Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Musings: Look Quick

This morning I happened to be in the right place at the right time. Up before the garbage men, I was taking my can to the curb when I looked back, toward my house, and was captivated by a triangle of sky where the sun was preparing to rise.

Standing in grass left wet by nighttime rains, as roosters crowed all around in their strangely muffled din, I saw a blue background, spattered with white and puffy clouds, and atop that, a denser layer of clouds in a tumult of shapes — a dove, an old lady, a rabbit — and colors — bruised plum, gold, burnt orange, pale yellow, steel gray — and beneath all that, a thin strip of coral pink running along the horizon.

Two minutes later it was all pau, and the sky was colorless. You’ve gotta look quick sometimes, or you miss things. Like Koko missed the colors, but I missed the cat under the house, which had her transfixed and whining.

Then I checked my garden and gently redirected a pumpkin plant that had gone on a sudden sprawl, holding one taro plant by the throat and taking three others hostage.

I’m hopeful the scene can be managed with a similarly light touch up at the Naue burial grounds this morning, where construction is reportedly set to begin and the police are saying they can’t stop it, even though Ka`iulani Huff vows she will.

Although various factors kept me from getting up there this morning, I did spend a bit of time in the past couple of days reviewing some documents, all available as part of the public record, to satisfy my own curiosity about Joseph Brescia, the man who wants to build a house atop a site with at least 30 burials.

As you may recall, he was quoted in Sunday’s newspaper as saying:

“I’m not a developer, I’m just a regular guy in a very unfortunate, uncomfortable situation,” he said. “I’ve done everything I can to make this sensitive and respectful, and I don’t know what else can be changed.”

It seems that over the past eight years, Brescia and/or his wife, Jodie, have purchased 10 properties in Hawaii — nine of them on Kauai — and re-sold at least four of them. These aren’t the sorts of properties that the average middle-class person might buy, either. Among them are a condo at The Regency at Poipu, a lot in the pricey Hanalei Palms subdivision, a place at Anini that he ended up selling for $740,0000 — half his original asking price — and another at Anini that he sold for $950,000.

And then there are three parcels on Alalea Street in Wainiha, including the one with all the burials. He built a house on another, where one burial was found at the end of construction and reburied under the structure, that he recently sold. I don’t know what he got, but it was listed for more than $7 million.

Further, Brescia has formed at least three limited liability corporations in Hawaii to handle his various real estate transactions.

So maybe he’s not a developer, compared to those guys who build thousands of subdivision houses and strip malls, but he’s certainly a high-end real estate investor and speculator. And that, in my mind, at least, moves him out of the realm of a “regular guy,” which I would define more as the type who has to check his truck for change at the end of the month before buying snacks at Menehune Mart on his way to work in the morning.

On another, similarly seamy front, the fate of Kauai’s mayorship is taking some interesting twists and turns. As The Garden Island reports today, there’s now talk of holding a special election this fall to fill the remaining two years of Brian Baptiste’s term, and appointing an interim mayor to fill in until then.

My favorite comment came Ron Agor, our rep (and I use the term loosely) on the Board of Land and Natural Resources, and a failed Republican candidate for the state House:

”I would like to see a special election for the balance of Mayor Baptiste’s term held this November,” he said. “Furthermore, the selected interim mayor should not be eligible to run in the special election. That would be fair to all of Kaua‘i.”

Hmmm. Could Ron Agor be eyeing the mayor’s chair, and wanting to ensure he has a crack at it by making the interim mayor ineligible to run? After all, our dear departed mayor passed himself off as a Republican and was elected in large part because of the same Filipino vote that Agor could ostensibly muster.

JoAnn Yukimura, on the other hand, seems in no hurry to move Gary Heu out of the role of acting mayor, even going so far as to say:

”If possible, we should not rush into quick decisions, but should take the time to honor and remember the mayor before proceeding to the necessary political decision-making.”

That’s a lovely sentiment, and she may very well be sincere. Or she could be stalling for time to improve her own position. One just never knows with politicians, especially when they didn’t take much time to “honor” the mayor or even consider his proposals when he was still alive.

Meanwhile, some Council watchers are predicting Kaipo Asing will get the interim mayor job, largely because he’s seen as the least threatening in terms of future election bids for the top post.

