Monday, March 22, 2010

Musings: Hope for New Life

It sure feels like spring this morning, what with the birds chirping and the air soft and moist and the sun rising early in a flush of burnt orange and the grass lush and Waialeale clear and little wispy clouds trailing off a pink-topped Makaleha.

Koko and I were out enjoying all this beauty when we ran into my neighbor Andy, who had three dogs, a pocket full of biscuits and opinions on a few of the topics I’ve covered lately: Taylor Camp and its impact on Kauai; ag TVRs; and the dispute over access to Ka`aka`aniu (Larsen’s Beach), which we thought should be settled through naked negotiations, seeing as how nude sunbathing is such a point of contention there.

Heck, we were so busy with local issues we didn’t even have time to get into the ”historic" health care reform bill passed by the House. I liked this comment by the Prez:

Most importantly, today’s vote answers the prayers of every American who has hoped deeply for something to be done about a healthcare system that works for insurance companies but not for ordinary people.

It does?

I was kind of thinking it seems more like the answer to the prayers of cash-starved TV stations and advertising agencies, what with the big push planned to simultaneously sell and disparage the bill.

But I’m confident that TV-guzzling Americans will arrive at the truth because they’re so skilled at discernment and critical thinking.

And to think I’ll be missing all that shibai and distortion and hyperbole since I don’t have a TV….. Shoots.

Actually, I did wish, briefly, that I had a TV so I could watch the Council meeting where they talked about the ag land vacation rental (TVR) bill. But then a friend said she’d get me a copy, so no need. Someone left an interesting comment about the possible rationale for that bill:

Theory: The C.A. must be concerned about the County being forced, in a lawsuit, to compensate (essentially buy) all of the TVRs that it has previously allowed, taxed and even encouraged to be built over the years. Even the (government-approved) land deeds in Kalihiwai state that the right to TVR goes with the land - right in the deed.

Intriguing, and worth exploring. The county certainly has been remiss in failing to enforce the farm dwelling agreement, and I imagine there could be grounds for a suit; indeed, a certain skilled attorney has already taken the case. However, as Andy observed, not all deeds would confer such a right because a lot of TVRs were developed on raw ag land, and others were converted to such a use after purchase.

And as Caren Diamond noted in her testimony, the bill will actually allow a proliferation of new vacation rentals:

Instead, the bill reopens the window for applications until a year after the passage of this new bill - at least 2011!

Of course, vacation rentals and the equally ill-conceived farm worker housing bill — both pushed by Councilman Tim Bynum — are but two of the current assaults being mounted on ag land. There’s also the big future ag land give-away disguised as the Important Ag Land study.

In an article in today’s The Garden Island, Coco Zickos talks about the differing views held by members of the panel charged with making recommendations on which lands are important enough to protect:

Some, like Grove Farm Senior Vice President Michael Tresler, focused on the monetary aspects of the land while others, such as taro farmer and state aquatic biologist Don Heacock, concentrated more on the preservation of acreage for sustainable food growth.

Now who woulda thunk?

Most telling, however, was her closing paragraph, which described an exercise to rank criteria:

Some group members had a difficult time keeping pace, as terms like Agricultural Lands of Importance to the State of Hawai‘i (land identified as important by the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture in 1977) were unfamiliar to them. There wasn’t enough time for detailed explanations to bring everyone up to speed, as the meeting was already past its scheduled allotment.

Kinda makes you want to cry, doesn’t it? Unless, of course, you’re a land developer or Realtor.

But it’s spring, time to look on the bright side, have hope for new life. And that brings me to my ringing endorsement of Jan TenBruggencate for the KIUC Board.

Jan is honest, intelligent, independent, committed, hard-working, practical and akamai. In other words, he stands out from the crowd and we’re lucky he’s running.

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