Friday, May 1, 2009

Musings: Small Miracles

Sometimes when you most need it, life gives you those windows of beauty and joy, like yesterday afternoon, when I was headed home from the North Shore and really wanted to jump in the water, but it was raining all the way. I pulled into the parking lot, anyway, and just then the rain stopped, leaving a rainbow, which arced over me the entire time I was swimming, and when Koko and I had returned to the car, only then did the rain start up again.

And this morning, when Koko and I went walking and I was already preoccupied with unhelpful thoughts and the clouds were dense and gray, holding little promise of a sky show or color, and then I turned and saw a surrealistic patch of sun-washed green and realized it was the slopes of Waialeale, sandwiched in between the silvery pile ups at the mountain’s summit and base.

Small miracles, both, and they completely transformed my attitude, much like the press release in my inbox from Rep. Mele Carroll’s office announcing that a bill requiring two-thirds approval of the Lege to sell any of the so-called “ceded lands" passed in conference committee.

It’s a compromise, but given the difficulty of achieving that kind of majority, at least it will help forestall the continued erosion of the Hawaiian nation’s land base until its claims can be resolved.

Still unresolved is Joe Brescia’s civil suit against a number of defendants, whom he claims cost him serious money when they objected to the house he’s building on a burial ground at Naue. Ka`iulani Huff and Andrew Cabebe will be in court this morning, seeking a reversal of the $380,000 default judgments leveled against each of them when they failed to answer the complaint.

Speaking of courts, I was over at Babylon yesterday morning and heard that Judge Randal Valenciano has imposed a dress code on female attorneys, requiring them to wear jackets and appropriate shoes. His rationale? As he told the attorneys, he was so busy looking at them and thinking of how poorly dressed they were he couldn’t focus on their arguments.

The complexities surrounding the argument for alternative fuels was highlighted in The New York Times, which yesterday ran an article on how on how military contractor Lockheed Martin is pursuing wave power technology.

Lockheed and a few other companies are pursuing ocean thermal energy conversion, which uses the difference in temperature between the ocean’s warm surface and its chilly depths to generate electricity.

Experts say that the balmy waters off Hawaii and Puerto Rico, as well as near United States military bases on islands like Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean or Guam in the Pacific, would be good sites for developing this type of energy.


Those “balmy waters” also happen to be near major military installations, and as the article further reports:

The Navy is also interested in the technology and in the next few months plans to award a contract to explore it, according to Whit DeLoach, a spokesman for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. As of last year, he said, the Navy had spent slightly more than $1 million to research the technology for Diego Garcia.

And perhaps you didn’t know that Gov. Lingle already announced a partnership between Lockheed and the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Taiwan to build a test plant in the Islands.

While the energy would be “free,” the Hawaii test plant, which the article says is “still far smaller than commercial scale” would cost $150 million to $250 million.

Then there’s the potential environmental impact. I worry about such things when the Navy is involved, because it has such a poor record in these issues and is nearly impossible to rein in.

First, there’s the visual blight of offshore platforms. Then there’s the process itself:

A huge amount of cold water would have to be pumped up from the depths. If that water, which is rich in nutrients, is discharged into a different part of the ocean, it could confuse fish and alter the balance of the ecosystem.

Mr. Varley of Lockheed also said that the warm water must be siphoned in slowly enough so that fish could swim away.

“We’ll have to put up screens, of course, on the intakes of the warm water so we don’t suck in marine mammals,” he said.


It seems like there really is no miracle source of clean, cheap, risk-free energy — except conservation. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, a kilowatt saved is a kilowatt earned.

Meanwhile, it looks like Hawaii has earned some unexpected benefits from Mexico’s swine flu misfortune, with tourism officials saying the islands have picked up half the rebookings from folks rethinking a vacation south of the border.

The news comes as the Lege is talking about throwing another $10 million at the Hawaii Tourism Authority to try and attract visitors who can’t afford to take a vacation, anyway.

And that gave me an idea. A friend who lives in Hanalei said he is repeatedly approached by tourists seeking marijuana. So why don’t we give it to them? We give them shark feeding tours and zip lining and mai tais at the hotel pool and beach front massages and helicopter tours and everything their little hearts’ desire — expect Maui Wowie, Kauai Electric and Kona Gold.

