It's a cool morning, with gray clouds drifting in and delivering a few half-hearted showers, but I can still recall the stunning sight of a sliver of gold holding up the whole of the moon in last night's dusky sky, just an arm's length from the glowing jewel of Venus.
Kalepa is the agricultural jewel of Kauai's windward side, the one significant swath of farm land that's in the hands of the state, rather than the big boys. But various non-farm proposals are slowly chipping away at the 6,200 acres there, including plans to use some of it for the new county landfill. Green Energy has a lease that locks up 1,037 acres until 2033, supposedly to someday grow eucalyptus — as opposed to its original plan to cultivate highly invasive albezia — that can be burned to provide KIUC with biomass fuel.
Pacific West Energy Kauai, the company that couldn't get a bagasse-to-energy project off the ground with Gay & Robinson, is also trying to grab a sizable chunk. And now Hawaii Bioenergy — comprising Kamehameha Schools, Grove Farm Company and Maui Land & Pineapple Company, three of the largest private landowners in Hawaii — wants to lease 1,000 acres for a biofuels project.
Why, pray tell, must they grab state land when they already own tens of thousands of acres on this island? Because they want to save their own land for stuff that brings in a lot more dough, like residential and commercial development and leasing to seed companies? Or perhaps they just want to knock out any competition so that farmers must lease from them.
When you consider only about 4,000 acres at Kalepa is flat enough to cultivate, it doesn't take a math genius to figure out that once the biofuel companies get done dividing up the pie, only a crescent moon-thin sliver will be left for the small farmers who want to grow food. But you'd rather flip a switch and have lights than eat, right? Assuming, of course, these pipe dreams pan out in our lifetimes.
Since we're talking about pipe dreams, I keep hearing North Shore Path promoters claim it will “protect access.” And I can't help but think, gee, why not focus first on restoring all the truly valuable accesses that have already been “lost,” either because adjacent landowners intentionally planted vegetation and built walls, or the county failed to accept and record easements? Seems we could get a lot more bang for our $4.4 million-per-mile buck that way.
Continuing on the topic of protecting, I recently wrote an article about the Hanalei Roads Committee, which has been working for a whopping 37 years to preserve the historic one-lane bridges up there. Their success offers proof that community activism can be effective, so long as you're not in any hurry. Kudos to all of them for sticking with it. That place would be messed up way worse if the narrow roads and bridges hadn't worked to slow everything and everyone down.
Speaking of messed up, POHAKU is back on the County Council agenda today. Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura wants her colleagues to approve her request to ask the Board of Ethics to investigate whether Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and her office violated the Code of Ethics to create and operate POHAKU and “related matters.”
Of course, JoAnn could just ask the Board herself, but by putting it on the agenda, she gets a chance to keep this issue before the public.
She specifically references the use of a County address as the address of a private business; . the use of a County position, program, and website to direct payment to a private company (Strategic Justice Partners); and the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' registration for Strategic Justice, which lists First Deputy Prosecutor Jake Delaplane as its agent.
It's also on the agenda for an executive session, so it's not clear exactly what we'll hear in the open meeting, aside from the sound of a big broom trying to sweep all this under the rug.