Monday, July 30, 2012

Musings: No Surprise

It's summertime, which means hunting for yellow lilikoi as if they were Easter eggs amid the fallen branches and monstera vines, drying thick slices of papaya because I've got more fresh than I can handle, watching the bees in their frantic, yet orderly, quest to bring in the nectar.

And since it's an election year, it means political fundraisers, forums and fliers. Though the tendency is to toss the literature unread in the recycling bin, you can sometimes glean information about where their pointed little heads are really at. Take Mufi Hanneman's most recent flyer, for example.

First thing that struck me was, where are the haoles? The big Muff's got photos of nine people endorsing him and only one looks possibly like a haole. So I immediately think, OK, he's decided to pander to the local vote, which tells me he doesn't give a shit about a big chunk of the state's population. Just the kind of guy I want to have as my representative in Congress.

I look at some of those faces supporting him — Phil Tacbian, the biggest dud on KIUC; Mike Tresler, the guy who coldly evicted folks at Koloa Camp on behalf of Grove Farm, Sen. Ron Kouchi, nuff said. Further solid proof that he's not my candidate. Then I see that former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka is co-chair of his statewide campaign. This is the woman who actually said to me, in front of my former husband and his parents, all local Japanese, “I didn't know you had local connections. I'll have to be nicer to you.” 

Oh, and let's not forget the way she pulled off the county inspector who was trying to crack down on Jimmy Pflueger's illegal grading at Kaloko.

When you've got someone like Maryanne chairing your campaign, it speaks volumes about your values — or lack thereof.

Let's face it: Mufi is a good old boy to da max.

So yeah, Tulsi Gabbard is gonna get my vote. Some people don't like her because of her dad, Mike Gabbard, and his homophobia, but I'm not gonna hold that against her. I certainly didn't share my father's political views, and besides, Tulsi has come out strongly in favor of equal rights for all. I didn't know much about Tulsi until I heard her on KKCR, where she said she had become strongly anti-war after serving two combat deployments in the National Guard and wants to immediately end the war in Afghanistan.

Plus she's an environmentalist, and we need more women in Congress. I know some people like Esther Kiaaina, but she ain't gonna win, so you gotta face reality and recognize that a vote for her is essentially a vote for Mufi.

In other matters, I noticed that attorney Dan Hempey got the Intermediate Court of Appeals to overturn a drug possession conviction that Judge Randal Valenciano presided over. Way to go, Dan. Looks like the 95% conviction rate that Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho hypes — and I'll be looking at some of those bogus crime stats in an upcoming post — just took another hit. Kinda makes you wonder how many more convictions could be overturned if attorneys had the time and compassion to follow through.

What blew my mind, though, was the guy supposedly had .009 grams of methamphetamine, yet Randal sentenced him to five years in prison for third degree promotion of a dangerous drug. Do you know what a teeny tiny amount that is?

So the state is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars — actually, probably millions — to convict and incarcerate people for possessing essentially crumbs, yet virtually nothing on rehab. As a friend noted the other day, if the Mayor can seize Mike Sheehan's boatyard, surely he can find a location for an adolescent drug treatment center on this island.

Madness. Fricking madness.

And finally, it seems that Kauai tourism isn't the only business that's booming. Yeah, the U.S. is looking at a 70 percent increase in weapons sales to foreign nations this year. Some $50 billion have already been sold this year. When you consider the kind of carnage we're supporting around the world, the Aurora massacre is small potatoes — and no surprise.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Musings: Kicking the Can

The clouds, blue over the mountains, yellow-gray overhead, unleashed rain just as the sun shot broad breams over the horizon, moistening the dogs and me before drifting mauka as a band of black fringe, leaving us with a wide arching rainbow that beckoned us to approach, but remained just out of reach.

Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, perhaps fearing the growing momentum behind Justin Kollar's campaign could push her bid for re-election out of reach, has apparently resorted to a telephone survey to assess her chance of winning.

Kauai residents reported receiving computer-generated calls from a Washington, D.C.-based phone number, 202-769-0865, that asked a series of yes and no questions, including: Have you lived on Kauai for over 15 years? Have you heard of Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho? Are you going to vote for Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho in the upcoming election? Are you male or female? Are you Caucasian? Are you over 50 years old? Do you make over $70,000 per year? Then there was something about whether the prosecutor should be able to fire an employee, along with a couple of others that escaped recollection.

Oh, and my personal favorite: Do you read blogs on the internet?

Actually, Shay should hope people are reading this blog, because at least then they would get accurate information. Otherwise, you know how things get garbled in the coconut wireless: “Ho, I hear Shay stay stealing county gas.” “Nah, nah, nah, she get busted for having one rice cooker in the carport.”

