It seems like the state is itching to spend some money, but its priorities are a bit screwed up.
Like it wants to spend $15 million to build more beds at the Kauai jail — but how much has it allocated for local drug treatment programs? The state keeps pouring money into the lock-up side, while doing very little to help folks deal with the addiction that is at the root of their criminal behavior.
And I'm not talking about Warden Neal Wagatsuma's dubious homegrown treatment programs, but bonafide, legit, on-island rehab services that will help people quit the ice, oxy and heroin habits that are controlling their lives and spurring the car break-ins, burglaries, bank robberies, domestic violence and other crimes that clog the courts and KCCC.
The state also wants to spend $9.2 million sprucing up the Lihue Airport check-in counters and offering free Wi-Fi. Why? To help folks forget the traffic they crawled through to reach the airport? As Councilmen Mason Chock and Ross Kagawa correctly noted, the money could be put to much better use.
Meanwhile, in case you hadn't noticed the throngs, “Kauai was well-promoted in 2015,” with visitor numbers up 4.5 percent over the previous year.
Which contributes to situations like the one expressed in a letter I got from a Norwegian cruise ship passenger from Santa Barbara who somehow happened upon my blog after a stop-over at Nawiliwili:
I wanted to see one of the most famous places on Kauai, Ke'e Beach. I found out the only way I could get there was renting a car or hiring a taxi. There were hundreds of rental cars, but they were already rented out for the one-day for the ship. When I took a taxi to Ke'e Beach the place was jam-packed, most of them from the ship and a large number of tourists staying in hotels and condos in South Shore (Poipu) that drive almost 2 hours to get there. In addition a large number of hikers for Kalalau Trail leave their cars for all day or much longer. There was massive traffic.
So yeah, just keep piling 'em in, with no regard for the carrying capacity, until people get disgusted and go elsewhere.
Hawaii desperately needs to diversify its economy. You can't just keep expanding the visitor industry forever and expect that people will have quality experiences, or the tourism bubble won't burst. Not when the Islands are in direct competition with places that are just as pretty, less expensive and a lot more friendly.
Take, for example, this hacked electronic sign on the Hana Highway, as posted on the Maui Watch Prime Facebook page:
It generated numerous supportive comments, including this one:
Karen Chun LOL! This is how I feel every day when there are 4 out of 5 cars on Hana Hwy blocking me from even getting out of our neighborhood to go to the store.
Karen Chun moved to Maui from the mainland, bought a home in Kuau, smack in the middle of the sugar fields, and promptly set about trying to destroy HC&S, claiming health effects from cane fires. She's also active in the anti-GMO movement.
More and more people like Karen are coming to Hawaii. They don't want agriculture, and they don't want tourism (unless they personally are profiting from it). They just want to live off their trust funds, their mainland real estate profits, or in Karen's case, Mama's money, while the Islands keep bleeding locals who can't afford to live here any more.
They are supported in their anti-ag fear-mongering by folks like the Center for Food Safety's Ashley Lukens, who recently posted this plea on Facebook:
just putting this out there - because thats what we do this time of year, right? I'm looking for a mentor/guru/teacher to guide me towards a more balanced life. im open to classes, churches, temples, meet-ups, anything. just someone to look up to, be inspired by, learn from... so there you go, facebook. help a sista out.
Gee, Ash, you sound a bit down. I know it's not easy going through that “30s angst,” when you're trying to figure out who you are and why the hell you're on the planet.
You might want to start by re-examining your job. I mean, it must be stressful, being paid to lie and scare people, plus feeling the anger of folks who quite rightly see you as trying to destroy not only their livelihoods, but their way of life, when you really don't know WTF you're talking about.
Surely a smart, well-educated woman like you must feel a little conflicted — heck, sickened — when you read stuff like Will Davis' totally misguided and misinformed letter to the letter, fueled by the "Pesticides in Paradise" propaganda you've been peddling.
Guides/gurus/mentors are all great, and they can provide some powerful inspiration. But there's nothing like self-reflection, introspection and ruthless self-honesty to help you find the balanced life you seek.