Friday, November 30, 2007

Musings: The Bottom Line

It’s been a few days since the moon and stars were visible during my morning walk, but they were today, at least for a while, although clouds streaming up from the south slowly obscured the overhead moon. To the northeast, the sky showed streaks of blue and gold, but otherwise, was the color of a bruise.

More rain is coming — in fact, it’s dripping off the eaves right now — and that’s good news for anybody who is growing stuff — except, of course, flower-laden pakalolo. But that is not a plant found among the kalo, kale and lemon grass in my backyard garden.

I’m working on an article about agriculture, and it’s got me thinking about the likelihood of Hawaii being able to feed itself.

We know it’s possible, because it’s been done before, both by the kanaka maoli and following Western contact, when agriculture, not tourism, dominated the economy. Hawaii definitely has the physical components — fertile land, water and sunshine — to produce large quantities of food year-round.

And even though I hear that people don’t want to work the land anymore, I don’t buy it. I think there’s tremendous interest among folks of all ages, including the youth. But why get all excited about it when tenant farming is rapidly becoming the only real option?

As land prices continue to escalate, and the big private landowners raise rents and shorten lease terms, it becomes unattractive to invest tremendous sweat equity into a farming venture that could suddenly end in a couple of years when your lease is terminated. And that’s if you manage to get a lease in the first place.

With food security finally becoming a topic of discussion under the Hawaii 2050 sustainability plan, the state needs to be taking giant steps forward to open up more public lands for long-term farming ventures, including ag parks that offer housing.

It’s also time to crack down hard on the shibai “ag subdivisions” that are turning thousands of acres of good farmland across the state into rolling lawns around a manor house owned frequently by someone who lives somewhere else.

A case in point is the recently approved 2,000-acre Kealanani “ag subdivision,” which lies between Anahola and Kealia, across the highway from oceanfront Kealia Kai, another high-end “ag subdivision” that apparently isn’t selling well.

The developers got it through the county planning commission and state Land Use Commission by claiming it would be a true agricultural subdivision, with covenants requiring the owners to actually grow something, or lease it out to others if they didn’t want to dirty their hands themselves.

But with the CPR lots priced at $500,000 to $2.5 million, it didn’t seem too likely, at least to me, that many bonafide farmers, or even aspiring ones, would be making it through escrow.

With approvals secured, the developers are now making clear their true intentions — scoring big bucks — by running advertisements for Kealanani in that favored publication of farmers, the Wall Street Journal.

Just how much profit is possible speculating in Kauai ag land? Well, about this time last year, Kauai Realtor Paul Kyno, who partnered with San Francisco developer Peter Lynch to make their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow dreams come true, told me that total project costs at Kealanani were estimated at about $120 million — with sales projected at $200 million.

“The bottom line is, people will be farming,” Kyno told me, and the rules governing the subdivision “will be very strict,” with the homeowners association empowered to levy fines against people who don’t comply.

It sounds good, and I want to believe, but somehow, I don’t think farming is the true bottom line at Kealanani, or the many “ag subdivisions” just like it across the state.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Musings: Things Change

Maui folks are pissed, with good reason, after getting smacked with a federal security zone (thanks, Larry Geller for the link) as stringent as the one imposed at Kauai’s Nawiliwili Harbor — even though they’ve largely opposed Hawaii Superferry in the courts, and not along the jetty.

“So this is Maui's reward for following the rules — to be deprived of the use of our harbor,” says Karen Chun at “Our fishermen cannot use the small boat ramp, our canoes cannot go outside one small area, our surfers cannot surf a popular winter break. We are expected to give up our harbor for the arrogant Superferry. And give it up for even longer when the planned second, third, fourth and fifth ferries arrive. We warned law enforcement that we could not keep a lid on civil disobedience if they closed the harbor to us.”

Guess it just goes to show that playing by the “rules” doesn’t count for much when you’re in a game with rule-breakers.

Faced with public outcry to the rule, the Coast Guard immediately began to backpedal, according to a report in today's Honolulu Advertiser.

“Coast Guard officials yesterday tried to reassure surfers, paddlers and other recreational users of Kahului Harbor that a security zone for the Hawaii Superferry will be lifted as soon as it is apparent there is no threat to public safety and port security from protesters opposing the new interisland service,” the article begins.

It seems to me that already is apparent, given that Maui opposition groups met with police specifically to ensure that their planned demonstrations would be legal.

The Advertiser article continues: “Coast Guard Lt. John Titchen said the security zone is meant as a temporary measure, and how long it remains in effect will depend on the extent and nature of any protests.

“Titchen said the security zone was established at Kahului Harbor because the Coast Guard believes ‘there are people who will demonstrate unlawfully’ when the Superferry returns to Maui next week.”

The article doesn’t explain the basis for that Coast Guard belief. Does it have its own intelligence-gathering network providing it with such information? Or can it close down the harbor on a hunch?

And why hasn’t the Coast Guard made a similar statement about the temporary nature of the security zone at Nawiliwili? Or are we going to be stuck with it forever, even if everybody is “good?”

Funny, how both the Coast Guard and Maui cops keep claiming the zone will be enforced to “protect public safety.” Does that same concern extend to ensuring that the “unified command” patrolling land and sea won’t be armed with loaded guns, tasers, billy clubs and tear gas that might harm or kill citizens? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Given the difficulties the ferry is having with the harbor surge and loading dock, I’ve been wondering why they don’t put the “unified command” to work figuring out how to actually get the boat safely into Kahului Harbor, instead of keeping demonstrators out of it.

Meanwhile, Kauai Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura has been urging Hawaii Superferry to actually include some members of the Kauai community in its so-called community outreach, rather than just meeting with elected officials.

It seems this would be the time that Mayor Baptiste, who claimed a couple of months ago that he was remaining neutral precisely so he could bring the warring factions together, would step forward and do just that. Assuming, of course, that he really is neutral.

Still, we have to remember that the world isn’t all bad. I had one surfer tell me yesterday that he’s been fervently wishing for a winter of blasting trades that will make the Superferry ride rough enough to get passengers heaving — even though such conditions will adversely affect the surf.

It just goes to show the high degree of personal sacrifice that some Kauai folks are willing to make in their efforts to derail the ferry. And they say surfers think only of themselves….

While we’re on the subject of selflessness, the Advertiser also reports today that “Melanie Chinen, the embattled head of the state Historic Preservation Division, is resigning effective Dec. 7, citing the physical toll the job has taken on her and the emotional strain on her family from job-related controversy and litigation.”

The article states that Chinen said she gave five weeks' notice early this month, before former archaeology branch chief David Brown filed a lawsuit (hat tip to Ian Lind for posting the pdf) against the state claiming his contract wasn’t renewed after nine months on the job because he spoke up about "illegal, unethical or culturally insensitive" things that were occurring at SHPD.

In an article in this month’s Honolulu Magazine on the controversy over the burials discovered at the Ward Village Shops and the agency’s disarray, reporter Ronna Bolante specifically asked Chinen why she didn’t just leave and got this reply:

“I went to Maryknoll High School, and the motto there is, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’” she says. “It certainly is not fair, but in order to survive in this job, you have to be confident in what you’re doing. I knew people would try to destroy me, but the type of leader I am, my personal comfort does not come before this position.”

I guess things change. Like those harbor security zones that are only “temporary measures.” And Superferry’s arrival date.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Musings: Looking Back

After a night of heavy, steady rain — with such vivid dreams of being in a Tibetan monastery that I began to wonder about astral travel — it kindly let up long enough this dark morning for Koko and me to walk.

Saw farmer Jerry first thing; he’s another person who loves the rain. We talked about when we each lived in houses that had tin roofs and the glorious racket of a rainstorm would drown out the television, make talking on the phone impossible, remind us, as Jerry so wisely noted, who’s really in charge here.

He got to reminiscing a bit about how rural our neighborhood was during the war, with a few whore houses up here in the sticks that were frequented by servicemen delivered in taxis. As a kid, he and his friends used to play in abandoned military installations on Nounou Ridge and along the beaches, and remnants of them still remain.

He said he heard a caller on KKCR yesterday talking about the militarization of Kauai as if it were a new phenomenon. The armed forces have played a big role in Hawaii for a long time, he said, dating way back to the 1893 overthrow.

Speaking of the overthrow, got an email from Nani Rogers and Ka`iulani Huff that tomorrow, Nov. 28, is Ka La Ku`oko`a — Hawaii's official day of Independence — and they’ll be chanting it in before sunrise at Kealia Beach. (oops, that was today, and shoots, I missed it.)

After talking to Jerry and reading Nani’s email, I was reminded again of how much of Hawaii’s history is unknown to newcomers — and probably even some old-timers, too.

I recall after the Kaloko dam break hearing that some fairly recent transplants to the North Shore were angry about the heavy rain — which that region was always known for — because they’d moved here during a dry spell and had no inkling about past weather patterns.

It was also reported to me that some new North Shore residents thought no one had lived in Wainiha and Haena until John Ferry and the other Realtors began selling lots up there. Now that’s not only ignorant, it’s insulting to the folks that have lived in those parts for generations.

And recently, a woman whom I thought really ought to know better, told me there’d been no real activist movement on Kauai until the Superferry issue hit. The struggles at Niumalu, Nukolii, Nohili, and before that, unionizing at the plantation camps — it was all unknown to her.

As a history major, I recognize the value of understanding the past, and yet there’s still a lot I don’t know about Hawaii Nei of even the 20th Century, to say nothing of the centuries before that. Maybe my neighbor Andy, a retired history professor, will offer some crash courses in Kauai history for activists and the merely curious, just to give us all a better perspective about what’s come before.

