Friday, August 15, 2014

Musings: Karma's a Bitch

Kauai resident Eddie Ben-Dor is facing criminal prosecution for operating a vacation rental in Hanalei without a permit.

Ben-Dor, a New York diamond broker, is set to be arraigned Sept. 10 on a misdemeanor charge of violating the county zoning ordinance. He allegedly continued to operate Hanalei Villa, an unpermitted TVR on Weke Road, after the county had ordered him to cease and desist.

Though the VRBO site for Hanalei Villa has been shut down, I found it on Flipkey, offered by his daughter, Maile, now a Realtor in Southern California. The availability page showed it is booked right through Daddy's arraignment date, and the Christmas holidays, too.

The four-bedroom, three-bath, sleeps-12 TVR is billed as having two full kitchens and two living rooms, and can be rented as a multi-family dwelling, which is also illegal: “The house can also be broken into smaller private suites to fit parties of all sizes.” The full house rents for $5,800/week during the low season, while the Plumeria, Gardenia and Hibiscus suites average $2,000 per week.
As a disgruntled renter wrote regarding a cockroach-and-mold-infested May 2014 stay:

[F]or over $2000, you expect a minimal level of quality. Here, the owners are cashing in on a near-beach location - they have absolutely no interest in putting any of their money into fixing this disaster zone. 



In the end, we have complained to VRBO and will be seeking a refund through Amex. Interestingly, the Hanalei Villa website no longer works and the VRBO listing has disappeared. Very odd; I just hope the health inspectors have closed the property and that the owners will be obligated to sort the place out. It's an absolute disgrace.

Ben-Dor is the first person to actually be served a criminal summons as a result of the county's TVR enforcement crackdown, which was prompted by this blog's Abuse Chronicles series.

“We've filed charges in some other cases, but the issue is finding the person to serve them the summons,” said Prosecutor Justin Kollar. “Most of them do not have local owners.”

That's right. Many of the TVRs are owned by mainland investment consortiums, whose members get tax benefits from flipping these commercial properties — at the community's expense.

But Ben-Dor, who built that horrid monstrosity on Manoa Stream, adjacent to Haena Beach Park, does live here. So he got nailed as the Planning Department and Office of Prosecuting Attorney (OPA) worked together to identify offenders who won't come into compliance.

“We haven't given up on the case with out-of-state owners, [we] just have to be persistent,” Justin said.

I presented a few questions to Planning Director Mike Dahilig, via county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka, and got this reply:

Planning initiated the investigation and referred the matter over to the Prosecutor's office given the severity of the infraction (TVR with no certificate).

Planning is actively pursuing three other illegal TVRs with no certificates.Whether they are referred to OPA will be dependent on the evidence gathered.

We cannot speak to Justin's prosecutorial discretion, but Planning has other means with which they can deal with infractions (such as civil fines), and they will not be hesitant to use them in situations where they need to compel compliance. This past year Planning collected close to $150,000 in fines for violations of our codes — the majority from TVR violations.

If convicted — and let's hope the OPA doesn't work a plea bargain — Ben-Dor faces a $1,000 fine and/or a year in jail. The fine seems pretty meaningless, since the house starts at $882 per night. A jail term, on the other hand, would issue a strong warning to other scofflaws. The courts regularly send desperate drug addicts to jail. Why not a money addict? Or in this case, an arrogant person of privilege.

Speaking of which, I was amused to see Andrea Brower — daughter of privilege and darling of the anti-GMO “red-shirts” — write in a piece for the Common Dreams website:

We will only challenge the cruel modern structures of privilege and poverty if we overcome our collective disempowerment...

Andrea, who was living on her parent's million-dollar, non-farming ag estate before jetting off to New Zealand for graduate school, rants about the horrors of the capitalist system that has benefitted her so handsomely, before writing:

And perhaps most counter-intuitive, we are forced into apathy or fear of the “Other.”

This from the wahine who spent many months last year demonizing the chem/seed companies and their workers as the dreaded “Other,” who intentionally whipped up a frenzy of fear and a cult of ostracism by accusing them of wantonly poisoning the aina and destroying the health of their fellow citizens.

