Though a lot of folks complain about the chickens, and I've got two fighting rooster farms within earshot, it's remarkable how the joyful warbling of the shama thrushes drowns them right out. Perched in trees on all sides of the house, their intricate melodies offer dawn-to-dusk entertainment, a constant reminder to stop, look, listen, appreciate, slow down, enjoy.
Lately I've been enjoying longan, golfball-sized lychee, lilikoi, papaya, mango and purple cainito, which the neighbor who supplies me calls cream apples. It seems to be a bumper year for fruit.
And fruity ideas. Like the proposed bill that would allow the Kauai Humane Society to seize any dog without a license and take it to the shelter — even if you are right there with it, and even in your own yard, if it's unfenced.
That seems like a pretty heavy-handed approach. Presumably they're already picking up dogs that are cruising without humans. So why try to nab people's pets when they could just sell them a license on the spot? If you want us to pay more for licenses, that's one thing, but don't be grabbing more power in the process.
KHS, which has long had a strained relationship with hunters, also appears ready to burn those bridges completely with its new license fee schedule, which would hit hunters with packs the hardest. Sure, some of them are irresponsible, but not all, so it feels unfair to ding them as a group. I understand KHS is trying to encourage people to get their pets fixed, which is great, but how are people supposed to prove their female is spayed if they've lost the paper from the vet?
Meanwhile, cats get a totally free ride and are allowed to roam with impunity, even though feral cat control is a significant cost for the shelter, one that dog owners are now being asked to subsidize. If dog owners must buy a license, shouldn't cat owners be held to a similar requirement?
Another fruity proposal has already been adopted by the county, and that's an administrative rule change that expands upon the definition of a “kitchen.” Now you can be busted for a zoning violation if you have a microwave, hot plate, toaster oven, mini-fridge, electric griddle, deep-fryer and yes, even a rice cooker, in any room other than a kitchen. Like, say, the carport or family room. But get this — only if it's plugged in. Or if you don't pay a suitable bribe to the inspector.
And finally, the state Agribusiness Development Corp. has been operating under the fruity notion that its lessees don't have to pay property taxes. As in the three chemical/seed companies leasing some 6,000 acres on Kauai — most of it so-called “ceded” lands. Not so, says Councilman Gary Hooser, who notes that private users of public lands must pay property taxes. As a result of his inquiries, the county has sent out notices to the three affected companies assessing them for two years of taxes, with penalties and interest kicking in if they don't pay within 30 days. The back taxes total about $140,000 — enough to help fund Gary's pesticide disclosure/GMO moratorium bill.
State law also requires those who lease public lands to comply with all environmental laws, including Chapter 343. As Gary notes, there are just three ways to comply with 343: an exemption, an environmental assessment or an EIS. The ADC has required none of the above from the seed companies. Though it's too late to go after them now, any new leases will be scrutinized to ensure compliance.