratitude and appreciation for the wonderful readers who spend part of their day with Kauai Eclectic.
Mahalo to all of you!

[Note: This post was corrected to show that Coldwell Banker, not Hawaii Life, is the listing agent.]

Friday, October 17, 2014

Musings: On My Critics

It's been amusing to witness the efforts aimed at trying to make me stop dinging Councilmen Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum.

Like this Anonymous comment:

Joan. As a friend you should know people are talking. There are two stories going around. Sometimes they are intertwined and sometimes separate. Your fixation on Gary is attributed to either a jilted lover situation and/or your involvement with Jerry O. In any case, it is obvious to all that you [sic] entirely too obsessed with bringing Hooser down and it has to be personal. tc

Love affair with Gary? Gack. And while Jerry is one of my favorite people on the planet, we're not “involved" and I drew my conclusions about Gary without any influence from him.

Of course, I knew it was a fake because my real friends don't talk to me via anonymous comments. And anyway, they're pretty much all cheering me on to bring Hooser down. They know I've gone after Gary for legitimate reasons: he's a bullying liar who has seriously damaged Kauai County in his egomaniacal bid for political acclaim and national attention.

Still, it's odd that folks who consider themselves “progressives” resort to tired old stereotypical scenarios in trying to explain away a reality they refuse to see. Kind of like the commenter who attributed my disdain for Council candidate Felicia Cowden to us having “competed for the same guy.” WTF? It's like they can't imagine that a woman could possibly have the brains and discernment to identify disingenuous and dangerous politicians; it must be a bad romance.

But then, that's been my problem with many of the Bill 2491/Hooser/Bynum/Barca supporters. They fancy themselves progressives, but they've behaved so regressively that they've set progressive politics in Hawaii way, way back. And they don't even see it.

Which brings me to an email sent by a reader who urged me to stop “flogging” Gary and Tim:

Seems to me that the facts indicate these guys are sober and serious long-time public servants, with extensive histories of hard work and constructive legislation for the betterment of our island. With an election looming, it's also important to remember that both are progressive candidates: look at their whole track records, not just the issue on which you disagree with them.

Mmm, what's progressive about using lies and fears to spark a mob action, divide the island and pass legislation that is overturned while setting a legal precedent for state pre-emption?

As for track records, Tim's includes gutting the TVR bill to remove inspections and allowing TVRs on ag land, while Gary's includes dumping his Kauai Senate seat and powerful role as majority leader to make a doomed-from-the-start run for lieutenant governor, and then dumping his post at OEQC (after making all sorts of promises he couldn't deliver and leaving the staff there to clean up the mess) to get back on the Kauai County Council and issue his call for a “million little fists.”

Throw in Tim's lawsuit against the county, quavery victim voice and petty tantrums, Gary's penchant for deception and smug smarminess, and their current effort to remove 24,000 acres from ag dedication and it's a no brainer: those two faux progressives have got to go.

Then there was this Facebook message from a woman I know from yoga:

It's like you have a personal crusade going against Gary and Tim. Why not work it out with them and resolve it. Communicate with them personally.

To which I replied:

There is no way to "work it out" with Tim and Gary. I have communicated with them personally. They won't even acknowledge the wrongs they've done and the harm they've caused. One can't "work it out" with people who are in denial and who continue to do the same bad things, like lie. My interest now is in ensuring that as many people as possible know what they're really all about.

Which brings me to mayoral candidate Dustin Barca. It's apparent from this new “Fightland” video, which was also posted on the Surfer magazine site, that his candidacy isn't about serving Kauai, but getting exposure for himself and his anti-GMO message.

The video is filled with Dustin's bullshit — “Waimea Middle School, 50 kids falling down having seizures and bloody noses from pesticide exposure”; “We have the sickness, the cancers, the birth defects, but we can't prove the link because we don't know what they're spraying” — but fails to mention Bill 2491 was overturned by a federal judge. Instead, it claims “local politics have left it at a standstill.”

Most telling, however, was the revelation that as a “grom,” Dustin was taken in by the Northshore Oahu Wolfpack, a “notorious group that enforces the line up at Pipeline and other surf spots, sometimes through violence and intimidation.” Yeah, despite all of Dustin's rhetoric about love and respect, he just can't escape his thuggish roots. Dustin's the fist behind the “fistees,” folks.

The video, which curiously focuses on North Shore Kauai landscapes rather than the westside, features footage from the Haleiwa evict Monsanto march, where pro-surfer Kelly Slater weighs in with the comment, “Humans are kind of messing with science.”

