Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Musings: So Weird

Out with the dogs, walking in the welcome fresh coolness of pre-dawn, moon on the fat side of half, but waning, Waialeale bare-topped, angel wing clouds spanning the southwest, stars glimmering gold and red. So peaceful, so perfect.

So weird, how Hawaii researchers go to great trouble and expense to again confirm what has been known for decades — feral cats and rats prey heavily on ground-nesting birds — yet so little is being done to address it.

So weird, how Terry Lilley continues to make totally bogus claims, yet is still treated as a credible source on coral disease by our local newspaper. Most recently, Lilley boldly — and falsely — stated that Waipa Foundation had released “tons of toxic mud” into Waipa Stream and “illegal digging at Waipa is killing the corals” on Waikoko reef. In fact, Waipa has all its permits for the new building under construction there, and a recent check by the state Department of Health found no violations. What's more, 10 years of water monitoring show Waipa estuary is significantly cleaner today than it was a decade ago, due at least in part to better land management activities implemented by Waipa Foundation.

So weird how Kauai County has a revered governing document known as the charter, but like our planning department, it functions only on a complaint basis. In other words, if you're upset that former Planning Director Ian Costa executed a landowner-friendly agreement without the mayor's signature, or that former first deputy prosecutor Jake Delaplane got his job even though he didn't have the required experience, you have to make a complaint to the Board of Ethics and wait months for a decision that most likely will amount to nothing, or perhaps a slap on the wrist. So what, really, is the point of having a charter when it can be violated pretty much with impunity?

So weird, how biotech scientists are mutating animals in a supposed search for the cause of Alzheimers, Parkinson's, cancer, when those diseases may well be caused by the chemicals, particularly those found in RoundUp, that are used so heavily on the biotech crops that were supposedly developed to solve the world's food woes, as this research paper convincingly argues.

So weird, how we're playing God, when we don't even fully understand this beautiful, complex planet and remain largely in denial about the havoc we're wreaking upon it with so many of our clever inventions. Speaking of which, the European Union has approved a two-year restriction on using three neonicotinoids — pesticides made by Bayer and Syngenta, and implicated in the decline of honeybees — on flowering crops. As the Independent reports:

The issue has fiercely divided the scientific community.
Professor Lin Field, head of biological chemistry and crop protection at Rothamsted Research, said he feared the decision was based on "political lobbying" and could cause governments to overlook other factors contributing to declining bee numbers, such as climate change and viruses spread by mites.
But Dr Lynn Dicks, a research associate at the University of Cambridge, said that despite the contradictory studies, the EU was right to err on the side of caution. "This is a victory for the precautionary principle, which is supposed to underlie environmental regulation," she said.

So weird how we get all cautious about liquids on airplanes and bike helmets and second-hand smoke while ignoring or downplaying all the social degradation and environmental contamination generated by what we now deem “progress.”

So weird how dandelions, once cherished as a nutrient-dense springtime green, are now considered a scourge to be poisoned by those who instead purchase pre-chopped iceberg lettuce bagged in plastic and multivitamin pills.

So weird how the state “improves” the Kalalau Trail, which encourages more clueless hikers to use it, and then completely fails to manage it, but freaks out when people who should never be there do use it and get hurt. Kauai firefighters are now getting up to three rescue calls per week from the trail, which puts their lives unnecessarily at risk. As KITV reports,  the state is looking to adopt more controls, like perhaps limiting the number of visitors in the park and on the trail — hello! — and stationing a ranger at the trailhead to dissuade dummies. Kauai Fire Capt. Sam Lee Jr. is quoted as saying:

All it really takes sometimes is somebody to warn somebody, hey, just be careful and maybe we can save somebody.”

If only. I don't know about you, but I've warned countless tourists about the dangers of waves, reefs, trails, sun, dogs, what have you. And invariably the response is some version of piss off, beat it, mind your own business, I know what I'm doing.

So weird, that human propensity to ignore clear warnings, engage in foolish behavior, and then cry, "save me!"

Monday, April 29, 2013

Musings: Abuse Chronicles 14-C

If you have a chance to play poker with former Kauai Planning Director Ian Costa, grab it. Because as the owners of Hale Makai discovered, you can win the pot, even if you have a lousy hand.

