Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Musings: No Surprises

Beauty was the keyword this morning.

It started about 4:30, when Koko and I went out beneath a brilliant canopy of stars. Jupiter was holding court in the southwest, while Pleides (Makalii) was rising in the east. And in between were billions of stars, formed into constellations I didn’t know. It was utterly quiet, save for the bullfrog symphony, and the air was delightfully cool.

About an hour later, as the sky was just beginning to brighten, a rain came through and soaked everything real good and then the sun came up in a fiery blaze of red that turned all that moisture-laden air into a magical shimmer world of rosy color, and pink clouds slid lazily down the face of Waialeale.

Two encounters like those, before 6 a.m., provide enough sustenance to carry me through the day, although I’m sure nature still has some gorgeous surprises in store for me.

Not so surprising were the two lead articles in today’s Garden Island: Kaipo Asing was chosen mayor and the cops can’t stop Joe Brescia from building on top of the Naue burials.

More interesting than Kaipo getting the mayor’s post, as was widely expected, were JoAnn Yukimura and Mel Rapozo immediately announcing their own candidacies for mayor in the upcoming special election.

I was surprised that Mel thinks he’s qualified for the job and has a chance at winning. I was less surprised that JoAnn is once again trying for a post she lost the last go-round. It's unfortunate she got off on the wrong foot by having to apologize for pressing Kaipo for a promise that he wouldn’t run for mayor. Feeling a little insecure, JoAnn?

JoAnn can likely beat Mel, but I think Kaipo could beat both of them. And don’t be thinking that old Kaipo isn’t considering a longer run, even though he’s already filed for Council, or that people won’t be inclined to give it to him. Aside from totally selling out to the other Council members some years back in order to develop his Niumalu property after the planning commission said no, he has a lot less baggage than JoAnn, who provokes deep loathing in many people, and Mel, who has the Fanta-See Express scandal lurking in his closet.

I found it quite fascinating that the Garden Island reported:

Asing said he has no intention of resigning from his council post before tomorrow’s council meeting.

Two council members will be absent from that meeting because they will be attending the National Association of Counties annual conference in Kansas City, Mo.

Asing said he wants to be at the council meeting to ensure there is a quorum and business can be conducted.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it just sort of smacked of a power trip to me. It’s like, come on, Kaipo, you’re mayor now. Resign from the council already. I mean, even the other Council members think you should.

As for Naue, all I can say is you gotta hand it to Chief Perry for getting creative and trying to find a solution to a situation that can only be described as tragic and ugly, and all the more so because it’s driven by greed.

You can tell from his comment to The Garden Island that he thinks the whole deal stinks:

Perry is not certain of what will happen once construction starts.

“Certainly there will be protesters, and the county, mainly KPD, will once again have to deal with issues that were created by the state entities,” Perry said. “Nevertheless, we will continue to demonstrate compassion, sensitivity and extraordinary restraint in enforcing the law.”

Meanwhile, it seems Brescia has lined up another contractor, Joe Galante, to do his dirty work after Ted Burkhardt backed out. He'll have his hands with Galante, who has a reputation for being tempermental and inexperienced in finish work. In her blog, Katy Rose writes that Galante is "a regular working guy facing tough economic times like so many of us. So often, the squeeze put on the working class is utilized as an effective way of dividing us from one another. I have compassion for this contractor, but I believe we have a responsibility to let him know how we feel about this...and that we can do it in a way that honors our class solidarity with a workingman."

I'm sorry, Katy, but whether he's a workingman or not, I'm not feeling too sympathetic. People make choices every single day about what's right and wrong, and so often they justify their decision with ye olde "economic squeeze" argument. He's a contractor. That business is all about boom and bust. Other contractors are also feeling squeezed right now and they're not stepping forward.

So now the big question remains: why does the state, which is charged with protecting Hawaiian burials, continually allow them to be disrupted, disturbed, destroyed and built on? What kind of protection is that? It’s all a sham, and yet another example of how the state is utterly failing to fulfill its responsibilities to the indigenous people of these Islands.