Speaking of getting busted, even Honolulu media picked up the story about Troy Haruki Hamura facing federal charges for selling unregistered guns and possessing a machine gun. Not only did the guy turn over 19 unregistered guns to federal agents, he has another 10 rifles and 20 handguns that are registered. And he's a postal worker no less.

Yet according to the Star-Advertiser

The court’s pretrial services recommended releasing Hamura on bond pending a determination of probable cause on the charges. Defense lawyer Keith Shigetomi said Hamura will work in his family’s business. His family runs Hamura Saimin Stand in Lihue.

So a guy who has unregistered guns up the yazoo gets bail, but Roger Christie sits in jail without bond as he awaits trial for running a cannabis ministry. Ya gotta wonder, is Hawaii more tolerant of firearms than marijuana? Or does the Hamura family name have something to do with the postal worker getting the equivalent of 30 lashes with a wet noodle?

I was looking at the June and July grand jury indictments here on Kauai, and of the 13 people named, all but two are facing drug charges. Most of them are for third- and fourth-degree promotion and paraphernalia possession, which means the people are users, not big time dealers. And nearly every day, the paper reports on someone being sent to jail for testing positive for drugs while on parole or probation. This ongoing criminalization of drug use is not only incredibly expensive for taxpayers, but it destroys individuals and their families.

I'd love to see someone in the prosecutor's office who is committed to developing meaningful programs that divert drug users from the criminal justice system and address the root cause of drug use, instead of asking for more and more money to keep prosecuting the failed war on drugs.

In the meantime, I was disappointed to read in the article about the “missing” $1 million in the capital improvement project budget (wtf?) that Mayor Carvalho won't be pursuing the adolescent drug treatment center again this year. It's been like, what, over a decade now? Yup, let's just keep kicking that can down the road.....

Speaking of which, next time you hear the crack of thunder, it's not angels bowling, as I was told as a kid, but the sound of dominoes falling. Seems a Harvard University study published in Science has found that severe summer thunderstorms — the kind we can supposedly expect more of due to global climate change — are threatening the ozone layer, which protects the planet from the sun's ultraviolet rays.

As the The New York Times reports, the water vapor interacts with ozone-destroying chemicals that remain in the atmosphere from CFCs, the refrigerant gases that are now banned, but still linger.

This problem now is of deep concern to me,” Dr. [James] Anderson, [ atmospheric scientist and lead author of the study] said. “I never would have suspected this.”

Mario J. Molina, a co-recipient of a Nobel Prize for research in the 1970s that uncovered the link between CFCs and damage to the ozone layer, said the study added “one more worry to the changes that society’s making to the chemical composition of the atmosphere.” Dr. Molina, who was not involved in the work, said the concern was “significant ozone depletion at latitudes where there is a lot of population, in contrast to over the poles.

Meanwhile, in another blow against factory farms, an article in Science Now reports that researchers have discovered that vaccines used to prevent viral infections in chickens are apparently making them sick. It seems that two virus strains used in the vaccines may have recombined to form a new, vaccine-resistant virus that is sickening and killing the animals.

It may be too late to reverse global climate change, and its related damage to the seas and ozone layer, but it's certainly not too late to stop raising animals in unhealthy and inhumane industrial-scale settings that harm their health and ours. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Musings: On This and That

A celestial stack up in a starry black sky had me mesmerized and looking up this morning, at the shimmery constellation of Pleiades (Makalii), and beneath it, Triangle pointing south, its “greater than” side touching Venus, and below her, Jupiter, enveloped in a tiny cloud that created the appearance of a halo.

Then all that turned into this:
I've been thinking lately of how the state turns a blind eye to some stuff, while cracking down hard on something else.

Take, for instance, DLNR's vow to strictly enforce the rules at Polihale: no dogs, camping or fires on the beach. And no fun, either. Yet the Navy is allowed to steal five miles of that public beach to do whatevahs, and all around Hawaii, coastal landowners merrily plant their vegetation on the sand, which not only blocks access, but contributes to erosion.

Then there is the persecution of Ikaika Pratt, with the Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that the state’s interest in managing parkland overrode his right to practice his traditional religion. So DOCARE officers actually helicoptered his butt out of the Valley and he spent 26 days in jail awaiting a hearing.

Yet a friend who recently returned from Kalalau informed me there are about 15 permanent residents in the Valley, another 10 or so who live there intermittently and a dozen who regularly rotate through for extended periods, some from other islands. They've cultivated extensive gardens, and even set up a bee hive. Plus, daily boat trips shuttle folks to and from Hanalei and Kalalau Beach, which I thought was illegal. So if the DOCARE can bust Ikaika, how come all the others get a free pass?

Is it any wonder that folks think DLNR is a fricking politicized joke?

