Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Musings: Scammers

Waialeale, blue and clear, her summit notched in two places, was the first thing I saw when Koko and I went out walking this morning. The birds were stirring and the northeastern horizon was dotted with scarlet in anticipation of the sun, which is steadily rising later each morning.

That fact, coupled with the warm, mugginess of the dawn, prompted my neighbor Andy, who we encountered early on, to launch into a scientific explanation of why temperatures continue to rise for a couple of months beyond the longest day of the year.

I learn something new every day, which made me think of a quote someone had attached to an email with a link to a sweet video of a moose family encountering a lawn sprinkler:

"If I die from boredom, I am the killer."

And that made me think of a comment that a friend who lives in the Midwest wrote in an email:

I watched the barn swallows swoop around and feed between the thunder storms before dark and marveled at them and was a little sad as they’ll take off in a couple weeks to migrate back to S. America and I’ll miss them. If people could just learn to enjoy small things like that, they’d be a lot more happy.

Instead, some people put their energy into devising a commodities speculation scheme that “pushed 250 million new people into food insecurity and starving,” according to an extremely troubling Democracy Now! interview with Harper’s magazine editor Frederick Kaufman. Sure, they made billions, but who could be happy knowing they played a part in causing such suffering?

Although I’ve been dinged in comments for being “anti-wealth,” I’m not against money, per se. But I am against those who accumulate their dough through scamming and speculating. And while we’re on that topic, the Associated Press is reporting that Hawaii Superferry was already shorting the state on its monthly fees back in the summer of 2008, at a time when the company was boasting of record ridership.

Yet even as the state demanded payment and threatened legal action, the Lingle Administration continued to beat the drum for the big boat:

"All along, we felt that the state was carrying this thing, for whatever reasons," said Irene Bowie, executive director of Maui Tomorrow, one of the groups that fought the Superferry in court. "The Superferry was able to play the victim when they never had an operation that made financial sense."

Similarly, many owners of vacation rentals (TVRs) on ag land are playing the victim even as they scam the public. Like the eyebrow-raising Kilauea Lakeside Estate. Although it’s located on ag land, its website describes it as a “private resort." It also claims to be a “wildlife refuge" and a nonprofit, the Save Waiakalua Foundation, which supposedly donates income from the property to numerous environmental and charitable causes. But while its most recent 990 tax form showed total revenues of $37,400, it didn't disclose any such charitable activities.

That’s in addition to some hokum about how the ancient Hawaiians used to fish from the lake, which was actually a plantation reservoir. At any rate, these are the kinds of folks who now want the county to legitimize their decidedly illegitimate, non-farm activities.

Meanwhile, the County Council will be taking up the ag land TVR bill once again today. I have no idea how many hours it has already spent on this issue — and remember the countless hours devoted to debating whether dogs should be allowed on the Path? — but it does seem that other governmental bodies are able to conduct business more speedily. As Reuters reported:

The city of Oakland, California on Tuesday legalized large-scale marijuana cultivation for medical use and will issue up to four permits for "industrial" cultivation starting next year.

The resolution passed the city council easily after a nearly four-hour debate that pitted small-scale "garden" growers against advocates of a bigger, industrial system that would become a "Silicon Valley" of pot.

Just imagine, a Council that could make a decision like that after just four hours of debate. Gee, that’s even more surprising than this paragraph:

The toughest opposition at the Tuesday city council meeting in Oakland came from the small-scale marijuana growers who feel they will be squeezed out of the market by the new 'agribusiness'. Outright opponents to marijuana use were silent.


Anonymous said...

The superferry was bad but Lingle was worse. Now we learn that the company was going under months before the Court shut it down. The State was spending a fortune to defend a company that didnt even pay its bills to the State. And the state's lawyer (Ginoza) who defended that ferry to the bitter end - and who was wrong on almost every issue, was then appointed a judge by heir Lingle.

Anonymous said...