Finally, I got my first threatening comment — on yesterday’s post — from an apparent Superferry supporter. A few friends had warned me about that possibility, and one person said I shouldn’t allow anonymous comments, although I’ve been reluctant to eliminate that option. Those who know me know I don’t scare easy, and I’ve never been afraid to say what I think. That said, I’m returning that comment — with love — to “Uncle Buck,” the sender.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Musings: Divine Retribution

The sky was so spectacular this morning that it literally took my breath away when I went outside and looked up. The moon, rising later each evening, was still bright and high overhead, alongside Venus, and glowing stars were scattered across wispy fan-like clouds. On the eastern edge, there was a hint of apricot-pink.

Returning, I got my icing on the cake: mist rising from the pastures. To borrow the first line from an article I wrote for the current Spirit of Aloha magazine, I’ve got this thing about mist….

I never tire of walking the same route, because each day it’s so different, and on heavenly mornings like this, I feel immersed in a sort of prayer.

I’ve been wondering if the prayers prayed at last Friday’s candlelight vigil at Nawiliwili Harbor had any effect on the inability of the state DOT to get the barge at Kahului Harbor repaired in time for Hawaii Superferry to meet its Dec. 1 projected relaunch. It seems as good an explanation as any.

I find it so ironic that HSF, after claiming it couldn’t hold out much longer if others, like environmentalists, continued to cause it delays, is now having to wait another five days for its champion, the state DOT, to fix the storm-damaged barge used to load vehicles on and off the ferry.

The Advertiser article on the delay led with a pitying statement: “The Hawaii Superferry just can't seem to catch a break.” But somehow, I don’t think the latest setback is going to generate much sympathy among folks on Maui and Kauai.

There's kind of this sense that they have it coming, what with all their penchants for half-truths. The company's bogus “community outreach” efforts on Kauai are just the latest example. The Garden Island finally picked up on that story today, leading with this observation: “After publicly announcing efforts to ‘reach out’ to Kaua‘i, Hawaii Superferry officials have yet to point at specific plans, prompting concern among legislators who say they expect more than empty promises.”

It also contained this little nugget: “Lori Abe, Superferry spokeswoman, could not offer comment on the community outreach issue but did say via e-mail that [CEO John] Garibaldi was off island.”

That’s all rather interesting, seeing as how the Star-Bulletin ran a story on Nov. 24 that included this quote: ““The specific goals (of the community outreach program) is to put everyone in a better place,” Abe added. “I think it’s all been positive.”

Mmm hmmm. Yeah, right.

It’s stuff like this that prompted David Dinner, president of 1000 Friends of Kauai, to tell The Garden Island: “Everything they’ve said — the whale program, speed, use of fuel — they’ve never even said an accurate date they’re coming. They haven’t responded in an ethical way. So we have come to expect that. It’s too bad, too, because when I deal with others my expectation is they’re going to give us the best and an honest response.”

Funny, how Superferry gets sympathy from the media, but those who oppose the way it does business get snarky comments, like the cynical jab from the Star-Bulletin’s Mary Adamski, who wrote about the candlelight vigil: “Could there be plotting behind the praying?”

I don’t think there’s much hope of clearing up the many misconceptions that are held about those who have spoken up against Hawaii Superferry and the governor’s strong arm tactics to get it running.

But we can still pray for peace — and divine retribution.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Musings: So What You Think?

The moon was opposite Venus — one in front of me, the other behind — and all the mountains were clear when Koko and I set out on our walk this chilly morning.

No, it wasn’t the 30 degrees and rainy/sleeting kind of chill that my friend in Illinois reported yesterday, but it was enough to make me wish briefly for a thicker sweatshirt. The clouds were of the cirrus variety: thin and quilted around the moon, wispy and pink in the pre-dawn light that etched the Sleeping Giant in gold.

It was the sort of exquisite morning that made me want to dawdle, so I did.

Sometime in the night I was roused by what sounded like an encounter between a stalking cat and roosting chicken in the valley behind my house. I’m not sure which emerged the victor, as I heard the cat let loose with a ferocious snarl/howl as a hen — a tough opponent when protecting young chicks — cackled indignantly. A rooster — typically slow to defend his brood — crowed long and loud after all the action was over, and then all was quiet, save for the forlorn sound of cheeping chicks separated from their mother.

I’m pretty sure the hungry wild cat got a meal.

I’ve had animals on my mind more than usual after reading Ian Lind’s touching blog post this morning and hearing an excellent interview with author Sy Montgomery yesterday on the New Dimensions radio program. (You can listen free until Dec. 5.)

Montgomery noted that many animals "are born knowing everything they need to know. We dismiss that as 'just instinct.' That's crazy. What's wrong with knowing everything? We think we're so great because we humans think. Well, animals know. And knowing is better."

Those of us plagued with over-active minds understand that knowing is preferable to thinking, which can get into us all sorts of trouble, trauma and grief.

I’ve often wondered why humans put themselves at the top of the evolutionary scale just because we think our thinking is superior to the thinking done by animals. Sure, we’re super predators, but we can’t fly without airplanes, pull material out of our bodies that helps us catch food, love without all sorts of conditions attached.

We still haven’t figured out how to live in synch with everything else on the planet — including species that have been around millions of years, compared to our measly 200,000 years or so.

And most of us don’t have a clue about what we really need to survive — and thrive — in this world. We keep looking for it at the shopping malls and big box stores, and garans, it’s not there.

As Montgomery advises, and I agree: “We cripple ourselves by inventing these fake needs. Have more fun and less stuff.”

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bits and Pieces

I’ve been slowly clearing off my desk for the past couple of days, so it seemed appropriate today to pass along a few bits and pieces forwarded to me from others.

First, the persistent encroachment on American’s privacy and civil liberties continues, with reporting firefighters and paramedics — who can enter homes without search warrants — are being trained as “lookouts for terrorism” in some major U.S. cities.

“The trial program with Homeland Security opens a clear information-sharing channel — which did not exist before — between the fire service and Homeland Security’s intelligence division,” the article states.

“Even before the federal program began, New York firefighters and inspectors had been training to recognize materials and behavior the government identifies as 'signs of planning and support for terrorism'.

“When going to private residences, for example, they are told to be alert for a person who is hostile, uncooperative or expressing hate or discontent with the United States; unusual chemicals or other materials that seem out of place; ammunition, firearms or weapons boxes; surveillance equipment; still and video cameras; night-vision goggles; maps, photos, blueprints; police manuals, training manuals, flight manuals; and little or no furniture other than a bed or mattress.”

So now you have it: hostility, expressing discontent with the U.S., having still and video cameras and living in a sparsely furnished home could be enough to get you on that dreaded terrorist watch list.

Meanwhile, the CIA — experts at propaganda and disinformation — is using some of those tools to brainwash the youth with a special kids’ page on its website.

Among its nuggets:

“You may have heard about the Central Intelligence Agency. But, do you know what we really do and how we do it? The people of the CIA do very important work. They help keep our country safe. They give our leaders information so they can make good decisions. And they take pride in their important jobs.

“We have a lot of different jobs here. We have analysts, doctors, lawyers, scientists, geographers, and librarians, to name just a few. A lot of people still think that our employees lurk around in trench coats, send coded messages, and use exotic equipment like hidden cameras and secret phones to do their job. (You know, all those things you see in the movies or read about in spy novels.) There is a little of that, but that’s only part of the story.”

Interestingly, the graphic used to illustrate the kids’ page is a woman in a trench coat and dark glasses, talking on a phone in her high heel.

I could find no information about the agency’s role in assassinations, torture and special renditions. But it did ‘fess up to “in some cases, we spread disinformation to confuse them [opponents]” in the section for kids in grades 6-12.

The site also helpfully provides five lesson plans for teachers, as well as tips on how to help kids say no to drugs. The site proclaims: “The CIA is proud to be at the forefront of the War on Drugs, but we only win this war with everyone’s help.” However, it left out the part about its own role in drug running.

On the home front, an open letter to Hawaii Superferry CEO John Garibaldi and state officials is now circulating and seeking signatories. It states, in part:

“We, the undersigned residents of Kaua`i respectfully decline to participate in any of the reported 'outreach' efforts of the Hawai`i Superferry (HSf).

“The law may or may not say that it is legal for the HSf to come to Kaua`i. But even if the HSf can come to Nawiliwili, we Kaua`i residents don't have to either like or acquiesce to it.

“We undersigned will not and cannot ‘put behind us’ the disrespect and violation of our constitutional right to a safe and healthy environment, as both Honolulu newspapers have editorially suggested. It is, in fact, still in front of us.”

It also calls upon “the Kaua`i County Council to declare HSf a public nuisance under State law (HRS § 46-17) due to the ‘dust, pollution, vibrations, noise and smoke’ of up to 560 cars coming on and off the HSf as well as many as 200 more picking up and dropping off passengers all converging upon the dock.”

The letter is reportedly going to be released publicly on Monday.

So far, however, I still have seen and heard no evidence that Superferry actually is engaging in any community outreach on Kauai — despite public statements that it is. Maybe one of these days a reporter will actually ask Superferry to describe just what that outreach entails, and precisely who they are reaching out to.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Musings: Meeting of Minds?

Followed that big full moon down the street this morning, toward the mountains, which were nearly clear and bathed in an exquisite silver light that gave everything the magical luminosity of a Maxfield Parrish painting. The scent of mock orange blossoms and a Hong Kong orchid tree — dense with sweetly fragrant purple flowers — contributed to the idyllic scene.

Koko was happy because twice dogs emerged from their yards to play, and I was happy, because how could I be anything else under the glow of such a gorgeous moon? Still, I recognize my own perceptions cause my happiness, and others witnessing the same scene might feel very differently.

And so it is with more mundane matters, like the news. People often tell me they can’t understand how newspapers can publish such different accounts of the same event. It’s a phenomenon I frequently noticed as a daily news reporter, covering stories and reading what the competition had written. Everyone had his or her own take on things, and sometimes even our quotes didn’t match exactly.