And I wonder, is the joke on Mike Sheehan, whose long-standing claim about the legality of his unpermitted boat yard has finally been usurped by the county's condemnation of his property? Or is it on us, for paying nearly $6 million for 2.29 acres of land that is frequently flooded so we can accommodate ever more tourists from Princeville's endless expansion?

Or maybe it's just Sheehan who is the joke, making comments like “we don't want it to turn it into a zoo,” after he's done precisely that, “I’m trying to lead by example here,” which is a wildly scary thought, and my favorite, “It’s not about money.” Well, then, Mike, why don't you dedicate the land, or at least cut us a deal?

As for cutting deals, how many times must we watch developers try to wriggle out of their commitments? Most recently, it's HSC Holdings, LLC, which wants to build only 42 employee housing units, as opposed to the 100 that were required under approvals granted 20 years ago to expand Princeville Shopping Center. Certainly now, even more than two decades ago, such housing is desperately needed on the North Shore.

And how is it that permits can remain good for 20 years? Isn't there a use it or lose it clause? 

Speaking of which, I hear another sucker — a Japanese company, this time — has purchased the dilapidated Coco Palms, which is about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its destruction. Can't the county order that eyesore leveled? Aren't such derelict buildings considered a public nuisance?

Finally, if you're interested in sovereignty issues, check out my article in Honolulu Weekly on the launch of the Native Hawaiian Roll. While the Roll registry is open only to Hawaiians, the campaign includes a petition that anyone can sign if they support the inherent sovereignty of Native Hawaiians. That may ultimately prove more interesting than the enrollment process, which is clearly Abercrombie's baby. As I report:

Though some Hawaiian nationals have dismissed the roll process as a tool of the state, [Commissioner Na`alehu] Anthony is encouraging them to participate. “It’s not our job to make a government,” he says, noting that the Commission will dissolve once the roll is published. “Independence, federal recognition, state recognition–all of these things are up for discussion. But we’ve got to know who is in the pool [in order] to have a discussion.” However, the press release distributed by Abercrombie’s office says the process “will eventually lead to federal recognition of Native Hawaiians.” OHA officials on hand for the launch also seemed to think that federal recognition was the goal, and that it was attainable.

Shoots, the guv could've at least let the kanaka maoli do their own launch, without him being the big cheese at the party. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Musings: Pinging

The clouds were streaks and puffs of pinkish-orange, so I thought we were going to get a good sunrise show, but they all turned gray while the dogs and I were out walking this morning. A song and a cackle filled the air, here and there, as the birds woke, but mostly I was aware of a loud buzzing, as bees hung about 10 feet overhead, like stationery helicopters, occasionally pinging off somewhere.

I often wish I knew what they — and the human race — were up to.

I was talking to my St. Louis sister about the most recent shooting spree in Colorado and she said that same weekend, her local newspapers reported that six or seven guys had been shot and killed on the city's streets from gang violence. “But it's not on page one. It was on page two or three.”

Interesting, how one set of circumstances is deemed a tragedy worthy of personal attention by the President and a movie star, while another is just violence as usual.

Meanwhile, Colorado folks are reacting to the mayhem by buying more guns. As Democracy Now! reports:

The number of potential gun owners seeking background checks increased 43 percent over the weekend from the week before.

It seems to me that one of the biggest problems with guns, despite their propensity to maim and kill, is that a lot of the people who are so attracted to them are the last ones who should have them. And they justify their wackiness by the Second Amendment.

You know how folks justify the pesticide-spraying, gene-modifying seed companies because they provide important agricultural jobs? Well, here's your chance to sign up with a temp agency, which means no benefits, as a corn pollinator with a “premiere employer.

Job requirements? “Ability to work at a steady pace in warm temperatures.
Ability to bend and stoop regularly.” Pay? “$10.00/hr to start”

I've been told that just two persons attended last night's public safety meeting with Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and Councilman Mel Rapozo. Meanwhile, 50 people were counted holding signs for prosecutor candidate Justin Kollar at KCC yesterday.

A certain Hawaiian activist made it clear on Facebook that she was none too pleased about being asked to hold sign for the same candidate who prosecuted her for protecting iwi from desecration..... Apparently Shay does prosecute her friends. Or at least, some of them....

And remember how I mentioned on Monday that it's not gonna be 40 or 50 years before we see substantial sea level rise? Yeah, seems the Greenland ice sheet melted at an unprecedented rate this summer. As The Guardian reports:

The rapid melting over just four days was captured by three satellites. It has stunned and alarmed scientists, and deepened fears about the pace and future consequences of climate change.

In a statement posted on Nasa's website on Tuesday, scientists admitted the satellite data was so striking they thought at first there had to be a mistake.

