Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Musings: Throw Their Butts in Jail

When I first awoke, lightning flashed through the darkness, and a rat — finally caught — rustled in the cage, waiting for the executioner.

That taken care of (sigh), Koko and I went walking in a world where the sky was heavy, gray and low. Makaleha and Waialeale were ghost mountains — visible, although obscured by a fine, white mist that could be seen, but barely felt.

Ran into my neighbor Andy, unrecognizable at first because he was in his truck, looking for his daughter’s missing dog — oh, how I feel for all of them — and then farmer Jerry, who said he had picked up the slightest whiff of sulfur in the air. “Pele’s breath,” he called it, and though I sniffed deeply, all I got was the fragrance of spider lilies, angel’s trumpet and warm, wet pavement.

“It’s going to rain,” Jerry predicted as he drove away, and I thought of Ka`iulani Huff, who is occupying the beach at Ha`ena Point where Joe Brescia wants to build a house on top of burials. I’ve heard figures ranging from 31 to 38 sets of iwi kupuna, but whichever, it’s plenty. They are predominantly women and children, and some date from the 13th Century.

Talked to my friend Ka`imi yesterday, and he and some of the North Shore boyz had stopped in to check on Ka`iulani, whom he said is getting good support. Other folks have pitched tents there, too, he said, “making like one little village.” Ka`iulani has taken some flack for her passionate stances on various issues, but I gotta admire the way she walks her talk. Wonder how the state and county are going to deal with this one…..

[Update; Just heard from Ka`iu, and the villagers could use fruit, veggies and ice, if anyone wants to donate. You can access the beach near YMVA Camp Naue.]

Of course, Brescia — and his attorney, Walton Hong — could always do the right thing and bag their construction plans, just like Pierce Brosnan and his attorneys — Max Graham and Teri Tico among them — could do the right thing and give Cathy Ham Young some clean, cold water for her taro patch. Maybe Joe and Pierce don’t know better, but their hired guns sure do. Unfortunately, money often wreaks havoc on values.

That reminds me of something else that came up in my interview with Police Chief Darryl Perry. He said he’s committed to running a department that treats everyone fairly, and isn’t influenced by political or big money interests. That was music to my ears, as I’ve known of at least two very wealthy residents who apparently bought influence with the department through “gifts.” As a result, one of them got away with assaulting me after we had an altercation over the runoff from his property onto the beach.

On a related topic, I was sent a link to a Maui News editorial that spoke to state Land Board President Cynthia Thielen’s support for legislation — HB 3176, HB 3177 and HB 3178 — that imposes stiffer penalties for those who “violate public property.”

In other words, people who cut down trees to improve their views, plant vegetation on the beaches to expand their lots, grade state land or destroy coral won’t get their wrists slapped with the current measly little $500 fines. The new legislation, the bills would impose maximum fines of $10,000 for such offenses.

It’s a good start, but as the editorial — entitled “No mercy for violators” — observes, it doesn’t go far enough:

Thielen thinks the heavier fines will deter abuse of public property. The larger amounts will help but will not be enough to be a real deterrent. With property going for millions, $10,000 is chump change. A real deterrent would be jail time or fines large enough to hurt even a millionaire.

The measures have been approved in separate forms by the state House and Senate so they will be subject to conference committee action later.

It's hard to imagine anyone objecting to really clobbering someone who destroys — for whatever reason — what belongs to all of us. The DLNR bills — and even harsher penalties than proposed — should be a legislative slam dunk.

Forget the fines. These guys are used to buying their way out of everything. I like the idea of jail time for the jerks who don’t give a rat’s ass about the land or other people. Let them wear the orange jump suits and hang out with da boyz serving time for smoking ice and ripping off rental cars. It could be their one and only exposure to local culture.

Finally, there’s a 7 p.m. meeting tonight at the Kapaa Neighborhood Center to discuss a proposed charter amendment for the November ballot that would move the responsibility for tourist accommodation building permits from an appointed Planning Commission to the elected County Council.

The rationale presented by the Coalition for Responsible Government is that the Council should make such decisions because it oversees the General Plan and is responsible for funding of infrastructure improvements.

It’s an interesting concept, and just might have some merit — if you have a Council that is responsive to the public and doesn’t put development before infrastructure. However, we’re still waiting for such a panel to be elected.


Anonymous said...

Just to let you know. My daughter's dog showed up a little after noon today--just fine. Too bad she can't tell us where she was! Aloha, Andy

Anonymous said...

Maui News is right, $10,000 is just chump change. I am sure that the millionairs add this to their costs of construciton "just in case." Much better to confiscate their property.

Anonymous said...

"Much better to confiscate their property."

Ahhh, yes, nothing like a little fascist bootheal.