When Koko and I went out into the night, the white half moon was high in the sky, and close to sparkling Jupiter, but by the time we got up, both had set and Venus was just a soft glow low on the eastern horizon.
The sky slowly turned a hazy pink, melting away the stars, and though the air had the coolness of dawn, it felt heavy, thick, languid, like it belonged somewhere other than windward Kauai in late October.
It seems that some folks are thinking the new county landfill belongs somewhere other than Kalaheo.
I hadn’t really paid much attention to the issue until farmer Jerry told me quite a while back that the acreage selected as the new repository of Kauai’s waste is part of the parcel that A&B designated as Important Ag Lands.
That’s right. Kauai was the very first place in the state to have acreage designated as IAL, and it just so happens to be Mayor Carvalho’s very first choice for the new landfill.
As Jerry and I discussed, if that’s indicative of the kind of value placed on the highly acclaimed IAL, what can we expect for the non-IAL? And what does this say about Kauai’s commitment to agriculture?
Even after Jerry shared that little nugget, I didn’t have time to dig into the issue. But it returned to the forefront of my consciousness when a friend called to alert me to a new blog, Protect & Preserve Kalaheo Umi, that appears to be primarily devoted to the landfill issue. It’s unclear just who is behind the blog, given the cryptic nature of the info in the profile, but I hear tell it’s Kauai Coffee, which is none too pleased at the prospect of having a landfill smack dab in the middle of its operations.
Anyway, I took advantage of a recent interview with Councilman Jay Furfaro to question him about the landfill. He brought up the topic when I asked what he found frustrating about his job. He replied, "clarifying misperceptions," and then used as an example the many emails he’s received from citizens irate that the Council had picked the Kalaheo site.
“We didn’t,” he said. “That’s an administrative process. We hold the purse strings.”
And that’s where the pick may run into problems. Jay said the question now is whether the land will turn out to be too expensive, seeing as how it will take 127 acres out of coffee production.
“Will the owners (A&B) want to pursue loss of revenue?” Jay wondered. “What about the infrastructure they put in? Will they want to recover those investments?”
Equally important, Jay said, is “it’s contrary to the point we’re trying to make about preserving good ag lands.”
It does seem to turn the whole IAL process into a bit of a farce.
Jay also mentioned he really wished the county had done a plan about water resources before jumping into the IAL study. “No water, no ag, no food,” he said, noting that a grower in Kilauea who ships out 1 million restaurant servings of lettuce a year is struggling for water since Kaloko dam was breached.
It seems to be a pattern here on Kauai to not quite think things through, and then the subsequent actions become a bit of a farce. I wonder if Bernard will end up taking some political hits on his landfill choice. A&B is a powerful enemy.
On another note, I’ve been disappointed to see Sen. Gary Hooser taking some political hits for his willingness to speak out against shortening the school year.
And as Ian Lind noted in his blog post yesterday, Honolulu Advertiser reporter Derrick DePledge is playing right into it.
In his front page coverage of the issue, which racked up a pile of comments, DePledge notes:
In private, some lawmakers are disappointed by what they see as political posturing by some of their colleagues, including some seeking higher office next year.
DePledge then goes on to identify only the higher office aspirations of Hooser and Congressman Neil Abercrombie, even though other politicians cited in the story have their own political agendas.
So does that mean that a person with an eye toward higher office shouldn’t take a stand on a controversial issue? Or that if he does, he’s insincere and only posturing?
Shoots, even the U.S. Secretary of Education has come out against the plan, making it clear that we are risking federal grants by doing so.
In addition, my department has $5 billion for competitive grants to advance school reform. The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund will reward states that are leading the way in reform and making education a priority. The $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund will go to districts that are advancing research-based programs to improve student achievement.
We might as well kiss that cash goodbye.
Secretary Duncan also outlined the federal contribution to Hawaii’s educational system:
My department has already made $105 million available to Hawaii from this stabilization fund. Hawaii is eligible for $52 million more when we release the rest of those funds later this year. In total, Hawaii's schools and students are scheduled to receive more than $500 million from the Recovery Act.
It costs just $85 million to restore the 17 days. Where has the money gone? Where is the rest of it going? Why are so many of our political leaders quiet on the issue?
And why is so little being said, in The Advertiser and elsewhere, about the whole issue of the stimulus money?
If you'd like to take action, visit the petition site or kanuhawaii.org.