It was the second unusual event in Greenland in a matter of days, after an iceberg the size of Manhattan broke off from the Petermann Glacier. But the rapid melt was viewed as more serious.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Musings: Die Hard

The sky was swirls of gray and pink, like the day couldn't quite decide whether to be sunny or rainy, when the dogs and I went walking this morning. I thought of a pig, and immediately, a black one ran across our path. You know what all the metaphysicians are saying: we can manifest things very quickly now.

And quickly is what we'll need to deal with significant global climate changes that are already in our face. It's become apparent to me in recent months that a lot of folks have the future on their minds, in a wondering, waiting, sometimes worrying, sometimes optimistic, sort of way.

Perhaps we've been set on edge, forced to go beyond the superficial, by the summer's news: raging forest fires; suffocating heat; Olympics games that look like preparation for Armageddon; another massacre in Colorado with legally purchased guns; a Presidential election financed primarily by 196 super wealthy people; live-fire Navy “war games” that yesterday turned another old ship into a toxic wreck littering the ocean floor around Kauai. 

Meanwhile, we are seeing the Midwest — the nation's meat and bread basket — shrivel up in drought and heat, with food prices already on the rise and farmers now fighting over whether corn should go to livestock or ethanol.

Will we get to the place where the disgustingly inhumane feedlots, the triple-decker bacon burgers, the high fructose soft drinks, the meat at every meal mentality, will become too damn expensive to continue? And wouldn't that, in terms of human and environmental health, living pono, be a good thing?

I was thinking the other day about a Japanese woman, now gone, who worked the rice fields in Hanalei, and so would eat every grain of rice in her bowl, because she knew the labor involved in its production. In less than three-quarters of a century, we have gone from a place of respect and even reverence for what we consume to blatant gluttony, to producing an entire class of food characterized as junk. Will we be forced, by global climate change, ocean acidification, into re-evaluating, re-inventing our relationship with food, and could that possibly turn out to be a good thing?

And what of our relationship to the earth, the land and sea? I see an article in today's paper about a new documentary that “focuses on Kauai as a sustainable living leader” and I think, if this island is being touted as a leader in the sustainability movement, then the world is in deep doodoo.

Because nearly everything we consume — energy, food, building materials, stuff — is imported, and our economy is based on tourism and the military, two industries that are the antithesis of sustainability.

We aren't even close to being able to take care of ourselves, and nearly every step we take is in the wrong direction, which is why so much of our ag land has been turned over to revenue-generating pesticide-drenched GMO seed crops and luxury homes rather than the production of food that we can eat right here.

I remember hearing one KKCR programmer say, “We'll be fine if they cut the line,” and I thought, what dream world are you living in? Aside from obvious immediate shortages in food, energy and medicine, can you imagine the social disruption that would result from all the smokers, tweakers, pill poppers and boozers suddenly being forced to go cold turkey? Not a pretty picture.

Citizens aren't the only ones residing in the la-la land of denial. Too many of our government officials and pro-business groups reside there, too. According to an article in today's Civil Beat, even though the state has finally developed some “policy guidelines” for dealing with the impact of climate change, they're essentially toothless, feel good measures that lag well beyond efforts being taken by other coastal states, such as California and Washington.

Efforts to toughen them up were fought by people like Dave Arakawa, executive director of the Land Use Research Foundation of Hawaii, who said taking factoring a one-foot sea level rise by 2050 into planning decisions would adversely impact development.

Here on Kauai, the supposed “sustainable living leader,” planning director Mike Dahilig says we'll “consider” climate impacts during the General Plan update. He is then quoted as saying:

"From a planning standpoint, I do think we need to be on top of it and be more proactive in integrating it into our planning theory," he said. "But what this will look like from a functional planning standpoint, we don't know right now."

While the science is starting to coalesce among generally accepted theories, Dahilig said inconsistencies remain.
"When it comes down to zoning land, I don't know whether I'm dealing with a sea level increase of 1 foot or 100 feet. We need the science on it," he said. "But generally, we can still make some plans. Things on the shoreline should be elevated and more minimalistic. Our infrastructure should be closer to the mountains."

As Mike waits for more science, I imagine those oceanfront properties will continue to be developed, and millions of dollars will be dumped into concrete coastal paths and highways.

Because even though so many of us can see what's ahead — and it ain't gonna take another 40-50 years to get there — even though so many of us already recognize that we desperately need a new paradigm, a new world view, a new consciousness to guide us into this new terrain of a world reshaped by climate change, old habits and old belief systems die hard.

