It's the summer solstice, though the cool temps and misty rain hint otherwise, and I marked it by checking out my bees, with the guidance of my bee mentor, Jimmy Trujillo. After the initial trauma of a small hive beetle scare and two attacks by robber bees, it was a relief to find a healthy, pest-free, growing colony.
|My top bar hive shortly after we installed the bees.
In a time of apparent global unraveling in the social, economic and environmental realms, it's comforting to tune in to those bits of the web that are intact, and functioning well.
If only I could say the same about the highest echelons of the Kauai County government. The more I learn about what's going on behind the scenes — and unfortunately, I can't report it yet — the more I marvel that things are getting done at all. Politics can be a very vicious, and secretive, world.
Or as a friend noted, after reading my post about the many masters that the county attorney's office must serve: the answer isn't five more attorneys. What we need is for all these people to do the right thing and start obeying the law.
Speaking of which, I asked Chief Darryl Perry if it would be possible to educate beat officers about beach accesses around the island, so that cops and the public could be spared the kind of confrontation that occurred when Lance Laney used a blocked access at the old Hanalei Plantation Resort.
The chief said he would take it up with the commanders at their next meeting and let me know.
I was amused/annoyed by one comment left on the follow up post about the landowner agreeing to re-open the access after Lance documented the legal easement:
I wish Lance would try to access the legal county access at Kauapea (formerly known as Benji Garfinkle's). It has been fenced and landscaped off for almost a decade, only open to chosen few rich and famous.
Ummm, why the heck should Lance do it? Folks need to step up and take kuleana for their own neighborhoods, instead of waiting for someone else to push the envelope. Be brave, people! Squeaky wheels get the grease.
Which is why Adam Asquith got what he is terming a permanent opt-out from smart meters — though the Public Utilities Commission could still order one installed — as opposed to the deferral that KIUC is now offering. The utility maintains it's essentially all the same, with KIUC spokesman Jim Kelly telling me, “We've already said we're not going to force a meter on anyone who doesn't want it.”
But Adam says it's different, prompting Mark Naea, who has been leading the charge against smart meters, to file a formal complaint with the PUC and consumer advocate. He alleges that KIUC is discriminating against other co-op members by giving Adam “special treatment.”
I'm not sure if people realize that the PUC approved the smart meter roll out as proposed by KIUC, and the consumer advocate did not express concerns about health or privacy issues.
While we're talking about privacy, I was glad to learn that folks on both sides of the political spectrum are expressing their worries about the government's ramped up use of domestic drones. As the Associated Press reports:
Jeff Landry, a freshman Republican congressman from Louisiana's coastal bayou country, said constituents have stopped him while shopping at Walmart to talk about it.
"There is a distrust amongst the people who have come and discussed this issue with me about our government," Landry said. "It's raising an alarm with the American public."
An American Civil Liberties Union lobbyist, Chris Calabrese, said that when he speaks to audiences about privacy issues generally, drones are what "everybody just perks up over."
There's concern as well among liberal civil liberties advocates that government and private-sector drones will be used to gather information on Americans without their knowledge.
Even if the FAA were to establish privacy rules, it's primarily a safety agency and wouldn't have the expertise or regulatory structure to enforce them, civil liberties advocates said. But no other government agency is addressing the issue, either.
Fear that some drones may be armed has been fueled in part by a county sheriff's office in Texas that used a homeland security grant to buy a $300,000, 50-pound ShadowHawk helicopter drone for its SWAT team. The drone can be equipped with a 40mm grenade launcher and a 12-gauge shotgun. Randy McDaniel, chief deputy with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, told The Associated Press earlier this year his office had no plans to arm the drone, but he left open the possibility the agency may decide to adapt the drone to fire tear gas canisters and rubber bullets.
Gee, now isn't that a cheery thought....