Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Musings: Political Animals

Light comes late on these cloudy winter mornings, and grudgingly: a few salmon streaks in the east; faint pink tinting on the cumulus towering over the Giant; a pukalani that blazed briefly before being closed off by gray. Through it all was the nearby buzz of crickets, the far-off crowing of roosters and in between, the enchantingly melodic warbling of a hwamei, the first sound that greeted me when Koko and I went walking this morning.

A few odd animal items caught my eye recently, including two emailed by readers. One, with a subject line that read “the karmic wheel,” was about the stabbing of a Kauai guy who had previously, and bizarrely, cut off the head of a dead monk seal. The other, which came with the subject line “Darwin Award Contestant/ Cock Fighting Casualty,” was about a rooster in California that lethally stabbed a cockfighter with the razor strapped to its leg.

Then there was the disturbing article in today’s paper about the poor shark that gave premature birth on the beach at Pono Kai and then died — a victim of “hooking mortality.” The piece did a good job of making people aware of the longlining fleet’s disgustingly wasteful impact on unwanted bycatch — a topic I wrote about for Honolulu Weekly back in 2009:

[Hawaii-based] longliners have historically hooked two to 10 sharks for every swordfish. At least 60,000 sharks–and more often around 100,000–are caught each year by swordfish crews, who often cut off the fins from live animals and then allow them to slide off the deck and drown.

The Weekly article also delved into the industry’s impact on turtles, and I just got word of a settlement in the Earthjustice lawsuit against the very same federal agency charged with protecting endangered marine life that dramatically reduces the number of rare loggerhead turtles that longliners can hook.

Speaking of agencies, the state Office of Environmental Quality Control will be capably led by our own Gary Hooser — great news that a conservative rag I won’t name or link greeted with the smearline: “First Morita, now Hooser: Abercrombie appoints another anti-Superferry protester.”

We all know Gary and Mina to be so much more than that.

Speaking of Mina, I was amused in reading The Garden Island’s coverage of a topic I’d written about a couple of days prior — who will be appointed to fill her 14th House District seat — to see Council Chairman (and House seat hopeful) Jay Furfaro’s comments about how if he is picked, the Council would convene to choose a new chair rather than handing it over automatically to Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura. And Jay said that if he or Councilman Derek Kawakami is chosen, their replacement would not necessarily be KipuKai Kualii, who came in eighth in the last Council race. Like I said, wouldn’t it be hilarious if they brought back Kaipo Asing — and then made him chair?

It's Kauai, ya know, so anything is possible.

A quick aside on the Council: I got an email notifying folks that the Council’s rules subcommittee is meeting tomorrow morning and urging them to send suggestions on possible revisions to the rules that govern the panel. It read, in part:

Perhaps things were handled differently and in a way you would prefer where you came from…

Oh, yeah. That approach always goes over so well...

Returning to the topic of political appointments, I noticed on today’s Council agenda that the mayor has nominated Wayne Katayama, head of Kauai Coffee, a subsidiary of A&B, to serve on the Planning Commission. At least he also reappointed Herman Texeira, one of the few commissioners with the balls to speak up, to a second term.

Not surprisingly, reps from A&B’s Kukuiula Development, as well as Grove Farm and other developers, are supporting the county’s watered down plan for implementing the charter amendment — passed overwhelmingly by voters — that caps the growth of tourist accommodations.

The county reportedly spent some $60,000 on outside legal fees trying to see if it could legally circumvent the public’s will, and when it learned it was written too tight to challenge — unless, perhaps, the legal battle was funded by deep pocket developers — it came up with a draft bill that weakens the overall goal of capping the growth rate at 1.5 percent. It also returns a lot of power to the Planning Commission, which is even less accountable than the Council.

Given the down economy, a mayor heavily backed by the construction industry, and the heavy turnout of developers and their attorneys at the Planning Commission hearing, we can expect another David vs. Goliath fight over this bill.

But sometimes, as the rooster-stabbing incident indicates, the underdogs do prevail.


Anonymous said...

the 'chater amendment' was a haole initiative - by those who don't work here on the island for a living. think about it.

looks like local folks spoke out against it and only those haoles who know better than us spoke for it.

Anonymous said...

Any locals who disagree are just coconuts anyway. They can't be authentic Hawaiians if they disagree with a 1.5% cap on tourism. Therefore they are brown on the outside, but white on the inside and are to be ridiculed and put back in their place.

Anonymous said...

the amendment passed by 70%, it was not a haole only supported initiative, it wAS SUPPORTED BY THE OVERWHELMING NUMBER OF VOTERS

Anonymous said...