As recounted in Abuse Chronicles 14-B, landowners Klaus and Ulrike Burmeister seemed to have a very bad hand indeed in 2004. They were facing a number of zoning and special management area (SMA) violations associated with Hale Makai Cottages, a four-unit Wainiha property they'd purchased two years earlier for $2.35 million. These included structures that had been built and/or remodeled without the proper permits, nonconforming structures being used as housing, an unpermitted coastal wall blocking a state easement and unauthorized landscaping of the public beach.

Cease and desist use of the non-conforming structures as single-family dwellings,” directed the county. “Immediately stop all landscaping activities within the shoreline area,” the state ordered. “Any development without proper permits/ approval shall be demolished and removed from the subject property,” warned the county.

It was all a bluff. The game kept going until late 2006, when the Burmeisters finally sought a zoning permit for the four houses and wall. 

Costa upped the ante, and told them to get a certified shoreline.

It was another bluff, and Walton Hong, the Burmeister's attorney, called it. 

Costa folded on Jan. 7, 2008, and let the Burmeisters walk away with all the winnings — save for the cut paid to Hong. Specifically, Costa signed an enforcement and settlement agreement that legitimized all the violations. What's more, the agreement was not signed by the mayor, as required under the charter.

Costa could have required an SMA major permit, which includes a public hearing, to determine the project's full impact. He knew the property was being operated as an unpermitted mini-motel in concert with an adjacent parcel, and that the community was outraged over the blocked easement.

Costa could have required a certified shoreline. He knew that at least one of the cottages was within the setback, if not the shoreline, and that Burmeister had ample acreage to move the cottages back from a dangerously eroding shoreline, as shown in this 2007 photo: 
Costa could have required the Burmeisters to remove their vegetation from the shoreline. He knew, from a state report, that the Burmeisters were landscaping the beach:

Costa could have ordered the fourth cottage torn down, and the other cottages returned to their original condition. He knew the lot is zoned for just three houses and that there were no building permits issued for the property after 1968 — even though the original three cottages and shed had somehow become “four luxury vacation rentals” by the time the Burmeisters bought it.

Costa could have limited the agreement to just the Burmeister's ownership, rather than allowing it to run with the land. And he could have negotiated public use of the easement, which was listed on both the 1993 Na Ala Hele beach access inventory and the county's 1984 beach guide.

Instead, he made just one demand of the Burmeisters: remove a section of the laundry building to meet the 5-foot sideyard setback. Oh, and once the cottage does fall into the sea, they can't rebuild it.

As a result, an easement that looked like this in 1994:
Has been allowed to remain totally blocked to the public, like this:
And a lot that looked like this in 2004, all nice and open with very little coastal vegetation:
Has been allowed to remain like this, thickly planted well onto the public beach:
So why did the Burmeisters finally get religion, and decide, after all those years of blowing off the county and state, that they needed to get their permits in order? Well, it may have had something to do with the fact that the county was preparing to adopt an ordinance regulating vacation rentals, and the Burmeisters wanted to be sure that Hale Makai got TVR permits. We'll cover that process in the upcoming Abuse Chronicles 14-D.

Their motivation is perfectly clear. What's puzzling, even inexplicable, is why Costa gave them everything — and got nothing for the public in return.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Musings: Abuse Chronicles 14-B

At what point does a vacation rental become a resort? On the westside, for example, we have the Waimea Plantation Cottages, while in Wainiha, there's Hale Makai Beach Cottages. Both are oceanfront properties that rent restored houses. Yet only the former is designated a resort, while the latter is classified as a vacation rental.

Or actually, five separate vacation rentals, each with its very own TVR certificate and cesspool. 

Yet for all intents and purposes, Hale Makai functions like a single resort property.

The units are grouped together on two acres within a secure, walled compound, and share parking.