Katy said...

I agree, Joan - we all make tough decisions every day based on our principles and ethics. I'm not suggesting that we let people off the hook, but that we assess how we approach people with common interests.

I think that building a bridge with the contractor in this case makes more sense than treating him like he's a rich speculator - totally different class interests at play.

Look, I have a family member I haven't forgiven for crossing a picket line in 1990. I can be pretty hardcore about this, but I think being compassionate, smart and strategic has a place.

Anonymous said...

He/she crossed a picket line 18 years ago and you're still not over it?!?!?

Anonymous said...

That's way over the deep end, Katy.

Katy said...

I don't think so - especially when you consider what the post-air-traffic-controllers-strike Reagan years did to working people. If there was ever a time to honor a picket line, it was then. Those who didn't made it clear "which side they were on."

But enough about that - it's off the topic. If you think my view on that is too extreme, provide some ideas about how to build common cause with the contractor for Brescia in order to prevent the destruction of the burial site.

It's apparent that Brescia doesn't give a damn about the concerns of people who care about iwi kupuna, and is content with engaging in wickedness, but I have no reason to assume that the contractor can't be moved.

Anonymous said...

I think Bresca's not only right but within his rights to build. The only judges of his actions who have any standing in this are the state/county/burial council.

Preserving culture by leaving all burial findings along and untouched by any development is wrong.

Move 'em or lose 'em. The dead should never stand in the way of the living, with the exception of state-approved "off limits" cemetaries of some national worth.

I've known of entire mainland cemetaries that have been moved to allow for development. I've no problem with that.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the side of management and the owners of our means to produce.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the side of the LIVING descendants of the people who were here hundreds of years ago, a time when our ancestors were thousands of miles away, with ne'er a clue what Atooi was.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

living decendents?

most of them are in vegas and other points east of here.

i'm sure they don't give a damn.

just admit it....you just don't want development and are using this as one excuse to curtail it.

notice that it's not working?

Anonymous said...

Bingo, gadfly! You, like your ancestors (adolf et. al.), WOULD know no other response that "gesundheit," with nary a clue what Atooi was.

Anonymous said...

I've researched Atooi, but I still like to make fun of inconsequential "footnote in history" little empires of the past with no future save in the minds of out-of-touch-with-reality zealots.

Anonymous said...

"I'm on the side of the LIVING descendants of the people who were here hundreds of years ago" murdering the poor little Marquesan workers who were just trying to earn a living and got runover by the rich Tahitians! Yes! This is class warfare! And since we're all descended from Adam and Eve, I choose to identify myself as a Marquesan, so all you occupying Tahitians murderers must leave now! And I'll bet the haole in you mixed-breed Tahitians is burning your brown skin to death!

Anonymous said...

It's hard to give you the benefit of the doubt and take your moral indignation at face value when you were just as morally outraged about this guy's house before any bones were found there.

Anonymous said...

Excellentn point! The "house outrage" preceeding the "bone discovery" tells it all....just a bunch of locals saying "get the hell off OUR island"

The only ones that can say that are the legal (USA standards) owners of Niihou and Lanai which I believe are both 100% private property.

For the rest: shut the F up and keep digigng the foundations of your "better's" home!

Anonymous said...

Whoa, the comments are so revealing. Brutally honest, but really lame, too.

Anonymous said...

True, but its also entertaining, like a message board version of Jerry Springer.

I like the contentiousness of it all, including the ocassional boil over. I wish no comments were deleted.

I ocassionally throw some gas on the fire if I think it's going out too soon.

Now who's going to throw the first virtual chair?

Anonymous said...

Not really my style, but I couldn't resist this virtual chair, the old pot-kettle defense: Gadfly talking about "out-of-touch-with-reality zealots" wanting to preserve "little empires of the [soon to be] past with no future" should take a good long look in the mirror. And if he says he cares nothing for the little empire that gave him what he has, then he can't claim others are so attached to their own empires without some explicit quote.