My own take on the subject is there's an awful lot of wheeling and dealing going on behind closed doors right now. Best look quick, or you might miss something.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the way you write, very clear and easy to understand with no undertones. I have undertones a lot when I write. Oh well, I wanted to say "Mahalo" to you for the information on Brescia's real estate investments. It's really wise of him to sell, but then he contributes to the lie against foreigners when he claims to hold clear title to the property he is selling. He is lying and cheating other foreigners and passing on a title that belongs to a Kanaka.

Mahalo

Anonymous said...

anon. 10:37 AM said, "...he contributes to the lie against foreigners when he claims to hold clear title to the property he is selling. He is lying and cheating other foreigners and passing on a title that belongs to a Kanaka."

That's total Bs and everyone knows it! The ”native Hawaiian” heirs of Kamehameha I sold off lots of Kauai land after the Great Mahele with clear title but with the sole exception of the right of "native Hawaiians" to gather for subsistence on lands "less than fully developed." These rights are clearly spelled out in all Hawaii title reports and buyers are fully informed. So, say all you want anon., it doesn't make it true. It merely serves to reveal either your ignorance of historical fact or your own propensity for lying.

For your own edification, try reading the Mahele and then looking up all the Kauai lands that Princess Victoria Kamamalu Ka'ahumanu sold off to support her lavish lifestyle. It’s the kanaka maoli’s own revered royalty who divided up the land and cashed in by selling off large parcels to foreigners. Again, historical fact.

DOH!

Anonymous said...

Actually it's not a lie. You must do your due diligence before spouting off angry words like that. There are 6 missing transfers of jurisdictions from Ko Hawaii Pae Aina to the present day de facto private corporation the U.S. military. Until today they have not been able to produce any proof that Ko Hawaii Pae Aina was lawfully transferred. The United Nations knows this as does the International Court of Law. As we point out our facts with each other Kanaka are already vesting up paper work on land that was never "taken", "stolen", or sold to any foreigner because of the the Constitution, the Mahele, put forth by King Kamehameha III when he looked around him and saw how the foreigners were greedily gobbling up the land (and that was back then) and are still doing it today. I await your proof to back your words. Should be interesting.

Joan said...

Mahalo, Anon 10:37. I appreciate your kind words about my writing and am glad you find the info useful.

Mahalo to you for contributing your thoughtful comments.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:37 has a tin ear for undertones.

Joan said...

Here's a little update on the Naue situation: No one was arrested and no construction began, although surveyors were doing their thing.

More people came than the first time to show support for protecting the burials, including about 30 of the lua guys, and the police took photos and videos of everyone present.

Anonymous said...

I think there are 1st amendment cases that forbid police from photographing lawful protesters. The idea is that taking their pictures chills free speech. If their activity is legal, police are supposed to let them be, and if its illegal, they are supposed to arrest them. Filming them doesn't fit into the equation - it just scares people. I think the photographing can even be enjoined in Court. Isn't there some kind of legal fund? It could hire the Planet kauai guy to put his legal skills to real use.

I also like the way you write. I read your blog when I want interesting, thoughtful analysis.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 2:21 PM – Interesting it IS!!! Thank you but I’ve have already done due diligence, lots of it, which is why I can say that in your answer above you’re confusing the three classes of grants made in the Great Mahele of 1848! I was not addressing the issue of the ceded lands which was not the subject being discussed here. Those lands are comprised of the 2/3rd of Hawaii lands granted to the King and his government. I’m talking about properties like Brecscia’s (about which this column was written) and my own that were in the one third granted to the king’s cronies and family (aka ali’i) such as Princess Ka'ahumanu . You are confusing this third with the ceded lands. They are not one and the same. You might want to look that up on the (Oh, My Gosh!) Ko Hawaiia Pae Aina website: http://kohawaiipaeaina.net/. It may confuse you a little with its poor choice of words and grammar, but it’s essentially correct.