Just think how much money the state could generate if it dropped its Puritanical attitude and made akamai paka readily available to folks who would fly great distances for the chance to partake. If Constitutionally mandated programs like OHA and Hawaiian Homes are supposed to be financially independent, why not HTA?

I know it’s a long shot, because it makes too much sense. But hey, miracles can happen.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

"default judgments leveled against each of them when they failed to answer the complaint."

-- not responding to the complaint...dunno how smart that was


"he was so busy looking at them and thinking of how poorly dressed they were he couldn’t focus on their arguments. "

-- strange. agreed


"worry about such things when the Navy is involved" ... "visual blight "

-- caution is good, sure. but it would truly be a sad day if such a project were (truth be told) "shut down" b/ of there being a stationary object in the ocean view plane and (largely) political views on the US military / gov


"It seems like there really is no miracle source of clean, cheap, risk-free energy — except conservation. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, a kilowatt saved is a kilowatt earned."

-- good point


"A friend who lives in Hanalei said he is repeatedly approached by tourists seeking marijuana."

-- too funny!!!


good strong article. compliments

Dave Smith said...

Many probably don't remember that the Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii located at Keahole Point in Kona was originally established 35 years ago to test OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion) technology, the making of electricity from the differing temperatures of sea water.

But that has apparently fallen by the wayside. While the facility has continued to develop additional pipes to bring up both cold and warm water for new types of aquaculture, apparently OTEC isn't even on its radar anymore. The NELH web site doesn't even mention OTEC (except on its history page) and the facility has apparently moved on to trying to generate power through the manufacture of biofuel using algae.

Why the government would want to duplicate expensive equipment elsewhere is anybody's guess, and I suppose your point about closeness to military facilities is as good a one as any.

BTW, the technology is different from wave technology, but the link to the NYT article failed to work (it seems to no longer be on the NYT web site) so I wasn't able to see if that was also discussed.

Joan said...

Thanks for bringing that up, Dave. I knew this sounded vaguely familiar. The link is working now, but just in case, here's the url:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/30/business/energy-environment/30thermal.html

Anonymous said...

Anybody care to explain how this works...
Ka`iulani Huff and Andrew Cabebe will be in court this morning, seeking a reversal of the $380,000 default judgments leveled against each of them when they failed to answer the complaint.

Anonymous said...

Explain how which works, getting a default judgment, or asking a court to reconsider one?

Anonymous said...

Both. Why the default and what are the grounds for a reversal.

Anonymous said...

Hawaii Rules of Civil Procedure
Rule 55. DEFAULT.

(a) Entry. When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend as provided by these rules and that fact is made to appear by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk shall enter the party's default.

(b) Judgment. Judgment by default may be entered as follows:

(1) By the clerk. When the plaintiff's claim against a defendant is for a sum certain or for a sum which can by computation be made certain, the clerk upon request of the plaintiff and upon affidavit of the amount due shall enter judgment for that amount and costs against the defendant, if the defendant has been defaulted for failure to appear and is not an infant or incompetent person.

(2) By the court. In all other cases the party entitled to a judgment by default shall apply to the court therefor; but no judgment by default shall be entered against an infant or incompetent person unless represented in the action by a guardian, or other such representative who has appeared therein, and upon whom service may be made under Rule 17. If the party against whom judgment by default is sought has appeared in the action, the party (or, if appearing by representative, the party's representative) shall be served with written notice of the application for judgment at least 3 days prior to the hearing on such application. If, in order to enable the court to enter judgment or to carry it into effect, it is necessary to take an account or to determine the amount of damages or to establish the truth of any averment by evidence or to make an investigation of any other matter, the court may conduct such hearings or order such references as it deems necessary and proper and shall accord a right of trial by jury to the parties when and as required by any statute.

(c) Setting aside default. For good cause shown the court may set aside an entry of default and, if a judgment by default has been entered, may likewise set it aside in accordance with Rule 60(b).

Anonymous said...

In other words, if you get sued, the paperwork specifies the number of days (from when they were served) allowed for you to legally respond (get a lawyer, analyze the merits of the case, draft a response).

