Friday, October 30, 2009

Musings: Incremental Change

I’ve been buried in work this past week, and upon surfacing briefly, find that many of the same old issues are being revisited, albeit with a slightly different twist. It made me think of a conversation I had yesterday with Jan TenBruggencate about incremental change: it’s maddeningly frustrating to those of us who know that more drastic measures are needed now, but better than nothing.

Up in Wainiha, for example, another landowner is getting ready to build a home along “iwi alley” —aka Alealea Road — just a few lots down from where Joseph Brescia is building his home on a site with at least 31 burials. Good old Walton Hong is representing this off-island landowner, too, in his quest to build just as close to the ocean as he possibly can.

And once again, the North Shore `Ohana is appealing his certified shoreline, as it did with Brescia’s, while again sounding the alarm against planting yet another dense hedge of naupaka along a beach that is eroding so rapidly, it won’t be long before public access is near-on impossible when the surf is really high.

But the planning commission, to its credit, does seem to have learned something from the Brescia debacle, where it granted final approval before all the conditions of his permit were met. This allowed him to start building before the Burial Council had approved a burial treatment plan. As The Garden Island reports:

However, this time, the commission granted only preliminary approval to a building, location, material and design plan for landowner Craig Dobbin and will require him to return — after satisfying all of the permit’s conditions, including measures in place to mitigate potential burial issues — before considering final approval.

Then there’s the sorry story of old Jimmy Pflueger, whose attorneys have hammered out an undisclosed settlement in the March 2006 breach of Kaloko dam that killed seven people and an unborn baby. I found the comments of one attorney, as reported by The Garden Island, rather interesting:

“I’d say it’s a good day for justice,” said Teresa Tico, attorney for some of the victims’ families. The settlement is “very important” to her clients, who lost loved ones and for whom Thursday’s actions before 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe “finally brings closure,” said Tico.

I know money is great and all that, but wouldn’t you think “justice” and “closure” would follow resolution of the criminal case, which is supposed to determine whether Jimmy was at fault, and then punish him if he was? It’s more like yesterday was a good day for the 14 attorneys who were in the courtroom.

Meanwhile, the bizarre workings — and I use the term loosely — of the Charter Commission continue to be played out in the press, with Ethics Commissioner Rolf Bieber jumping into the fray by staging a “one man protest” against Charter Commissioner Barbara Bennett’s use of the term Ku Klux Klan to describe county manager proponents.

Barbara later distanced herself from the comment, but did go on to say, according to The Garden Island:

”I am totally for this proposal,” she said. “I keep telling these guys that I will bring it to ballot. ‘I support you.’ I wish they would stop.

“You won’t get people to come and volunteer to do the work when there’s this type of harassment,” Bennett said, adding that she has been “bashed and abuse” by “derogatory” “skepticism” almost to the point of “mental torture.”


She raises a good point. No volunteers — as all commissioners are — should be subjected to “mental torture.” That should be saved for those in paid positions only.

I’m not quite sure why people are so fanatical about the county manager concept, anyway. As a reporter, I’ve covered municipalities that had such a position and others that didn’t, and I saw no difference in how they functioned. They were no more accountable than an elected official; in fact, they were less so.

And anyway, I think the idea faces a very hard sell on Kauai, where a number of locals have told me they’re against the idea as it means some mainland haole will end up coming over here and running the island, and that’s exactly what they don’t want.

And finally, Counterpunch picked up the depleted uranium issue, with writer Dave Lindorff noting that the Big Island, where much of this stuff is located, at Pohakuloa, “has the highest cancer rates for the Hawaiian archepelago.”

I’ve heard that reported anecdotally, but have yet to see the evidence, which Lindorff did not provide. Still, Lindorff did make a good point when he said:

The bottom line is that at the same time that US government is continuing to warn about the danger of terrorists acquiring the materials to make a “dirty” bomb that could spread radioactive material in the US, the US military has for years been doing exactly that, and continues to do so, with no intention to clean up its messes, many of which are allowing depleted uranium to percolate into ground water or flow down streams to more populated areas.

I guess it goes back to the old, “takes one to know one.”

