I went down to the southside last night to learn what's happening with the Koloa Camp folks who are still facing a March 8 eviction date, and drove back beneath the white brilliance of a full moon that succumbed to clouds just about the time I hit the Kapaa Bypass Road. It continued to play hide and seek when I reached home, where a wicked cold northwest wind was knocking branches and leaves off the trees. Brrrr....
The Koloa Camp residents are hoping they won't be left out in the cold as the clock ticks down and they await word from Grove Farm on whether it will accept their offer to buy the camp. Developer Peter Savio made an official “fair market” proposal on behalf of the residents, using a model that allowed Del Monte camp residents on Oahu to buy their houses.
But though Grove Farm's Mike Tresler told those present at last month's Koloa Community Association that he would work with everyone, the Camp residents haven't heard anything, and Savio's not getting his phone calls returned. Meanwhile, they're on pins and needles, hoping to save both their homes and a slice of Kauai history.
You just gotta wonder why Grove Farm, with all its acreage, is so focused on this site. Meanwhile, residents of A&B's camps are apparently worrying they might also get the boot, but Tom Shigemoto and Trinette Kaui reportedly assured them A&B has no such plans.
In other news, County Councilman KipuKai Kualii, who was named to fill the seat vacated by Derek Kawakami, became the first person to file papers for the 2012 Council race. He's done a good job of distinguishing himself in his short tenure on the Council. [Update: I just saw Mel Rapozo filed as well, so that makes two looking out for you.]
Speaking of Derek, I found it interesting that his dad, Charles Kawakami, was on the committee that nominated Joel Guy for the KIUC board. So kind of him to throw Joel a bone after Derek ended up getting Mina Morita's House seat, even though Joel was her pick to represent the district when she assumed chairmanship of the Public Utilities Commission.
At least Joel has some understanding of utilities, having worked on Mina's staff when she was chair of the House's Energy and Environmental Committee. Ken Stokes, who currently has a gig advising Mayor Bernard Carvalho on sustainability issues, is also running. Ballots are supposed to be sent out early next month.
Speaking of the mayor, watchdog Ken Taylor attended yesterday's police commission meeting and though he wasn't allowed to stay for the executive sessions, which were the only items on the agenda, they did let him speak. He urged them to hire outside counsel — currently they are represented by a deputy from the County Attorney's office — to advise them on whether it was legal for Bernard to put Chief Darryl Perry on leave. Ken said commissioners told him after the meeting they were thinking of doing just that.
Though the county charter doesn't say much about disciplining the chief, it puts the power to hire and fire him solidly in the hands of the police commission, so it stands to reason they should also be the ones to decide whether the chief is placed on leave. Or at least consulted, and not told after-the-fact.
Meanwhile, HB2521 — the governor's proposal to resolve a long-standing dispute with Office of Hawaiian Affairs — is moving through the Lege. The plan calls for giving OHA 25 acres in the Kakaako neighborhood to settle the $200 million claim over back due revenues from the state’s use of so-called “ceded” public lands siezed from the Hawaiian kingdom upon the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani in 1893.
OHA Board Chairman Collette Machado testified that trustees had given preliminary approval to the deal, which seems a bit premature, seeing as how they only had a meeting on Kauai this past Saturday to get feedback from beneficiaries. Unfortunately, it does not appear The Garden Island covered that hearing.
I also ran across an interesting article in The Maui News about the ongoing dispute over the American Safari cruise ship coming to Molokai, which is really about the deeper issue of how much tourism-related development that island wants.
What I found particularly striking was this revelation from Dan Blanchard, chief executive officer and principal of InnerSea Discoveries/American Safari Cruises:
He said he would feel the same way as the concerned residents if a cruise ship decided to visit his Alaskan home.
Empathy typically results in understanding, follow by behavioral changes, but in this case, apparently not. In the end, what it comes down to is the same old clash between some folks wanting the kala and some folks wanting to preserve the land and culture.
The company said the total economic impact per visit is up to $18,800 for Molokai, and 22 local vendors for food products and other services are hired.
"If we took the position that this is a one-time incident, people would think, 'What's the big deal?', but we're used to thinking long term," [community activist Walter] Ritte said. "We know what happened to the other islands.
"We see a line of ships. I'm worried people would find a little paradise, come build houses here and put gates around it."
You're right to be worried, Walter, because that's the scenario. And once it changes, it ain't never coming back.
And while we're on that topic, please take a moment to submit testimony against SB2341, which would allow vacation rentals on ag land, and SB2350, which would permit "ohana" units on ag land. Both promise to open up ag lands to more non-farming uses.