It closes with a tagline that shows the wrong date for the general election, and then a shot of Dustin, front tooth missing, sitting on his board, wiping his nose. Classic.

Returning to my critics, there was also this Anonymous comment:

You really need to lighten up Joan and get back on track. Perhaps a long vacation is in order. People are talking and say you have gone way, way over the top and are "no longer the Joan we used to know and love". Truth - but am sure that is one thing you do not recognize any more. Sad.

Gosh. Abandoned by people who never knew me, and never loved me, but only liked me so long as I was writing what they wanted to hear. I can only take that as confirmation that I'm on the right track.

P.S. A real friend just emailed: "You forgot to mention that it's your head injury that led you to abandon the cause." Oh, yes, how could I have forgotten the theory advanced by dear Felicia, that I must have suffered a traumatic brain injury? Must've been the "GMO implants/GMO virus" that caused it to slip my mind.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Musings: Unforeseen Consequences

It's odd that Kauai Councilman Tim Bynum wants to eliminate the ag tax subsidy for seed companies when it accounts for just $500,000 of the $8.5 million in annual ag subsidies countywide.

In other words, that particular subsidy is small potatoes, but removing it could have serious unforeseen consequences, as a number of Councilmember were astute enough to observe.

Tim thinks it's reasonable to charge seed operations market value taxes because the landowners are making good money off those leases. But Tim and his co-supporter Councilman Gary Hooser never bothered to determine how much folks are paying for ranching and diversified ag leases in order to compare.

Nor did they check to see how many of the multi-million-dollar TVRs on ag lands have ag dedications, which means taxpayers are also subsidizing those lucrative operations. It seems no one is being scrutinized but the seed companies.

But under Tim's double speak, he's not singling them out.

I'm being accused of targeting the seed industries,” he said. “Well, it's the seed industry that came in and made this dramatic change in use. It's not targeting that industry, it's just where that use has occurred.”

Huh?

Councilman Mel Rapozo didn't buy it. “We're targeting an industry and I'm not comfortable with that. There's got to be a rational basis. It's not the way to treat farmers when we say we're supporting agriculture.”

There's all this rhetoric about this is an attack on ag,” Tim said. “No, it's not. It's just that on Kauai it doesn't fit our ag dedication.”

How does he figure that? Tim himself acknowledged the dedication was conceived to provide “incentives for active use of our ag lands and keep ag lands in production.”

Aren't the biotech companies doing both, whether their crops are for the purpose of research or sale? Or as Mel noted, “We're helping farmers all over the world. We're helping farmers across the U.S. to produce food.”

Gary, who introduced an amendment specifying the bill applies only to research on crops with genetically engineered DNA, was clear about his motives: “We're here to address the appropriate use of our ag lands. In this case we're looking at major corporations that don't need the subsidy, don't contribute to local food sustainability and have a substantial impact on air, land and water.”

Gary brushed off the impact of pulling 24,000 acres out of ag dedication, saying even if it's developed, they could build only five units on a single parcel. But as Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura pointed out, dropping the dedication means a “tremendous increase in assessed value. If they subdivide, it's not just five units, it's multiple parcels with up to five units each.”

Or as Kilauea land agent/farmer Mike Dyer noted: “If you want to drive ag land to development, keep a nice high tax on it and you'll get it developed.” And with the recent sales of large ag parcels for hundreds of millions dollars, the assessed value of ag parcels could go way up.

So really, what is the intent of this bill? Especially when coupled with Tim and Gary's push to halt development in Lihue by designating it a groundwater management area?

I've gotten very scared where the state is headed with those commercials you see regarding the Maui [anti-GMO ballot] initiative,” Councilman Ross Kagawa said. “If we get away from big ag, I'm worried about how that westside, my home town, will look like.”

JoAnn wants to keep the seed land in an ag dedication, but charge them higher taxes, though not as high as market value. “There is the issue in my mind of the contribution of the seed companies to managing the water systems that are really important to the sustainability of our ag lands. I think it's really appropriate to have some input from the seed companies and others that are involved.”

Councilman Mason Chock, in a welcome departure from Tim and Gary's influence, said he is still “stuck on unintended consequences. I haven't heard enough from farmers and the public and the seed companies on the bill. I've heard things about infrastructure that might be a concern.”

Ross agreed, saying the seed companies are maintaining water systems that benefit the many farmers raising cattle, sweet potatoes, cattle, beans, mangoes and other crops in Kekaha and elsewhere on the westside.

