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.”