The short version of the longer word "ag" has bugged me for some time simply because we have forgotten the meaning of "agriculture." No knock against using "ag" but let's put the "Culture" back into the word. That is the intent of the word: agri-CULTURE, meaning tied to the place, the people, the whole belief system. The word "culture" should not be used only with burials, etc. as it also ties to food, land and such, and means sustinence, a way of life, etc. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with putting CULTURE back into the word AG. But the shorter version (AG) could just represent FAKE FARMING...seen everywhere on the island. How many coconut trees will produce enough income to pay for the mansions at the Kealia Kai development on "Ag" land?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for testifying at today's council meeting. It doesn't appear that the members heard your message. The money has spoken. Again.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the last two days of posting, we can conclude that Saint Joan says it's good when people ignore the laws on pakalolo and immigration, but bad when landowners ignore the law on vacation rentals on ag-zoned land. Is she advocating lawless anarchy? Clearly not. It's OK to let the law oppress wealthy landowners. It's typical far-left class warfare. Even with the toilet paper littering Kalalau Valley -- she seems to think it would be OK if it were poor hippies doing that, but not OK when wealthy tourists do it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for testifying at today's council meeting. It doesn't appear that the members heard your message. The money has spoken. Again.

What happened? Do tell!

Kooko said...

"Ag" is actually the elemental symbol for silver.

Anonymous said...

Kooko said:

"Ag is actually the elemental symbol of silver"

You must have taken high school chemistry. Good for you!

On this island Ag = Big money

Anonymous said...

c.1600, from L. agricultura "cultivation of the land," compound of agri cultura "cultivation of land," from agri, gen. of ager "a field" (see acre) + cultura "cultivation"
Absolutely nothing to do with place, people or belief system.
Give us a break with the stretches.

Anonymous said...

If you live anywhere between Moloaa and Haena, you now live in a resort. The council yesterday was pathetic, with the rich landowners who bought agricultural land and all signed a farm dwelling afreement now being given the opportunity to make those legal resorts. Uncle Kaipo and Derek were the only ones that stood with the people. They introduced a new amendment by Daryl, took no testimony on it, took a 20 minute break to further amend the language, came back... took no testimony and passed the bill.How's that ? Lani rmained silent... Then with no discussion at all, the "planning committee" passed the whole thing.
Realtors, rich people rule, agricultural land will raise in value even more to make ag impossible for farmers
It was pathetic how even Elizabeth Freedman brought her maid and worker with her, he could barely read the words she had written down for him.She said she's rented her house 4 or 6 times, and that supposed entitles her to get resort status for life.
Jay sold out all his hotel friends. They sold out plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Bynam, How much are your rich friends giving you to push this BS through...? Why is the farm dwelling agreement meaningless to you and the county?
Will the councilmembers who live on ag land recuse themselves? Will they apply too?Or no need, they have padded their pockets real well already/
How come if you stand for open government you didn't give anyone a chance to testify on the amendments?

Anonymous said...

Only one solution left for enlightenment on the county council and planning commission.....LSD in their drinking water.

Anonymous said...

c.1600, from L. agricultura "cultivation of the land," compound of agri cultura "cultivation of land," from agri, gen. of ager "a field" (see acre) + cultura "cultivation"
Absolutely nothing to do with place, people or belief system.
Give us a break with the stretches.

Spare us the Webster's definition, you know nothing of culture or agriculture. Read some books man!!

Wahine Warrior said...

I was there. I think Joans testimony and her demeaner were exceptional. She even got asked questions. What a rarity for this council. Usually they only ask questions if it opens the door for them to discuss how they personally feel, or how they did this and that, read "free commercial", or if they want to open a door to some rich guy and his attorney as to how they are being treated so unfairly (read wah-wah-wah). If you get up there and start asking the tough questions, you get either a patronizing pat on the head, cut off, or a "we will ask the county attorney opinion", read: "You will never get your answer because we will not reveal County Attorney opinions to the general public".

What I have seen in the last three council meetings utterly disgusts me, and it should disgust every single voter out there.