But eventually, they will die. In the meantime, it's up to those of who can see and feel a different way of being to manifest that new reality through our actions, and through our thoughts. Which is not the same as wishful thinking.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Musings: What To Do

The east was a curtain of gold and Waialeale was clear and blushing lavender, with the light and cloud shadows creating the effect of a bowl on her flat face, when the dogs and I went out walking on the finest morning I've seen in quite some time, though I shivered a bit, since it was only 68 degrees. My sister, cooking through triple digit temps in the Midwest, wasn't amused when we talked the other evening and I told her I was wearing slippers — and not the rubber kind.

Some folks camping in Kalalau this past weekend weren't amused by the Navy's international RIMPAC war games, what with the audible explosions and the beach literally shaking beneath their feet. So much for the designation of a “wilderness park.” A young family camping at Polihale on Saturday, when RIMPAC was sinking those two ships, reported a large pod of dolphins unusually close to shore. And a friend told me he saw a submarine off Kikiaola harbor yesterday “and that's not something you see every day.”
But we could be seeing it a lot more if the Navy gets its way and ramps up training in Hawaii. Though the mainstream media is all rah-rah about RIMPAC, plenty of people are upset about these deadly games. Check out the Kohola Leo website for some ideas on what you can do about it.

And what can people do about the 20-foot-wide public easement at the old Hanalei Plantation Resort, which remains blocked, despite repeated assurances from the developer, Ohana Hanalei LLC, that the access has always been open?
Maybe it's time for the Hanalei Bay Coalition to lodge a complaint with the planning department, which has the ability to levy civil fines of $10,000 per day.

I had asked Justin Kollar, who is running for prosecutor, what he would do about protecting public access, and he sent me this strong response:

If elected, I will work with our County and State legislators, as well as other governmental stakeholders (Planning, DLNR, etc) to make it a crime to intentionally or knowingly obstruct a legal public beach access, and I will, whenever appropriate, prosecute those offenses.  I will also work to make sure landowners understand their obligations to allow access, and assist whenever possible indigenous or other people who seek to exercise their rights to access what should be and what must be public space.

I am committed to ensuring the rights of all Hawaiians and all citizens are protected when it comes to access issues.  Our Supreme Court has been nothing but clear in demanding that access be protected and I will honor that imperative.

Meanwhile, Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho has been caught in a lie. During the May 15 budget hearing, Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura made a motion to change the program assistant position held by Lianne Parangao back to its original status as a victim witness counselor, at the same salary of $55,000 annually. “This is just another way of removing POHAKU from the Prosecuting Attorney's budget,” JoAnn said.

Shay resisted the proposal vigorously, saying she needed Lianne in that position. In response to queries by Councilman Mel Rapozo, Shay maintained “our program assistant does not only handle POHAKU.” Upon questioning by Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura, Shay claimed, “Our program assistant does not only do POHAKU but all the diversionary programs. She reviews all the applications and people who want to participate.”

But what Shay didn't tell the Council was the OPA actually had no functioning diversionary programs. Just a few hours prior to the Council meeting, she had sent an email to her staff saying:

We are making operational changes to all our diversionary programs. Henceforth, no one is permitted to make any referrals to Teen Court, Drug Court, Jail Diversion and Pohaku until further notice. This policy shall be strictly enforced.”

So what was Lianne doing, besides running Shay's campaign? And now Lianne is off to another well-paying job, reportedly in the judiciary.

Finally, I'm not sure what DLNR expects people to do about the dog attacks on North Shore albatrosses, seeing as how they were discovered on June 22, but no press release came out until July 13 and The Garden Island didn't run it until today. Meanwhile, nearly all the chicks have fledged and the parents are long gone.

Unfortunately, the newspaper's account of dangers facing these seabirds left out some key info, like the way some people have been trying to attract the birds to nest on private property, where they are most vulnerable, and how PMRF was dumping juvenile albatrosses collected from the base onto these private lands, rather than the Kilauea Refuge.

The Navy also loves to tout its “innovative solution to a daunting problem,” which amounts to collecting all the viable albatross eggs laid at PMRF and placing them in the nests of surrogate parents at the refuge and private North Shore lands. Since the birds return to their birthplace when they are ready to nest, the idea is that eventually, no birds will nest on the base if none are allowed to hatch. The program was quite successful when federal wildlife biologist Brenda Zaun was managing it at the Kilauea refuge, and she reported a 71% percent hatch rate for the swapped out eggs for 2009. This most recent season, it was down to a dismal 20% hatch rate. But the Navy still pats itself on the back.

The article quotes Kauai state wildlife manager Thomas Kaiakapu as saying, "Volunteers and landowners are trusted individuals who know not to disturb the nesting birds." Well, some are, and some aren't. I personally have made reports about volunteers engaging in totally inappropriate behavior with nesting birds and fledglings, including shoving a tiny camera into the nest of a new hatchling, group tours of colonies as the birds were hatching and sleepovers in nesting colonies.

