The longer days are noticeable not just in the additional light bookending each day, but in the speed with which seeds planted at the spring equinox have sprouted into hearty seedlings. The rains, meanwhile, have been cooperating nicely with my garden, arriving just as needed to keep things moist enough to grow but not so wet they rot.
The County Council is cooperating nicely with the police commission, appropriating $10,000 last week so the panel can hire its own attorney. Now the issue of whether the mayor has the power under the County Charter to discipline the police chief or tell him how to manage his own staff is edging toward court.
I'll be curious to see whether senior Circuit Court Judge Randal Valenciano, a former County Councilman, takes the case or punts it to Judge Kathleen Watanabe, a former county attorney. I'm not sure that either judge will provide a satisfactory resolution, but it's all part of the process.
The protracted process of securing funding to hire outside counsel highlights the need to reorganize the county attorney's office so it's not entirely controlled by the mayor and his appointees. There's no way the various commissions, or the County Council, can get objective advice from attorneys whose jobs depend on pleasing the mayor.
It seems to me we need an attorney to advise the Council, another one or two to represent the commissions and some others to work for the administration on various county functions. In that way, these issues can be handled in a more timely manner. And who knows, some of the commissioners might start asking more questions and functioning to their full power, rather than in the narrow realm prescribed for them by the mayor-friendly attorneys.
Moving on to other issues, I've been interested to see that residents of both Molokai and Kailua, on Oahu, are taking a stand on how they want tourism to be managed in their communities.
As The Hawaii Independent reports, Kailua residents are organizing to prohibit commercial activities on beaches in response to a Honolulu City Council bill that would allow tour buses to drop off visitors, as well as the issuance of vendor permits:
Our beach parks should be a place for recreational activities and families. They should not be used for profit.
Meanwhile, as the Molokai Dispatch reports, residents there have come up with guidelines for managing passenger boat activities. They include such novel concepts as:
Fair Exchange of Value and Sharing of Wealth 1. Rotate the use of existing vendors, such as Vans and Tours. 2. All tours and activities must be escorted by local escorts. 3. Use existing Hotels and legal B&B for overnight stays (no sleeping on Ship). 4. Use existing restaurants and eateries (no eating on the ship). 5. Donate to a Community Fund to be used for environmental/cultural protection and enhancement on Molokai.
Separation of Visitors from Real Estate Sales and Land Taxes 1. All visitors must attend a 45 minute orientation which includes land issues past and present.
And certain places, such as Mo`omomi, Kaulukukui o Lanikaula, Halawa Valley and Iliiliopae, would be off-limits completely.
Commercial use of public lands and sacred places has long been a sore spot on Kauai, and whereas residents elsewhere are pushing back, we seem to be losing ground. In a previous post, I expressed my displeasure at discovering a photo tour company was taking visitors to some of the few beaches on the windward side that haven't been tainted by commercialism.
The tour owner claimed he was complying with state law, which did not require him to get permits, so I checked with the Kauai Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) office. While the state has clearly defined which forest and interior trails can be used for commercial activities, the beaches are more of a gray area.
As the DOCARE administrator described it, permits are required for weddings, because it's assumed that a section of the beach will be encumbered by the ceremonies for a certain length of time.
But when it comes to tours, that's pretty much open season, because unless a company is there “for two hours or something,” they don't need a permit. When I questioned why, since they're impacting the resources, including the trail, just as they would in the forest, the administrator said he, too, had wondered about the distinction, and had asked the state Attorney General's office for clarification.
The answer given was that so long as the beach was still accessible to the public, commercial tours and activities were OK.
So what about the woman I saw who had set up her table to give an oceanfront massage on a secluded beach? I asked. Is that considered encumbering the beach? And if no permit is required, how do we keep these kinds of resort activities off our public beaches?
His answer: call a DOCARE officer and let him assess the situation.