Thursday, March 13, 2014

Musings: Positive Spins

Though the Kauai Humane Society is putting a positive spin on the new dog barking and cat licensing laws — for cats, “their status in the community has risen,” writes director Penny Cistaro in a commentary in today's paper — I don't think most folks are buying it.

The reactions I've been getting are “waste of time” and “ridiculous,” along with “unenforceable.” Others view it as a money-making scheme and/or power grab by KHS, and legislative craziness by sponsor Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura.

A better approach might have been addressing dog barking through a comprehensive noise ordinance, as Councilman Mel Rapozo favored. Why should dogs be considered more of a nuisance than boom-box vehicles, rooster ranches, screaming kids, mowers and blowers, helicopters?

The bill initially included a provision in which the unhappy person had to first speak to his or her neighbor, and keep a log of the offending barking, which would've cut down on complaints and forced people to humanize someone they've likely demonized. But that apparently got deleted. Now it's a vague: “Unsuccessful remediation of the nuisance barking following intervention by the Enforcement Officer may result in the issuance of a citation.”

Violations will result in increasingly more expensive fines, but you can't just pay the fine and be done with it:

The issuance of a barking dog citation and/or payment of a fine shall not bar the Court from imposing appropriate remedial action to be undertaken by the responsible party, such as, but not limited to, successful completion of a dog behavioral course or the hiring of a dog trainer.

Good luck with that. I think, as Councilman Ross Kagawa noted, that we're going to see more clashes between neighbors as a result of this law, with hunting dog owners the first to be targeted by those who object more to their use than their barking. I also think we're going to see more dogs turned in, and ultimately killed, because their owners can't comply with the law.

As for the cats, yes, they should be viewed as highly as dogs, but their perceived lack of value likely has something to do with their abundance. It's sort of like a dove, as compared to a Newell's shearwater. Better to emphasize education, and reduce the feral population, than adopt a law that is likely to be followed only by those who already do value their feline companions.

But such is the nature of Kauai, where the politicians skirt the serious issues and instead focus on cats and dogs, some citizens cry for ever more regulation and in the end, it's all meaningless, because enforcement is essentially nil.

Which leads me to a great quote by Marcus Aurelius: “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

Which leads me to a comment that someone left on yesterday's post:

Joan, on a totally different matter, I was watching one of the council meetings recently on Hoike. it seems that nothing has changed as far as Ken, Glenn, and Joe are concerned. Why do they feel they need to continually scold or lecture the council members on every subject matter that the council discusses? They seem to feel that they are experts on every subject. Also, why do they always sit where they can be seen on tv? I guess for them it is the closest thing 
to being a council member when you are not electable. What a waste of time and taxpayer!s money to hear and see these Yoyos whine at every meeting. They should give tus a break and get a life.

As another reader noted in an email to me:

If anyone thinks marathon council meetings produce good governance they’re nuts – and these 3 are responsible for lengthening Council meetings by 30 percent. Council is also to blame, they could tighten up rules for testimony – under Sunshine Law they're not required to allow testimony on every agenda item, I believe.

I appreciate the accessibility of our Council, and it's great that they don't have to be told, like the Hawaii County Council, that folks have the free speech right to criticize them in public testimony. But surely Council Chair Jay Furfaro could find a way to stuff a sock in it when it comes to ad-nauseum nit-picker testimony. And then maybe his colleagues would also learn the value of being succinct — or better yet, silent.


Anonymous said...

Council meetings waste time and taxpayer money. They have all those high level people like the county attorney, engineers, police chief, fire chief and the rest waiting for the three stooges to finish testifying about everything. Run the meetings like a professional board instead of an endless political commercial.

Anonymous said...

Living many parts of the island, the helicopters ARE the biggest (for me) noise makers on the island!

They are everywhere secret and serene.

Dogs who are barking on and on usually have rotten owners who do not care for them properly.

The KHS could find more creative ways of creating money than by taxing cats.
It IS Ridiculous!

Zero Seven

Anonymous said...

Council looks like an angry Circus. Much of it seems like pre-election posturing. They need to enforce strict time limits, and Council Chair should have a kill the mic switch when time is up.

Anonymous said...

"The appropriate remedial action to be undertaken by the responsible party, such as, but not limited to, successful completion of a dog behavioral course or the hiring of a dog trainer."

I gotta see the compliance for this with the multi-dog families. Dog training is not the issue here, it's home care, access to shade and water, exercise, and attention these dogs need.

"Good luck with that. I think, as Councilman Ross Kagawa noted, that we're going to see more clashes between neighbors as a result of this law, with hunting dog owners the first to be targeted by those who object more to their use than their barking. I also think we're going to see more dogs turned in, and ultimately killed, because their owners can't comply with the law."

This is absolutely true from my experience volunteering at KHS.

Ihor Basko, DVM, CVA

Anonymous said...

"(U)nder Sunshine Law they're not required to allow testimony on every agenda item, I believe"'
Uh, as a matter of fact, you believe wrong.
How typical of Joan's curmudgeonly crew- going off about people talking out of their asses by talking out of your ass.

Joan Conrow said...

Here's what the OIP says:

Must a board accept testimony at its meetings?
Yes. Boards are required to accept testimony from the public, both oral and written, on any item listed on the meeting agenda. Boards can decline to accept public testimony that is unrelated to a matter listed on the agenda.

However, nothing says the testimony has to be accepted as each item is heard and for 3 minutes each time. They could adopt a policy in which people who wished to address more than one agenda item would be given a certain amount of time at the beginning of the meeting to deliver all their testimony.