They also  share trash cans, which are lined up against a wall that blocks both the ocean view and a state easement. 
Blocked view, road and easement.
They advertise on a single website that uses the shared trademarked slogan of  "Live like a local." And they are rented as a group for "secluded weddings, family reunions, small company functions and small business retreats." Just like Waimea Plantation Cottages (WPC).  
Hale Makai special event.
Like the old camp houses that became WPC, the cottages at Hale Makai also had humble beginnings. Three rustic hale, each under 500 square feet, and a shed, were constructed in 1968 as a fishing camp by McBryde Sugar Co.

In September 1980, the property (parcel 34) was sold for $421,500 to Realtor George Blake and investors George Caras and John Fado. In February 1989, their attorney Patrick Childs sent Planning Director Tom Shigemoto a letter inquiring about the permissible uses for the property. Shigemoto replied, emphasis added:

“…The existing density we note has been nonconforming or “grandfathered” over the years in that the parcel size only allows a maximum of (3) dwelling units. Therefore only 1 or possibly 2 of the units are limited only to repairs in accordance with article 23, section 8 of the Kauai County Code of Ordinances. In order to determine the number of dwelling units that are “grandfathered” on the parcel, the owner must obtain a certified shoreline survey and submit it for our review. The shoreline survey will in effect, will recognize the actual parcel size as it exists today.”

Please note that a 400 square foot parcel (TMK: 5-8-8:36) and a 6 foot wide easement in favor thereof is situated within the subject property. Any new development proposed by the owner of parcel #34 should not include the use of the State Property.”

Meanwhile, the cottages were expanded and upgraded, anyway, and the shed was converted into a full house — work that was done without building permits. By 1994, the cottages were back on the market, advertised as a business and “deluxe vacation rental properties.” The asking price was $1.75 million, but no buyers were forthcoming.

In April 2002, Coldwell Banker Realtor Michael Schmidt sent a letter to then deputy planning director Sheila Miyake asking about building heights, setbacks, flood zone and zoning for the property. Miyake replied, emphasis added:

The lot is 39,000 sq. feet in size… and outright qualifies for (2) houses and a guest house.

In May 2002, Takako Ferry of Coldwell Banker sold the property for $2.35 million to Klaus Burmeister, a California attorney. By then it was a residential listing, the square-footage of the original structures had increased and the fourth house was openly advertised, though it had no building permit:

4 classic beach cottages on expansive property offers one of a kind experience and oceanfront setting. 1 BR cottages are permitted and detached for privacy. A true Hawaii rarity! Bedrooms: 5 Baths: 4 [Full] Living Area : 2,894 Ext Area: 562.”

In June 22, 2004, Burmeister expanded his holdings by buying the adjacent property (parcel 39) for $1.325 million. It included the 816-square-foot fishing hale built in 1968 by the late Eduardo Malapit, former Kauai mayor. 

On June 24, 2004, planning inspector Bambi Emayo visited parcel 34 and issued a zoning compliance notice for unpermitted structures, additions and alterations, as well as non-conforming structures and uses. Burmeister was directed to cease and desist use of the non-conforming structures as single-family dwellings, provide construction plans to the planning department, and provide a certified survey locating all structures and distances from property lines.

Undaunted, the very next month Burmeister erected a wall around his properties without a permit. The wall also blocked the state easement Shigemoto had referenced in his 1989 correspondence, as well as the neighborhood's view of the beach. The easement was traditionally used to access the shoreline and channel, and was wide enough for fishermen to launch small boats. It was listed in both the county's 1984 beach guide and the state's 1993 Na Ala Hele Beach Access Inventory.

The easement before the wall.
In response to neighborhood complaints, the planning department conducted a zoning and special management area (SMA) inspection and noted violations of SMA and shoreline setback rules, including filling and planting within the setback and building the wall without a permit.

Gary Hooser, then a state Senator, sent an Aug. 6, 2004, letter to the Peter Young, director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), advising that the wall appeared to violate Act 169, a recently passed bill that made it a misdemeanor offense to obstruct public access to the sea and the shoreline, with possible fines of $1,000 to $2,000.

In August 24, 2004, the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands sent DLNR a letter advising that vegetation and compost had been placed on the beach, makai of the shoreline and apparently within the state conservation district, without any county SMA permits. Burmeister was ordered to “Immediately stop all landscaping activities within the shoreline area.” (See Abuse Chronicles 14-A for more on Burmeister's unauthorized coastal landscaping.)