The solution is really simple. Trash the charter amendment instead, use today's numbers for the General Plan, update it.

You have to deal with the current reality of population growth and permits issued. Right now, you don't know what that is. The voted on initiative didn't use good numbers - or if they did, did not show their work, how did the responsible government people come up with them, DBEDT, County forecasting, temporal regression, extrapolation cohort component demographic, seriously, what was the method?

Use real numbers, show your work, update the general plan as it should have been and get over it.

People will vote for anything that sound good, that doesn't mean it is sound.

Anonymous said...

"1.5% cap on tourism" is that what YOU voted for?

Anonymous said...

Came across an interesting article
about how selling your island may not not be in the best interest of a resident population with limited land. Kinda like right here!

Accomadations tax for all vacation rentals and timeshares. Keep records to track vacancies. No new tourist accomadations till sustained 95% is acheived. Charge more for high Occupancy seasons.

What will happen when all the land is occupied. Try growing food then.

Try going to the beach when there are only fences and security guards
makai of the coastal roads. We're pretty close to that now.

Anonymous said...

6:25 AM excellent point and you are correct - except the bill passed does not achieve such high ideals. It only addresses 50% of the growth, because it excludes individual rentals such as the TVR's those are not accounted for in the 'chatter' amendment.

Anonymous said...

Debate what should have been done all you want, but the amendment passed - with a whopping 70% voter support. Ur wasting energy talking about how wrong you think it is, and your lying if you say locals didn't support it. The island is only about 25% haole.

And, reportedly, because its tied the the general plan, its gonna be an expensive b**ch to litigate and the County has even decided not to challenge it (although they hate it) - and wait for a developer to file suit. But because the amendment will essentially "sunset" when a new general plan with new development numbers is made, challenging the amendment in Court may not be too cost-effective for a developer. The developer has the unpleasant choice of going to court for several years or waiting (and hoping) for a new general plan that loosens things up - which might also take several years. (Hey when is that important ag land study coming anyway - isnt it like 10 years late already?)

Personally, I think the charter amendment provides a great "time out" from development and I commend those who thought it through, made it legal, (left out the TVRs - hotels are worse IMHO) and got it passed. It was a clean, well planned, intelligent and organized effort to get something done without hystrionics, illegal interference with property rights or even arrests.

It was perfectly civilized, and it was fun to watch it unfold on election night as the environmentalists outsmarted and out played the money first crowd at every turn on this one.


Anonymous said...

"The island is only about 25% haole."

um - no - 2000 census puts white as 76% but your definition and the government's may be different.

Good to know that some people don't do their homework before typing a line of text. Misleading information is why the county is in the situation it is in - glad you are one more part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

'sounds good doesn't mean its sound' - cute and probably true.

The point is you can limit the development - with the correct information - like a build out analysis, actual number of units, average visitor count, % of unit usage, know the current population. but hey - too late to do the right thing - lets head down the wrong path, again.

Anonymous said...

Nothing stops development like a recession (depression)?

Anonymous said...

White persons, 2006 34.5%
Black persons, 2006 0.4%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, 2006 0.4%
Asian persons, 2006 33.1%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 2006 9.1%
Persons reporting two or more races, 2006 22.5%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, 2006 9.3%
Mean travel time to work , 21.5 minutes
Median household income, 2007 $54,112

Anonymous said...

More than 70% of lemmings followed other lemmings and jumped off a cliff...

Anonymous said...

The cost do this this kind of bill the right way easily $200K+.

That $75K donation could have been better spent.

Anonymous said...

7:05 Most people agree that most people don't know what they are talking about....however to make a point most people use the faulty logic that most people agree with them.

Anonymous said...

As local Hawaiian I am perpetually disgusted by the sell-out of our aina for developers who care about about how much profit they can make at the expense of our quality of life. And than you have some locals pushing for every possible development so that they too can get their piece of the pie the likes of A & B.

Selling out is brown and white, not exclusively one over the other. Tourism is a service industry whose wages barely afford a living here and whose industry is it is right now with the down economy. Instead of pushing for more tourism development concentrate on filling the many hotel rooms that are sitting vacant in our current inventory INSTEAD of creating new inventory. Hotel workers especially on the east side are suffering with cut hours and loss of medical benefits as a result.

The rape and degradation of Po'ipu and it's numerous ongoing projects benefits a few at the expense of local families in the area who endure impacts on infrastructure and those of us who choose not to frequent the beaches there anymore because of the masses of tourists that over-run the place.

Tired of the same old faces pushing their same old agendas with deep pockets to influence the outcome. Wake up Kaua'i.