She goes on to write:

Yet despite the savagery that our system demands, we still do not abandon our most innate drives for mutual-aid, compassion and solidarity. In fact, what is most evident all around us, all the time, is our incredible generosity, sensitivity to fairness and the wellbeing of others.

Really, Andrea? Where was your "sensitivity to fairness" as you lobbed totally undocumented accusations, exaggerated the level of support, led a movement that viciously savaged anyone who even dared to disagree?

Where was your concern about the "wellbeing of others" as you branded local farm workers "ecoterrorists," sought to destroy the livelihoods of immigrants supporting their families in the Philippines with jobs in the seed fields, thoughtlessly rent the tight-knit fabric of a community that once nurtured you?

So much easier to write the talk than actually walk it.

Meanwhile, fellow “fistee” Felicia Cowden, whose KKCR show supplied a steady stream of anti-GMO trash talk, posted this woeful lament on Facebook about her struggling County Council candidacy:

I need my friends to stand with me and walk in the communities that do not know me. It is a completely different reception when I am alone as I approach people from different communities and ethnicities than when I am with someone they trust. For the most part, people who believe in me from various communities different than myself have not been willing to walk with me. People that are clearly rooting for me are not available when I am come to town. I also need to be more organized and do not have the support of a campaign machine. The strong, new challengers are financed by their industry that remains unclaimed on the candidate's statement papers.

Poor Felicia. It must be so scary to leave the rarified white air of the North Shore and actually face all those brown people who don't listen to KKCR, whose livelihoods she still seeks to destroy, whose spirits she helped trample, whose interests she claimed to represent.

As Chuck Lasker noted in re-posting Felicia's whine-a-thon:

note that she has all these "supporters" who won't help her (that's called "not a supporter")

I know, some of you will brand me mean to call out Felicia and Andrea (though I doubt Eddie will get much sympathy). But please, spare me your anonymous denouncements and take off your blinders instead.

Because, as the saying goes, karma's a bitch.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks for your excellent reporting. Hope the prosecutor sets an example with Diamond Eddie Bendor. So the guy owns and finances more than a handful of luxury houses and that's still not enough for him. Greedy man, please show us he is not above the law because he is rich.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear!

Anonymous said...

Joan said, “Many of the TVRs are owned by mainland investment consortiums, whose members get tax benefits from flipping these commercial properties — at the community's expense.”


Joan, please elaborate on this statement as I can’t figure it out how this works. It doesn’t seem logical to me. But then, maybe that just me.

Edward Coll said...

Joan wrote about Andrea "Where was your concern about the "wellbeing of others" as you branded local farm workers "ecoterrorists,"
Joan can you provide some context and the exact quote where Andrea "branded local farm workers "ecoterrorists"?

Mahalo for the link to Andrea's Common Dreams article which I thought was excellent but was not about the GMO issue.

Finally I will spare you the "anonymous denouncements" but will call you out for this cheap shot "Andrea, who was living on her parent's million-dollar, non-farming ag estate before jetting off to New Zealand for graduate school..."

Most people do not choose their parents nor their families socio-economic status and "jetting off" (or jetting back) to the most remote geographic archipelago on earth, especially to go to school, seems manini.

BTW I thought her Common Dreams article was excellent, but was not about the GMO issue on Kauai.

Anonymous said...

"It is a completely different reception when I am alone as I approach people from different communities and ethnicities than when I am with someone they trust."

Could this be because people are showing their true initial impressions of you, rather than being buffered by that "someone" they trust?

My brief encounter with Ms. Cowden was at the farmers market at KCC. My wife and I were standing in line at the Hanalei Taro food truck waiting to pay for our purchase. Ms. Cowden had no problem cutting to the front of the line to hand her campaign materials to the cashier, explaining who she was, etc. Apparently, she could not be bothered to introduce herself to the "commoners" waiting in line (all 4-5 of us), or say "excuse me". My wife told me "how rude", which i replied "remember who not to vote for".

Joan Conrow said...