In September 2004, the county issued Burmeister a zoning compliance notice for erecting the fence and installing fill and landscaping without an SMA permit. He was directed to stop landscaping and “submit a zoning permit and SMA assessment application along with appropriate plans indicating all areas landscaping activity (parcel 34), all existing structures (parcel 34 and 39). Any development without proper permits/ approval shall be demolished and removed from the subject property.”

In March 2005, Walton Hong applied for an SMA minor permit, on Burmeister's behalf, to bring the fence into compliance. This was followed by a letter from Burmeister to Planning Director Ian Costa seeking a zoning permit for the five existing structures (the four cottages and wall).

Costa responded with a Dec. 1, 2006, letter reminding Burmeister of all the outstanding violations and requiring a shoreline certification for the property. The owners stalled and stonewalled, perhaps because a certification would have determined that some of the structures were within the setback, dangerously close to an eroding shoreline — or perhaps actually seaward of the shoreline.

The stalemate lasted until January 2008, when Costa and Deputy County Attorney James Tagupa signed an enforcement agreement with Hong — an agreement that was never signed by the mayor, as required under the County Charter.

In our next installment, we'll take a look at what was given away under that enforcement agreement, and how it paved the way for the cottages to apply for vacation rental certificates.

(TMKs 5-8-8:34 and 5-8-8:39)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Musings: Pooku in Peril?

Folks driving to the North Shore have likely wondered what's going on along Kapaka Road, where cement driveways have been poured on either side of Pooku Heiau and land is being cleared behind a new stone wall across from Pooku Stables.
It's a five-house CPR project being developed by Jim Fields, who wants to plant native hardwoods on 30 acres nearest Kuhio Highway and deed the heiau to a community group. Fields also owns the six-acre parcel across from the entrance to Princeville, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has long eyed as the site for a new Hanalei Valley scenic overlook. Jim says he would be receptive to selling the lot to the federal agency “if it's something the community supports.”

While the overlook proposal has been repeatedly rejected by the community, what's currently meeting resistance is Jim's plan to sell house lots — priced at $2 million to $3 million — on either side of the heiau. Pooku is a luakini heiau traditionally used for training in celestial navigation and lua, an ancient form of Hawaiian martial arts.
“This is like the origins of our culture, where our culture was born,” says Kaimi Hermosura, a Wainiha resident who is trained in both lua and celestial navigation. “You're talking about sea-faring navigation, the guys who set up the calendar for us from places like this.”

Jim has proposed creating a 7-acre heiau preserve that includes the two-acre summit of a steep hill that has expansive vistas and a five-acre surrounding buffer. But Kaimi maintains the heiau, which has a line of sight that extends to Kilauea and Makana, is much larger than that, and the proposed house sites encroach on it.

“It's a place of high spiritual activity,” Kaimi says. “You can't just build on it and think nothing will happen.”

Kaimi and others became upset when they saw driveways being poured near signs that prohibit vehicles and urge people to "please respect this sacred site." The signs reportedly have recently been removed.
But Jim says the signs were "just put there" by the state and it's unclear exactly where the boundaries of the heiau lie. The State Historic Preservation Division has no maps of the ancient cultural site. Jim's taking the approach of “treat the whole top as a sacred area, with five acres around it as a buffer, going down the slope” toward Hanalei Valley. He has created an entity to accept the “cultural preserve.” Its members include, among others, Randy Wichman, Canen Hookano, Roland Sagum and Stuart Hollinger, a nursery owner and former county planning commissioner who has been hired for the reforestation project at the corner of Kapaka Road and Kuhio Highway.

“Is he working with the (local) families?” Kaimi asks. “Did he have a meeting with the families on this side of the island? He was informed of the need to do so. Did they do the proper protocol to acknowledge the people of this place? It's different than a blessing.”

Kaimi says proper protocol must be followed in dealing with important cultural sites to protect people from harm. “That's why we have protocol, because we care and want to make sure people don't get hurt,” he says. “But people don't understand that and think it's just bullshit.”

Jim, who owns 175 acres of mostly conservation land that extends from Kuhio Highway well mauka of the end of Kapaka Road, seems eager to extract himself from the cultural issues, saying that's why he created an entity to oversee the preserve.