Gosh, it seems agricultural co-existence is not only possible, but actually happening on the westside.

The bill was deferred until Nov. 12, by which time Tim and Gary hopefully will have been defeated.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. has announced he's working with the state Department of Ag to convene a joint fact finding group (JFFG) to examine the possible health and environmental impacts associated with the use of pesticides on genetically modified crops.

That's good news for two reasons: First, it's an opportunity to assess the issue and gather scientific data to offset all the anecdotal allegations that have thus far driven the Bill 2491 debate. It's where we should've started, but didn't. Second, it takes the process out of the County Council, where it was doomed to be politicized and biased, and thus of questionable value.

It's also interesting that the Administration gave JoAnn credit.

As it's now structured, a facilitator under contract to the state will choose at least nine panel participants after interviewing candidates. They will be seeking “knowledgeable local experts with pertinent backgrounds, experience or detailed understandings of agriculture, environmental health, epidemiology, toxicology, biostatistics, medicine or other related disciplines.”

The JFF process will presumably define the scope of further work and studies to be done...possibly an EPHIS (Environmental and Public Health Impact Study),” wrote county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka in an email. “We are hoping that we can again partner with the state on the follow up and avoid any legal pre-emption issues that might arise.”

Bill 2491, which included resolutions calling for a JFFG and an EPHIS was overturned by a federal judge on the grounds it was pre-empted by state law. That decision is currently on appeal.

The county and state each are kicking in $50,000 to fund the JFF process, which should be pau by December 2015.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Musings: Wonderings

I got to wondering, when I saw the New York Times article about the California farmer who developed a Frankenstein pumpkin, how he would have fared on Kauai, under Councilman Tim Bynum's bill to raise land taxes on experimental crops.
The farmer experimented for years, and spent about $400,000, before he mastered the technique of growing his “pumpkinsteins” in plastic molds. This year he grew about 5,500 "pumpkin steins," and they're wholesaling for $75 each. Now that's the kind of innovative, value-added product that would make any farmer drool.

But under an ag land tax proposal — advanced by Bynum and Councilman Gary Hooser to punish the seed companies — he'd be seriously dinged for experimenting on a non-edible crop, even though it was organically grown.

And I got to wondering what would have happened to that pumpkin farmer if he hadn't been able to experiment, seeing as how, according to the NYT:

For more than a decade, he mostly lost money as a small organic farmer, growing kale, lettuce, berries, tomatoes and whatever else he could on the fertile ground, selling primarily to nearby organic markets.

Then I got to wondering whether the eco-advantages of growing those fancy pumpkins organically were offset, even negated, by the environmental cost of producing those 5,500 plastic molds. Which got me wondering whether the eco-advantages of organic cultivation are also lost when that pretty produce is tucked into a non-recyclable clamshell and flown  from South America to Kauai for the virtuous to purchase at Papaya's.

Which got me wondering about the recent letter to the editor from Ned Whitlock,  the one intended to induce more fear by claiming women who lived within a mile of fields where organophosphates are used have a 60 percent higher chance of having kids with autism, based on an apparently flawed study; the one that singled out only the seed companies for their use of such products, as if, by some miracle, they don't have the same effect when applied to a golf course, or a park; the one that ended with a call for “the county to levy a stiff tax (100 percent?) on restricted use pesticides and glyphosate products, while urging our legislators to ban chlorpyrifos pronto.”

What I wondered was whether Ned and those who reprinted his letter on Facebook with the comment, “let's get rid of those companies, nuff already,” had heard about Judge Kurren's ruling, the one that found the county does not have the authority to regulate pesticides, much less boot out an agricultural operation.

I got to wondering how it is that they still don't understand the ramifications of Bill 2491, that they gambled and lost with a legally flawed bill and now pre-emption is codified and the county's hands are seriously tied until Kurren's ruling is overturned, which is, at best, a very long shot. 

I got to wondering how it is they still think Gary and Tim are heroes when they accomplished nothing but clarifying the county can't do shit when it comes to the seed companies and their use of pesticides, which got me wondering how it is that people can be so deluded, in such denial.

Which got me wondering how any thinking, conscious, moral person could possibly support Dustin Barca's mayoral candidacy, especially when he flat-out lied at Tuesday's candidate forum, claiming no one ever wanted to shut down the seed companies, when his very own website lists campaigns that include “evict Monsanto” and "GMO-Free Kauai," and at the previous forum, he said:

For me, I have no personal gain from going after these companies except for the health and well-being of the future of our people and our natural resources. So, 500 jobs is not worth 70,000 people’s health and well-being.