Anonymous said...

That's how they do it in Honolulu.

Anonymous said...

Difficult to enforce dogging barks, Ross is correct.
Jay Furfaro could emphasize that all public testimony MUST be on the agenda item. Sometimes the public speakers meander.
But, on that point, Joann Yukimura, Tim Bynum and Gary H also meander.
Public testimony is the heartbeat of democracy. There is a ton of stuff that goes on behind closed doors.
There should be a challenge to the Council's incessant use of "executive sessions" these are tools to discuss things out of public earshot.
Commissions and the Council take their direction on "what is a proper executive session" from the County Attorneys. In the past CAs would be very clear and make sharp lines of what could be discussed in these secret meetings.
But, I am sorry to say our CA Boss, Alfredo Castillo is at least one rutabaga short of being a full salad.

“Some explanations of a crime are not explanations: they're part of the crime.”

Anonymous said...

Joan, have you seen House Bill 2270? If this were to pass, it could be an alternative to the County having to enforce illegal vacation rentals. All of your TVR chronicle blogs will be useful iflaw abiding citizens want to turn in the cheats.

Anonymous said...

Is using Ho'ike air time paid for by our taxpayers to essentially campaign for re-election legal or ethical? All those high-salaried county employees sitting around at council's whim to answer their seemingly pointless questions while bemoaning about waste and mismanagement...look in the mirror councilmembers! You are the greatest cause of waste and mismanagement. I mean c'mon, when Shaylene Iseri and Mel Rapozo start chastising Al Castillo about the excessive cost of outside lawyers, I have to gasp as it's these two bafoons that ran up the legal tab for the county. Maybe it's time to shut Ho'ike off and let concerned citizens go back to reading transcipts. Meetings would probably be less entertaining with the cameras off, but getting our county leaders back to their important tasks sure would increase efficiency.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear! Enough with the puffing and posing on camera. It's campaign speech after campaign speech disguised as a council meeting. "I did this" and "I did that" and "I know him" and "I know her". Get down to business and stop wasting taxpayer money on endless meetings.

Anonymous said...

5:11 Perhaps the point is that many of the Council members are out for their own pensions, future elected office or flat out, big money in their pockets at County expense.
The biggest costs to the County on legal issues are the Jackpot to Bynum case and another Bynum
(Hooser) doozy the the anti-Ag GMO law. Baboozes to the 2nd power.
Important issues of Housing, Water, Drugs, Roads, Waste etc. lay on the wayside, like ugly step-sisters.
Whacha got is 2 Council guys that try to do things to improve the lives of citizens of Kauai, and the tribe of 5 who blather incessantly with no substance, no ideas, no mo' nuttin'.
I got my cat license, do you?

Anonymous said...

I agree the televising of the council meeting has caused more distractions than anticipated.

The meeting agendas should be placed at the door with a sign up sheet for testimony. The testimony period needs to be posted within the agenda. You can testify on any agenda item that you choose. You have three minutes to testify, not ask questions which continues into dialogue . Questions can be asked by the council members only. You may testify one time only in any given council meeting.

It's commendable that people want to get involved.

But the Council needs to get a grip!

Anonymous said...

It doesn't help that the Chair picks and chooses when to apply the rules regarding testimony. He should be consistent and not make ANY exceptions because that's when people say "well you let so and so talk about yada yada, so why not me?" Same thing with the other councilmembers when they are in committee meetings.

Anonymous said...

I feel really sorry for the dogs and cats that are going to suffer when their owners get fined. It's not easy to make a dog stop barking especially when you work. Dogs will be beat and put down because of this and its not their fault.

Anonymous said...

Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because Glenn and Ken spew relentlessly, we do not want to get rid of the ability for the public to talk on issues. What if there are 2 substantial issues that need public input on the agenda? No, just limit Glenn and ken to the 3 minutes, grin and bear it. Otherwise, the real reason they are there(to distract and cause trouble and always point out the county would be better run with a county manager) will fuck up the sunshine laws for everyone.

Anonymous said...

They give them six minutes not three. If the three talk on three issues, that adds 54 minutes plus if you include the questions just on three issues! That adds up over the years. What does one hour of broadcast time cost the taxpayer? Add the staff time on top of that. Just to stroke three egos.

Anonymous said...

Holy Maha'ulepu Cow Pie, Batman- Do the commentators really think that the pilau pickle the County is in, is because of a couple of old windy public citizens?
Great Pieces of Organic Goat Cheese, Robin- Apparently they do. One can never blame the actual rule makers. The rule makers are sublime and have no responsibility. They can spend all your money, pass innocuous laws and take y'er rights away with a free pass. Those ol' timers up gas-baggin' up there trying to keep a bridle on a run-a-way horse are the real problem.

Anonymous said...

Both are a problem

Anonymous said...

Holy illiteracy, bozo, it's a costly irritant, but none of the commenters equate the lengthy an unnecessary testimony of the three blind with the lengthy and unnecessary speechifying of the council. We agree that the council ignores the boring nitty gritty issues that should have their attention and apparently focuses on all issues unrelated to county government.

Anonymous said...

You all realize the dogs are barking incessantly because of the cats, right?

Too many cats. The transplants love their damn cats. Itʻs a haole thing. Iʻm haole so donʻt you haoles start beating up on the Hawaiians for my comment.

Anonymous said...

The court ruled it is “reasonable infer that, at the time of the lease extensions in 2002, 2005, and 2010, the Robinson Defendents knew that Pioneer’s unlawful farming operations were causing, or would necessarily cause, a nuisance.”