8:09 -- I can't tell you exactly how it works, since I'm not an accountant or tax attorney, but in researching the Abuse Chronicles I found that many of the TVRs were owned by consortiums of individuals who flipped the same property repeatedly within a short time, selling it back to each other at no profit, while shuffling the ownership shares each time.

Ed, I don't disagree with many of the sentiments in the Common Dreams article. I referenced it not because it was about the GMO issue, but because it was an expression of Andrea's personal philosophy, which, as I pointed out, stands in sharp contrast to her actions in the GMO issue. If you are part of a movement characterizing the Kauai seed operations as ecoterrorists (check out her Facebook photos), you're also branding their employees as such, because they are the ones who are actually conducting the operations here. That's one of the things that especially irked me about the "red-shirts," who thought it was OK to attack the chem companies as faceless corporations while failing to recognize they were by extension insulting the local people who work for them, and take pride in their work. That was extremely hurtful to many local workers.

Anonymous said...

U go Joan! Down with rich people!

Edward Coll said...

Mahalo Joan, I didn't think Andrea would make such a statement!

I also disagree with your statement that criticizing corporations by extension is insulting people who work for those corporations.

For example Nader's criticism of General Motors in "Unsafe at any speed" did not extend to humans employed on a GM assembly line and "take pride in their work". One can criticize systemic structural faults of organizations, institutional racism in higher education for example, but that does not imply everyone working in higher education is a racist. If however someones identity is narrowly limited to what they do to earn a living they may feel any criticism of their employer is a personal attack upon them. Being a member of a corporation, a movement or a union need not imply agreement with the statement or actions of those organizations. One may take pride in ones work but disagree with how the work product is used.

Anonymous said...

"8:09 -- I can't tell you exactly how it works, since I'm not an accountant or tax attorney, but in researching the Abuse Chronicles I found that many of the TVRs were owned by consortiums of individuals who flipped the same property repeatedly within a short time, selling it back to each other at no profit, while shuffling the ownership shares each time."


Thanks, Joan. How does this hurt Kauai?

Anonymous said...

When Nader attacked the GM Corp. with statements of ball joint failure and front end collapsing on certain vehicles GM's stocks got pummeled because of quality issues. Do you think the employees were still prideful in their quality of work. The statement did not extend to humans but their pride was definitely impacted.

Poor comparison.

Joan Conrow said...

10:43 -- It's not the tax scheme per se but the TVRs, especially the unpermitted ones, that hurt Kauai in ways that have been enumerated many times in this blog and elsewhere.

Edward Coll said...

11:13 AM wrote "The statement did not extend to humans but their pride was definitely impacted."

Like I said Nader's criticism did not extend to humans. You say "their pride was definitely impacted." Please provide evidence to back up you assertion.

Anonymous said...

Good to see the county is getting serious about TVR enforcement. Book 'em, Justin!

Anonymous said...

Exchange accommodator's is how most of the properties are flipped avoiding capitol gains tax. http://exchangehawaii.com/benefits

Anonymous said...

@11:59

Do you think any red blooded prideful american would sell a faulty product and be proud to do it. My assertion is based on common sense.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 12:29 PM

That's the a standard 1031 Exchange (aka like-for-like exchange) which any commercial property may take advantage of including warehouses, retails stores, rental apartment buildings, etc. Since the County taxes TVR's as they do commercial properties and many folks call them businesses, then it stands to reason that they are able to use the 1031 Exchange as well.

Edward Coll said...

12:29 PM - "Do you think any red blooded prideful american would sell a faulty product and be proud to do it."

Remove the jingoism and your question reads:
"Do you think a prideful person would sell a faulty product and be proud to do it?"


My answer is yes it happens all the time.

"My assertion is based on common sense."

Or baseless non-sense. I prefer skepticism, empiricism, facts and logic.

Anonymous said...

