I was driving past Kealia yesterday, watching out for a bicyclist who was riding against the pau hana traffic and wondering why, when the Path that was supposedly created for them is right there, so many cyclists don't use it.
Could it be because the joggers and strollers and dogs get in their way on what is clearly a recreational path, even though Path boosters scammed the feds into kicking down funding under the guise of providing alternative transportation?
So it was with that same nose for bullshit that I checked out the "visioning document" for a North Shore Path, which pretty much follows the existing road, except in key areas. Can you guess which areas those are? You've got it: primarily undeveloped private lands that would benefit greatly from having a recreational amenity put through with taxpayers picking up the $4.4 million-per-mile tab.
We're talking about the Kilauea plateau on the makai side of the highway; the acreage across the road where Bill and Joan Porter pushed for a pavilion on ag land and CPRd the rest for gentleman's estates; Princeville Corp. lands makai of the highway near the airport, where Jeff Stone plans to develop gentleman's estates; and the taro fields owned by Princeville and the Wilcox family that represent the last bit of Hanalei not yet exploited for tourism.
Curiously, the map also shows a “future/proposed” Hanalei overlook at Pooku, even though that proposal has been beat back several times by the community, which made it pretty clear Princeville has played a key role in this “visioning.” And though the North Shore Path is presented as a “grassroots effort,” no Citizens Advisory Committee was convened for that particular segment.
While I must confess I didn't read the entire document — I can only stomach so much gloss at one sitting — I couldn't help but notice the bit about how “planning costs could easily exceed $2.0M [as in $2 million] for the entire North Shore Path network.” I'm sure that has planning consultant Ben Wellborn, who conveniently is also a Realtor, salivating.
Once again boosters are looking for federal money that is supposed to be used to “expand transportation choices and enhance the transportation experience,” which is probably why the North Shore Path website has wordage about “fewer cars.” But I think you'd be hard-pressed to show the eastside Path has reduced motor vehicle traffic in any significant way, if at all. In fact, it may actually have worked to increase it, because many people drive from their homes to use the Path.
My point is, let's be honest about this whole damn Path. Don't pass it off as providing alternative transportation when its purpose is clearly recreational. Don't claim it will be “forever green” when it's concrete. Don't say it's going to provide lateral access in perpetuity when it's using easements we already have. And in the case of the North Shore, don't pretend it's community-driven when it's so obviously been cooked up as an amenity intended to boost the property values of a few private landowners and the visitor experience.
While we're on the topic of gloss and shibai, I was kind of astounded to get an email on behalf of Rep. Colleen Hanabusa's campaign that was sent out by John Garibaldi. Remember him, the front man for Hawaii Superferry? And now here he is, blatantly running the campaign of the woman who was president of the state Senate when the Lege held its special session and decided HSF didn't need an EIS to operate. Nope, no special interest legislation there, suck-suck, nuzzle-nuzzle. Gee, and all this time we thought they were our legislators.
Dropping the gloss and going straight for the shibai, fallout continues from the bogus Hanalei toxins story printed Sunday in The Garden Island. The state Department of Health yesterday sent off a blistering letter to the article's author — editor Renee Haines, who has since been fired:
Your story in the April 29 Garden Island News is missing some important information, and unfortunately misrepresents the facts. We understand the paper’s desire for timely reporting, but we urge you to check on the accuracy of serious allegations like the ones being made by Mr. Lilley before going to print. The Hawaii State Department of Health is very concerned about the misleading information being shared by Mr. Lilley and would like provide the following facts:
The concentrations of arsenic, barium, chromium and lead reported by Terry Lilley with the Hanalei River heritage Foundation are within anticipated, natural background levels for the volcanic soils and related sediments of the Hawaiian islands. The metals are naturally occurring, are tightly bound within minerals in the soil and are not toxic to humans or wildlife. The terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna of Kaua‘i have lived with these metals since the island was created millions of years ago. They are similar to levels of metals in soil that would be found anywhere on the islands as well as much of the world, and are not related to manmade pollution. This is well documented in numerous reports over the past several decades, and summarized in the recent draft report “Hawaiian Islands Soil Metal Background Evaluation Report” prepared for the Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office of the Department of Health.
Mr. Lilly incorrectly compared the sediment data to regulatory standards for drinking water. These are completely unrelated standards and are not applicable to metals in soil or sediment.
I don't know if Renee was fired for writing that story, which gave Hanalei a black eye just when it was reaping the benefits of exposure provided by The Descendants — the shibai film that glosses over the sins of Hawaii's 1% — or for other reasons.
But it's very odd that the paper has not yet printed a retraction, a correction or at least the letter to the editor that Dr. Carl Berg submitted.