It’s starting to get light about 5:15 a.m. now, which means Koko and I are out and about shortly after, walking through a world that’s still mostly asleep, save for the birds, which are raucously joyful. As we walk, Koko sniffs the things she finds of interest — the place where pigs crossed the road, something invisible to my eyes in a clump of grass, a rooster that’s moldered into a pile of feathers — while I stop to smell the fragrance of angel’s trumpet and citrus blossoms.
Before us, clouds spilled over the top of Makaleha and Waialeale was buttoned up tight. Soon the sky began to fill with puffs of orange and the sun rose, fully visible in its golden roundness, its fiery brightness dimmed by the same haze that caused Kalepa and Haupu to shimmer, almost as if a fine shower were passing by.
The county appears to be passing John Tyler by for public praise in yet another expression of its liability paranoia, which is beginning to border on pathological. It’s hard to fathom that thanking someone for putting rescue tubes in beaches without lifeguards could somehow open the county up to liability, but such is the apparently off-the-cuff opinion of deputy county attorney Mauna Kea Trask.
“I just want to make sure we can avoid, through the benevolent action of commendating someone for that, we don’t passively put our seal of approval on that,” said Mauna Kea Trask, deputy county attorney, adding that hopefully it won’t be a problem.
Let’s just hope his legal reasoning is more grounded in reality than his reported use of “commendatating.” And let’s really hope his actions aren’t driven by lingering resentment over a certain public heckling incident at a Path meeting involving the very same man whose rescue tubes have saved a dozen lives.
Speaking of the Path, The Garden Island today has a piece about how the debate over it is a sign of Kauai’s growing pains. It quotes Councilman Derek Kawakami making a comment he repeated on my radio show last Thursday:
“Before we had this bike path, it was an old cane road, where you could do whatever you wanted — ride your horse, walk your dog, walk your cat, walk your pig, litter, leave the dog doodoo — and it was just wild,” Kawakami said.
So why, if people were previously able to do all those things without anyone getting killed, maimed, sued or horribly offended, must their activities be so tightly regulated now that the same walkway has been replaced with concrete and incorporated into the county park system?
As I’ve said time and again, the path along Kawaihau Road is truly multi-use and so far as I know, entirely unregulated, yet it seems to be functioning just fine. So maybe the problem lies not in “growing pains” or dogs or even doggie doodoo, but enfolding it into the county park system, with its myriad rules and unionized work force.
Which raises the question, will the Path turn out to be a “lei around the island,” or a concrete choker in the chokehold of the county?
Getting back to Derek, farmer Jerry, who called the other day to weigh in with his response — “yes, people are inherently good” — to a question raised on my last post, mentioned that Derek told him he used to read my blog, but had stopped because “it’s hurtful.”
I don’t think Derek necessarily meant it was hurtful to him personally, because he hasn’t really been targeted here, but hurtful in general, and it’s true, it sometimes is, and sometimes I feel badly about that, because I am essentially a kind-hearted person. I’ve made a conscious effort to tone down the vitriol and hold back some of the poison arrows that fly so easily from my bow, but I know that sometimes people do take “some serious cracks” — to borrow Mel Rapozo’s words and personal experience — here and in the comment section.
Still, in at least one instance the public shunning had a positive effect. Just about a year ago, I wrote a post about an incident involving a young Hawaiian friend who had been stopped from fishing by Mark Barbanell, who owns vacation rentals along the Wainiha River. In the comment section of a subsequent post, Mark did indeed take some serious cracks.
So when I got a phone call from him one night, I braced myself for the worst. He was mad, but he was also hurt, and I felt badly as he described how he felt reading all the things that had been written about him. I was about to apologize when he said, but you know, it was a good thing, because it really made me examine myself and how I come off to others.
As a result of that self-examination, Mark said he had made some changes in his actions and behavior, and he had also made things right with the young fisherman. He even ended up thanking me for writing this blog, and said he felt it was a public service.
So while I understand where Derek is coming from, and respect the civility and kindness I’ve seen him display, in a small community like ours, there is some value to naming names and calling a spade a spade and holding people accountable for their actions. And sometimes, as in the readers' comments about Derek, that results in kudos, not cracks.