But Kaimi says Jim can't remove himself from the responsibility and ramifications of developing the area around the heiau. “You've gotta be pono or you're gonna have the living and the dead coming after you,” he says.

In addition to deeding the seven acres to a charitable organization, Jim has written the CPR rules to include a provision that the five house owners must together contribute $15,000 annually to the nonprofit to help maintain the heiau.

The rules also call for houses to be set back from the rim and use screening vegetation to minimize the visual impact from Hanalei Valley, though he acknowledges it's likely that some lights will be seen from the valley.
When I pointed out that CC&R rules are frequently ignored, can be easily altered by a majority of the CPR members and require legal action for enforcement, Jim said he would be willing to look at ways to ensure the homeowners can't wiggle out of their fiscal responsibility to the heiau.

Jim is also planning to make “a small secured parking area with a porta-potty, tool shed, shade house for native plant propagation and possibly an open hale” at the base of the heiau, just off Kapaka Road. The site will be fenced.

“There will be controlled access,” Jim says. “We don't want it to be a tourist attraction.”

Stuart says plans call for clearing the hau, strawberry guava and other invasive plants from the heiau and conducting educational programs.

Jim says that no one expressed an interest in Pooku during the many years that Princeville owned the site, and rubbish had been dumped there over the years.

But Kaimi says he and others do conduct ceremonies there, and he has participated in celestial navigation exercises with the Polynesian Voyaging Society there. “They say we don't care but we still go up there and do offerings,” he says. “Just leave it alone.”

One option could be moving the house sites further mauka, but that would take them out of the agricultural district and into the conservation district, where Jim is hoping to get state approval for a sixth house site. The current location maximizes the views of Hanalei Bay that add to the economic value of the house sites. The sites also look down on the taro fields in the Hanalei Wildlife Refuge.
This is the first development project under taken by Jim, who says he has invested all of his retirement money into it. He says he was initially told by Realtors and attorneys that he could have the lots for sale within six months, but the project is now moving into its third year. Because it is a CPR, no public hearings are required.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Musings: Still Talking

So five people (including me) sat down last night in front of a small group to talk about bees and pesticides — or more obliquely, the seed (GMO) companies — and nobody raised a voice or a sign or a fist.

Whew. Despite the polarization surrounding this issue, respectful, meaningful discourse is still possible.

Nothing was solved, but views, concerns and ideas were shared. Doors were opened. Most important, perhaps, was the humanizing effect, because there's been a lot of demonization on all sides.

As one wise lady told me afterward: “I think it was really good for people to see that others are just as passionate in their views as they are.”

Listening to the panelists speak — we had BASF rep Kirby Kester, Farm Bureau President Jerry Ornellas, Councilman Gary Hooser and Fern Anuenue, an environmental scientist and board member of Ohana O Kauai — I was struck anew by the complexities of our existence.

Heck, the challenges of addressing this issue alone are daunting. It involves food, water, environmental and human health, agricultural practices, jobs, land use, federal vs state vs county law and authority, the people's right to know, international corporations and local businesses, regulation and enforcement, public trust in government, the strengths and limitations of science. All peppered with a wide range of personalities and ideologies.

Or as Jimmy Trujillo, who organized the KBee event for Earth Day at KCC noted, “there are no easy answers to hard questions.”

But at least we now know we can still talk. We don't have to go straight to a fight.

Updates: The Garden Island has some good coverage today of the forum, and here is a link to an article on a study that affirms my take on things: it's not just one factor, but a "cocktail" of human-induced pressures that are contributing to the worldwide decline of pollinators:

Here, we argue that multiple anthropogenic pressures – including land-use intensification, climate change, and the spread of alien species and diseases – are primarily responsible for insect-pollinator declines. We show that a complex interplay between pressures (eg lack of food sources, dis-eases, and pesticides) and biological processes (eg species dispersal and interactions) at a range of scales (from genes to ecosystems) underpins the general decline in insect-pollinator populations. Interdisciplinary research on the nature and impacts of these interactions will be needed if human food security and ecosystem function are to be preserved.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Musings: Abuse Chronicles 14-A