Later I got to wondering how it is that people are still bemoaning the lack of action on climate change when all of us, including me, are loathe to give up our cars, our AC, our travel, our worldwide shipment of goods, our ravenous appetites.  Who, exactly, is supposed to reverse the trend of carbon emissions if not each and every one of us? And why is it, I wondered, that people think marching in the streets — especially when one must fly or drive to a protest — is an effective way of demanding action when we citizens are so reluctant to change our own behavior, our own lifestyles, even when we know how much is at stake?

Then I got to wondering why people are so frigging freaked out about Ebola, which has killed just 4,447 people worldwide, when in 2011, some 73,831 Americans died from diabetes, a disease that is largely preventable and treatable, according to the CDC, and 596,577 died from heart disease, also largely preventable, and 39,518 died from suicide, totally preventable.

Just today I got an email from Avaaz urging people to volunteer for health care in Africa with this alarmist call to action: 

If Ebola spirals further out of control, it could soon threaten us all.  This monster threatens the entire world. 

Out of the darkest places come our brightest lights. Out of the depths of the Ebola nightmare, let's bring the light of a new world of one people, connected through love, and willing to fight, and sacrifice, for each other.

It sounded an awful lot like the call to action that urged folks to fight GMOs, a "one love" movement that was supposedly seeded with aloha, yet sowed divisiveness, polarization, death threats and hate.

And that got me wondering why Ebola (and GMOs) are getting so much more media play — including TGI's super silly story on the Ebola transport plane landing in Kauai — than diabetes or heart disease or suicides. 
I mean, it seems rather bizarre, considering folks are far more likely to die of almost anything but Ebola, even in Africa, where an estimated 627,000 people — most of them children — died from malaria in 2012, a disease that is both preventable and curable.

Which got me wondering, maybe people just like to be scared?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Musings: Sewage Seepage

With news that coral reefs in Hawaii are experiencing a severe bleaching episode — and yes, it's happening across the state, though The Garden Island makes it sound like a Kauai-centric phenomenon — it becomes even more important to crack down on coastal cesspools.

Because as Kim Hum, Hawaii Director of Marine Programs for The Nature Conservancy, noted in an article by the Associated Press:

The corals are animals, right, they're not rocks. So what bleaching is, it's a sign of distress. [People need to] make our coral as healthy as possible ... so that they can respond and they don't bleach and they don't die because of these additional stressors.

Sewage is a major stressor of coral reefs. Now, as part of a new overall water quality plan, the state Department of Health has proposed ending the use of cesspools in new housing and requiring existing homes to convert to septic systems upon sale.

As West Hawaii Today reported, emphasis added:

Hawaii is the only state in the nation that still allows construction of new cesspools. There are currently 90,000 cesspools in the state. The majority, some 50,000, are located on the Big Island. In addition, almost 14,000 are on Kauai, more than 12,000 are on Maui, more than 11,000 are on Oahu and more than 1,400 are on Molokai. Each year an additional 800 new cesspools are approved for construction, according to the Health Department.

Though the Board of Realtors has opposed the change, claiming it will make housing more expensive and unduly burden local people, they've said nothing about the numerous high-end oceanfront homes that operate on cesspools.

Many of these houses, as I've previously reported in the Abuse Chronicles, are used as transient vacation rentals. And that means three things: they're generating a helluva lot of waste; they're regularly flipped, so this new rule would force them to upgrade, and they can certainly afford it.

For a vivid illustration of what's at stake, check out this graphic (click to enlarge), which shows just the Wainiha subdivision:
As I reported in the Abuse Chronicles, the defacto resort known as Hale Makai has five separate TVRs, each with its own cesspool. They were dug in 1967, including two that were just 50 and 75 feet, respectively, from the ocean. No doubt they're much closer now, given erosion. Between them, they can accommodate 19 people per night. 

Then there's Swaying Palms. Its cesspool was dug in 1958 for a 320-square-foot, two-room cottage. It now serves five bathrooms — each with a Jacuzzi tub — in a seven-bedroom TVR that is 10 times larger the original house.

Other houses, though not right on the beach, expanded without converting to a septic tank. Rainbows End, for example, was upgraded to three bathrooms — using the original cesspool that was designed to accommodate one bathroom.

How can they possibly be allowed to continue operating on cesspools?

Hanalei Bay is another toilet, as this map depicts (click to enlarge):
No doubt the situation is the same at Anini, Kalihiwai, Moloaa, Aliomanu, Anahola, Kapaa and everywhere else that TVRs cluster along the coast.

