Saturday, November 22, 2008

Musings: Environmental Menaces

The steady rain continues this morning, and after venturing out just long enough to see the summit of Waialeale wreathed in feathery white clouds, Koko and I retreated back to the warmth of the down comforter to ward off the damp chill.

Surfing the net, I was confronted with yet another of those curious workings of the universe: automaker Jimmy Pflueger was indicted yesterday on manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges during a downpour that weather forecasters had predicted would rival the storm the island was experiencing in March 2006, when Pflueger’s Kaloko reservoir breached, killing seven persons downstream.

While the severity of this storm seems to have been exaggerated, the response of Pflueger’s attorney provided the missing bluster. According to a report in today’s The Garden Island:

“This case is an absolute outrage,” said Pflueger’s attorney Bill McCorriston, during a phone interview. “Jimmy and his whole family are devastated ... there is hurt, anger and confusion.”

Gee, if my recollections are correct, that was the exact same response so many in the community had to the actual event — especially after hearing reports that the flood occurred because Pflueger had filled in the spillway.

An even more intriguing comment was included in a report in the Buffalo, N.Y., Business First newspaper:

“This is a sad day for Hawaii and for our justice system, which has failed to protect this son of Hawaii who is being unfairly and unjustly accused of a crime he didn’t commit,” McCorriston said in a statement.

Failed to protect? Ummm, you mean because his connections and self-reported payoffs failed to get him off the hook this time?

The Garden Island article continues:

McCorriston said the same report that states the dam failed because the spillway was filled in indicates that the state and county held just as much responsibility for the failure. “Why one man was indicted is beyond me,” he said.

Yes, it does seem that indictments might also be in order for former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka and former County Engineer Cesar Portugal, both of whom allegedly directed a county inspector to stop bugging Pflueger about grubbing and grading around the reservoir without a permit.

At any rate, Pflueger is supposed to turn himself in next week. I hope as a condition of his $71,000 bail that he’s also ordered to turn over the keys to any heavy equipment he owns. Given what he previously did at Pilaa, the man might not be a flight risk, but he’s definitely a menace to the environment.

Shifting gears slightly, in a post entitled "Got to Keep the Loonies on the Path," blogger Andy Parx yesterday incorrectly characterized my stance when he stated:

But like many others who have harsh words for a specific aspects of the “bike path” she still apparently remains neutral on the project as a whole.

Neutral? In previous posts I’ve stated my objection to putting concrete along the coast and encroaching into wild areas with any sort of development. I've also observed that the Path has wasted an incredible amount of Council and Administrative time that could have been better spent elsewhere, and noted that it will continue to be a drain on county resources. To expand further, it was likely a misuse of the intent of the federal funds that financed it and will be largely ineffective as means of supporting bicycling as a form of alternative transportation. To achieve that goal, it would have made more sense to widen the highway, which is plenty scenic, to create bike lanes.

Now that we’ve got it, though, and it’s clearly being used for recreational purposes, as opposed to alternative transportation, it should be wide open to bikes, horses, dirt bikes or whomever wants to recreate on it. Screw the liability worries, spare the poor rangers their poop patrol and treat it as a lesson in folks figuring out how to get along and respect one another.

And do not, under any circumstances, expand it any more, especially north.

Just my humble, non-neutral opinion, of course.


Andy Parx said...

Fair enough. I didn’t mean to mischaracterize your position. Just pointing out how hard it is for even the most ardent “opponents” of aspects of the path to say “I oppose the bike path- period”. Even I have only recently come to feel like I’d like to see them tear it out and “un-park” the land returning it to just plain open space.

But my concern- since it’s at it’s North terminus at Kuna (Donkey) Beach already (although they’d like to go to Anahola but DHHL/OHA/the Anahola kanaka community won’t let them) is that we don’t let them continue the potion between Lydgate and Lihi- across the highway and through the busiest intersection on the island... or start in on the future portion(s) that will go south from Lydgate with all sorts of wild schemes for crossing the golf course portion and the possibility (as has been discussed) of giving development rights to the owners of the “Moody” property in makai Hanama`ulu.

And rather than fix the illegal sea wall fronting Pono Kai resort in order to protect the bike path (which the experts say should be underwater within a year or so) we just tear it out so there’s nothing to protect except the resort (and let them get all the permits and pay for it if they want to protect their ill-advised location).

Anonymous said...

I caught that reference to you on Windmills as well. I was surprised to see your position on the path characterized as "neutral." But Andy pronounces on my position on issues from time to time and inevitably he always misses the mark. I always figured he was being intentionally antagonistic. But knowing that he likes you, I'll assume it's an honest mistake from now on.

Joan Conrow said...

But my concern- since it’s at it’s North terminus at Kuna (Donkey) Beach already (although they’d like to go to Anahola but DHHL/OHA/the Anahola kanaka community won’t let them)

Last time I talked to DHHL, Andy, they said they'd given the go-ahead for it to head to Anahola.

Anonymous said...

Pfleuger's lawyer even said "imagine what kind of a holiday the Pfleugers are going to have."

Something tells me it'll be a better holiday than the 7 dead people or their families will have.

But I'll bet the murdering old bastard never serves a day in jail, even if he's convicted.

Andy Parx said...

I'm surprised that DHHL would do that what with tremendous oppostion in the Anahola community.

Anonymous said...

is that because DHHL is alway's looking out for the kanaka' best interest? no surprise, really!