It was a drippy kind of morning, with previously fallen rain mixing with newly falling rain — in other words, it ws utterly delightful when Koko and Paele and I went out walking this morning. Mist swooped along the base of the Giant and swirled in the pasture, while the sun glimmered through random thin spots in clouds that still huddled in the east. Looking west, though, it was a very different world, and the summit of Waialeale and waterfall-streaked slopes of Makaleha were perfectly clear.
It was also perfectly clear that my neighbor – the one whose pack attacked Paele on Wednesday — hasn’t learned a thing, or at least, not enough to change his behavior, as his dogs were again running loose this morning. Paele is recovering, but still too sore to be touched on his shoulders and sides without yelping, which makes it hard to towel off after a wet walk.
The ever thoughtful Dr. Shibai asked in comments, after reading about the mugging, “What is the solution to "lack of responsibility" that plagues the human race?
I don’t know the answer to that weighty question, other than education, or more drastically, removing the unconscious jerks from the gene pool. Unfortunately, my neighbor has already spawned and at least two of his four progeny are just as irresponsible as their dad in allowing their dogs to run free.
Going through this has made me very aware of how violence begets violence, as whenever I see him and his dogs, I think angry, vengeful thoughts, and Paele and Koko moan and whimper. The once warm friendship with my neighbor Andy, who exhibits the classic white male colonialist sense of entitlement and selfish arrogance, is clearly dead.
It’s also becoming increasingly clear that ratepayers and the KIUC board have strikingly different ideas about the meaning of a “cooperative.”
The very word brings up images of working together, cooperating, which implies a certain amount of give and take, or at least some direct communication. But all that has been missing as the Board totally blows off coop members and steamrolls ahead with its plans for hydro development.
The most recent example of arrogance was the Board’s decision on March 29 to contract with Free Flow Power, a mainland firm, to secure the rights to hydro development in several Kauai streams. Members Carol Bain, Ben Sullivan and Jan TenBruggencate voted in opposition, with Jan stating his concerns that “it lacked a comprehensive community engagement strategy.”
Indeed. In fact, the community outreach has been so poor — and the cluelessness of Free Flow so pronounced — that the utility has yet to dispel the notion that it plans to build a dam on the Wailua River. It’s not surprising that I, and many others, got such an idea when we looked at one of the permits Free Flow filed with the Federal Energy Commission (FERC) to generate power on the Wailua River.
As it was explained to me, in anticipation of doing actual engineering, the company supposedly stuck in the description of the old, defeated dam proposal as a place-holder in the slot that says "Project Proposal.” It's hard to believe they could be that stupid, but supposedly KIUC is not planning to build any dams.
It's also hard to believe the Board majority could be so stupid as to think it's OK to hire a firm that does business mainland style: get the permit first and do outreach later.
So now there’s mounting opposition to these permits, which FERC has already approved, and Seagrant extension agent Dr. Adam Asquith is leading an initiative and petition drive to ask the Board to cancel its contract with Free Flow. In a widely circulated letter, he wrote:
In summary, as KIUC coop members, you have asked, and will soon be paying for, a mainland company to seize the water rights and develop several hydroelectric projects on Kauai. Furthermore, you have asked the Federal government to preside over this action and seize any lands that you need to accomplish your goal. As KIUC Coop members we should recognize that these predatory claims are inexcusably insensitive to the past injustices of water use in Hawaii. We should know that these claims are an egregious breach of the protocol for how we think of, and access, water in Hawaii. We should know that this action will put the Coop in an unnecessary aggressive and possessive position that will lead to conflict, litigation and ultimately no access to water for electrical generation.
Coop members who don’t like this approach are urged to contact KIUC at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask the Board of Directors to repeal its decision to engage Free Flow Power to secure water rights to develop the hydroelectric projects. Adam is also circulating a petition — you can download it and find more info at Island Breath. Adam wants to compile the signatures this weekend, so get on it.
Meanwhile, Free Flow and the KIUC Board are finally going out to the community starting April 18, which is apparently after the deadline for submitting signatures in opposition to the contract. It’s smarmy as heck, but hey, they’ll give ya a free bag of rice if you show up.
As one observer noted in an email: “Is that what they think is the mentality of Kauai people? I was unable to find out how many members they have but I think that’s a lot of rice. Plenty money to throw around.”
Yup, and it’s our money, don’t forget.