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.