If you don't do this in the time provided WITHOUT JUST CAUSE DUE TO EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES then the court will issue a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

If they use the "we're not subject to fed or state law because we're native hawaiians and therefore didn't respond" ploy, I believe they will be screwed.

If so, the "we're not subject" position IS the argument that should have been made by their lawyer in the time allowed.

You can't just walk away from a lawsuit and expect nothing to happen.

Anonymous said...

That's provided service was proper.

Anonymous said...

Of course it assumes that the complaint was hand-delivered by a duly-appointed process server and a signature was received.

If this wasn't the case, then the court could reverse the summary judgment and allow another 30 days for a proper response.

Anonymous said...

"Of course it assumes that the complaint was hand-delivered by a duly-appointed process server and a signature was received."

-- eh, ya, thats one way to get proper service...but not the only way, of course. maybe no matter tho, from what i hear, the cts here kinda do what they wanna do...seemingly contravening civ pro and black letter law (and hey, nothing promotes a healthy business and investment environment better than a largely unpredictable local judiciary...nice..)

Anonymous said...

When they refer to the energy being ʻfreeʻ, I guess itʻs the haarp technology.

Now thatʻs scary. Maybe why Taiwan has to get involved. Why does Taiwan have to get involved?

Anonymous said...

Well, at any rate, I hope those trespassers get jumped on with both feet and lose that lawsuit.

Like him or not, I'm for Bresca.

irk said...

"Well, at any rate, I hope those trespassers get jumped on with both feet and lose that lawsuit.

Like him or not, I'm for Bresca.

May 3, 2009 6:37 PM"

Yeah! Ted Burkhart of BCO Construction will get paid several millions again for another speculative development, just two doors down from the last. That is the only reason you are for California developer Brescia.

Anonymous said...

I don't even live on Kauai (I'm on the BI) and don't know Ted or his current adventures.

I'm just anti-trespasser and pro-lawyer-assisted leverage. If someone did this to my acreage here, I'd sue them to the point where they wished their mothers never met their fathers. Their grandkids would be selling kidneys to pay for depositions.

Anonymous said...

May 4, 2009 9:06 AM

Sounds like you wouldnʻt hesitate selling one of your kids for a new car either.

You are just the problem; people like you donʻt have the thinking processes worthy enough to comprehend Hawaii nor worthy enough to reside here.

Oh, and by the way...you are a trespasser, in more ways than just walking on the aina.

Dawson said...

If someone did this to my acreage here, I'd sue them to the point where they wished their mothers never met their fathers. Their grandkids would be selling kidneys to pay for depositions.There ya go, aloha in action.

Dawson said...

If someone did this to my acreage here, I'd sue them to the point where they wished their mothers never met their fathers. Their grandkids would be selling kidneys to pay for depositions.There ya go, aloha in action.

Anonymous said...

Which kid do you want? I'll sell them both for a 40 foot boat.

Anonymous said...

Hawaii is the plaything of the mainland, primarily, and Europe and Japan secondarily. The military is the largest employer (go military! Kick ass and take names!)

You're shit out of luck thinking otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Trespasser, bullshit.

Sticks and stones....you don't have a viable legal leg to stand on.

You'll be lucky if we give you reservations.

Anonymous said...

A lotta people have their lawyers on speed-dial. It sure seems the "natives" do. Always whining about "their land", etc, etc.

Everyone's land was someone else's land before...and usually illegally, given enough history.

Move on. Get an education. Get a profession. Climb out of this "my land/your land" bullshit. Live where you can afford to, once you make some bucks.

Anonymous said...

Climb out of this "my land/your land" bullshit.So I guess you're not an advocate of private property rights.

Anonymous said...

I'm certainly an advocate of private property rights...as they are currently defined by the US Gov.

Who owns it NOW and has his rights protedted is what counts.

Anonymous said...

And if the US Gov takes something and declares it "mine" and subsequently sells it off to various parties, that's OK with me too.

What they take isn't likely to be mine because I'm part of "the system" and profit from it.

I'm OK with that.

Dawson said...

Don't say it can't happen here...

- - -

DEBATE ON TRUMP PROJECT TAKES THE LOW ROAD

ALMEDIE, Scotland — Since refusing to let Donald Trump buy his house, inconveniently located in the middle of Mr. Trump’s planned $1.5 billion development in the countryside here, Michael Forbes has had an unusual number of visits from local enforcement officers.