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think Pfleuger's criminal case is over. Only the civil case settled.

Anonymous said...

nice post joan,

as a supporter of the concept it's not so much that i'm fanatical about the 'county manager system' but the change that may come about from it.
government has many flaws and 'the grass is always greener' with an alternative to the percieved and actual corruption of the status quo.

i think, in conjunction w/ elected council members from districts, these two shifts in our local legislative and administrative procesess we may have better outcomes from our county government.

the big issue as well is how do our boards and commissions function; from all the drama w/planning, charter and ethics one could argue poorly. mahalos to the diamonds, stoessels and robersons who try their best to educate the public and influence the decision makers. mickens and beiber need all the help can muster. i wish dr chuan was in better shape to assist these nitpickers.

next to the iwi at naue and the county's timidity to halt all construction there,the DU issue is the scariest tick or treat story yet. when will we ever learn?

enjoy those goblins, boo,.......jt

Anonymous said...

Joan said, "I’m not quite sure why people are so fanatical about the county manager concept, anyway."

Fanatical? Where did that descriptor come from? The same place that "KKK", "HOP Sing", and "Manila taxi stand" came from? Demonize and humiliate, and then claim you are suffering "mental torture"? I have read Beiber, Lewis, Stossel, et al and IMHO none of them are "fanatical" about the county manager issue, but rather livid about the ongoing corruption practices and lack of transparency both paid and volunteer officials use to maintain power. Don't forget these volunteers are "selected" by those in power, and "removed" if they don't play along. How many volunteers that were better qualified were rejected because they had a tendency to "think for themselves", "not be a team player"? Rolf seems to be a person of integrity, so I will be absolutely stunned if he is reappointed. Asking people to follow the law and objecting when they don't seems to make one a "fanatic" that resorts to "mental torture", and these accusations coming from racists scofflaws doing the bidding of those who appointed them. I guess that's why both Mandela and Gandhi will go down in history as fanatical terrorist mentally torturing public officials and their "volunteer" proxies.

BTW - Until people understand the above dynamics and remove these corrupt people, Joan is right, a County Manager form of government will make about as much difference as putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound! As Jonathan Chun insessantly said "whats the problem?" I don't see a problem. Do you see a problem?

Casey said...

I don't know much about the county manager issue, but I have heard that the concept is useful. Here in Berkeley, CA, the city manager is widely credited with keeping finances in order during the current crisis. I find that remarkable, considering how much the Berkeley city council likes to spend.

Anonymous said...

The political arena leaves no alternative, one must either be a dunce, a rogue, a eunuch, or replaced.

Anonymous said...

Big difference in those Wainiha lots.
No burials on the Dobbins lot. The north shore ohana has had it's day as KD has been exposed of telling falsehoods to support the NSO's position.
Naupaka grows naturally on the beaches, and in the "rain forest" of Wainiha it grows like crazy...

Anonymous said...

"I know money is great and all that, but wouldn’t you think “justice” and “closure” would follow resolution of the criminal case, which is supposed to determine whether Jimmy was at fault, and then punish him if he was? It’s more like yesterday was a good day for the 14 attorneys who were in the courtroom."

Yea thatʻs a fairly good observation,Joan.

And didnʻt someone say that Tico didnʻt want anything argued about this until her clients got paid/that she didnʻt want any other actions interfering in her lawsuit?

To hell with justice, I guess sometimes it can just wait its turn.
And Iʻm NOT saying Phleuger was at fault because there were a lot of others with dirty hands too.

Anonymous said...

" I don't think Pfleuger's criminal case is over. Only the civil case settled."
October 30, 2009 8:58 AM


Wasnʻt that Joanʻs point?????

How can the civil be decided when the fault hasnʻt been determined??????

charley foster said...

How can the civil be decided when the fault hasnʻt been determined??????

Because legally guilty and civilly liable are two different things with different burdens of proof. In his criminal trial, OJ Simpson was not found beyond a reasonable doubt to have killed Nicole Brown Simpson. However, in his civil trial it was found by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not) that his actions were the proximate cause of her death.

Anonymous said...

