I woke in the night to the comforting sound of rain hammering on the roof, but by morning it was merely dripping from the trees and so Koko and I got out and went walking through wet grass and puddles that soon soaked my shoes and her belly, though neither of us minded a bit.
The bird song was loudly exuberant along our route, and as we returned, I caught the sun peeking out of a gold-crested cloud, glinting through the trees, which caused all their clinging raindrops to glisten like jewels as a Hwamei repeated a simple, yet richly melodic, tune.
Actor Piece Brosnan, meanwhile, is sounding the call to protect whales from commercial hunting. His appeal was made in a mass email sent out by Richard Diamond with the subject line: Pierce Brosnan Request – Save the Whales. It made me want to send out my own request: Pierce Brosnan — Save the Beach. Yes, he’s one of those Wainiha land owners whose gardeners are busily vegetating the public beach in front of his oceanfront house.
Speaking of oceanfront, The Garden Island gushed that a developer has given the county 138 acres of land makai of the Lihue Airport north-south runway “free of charge.”
Well, I could guess you could say it’s “free” if you don’t count the $1.4 billion, 400-unit Kauai Lagoons Resort timeshare projects he gets to build in return. The county is such a good negotiator. It also squeezed that developer to build 82 “affordable” rental units at Waipouli, where lease-ups are languishing because the units are, well, unaffordable.
The county’s parks and rec department, meanwhile, is saying it simply can’t afford to allow dogs on the entire length of the Path because of the maintenance requirements. Instead, it’s proposing to allow them on a 2.54-mile segment north of the Kealia lookout, even though the Council is considering Tim Bynum's ordinance to go the whole distance.
In reviewing the power point presentation made to the Council on the subject, I was struck by how differently county workers and members of the public feel about the issue. While some 97 percent of Path-users surveyed felt dogs should continue to be allowed on the path, just 21 percent of the 29 staff members polled agreed. A whopping 62 percent said no, citing such reasons as:
You don’t how safe that dog.
One grievance already has been filed, although the cause wasn’t noted.
I got the presentation because I had asked county public information officer Mary Daubert how many citations were issued on the Path after receiving a report that an unidentified Councilman had ordered a step up in enforcement, and rangers were reportedly “hiding in bushes” and handing out citations right and left.
I’m not sure a Councilman holds that kind of sway with Parks and Rec, but I checked it out and found that between Dec. 1, 2008 and Feb. 24, 2010, a period of 15 months, five citations were issued to people who had dogs in areas where they aren’t allowed. But in the past two months, 11 citations were handed out for that same offense. Kealia Beach seems to be the hot spot for tickets.
What I found more interesting than the citation figures, however, was how much people power has gone into this one relatively insignificant issue. Some 25 persons served on the “Dog Path Task Force,” and 11 “committed” volunteers surveyed 533 Path users and observed conditions on the Path, even counting every pile (65) of dog poo.
Then there’s the time. Park rangers, animal wardens and volunteers spent more than 1,000 hours over 13 months patrolling that 2.02-mile section of the Path, and it's unknown how much county and Humane Society staff time has been diverted. The Council has devoted countless hours to hashing it out, and it's not done yet. And standing-room only crowds have taken time out of their day to offer testimony on numerous occasions.
All in all, it prompted a friend who works at The Garden Island and I to wonder what Kauai would be like if folks devoted a similar amount of time and energy to the really big issues that affect this island.