I’ve reviewed numerous searches on lands here on Kauai and have seen the chain of title on numerous properties. Don’t worry, I have copies of deeds recorded in the Hawaii Land Court and Bureau of Conveyances showing the awards of lands granted in the Mahele to your precious ali’i who then sold them off to foreigners some of which ended up nicely in my hands. But I’ll wager that you’ve never even read a title report or seen a deed written in Hawaiian as the original deeds to my lands are. But that’s beside the point. You’re trying to lump all Hawaii lands into the ceded land group. Sorry, but your wrong because the third granted to the ali’I were done so quite legally according to your own laws! You really do need to do more reading and research on land and laws of your own country. Either that, or try and focus on what’s being discussed here.
Oh...BTW...foreigners weren't "greedily gobbling up the land" until your precious Kauikeaouli enabled them to do so via the Mahele. Oops! Timeline error, timeline error! The Mahele was not a result of foreigners "gobbling" up land! How could it be? Before the Mahele, the King owned, controlled, ruled (whatever) all the land. "Gobbling" by foreigners wasn't possible. But with the Mahele, he made it all possible! "Thank you King old boy!!!" "You sure screwed your kanaka maoli good!" You see, he really didn't give a hoot about them. He set up the Land Commission to go around and hear the claims of kanaka maoli for their kuleana, their homes, but allowed the process to be so difficult and foreign to them that many never applied. Screwed again! You really should be writing horrible things about your royalty as they set the table for all that has happened.

Joan said...

Thanks, Anon. 6:40m for your praise and I appreciate your contribution about the use of cameras and videos as chilling free speech. I'll have to check into that. Maybe I'll ask the Chief to respond in his column.

As for a legal fund, alas, I know of none, and the Planet Kauai guy wouldn't be of any help, anyway, as he's not licensed to practice law in Hawaii. He just interprets it.

Anonymous said...

If there are virtually any native Hawaiian rights being trampled there, the Native Hawaii Legal Corporation (NHLC) will take the case. If Ka‘iulani has any sort of claim to the property herself, the NHLC will take her case for free. If she has no semblence of a valid claim, such a a break in title where she might be a descendent of someone who died and never signed off on the deed, the NHLC will fight for her. If she can show that her rights as a "friend of the court" are in danger of being violated by the actions of the developer, the NHLC just might help. So, if the NHLC won't touch it, it has to make one think. In light of Chief Perry's words yesterday, it would seem that there's room for arguement here. If Brescia went through all the "right" legal motions in gettig an entitlement to build, then it seems the the law is self-contradicting and needs to be addressed. It will be an "interesting" case to say the least.

Katy Rose said...

Anonymous 11:46 sounds like the same "anonymous" who has posted elsewhere about the plight of the Marquesans post-contact with Tahitians.

My memory could be faulty, but I think I recall something from kindergarten about "two wrongs don't make a right," and the bankruptcy of arguments like "He did it first!"

Let the Marquesans and the Tahitians work it out while we of European descent look at our own history and current status and take responsibility for it.

That seems pretty simple to me.

Anonymous said...

If the Hawaiians are to be forgiven and given a free pass on genocide and destroying the resident cxulture that was already here when they came, then the U.S. should be as well. Except that the U.S. didn't perpetrate genocide and the viral contamination was an accident; not intentional mayhem like the Tahitians perpetrated. The idea of two wrongs...often doesn't hold water in many cultures and in court where two wrongs often settle the argument and everyone walks away even.

Anonymous said...

A lot of time world politics, such as the issues discussed here, are very much like kindergarten. I'm sure the Hawaiians had their own forms of retribution established for dealing with perpetrators of wrong. They didn’t have the liberal concept back then that criminals are misunderstood and should be rehabilitated instead of punished for their crimes. But the world and international law was very different in the 1800s, just like it was different when the Romans conquered Europe or Genghis Kahn the east. Is Japan crying about Admiral Perry forcing himself on them? Don’t think so. They’ve benefitted from the Europeans’ technology and went to town with it. They even benefitted after WW2 and became a world power again all with the help of Europeans. But your dissident Hawaiian friends prefer to wish things were as they were 200 years ago and that they should get a chance to change history and prevent their ali'i from selling them out. they want to be given a free ride when they have as much opportunity today to make something of themselves as anyone and not be doled out land and money for sitting on their butts. No these losers want to turn back the clock and change the way the world was. Well, it ain’t gonna happen!

Katy Rose said...

Gosh, I'm tired of free-loading lazy rich white people with unearned privilege telling everybody else what to do and expecting the world to throw down the red carpet for them everywhere they go. I'm tired of the way they call getting born on third base "hitting a triple." I'm tired of being told that if we're not "successful" like them we're either lazy or stupid when the smartest and hardest working people I know and spend time with every day are struggling to get by and often "hustling backwards" in today's wonderful rich white man economy. I'm tired of their pretty words in public about the "free market" and "opportunity" and "prosperity" and their ugly racist screeds under cover of anonymity on the internet.
I'm tired of them, yeah, but I'm never to tired to fight them.

