Friday, June 19, 2009

Musings: Theoretically

The trade winds gusted at the back of my legs, prompting the ironwood boughs to sigh and palm fronds to clatter when Koko and I went walking under a thin slice of moon that hung below Venus.

The streets were glistening and the lightest little rain blew through, creating floating rainbows under the amber streetlights. Makaleha at first seemed smothered in a mass of black, but as the sun rose in streaks, smears and swirls of cool orange and hot pink, I saw that it was draped in floating sheets of white and grey. And so its appearance changed from ominous to magical.

Walking on the Kawaihau Road path makes me think of all the ridiculous fuss and hoopla associated with the concrete coastal ribbon known as “The Path.” I’ve only noticed one pile of dog doo on Kawaihau’s narrow strip of well-used asphalt, yet I’m quite certain no one is doing doo doo patrol.

And somehow the kids, motor scooters, bicycles, pit bulls and lap dogs, horses, old people with canes, skateboards, wheelchairs, joggers and baby strollers manage to co-exist harmoniously without an enforcement presence.

I mentioned this to Farmer Jerry when we were talking after yesterday’s radio show, and he said, “That’s because that’s the kind of community it is.”

Now “The Path” is getting ready to encroach on lovely Wailua Beach, that broad stretch of sand that borders Kuhio Highway where there’s a perfectly good roadside shoulder that people could use. It’s going to be a 14-foot wide boardwalk secured by posts driven 8 feet into the sand, creating a structure that county workers can supposedly pull up and out of harm’s way when natural forces threaten.

Um hmmm. I imagine that will be their top priority in a tsunami watch, or while a big storm is raging.

And why, pray tell, are we building anything on the beach, especially without doing an archaeological survey first? Do Nancy McMahon and the State Historic Preservation Division actually believe there are no burials in that sand? Or would the county just prefer to find the iwi inadvertently, so it doesn’t have to deal with the Burial Council?

Perhaps it’s time for Koko and me to take Councilman Tim Bynum up on his request to join us for a walk so I can ask him some of these questions, seeing as how he’s a major Path proponent. And while we’re strolling, maybe we could also discuss his concerns that County Clerk Peter Nakamura is deliberately blocking his receipt of Council communications. I’ve spoken with various members of the public who regularly seek county documents, and they concur that Peter is extremely cooperative and forthcoming. So something’s not adding up here.

Getting back to Farmer Jerry, I was quite interested to hear some of the comments he made on the radio show that Jimmy Trujillo and I hosted yesterday. He showed me a photograph of the area around the Wailua reservoir taken back in the days when pineapple was still being grown, and then a current photo. “That’s all state land,” he said. “It’s still there, and the water’s still there. But where are the farmers?”

I was also intrigued to learn that even during the decades when Kauai was dominated by monocrops like sugar cane and pineapple, ag overall was far more diversified than it is today. And much of the pineapple was grown not by a large plantation, but individual farmers who sold their crops to the cannery, which is just a couple of blocks from where I now live, paying their mortgages once a year with the proceeds from their harvests.

And rather than buy their food in giant air-conditioned super stores, they frequented individual shops to purchase fish, pork, meat, bread — all of it locally produced. Barter was more common, too, with people trading fish or a cow or vegetables for items they wanted.

So it seems that when we talk about sustainability and feeding Kauai, we need to look beyond the sheer mechanics of producing more food to the social and community structures that would support and facilitate such a shift.

In other news, Kauai’s school board rep, Maggie Cox, proved she’s no friend of civil liberties when she cast her vote to waste precious Department of Education resources teaching kids that the Constitution doesn’t apply to them. As the Advertiser reported:

But Kaua'i member Maggie Cox, a former public school principal, said allowing for suspicionless searches would "give (principals) the tools to be able to deal with the small group that are causing the problems."

Yes, Maggie, and the same applies for holding detainees without charge and torturing them at Gitmo, too.

Too bad the BOE wasn’t akamai enough to take this approach:

Jeanne Ohta, director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, suggested that the board put money into programs that prevent drug abuse rather than spending money on a drug sniffing dog program.

"It sounds like ... drug-sniffing dogs are going to help the drug problem, but it really doesn't help. ... It doesn't address usage, it doesn't decrease usage. Isn't that the end result of what we want?" Ohta said.

Good question.

And finally, how interesting that as the 50th anniversary of “the fake state” nears, the U.S. is going all gangbusters to protect “American territory” from the very dubious threat of a North Korean missile launch, with Kauai’s own PMRF playing a pivotal role.

I liked this paragraph in the Advertiser’s story on how Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system at PMRF to team up with Pearl Harbor’s sea-based X-Brand [correx: X-Band] Radar:

Together, the systems theoretically could detect and shoot down a North Korean missile if it came to that.

Aha. A theoretical defense for a theoretical threat to a theoretical state. Perfect.


Anonymous said...

ya catching some HS kids with pot, i can see the deterrent value of it, but the HI DOE seems like it has far, far bigger systemic problems to deal with (much like the county screwing around with dogs on the path when it should be dealing with more pressing social problems causing real pain in the lives of many residents)


Doug said...

"X-brand" is a funny/sad typo. :)

The x-band radar is intended to operate in the Gulf of Alaska, but (as the Advertiser reported a while back) it spends far more time in Pearl Harbor being "modified." If it actually were operating (and home-ported) in Alaska as advertised, it would take weeks for it to transit to Hawaii.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, Doug, for the catch and additional info.

Andy Parx said...

“I’ve spoken with various members of the public who regularly seek county documents, and they concur that Peter is extremely cooperative and forthcoming.”

It depends on what you’re asking for- or if you know what to ask for. Sure, they provide (for free) the basic bills, resos and communications and such that are currently on the agenda. But it’s often impossible to get things like supporting communications and documents relating to those agenda items- or even acknowledgement they exist, or if they exist...which you have to know in order to request them.

I often request “all supporting documents, communications and relevant material” along with the billsm resos and communications themselves – which I have to pick up i Lihu`e in paper form- and rarely get anything. Then at the meeting it turns out there are slews of supporting documents, memos and such.

The point is they are only forthcoming with materials that they want to be forthcoming with and will even often ignore your request unless you fill out the right form and physically get it time stamped and submitted (no electronic filings accepted) and even then they often do not even respond within the 10 days they have to respond and you have to go to OIP to get them to “give ‘um up”- which could add weeks months or years to the process with constant checks and follow-ups and then if you’re lucky you’ll get the document when it’s no longer relevant and the bill, reso, communication etc has passed or been approved/received.