As a result, the state and the feds are supposedly developing protocols for how volunteers should interact with the birds on private lands. Unfortunately, the federal biologist who was working on it has taken another job, though she promised to develop a draft before she left. I can only hope this project doesn't fall through the cracks, because an increasing number of wealthy retirees with North Shore estates are keen to have birds nest on their land. As one of the truly responsible volunteers, Cathy Granholm, so astutely notes: “It’s a status symbol."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Musings: Inbox Peeks

The County Council yesterday approved spending up to $10,000 on special counsel to represent Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in the lawsuit with the Police Commission over whether he was authorized to suspend Chief Darryl Perry.

County Attorney Al Castillo said he has been in ongoing dialog with the Office of Disciplinary Council (ODC), which advised conflicting out his office. So the mayor wouldn't have any representation on this issue unless he got special counsel. One of these days I'm going to tally up how much the county has spent on special counsel in the last year. But then, why add to your despair?

Speaking of which, as I've noted previously in this blog, obtaining public records from the Kauai Office of the Prosecuting Attorney (OPA) is like pulling impacted wisdom teeth. But then, I can understand the reticence of Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and First Deputy Jake Delaplane to give up records they know will make them look bad.

Case in point: a batch of emails I requested from January, when Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura asked Shay to come talk to the Council about the effectiveness of the Victim Witness Program. At that point, Erin Wilson, who was brought over from Colorado to work in the program, had been terminated with just two weeks' notice after only 78 days on the job — supposedly for lack of work. She had outlined some of her concerns about Shay's mismanagement in a letter to the Council that was also covered by The Garden Island.

I knew, when I made the request, that Jake had been soliciting former OPA employee Cyndie Johnson to submit testimony in support of the OPA. But when I received the emails, quite a bit of information on that topic had been redacted. Additionally, seven emails were not turned over because they would supposedly “frustrate a legitimate government function, namely the deliberative process privilege...chill applications to positions...and constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

Here are the requested emails, which include Erin's letter. If you scroll through, you will find a number of other goodies, including Shay's infamous letter defaming Councilman Tim Bynum, and several emails where she's bitching about not having time to get info for JoAnn.

There's also an email from Jake telling everyone in OPA that if they want to attend the Council meeting — you know, in a show of support for their fearless leader — they can get paid for it. And a number of OPA employees did just that, spending the entire afternoon in the meeting on the taxpayer's dime. According to the county's leave policy: Departments who have the need to issue administrative leave are expected to utilize it in an efficient and economical manner, and should be able to explain their reasons for using this type of leave as opposed to other types of leave. Ahem....

And you'll see some schmoozing between Shay and “your pal” Glenn Mickens, with Councilman Mel Rapozo plugging for Shay's re-election. Fortunately for Mel, a subsequent records request showed that he did not do that campaigning on the county's computers.

Then there are the emails between Cyndie and Jake, where she says sure, she's leaving for the mainland the very next evening, but she'd be glad to write a letter pumping up the OPA and countering Erin's allegations. Except she has no access to a computer. Then there's a lot of redacting in an exchange that ends with Cyndie writing, “I will come in first thing in the morning.”

But someone felt that redacted information should see the light of day, so it was leaked. And lo and behold, what does it show? Cyndie asking if OPA has a “spare computer” she can use to write her testimony and Jake replying: “We can set you up with a computer to use here anytime tomorrow.”

Sure enough, she came in and used the computer and drafted a letter, which Shay and Jake then further doctored before it was sent over to the Council.

Now we all know that county facilities and equipment are not be used by people who do not work for the county. And Jake and Shay must know it, too, or else they would not have redacted those incriminating statements.

Another email that was withheld was also leaked. In it, Shay, despite complaining in other emails she did not have time to respond to JoAnn's requests for information, sends a lengthy email to a reporter for The Garden Island in which she trashes Erin and says Erin's testimony “is thinly veiled political attack, fueled by a jilted employee.” Shay then refused the reporter's request to release the response to Erin.

As I understand it, Erin has successfully settled an EEOC claim against Shay, so I guess her complaints about the OPA had some validity.

I asked the Office of Information Practices whether it was legitimate for OPA to redact that stuff about Jake letting Cyndie use county property. The OIP launched an investigation, but Jake did not respond to the agency's request for documentation justifying his position.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Musings: On Contrasts

Misty clouds drape the summit of Makaleha, bees in all three colonies are bringing pollen into their hives via the little saddlebags on their legs — a good sign that all is well — we've got a new moon in Cancer tonight and the ground is saturated from yesterday's lovely rain.

It's always fascinating to me how things can be really fabulous in one place, like my back yard, and totally suck someplace else, like the Midwest, where a friend reports the hay and corn fields are shriveling up in the drought and prolonged 100+-degree heat. Looks like that high fructose corn syrup is gonna be more expensive soon.