So not only did most of these TVR owners acquire their permits improperly, they're now being allowed to degrade the ocean and groundwater with impunity. 

Yet curiously, the North Shore crowd that lives in the thick of this shitty situation has become obsessed with GMOs/pesticides on the westside rather than screaming about the crap, literally, that they surf and swim in daily.

Uh, hello, Ohana O Kauai? Is anybody home? Mayoral candidate Dustin Barca and sidekick Fern Rosenstiel — is this even on your radar? I saw nothing on your website. Don't you folks think that e-coli is a threat to the keiki and fisheries? Not to mention all the other stuff that people flush down the toilet. Or are the donations from the richy-riches and North Shore Realtors blurring your vision?

What about North Shore Council candidate and "red shirt" Felicia Cowden, who weighed in on everything from GMOs to cat licensing? Nothing but crickets on this important issue. Instead, she emphasizes only the impact of agriculture on water quality.

Yes, this new rule may be a hardship for some. But those crocodile tears shed by the Board of Realtors aren't for the poor peons. They're for the well-heeled clients who might find it costly or impossible to locate a septic system on some of these expensive coastal lots. 

If you care about Hawaii's reefs and coastal resources, take a few moments and submit your testimony to wqpcomments@doh.hawaii.gov. You have until Friday, Oct. 17, to weigh in. 

To borrow a slogan from Ohana O Kauai and the rest of the "red shirts," since they obviously aren't using it anymore: "Protect What You Love."
(Cartoon from the Big Island Chronicle.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Musings: Follow Ups

Though there's still no “official” confirmation, due to a strict non-disclosure agreement, both Pacific Business News and Forbes are reporting that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did indeed buy both the Kahuaina and Pilaa parcels for some $112 million.

The Kahuaina Plantation, sold by Falko Partners, is a 360-acre parcel on Kooolau Road that stretches along the coastline above Waipake and Lepeuli beaches. It reportedly sold for $66 million. It's unclear just how much land Zuckerberg may have bought at Pilaa, which lies just to the north of Waipake.

The Star-Advertiser initially reported that Jimmy Pfluegger, trying to beat a state foreclosure action, sold 380 acres to Koa Kea International LLC, which in turn was to convey a portion of it to Pilaa International LLC and West Beach Kauai LLC. Pacific Business News, meanwhile, has all 380 acres going to Pilaa International — Zuckerberg's holding company — for $50 to $56 million, with Koa Kea acquiring additional land at Pilaa from Pfluegger. And Forbes reported that Koa Kea — owned by Colorado gas and oil executive Gary Stewart — bought 10.8 percent interest for $6.04 million.

But then, Forbes also reported Zuckerberg is offering $1 million each to “two dozen families who own 'kuleanas' on tiny plots of landlocked land. Kuleanas are basic, even ramshackle huts, many without electricity, which have been passed down through families over generations. They are generally used as rustic weekend or vacation spots.”

Now don't be thinking 24 Kauai families are suddenly millionaires. Some of those kuleana parcels were included in the original parcel.

Though Zuckerberg is not the first billionaire to buy land on Kauai, he may be the first who doesn't want to develop it. Though the Kahuaina parcel was fully entitled with an 80-lot agricultural subdivision, the new owner withdrew it and may build just one house, or perhaps nothing at all.

When he relinquished the entitlements, the beach access required as a condition of the subdivision was also lost. As I previously reported, the county blew the access because Councilmen Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum repeatedly delayed its acceptance. They were trying to squeeze more out of Falko Properties when it had already offered a very desirable access that was endorsed by kanaka fishermen and suitable for the wilderness beach. When Falko sold and the new owner nixed the subdivision, the public was left with nothing.

Though I've seen a lot of spin in my day, Andy Parx proved he is totally spun with his blogged version of events:

Previously after a "full court press" by the administration and the county attorney's office, the council was poised to approve that access for months but rather deferred action over and over due to objections from the public, especially from Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiians).

Councilmembers Tim Bynum and Gary Hooser were instrumental in delaying the action until the property was eventually sold, despite having been told there was nothing they could do to stop it by Deputy County Attorney Maunakea Trask.

Odd. At the Council's Sept. 10 meeting, Rayne Regush of the Sierra Club, Kauai Chapter, blamed the failure to secure the access on Falko, claiming they had requested numerous delays as a "stall tactic." 

As I noted, the truth lies with neither Rayne nor Andy. Why can't people just be honest, instead of trying to put lipstick on what is so obviously a pig?