Also, I'm willing to be contradicted, but I think it might be possible to claim that the influence of the Tahitian invasion was much less strong on Kauai. For example, the kapu of women not eating bananas was not practiced here.

I'll admit it, I don't want development, but as I've said before, there's no other way for the dispossed to stop it in this system. Island Breath has the aerial photo of that land, wouldn't that sandy point surrounded by houses (some of them already dev'd by Brescia) be nice as a natural and cultural buffer and beach access? While I don't buy into the "cemetary" claim, it's evident that this was a natural place to bury people, on this little point, and that should be respected.

But to play within the system, I highly encourage my gov't representative to use everyone's tax dollars to purchase the property for cultural conservation and beach access. The price should be realistic current market value (expected sales price, not listing price) or purchase price plus all taxes paid on the property, whichever is less.

I also note there are a lot of people out there attempting character assassination on Katy. You might not agree with her, but lay off the attacks, people.

I also agree with Katy, that while we're all in the need to put food on the table, especially those with families, a little sympathy for one's opponents goes a long way. Yes, that even means you, gadfly--you poor thing, having to spend your precious time amusing yourself by pestering liberals in blog comments.

And finally because I am a watchdog and try to look impartially at the rhetoric, I am not sure Joan can conclude that Perry thinks the situation "stinks" from what she quoted. That seems like a strong opinion to claim for somebody else. I would say it's clear he's frustrated by the situation.

Anonymous said...

> I am not sure Joan can conclude that Perry thinks the situation "stinks" from what she quoted. That seems like a strong opinion to claim for somebody else. I would say it's clear he's frustrated by the situation. <

Let me tell you what stinks. It's visiting Kauai two to three times a year between 1975 and 1988. It's spending five or six weeks a year for 13 years -- south side and west side, mostly; hiking and jeeping, photographing and painting.

It's being away for 19 years, then coming back in 2007. It's finding the old places I walked encrusted in concrete, and crying.

What stinks is seeing the results of two decades of legal eagles and legislators, personal-righters and realtors, contractors and off-island land owners, all of whom demand the right to sell the island for profit, get their way -- and being unable to stop the dismay and the tears.

Not that my tears mean much to them.

In my wildest imaginings, I can't conjure the loss the locals must feel.

Which, I imagine, means even less.

Anonymous said...

Gee, we're so sorry we couldn't keep things just the way they were 20 years ago like the rest of the world did. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

Das da way it is! No can help, if you akamai, no matter if you from hea, from ova dea, rich, poor, young, old, everybody like live hea! But if you love Kaua'i, mus hurt like hell.

Joan Conrow said...

Anon wrote: But if you love Kaua'i, mus hurt like hell.

You got that right.

Anonymous said...

You want an unchanged place? Go to Niihau. Or to national parks.

The only way to keep things from changing, for the most part, is to OWN THEM. Private property or national "private property".

Other than that, it's a world of buyers and sellers and changers.

Anonymous said...

> Gee, we're so sorry we couldn't keep things just the way they were 20 years ago like the rest of the world did. Yawn. <

Like I said, tears mean little. Heart means less.

Money means everything.

Anonymous said...

Like the jazz singer of the 1920's said:

"Romance [with the islands] without finance ain't got a chance."

You can't preserve something unless it is a "preserve"...nature preserve, park, your back yard that you own, etc.

But then, who's pay the taxes required?

Anonymous said...

What happens when the poor figure out that the rich don't give a sh-t? Will the wealthy hunker down behind gates and bullet proof windows, enjoying life in paradise?

Anonymous said...

they already know that. they don't care either and continue to go about their business, no matter how much you try to stur them up.

Anonymous said...

This kind of attitude will "stur" them up:

"For the rest: shut the F up and keep digigng the foundations of your "better's" home!"