Foster said, "Because legally guilty and civilly liable are two different things with different burdens of proof"

"Different things"? You mean different games with different rules? Law and justice should not be confused with each other for they too are "different things". Law is a tyrannical tool of oppression by those in power. If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it, or avoid getting caught. OJ? They tried to frame a guilty man.

Anonymous said...

"Law is a tyrannical tool of oppression by those in power."

Tell it to Richard Nixon.

Anonymous said...

"Charter Commissioner Barbara Bennett’s use of the term Ku Klux Klan to describe county manager proponents."

-- a kkk analogy? not impressive


"number of locals have told me they’re against the idea as it means some mainland haole will end up coming over here and running the island, and that’s exactly what they don’t want [b/ some incompetent people would be fired, there would be fewer county jobs period, and it is thought -- with some justification -- that an outsider will not be able and/or inclined to relate to, understand, and solve the problems of the 'local' people]"


"evidence, which Lindorff did not provide"

-- big shocker. hurry up with the DU court cases so they can get thrown out as junk science, or ruled in

and if interested, cancer clusters 101: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/clusters/


res_ipsa_loquitur

Roger Helbig said...

So Dave Lindorff fabricates lies and Joan Conroe requotes them thus making the lies true! Well, that's the logic. Lindorff has a picture on another site of a common mortar round of some sort. He claims it is the DU in the Davey Crockett training rounds that were fired over four decades ago and then forgotten. They are not just like the rest of his claimed journalistic endeavor is basically fiction. Don't believe these fanatic liars, go learn the science, start with the natural uranium content of Hawaii's soil; then learn about the long classified and even longer forgotten Davy Crockett program and realistically assess that you have nothing to fear from it and that the Army is really about to waste your tax dollars on a massive scale because of liars like Lindorff, Conroe and other Hawaiian activists. Wouldn't you rather have that money actually be used for something useful like healthcare or reseach into helping soldiers recover from or cope with traumatic brain injury or PTSD?

Anonymous said...

Just so we are clear about the reality of Mr. Dobbins lot and the possible iwi presence, they excavated the lot a mere 5 percent to a depth of .67m - 1.30 meters. Archeologist Micheal Dega now reccommends monitoring for all ground disturbing activity due to the HIGH likelihood of finding burials. Without digging to the depth where iwi could remain results in any future discovered burials as "inadvertant" discoveries. Which allows them to bypass the burial concil.

Prior to 1983 the wainiha subdivision was all one lot, including Mr. dobbins lot as a part of Naue, which has now been idetified as an ancient Hawaiian burial ground.


With that in mind one must question the adaquacy of the AIS just presented by Hong.

charley foster said...

Law is a tyrannical tool of oppression by those in power.

As with so many sweeping generalizations, this one doesn't stand up well to a sideways glance of scrutiny. It's hard to see how the 'law-is-just-another-word-for-tyranny' platitude applies in this situation in which a rich land owner is charged with murder and has agreed to pay restitution to the families of the people whose deaths he is accused of causing.

Anonymous said...

" ...as a part of Naue, which has now been idetified as an ancient Hawaiian burial ground."
Fishing grounds, ag areas, living space, religious sites and all the activities that human do while they are alive.
The burials extend from the Colony Beach to He'e Beach. They drive over them daily, build their houses over and around them.What

We don't do is fail to respect the ancestors and their achievements. It's the living that are hard to comprehend.

Anonymous said...

""Different things"? You mean different games with different rules? Law and justice should not be confused with each other for they too are "different things". Law is a tyrannical tool of oppression by those in power. "

No, Mr Foster was referring to different burdens of proof are required in civil (money) cases and criminal (jail) cases. Each type of case has different rules for good reasons. And as for law as a tool of tyranny - try the opposite. Law protects us all from tyranny, and many would argue that it is the only reason the world is even remotely civilized.

Law is the reason that child labor is banned, law is how women got the right to vote, law is why there is no slavery. It is why rich and poor murderers go to prison, polluters get stopped and development is subject to pre-construction scrutiny. Those who wish for pure freedom with no law to check it naively forget about how many really bad people are out there. Good that this blog provides a forum for some uneducated moron to rant about how law is tyranny - but without law that ignorant ranter would probably be a slave.