Many vacation rentals in Wainiha and Haena have claimed the public beach with their private landscaping. This insidious theft is documented well at Hale Makai, an Oneone Street property that operates five commercial vacation rentals on less than an acre.  Its story is so egregious it will be told in multiple parts. Today's installment marks the grim process of beach encroachment and erosion, as documented by landmark  trees.
Here you see the hala tree — and broad public beach — in 2004, pre-TVR days.
Though the lawn is creeping makai, notice the high water debris mauka of the hala.
Despite this 2010 sign, the debris line again shows wave wash mauka of the tree. 
Cultivated naupaka continues to claim public beach around hala tree.
Today the public beach and hala tree are privatized, as shown in this TVR ad. Now when citizens sit under it they are harassed and told to get off private property.
Now watch the transition around this landmark ironwood tree. 
Here it is in 1993.
And here it is in 2004, when the aspiring TVR developer began planting naupaka around its base.
Though erosion had been ongoing since the 1970s, there was still significant beach in 2004. Note the spider lilies and naupaka that are newly planted.
The owner proceeded to heavily armor the shoreline with vegetation, a process we will cover in Part B. As a result of the intense landscaping, which serves to accelerate erosion and consume the beach, this is what the coastline fronting Hale Makai is like for eight months of the year.

Going, going, gone — to the vacation rental that claims it's offering the "aloha spirit" along with its beachfront digs.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Musings: Revelations

I laid in bed for a while in the pale first light of dawn, listening to the shush and patter of a steady gentle rain, the exuberant melodies of shama thrush, hwamei, and I thought, could anything be more beautiful?

Drawn by the island's beauty, visitors are now staying an average of 7.2 days on Kauai, we are told, which gives them plenty of time to get into trouble on land and sea. What's new was this revelation by Councilman Jay Furfaro:

The ocean safety information is making a difference at the hotels, but Furfaro said 62 percent of tragedies occur with people staying at transient vacation rentals.

The county engineer has the authority to close beaches and trails if conditions present a public safety concern, Furfaro said. Queen’s Bath could be closed for six months at a time, he added.

So does this mean that residents will also lose access to trails and beaches that are closed to protect the tourists from themselves? I can't imagine that will go over too well with folks who are already feeling squeezed out of their favorite places by the steady increase in tourists.

And if the county engineer has the authority to close natural areas that present a public safety concern, what about the vacation rentals that have bedrooms on the ground floor, unpermitted boat docks and other such hazards? Or more to the point, doesn't he have authority over the Building Division, which has allowed so many of these violations to occur?

Meanwhile, eastside folks are circulating competing petitions, one calling for the removal of Kapaa Middle School Principal Nathan Aiwohi, who is reportedly on leave, and another supporting his integrity. The issue, it appears, is his leadership style, which is characterized in one petition as “dictatorial, authoritarian” and in the other as an “exemplary model.”

The removal petition, which is signed by Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura, includes such revealing comments as:

This school has outstanding staff and they are constantly being squashed by the principal. His decisions are unnecessary, unrealistic and just ridiculous.

He derives pleasure from bullying students, teachers and parents and is preventing our school's academic progress.

He has been nothing but a source of rudeness and hatred against me and my family for a good six years now, and it's time to put his reign of terror to an end.


And a really sad one from the former band teacher:

The mental and physical toll on me can be documented. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety disorder due to years of a hostile work environment. I will never be the person I used to be. I will never get my career back. This man has been the ruin of me and the ruin of real music on the East side.

The support petition, which was started by Aiwohi's wife, Leah, and signed by surveyor Dennis Esaki (who was recently given the political plum of a seat on the state Land Use Commission for his work on Gov. Abercrombie's campaign), includes such comments as:

I am very pleased with everything Principal Aiwohi has done for KMS. I do not feel that the absence of PTSA has anything to do with him.

We know Nathan E. 'Aiwohi as a man of integrity, character, and leadership which is demonstrated in both his personal and public life.

