Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Musings: Power and Autonomy

Roosters crowing, crickets chirping, sky still star-stuffed, the clock read 4 a.m., causing my mind to rebel — too early! — but if time is just an illusion, and I'm wide awake, why not get up? So I did, and was again struck by how much can be accomplished in the quiet hours before the sun rises, just as I was again amazed by how I can actually take my mind in hand and get it to do my bidding, rather than the other way around. Now that's power!

All I can say is thank goodness the Police Commission didn't do the mayor's bidding and instead asserted its power and autonomy by re-instating Chief Darryl Perry, who plans to return to work today.

But that apparently was news to Mayor Bernard Carvalho, who on Feb. 1 suspended the chief for insubordination and dereliction of duty. As Hawaii News Now reported last night:

After checking around, spokeswoman Sarah Blane released this statement: "confirming there has not been a change in Chief Perry's status." Our sources tell us Mayor Carvalho and his managing director, Gary Heu, do not want Perry to return to work yet. We asked the Kauai county spokeswoman if the county would do anything tomorrow morning to intervene when the chief returned. We got no response back.

I don't know which causes me to chortle more: the thought of the Police Commission slapping down Bernard, or Bernard stewing and fuming upon learning that his attempt to dump and discredit the chief has been thwarted.

Still, it's not really a laughing matter. Aside from the damage to Perry's reputation, Carvalho's heavy-handed, petty power-play unnecessarily threw KPD into “term oil,” to borrow a phrase from a TGI commenter, and caused a community uproar. The timing was especially bad, seeing as how the department was effectively leaderless when an army of 20 cops shot a man off his roof and a patrol car rear-ended a car near Princeville, causing a three-car collision.

So was the political pay-back worth it, Bernard? Or as a friend who was born on Kauai, but now lives off-island, noted in an email:

I love Kaua`i and hope someday it will have enlightened leadership.

Indeed. But we're not there yet.

Which explains why Sen. Ron Kouchi supported SB2341, a bill allowing vacation rentals (TVRs) on ag land, after it was amended to clarify that counties could set their own rules. As he reportedly told The Garden Island:

“I’m not sure that the other counties will see the value of ag land that we do on Kaua‘i. Hopefully they will,” Kouchi said.

Mmmm, Ron, that's why we have state laws, to manage issues of statewide importance. By voting against the bill, you would have made a strong statement that ag land is valuable to the entire state, not just Kauai.

Meanwhile, it's unclear what sort of statement Rep. Derek Kawakami is making. Though he opposed an ordinance to allow TVRs on ag land when he was sitting on the County Council, he voted for HB2317, the House's version of the ag TVR bill. Apparently values are more malleable when one is playing with the big boys.

Fortunately, HB2317 was deferred yesterday by the House Committee on Water, Land and Ocean.

But questions remain. First, if Maui's representatives felt a change in state law was needed before TVRs could be allowed on ag land in that county, doesn't it stand to reason that our county erred when it thumbed its nose at state law and permitted them anyway? And if state law is altered, how long do you think it will be before landowners and their attorneys trot out the same bogus “taking” argument to protest any county restrictions on such uses?

Speaking of protest, Kauai folks staged a march yesterday afternoon in solidarity with a demonstration going down at the state capitol. The reason? The Lege refused to even hear three bills dealing with GMOS, including measures that would mandate labeling and the identification of lands being used for experimental field trials.

Though the Honolulu crowd was sizable, coverage of the action was sparse, and I could find only this account by Hawaii Public Radio. It had Rep. Clift Tsuji saying the GMO demands are coming from “a special interest group,” and we know the Lege never listens to those — unless, of course, they have the kind of dough that the chem/seed companies throw around. Tsuji then made the foolish comment that GMO labeling should be “consumer driven on a voluntary basis.”

OK, so then why not at least conduct hearings to learn what Hawaii consumers do want? Odds are their views mirror national poll results that show a majority of people want genetically modified ingredients identified on food labels.

Of course, like the ag TVR bill, it all comes down to money, with Tsuji referrring to the seed companies as an “economic driver.”

Yes, those companies do generate jobs and revenue in Hawaii.

But that doesn't mean citizens, especially those living near the pesticide-laden dust of the GMO fields, don't also have the right to question at what price, in terms of environmental and human health.


Anonymous said...

Why have Kouchi and Kawakami voted for TVR's on Ag land? The people don't want TVR's on Ag Land. We need food. Over 85% of our food is imported. Time for change!

Anonymous said...

Why, because they are not interested in protecting the land, they are interested in developing it.

Good way for them to make it clear to the voters where their loyalties really are. Bring in the resort communities everywhere, change the face of this island.

Anonymous said...

The people of Kauai suffer from lack of information and the ability to make sound decisions. They are forever tied to their local mentality. They get what they deserve,the consequences of bad decisions.

Anonymous said...

The Garden Island sagas plays out to a tone of deaf and mute audience. Most people on this island will do nothing to aide our failings. It was is obvious to any adolescents mind what is occurring here on Kauai.

This administration has learned from the previous Kauai admins but most notably the reign of Dubya terror on America. His terror squad of cheney, rumsfield, powell, rice and the rest of the crew duped americans into believing that we were under attack by foreign interests. The truth is seeing the light of day as to the magnitude of their destruction is our living existence today.

The mayor and his admin is doing the same thing Bush, Cheney and his CRONIES did to Gen Shinseki. We will see peace and prosperity on Kauai once we rid our island of corruption. As for now we will continue to suffer from what KAUAI as always suffered from. As crime and drugs ruin the foundation of this aina the spoil will eat and drink well and laugh at the suffering of our people.

We must not be afraid of the tyranny that is a well known conclusion, the time to turn a chapter of good shall only exist to achieve a garden of eden for the conquered.

Anonymous said...

Kouchi and Kawakami= Napoleon and Kim Il Jong. Kauai is doomed

Anonymous said...

KIUC is the master of misinformation. The dictatorship of this coop muust not rule. They are not moral human beings, a lizards tongue and a snakes venomous bite lives within each of these monsters.

Anonymous said...

GMO is the new plague, that we've been harvesting for future endeavors.

Anonymous said...

Commudus must not RULE, he is not a moral man. He musnt RULE!

Anonymous said...

Kouchi has been pro-development at any cost from the get go of his career till present day. I remember how it was when Joann and Kaipo were allies on the council while Kouchi was on the other side of the fence with Tehada and Munechiko. If he truly cared about preserving ag land, he would've voted against. I don't know about Derek but based on his vote here on this issue, I have my concerns. They talk out of both sides of their mouth.