Friday, April 22, 2011

Musings: Friday Finale

The sparkling brilliance of a starry midnight had been replaced by a cloud-mottled dawn when the dogs and I went out walking this morning. A hapai half-moon lit our way along a street that was quiet, in a holiday (for some) kind of way, which allowed the sweetness of bird song to dominate.

We had already returned home, and the dogs had their faces deep in their food bowls, when the sun rose through the trees, a hot pink sphere that turned the world a shimmery gold before assuming that color itself, its rays seeming to pulse as they moved through the moisture laden air and shot directly into my eyes. Wake up and live!

It’s Friday, a good time to clear the desk, and mind, of things that caught my interest recently.

For starters, the Hawaii Supreme Court has agreed to hear Ikaika Pratt’s long-running case pertaining to the rights of Native Hawaiians to engage in their traditional and customary practices. It stems from Ikaika’s arrest for camping in Kalalau for longer than is allowed, and without a permit, while he cared for a heiau there.

Attorney Dan Hempey, in successfully petitioning the high Court, noted:

From Petitioner’s perspective, the case has almost played out like a trap, with the State conceding an important point at trial, the trail court agreeing that the matter has been proven, and the Petitioner then losing the case on appeal because an ICA [Intermediate Court of Appeals] judge held that he failed to present evidence on the very same conceded issue.

While we’re on the topic of Hawaiian issues, Gov. Abercrombie, apparently unfazed — or perhaps unaware — of the circumstances that led to former deputy planning director Imai Aiu’s demotion within the ranks of county personnel, appointed him to the Hawaiian Homes Commission. Among those submitting supportive testimony to a recent hearing chaired by Sen. Brickwood Galuteria was Pua Aiu, Imai’s sister and the State Historic Preservation Division director who approved the very controversial plan to allow the disinterment of burials at Kawaiahao Church, a project in which Brickwood’s mother has played an instrumental part.

And while we’re talking about burials, Pua Aiu and demotd public servants, the County Council this week deferred action on a resolution nominating Nancy McMahon to the Kauai Historic Preservation Review Commission. Nancy, as you may recall, was the former Kauai district archaeologist and SHPD deputy director who approved the burial treatment plan that allowed Joe Brescia to build on top of iwi kupuna. Pua Aiu signed off on the plan after it was rejected by the Kauai Niihau Island Burial Council, thus setting the precedent that capping iwi in concrete and building over them is compatible with a determination to “preserve in place.”

In looking back through the Kauai Eclectic archive in response to a request for information about the Naue/Brescia debacle, I encountered this reference, which pretty much sums up why Nancy shouldn’t be appointed to the Commission — unless, of course, you’re looking for someone who isn’t going to be advocating for preservation:

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.

Councilman Mel Rapozo asked for the deferral after receiving an email from Richard Spacer, who has been active in the access issue at Lepeuli (Larsen’s Beach). Richard alleged that Nancy had refused to come and inspect an archaeological feature in the area where Bruce Laymon wanted to run cattle, even as she signed a petition saying Bruce was doing a good job of cleaning up the beach.

Speaking of beaches, I couldn’t help but think of how vulnerable our built-up coastlines are while watching the video posted over at Disappeared News under the apt heading “Latest tsunami video horrible to watch.”

And for a soberingly different perspective on the fallout from the Japanese nuke plant disaster, check out this site, which reports on the efforts of animal rescue operations to help thousands of animals abandoned, and often starving, in the radiation exclusion zones:

“It’s like Katrina with radiation – a ghost town with only animals. All we hear are barking dogs,” said Brenda Shoss, the executive director of Kinship Circle, an animal organization working in the exclusion zone to rescue animals at the direct request of their guardians. “It’s a crisis for domesticated animals. It’s not like we’re in a disaster aftermath. The disaster is still happening.”

And while we’re talking about animals, in the aforementioned archival search I also stumbled upon this excerpt from an entry written after one of neighbor’s dogs had killed my cat:

One of the dog owners contacted me to say he was taking steps to make sure his dog never did that again to another animal, and that’s really the best outcome I could hope for from this unfortunate situation.

Ah, yes, Miss Pollyanna hoping for the best. Yet one year later, the guy’s dog is still running loose and was part of the pack that attacked Paele.

So to the person who chided me in comments to “look for the good in people and believe perhaps that they and most people, have goodness in their heart” let me just say that I do, indeed, always look for the good that I believe is in every heart.

Unfortunately, it’s often deeply buried under selfishness, stupidity, unconsciousness and greed.

Which seems to be a fitting segue to the Ainana Hou project, and the Sierra Club’s denouncement of approvals granted for it, in part due to concerns about the precedent it could set in allowing commercial uses of ag land though the special use permit process.

As I noted previously, merits of the amphitheater aside, if developer Bill Porter was truly sincere about wanting to do good for the community, he should have sought a land use reclassification from the state and zoning change from the county.


Anonymous said...

Guess it doesn't matter if you're demoted and under investigation for ethics violations as in Imai's case or if you are suspended and under investigation by the feds for mismanagement and other violations eventually being let go as in Nancy's long as you're well connected to the powers that be, you
get nominated to these commissions.

I urge people to email Council members their opposition to Nancy's appointment. It is an a front to Kanaka Maoli to have her appointed to a commission that will put her back in a position of influencing decisions regarding our cultural treasures. Her time at SHPD was clouded by controversy and mismanagement. Her sensitivities lie w/ the developers and not to the culture she was in charge of preserving.

Anonymous said...

"due to concerns about the precedent it could set in allowing commercial uses of ag land though the special use permit process"

they did no research - this so amusing. there is no precedent set....let me think commerical activities on ag....quarry, cement plant, atv tours, but make wild accusations, it seems to suit them

Anonymous said...

nancy is a sick person, responsible in large part for the desecration at Naue. Slap in the face to appoint her. Desecration and preservation are not the same, reject her

Unknown said...

Yeah, but they'll give keys and appoint a psychotic filipino as "kahu" to the most "sacred area on Kauai." Join the circus, Nancy.

Anonymous said...

"filipino as "kahu""
names and places please!!!

Unknown said...

wailua heiau

Anonymous said...

It gets nuttier and nuttier...

Anonymous said...

Oh Joan, you are so right on! We know who the Filipino Kahu is you're talking about. Nancy McMahon and Pua Imai are an absolute affront to everything that is just. Concrete caps over graves? Give me a freakin' break. Nancy McMahon should be absolutely rejected. And how the hell did Imai Aiu get on the Hawaiian Homnes Commission after screwing up? Thank you for your writing, Joan. You are awesome!