Speaking of which, it seems our former first deputy Prosecutor Jake Delaplane is up to his old tricks. As I previously reported, after he crashed and burned with Shaylene Iseri, he applied for a job at KPD, which he thankfully didn't get, and went to work for the Honolulu Prosecutor's Career Criminal Unit. Ahem....

As KHON reports, Jake was the deputy prosecutor who botched the case against nine Oahu residents who were arrested following police raids of “game rooms” across the island. He allegedly presented false, perjured information to a grand jury, requiring him to later drop hundreds of gambling and money laundry charges against the defendants and seek a new indictment.

Attorneys for the defendants will be in court on Tuesday, asking the judge to find “prosecutorial misconduct.”

Defense attorney Myles Breiner wants federal authorities to step in. As KHON reported:

“Frankly, this case should be referred to the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Department of Justice for investigation of systematic prosecutorial misconduct. We don’t believe there is a single agency in this city, or in this state, that is qualified to investigate the investigator, to investigate the prosecution.”

Gee, if only they would've read this blog before they hired Jake. We tried to warn them….

Friday, October 10, 2014

Musings: Water Logged

Watching yesterday's County Council workshop on water use in the Puna (east Kauai) district was kind of like deja vu all over again as I kept flashing back on the GMO issue.

Except in this case, it's about giving the state complete management control over water use in the Lihue-Hanamaulu area.

Now let's get this straight. The state, which supposedly was doing such a lousy job managing pesticides on the westside that the county had to intervene with Bill 2491, is now being asked to assume more control over eastside water resources because the county is supposedly doing such a lousy job managing them.

OK.

This bit of twisted logic is the work of Councilmen Tim Bynum and Gary Hooser, the same two men who sponsored Bill 2491. Now they're pushing a petition to have the state designate south Puna, which includes the south fork of the Wailua River and the Huleia River, as a special Ground-Surface Water Management Area.

This designation would require all water users in the area to seek permits from the state Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) — a process that UH law school professor Kapua Sproat admitted “can be very time-consuming, labor intensive and require the use of legal council.” In other words, small farmers dependent on the East Kauai Water Users Cooperative would be screwed, while the big guys like Grove Farm could still play.

Kapua also acknowledged that efforts to designate similar management areas on other islands have typically been “emotional” and “highly controversial and politicized.”

But rather than learn from the divisiveness that characterized the debate over 2491, Gary and Tim are repeating the exact same tactics they employed then — excluding key stakeholders from the discussion, fear-mongering, casting unfounded aspersions of wrong-doing, deliberately promulgating misinformation, relying on non-expert testimony and failing to begin with any Council consensus.

They started by staging yesterday's totally biased “informational briefing,” which excluded major stakeholders — the county Department of Water, landowners, water users, ditchmen and scientific experts. Instead, the presentation was made by Adam Asquith, who admitted he's not actually a hydrologist, he just plays one on TV, and Kapua, who flew in with her students from Honolulu to talk about laws regarding the public trust resource.

Adam tossed out words like “shocking” and “aghast,” and said water was such an “emotional and powerful” issue that he would read most of his report rather than ad lib, so as to ensure he maintained his scientific objectivity — like he actually has any on this topic. Oh, but first he trotted out his Hawaiian hanai son to do a chant, just to demonstrate his kanaka creds. It's so sad to see him keep using his kid that way.

Adam laid out his interpretation of what's happening with ground and surface water in south Puna before pronouncing that “we have fully commercialized use of our water” for such purposes as homes, hydroelectric power and “corporate agriculture.” Which, presumably, does not include his own taro farm, even though he sells his harvest and employs immigrant labor. Adam then proclaimed “we probably have an issue that needs to be resolved.”

Adam also repeatedly stated that the county DOW was not reporting any of its surface or ground water use to CWRM, as required by state law. Kapua's students also made that statement.

It was not until the very end of the 3.5-hour presentation that DOW reps finally got a chance to speak, at which point they said the presentation had a number of inaccuracies and they are indeed dutifully reporting all their well and surface water use. But by then, the aspersions had already been cast.

By then, Gary had already swallowed Adam's presentation hook, line and sinker, proclaiming it “alarming in many respects.” He then allowed that other stakeolders might have different opinions, before asking Adam — an admitted non-expert — “You believe the evidence and information is clear?”

Yes,” Adam replied. And that was good enough for Gary — even though he hadn't heard from anyone else, including DOW.

