Monday, August 2, 2010

Musings: Catch-Up

The moon, still bright, though waning, peeked through the skylight in the wee hours of the night, tricking me into thinking it was time to get up, but I managed to fall back asleep until the real dawn arrived, with soft pink clouds on the horizon and a brisk breeze that made the ironwoods wave and sigh.

I was sighing a bit myself, seeing as how I’d worked all weekend on a story and now here it was, time to get up and go again, but it had been a pleasure to write about Kehau Kekua and the sacred and the profound and the sun was creating a golden haze in the trees and Koko was her usual ecstatically sniffing self and so my own buoyancy soon was restored.

The article I’d been writing on Kehau got me thinking about the construction activity at Wailua again, which reminded me that I’d run into John Kruse at the Lihue post office the other day. He’s been temporarily returned to the Kauai-Niihau Island Burial Council because the newest member, James W. Fujita, had to resign due to a conflict of interest.

Which got me wondering why they hadn’t put John back on when his term expired last year and instead left the Burial Council without a quorum so it conveniently couldn’t meet on the Burial Treatment Plan for Joe Brescia’s house at Naue as he meanwhile proceeded to quickly complete it.

But that irritation was tempered by the good news that Nancy McMahon, the state archaeologist whose misdeeds created the Bresica boondoggle – to quote Judge Watanabe: ““The heart of this case is the failure of the state to follow procedures put in place to protect cultural practitioners, the general public and the rights of landowners.” — has been placed on indefinite administrative leave without pay. Her suspension followed a National Park Services inquiry into and state legislative hearings on the screwed up mess that is the State Historic Preservation Division.

Which offers a perfect segue into the screwed up mess of vacation rentals, which continued to be a source of comments over the weekend and discussion this morning when Koko and I ran into my neighbor Andy when we were almost finished with our walk. He noted with some disappointment that no one had picked up the story about the beer summit with the county attorneys and Dickie Chang, and we agreed that it likely would be swept under the rug, just business as usual on Kauai.

The paper did run an editorial yesterday on the subject of ag TVRs that was so poorly written I thought maybe it had been penned by the publisher, but what really got me was that even though it pointed out the inanities of the bill, it still supported it:

There’s [sic] also some lines in the legislation that you just can’t think too hard about. For example, “The owner, operator, or proprietor shall have the burden of proof in establishing that the use is properly nonconforming...” So, the county wants to make sure you’re definitely not operating as was intended?

Actually, those are exactly the kinds of lines you should think hard about because poorly written bills get the county into trouble over and over and over again.

And then it just glossed over the point that provides an opening for a successful intervention on this bill:

For instance, the law says that single-family vacation rental owners can apply for a non-conforming use certificate if they were operating lawfully prior to the effective date of this ordinance. So, the county is going to legalize an activity that’s already legal? And if you don’t obtain such a certificate, then you can’t legally run your lawful vacation rental?

Councilman Derek Kawakami touched on this at the meeting when he asked Deputy County Attorney Mike Dahilig if lawful and legal mean the same thing and Mike waffled and said yes, essentially, although he’d probably use them in different contexts. So as Derek pointed out:

“Of course the bill doesn’t legalize it [ag TVR use] because it claims it was always legal, but how could it be legal without a special use permit?”

To which Mike responded that although the AG’s opinion had stated it could find no justification under Chapter 205 for allowing TVRs on ag land “it doesn’t make a definitive statement that it’s not allowed.”

What kind of crap is that? As Anonymous 8:18 a.m. noted back on ”This is Almost Crazy” post:

Private citizens have standing to enforce Chapter 205. If you are a neighbor, co-unit owner in a cpr, or someone whose property or economic interests are going to be adversely affected by a TVR operation, you may intervene before the Planning Commission. Even neighborhood associations have been granted standing. Stand up for your rights. Represent yourself, you don't need a lawyer. Get a copy of the Planning Commission Rules and laws off the internet and have at it.

