Out in the night, stars brilliant, air cool, clouds hugging the edges. In the 5 a.m. darkness, rain arrives, heavy and hard, departing as the sky begins to brighten. Koko and I venture out, past the heady fragrance of honohono and into the open where a mass of white fleece over Waialeale glows rosy pearlescent, as if illuminated by a hidden flame, alongside a rainbow shard.
I recall, in the weeks after Iniki, when Kauai was still a mass of rubble and darkness, the electricity mostly out, houses still draped in tarps, life totally disrupted, the days a blur of cleanup and survival, flying one evening into Honolulu, where the lights blazed and buildings were intact, and being struck by the realization no one really cares if your world is turned upside down so long as their own remains essentially unchanged.
I thought of that today when I visited the yahoo home page and saw, in the “news” lineup, the headline “Japan braces for potential radiation catastrophe” followed by “’Bachelor’ makes final decision,” “Stars play dress up” and “How to make perfect toast.”
News about the radiation continues to worsen, but it’s hard to know if we’re getting the full story, especially when the Japanese government is telling people to stay inside. Oh, that’s all it takes to be safe? And what if you don’t have a house because it was destroyed by the tsunami or quake?
We’re all supposed to be trusting nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to know what it’s doing and be forthright about the situation, but would you trust KIUC and HECO in a similar situation? I mean, KIUC won't even give us the skinny on its true plans for hydro.
It’s also been interesting to read how Prime Minister Kan’s government was incredibly weak before disaster struck, and now it’s in charge of managing a major catastrophe. It made me think of how people on Kauai choose a mayor in hopes of jumping on — or staying on — the gravy train, without much thought to how they’d handle a crisis. Would you feel comfortable having Beth and Bernard running the show if Kauai was struck by a major tsunami? Even JoAnn Yukimura, the smartest and most competent mayor Kauai has seen in a long time, was pilloried for her post-Iniki management, which was actually quite sound.
Speaking of leadership, Gary Hooser and Mina Morita have been confirmed as head of the Office of Environmental Quality Control and chair of the Public Utilities Commission, respectively. While it’s a political loss for Kauai, it’s a benefit for the entire state. Congrats Gary and Mina!
But just a quick aside to The Garden Island: I don’t know what rumor mill you’re listening to, but attorney Harold Bronstein is definitely not a contender for Mina’s seat. And Joel Guy most unequivocally is.
And while we’re talking about outstanding attorneys, Dan Hempey is in the running for a judgeship with Kauai Family Court. His appointment would be a blow to the Reinstated Hawaiian Nation, which he has represented so diligently, but a plus for Kauai families, who would benefit from his compassion, kindness, legal acumen, intelligence and heart.
You can support his nomination by writing to Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Mark Recktenwald at 417 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96813, or sending an email email@example.com or fax 808-539-4703.
Getting back to Japan for a moment, it’s also intriguing to monitor how the devastation there is playing out in the global economy, seeing as how so many companies and industries are dependent upon it for all sorts of critical parts:
"Frankly it's extraordinarily complex," said Andy Palmer, Senior VP at Nissan.
But as my neighbor Andy mentioned when I ran into him while walking, the disaster also represents an opportunity for some. And sure enough, a company selling herbal products sent out an email that proclaimed:
JAPAN'S RADIATION IS COMING *** ORGANIC IODINE AND KELP *** NUSTOCK
And that got me thinking about all the seaweed and fish products that come from Japan, and all the officials who are saying, oh, no worries, because the radiation cloud is blowing into the Pacific, like it’s not going to have any impact there?