And by then, Tim, though equally ill-informed, had passed judgment on DOW: “Our water department knew we had groundwater problems [in Lihue] 10 years ago, that why we built a surface water treatment system. Wasn't that use from day one inconsistent with the public trust?”

I'll just let that hang in the air,” replied Adam.

What Tim either didn't know or didn't say is that system — a cooperative effort by Grove Farm and DOW — was approved by CWRM, which considers public trust resources when making decisions. It's also the same agency that would oversee the special management area that Tim wants to create.

Tim, his eyes glinting, then asked if the public trust resource extended to soil. "If you own the land, does that also mean you own the soil?" he asked. Kapua wisely demurred rather than allow Tim to publicly expound on the ramifications of the government coming in and dictating soil use.

It wasn't until the very end of the meeting that we learned DOW had asked to see a copy of the presentation before-hand, but was denied.

If the true goal of the meeting was to "foster dialogue and education," why wouldn't you share it? Why wouldn't you invite DOW to join the presentation, along with the USGS hydrologists who studied the Lihue water system and the folks who currently maintain the stream diversions and use the water?

Wouldn't you want to get all the facts on the table at once? 

Unless, of course, you wanted to present a skewed version so as to influence public opinion, broadside your opponents and put everyone on the defense trying to refute lies that have already been uttered and repeated and thus ingrained into public consciousness.

Deputy County Attorney Mauna Kea Trask got it, advising the Council that pursuing such a designation is “a big issue. Expert testimony from trained professionals needs to be part of the discussion.”

To her credit, Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura got it too, firmly stating that more time was needed to bring in those stakeholders, and ensure the presence of all Councilmembers — Ross Kagawa and Mel Rapozo were absent, and Chair Jay Furfaro was in and out. Tim and Gary, meanwhile, were pushing to quickly move the petition forward, perhaps because they both rightly fear their time on the Council is running out.

And though Gary is chair of the committee that staged the presentation, he asked Mason Chock to run the meeting. That way Mason looked like the chump behind this one-sided show, rather than the real perps. Mason, when are you going to learn these guys are playing you? They're sharks. They aren't your friends.

A special management area may indeed prove to be a wise move for protecting water resources. Or not. Either way, it's a very big deal, with a lot of repercussions for agriculture and future development, including the Lihue town plan and county General Plan. There's absolutely no reason why the petition should be rushed. 

And there's absolutely no reason why the discussion should be framed by the same two politicians who so horribly distorted the biotech industry's operations on Kauai and polarized the community in the process.

Wake up, people. Like I said, these guys are sharks. They aren't your friends.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Musings: Pander Makes Perfect

It kind of rings hollow to hear Councilman Tim Bynum squawking about ag land violations when he previously signed a document claiming his ag land house was a farm dwelling when it wasn't.

Yes, Tim himself falsified ag land paperwork, though he later claimed he didn't know, he just signed what was put before him, and ultimately sold the house.

Yet we're supposed to believe he's genuinely outraged to learn that the county's ag dedication program seems to be in disarray. You mean, like the TVR permitting system? Gee, what a shocking surprise.

And we're also supposed to believe it was just a “coincidence” that out of 1,900 ag dedicated properties in Kauai County, Tim chose to scrutinize just three leased by biotech firms. Curious, how he completely ignored any of the ag TVRs that he pushed to approve and gentleman's estates, where abuse is rampant.

What's more, we're supposed to believe that Tim and Councilman Gary Hooser want to keep alive a resolution calling for a Council investigation “just to continue the discussion” when it's such an obvious effort to pander to the anti-GMO crowd and bash both biotech and the mayor at another Council meeting before the election.

I mean, just look at the timing. Tim and Gary introduced the resolution because they didn't believe the Administration was acting quickly enough, even though the mayor responded to Tim's May 28 letter on July 16 with a full plan of action.

County Managing Director Nadine Nakamura told the Council yesterday that an investigation into the three properties is already under way, with an initial report due on Nov. 17 and a final report scheduled for Dec. 17. The Administration also will be looking into “bigger policy and operational issues,” including whether any laws need to be changed, she said.

But Tim, making it clear that he believes his own re-election is in doubt, asked Nadine, “Do you know what seven members would still be here on Dec. 17?” To which she evenly replied, “No, I have no idea.”

It also rang hollow when both Tim and Gary expressed outrage at the notion that the county operates on a complaint basis when it comes to grubbing and grading, and doesn't have the manpower to routinely inspect all ag operations to ensure compliance with the ordinance.

It's the law and it should be enforced,” Gary sniffed.