Anonymous said...

Awww...you should go to your workers’ paradise with your good ol' buddy Hugo Ch├ívez in Venezuela. I'm sure the workers there have a high standard of living and get paid for how hard they work, not for how productive they are. Now that's fair. lol

Listen Katy girl...I worked my entire life in career job for 10+ hours a day without overtime and I did quite well in it just like many of us here. So your little paradigm of the idle rich is just that...a fantasy. It's called retirement! There aren’t very many trust babies here on Kauai like you’d like to think there are. You have to construct your fantasy because you can't stand it that many people have earned a lot more than you, were WAY more productive and valuable than you. Sorry you feel that way. Jealousy hurts I'll bet. Sucks to be you! Tired? Go to bed and dream about all the things you'll never experience.

Katy Rose said...

What you don't seem to get is that I don't want to be wealthy, and most hard-working people I know aren't interesting in expoliting other people in order to get wealthy, but we are all pretty justifiably angry that what used to ensure a decent standard of living - a secure home, a vacation once a year, educational opportunity for the kids, decent health care, savings for emergency, time to relax, time with the kids - now gets most of us just more debt and insecurity as the wealth is further redistributed up and inequality grows.

Perhaps that's acceptable to you, either because you struck it rich or because you're happy just sitting at your master's feet under the banquet table being fed scraps, but it's not okay for the rest of us who believe that hard work should ensure a secure living.

I hope you really are rich because I can't figure out why you would be carrying water for the people who are screwing you if you're not.

Joan said...

Anonymous wrote: "I think there are 1st amendment cases that forbid police from photographing lawful protesters."

I checked with an attorney who said he was not aware of any such cases and that as far as he knew, "there is nothing illegal about cops or anyone else taking photos of people from a public vantage point (unless they're sticking the camera through a fence, where someone may have a "reasonable expectation of privacy"'---a Fourth Amendment term)."

Anonymous said...

Katy! You're such a joke! You’re so used to spouting off socialist rhetoric that you don’t even know when it makes you a hypocrite! You're saying having a productive business where people find great value in your work and will pay you good money for it equates to exploiting other people? Like people don't have free will to use the contractor of their choice…where they find the most value? Well, then your evil contracting husband should get out of his business, because it's (at least marginally) profitable and therefore is "exploiting" other people. You have the “profit” word but choose to seek it as a living! HYPOCRITE! When your go spouting off in blogs you’re just choosing to not get it because it doesn't fit your argument of the moment and your socialist paradigm that you espouse but haven’t the courage to follow.

And if you’re poor, then don’t give me the crap that you choose to be that way because you won’t charge a market rate for work. LOL! If you can’t make a good living here on contracting then you’re a pretty sorry case and probably should fold up and go lick someone’s bootstraps yourself! Of course, you’re licking the bootstraps of everyone your clients. Taste good?

Maybe you guys aren't doing very well because not enough people find value in what you do…enough for you to make more than just a bare living. Hard work doesn’t mean that you do a good job. I guess people have to be pretty desperate to use your services. Worse for you, in an economic downturn, you’ll be amongst the first businesses to go belly up and blame it all on everyone else: the government, the rich, etc., never taking responsibility for your own situation, your own choices, and your own actions. Typical loser mentality! That’s why you ARE a loser!

You obviously, resent other business people who provide services or products that are more popular, more in demand than yours. They work more efficiently, are more reliable, do better work and, therefore, are more valuable to their clients. I love how you liberals think free will is a myth and that people aren’t unable to make their own choices their own decisions in life. You can choose to live in the ghetto or take a bus and start elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Did anybody see the King of the Hill episode where Hank volunteered at the grocery coop because it had superior steaks?

As a businessman himself he was able to turn the coop's fortunes around to the point that he recieved a panicked phone call from the hippies who worked there asking him what all the money in the cash register was. He said, "That's profit."

"Profit?!" exclaimed one hippy lady, "Ew! I think I touched it."

Another asked, "What should we do with it?"

They debated how to rid themselves of the evil profit until one offered, "Lets break the window and pay for a new one out of the profits!"

