Like the County Council, and its approach to opinions from County Attorney Al Castillo. Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, for example, swallowed Al's dubious claim that a Council investigation into the TVR debacle would further slow planning's snail paced-enforcement by “freezing the files.” Yet when the CA's office determined that hundreds of crappy, incomplete applications were legit, just because a former planner had rubber-stamped them, JoAnn demanded to see that opinion, with legal citations included.
Councilman Tim Bynum insisted on a copy of that opinion, too. But when it came to letting the CA weigh in on Bill 2491, the pesticide/GMO ordinance, Tim was like, no need, imua. Councilman Mel Rapozo, on the other hand, though typically one of Al's toughest critics, felt the Council should wait for his opinion on 2491.
My suggestion: take all of Al's opinions with a big grain of salt, and when you need some top notch advice, do what Al does: hire special counsel.
Getting back to Tim, I couldn't help but take notice when he gushed, in an open session, about the tremendous respect he has for both Jeri DiPietro, the face of GMO Free Kauai/Hawaii Seed, and Cindy Goldstein, a DuPont/Pioneer scientist who for a time was the company spokeswoman. And I wondered, how can you have great respect for someone who is shilling a company that you believe is covering up its systematic poisoning of the westside?
While watching the testimony in support of Bill 2491, I was struck by the Molokai brudda who made several references to those who are “a'ole koko” — no blood — which is apparently the phrase now used to describe a haole with whom one is politically aligned. Well, at least to their face.
I was also puzzled when Waimea resident Phoebe Eng gave a theatrical reading of testimony in support of Bill 2491, supposedly on behalf of a couple dozen “well-known, long-time westside families.” Phoebe, being relatively new to the island, apparently doesn't know that when it comes to public testimony, one local equals a dozen “a'ole koko.” So by becoming their voice, she blew their chance to make a really big splash. But apparently she will let them speak for themselves one day when, presumably under her tutelage, they are “fully in their power.”
Meanwhile, up in Kilauea — home to so many self-proclaimed agricultural visionaries — the ag land is being consumed by non-ag uses. I mean, think of all the small organic farms that could have been created when Guava Kai went under. Instead, Bill Porter planted trees so he could land bank his CPR lots under low ag tax rates, and Chris Jaeb somehow convinced the planning commission to let him turn Guava Kai's snack shop into a full-on restaurant, market and wedding facility at Common Ground.
Now the Resonance Project Foundation wants to convert the former Kilauea Plantation manager's house, located on land zoned open and ag, into a research park. Plans call for building a 3,600-square-foot research facility, a 1,963-square-foot lecture facility and various other buildings, including two “dormitories,” each 4,510 square feet.
The planning department is recommending the use permit be approved, having determined that a research center and mini-hotels are a natural fit for agricultural lands and will have no significant adverse impacts to the environment or community — provided, of course, the buildings are a “dark earth-tone color” and obscured by substantial landscaping.
However, as neighboring landowner Peter King notes in testimony opposing this decidedly non-agricultural use:
Absent the requisite permits, it appears the Foundation has already begun work on their plans to convert the Kilauea Plantation Manager’s House property into a “Research Park” Being that our property is adjacent to the Kilauea Plantation Manager’s House driveway/easement, we have noticed activity along this driveway/easement (photo 19) has increased exponentially given the team of researchers, staff and volunteers who are accessing the grounds on a daily basis.
Further, just the other night my wife was awaken in the middle of the night by strangers trespassing on our property from the Manager’s House grounds via a bridge we use to maintain the auwai (photo 14), and who attempted to enter into a separate guest cottage opposite the main house where I, my wife and two children were sleeping.
Perhaps they were looking for a bathroom?
Come now, Peter, we all have to do our part to welcome those who need the aloha spirit that we, according an unsigned commentary in The Garden Island, serve up for free.
Which prompted Mike Miranda to note on his clever blog, All I Need is One Mike:
I guess it is free when all Hawaii needs to do is dedicate its resources to feed the tourism machine with the altruistic blood and sweat of the working class that drives tourism; sacrifice education, housing, public works, raising the minimum wage, and bringing tax code reform, thereby further entrenching our working class in the service and retail industries, and failing to diversify the economy. No extra money to be spent--just rob Peter to pay Paul.
When Hawaii is done miseducating its neo-plantation workers, will we get our 40 acres and a mule? Well, maybe after the whole GMO thing clears up and farming isn't such a controversial thing.
But by then, sorry, they'll be fresh out of agricultural acreage. You may, however, be allowed to pitch a tent at Common Ground in exchange for the privilege of growing herbs used in the restaurant.