Uh, yeah, but let's not forget Gary was the one who dismissed my concerns about Bill 2491 enforcement with the cavalier comment, “It doesn't matter if it's enforced. All that matters is getting it passed.” And let's not forget Tim eliminated inspections from the TVR law, which led to numerous enforcement problems that are still being sorted out.

Plus, as Nadine noted, the county has 1,900 ag dedicated parcels “with a half percent of property taxes funding this. We have to see what the cost is to enforce the law.” 

Even though the Council obviously wasn't going to approve the resolution, that didn't stop them from burning two hours talking about the process that might govern such an investigation — a meaningless discussion they plan to continue in two weeks. Sadly, Councilmembers JoAnn Yukimura and Mason Chock went along.

And that's where I lost a little more respect for Mason. Though he ventured that a two-week deferral probably wasn't needed, because the Council could always bring another resolution if the mayor's investigation stalled out, he quickly backed down in the face of Gary and Tim's opposition. I've always liked Mason, and wish I could support him, but he needs to emerge from the shadow of Tim and Gary. Especially because they do not have his interests or political future at heart.

Then there was the moment where Tim tossed his papers in the air after he was interrupted for a second time by County Attorney Al Castillo. Silly drama, anyone? Well, at least this time he didn't throw a pencil… 

I have no doubt the county's ag dedication program is messed up, perhaps on par with the TVR permits. Why would anyone think inefficiencies and ineptitudes were limited to just planning and building? Still, the mayor did respond properly by launching an investigation when Tim brought forth his concerns. Why not let that process play out and take it from there?

If the Council is keen to exercise its investigative powers, perhaps it should start with the guys who are taping their sessions. Once again, they screwed up the live feed for hours. And believe me, nothing is more excruciating than following a Council meeting by reading captions. Except, perhaps, actually being there.

One can only hope they similarly bungle the filming of today's eastside “water workshop” so as to deprive Gary of yet another pandering opportunity. Yes, he's on tap to discuss water issues raised by an obscure “community group,” Hui Ho’opulapula Na Wai o Puna, and venture again into an arena solidly under state control. It seems the Council's kuleana is just too small for Gary.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Musings: "A Nation Rising"

The photographs of Ed Greevy, who began documenting the Hawaii land rights movement in 1971, were the catalyst for a new book, “A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements forLife, Land, and Sovereignty.”
Through Ed's photographs and essays contributed by academics, activists, filmmakers and others — including me — “A Nation Rising” chronicles the political struggles and grassroots initiatives collectively known as the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
I wrote the chapter entitled Kauai: Resisting Pressure to Change, which describes how locals struggled to protect their communities from displacement by tourist development and explores the subsequent evolution of the island's grassroots movement. The chapter covers such major land use issues as the Niumalu-Nawiliwili evictions, the hotel at Nukolii, gentrification, A&B's Kukuiula project, Wailua resort development, the Superferry protests, burials at Naue and the battle over biotech.
It will no doubt be a trip down memory lane for many locals, and will hopefully serve as a good primer on the historical roots of land use struggles to help round out the knowledge base of young and/or newcomer activists.

Kauai resident Mehana Blaich Vaughn contributed a portrait on Puanani Burgess, and longtime Kauai activist Puanani Rogers is also profiled. Kapua Sproat, who grew up in Kalihiwai, writes about “seeking justice through law for Hawaii's streams and communities.”

Other chapters discuss ethnic studies, the revitalization of the Hawaiian language, Wao Kele O Puna and Pele Defense Fund, Waiahole-Waikane, colonization, the Akaka Bill, resisting biocolonialism, East Maui water struggles and the movement to stop the military bombing of Kahoolawe.

Other contributors are Noa Emmett Aluli, Ibrahim G. Aoudé, Kekuni Blaisdell, Noelani Goodyear-Ka'opua, Ulla Hasager, Pauahi Ho'okano, Micky Huihui, Ikaika Hussey, Manu Ka'iama, Le'a Malia Kanehe, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Anne Keala Kelly, Jacqueline Lasky, Davianna Pomaika'i McGregor, Nalani Minton, Kalamaoka'aina Niheu, Katrina-Ann R. Kapa'anaokalaokeola Nakoa Oliveira, Jonathan Kamakawiwo'ole Osorio, Leon No'eau Peralto, Kekailoa Perry, Puhipau, Noenoe K. Silva, Ty P. Kawika Tengan, Kuhio Vogeler and Erin Kahunawaika'ala Wright.

The book was published by Duke University Press, and can be purchased through its website and at Native Books on Oahu.