If nothing else, you should get the Planning Commission to include mitigative measures and educate them about the issues. Otherwise, it's just the applicant telling his side of the story. You know there are some rich dickheads who believe they're superior but who will go to the Planning Commission telling them how much aloha he has for the local people -- so much so that he pays 'em three hours of work in cash a week for yard work or housekeeping. You get to question these assholes (or the asshole's representative) and ask 'em about how much money they make (as it impacts the affordability of ag land) or whether they're willing to help the taro farmer who got screwed by that "ag" subdivision, or why they can't farm but can landscape the shit out of 25 acres. Really?

I always appreciate readers who do a little research, share their informed manao or otherwise make a substantive contribution to comments, like the person who tipped me to a DLNR enforcement action against the very same folks who claim “they can't farm but can landscape the shit out of 25 acres,” which I will write about tomorrow.

I also appreciate those who direct me to items of interest, such as the reader who left the comment,
”Here's one I thought you might like, Joan,” along with a link to this story about yet another person who is running an illegal business — in this case, stamping advertisements in the sand on public beaches — but justifying it with the claim that he’s employing local people.

Fortunately, the Outdoor Circle is pushing back against entrepreneur Bobby Godwin, who wants to offer such “harmless” services as this:

A real estate agent trying to sell a $12 million home on the beach might want to stamp the sand in front of it with an image of the house and their contact information, he said.

Yes, I imagine they just might. And with guys like Godwin already honing in on a possible opening in the state permit process, that kind of ugliness could be a reality.

And finally, I'd to extend a big mahalo to those who offered support and praise for Kauai Electic last week ☺ Positive feedback means a lot.


Anonymous said...

You are so right! The local paper is pathetic. We need honest reporting. Thanks for keeping up with this issue. I wish we could get better coverage than what the GI is covering so that the real truth is revealed. Alert the Star-Advertiser or mainland news outlets? Are there any attorneys who can take this to court? Meanwhile, we need the grass roots to counter the money-ed lobby! Aloha.

Anonymous said...

Why Join SPJ?

Make a solid investment in yourself and your profession by joining the Society of Professional Journalists.

-not a member?

Anonymous said...

Be sure to read Andy's comment on yesterday's GI article.

Thanks Andy!

Anonymous said...

Kruse probably couldn't jump right back on the burial council because of term limits...the council is a state entity.

McMahon gets blasted, true dat. But there's alot of blame to go around for that one. Heck, it filled this blog for weeks and weeks...

Anonymous said...

Best to remember that John k. understood the Brescia problem and voted to move he burials that are now in situ under the home.

Anonymous said...

Moving the bones was the logical thing to due. Solves the problem. But...oh no !!!! Let's make it the bigger problem and solve nothing.

Anonymous said...

"has been placed on indefinite administrative leave without pay"

You have not verified the facts -

Did she make the request for admin. leave or was she asked? You don't have that information.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 6:20 pm: least she's not where she can make decisions that hurt our iwi. For many of us that's all that matters. If there is an investigation being done @ SHPD it's long overdue and badly needed. Maika'i no keia!


Anonymous said...

"at least she's not where she can make decisions that hurt our iwi."

Correct those decisions are written on on the books as laws and regulations. mostly by hawaiians in the 80's

Anonymous said...

Wrong. She had a lot of latitude in her job that affected how iwi were treated.

Anonymous said...

How were the iwi mistreated?

Joan Conrow said...

Dear Spew-Soaked, Foam-Flecked Flamer, now deleted:

Andy Parks is not my neighbor. Now go clean yourself up and get some sleep. You were obviously up way past your bedtime.

Anonymous said...

If you choose to make Kauai or Hawaii nei your home it is your responsibility to learn about the place, the culture and history. It is culturally wrong or hewa to do what has been done in Naue...

If you understood or made an attempt at understanding you wouldn't have to ask the question (How were the iwi mistreated?).
Kanaka have known for many generations the sacredness of Naue as noted in ancient chants and oral traditions. Kanaka are rooted in their aina hanau or birth place. 'Ohana know where their kupuna are buried.

Nancey McMahon is one pilau haole who has made money off the bones of Kanaka Maoli and our cultural sites. In one way or another, she will get her due. It can't come soon enough.