Friday, January 28, 2011

Musings: Mish Mash

The sun is finally starting to rise a bit earlier, though almost imperceptibly; but still, we’ve turned the corner and the days are now, to my delight, growing longer on either end.

President Obama yesterday offered the tiniest inkling that he may be prepared to ease, if not end, the long-running and totally failed “war on drugs.” In an on-line forum, former deputy sheriff and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition spokesman MacKenzie Allen asked the Prez whether it’s time to discuss legalizing and regulating drugs. Obama responded that it is "an entirely legitimate topic for debate," and while he is not in favor of legalization, he sees drug abuse as a public health issue. He went on to say that a shifting of resources is required, away from the traditional approach of incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders.

But he still hasn’t put his money where his mouth is. The Obama administration continues to favor prisons and prosecution over treatment and prevention in the same two-to-one funding budget ratio of the Bush era.

Meanwhile, as Democracy Now! reported yesterday:

In Bolivia, thousands of people marched to the U.S. embassy in the capital city La Paz Wednesday in protest of the Obama administration’s opposition to the Andean practice of chewing coca leaves. The United Nations is currently reviewing a Bolivian proposal to remove a clause of a 1961 U.N. convention that declared the coca leaf an illegal narcotic alongside a number of hard drugs including cocaine and heroin. The United States has said it will file a formal objection to removing the coca leaf ban. Bolivia’s Deputy Minister of Coca, German Loza, called the movement to legalize the coca leaf "a social revolution."

German Loza: "This march is a social revolution, an action in defense of the coca leaf and its chewing, which has never had harmful effects on people’s health. That is why we can’t continue to be subjected to the powers of the international community that ignores the nature of the coca leaf."

It’s yet another example of the way America meddles in the affairs of its neighbors to the south, often with violent results. As Aljezeera reports, Chile is finally launching its own investigation into the death of President Salvador Allende, who was found shot in the head during a bloody U.S.-backed coup that brought dictator Augusto Pinochet to power on Sept.11, 1973. His death had been ruled a suicide.

Henry Kissinger, US secretary of state under then president Richard Nixon, made quite clear what US intentions were after Allende's election.

"The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves ..." Kissinger said at the time.

Which leads me to an article in the local paper about the mayor signing the bill that ends county furloughs. It seems that cutting county workers saved the county about $2.3 million — an amount that will soon be burned up on pay for Bernard’s top heavy administration, which includes a number of new and questionable management positions.

I heard that he was recently accompanied to a Council meeting by a man who identified himself as his protocol officer, and whose duties include making sure the mayor gets to his appointments on time. And maybe that he's wearing the right lei?

Doesn’t Bernard have a secretary? Or a smart phone? What about Beth?

It would be really nice if the Administration came clean about who has been hired by the mayor’s office, how much we’re paying them and exactly what they’re doing to justify their generous salaries.

It would also be nice if KIUC revealed to us, the owners of the cooperative, just how much it plans to pay Green Energy for the power generated by burning albezia and other wood. According to an article in The Garden Island:

David Bissell, KIUC acting president and chief executive officer, said the co-op needs to maintain discretion in pricing and therefore would not reveal the price KIUC will pay Green Energy per kilowatt-hour (kwh) under the PPA [Power Purchase Agreement].

Meanwhile, Green Energy is also trying to get federal grant money for the project and has gotten a sweet deal to lease state land, which is actually the so-called “ceded lands,” for its project. Are they getting tax breaks, too?

Which leads me to wonder, how much is this biomass energy project really costing us? Especially if the project never does fly, and the incredibly invasive albezia they’re growing continues to spread and destroys the watershed.


Anonymous said...

Would it be possible to use FOIA requests on the Mayor's / County's spending and the KIUC dealings?

Anonymous said...

KIUC is a non-profit and is not covered by FOIA.

Art Ralston said...

It's so funny to watch the mayor's TV Show and the media defficient administrators. I haven't seen any of the new managers yet. Where is the money coming from to pay them?
We just got over furloughs.

Watching CNN this morning, all coverage has shifted to CNN International about Egypt. Stock market is down and oil is up $3.00 a barrel. When are we going to burn our trash? Green energy, more power to the concept, should be mandated to burn our rubbish. They shouldn't be allowed to use up valuble food growing land for biomass. It's a no brainer!

