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.