Kauai is a small place. Branding an employer an "Eco-terrorist" can hit home fast.
This eco rant against Big Ag does effect the workers. This effect may not be shame, but anger. Anger at a bunch of NS rich Haoles that do not respect Ag work. Stereotype? Yep, but this stereotype fits well with the "loudmouth Haole" which is also a common thought.
The local/Haole division is real, and may getting worse. However, the recent election answered the unknown question of "how big is this Anti-ag movement?". Plenny working people feel a little vindicated, as the only noise was from the anti-Ag camp and there was a concern that regular folks were a minority. But the reality is the shrieking fistees are a smaller group than thought.
Now maybe JAY FURFARO can get back to actually moderating the Council instead of allowing the scads of know-it-all anti-AG whack jobs dominate the Council meetings. Ross and Mel deserve the "patience" award for being subjected to these hours of off topic testimonies.

The best thing that can happen is for da Hoos, Jackpot Bynum and their li'l helper Chock get bounced. Get the Council back to focusing on roads, parks, crime, landfill, budget etc.
The princely Prosecutor CAN cite off island owners for illegal activity. It is easier to go after the low hanging fruit, but he can go after any one he wants.
In the long run tho', illegal or legal, TVRs do nothing about the high rents on in Haena and Hanalei. It is the new reality. Big rent. Of course if I wanted to build some regular houses for the people, the same bunch of anti-TVR folks would be against the houses, it is development and development is bad thing. Even if it is for good, clean affordable housing (houses,JoAnn Y, NOT apartments). You can never win on the North Shore, the Bali Hai and Hawaii Life Realtors against local housing development and selling Ag dwellings to the gajillionaires....WTF. There ani't no justice. Yes we have no bananas.

Anonymous said...

Ohh thanks for this great post, Joan. I am so happy to hear Justin Kollar is doing all this. Keep it rolling, Justin, and canʻt stop now.
What a concept: finance this county with penalties from these jackasses that have trampled all over Kauai and caused property taxes to skyrocket, traffic, sewage, influxes and I could go on.
THEY NEED TO PAY FOR DAMAGES.

Regarding Brower, I am just glad we donʻt have to listen anymore of her flat - emotionless - look at my words, mommy, arenʻt I great!

Humble pie has a way of visiting everyoneʻs table in life. No one escapes. And those are the best lessons one could get.

Anonymous said...

Logic is not based on facts and empiricism is not based on skepticism. So all you're saying is absolutely nothing. Show me the facts.

It happens all the time, Oh we consider carpetbagger salesmen scumbags.

Anonymous said...

The comments are confusing. Did Andrea actually "brand farm workers ecoterrorists, demonized them and seek to destroy their livelihoods" as written in the blog? That would be terrible. Or did she only oppose the employer's practices? There is a big difference. I had thought Andrea to be sometimes naive, and genuinely well-meaning, but It is shocking if she said these mean things and wished harm on the farm laborers.

Like in an unpopular war, people can oppose the war without necessarily seeking to destroy the livelihood of the soldiers. But if the war protester starts going after the individual troops, I have a problem with that. It is difficult to determine which attitude this future politician holds.

The grad school jab was beneath the good reporting typically displayed here. Every time a female or a minority, or even a male majority goes to graduate school - it is a good thing.

Keep studying girls. Normally it will not be used against you.

Anonymous said...

Joan - how much tax revenue is lost if all the illegal TVRs are shut down? Do the bribes have to be paid back? Does the county have to admit their incompetence? I'm not the least bit surprised that enforcement has taken so long. Did Shay prosecute even one (forget about Tim) illegal TVR? Was she on the take too?

Anonymous said...

There never were ANY pay-offs in the TVR fiasco. There may have been some enforcement and procedural errors. No payoffs....this I know. The county may be perceived as bad, but they are regular folks, just like you and I. Even Shay, whilst a doin' her job she just bit the wrong banana, Crying Tim found a weird law under which to sue. The County has inspectors crawling all over the place, every day. They all may be a little loose with the 4th amendment, but PAY OFFS- NO F'ing way.

Anonymous said...

August 16, 2014 at 7:38 AM

How else do you explain a complete lack of procedure on the front-end (permits allowed) and zero enforcement until very recently? No payoffs? Seriously?? Lay off the pakaolo.

Edward Coll said...

8:51 PM - ..."Logic is not based on facts and empiricism is not based on skepticism. So all you're saying is absolutely nothing." Show me the facts.

Anonymous did not say these things -- I did and I identified myself. I never said logic, facts, empiricism, and skepticism were "based" on each other you did. Those are the "facts" you asked to be shown.



