The moon, hidden for days, shone white and clear this morning as Koko and I walked amid a world of chirpy waking birds. I love the way birds start and end the day happy.
Spent the last two days working on Lanai, where the bird song is far more sparse, given the corresponding scarcity of trees, and not a rooster was to be heard or wild chicken to be seen.
Lanai is a beautiful little island, slow and sleepy and quiet, with roads that make Kauai’s look like the rutted, pot-holed messes they are. Of course, we get a lot more traffic, what with the hordes of visitors, nearly all of them behind the wheel of a rental car, that descend on our island each day.
As I mentioned to my neighbor Andy, when our paths crossed this morning, Lanai locals don’t seem to hate the tourists like Kauai folks do. He and I both agreed that we don’t dislike individual tourists, some of whom are very nice, interesting to talk to and even concerned about what’s going on. But the tourism enmasse is so off-putting.
On Lanai, they trickle in on small planes that are about half-filled with locals or arrive on the ferry —small, not super-sized — that runs from Maui. Many of them forego renting a car and take the shuttle buses that cruise around the island.
It’s not like Kauai, where big jets almost totally filled with tourists touch down repeatedly through the day and shortly thereafter a long line of rental cars heads north or south, and you go to a place like Kee or Lydgate or Poipu and think, OMG, and just want to immediately turn around and leave.
And when I was in the interior and backcountry on Lanai, I didn’t hear one single helicopter — the flying scourge of Kauai that heavily mars the tranquility and beauty of places like Waimea Canyon, Na Pali and Hanalei.
We’ve clearly maxed out on tourism over here, at least from a social perspective, although I know the economic forces that always opt for growth over status quo feel otherwise. Their motto is “Bring ‘em on! Who cares if aloha is dwindling?”
But then I suppose attempts to put any sort of reasonable limits on growth or tourism would be branded as “socialism” or an infringement on personal rights by folks like Charley Foster and those who post comments on his blog, where he recently chastised Councilwoman Yukimura and others concerned about reducing fossil fuel consumption for trying to impose “the burden of their amateur prognosticating on the rest of the community” with a proposal to require solar hot water heaters be installed in new homes.
Never mind that we live on an island where we have abundant solar resources and absolutely no fossil fuels, so it just makes common sense to use what we’ve got. No, that’s somehow impinging on the rights of others to wildly consume. Of course, no mention was made of the fact that we all must bear the burden of higher utility bills when KIUC has to keep expanding its generating capacity to satisfy our insatiable demands for electricity.
Apparently those kinds of burdens are OK to impose, but any associated with conservation or alternative energy are not. Go figger.
And go figger how it is that someone like Sherman Shiraishi is serving on the Charter Review Commission, which is now considering one amendment that would make it easier for the Council to meet in closed session and another that deals with the ethics of allowing those who serve on county boards and commission to continue doing business before the County.
According to an article in The Garden Island this morning:
Despite public testimony against the measure, the commission is considering a separate amendment that could let voters decide if volunteer county board and commission members should be allowed to represent private business interests before other county departments, agencies or boards except the board or commission on which they serve.
The proposal came forward after the county Ethics Board recently voted unanimously that no conflict of interest exists in one such case. Specifically, Charter Review Commission Chair Jonathan Chun, who was absent yesterday, asked the board to decide if he should be allowed to sit on the commission while serving as an attorney for private businesses appearing before County Council, the county Planning Commission and other agencies.
[Bruce] Pleas and Kapa‘a residents Glenn Mickens and Ken Taylor said they opposed even considering this as a possible charter amendment.
Taylor said the first thing the commission must consider for any proposed charter amendment is how this change benefits the community.
He said he only sees this proposed ethics change benefiting a “handful of people” serving on county boards and commissions.
That’s a very good point, Ken. Pray tell, how would the public possibly be served by making it even easier for cronyism to be standard operating procedure on Kauai?
The article goes on to say:
The County Attorney’s office issued a legal opinion on the matter, which relates to charter section 20.02 D, but it has not been made known to the public.
The refusal to make legal opinions public – which has become the MO for both the Administration and Council to blow off the public — prompted Council-watcher Glenn Mickens to push for yet another amendment. It would require the County Attorney’s office to make public within two days any opinions related to law and public policy.
That issue came up most recently when Harold Stoessel, whose open letter to the council, mayor and Garden Island on the topic is now circulating via email, asked the Ethics Commission to explain its rationale for keeping secret the county attorney’s opinion about Chun’s possible conflict of interest.
His request, which seems perfectly reasonable to me, met with this arrogant response from Ethics Commission Chairman Mark Hubbard: “I do not intend to answer that, Horace. It could be that I don’t know; it could be that I just don’t wish to answer that question.”
Of course, it’s not too hard to figger why Mark Hubbard, who works for Grove Farm, a company with frequent business before the County and lots of land to develop, wouldn’t want to delve too deeply into this nasty business of conflict of interest. After all, it might get folks wondering why the heck he’s serving on the Ethics Commission at all.