One, he said, came to see whether he was abusing his hens, his geese or his horse (he was not). Another came to see whether he had an unlicensed shotgun (he did not). And a third came to investigate reports that there was a flammable substance in an old tanker on his land (there was not).

Mr. Forbes, a fisherman and granite quarry worker who has lived here for 41 years, since he was 15, said he did not care and would not move, no matter who wanted him to. But the unpleasant attention he is getting, regardless of who is behind it, comes as no surprise to the scattered, battered opponents of Mr. Trump’s grand golf-and-housing project, which already has preliminary approval and may start construction early next year.

Bruised by a fruitless effort to block the plans, they are learning that in a time of financial misery, few people are sympathetic to arguments that appear to put the environment over the economy.

Mr. Trump swept in a few years ago and bought 1,400 acres here at the edge of the North Sea, eight miles from Aberdeen (Mr. Forbes’s 23-acre holding is part of the project site, on a fragile, frequently foggy, shifting sand dune). Mr. Trump pronounced it the perfect place to build two golf courses, a 450-bedroom hotel, 950 vacation homes, 500 single-family houses, a conference center and a golf academy.

Environmentalists across Scotland reacted with horror, arguing that the area had special environmental protection and that the project was far too big, anyway. But residents did not want to hear about the environment, and did not react kindly when a local planning committee voted to reject the plan.

The seven officials who voted “no” found themselves in an Aberdeen newspaper under the headline “You Traitors.” The paper Photoshopped their heads onto pictures of turnips, Scottish symbols of stupidity.

The decision was overturned, when the Scottish government in Edinburgh stepped in and convened its own planning inquiry, which approved the project.

Since then, Martin Ford, an elected official who as chairman of the local committee cast the deciding vote against the plan, has been stripped of the chairmanship and other committee posts. This has caused him to lose nearly half his previous annual income of about $40,000, he said.

He said he had been vindicated by hundreds of supportive e-mail messages and letters. In January, a Scottish architecture Web site and magazine gave the project one of its Carbuncle Cup prizes: the Pockmark Award for the worst planning decision of 2008.

Critics of the project are as bitterly against it as they always were, but with planning approval already granted there is not much they can do to stop it. They haven’t stopped trying, though. In March, for instance, a group of airport expansion opponents put on Donald Trump masks and briefly seized Aberdeen Airport (they were arrested).

None of this bothers Mr. Trump, who remains extremely pleased about the project and his ability to pay for it. (The recent unpleasantness, where Trump Entertainment Resorts went bankrupt, he says, had little to do with him because it was no longer his company.)

“This is probably the most unique piece of property in the world for what we’re doing,” he declared in a telephone interview. He added, “I just sold a house for $100 million in Palm Beach, though I don’t want to be bragging.”...


Full story at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/05/world/europe/05scotland.html?_r=1&hp

Joan said...

Poor Scotland. Thanks, Dawson.

Anonymous said...

Golf originated in Scotland! Of course they resent lilly liberals harshing on the object of their national pride.

Anonymous said...

Who owns it NOW and has his rights protected is what counts.

Ah there you go, you said it: who owns it now...if you think you own your property in Hawaii, think again. Itʻs already stated in law this land was never relinquished.

And if you choose to stand under the statement by a bush appointed Alito, who may or may not have a couple more brain cells than bush, youʻre just the sucker the US banks on.

(The brain cells. Actually itʻs hard to imagine a living human being with less brain cells than bush. I know my dog has more)

Anonymous said...

"if you think you own your property in Hawaii, think again."

-- nobody is buying that mantra, fyi


"bush appointed Alito, who may or may not have a couple more brain cells than bush, youʻre just the sucker the US banks on"

-- there is much irony in your throwing around the term "sucker," which ill leave be for now...but again, fyi - disagree with him as you will, but alito has a very sharp and penetrating legal mind (albeit too conservative for many americans for sure)


otherwise, nice job on the weakest comment here

May 1, 2009 1:24 PM

Anonymous said...

Actually itʻs hard to imagine a living human being with less brain cells than bush.
Do you mean fewer brain cells?