So the drama at KPD grows, with Chief Darryl Perry joining his two Assistant Chiefs, Roy Asher and Ale Quibilan, on leave. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Michael Contrades was named Acting Chief and the county is saying only:
This leadership structure will be in place until the investigation of an employee complaint has been concluded. No further information will be released, as it is a personnel matter.
I was told yesterday afternoon that the Chief initially was placed on leave on Tuesday morning and sent out an email to that effect to the police department. But it was followed later in the day by another email saying he was back in. And now he's back out. Good grief.
Bet he wishes he'd taken that good job as chief of Honolulu Police Department instead of sticking with this rinky-dink operation. As a cop friend noted, “Perry's a good guy, but he'll never be able to get that place under control.”
Unlike PMRF, which is steadily intensifying its control on the westside. As I write in the current Honolulu Weekly, the Navy has grabbed — as in totally off-limits to civilians — five miles of public beach between Polihale and Kekaha. Of course, that's not new news. But what I found interesting is that the Navy won't say why, when meanwhile, military bases on Oahu have not engaged in similar heavy-handed closures.
“As a matter of policy, we will not discuss specifics related to security requirements,” wrote Petty Officer Jay C. Pugh, PMRF’s deputy public affairs officer, in an e-mail. “We will not comment on, or offer comparison to, the specifics of other installations’ shoreline policies, but will state that PMRF’s mission and capabilities are not like other shoreline installations.”
So doesn't that then make you wonder just what is going on over there, what mission and capabilities are so secret, so sensitive, that people can't even walk on the beach, fish from the shore? Or is it all just a shibai smoke screen to cover up what is essentially a taking of an undisputably public resource?
Unfortunately, we can expect no help from the state, which in 2004 agreed to lease the Navy an additional 270 acres of land — crown land, I might add — on the mauka side of the base — for gratis rent, no less. The Navy claimed it needed the acreage to expand its “anti-terrorism buffer zone.”
As part of that action, the state also gave the Navy control over another public resource: water. As the staff report to the Board of Land and Natural Resources states:
The additional lease area the Navy is requesting includes the Mana shaft, which is the potable water source for PMRF, and the ditches and drainage pumps that keep the Mana Plain viable for agricultural purposes.
The state was only too happy to pass on the costs of maintaining that water system to the feds, ostensibly to protect “prime agricultural lands” in the Mana plain, the bulk of which are being used to raise GMO crops in the Navy's "buffer zone."
The staff report also characterizes the closure of five miles of public beach, including the requirement that anyone wanting to access the other two miles pay $25 per year for a criminal background check and enter through the base, as “reasonable” and representative of PMRF's “good faith efforts.”
The Navy thinks it's reasonable, too. When I asked PMRF why the beach remained closed, when the Navy surely was aware that the public would appreciate the return of lateral access, I got this response:
PMRF holds members of the community in the highest regard, and among many on the West side, that feeling is mutual. We have several multi-generation families working at PMRF, and majority of our workforce are long-time Kauai residents. We're confident the community is also appreciative of the ongoing kokua provided by PMRF to the community ranging from disaster relief to community volunteer partnerships.
In other words, we're providing jobs to locals, so shut the fuck up.
I also had to laugh a little when PMRF, which took heat in years past for launching rockets from the sacred Nohili dunes that are now closed to the public, portrayed itself as working to “malama the environment:”
In addition, a significant conservation opportunity has been created by post 9-11 requirements. Fish counts conducted pre- and post-9-11 (years 2000 and 2006) by two PhD Marine Biologists/Professional Scientific Divers confirm a quantifiable improvement in the average size, population and diversity of recreational and commercial species in the waters immediately off-shore in those areas closed to public access; three honu nests have produced offspring in the last two summers, not previously observed on these beaches for many years; Hawaiian Monk Seals regularly haul out and honu bask undisturbed; low-lying native near-shore vegetation (pohinahina, naupaka, ilima papa) are thriving; and iwi kupuna burial grounds and Nohili are not disturbed by off-road vehicles or camping activities.
Additionally, Kauai aquatic and marine professionals have commented that this undisturbed shoreline and near-shore littoral zone is creating a "time machine" laboratory that is accessible to researchers -- recovering through the stages of western contact, eventually to even pre-Polynesian conditions if allowed to continue.
This prompted Dr. Carl Berg, a Kauai marine biologist, to wryly observe:
“If we accept his argument, then what would be best for the environment, fish stocks, turtles, aquatic life and birds is for them to stop all military activities and removal all personnel. With no base there we would increase our security, because no one would want to invade or attack the empty sand dunes.
Let this serve as a reminder that once the military gets its foot in the door, it keeps pushing for more. And that's something to keep in mind as Sen. Inouye seeks to make sure that America's expanding presence in the Pacific means increased militarism for Hawaii.