He is not one that easily compromises, which takes courage to go against even opposition and to stand up for what he believes is right and best for the people and children he has under his responsibility. He can be quite strict and will stick to the rules and regulations that his position expects him to be...I think they call that integrity

The clash dates back to 2008, and reportedly prompted resignations from the school's PTSA boards in 2011 and 2012. There have also been complaints that he assigned two of the school's best teachers not to the classroom, but to work on accreditation. Other reports contend that staff morale is low and excellent teachers have left the school because of his leadership. Numerous complaints reportedly have been made to Complex Area Superintendent William Arakaki, who in 2011 was given a petition with 200 signatures asking for Aiwohi to be removed from his position at Kapaa Middle School. Aiwohi previously was the principal of Hanalei School.

Moving on, The Garden Island's new editor, Bill Buley, introduces himself in an aptly titled piece, “More than you want to know about me.” In it, he offers this revelation:

I plan to learn about Kaua‘i and study several books, “The Ultimate Kaua‘i Guidebook,” “Best Easy Day hikes Hawai‘i: Kaua‘i,” and “Hawai‘i for Dummies.’”

Ahem. Let's hope he seeks a broader education than will be found in those pages.

Personally, I would have been more interested in learning about his plans for the paper. You know, answers to questions like, are you actually going to edit the reporters' stories? Guide them in some investigative/substantive reportage? Beef up the news content in the paper? Stop running so many verbatim press releases? Publish stories in a more timely fashion? Limit people to no more than one letter to the editor per week?

I guess we'll just have to wait and see. At least he likes dogs.....

Speaking of which, a friend sent me this picture, with the caption:

if only the mayor would perk up and listen like she does

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Musings: So Disturbing

Hair dripping with salt water, eyes shining from the shimmer of sunlight on sea, heart happy, dogs happy, infused with the good medicine of the beach, we return to the car to find the corpse of a butchered wild pig dumped in the parking lot.

So disturbing, and so disrespectful, of the pig, the aina, other people.

Then I encountered this, from the 2012 annual report of the Corrections Corporation of America — the company that makes its money off human misery, human storage:

"We believe we have been successful in increasing the number of residents in our care and continue to pursue a number of initiatives intended to further increase our occupancy and revenue."

"For instance, any changes with respect to [laws governing] drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them."

"A recent study released by the Pew Charitable Trust indicates that one in every 100 U.S. adults are in prison or in jail. With the U.S. population estimated to grow by more than 18.5 million between 2007 and 2015, about 20,000 prisoners per year will be added to the system over the next seven years if historical trends in incarceration rates continue."

So disturbing, especially when you consider that Hawaii is CCA's number one customer and at least half or more of the prison population from Hawaii is kanaka maoli.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston marathon bombing, is arrested following a house-by-house warrantless search by armed men. The government invokes “a public safety exemption” and refuses to read him his Miranda rights before engaging in “extreme interrogation” by the “High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group.” Does that include waterboarding, or some of the other measures that are no longer considered torture as long as we are doing it to them? Meanwhile, some lawmakers and commentators are clamoring to have him treated as an enemy combatant, even though he's a naturalized U.S. citizen, presumably so he can be held indefinitely and tried in a military kangaroo court.

So disturbing, what happens to the Constitution when your government has declared War on Islam Terror. Because aren't we defined as a society by how we treat those who are suspected of committing the most heinous of crimes?

Meanwhile, more civil liberties and privacy are on the block, with the House of Representatives voting last week to approve the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — a controversial bill that allows private businesses like Facebook and Google and Yahoo to share your personal information with any government entity. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was one of 92 Democrats who voted for CISPA, which exempts companies from liability when they divulge your private information to whomever they wish.

So disturbing, to see that bill now being justified by events like the Boston bombing. And so disturbing to peruse the list of companies and entities — AT&T, Time Warner, Verizon, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, McAfee and American Bankers Assn., to name a few — that have spent $605 million to lobby against our interests.

And finally, here's a really good, though disturbing, piece on how the American media is fixated on the maiming actions of the homemade Boston bombs, while conveniently forgetting our own devastating use of cluster bombs on civilians in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. The article cites George Orwell's references to “doublethink,” which is defined as a willingness “to forget any fact that has become inconvenient.”

So disturbing, to be reminded that it's 1984