Anonymous said...

LOL!!!

Katy Rose said...

Well, 11:55, I'm not going to give a bunch of information to you about my life, even though you seem so charming, but I feel alright about the fact that we do our best to live in the world in a fair and just way. It doesn't always pay well, but it pays in other ways.

Again, I believe that most people can recognize that "the American dream" is really slipping away as macro-economic forces have increased the inequality of wealth.

I don't believe it's fair that blue collar wages have not kept up with expenses and so working class people are working harder and longer hours for less. They didn't all stop doing a good job, either, as productivity figures in the US demonstrate. Nobodyy ever thought blue collar wages would make people rich, but there was a reasonable expectation, thanks to unionization, that the wages would provide stability, comfort and educational opportunities for the next generation.

I don't believe it's fair that small businesses have it as tough as they do. I'm not arguing that every small business has what it takes, but it's easy to see that it could be easier for decent ones to survive even while paying living wages and decent benefits. It's a shame that so many small businesses can only survive by paying less-than-living wages to their employees.

And now, without a single-payer health-care system, adequate health insurance for an employee costs employers a few dollars an hour, which is phenomenally expensive. The boost to small business by a shift to single-payer would be great.

I hope free-market capitalism is treating you well. I'm not too worried about how it's treating me personally - I'm concerned about the effects on people overall.
Eugene Debs once said he did not want to rise from his class, he wanted to rise with it. I feel that way too.

And yes, I'm as much of a hypocrite as an anti-communist Soviet dissident in the USSR was back in the day. Hated communism, but lived in a communist system and therefore practiced communism while working against it.

If you would like to share with us the ways in which you might be a hypocrite also, we'd all love to hear it....or are you one of those perfect people?

Anonymous said...

"That's total Bs and everyone knows it! The ”native Hawaiian” heirs of Kamehameha I sold off lots of Kauai land after the Great Mahele with clear title but with the sole exception of the right of "native Hawaiians" to gather for subsistence on lands "less than fully developed." These rights are clearly spelled out in all Hawaii title reports and buyers are fully informed. So, say all you want anon., it doesn't make it true. It merely serves to reveal either your ignorance of historical fact or your own propensity for lying.

For your own edification, try reading the Mahele and then looking up all the Kauai lands that Princess Victoria Kamamalu Ka'ahumanu sold off to support her lavish lifestyle. It’s the kanaka maoli’s own revered royalty who divided up the land and cashed in by selling off large parcels to foreigners. Again, historical fact.

DOH!"

Such anger...no need for that. Now that you let it out let it go. To show such anger reveals that you are feeling helpless. Attack me if you like but know this, no matter how much you rant and rave and say things like "It merely serves to reveal either your ignorance of historical fact or your own propensity for lying." we are every day taking our land back. Land that Wal-Mart bought on Oahu had to be given back to the lawful Kanaka owner. Why? Because we can. Because the U.S. private corporation, the U.S. Military knows full well that there never was a transfer of jurisdiction. You do not have clear title and there may come a time when you will either have to work with the Kanaka that owns the property that your house sits on or leave. Tone yourself down, it comes from fear. Fear of losing that which you probably worked so hard on. I cannot apologize to you. You must seek remedy from that corporation which commited this crime against you, the private corporation, the U.S. Military. We ask all that are vesting up their Palapala Sila Nui to practice Aloha and let the people who have houses on their private kuleana stay but with this kind of attitude it may be hard to work with you.

Anonymous said...

"has a tin ear for undertones."

A direct attack. Denotes fear. Don't be fearful we have treaties in place between the U.S. (de jure not the private corporation U.S. Military) and Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

"No these losers want to turn back the clock and change the way the world was. Well, it ain’t gonna happen!"

"They are not one and the same. You might want to look that up on the (Oh, My Gosh!) Ko Hawaiia Pae Aina website: http://kohawaiipaeaina.net/. It may confuse you a little with its poor choice of words and grammar, but it’s essentially correct."

Jibberish Drivel. If we can take land from Wal-Mart away just by vesting up lawful paperwork we can take it away from you too. And Brescia. Kaiulani just give her a call and it's a done deal. Have Kaonohi clue you in.

Anonymous said...

Wow! It was fun and entertaining reading all this stuff! Lot's of fear though.