I was reminded of that phenomenon when I received a press release from the county yesterday about a meeting that occurred earlier this month between Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi representatives Daren and Dayne Gonsalves (also known as Dayne Aipoalani) and Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry, Deputy Police Chief Mark Begley, Assistant Chief Gordon Isoda and Assistant Chief Roy Asher.

The meeting was held at the request of Gonsalves the Kingdom’s high chief, to discuss the arrest of him and Robert Pa, the Kingdom’s customary chief, on charges of obstructing government operations during the Aug. 27 Nawiliwili Harbor demonstration against the Superferry. They were also cited with impersonating police officers, ostensibly because of the Kingdom marshal badges they carry. At the time of the arrest, police announced they would be moving against other Kingdom members, as well.

The Kingdom had previously sent out its own press release, which characterized the Nov. 8 sit down with the cops as “a cordial meeting of minds,” while noting: “Needless to say there is a difference in perception between state and kingdom of who owns what and who is breaking whose laws.”

“The police for their part were willing to discuss these matters,” the Kingdom’s press release continued. “Officer Asher stated that there would now be no reason to arrest 'kingdom guys.' They were willing to work the current situation out if stopping short of absolute recognition on their part. The High Chief [Gonsalves] said it was not in his interest to shut down county, state or federal governments, only to exercise oversight authority as the representative of the ‘first people’ and the preservation of their endangered culture, to ensure the well being of future generations of their keiki. He also pointed out that on the badges the police wear is a representative figure of a Hawaiian Ali'i which in fact is representation of himself. He further asked the Police Department to issue an apology for his arrest to be published in the Garden Island to clear his name. They agreed to this.

“The police will now examine the documents presented to them and go through their protocol ‘so as to protect the Kingdom's foundation so no one else gets arrested,"’ The Kingdom release continued. “Chief Dayne also received an E-Mail from Governor Lingle's liaison Loke Kin stating the same thing and calling for further discussion.

“The promise of the Kauai Police and the Office of the Governor to sincerely review these issues perhaps denotes someone is finally listening after all,” the Kingdom’s release concludes.

The county press release, however, tells a rather different story, stating: “[Police Chief] Perry told Gonsalves that he would review the documents and would also ask County Attorney Matthew Pyun, Jr. to review them and provide a determination on their validity. KPD officials told Gonsalves that his presentation lacked supporting documentation. Gonsalves assured them that those documents would be forthcoming, but he has not yet provided county officials with the documents.

“Perry informed Gonsalves that there was no credible reason for an apology, and that the Judiciary would make the final determination on their guilt or innocence," the county release continued.

“In addition, Perry advised Gonsalves that KPD would continue to enforce state and county laws, including the offense of impersonating a law enforcement officer.

“Gonsalves was also told that his badge would remain in police custody as evidence," the county release concluded.

So much for a “cordial meeting of minds,” and Gonsalves hope that “someone is finally listening after all.”

Friday, November 23, 2007

Musings: Homegrown "Terrorism"

Well, the holiday season is officially upon us, with its over-emphasis on buy-buy, spend-spend. Yawn…… Every year, I pull further out of that whole scene, trying to distill my observance down to the essence, and away from all that hyper-materialism.

Mine is kind of an anti-American attitude, when you get down to it, because our economy is so consumerism-based. So far, however, it’s not illegal to speak disparagingly about shopping.

But with the U.S. Senate now poised to consider The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1955), all kinds of unpopular thought, speech and action now protected by the First Amendment could be at risk.

As I read an article by Jessica Lee on the proposed act published in The Indypendent, I was struck by how some of the concerns expressed about the bill are already playing out here in Hawaii with Gov. Lingle’s response to the Superferry opposition.

First, some background.

The bill, which passed the House Oct. 23 in a 404-6 vote (Rep. Abercrombie voted no, while Rep. Mazie Hirono voted yes), “would establish a ‘National Commission on the prevention of violent radicalization and ideologically based violence’ and a university-based ‘Center for Excellence’ to ‘examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism and ideologically based violence in the United States’ in order to develop policy for ‘prevention, disruption and mitigation,’” according to the article.

While a simple study may sound harmless enough, Lee’s article goes on to quote Hope Marston, a regional organizer with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), who expresses concerns about the bill’s definition of terrorism: “It is about the ‘use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence to intimidate or coerce the government.’ This is often the language that refers to political activity.”

Marston is later quoted as saying: "The definition does not make clear what force is.”

The article states: “One pressing concern is definitions contained in the bill. For example, ‘violent radicalization’ is defined as ‘the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”

The article quotes Alejandro Queral, executive director of the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center, who asks: “What is an extremist belief system? Who defines this? These are broad definitions that encompass so much. … It is criminalizing thought and ideology.”

The article also quotes a Nov. 6 press release by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), which states: “The National Commission [will] propose to both Congress and [Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff initiatives to intercede before radicalized individuals turn violent.”

The article then quotes David Price, a professor of anthropology at St. Martin’s University who studies government surveillance and harassment of dissident scholars, who maintains: “This bill is trying to bridge the gap between those with radical dissenting views and those who engage in violent acts. It’s a form of prior restraint.”

Now here’s where it starts to get good, and I’m still referencing Lee’s article:

Price explains how this may work, citing an example in his home town of Olympia, Wash., where a peaceful blockade took place in early November at the Port of Olympia to prevent the shipment of war materials between the United States and Iraq. He says, “It will be these types of things that will start getting defined as terrorism, including Quakers and indigenous rights’ campaigns.”

Kamau Franklin, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), is also concerned at the targeting of peaceful protests. He says the “Commission’s broad mandate can lead to the ability to turn civil disobedience, a form of protest that is centuries old, into a terrorist act.” It’s possible, he says, “that someone who would have been charged with disorderly conduct or obstruction of governmental administration may soon be charged with a federal terrorist statute.”

“My biggest fear is that they [the commission] will call for some new criminal penalties and federal crimes,” says Franklin. “Activists are nervous about how the broad definitions could be used for criminalizing civil disobedience and squashing the momentum of the left.”

I find Franklin’s comment incredibly astute, seeing as how a federal “security zone” at Nawiliwili Harbor, with its attendant hefty penalties, has already been implemented here on Kauai precisely to turn civil disobedience into a terrorist act — with the goal of quashing protests against the Superferry.

As I’ve noted previously, the sole purpose of Lingle’s Sept. 20 visit to Kauai was to advise citizens about the zone and its penalties in order to deter the kind of peaceful, yet extremely effective, protest that resulted in a water blockade that kept the ferry from entering the harbor.

Before the zone, those who were arrested in the Superferry demonstrations were charged with various misdemeanor offenses that carry light fines and little or no jail time.

After the zone, those engaging in the very same “offenses” could suddenly be charged with federal crimes that carry lengthy federal prison terms and substantial fines.

The citizen actions would be the same, but the response from government would be radically different — with much more serious consequences as a result.

We’ve already seen the deliberate rhetorical build-up that allows the government to get away with this kind of heavy-handed approach. Those who gathered for two nights at Nawiliwili to express their concerns about what they perceived as illegal action by the Superferry have been branded as radical environmentalists, extremists, a vocal minority, a fringe element and special interest groups.

They’ve also been depersonalized, through the use of language that demeans them as newcomer haoles, hippies, druggies, unruly, rowdy, rude, violent, obstructionists, anti-Oahu and devoid of aloha.

In America, the big fear is Arabs and Islamic groups. In Hawaii, the big fear is environmentalists and Hawaiian sovereignty groups.

And the really big fear in both places are those who oppose rampant capitalism and seek to dispel the mindset that promotes unending growth.

Lee’s article quotes a 2005 RAND report, “Trends in Terrorism,” which devotes one chapter to a non-Muslim “homegrown terrorist” threat — anti-globalists: “Anti-globalists directly challenge the intrinsic qualities of capitalism, charging that in the insatiable quest for growth and profit, the philosophy is serving to destroy the world’s ecology, indigenous cultures and individual welfare,” stated the report.

If any of this is starting to hit uncomfortably close to home — or you simply don’t want to see America edge even closer to a police state — I urge you to contact your Senators right away and ask them to defeat this bill. It has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, chaired by Joe Lieberman.

But first take a few minutes to read Lee’s article, which does an excellent job of exploring both the bill and the broader issue of what constitutes violence and terrorism.

You might be surprised to find that the definitions could apply to some of your own cherished beliefs.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Musings: Prayer of Gratitude

Walked down the dark street this morning, beneath a canopy of stars, past the orange glow of a neighbor’s inflatable pilgrim-turkey, and along the trail, to the place where I could look out over the pasture and see the ocean, and the notch in the mountains beneath the Sleeping Giant’s chin.

With Venus reigning over a soft blue sky, I watched the horizon turn gold as the first rays of day sent up shafts of pink that stained the clouds, traveling south, and fast, and listened to the birds awaken, singing, the way I like to do, although mine is the silent kind of the soul.

And then in an instant all the color vanished, the sky washed pale, the clouds gone gray, waiting for the sun, which rose, as I retraced my steps home, in a burst of orange near the Giant’s feet, and Wailaleale was clear, save for a rosy halo.

My neighbor Andy pronounced it an exquisite morning, and I could only agree.

Yesterday afternoon I went to my favorite beach, where a stiff north wind riled up a sea that was already roaring with the force of its own swell, and took a cautious dip in the foamy shallows near the shoreline. I wanted to linger in the ocean's salty froth, but it was too rough, and I am always cautious in that place, where the water is swept, fast and furious, toward a narrow channel in the reef.

Returning to the parking lot, I encountered a couple, visiting from Honolulu, and the man recognized the carved-bone pendant I wear around my neck — a gift from a friend — as one of his own creations.

Life is so fascinating, full of chance encounters, unexpected events, like a friend who called last night, enroute to the Midwest, with news that her dear friend had taken his own life in Oakland.

We never know what lies around each corner, when joy and abundance will be given, or taken. All we can do is love, and appreciate each moment. And remember, always, the prayer of gratitude.