Speaking of contrasts, was talking to a guy yesterday who sailed the 62-foot Hokulea into Hanalei Bay this past weekend. He and the rest of the crew were stunned to encounter the 160-foot charter yacht Karima, replete with a helicopter that reportedly has been pissing people off by buzzing around Hanalei town.
He told me the last time they sailed Hokulea into Hanalei, they tied up to what they thought was their mooring spot, until a guy came over all outraged and said it was his. “Usually people are excited to see Hokulea,” he told me, “but not this guy. He wasn't interested in Hawaiian culture. He just wanted us out of there.”

Yeah, cause big money has its own culture.

The County Council, meanwhile, is considering giving 3.49 acres in Puhi for a Philippine Cultural Center, with former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka noting:

Filipinos have supported Kaua‘i 100 percent over many years. “It is time for us to return that to them, and support them.”

Mmmm, which is fine, but what about the Hawaiians? When are we going to support them, instead of arresting people who protest against the disinterment of iwi kupuna for a park toilet? If I recall correctly, the last thing the county did on behalf of Hawaiians was bulldoze their little fishing shacks at Wainiha.

The Puhi land was earmarked for a skateboard park, prompting Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura to ask where that would be relocated. Oh, just put it over by the youth drug treatment center that's never gonna be built, either.

Hey, I think I've figured out why presenters have outnumbered citizens at the “public safety” meetings now being held around the island — the presenters are getting paid. And for some of the cops, it's OT pay at that. Why should the taxpayers be supporting this thinly veiled campaigning by Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and Councilman Mel Rapozo?

And why should the taxpayers be supporting Assistant Police Chief Mark Begley, who is currently out on a workman's comp medical claim after siding with the mayor in his pissing match with Chief Perry, but well enough to help out at Justin Kollar's big fundraiser this past Sunday?

Getting back to the public safety meetings, the question remains: how was the Office of Prosecuting Attorney (OPA) able to pay for all those POHAKU giveaways — pens, totes, etc. — yet have no record of any expenditures associated with the program?

Here's another question: how can the office that's in charge of prosecuting those who break the law blatantly thumb its own nose at the law? Yup, for the second time in two months I've had to ask the Office of Information Practices to order OPA to respond to my request for public records. And today's the deadline, Jake.

Moving to a new question, on a different topic, how come warning signs aren't posted at Hanamaulu, Nawiliwili, Waimea, Niumalu and Wainiha streams, when the most recent batch of water samples conducted by Surfrider Kauai shows “high levels of pollution which sometimes extends out to the surfbreak (e.g The Bowl, in Hanalei, Kealia)?” You can see the numbers for yourself here. ugh

While we're on the topic of ugh, it was quite interesting to read some of the comments that accompanied the New York Times' misleadingly headlined article on research that UH marine biologist Paul E. Nachtigall is conducting into how marine mammals respond to noise.

It's a significant question, seeing as how the Navy is making really big noise in the ocean right now during the RIMPAC war games and wants to make a lot more. As the NYT reports:

In May, the Navy disclosed draft environmental impact statements (Atlantic and Pacific operations) that said planned [training] expansions could raise the annual hearing losses among sea mammals to more than one million.

Sigh.  Anyway, Nachtigall is making like he could train the animals to essentially plug their ears before they're deafened — if only he could get more money to experiment on enslaved dolphins and a false killer whale named Kina. As three commenters astutely noted:

Dr. Natchigall has been granted approximately 2.6 MM from the Office of Naval Research, 120K from Exxon, and 579K from the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, i.e. BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Eni, ExxonMobil, North Caspian Oil Company, Shell, Statoil, and Total.

So whaddya bet the Navy, the oil industry, etc. or will use this study to say "hey, it doesn’t matter how much noise we make because the whales can regulate what they hear!"

Kina (false killer whale) is half deaf/half insane after decades of sound torture (aka testing) she had to endure. Hawaii lab has been funded by the Navy for ages, and is responsible for the majority of studies on hearing worldwide, the conflict of interests cannot get any worse than that. The Navy also cites these studies in their applications for sonar use. The timing is not a coincidence either: the Navy is getting several large permits for sonar testing in Hawaii/Cali/East Coast and worldwide.

My sentiments, exactly.

And finally, when are we going to start listening to some sense regarding the “drug wars?” 

As an article in Business Insider International reports, in the 11 years since Portugal decriminalized all drugs, the number of addicts has been halved:

Portugal's drug usage rates are now among the lowest of EU member states.

Drug related diseases including STDs and overdoses have been reduced even more than usage rates, which experts believe is the result of the government offering treatment with no threat of legal ramifications to addicts.