We're running out of time folks. Rioting is going on in Egypt, Lebanon, Yemmen, and Tunisa. Concern is growing over it spreading to Saudi Arabia and beyond. Between social unrest and and a weakening dollar, we have trouble shead, it's not if, but when.

Anonymous said...

So Art, are you prepared to pay 3X as much for trash disposal?

The cost of incinerators is huge

Anonymous said...

It is what it is.

Try take all your rubbish, throw it on the ground in your backyard, and cover it with a thin layer of dirt.

I bettcha it won't be long before you squeak out your wallet to pay for somebody to take it away.

This island is our backyard!

If we enjoy buying all this trash, we have to get used to the fact that we have to get rid of it.

It would be nice to utilize it before were paying $1.00 a kwh.

We have to realize this is a new world trying to solve age old problems

Besides that, old tea bags smell bad.


Anonymous said...

Mayor comes off looking good when in reality, furloughs didn't need to happen. He really thinks the people of Kauai are stupid. There was no need for County furloughs in the first place with a surplus and all. How does he justify "finding" positions for Ian and Imai formerly of the Planning Department when they should've been terminated period?

The Mayor's Office counts on the public remaining uninformed and/or apathetic in order to buy his "feel good" public relation releases.

Anonymous said...

"They shouldn't be allowed to use up valuble food growing land for biomass. It's a no brainer!"

Yes, we should use our valuable food growing land for what we are using it for now: Growing grass.

Mel Rapozo said...

Joan, on December 12, 2011, I asked the Administration to provide a matrix of all new and/or reallocated positions that were created during the recent "restructure." I was most interested in the fiscal impact to the budget. After numerous follow-up requests, I have received nothing. I will be asking Chair Furfaro to place this matter on the agenda in February if I don't hear from them by the end of January. Pretty simple request in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

on December 12, 2011 -

Wow - you are AMAZING.

Mel Rapozo said...

I meant December 12, 2010. Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mel, The admin needs some accountability. if they don't produce the docs, can the council cut it from the budget? With budget time coming up, bernard may have to relent.

a public relations front guy needed for the county, wow... if they did the job of being public smployees working for the public benefit, there would be no need for PR.
Isobe is a PR guy, that's what he is, will he apply for this too?

Anonymous said...

Everybody is crying about government workers getting furloughed. I have been unemployed for 8 months. No medical, no dental, no income. I refuse to collect unemployment on my own will. Government workers have the luxury of working under an umbrella that can ensure that they receive revenue because when the going get tough they will tax the business owners. What they dont realize is that taxes on our employers affect us in the form of lost wages and benefits. I find it hard to find sympathy for government workers who have always been the butt of jokes. Before furloughs we used to joke that county workers had one person working and eight people standing around supervising. But when the economy tanked and they lost two days a month I lost 30 days a month. And now we weep for them. I am glad that they no longer have to suffer the tremendous hardship of two day a month furloughs while my kids go hungry. While many kids go hungry. Congratulations county no longer have to suffer

Anonymous said...

The mayor and his administration have no shame. Furloughs have to end for workers - especially after they gave themselves a pay raise! Wonder if Lenny, the mayor's campaign/parks head will get a raise too? Word is that he showed up at the office for a short period in the morning, then took off for who knows where. And what is mayor's dad's girlfriend geting paid? She's clueless, unskilled and so unpleasant. The less this administration can perform, the more they beef up "PR". Shibai! Mel - hope you can get some real answers but we doubt it. Keep hammering though, it would make for interesting TV viewing!

Anonymous said...

Mel- now that you're back what's happening with your investigation of the Dept. of Personnel and the practice of downgrading skilled postions that they pleaded for (and the council approved as such) so the mayor can pick an unskilled entry level crony and train him or her?

And who is the mayor's dad's girlfriend?

Anonymous said...

Leave the Mayor alone! He's trying his best and what's wrong with helping your friends and your father's friends? If he says he needs help with public relations, then he needs help. So a few parks go unattended or a couple of roads don't get repaired. At least we can watch the Mayor on TV and feel good about the choices he made.