August 15, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Anonymous said...

Nobody has a problem with Andrea (or anyone else) going to grad school. It's the breathtaking failure to acknowledge her vast privilege that is offensive to those who DON'T have it.

Anonymous said...

Like in an unpopular war, people can oppose the war without necessarily seeking to destroy the livelihood of the soldiers.

Another poor comparison. Soldiers in a voluntary army are employed with or without war. If you shut down the seed companies you destroy the livelihood of the farm workers.

Edward Coll said...

9:02 AM - "Soldiers in a voluntary army are employed with or without war."

An excellent comparison! Between wars they have what is called a reduction in forces and in the downsized soldiers become unemployed at the government's discretion. It is within the governments discretion to reinstate the draft in an emergency. With your "logic" crime prevention efforts if successful are destroying the jobs of prison guards. People have to eat so there will always be jobs growing, selling and serving food or they could "volunteer" to join the army.

Anonymous said...

With your "logic" we make a steady supply of cannon fodder by increasing the number of unemployed.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:06

Another poor analogy, "crime prevention efforts if successful are destroying the jobs of prison guards". Prison guards are unionized and are employed if crime prevention is successful or not.

"Reduction in force" is more commonly associated with a lay off. When you join the military by draft or voluntarily or as a reservist it is for a contracted term. Two totally different topics.

9:02 is right on.

Anonymous said...

I know Andrea is not against agriculture, she is against the tons of pesticides being dumped by these chemical companies. They are not in agriculture, they are into pesticides, which have been outlawed in Europe, but are being sprayed by the hundreds of lbs each week into our ground water. If Pioneer or Dow were into agriculture they would be looking into organic growing of vegetables, like ranchers are looking into grass fed beef. This has nothing at all to do with *brown* skins versus *white* skins, or the classes on on how to grow the Hawaiian way would not be packed. This is about living on the aina in harmony. To attack Andrea for supporting a clean environment is ridiculous, or her parents economic status. Do you have something against people who work for a living..like her parents? Because they earned what they have. Andrea has scholarships that pay for her college, because she is an intelligent,young woman with strong values. King of sounds like what you were. Jealous? By the way, many of the workers have had to quit or were fired due to health problems brought on by spraying the pesticides these companies use. Do the companies care that they hurt their workers health? NOPE.

Edward Coll said...

4:46 pm - "Prison guards are unionized and are employed if crime prevention is successful or not." and "When you join the military by draft or voluntarily or as a reservist it is for a contracted term."

Both of these statements are misleading. Many private prison guards are not unionized and the "contracts" signed by military personnel can simple be ignored by US government's stop loss policy, "federal courts have consistently found that military service members contractually agree that their term of service may be involuntarily extended until the end of their obligated service."

Anonymous said...

Joan - I read your blog with delight despite having no skin in the game (non resident). You write so well and are able to skewer the hypocrites on their own petards. I may not know the nuances in all the players involved but the level of incompetence, chicanery and wannabe do-gooderism makes Irma fun read. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

$420. cleaning fee, a bit excessive? Book em Danno-illegal TVR and ripping off the visitors

Anonymous said...

4:46 So you are saying that if a person signs up for a 4 year term the government can disregard that contract and force the enlisted man to serve 20 years. I have never seen any enlisted man forced to serve beyond his enlisted term. He may choose and agree to extend his term by choice and usually re signing bonuses would apply.

And you are isolating your comments to non union employees only. Which does not apply.

Joan Conrow said...

What confuses me, Ed, is that initially you were claiming the government could lay off soldiers at will, but now you're saying they can extend their tours of duty at will. Since you demand documentation from others, it seems only fair you should provide it to back up your claims.

Anonymous said...

Since we are being confused by Ed's fragmentation.

Paragraph 10(c) of DD Form 4/1 (The Armed Forces Enlistment Contract) which states: "In the event of war, my enlistment in the Armed Forces continues until six (6) months after the war ends, unless the enlistment is ended sooner by the President of the United States."

The additional wording was added to the Enlistment Contract after the Vietnam War. But that would mean that the Enlisting Men are agreeing to their term being extended should there be a war.