If a council member votes NO on this, VOTE FOR THEM!!!

If they vote yes, VOTE THEM OUT!!

I never saw such a pack of whining rich wannabe plantation massah's in my entire life. And I have no sympathy for people who were sold less then an acre, and thought they could suppport themselves open that. If you are a farmer, you don't buy less then an acre and think you can make that profitable. Essentially all you have is a garden to feed your family, but you cannot produce enough to earn any sort of a decent living, thus necessitating getting another source of income.

I do not want to hear this anymore. I saw landscapers, gardeners, and maids paraded before the council, but not a single farm worker. I heard nothing about how they wanted to farm, but how they all couldn't farm.

In my opinion? Shut it all down, close up shop and sell it to a farmer, or GET FARMING!! Period. And no, that does not include growing landscape plants for landscaping companies either. That means growing FOOD!! If your soil is bad: Hydroponics, or livestock, or heaven forbid get out there and amend your spoil!. That means livestock you actually sell for meat, or milk production, not just to look at.

The whole thing is disgusting, and every single voter should vote them all out. We need fresh blood. That is why I tell people get to a meeting, or you will be as disgusted as Lani got, and just say forget it.

Are you listening council candidates? Where were all of you yesterday? Mel Rapozo and Ken Taylor were there. Better get to meetings, or none of you will get my vote!! I am only going to vote for council candidates that show up at council meetings. Otherwise, why should I vote for you? You obviously can't make it now, what makes you think you will be able to attend when you get in? Are you even interested? Can you sit through a whole meeting? Can you debate the issues now, at the microphone? If not what makes you think you will be able to do it when you get on the council? It will disgust you, exhaust you, frustrate you, and drive you to anger or tears or both. You gotta be tough as steel to handle that council, or willing to put up with all of the disgusting stuff that goes on in there, and stick it out.

Anonymous said...

Bread and Circus

Anonymous said...


The county pulls in more money from the use of land for development purposes than for farming purposes. Taxes are higher (property, GET, TAT). Upscale tourism is supported, with all the money that means.

The state benefits, too.

Prevailing thinking at both levels is that we need money more than we need locally-grown produce. The mainland will always be there. Nothing will shut down the air and sea tielines (lifelines?). The costs of such imports is manageable and acceptable.

There it is.

Anonymous said...

She even got asked questions. What a rarity for this council.

There's a reason Joan's comments might elicit thoughtful questions while your meandering and often weird harangues leave people staring at their hands waiting for the end.

Wahine Warrior said...

July 22, 2010 9:23 AM Anony(mouse)

Aloha, dear makau'u i'ole!

You said, about me, and my posting here:

"She even got asked questions. What a rarity for this council."

(My post, your quoting it)

"There's a reason Joan's comments might elicit thoughtful questions while your meandering and often weird harangues leave people staring at their hands waiting for the end."

Your snarky little meaningless comment

Here, li'ili'i poe, is my comment to you back:

ha·rangue a


1. A long pompous speech, especially one delivered before a gathering.
2. A speech or piece of writing characterized by strong feeling or expression; a tirade.

ha·rangued, ha·rangu·ing, ha·rangues

To deliver a harangue to.


To deliver a harangue.

Middle English arang, a speech to an assembly, from Old French harangue, from Old Italian aringa, from aringare, to speak in public, probably from aringo, arringa, public square, meeting place, of Germanic origin; see koro- in Indo-European roots


hmm. Hey anony mousie person:

sounds like you have your own little harangue going on. Good luck with that!

And I happen to like Joan a lot, so quit trying to brown nose and pander. It just sounds like a "wierd harangue"!

pa'a ka waha nui. K?

Anonymous said...

That was a weirder harangue than usual.

Joan Conrow said...

OK, let's not go any farther with this exchange.

Anonymous said...

I think it should be "further."

Joan Conrow said...

You're correct, it should be further. Thank you for helping me to improve my writing skills.