Mahalo ke Akua.

Sending love to S., grieving in Cleveland.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Musings: Meeting the Bag Man

A sky full of brilliant stars greeted Koko and me this morning, although Makalii was hazy in clouds over the mountains. The eastern sky turned gold, and the western sky lavender-pink, as the sun rose unobstructed, crowning a glorious day.

Farmer Jerry stopped to tell me that The Nature Conservancy negotiated a deal with A&B to buy Wainiha Valley, above the intake for the hydropower plant, thus ensuring that a vast tract of relatively pristine native forest will remain undisturbed. [correx: it's not a purchase, but a 10-year management deal affecting some 7,050 acres] For someone who eschews politics, Jerry is incredibly dialed in.

Less so is Hawaii Superferry, which despite a statement on its website and a report in yesterday’s Honolulu Advertiser
still has taken no noticeable steps to smooth ruffled feathers on Kauai.

The Advertiser story states: “The company has put Kaua'i service on hold while it continues efforts to calm community concerns and prevent the kind of protests that blocked the ferry from docking at Nawiliwili Harbor on Aug. 27.”

It does not elaborate further on those efforts, most likely because none are under way. I talked to Sen. Gary Hooser and Rep. Mina Morita the other day, and they said Superferry CEO John Garibaldi met individually with each of them last week, as well as Kauai Reps. Jimmy Tokioka and Roland Sagum, to ask their thoughts on how to handle the opposition.

Both Gary and Mina suggested company officials meet with Jimmy Trujillo of Hui-R, Keone Kealoha of Malama Kauai and Rich Hoeppner of People for the Preservation of Kauai. But when I checked with those guys, not one had heard a peep from Hawaii Superferry.

Mina, not one to mince words, said she told Garibaldi: “You just destroyed people’s trust in government.” Mina said she had little advice to offer because “they blew it in the first place. I couldn’t give them any suggestions because to me, they’re liars, and I don’t trust them. All I could think of looking at him (Garibaldi) is, he’s the bag man.”

Gary said that although there was no direct request, “part of me felt like he was trying to enroll us in some of kind of team effort, and I’m not going to be part of that.

Added Mina: “The only thing I said I would do is ask everyone to protest peacefully and legally.”

Gary said he has been getting some emails from people in Kauai’s business community asking him to be more aggressive in deterring protests, but he feels he’s “already been speaking up about that.”

“Obviously, I don’t want people to ruin their lives or get hurt, but I don’t want to tell people not to demonstrate,” said Gary, who is hoping that people “won’t get in the water or be unruly or obnoxious” because he doesn’t want to see a confrontation between demonstrators and the police.

Gary said he advised Garibaldi to “delay (service) as long as possible and reach out to the community and meet with as many people as you can.” He also reiterated that it would be wise to pursue “an independent, third-party dispute resolution.”

Garibalidi was “basically non-committal as far as what their outreach would look like,” Gary said. “I was very clear with him that it would be very difficult because there was no trust.”

Gary also suggested that Superferry “bring something — not money or donations, but maybe tighter operating standards, go slower in the whale sanctuary, do something to show good faith and demonstrate a willingness to be a good neighbor.”

Gary said that Garibaldi “talked about a lot of misinformation and wanted to get correct information out to people. I told him it’s moved beyond that already. It’s not about whales and invasive species, it’s a corrupt process. That’s where a lot of this animosity is coming from.”

Now all eyes will be on Maui when ferry service resumes there Dec. 1. Gary said that if the vessel is met by protests, that might embolden people if the boat comes to Kauai, whereas if things go smoothly, it might ease tensions on the Garden Island.

I’ve heard reports that some Kauai folks are planning to travel to Maui to join demonstrations there, but overall, I’ve picked up no sense that people want to engage the police in violent protests.

In fact, I received an announcement for a “full moon, candlelight prayer vigil and water blessing, for the protection of Kaua’i, her people, and the Hawaiian waters, and in solidarity with our Neighbor Islands” at Nawiliwili Harbor on Friday. Folks are asked to gather at sunset, with prayers to begin at 7 p.m.

“We see this gathering as a “kick-off” for those who will continue to hold this consciousness of Peace and Harmony through Dec. 1, when the Hawaii Superferry resumes its schedule to Maui,” the announcement stated.

It seems that when it comes to community outreach, the people are at least one step ahead of Hawaii Superferry.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Musings: Dollars & Sense

Venus shone intermittently and stars were scarce when Koko and I set out this morning under a cloudy sky that was slow to brighten.

Dodging garbage cans, and the garbage truck, we made it to one of my favorite places — the thicket of eucalyptus and ironwood — and I felt that primal, electric excitement induced by gusty wind in the darkness. Along the way, an occasional waft of coffee, toast, a cigarette in a passing car, mixed with the peppery scents of blossoms I couldn’t identify and the musky-sweet smell of hinano — the phallic-shaped, ivory-colored hala flower.

I’ve been noticing that shades of yellow and white seem to be the predominant flower colors this time of year: snowbush gleams brightly even in the pre-dawn shadows, and bursts of gold cats claw interrupt the green foliage along the road. I stopped on Kawaihau Road the other day and picked a bouquet of orange daisies growing wild.

Neighbor Andy, with a pack of four dogs anxious to get on with their walk, paused long enough to say that cars had been vandalized on this street, too, and mailboxes, so trashing cars isn’t unique to my pending new neighborhood in Anahola. And I saw two vehicles that had been graffiti-tagged, their windows smashed, along the Pooku stables road in Princeville yesterday.

And they say there's nothing for the youth to do on Kauai....

Passed farmer Jerry on his way to work — like many farmers, he has a regular job in addition to his earthy passion — and he slowed to say, “We going miss you!” He reads this blog "to keep up with the sunrises and weather reports, follow that great cosmic wheel. I don’t care about the politics.”

Yet I know he’s deeply involved in politics, albeit reluctantly, much like myself. You don’t really want to immerse yourself in that muck, not when there’s neat stuff that’s alive to capture your attention, but you can't ignore it, either.

So, as promised, here’s my rough tally of what Hawaii Superferry has cost the State of Hawaii — aka, the taxpayers — thus far. And we’re just talking dollars here, not aggravation and grief.

First, there’s the $40 million for the harbor construction projects — and untold millions more are pending so the ferry can dock at Kawaihae, on the Big Island. Then there’s $1 million for the EIS to study the impact of these harbor “improvements” — the barges and ramps that were built solely to benefit Hawaii Superferry, and to its specifications, and wouldn’t be needed if the vessel weren’t running.

Legal fees are another big cost that I haven’t been able to fully calculate, but we can get a general idea from Superferry claims that it was spending $100,000 week during the month-long Maui trial. Of course, Superferry attorney Lisa Munger probably earns more than Attorney General Mark Bennett, but Deputy AG William Wynhoff has also been working this case, and others behind the scenes.

The state may have to pick up the full tab of Isaac Hall’s legal fees, too, if Superferry can worm its way out of the assessment by claiming it had been acting under the advice of the state — a tactic that Munger already hinted at — while fighting Hall’s appeal of the constitutionality ruling will also cost some money.

Another heavy expense that I haven’t been able to totally tally is “harbor security” provided by the Coast Guard, police and DOCARE officers, but we do know there was an emergency appropriation of $18,936.33 to buy extra riot gear. And if demonstrations occur when the boat returns to Kahului and Nawiliwili, those costs will keep climbing.

The special session cost somewhere between about $30,000, near as I can figure, which paid the airfare and per diem of Neighbor Island legislators, and also to send the Senate committee chairs out to hear testimony off Oahu.

Then there was the expense of flying Gov. Lingle and members of her Administration and the Coast Guard over to Kauai for the infamous town hall meeting, as well as overtime to pay KPD and DOCARE officers providing security there.

The cost of providing transportation and per diem for the ferry oversight committee is another expense that taxpayers are still facing, while the pending audit of the Administration’s decision to exempt the Superferry harbor work from an EA likely will be covered by the state auditor’s existing budget.

Still, the audit will increase that agency’s workload, just as Superferry stuff has placed an extra burden on the governor’s office, legislators and their staff, and the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation and Land and Natural Resources.

If the ferry goes belly up, much of its debt will be covered by the federal loan guarantees. But state taxpayers will have little to show for the big investment they’ve made in a private corporation that has promised so much, but so far, delivered nothing.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Musings: Go More Slow

Awoke this morning to the heady scent of mock orange blossoms and the sound of heavy rain, which delayed my walk into the “danger zone” — the time when there’s a spurt of early traffic.

Encountered my neighbor Andy, who told me I was hard to see, with my blue sweatshirt in that gray half-light before a cloudy morning sunrise, but I gave up white clothes years ago, what with the staining effects of dogs and Kauai’s red clay. From my years of riding a motorcycle, I’ve learned to drive and walk defensively, making no assumptions of safety.

Still, it takes a bit of the fun out of walking when I have to be on heightened alert, which is why I prefer to go earlier, unless rain or sleepiness interferes.

For some reason, Koko, normally a non-barker, has taken to lunging on her leash and barking at noisy trucks that pass us close, traveling fast. Not that I haven’t felt like doing the same thing myself at times — OK, I confess, I have once or twice. Sheesh. What’s the big rush?

Of course, the same could be said about the Superferry and it’s eagerness to get going, despite the lack of an EIS and an abundance of simmering resentment on the Neighbor Islands.

Had lunch yesterday with John Tyler, a really nice guy who told me he’d gotten a lot of hate mail from his website, which he advertises on Google’s Superferry page — with the tag line “Whales die or go deaf, neighbor isl traffic mess, drugs. Learn more. — because he wants to educate folks about the issue.

He’s spent about $2,500 out of his own pocket trying to spread the word about Superferry, and while I don’t know his economic situation, I didn’t get the impression he’s got bucks to burn. I’m always impressed by folks who give so much of their own time and money to fight something they believe is harmful not just to them, but the larger community. It doesn’t seem right that they should get hate mail, especially when they’re up against a team of highly-paid lawyers, lobbyists and PR flacks who likely wouldn’t be involved if they weren’t getting paid.

Speaking of Superferry money, I recall CEO John Garibaldi saying last week something to the effect of “we’re almost out of reserves.”

Brad Parsons of Maui sent me an email that delves further into Superferry’s possible economic straits, based on the low introductory fares to Maui that are being advertised.

“I did some quick calculations and came to some interesting conclusions,” he writes.

“Under these new prices, doing 14 trips to and from Maui, the Superferry will lose as much as $400,000 per week under the early reduced fares without a fuel surcharge. Under the later fare after Dec. 20, the losses would be at least $300,000 per week.

“I am assuming a generous 50% (people) to 100% (autos) demand increase under the lower prices to still come to these losses. I am assuming that Superferry will use the same workforce, but they might be able to save as much as $150,000 a week with less employees. I am also assuming that Superferry's marine diesel fuel source would still be the private market, but if the Superferry has been able to secure a deal with the U.S. Navy for lower cost marine diesel fuel, then they may be able to save as much as $75,000 a week on fuel.

“The Superferry can try to sell lots of merchandise and refreshments on-board, but that would not amount to much more than $200,000 per month. Superferry can also make a big push to get more motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds on-board at $35 each, but I am already factoring that in with a generous 100% increase in autos revenue over the averages that the Superferry was expecting.

“All things considered, with only 14 trips per week, losses would be at least a $1 million a month under these prices with no fuel surcharge. The only benefit for the Superferry is that this gives them short-term working capital (cash) to service their loans in the immediate short-term while their other expenses might be able to be delayed a few weeks, but these low prices cannot be maintained even in the intermediate-term. It just goes to show how desperate a situation the Superferry already is in.”

And just think how much worse it would be if the state weren’t picking up so much of the tab, a subject I’ll delve into a bit more tomorrow. Until then, let’s all take it slow and easy, especially on those narrow country roads.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Musings: Off the Beaten Track

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by the house I’m going to be renting near the Anahola mountains next month to check on the telecommunications service.

When I moved to Ha`ena 20 years ago, I was satisfied with a party-line, as it was the only phone service I could get, and watched whatever TV shows I could pick up from the satellite dish at Billie Jean King’s house, down the road.

Now lack of high-speed Internet service would be a deal-breaker, as I’m so dependent upon it in my work. Fortunately, the house has it — along with fabulous views, lots of greenery and blessed silence, if you don’t count chickens, birds and the gurgle of the river.

The driveway, half-a-mile of rough dirt, was another issue, but my landlord assured me my two-wheel-drive car could get out, even in the rain. “Well, I suppose I could always leave my car on the road and walk down if it got too bad,” I mused, but he immediately dismissed that idea.

“Within hours the windows would be shot out and the tires slashed, and then it would be set on fire,” he warned. It’s not that it’s a “bad” neighborhood, or dangerous in any way, but sometimes the Anahola boyz get out of hand, and unattended cars on their turf are apparently fair game.

Those issues aside, I’m looking forward to the move. I like my current house, but after enduring an eight-month kitchen remodel — and still facing the prospect of an upcoming bathroom renovation and other repairs — I’m ready to dig.

Besides, I like living off the beaten track, literally and figuratively.

Speaking of off the beaten track, I slipped off the trail by my house and into the cattle pastures yesterday to avoid other hikers and enjoy the splendid mountain views and golden afternoon sunlight. I was sitting down a little slope, screened by guava trees, when I heard voices getting closer, saying words like, heel, heel, and come on now, boy, flush it out.

Suddenly I realized I was being tracked. Koko was fully alert, but wisely stayed quiet and hidden, as I rose slowly to see a guy holding a shotgun. He still hadn’t seen me, so I picked up Koko and quickly yelled out, hey!

I could see the disappointment on the two hunters’ faces —they had flushed a bird, but it wasn’t the pheasant they fancied.

I apologized at disrupting their hunt, and they said no problem; they were training a new dog, and pleased he had picked up a scent. The little boy tagging along in his orange hunting vest smiled in delight at Koko, and all was well as I got back on the trail and they got back to business.

I'm going to miss this neighborhood.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Musings: Rough Sailing?

Woke up sleepy this morning and slipped in a short walk between rain showers. As the days grow shorter, and cloudier, I’m not so inclined to spring up before dawn. But the taro and I like this wet weather, and it saves me time not having to water.

Hawaii Superferry, as expected, wasted no time in announcing plans to resume service — at least to Maui. The Associated Press is reporting the ferry will sail for the Valley Island beginning Dec. 1, with $29 inaugural one-way fares for passengers and rates of $55 for cars and $35 for motorcycles, scooters and mo-peds.

Meanwhile, the ferry’s website has posted this statement regarding service to the Garden Island:

“A date for commencing service to and from Kaua‘i has not yet been determined. We are working with the community on Kaua‘i and listening to their concerns. We will make our decision about when we commence our Kaua‘i service once that process is completed.”

The statement prompted John Tyler of, who yesterday posted a piece by OHA trustee Moanikeala Akaka on “Hawaii’s Superferry Folly,” to send out an email inquiring who on Kauai had been contacted by Superferry, “or is that once again PR bullshit?”

That’s a very good question, and so far I haven’t heard of anyone being asked to sit down and work on solutions with Superferry. I’m curious to know whom they would approach for such a process, and how it would play out.

Tyler’s email goes on to state: “Why Maui and not Kaua'i?....More is going on here than meets the eye. Closely watch the divide and conquer strategy unfold, and be ready to get more creative back...”

While I agree the divide and conquer strategy is a legitimate concern, and question the company’s sincerity to patch things up with Kauai, I think the bottom line in their decision is, well, the bottom line. Hawaii Superferry previously made the comment that Maui is the lucrative market crucial to its economic success. Plus I’m pretty sure Superferry isn’t anxious to mar its re-launch by mixing it up with irate citizens on Kauai.

The question now is whether Maui folks will finally take to the streets, or rather, the harbor, after winning in the courts, then getting shut down by the Legislature.

Larry Geller of Disappeared News also offers an interesting perspective on the possible impacts of the low fares and starting service to Maui first.

Meanwhile, I had a report from a very knowledgeable source that the ferry was experiencing trouble with its engines. Apparently this has been a problem with such ferries elsewhere, as running at super-speed strains even those super engines.

Mahalo to those who posted comments advising us about the rough conditions in Kahului Harbor. Others have recounted that people were getting sick and car alarms were going off when the boat was barely out of Honolulu during the calm seas of summer.

Mother Nature, with her storms and swells, may yet play the final card in this high-stakes game.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Musings: That Choking Feeling

Although the roosters start crowing well before dawn, the wild chickens don’t actually rise until it starts to get light. Their path from the valley, where they roost, is right behind my house, so even if I try to sleep in, the high-pitched cheeps of numerous chicks, and low clucking moans of the hens, serve as an effective alarm clock.

Noticed both the Advertiser and Star-Bulletin yesterday featured pictures of the Superferry with a rainbow in the background, and the Bulletin included a reference to new beginnings. Of course, rainbows as hoailona — mystical signs — can be read many different ways. And this particular one appeared in a very dark sky.

The Advertiser yesterday also ran an article that included some tough talk by Maui attorney Isaac Hall about political consequences for lawmakers and the comment: “A strong coalition has formed and it's not going to stand by and take this," he said.

“There are some social impacts to ramming a project down the throats of Hawai'i's people ..." he said. "People on the street are not happy with what is happening with the Hawaii Superferry."

Problem is, it’s not the people-packed streets of Oahu, which is why I’m not convinced there will be any political consequences. Still, his statement did make me recall one sign at the most recent Superferry protest: Help us, we're choking — Superferry shoved down our throats.

Yes, many are experiencing that uncomfortable choking feeling, which gets me wondering when Hawaii Superferry is going to launch the ho`oponopono and community goodwill processes it proposed before Judge Cardoza gave it the green light. If the ferry is due to run in a couple of weeks, it seems they’d best get started. Just like when is Gov. Lingle going to make the Neighbor Island visits she mentioned when she fancied herself becoming the peacemaker in this jammed up process?

And when do you suppose we're all going to engage in that long overdue discussion of conflicting values Judge Cardoza keeps talking about? Wanna bet nevah?

Several friends have taken a more laid-back approach to the Superferry controversy, saying there’s no reason to get fret because the fuel-sucking ferry will die an economic death. Now they’re pointing to rising oil costs and Matson’s recent fuel surcharge hike as evidence their prediction will be correct.

Speaking of economics, I’ve noticed a few signs — beyond the “for sale” ones that have been posted in front of numerous properties for many months now — that Kauai real estate sales and new construction are dramatically slowing, even in the luxury market that has largely driven it in recent years. Earlier this week, 12 people who work for Kealia Kai were fired because those luxury lots aren’t selling, and I got a direct-mail piece from a roofing contractor trying to drum up business.

More telling, an electrician friend who has been doing only new construction for the past several years has taken on some remodel jobs, as well as energy-saving projects at a major hotel.

Finally, I wanted to point out an article in yesterday’s The Garden Island that may represent a first in the history of Kauai: the planning commission actually denied permits for a CPR project. And because the three-story buildings proposed for the 72-lot Koloa Creekside Estates — with a name like that, it’s gotta be a mainland developer — “fail to fit in with the historic character of the Koloa community,” no less.

Pinch me, I must be dreaming — which is always better than choking.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Musings: Lost Boys

I’ve been rattled for the past few days, ever since running into an old friend in the parking lot of a Ha`ena restaurant, where I’d gone to write a review.

How are you? I asked, and he answered, still lost.

He was cruising with a couple of other lost boys — or more accurately, middle-aged men — who have fallen down the "ice" hole and can’t find their way out.

I’ve lost everything, he told me, but I already knew, because I’d heard the stories from his family, and through the coconut wireless. They weren’t tales I’d ever thought I would hear told about him, someone who had raised a family of fine children with the old values, while living mostly off the land.

I’m sorry to hear that, I said, and meant it whole-heartedly, and he replied that he had no one to blame but himself.

He seemed to have shrunk in height and size, and he was shaking, either from being on the meth, or too long off it, and when I hugged him goodbye, I tried to send strength into his being.

I hope you find yourself, I said, and I’ve been thinking about him ever since, and all the other guys like him, so many of them local, who are caught in that spin of ice-procuring and using.

I once asked him why, and he said it was a community, the only one he had since the North Shore where he was born and raised had changed so dramatically, turned into a place where he as a country boy had come to feel inferior among all that new wealth, a place where he felt like he no longer belonged.

I’ve often wondered — and I know I’m not the only one — whether ice was deliberately introduced to keep the locals down, fragmented, weak, which is not to say that other ethnic groups don’t use it, too, but certainly it’s cut a wide swath through local men, at least on Kauai’s North Shore.

Driving home, shaken by the encounter, I thought of what could be done for him, and the others, how they could be reintegrated into the community, what we as a society had lost in our lost boys, some of whom I knew personally to have beautiful, deep souls and skills crucial to us achieving sustainability.

Incarceration wasn’t the answer; he’d already spent time in jail, and was still getting tested, and as for helping him kick the stuff, Kauai has no drug treatment center — not that he and his family have health insurance or the money to pay for it, anyway.

When I heard Judge Cardoza say yesterday, when ruling to lift the Superferry injunction, that “issues related to cultural values, conflicts between changing lifestyles and old and new Hawaii have been festering for a long time in this community and .... need to be addressed,” I thought of my friend.

He, and the other lost boys, are the walking wounded, the casualties, of that festering conflict. They grew up when the North Shore was still old Hawaii, when the lifestyle was rural and centered around the land, when the beaches where they fished weren’t filled with tourists and the land where they hunted wasn’t fenced and developed, when movies weren’t being made in Lumahai Valley during the middle of `o`opu season, when they could still afford a home to rent, when their neighborhoods were occupied by their friends and families, not transient vacation rentals.

In less than a generation’s time all that had changed, much of it was lost, and many of the boys, unable to adapt in time, got lost along with it. Yeah, maybe they’ve got only themselves to blame, but somehow I don’t think it’s quite that simple. And as a society, don’t we want to bring those who were here first back into the fold before we open the door ever wider to the forces that are destroying them?

These are the kinds of tough issues that don’t fit on a protest sign or get addressed in any meetings that I’ve ever attended. Yet they’re at the core, I believe, of so much of what ails us.

The question now is do we as a community really want to heal, or remain in denial of the true nature of our illness?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cardoza Says Superferry Can Sail

Thanks to a live courtroom feed by Akaku — and despite my neighbor’s loud lawn mower — I was able to hear Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza’s reasoning today when he dissolved the injunction that prevented Hawaii Superferry from accessing Kahului Harbor.

In short, Cardoza found his injunction had been rendered moot by Act 2 — the special legislation that allows the ferry to run while an environmental review is under way. He also found that the new law has “no constitutional infirmities” that make it invalid.

The judge chided Maui attorney Isaac Hall for some of the comments he made while arguing against the motion to lift the injunction, saying “such arguments have no place in an orderly society.” And he said that Hall’s arguments suggesting citizens might engage in civil disobedience if the injunction is lifted “carried no weight in this court.” (See my earlier post for more details.)

However, it looks like Hall may be able to get attorney fees and court costs from Hawaii Superferry because he did originally prevail, even though Superferry got the law changed and ended up the victor. Although Cardoza didn’t grant the fees, he said he doesn’t think the new law “sweeps away” Hall’s right to receive them. However, Hall will have to file a motion to claim them.

Finally, Cardoza granted a motion dismissing outstanding claims in the case, which clears the way for Hall to appeal his ruling.

In his preamble, Cardoza noted that “issues related to cultural values .... (and) conflicts between changing lifestyles and old and new Hawaii have been festering for a long time in this community and the court agrees they need to be addressed.”

If the comments posted in the Akaku chat room by those waiting to hear the judge’s decision — things like round up all the env and send to guantanamo ..... turn Kauai into a concentration camp for activists ....bring in blackwater ....sink da boat ... bring in the torture....hope the superferry hits a iceberg…. Kauai had better watch out…. we’re coming over there whether you like it or not…. I’m ready to ram some surfers….. take mil from HI and you got china…. it’s gonna be ugly when the riot gear comes out…this is what Democracy looks like, go back to church if you don't like name calling — are any indication, those festering issues have already erupted into a putrid, oozing mess.

Part One of Today's Superferry Hearing

Maui attorney Isaac Hall took off the gloves in Judge Joseph Cardoza’s courtroom today as he vigorously argued against dropping the injunction that prevents Hawaii Superferry from going to Kahului Harbor.

After arguments and rebuttals, Cardoza recessed until 1:30 p.m. Big mahalo to Christian Holmes at Akaku for streaming the proceedings live.

Hall focused on the “artifice” of Act 2 – the bill passed in the recent special session that ostensibly addresses a “large capacity ferry,” rather than Hawaii Superferry specifically, which would constitute special legislation prohibited by the state Constitution.

“There is no one in this whole world who thinks Act 2 is anything but Superferry legislation,” Hall said, noting that Gov. Linda Lingle said in her own press release that the purpose of the bill was to allow Superferry to operate, and Attorney General Mark Bennett made a similar comment in testimony to the Legislature.

“When he gets a chance to speak freely, he tells the truth,” Hall said of Bennett, who was flanked by Deputy Attorney General William Wynhoff and Superferry attorney Lisa Munger, who was looking tired and worn, despite racking up choke billable hours in this case.

“This could not possibly be anything but special interest legislation,” said Hall, who then asked rhetorically, “does Mr. Bennett think we are the village idiots?”

“They didn’t like your decision, Judge,” Hall said in explaining why Lingle sought a special session to circumvent Cardoza’s ruling — after a four-week trial — that the boat could not use Kahului Harbor until an environmental review was done.

Hall also criticized Lingle’s operating conditions for the ferry, noting that she allows the vessel to travel at 25 knots through the whale sanctuary, even though the state Department of Land and Natural Resources “just issued a new policy that says the safe speed is 10 knots.”

Hall also reiterated that Maui’s plant and animal resources would be jeopardized by the ferry. “Instead of protecting these resources, our Attorney General takes the opportunity to travel over to Maui to argue they should be destroyed by Hawaii Superferry.”

He even jabbed Bennett for being unable to pronounce the word ahupuaa when arguing the plaintiff’s claims on behalf of Native Hawaiian rights had not met.

Hall said he had been approached by numerous people who feel “this whole thing has been done the wrong way from the beginning. That’s the over-arching thing I get.”

Many now feel, he said, that “the only way left to secure justice is in the water” — a reference to the surfboard and kayak blockade that kept the ferry out of Nawiliwili Harbor on Aug. 27. “We in the courts must make every effort not to force our citizens into that position.”

Bennett previously had argued that Act 2 “creates no new rights of any kind….except removing barriers to standing” and said that “dissolving an injunction that has no basis in law any more can’t possibly violate someone’s due process rights.”

“What the plaintiffs are really doing here,” Bennett argued, is throwing a whole bunch of things up against the wall and trying to get one to stick.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Live, from Kahului, it's Judge Cardoza

On Wednesday morning, Maui Judge Joseph Cardoza will hear the state and Superferry's motion to lift the restraining order against the boat operating at Kahului Harbor.

Thanks to LightLine for letting us know Akaku: Maui Community Television will present a multicast of the hearing at 8:30 a.m. You can catch it streaming live here, watch it live on cable channel 54 (Akaku) or listen to in on radio station KAKU at 88.5 FM.

You can also chat about it on-line.

Musings: Teetering on the Edge

I took my friend Jan Ten’s advice and checked out the comet last night, after delighting in the crescent moon setting to the left of Jupiter in a clear, rosy sky. To borrow his phrase, it’s pretty darn cool!

If you’re like my neighbor Andy, who confessed he can only identify the moon in the night sky, here’s a neat little site that can help you find your bearings among all those brilliant specks in the blackness. The comet, known as 17P/Holmes and now the size of Jupiter, is in the constellation Perseus, near its brightest star.

You can see it with the naked eye, but binoculars dramatically improve the viewing. This is a good time to look for it, too, with the moon small and setting early.

Speaking of Jan, he posted an interesting piece of reportage about humankind’s far-reaching impacts on the world’s natural systems on his Raising Islands blog the other day. Although global warming gets most of the attention, it's only one part of this complex story.

Democracy Now! touched on that hot topic yesterday in its report on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s visit to Antartica, where temperatures are their highest in about 1,800 years.

The report included this quote from Ban Ki-Moon: "Again, I was told by the scientist that entire western Antarctica is now floating. This is one fifth of total continent, the size of this total continent. If it breaks up, the sea level may rise as much as 6 metres. 18 feet. This is very alarming."

Do you ever get the feeling that things are too far gone, that we’ve already reached the point of no return when it comes to humankind’s errant, self-centered ways and our ability to live comfortably on the home planet?

My own take on things is that all the models will prove to be inaccurate, and once the dominoes start falling in earnest, we’ll see the collapses occur exponentially faster than the scientists — and certainly the policy makers — expected.

I always get a giggle when I hear people talk about saving Kauai or saving the Earth. Both, I’m pretty certain, will endure. It’s our own sorry asses we need to worry about — and all the other critters we’re taking down with us.

Yet still I remain cheerful. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, I have food in my stomach and a roof over my head. After years of languishing in despair over the state of the world and the brutishness of man, I’ve emerged into a place of calm by doing my best to be in the moment.

And that’s not the same as living like there’s no tomorrow.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Musings: Bush/Cheney "coup"?

It rained heavily in the night, so I was surprised this morning to find the skies were starry and the mountains were clear. It was chilly, too, with mist clinging to the pastures.

Koko and I encountered a large pig on the road while driving late yesterday afternoon, and she remembered the spot today and had to give it a good sniffing. We also encountered Andy, with three dogs, and he and I both agreed we’d never seen so many trucks pass by. So much for our expectations of a quiet holiday morning.

I have an early deadline today, so need to keep this short, but I wanted to urge folks to educate themselves about Presidential Directive 51 — NSPD-51 — which outlines the White House’s new plans to ensure “continuity of government” in the event of an loosely defined “catastrophic emergency.”

The directive was issued without Congressional review, and has two secret clauses that the Bush Administration won’t disclose — even to Congressional oversight committees — on the grounds of national security concerns.

The story apparently broke on newscenter but received little attention in the mainstream media until it was picked up by Oregonian staff writer Jeff Kosseff when a Portland Congressmanwas denied access to the security documents, but kept pushing the issue.

A longer article recently appeared on, which got condensed into The Week magazine, finally bringing the issue to a wider audience.

While it’s raised a lot of talk about an upcoming Bush/Cheney “coup,” others claim it’s a standard policy document that’s needed in these uncertain times.

I’d suggest going straight to the source to read the document and decide for yourself. Given the antics Bush/Cheney have already pulled, I found it deeply disturbing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Musings: Drugs and Propaganda

The water was calling me this morning, so I went, and watched the clouds over the mountains turn a smoldering gray-pink as the sun rose from the ocean.

I swam, walked and sat in its brilliant shimmer, as Koko chased chickens and dug for crabs, then left when it began to climb higher. I like the sun best when it’s low on the horizon.

Yesterday I took advantage of the waxing moon in Scorpio to plant taro. It bled on me, with its distinctive red juice, and I bled on it after slicing my finger while cutting huli.

Taro, like the Hawaiian people that are its descendants, is hardy and keeps on giving. From one row of mature plants, I got enough huli and keiki to make four new rows, plus leaf for laulau and corms for poi. On Friday I ground another batch of poi and gave it to my friend Kaimi, who took it to Oahu to share with the Hokulea crew during training exercises this weekend.

Life to me feels happier when there’s plenty of giving and sharing — without a thought to what one might get in return.

While we’re on that topic, The Garden Island yesterday carried a letter to the editor from Larry Bowman, one of the original hedge fund investors who cashed out a few years back with several hundred million dollars and bought numerous properties on Kauai, including Valley House.

Bowman, who has made a number of heavily publicized donations to wildlife conservation projects and law enforcement activities, threw down the gauntlet to Hawaii Superferry with his offer to “donate FOUR drug dogs and training for FOUR officers to inspect cars while being transported on the Superferry. We will bear the current cost of $125,000, IF the program is in place BEFORE the Superferry starts up again.”

The column, which includes questionable estimates of his own derivation on the number of Kauai coke and meth users, also includes this comment: “I am involved with drug prevention at a half dozen law enforcement agencies.” How is it, I wondered, that a private citizen has that kind of access? And how did he gain it? Through gifts like radios to the cops, and letting them use his fitness center?

The Garden Island earlier carried this fawning story: “Larry Bowman of Falko Partners has a rich history of giving back to the community and his efforts helped out the Lihue Pop Warner Association to the tune of $15,000. Also, the same day, Lihue announced that they would begin drug testing coaches, making them the first in the state to do so.”

Was it all just a coincidence, or do Bowman’s gifts typically come with strings attached?

Falko’s Superferry offer sounds like a nice gesture, and perhaps it is, but it concerns me when private citizens start funding law enforcement activities. We saw this once before when Michele and Justin Hughes hired security guards to patrol Kauapea Beach and roust campers and nude sunbathers.

If drug trafficking is a valid concern with Superferry transit, then the agencies charged to handle such matters should deal with it. It’s not exactly like the DEA and drug eradication efforts are under funded. And if Mr. Bowman weren’t so eager to publicize every donation he makes, his philanthropic actions might seem a bit more sincere and a little less self-serving.

I believe the Hawaiian word for it is ha`aha`a – humility, humble.

Speaking of self-serving drug warriors, I received a press release from the county, which The Garden Island reprinted verbatim, about Kauai cops participating in a “Drug Demand Reducation Program” for island pre-schoolers.

The press release states: “Approximately a dozen police officers took part in the event. Members of the Special Services Team wore their distinctive uniforms and talked about their role in law enforcement. Vice officers flew in on helicopters and explained how helicopters are used in marijuana eradication efforts, while patrol officers showed the youngsters what a patrol car is equipped with and described how they respond to calls.”

I think it’s great to educate kids about the dangers of drugs — and let’s include the legal ones, like Ritalin, along with the illicit varieties — but it’s not a job for the cops, who have their own particular bias on the subject.

It starts looking an awful lot like drug war propaganda when they fly in on helicopters to promote the incredibly intrusive “Green Harvest” marijuana eradication effort and focus so heavily on interdiction.

And if KPD has enough manpower to send a dozen cops to talk to pre-schoolers, it can probably handle drug inspections on the Superferry without help from Mr. Bowman.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Musings: Rockets and Bones

A nice thing about Saturdays is I can walk a bit later, when it’s actually light, without encountering many cars, save for the odd hunter’s truck with the bed packed full of dogs. This is their day to romp.

Ran into my neighbor Andy and he shared part of my walk, discussing sacred land, iwi kupuna and a historic house in the neighborhood. Conversations with Andy are always far ranging and informative.

I brought up the topic of iwi kupuna — ancient Hawaiian bones — because I attended a talk by Kyle Kajihiro and Terri Kekoolani last night on militarism in Hawaii and the role of the Superferry.

Terri told of becoming active in the issue after encountering boxes filled with human remains at Bishop Museum. Some 2,000 Hawaiian burials were dug up at Mokapu during construction of the Kaneohe Air Base on Oahu, and she’s been involved with efforts to have them returned to their original resting place.

“My ancestors were removed from their gravesites for a military facility,” she said. “This is the impact of militarism on our people.”

Of course, the impacts began in 1893, when U.S. Marines aided sugar planters in the illegal overthrow of Hawaii’s monarchy, and the military presence has been expanding ever since.

Now the push is on to beef it up ever more, as I wrote about recently in Honolulu Weekly, especially at Kauai’s PMRF, which launches missiles from Nohili — dunes filled with burials, much like Mokapu.

The U.S. has engaged in similar scenarios of military domination on other tropical islands, like Okinawa and Vieques, in Puerto Rico — resulting in the same land destruction, pollution and cultural impacts we’ve seen in Hawaii.

“Why do people do this?” Terri asked rhetorically.

I’d finger the usual suspects: fear, power, greed.

While we’re on those subjects, I was extremely troubled by the Senate’s 53-40 vote to confirm Michael Mukasey as the new U.S. Attorney General, despite his refusal to classify waterboarding as a form of torture. Even if Congress passes a law against waterboarding, as some Senators suggested, it won’t change the guy’s basic principles and views.

It’s particularly disheartening that six Democrats joined Republicans to get Mukasey approved. What’s the point of regaining control of the Senate if lawmakers jump the political fence to support President Bush?

It’s similar to how our Democrat-controlled Legislature backed Republican Gov. Linda Lingle on the Superferry bail out bill. But at least Hawaii lawmakers can claim their constituents support the Superferry. Have folks been calling their Senators to say they want the military to keep torturing people in military prisons?

Still, Kyle noted, “there’s global resistance to this kind of action happening,” and many communities have found — once people got over their fear — that “non-violent resistance added value to their daily lives,” resulting in greater cooperation and various human service initiatives.

I know I'm not the only one who sees that as a possible positive outcome of Kauai's opposition to the Superferry.

“The struggle itself was the teacher," Kyle said. "They learned new ways of relating to one another and created a microcosm of the kind of world they wanted to live in. I think society is sick when people sit back and just let things happen to them.”

He also discussed the military’s plans to use the Superferry to transport the Stryker brigade, which he said "is aimed at suppressing resistance in Hawaii," and warned Hawaii is “not far from the day when environmental activists and military activists will be branded as terrorists.”

Actually, it seems that day has already come, seeing how anti-terrorism laws and the Homeland Security Act were used to create the new federal “security zone” at Nawiliwili Harbor.

Ultimately, those engaged in civil disobedience need to consider one key question, which was raised at the meeting by my friend, Jim Alalem.

"Are you prepared to die for what you believe in? Because this is all commitment stuff. If you guys going, you gotta go all the way."

Friday, November 9, 2007

Musings: A Yawning Chasm

Koko wanted to go out at 3 a.m., so I indulged her, and the reward was snuggling in and sleeping in on this wet, new moon morning. A survey says 47% of Americans sleep with their pets, and I’m among them. I once went out with a man who emphatically announced: “There’s no way I’d ever let a dog in my truck or in my house.” Needless to say, there was no second date. Some chasms are just too wide to bridge.

I wonder if the same is true with the Hawaii Superferry and its Kauai opponents, even though Sen. Gary Hooser has been pushing for some sort of reconciliation process and Jeff Fishman, publisher of LightLine, yesterday sent out a letter to his subscribers urging folks to “slow down with rhetoric and reaction and get up to speed with education of the issues and avoid escalating conflict.”

It’s good advice, as I think few — aside from the media, which thrive on conflict above all else — want to see a showdown between protestors and law enforcement if the ferry returns to Nawiliwili Harbor.

I see a couple of difficulties, however, in resolving the dispute. Aside from the question of Superferry’s sincerity in wanting to pursue ho`oponopono, there’s the issue of who on Kauai would be asked to sit down for peace talks.

Since the protests, especially the actions of jumping in the water to block the ferry, were spontaneous events, it’s not like there’s one group that can speak for all or profess to have any control over the actions of other demonstrators.

And then there’s the issue of Oahu folks continuing to fan the flames of the controversy, as they’ve done from the get-go. Last night’s KGMB News carried a segment on a letter written by Big Island attorney Lanny Sinkin and non-violent activist Jim Albertini that had been picked up by The Surfer’s Path magazine.

The lengthy letter states, in part: “We do not come to convince or discourage. We come only to urge you to follow carefully the last step of non-violent resistance. After you have examined the facts, studied the law, examined your heart and conscience, and decided that action must be taken, the last step is to fully inform yourself of the consequences and make proper arrangements.”

The letter goes on to outline, in what I thought rather chilling detail, the possible legal ramifications of violating the federal “security zone” imposed at the harbor, including prison time, fines and the substantial cost of mounting a defense.

However, those aspects of its message were ignored by the KGMB broadcast, which instead focused on the letter’s comments about “you have to be prepared at the level of the Native American who decided when it was ‘a good day to die.’”

The broadcast also included a comment by state attorney General Mark Bennett, who charged the letter encourages people to break the law, and a statement by special agent Brandon Simpson: "The FBI in collaboration with its partners over at the United States Coast Guard will investigate any threats to the Superferry operation."

Hawaii Reporter's Malia Zimmerman and KSSK talk show hosts Perry and Price also jumped into the fray.

In her post, Zimmerman repeatedly attempted to discount Albertini, who spent a year in federal prison for jumping into the Hilo Harbor to protest the entry of a naval vessel carrying nuclear weapons, as a felon, while Perry and Price dissed the Kahului Harbor Coalition, one of the plaintiffs in the Superferry litigation, for not having a professional website.

Zimmerman even questioned why The Surfer’s path boasts that it uses “non-GMO soy based ink” on recycled paper: “Why does it matter if the product is GMO if isn’t being consumed? Isn’t this taking the whole green thing a little far?”

Apparently Zimmerman and Perry and Price missed the irony of accusing others of engaging in diatribes and inflammatory rhetoric.

My point is that many on Oahu have already made up their minds about the Nawiliwili Harbor protests and Gov. Lingle’s Kauai meeting based on superficial media coverage, which continues unabated, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to change that perception.

Still, Jeff Fishman offers some wise advice about how Kauai folks can proceed in this ongoing controversy:

“Media is limited in its coverage and regardless of the man-made Laws and the process the State and others may have gone through to help get us to where we are now, the blame game is not really going to save Kauai from the irreparable harm that may occur with HSF. Conflict with SWAT teams and Coast Guard officers that are "just doing their job" will not be in anyone's best interest and will further exacerbate the image of our beautiful island and people. Yet, in a way, we are under siege and the pressure from such forces acting upon us causes many to have to release in ways that we might tend to judge, so let's kokua and love more. Hopefully the more self-destructive tendencies will be channeled in more creative and constructive directions in the weeks to come.

“This is a struggle in evolving consciousness, one to be resolved within, more than without. Keep the peace, gather information (Light), send it out (Lines), and let people know what you can about this.”

Yes, education and conscious awareness are perhaps the most effective and enduring bridge-building materials.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Musings: Turnstones and Easements

The moon was a no show on this almost sultry morning, but Venus blazed brightly, and though the Sleeping Giant was shrouded in clouds, Waialeale’s full hulking mass was visible through the haze. Mist collected in the pockets of the last rolling pastures that remain on this road, and in one of them, a solitary horse whinnied for companionship.

I think one reason why I enjoy my dawn walks so much is I’m always reminded — visually and viscerally — that the world continually begins anew. Each morning, the day is different, and we are, too. We don’t have to remain stuck in our old ways.

I was at Kauapea Beach with some friends at evening time, astonished that big north swells still hadn’t swept the sand away, and that the sea was flat and the air was warm — almost balmy — despite the November date.

We spotted several flocks of ruddy turnstones and marveled that these small, pretty birds make an annual migration from the Arctic, flying non-stop for a couple of days to winter in the Islands.

What’s going to happen to them when the Arctic loses its ice? I asked, but none of us knew the answer. We could only be certain that such an event would affect all of us humans, too, not just the birds and polar bears.

And then we all drove home, contributing to the global warming that’s melting the ice. I long ago determined that the most insidious aspect of modern material culture is that it forces us all to be complicit in our own destruction. There’s no way of living in the Western world without having a major impact, even if you’re riding a bike and eschewing plastic — a feat that is itself nearly impossible.

All we can do is minimize, and be willing to live with less.

On a positive note, North Shore resident Caren Diamond has been appointed to Kauai County’s Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund Commission. Caren has been very active in many planning issues, especially public access, including a landmark state Supreme Court case that required the Department of Land and Natural Resources to change the way it was approaching shoreline setbacks.

I wrote about Caren’s long struggle in that case, in which one Haena landowner threatened her with a chainsaw, for both Honolulu Weekly (one of their cover stories that is not archived, unfortunately -- hey, mahalo to Larry Geller for finding that story's link!) and the Kauai Island News.

Caren isn’t easily intimidated, knows the process and gets things done. Perhaps now we’ll see the commission — created by the voters in 2002 and funded by a half-percent of the county’s real property taxes — actually do something with the $1.2 million in its coffers to preserve open space and acquire public easements, both mauka and makai.

Of course, we’d have more easements if the county hadn’t let so many go through negligence in filing them in a timely manner, favoritism toward certain developers and worries about maintenance and liability. Once lost, they're always much harder to regain.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Couple of Updates

Maui Judge John Cordova will hear motions filed by the state and Hawaii Superferry to dissolve the injunction that prohibits the vessel from entering Kahului Harbor at 8 a.m. Nov. 13. (Another correction: It's Nov. 14. And I'm reminded not to do three things at once....) Although the judge noted that such requests typically are heard within 18 days, he agreed to expedite the hearing. But "in attempting to balance," he allowed attorney Isaac Hall to file his motion in opposition on Nov. 13, thus giving him more time to prepare.

Hall, representing the Sierra Club, Maui Tomorrow and others, objected to expediting the hearing, saying: "The Superferry wants to rush through everything."

But a deputy state attorney general (Correction: it was Attorney General Mark Bennett) said: "The real motive of Mr. Hall is he wants the Superferry to die the death of a thousand cuts," in hopes that delaying service will force the company out of business.

In other news, Lt. Mark Begley, a 16-year veteran of the force, has been named Kauai's new deputy police chief. It'll be interesting to see what changes — if any — occur in the beleagured department under the leadership of Begley and new Chief Darryl Perry.

Musings: Whales as Commodities

The moon had barely risen when Koko and I set out this morning, and its sliver of light illuminated itself, but little else. It was so dark we had to walk by instinct, but the stars were exquisite and we encountered no one and nothing, save for a black cat. The only sounds were our footsteps, crickets chirping, the screech of owls hunting and madly crowing roosters.

Talked to Don Heacock, Kauai’s state aquatic biologist last night. He had a 250-pound turtle in the back of his truck, its shell split from an encounter with a boat in Nawiliwili Harbor.

He retrieves them regularly, “but no, we don’t have any problem with boats and marine animals in this state,” he noted sarcastically. Needless to say, Don is no fan of the Superferry.

The attitude of many, including the guv, seems to be that animals are already dying, so what’s the big deal about adding Superferry carnage to the mix?

People still haven’t grasped the reality that the health and integrity of each and every species and ecosystem directly impacts the human condition, too. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re all connected.

It seems quite likely that a high-speed ferry is going to contribute to the death toll of the critters — some of them endangered — that live in the sea. Gov. Lingle’s operating conditions for the ferry do little to address that issue; indeed, she’s conceded in numerous newspaper articles that lethal encounters between boats and whales are just a way of life in Hawaii.

It’s the kind of ethnocentric attitude one would expect from a governor who views natural resources as “commodities,” and puts the interests of business first.

Yes, collisions do occur, but why worsen the situation? And why not be progressive and take steps to alleviate such encounters?

Don noted that Alaska recently passed legislation limiting the maximum speed of cruise ships to 11 knots specifically to protect whales. With the Superferry traveling at 35 knots “these animals won’t even know what hit them,” he said. "They haven't evolved to get out of the way of something moving that fast."

Lingle’s conditions require the ferry to slow only to 25 knots within the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary — a birthing and nursing ground for these endangered animals — if it decides it needs to go into that protected area “in the interest of passenger safety or comfort."

She also says two lookouts should be posted on the boat — the same bogus strategy employed by the Navy in its sonar operations. Given that the USS Greenville, with its sophisticated radar and visual inspections, didn’t detect the Ehime Maru fishing boat until it was surfacing beneath it, I don’t have much confidence that spotters will see whales in time to avoid them. And what about turtles and endangered monk seals?

Marine animal deaths aside, the biggest problem I have with Lingle’s conditions is enforcement. Presumably, that burden will fall upon state conservation officers and the Department of Ag, both of which are already stretched to the limit.

Maui DOCARE guys pointed this out when the Senate committee chairs came to visit, and asked for more help to do their job. But their concerns were not addressed. Instead Lingle has just given them more to do, without any increase in resources to do it.

So don’t be surprised if the Superferry conditions get the same sporadic enforcement as other conservation rules within the state.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Navy vessels account for most of the reported whale collisions. In light of the Navy’s plans to ramp up its RIMPAC exercises and other training programs in the state, more such mortalities are likely.

If you’d like to learn about what the Navy has planned for Hawaii — with most of its emphasis on Kauai’s PMRF — check out my Honolulu Weekly article, which was just posted on line today.

And last but not least, Poinography! offers some interesting strategies for civil disobedience against the Superferry. As a lawyer friend once said, chaos is good; organized chaos is better.