Edward Coll said...

Mahalo 9:49

Joan Conrow said...

For proving you wrong?

Edward Coll said...

Joan wrote, "What confuses me, Ed, is that initially you were claiming the government could lay off soldiers at will, but now you're saying they can extend their tours of duty at will. Since you demand documentation from others, it seems only fair you should provide it to back up your claims."

Joan, Fair enough, however, I did and do not "demand documentation" as you characterized my request. Kind of hard to demand something from anonymous commenters. Perhaps your confusion lies in the fact that the government can and does do both.

Proof of involuntary service
The proof that the government can compel involuntary service is the Gov has in the past and can again at anytime use the draft to compel military service as they did in Vietnam.

“Almost all male U.S. citizens, and male immigrants living in the U.S., who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service. It's important to know that even though he is registered, a man will not automatically be inducted into the military. In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth. Then, they would be examined for mental, physical and moral fitness by the military before being deferred or exempted from military service or inducted into the Armed Forces.
Source: U.S. Selective Service System http://www.sss.gov/FSwho.htm

“Kerry says U.S. now has ‘backdoor draft’”
“Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry said Thursday that the Bush administration has instituted a “backdoor draft” by requiring thousands of soldiers to stay in the military if their units are ordered to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Kerry said the Pentagon’s announcement of the “stop-loss” program Wednesday may have increased the forces by 30,000 troops. “But this has happened on the backs of the men and women who’ve already fulfilled their obligation to the armed forces and to our country — and it runs counter to the traditions of an all-volunteer Army,” he said during a speech on modernizing the military at the Truman Presidential Library.
“They have effectively used a stop-loss policy as a backdoor draft,” he said.
Source: Associated Press/NBC News http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5129079/ns/politics/t/kerry-says-us-now-has-backdoor-draft/#.U_JUYrxdUwI

Proof of people being forced out of service.

“Earlier drawdowns give idea of what's to come”

"After Vietnam, the Army slashed end strength from 1.3 million soldiers to 780,000 in just a few years.

Some unpopular methods were used to cut the force: sharp cuts in the timing and selection rates for promotion, a tightening of retention standards and RIF boards that short-circuited the careers of many thousands of soldiers.

Because of the unpopularity of those measures, the Army opted to use a combination of voluntary and involuntary programs in the early 1990s."
Source: Feb 12, 2012 Army Times http://www.armytimes.com/article/20120219/NEWS/202190319/Earlier-drawdowns-give-idea-what-s-come

These RIF (Reduction in Forces) Boards are convened as needed to pressure people out of the services when a reduction in forces is required.

Source: U.S> Air Force http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/484610/fiscal-year-2015-reduction-in-force-board-to-convene-oct-1.aspx

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, Ed, that was interesting, and I apologize for mischaracterizing your request as a demand.

However, it does not seem to me that offering soldiers incentives to retire early and not to re-enlist, nor barring re-enlistment due to stricter standards, is the same as laying off workers at will.

Edward Coll said...

Mahalo Joan.
Joan 10:43 said "However, it does not seem to me that offering soldiers incentives to retire early and not to re-enlist, nor barring re-enlistment due to stricter standards, is the same as laying off workers at will."

True however the Reduction in Forces (RIF) board review process is the stick "a tightening of retention (my emphasis) standards and RIF boards that short-circuited the careers of many thousands of soldiers." As one might imagine going before a RIF and a variety of other punitive administrative measures get people going for the carrot to avoid the stick. Conveniently these tightening of standards and increased scrutiny on performance typically occurs during "peacetime" (no major conflicts). During major conflicts they lower enlistment requirements (IQ, felony convictions etc.) after the conflict they raise retention standards.

Anonymous said...

Remove the Refactoring and your statement reads, the government can reduce the military by not renewing contracts. Exactly what we said.

Edward Coll said...

7:48 said "Remove the Refactoring"

What in the world is "refactoring"? You failed to mention whomever "we" is that they can increase the military by conscription (drafting people against their will) and then use RIF boards to kick those drafted out all without any "contract". and now you know the rest of the story.