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.

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