In a country like America, which may take the philosophy of criminalization a bit far (more than half of America's federal inmates are in prison on drug convictions), other alternatives must, and to a small degree, are being discussed.

Very, very quietly.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Musings: Sleep Walking

It's been a spectacular multi-act play that I've had the pleasure of witnessing for several mornings running now, this drama of a steadily waning moon cozying up with sparkling Venus and the glowing orb of Jupiter as Aldebaran, Betelgeuse and Pleiades look on. Today the moon, not long risen, had whittled itself down to a golden sliver that was still bright enough to illuminate the whole of the sphere.

Most people have been sleeping through the show, with no clue as to what's happening right outside their window, just as most of us had no clue the Navy and our supposed allies were bombing two ships into oblivion this weekend right off our coast.

The Star-Advertiser gives us an account of the carnage involved with Saturday afternoon's sinking of the helicopter carrier New Orleans, 70 miles northwest of Kauai, where another big ship was sunk in the 2010 RIMPAC:

[I]t was pummeled by at least seven Harpoon anti-ship missiles [at a cost of $1.2 million each], and then was finished by deck guns from a firing squad of ships from the U.S., Japan, Australia, Canada and France. In between, an Air Force B-52 bomber dropped a laser-guided 500-pound bomb onto the 603-foot amphibious ship.

The Navy, which doesn't like to talk about RIMPAC ship sinkings in environmentally sensitive Hawaii, said the New Orleans was deep-sixed in 15,000 feet of water.

So military reporter William Cole doesn't press and instead just regurgitates the Navy's shibai:

[A]ircraft spent 2 1/2 hours clearing the area. Surveys were conducted to ensure that a "minimum range area" was clear and that marine animals were not in the vicinity, officials said.

Right.  I'm sorry, but I just don't believe you can unleash firepower like that without also destroying marine life. And since the Navy does everything to excess,  the Niagara Falls was sunk in a similar live-fire bombardment earlier Saturday, about 63 miles off Kauai's southwest coast.

This is just a preview of what's to come on a regular basis, folks, if the Navy proceeds with its plans to greatly ramp up training exercises in Hawaiian waters.

Conservationists, meanwhile, are suing the Environmental Protection Agency for its "ongoing failure to adequately regulate a federal ship sinking program that pollutes the sea with toxic chemicals." 

There's something seriously wrong with a system that allows the Navy to poison the ocean, but convicts a man who tries to stop iwi kupuna from being dug up for a new shitter in a state park. But has been the story since the 1893 overthrow, since the Navy's got the guns....

I loved Jim Alalem's quote following his conviction, because it extends to those of us who are working on behalf of the environment: “I am not sorry that I stood up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.” 

Meanwhile, ABC News reports on the Navy's supposed “green tech innovation” for the 2012 RIMPAC (emphasis added):

Some of these efforts will be showcased on July 18, when the Navy tests a carrier strike force using alternative fuels... The ships and aircraft will be powered by either nuclear or advanced biofuel blends...

Are you starting to get the picture now? Especially since the Navy's Pacific Command accounts for 20 percent of the Islands' energy demand and Congress is squawking about the $26 per gallon price tag of those biofuels... 

In other news of Hawaii's polluting industries, Syngenta is displaying its paranoia by installing a new security system at its Kekaha GMO seed processing and production facility. The move was reportedly prompted by the publication of photos depicting restricted areas in “an anti-GMO blog.”

Kinda makes you wonder what they got to hide, yeah?

Prying eyes aren't Syngenta's only fear. The company told all its contractors they had to be off-site by 2:30 p.m. last Thursday to avoid conflict with anti-GMO protestors who were expected to stage a demonstration. Must be their mole got the info mixed up. The protest was held at the Syngmo facility on Oahu. But still, two KPD cars and two private security guards were there at Kekaha in anticipation.

Here's some good news, though: A GMO labeling initiative will be on the November ballot in California, where surveys show 90 percent of folks favor labeling. I'm sure the GMO companies will be spending millions trying to derail that initiative, because if a big state like Cali requires labeling, well, the food processors are just gonna have to go along....

And finally, judging from the Facebook photos, county Prosecutor candidate Justin Kollar had a sizable turnout at his fundraiser yesterday, with well-connected folks like retired judge Alfred Laureta, Rep. Derek Kawakami and Jiro and Jenny Yukimura in attendance, along with Gary Hooser, Joel Guy, Lani Kawahara, Dickie Chang, a whole slew of attorneys and of course, the mayor and Gary Heu. Is it possible Justin just might win this election after all?

I noticed the Chamber is hosting a forum for Council candidates tomorrow evening. Since the greater interest and action is with the prosecutor's race, it sure would be great to see a debate between Justin and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho.