Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Musings: Rights and Wrongs

A thin pale moon was just hanging out in the east as the clouds — gray, pink, a pawprint of orange — went breezing by on their way to a purple-peach pileup above the lavender face of Waialeale, the green bowl of Makaleha. Sweet.

It feels like it's gonna be a great day. Even though I received word last night that the Honolulu Weekly is publishing its last issue today. It's sad to see an another independent voice silenced, another newspaper succumb to revenue starvation. I've contributed to that paper for at least 15 years, not because it paid well — it didn't — but because it published stories that I wanted to write, stories that I felt needed to be told. And now that outlet is gone.

You know how all this time I've been preaching about the total insanity of criminalizing marijuana, the total failure of the War on Drugs? Turns out it's been really successful — at throwing black people in jail and ruining their lives. A new analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union shows that 52% of all 2010 drug arrests were for marijuana, with 88% busted for mere possession. And though pot use is about equal among blacks and whites, backs are nearly four times more likely to be arrested.

Just think, all that oppression, racism and incarceration achieved for a mere $3.6 billion — the annual cost of enforcing marijuana laws — while delivering more slave labor to the private prison complex, one of the fastest growing industries in the nation. Absolutely brilliant.

There are approximately 2 million inmates [most of them black and Hispanic] in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S.

So much for the land of the free, liberty and justice for all, justice is blind and all the rest of the nationalistic palaver.

But dammit, we've got rights, including the right to take the Fifth, which apparently Planning Director Mike Dahilig isn't going to do today, at least, not right off the bat, even though the prospect (threat?) of such a stunning action allowed him to blow off the County Council two weeks ago.

Instead, he reportedly plans to give a power point presentation on TVR enforcement (or more accurately, the lack thereof, though I'm sure in the month since he first floundered in front of the Council he's had time to come up with a more positive spin), and power points can't take the Fifth. But they can effectively control the delivery of information, as opposed to actually answering the Council's questions in an open forum. And County Attorney Al Castillo will be there to silence any Council member who dares divert from the Administration's script.

Deputy County Attorney Ian Jung will be delivering his power point “on the legal complexities of the TVR law” in closed executive session. Or at least that's the topic he claimed he'd been covering when he requested an ES. Though I asked for a copy, he won't release it because “it is considered attorney client privilege for Council as well as an attorney work-product.” In other words, we mere citizens don't have the right to know why the County Attorney's office can't enforce the county's laws.

Meanwhile, yesterday I asked Ian and Mike for answers to these simple questions: How many TVR applications are in the contested case process and how many are in Circuit Court, and of these, how many are on agricultural lands? How many properties with TVR certificates are the current focus of enforcement actions?

Today, a day when the Council might have similar questions, there were still no answers. Why? Seems “they were researching.”

Wouldn't you think, given the attention that's been paid to this issue, the formation of a mayor's oversight committee on TVRs, the prospect of a Council investigation, that you might have such basic facts on hand? Because I can tell you right now, the numbers aren't large, especially on the enforcement side. But then, a month ago, Mike couldn't say whether the one TVR owner who had recently been told to cease and desist actually had. 

As for the only recently formed TVR oversight committee, I was thinking, does that mean there was no oversight of planners Ian Costa and Imai Aiu as they implemented the most complex land use law in the county? What would inspire such blind faith in those two employees?

As for the investigation, I was thinking the Council could save time and money by simply asking Imai and Ian to come and answer questions about what the hell went wrong in 2009, or was that the plan, to approve as many TVR applications as possible? They both work for the county, so they could be ordered to attend. Heck, why stop at Ian and Imai? Call in Doug Haigh, Gary Heu, Mayor Carvalho — and if they all plead the Fifth, well, then we'll know how far the stain has spread. For those who still have doubts, I mean. 


Anonymous said...

There is and will be no excuse on how they failed to implement and interpret the Federal laws of FEMA or DOH in their permitting processes. State law requires the County to apply it even if the State and Feds don't review or comment in a timely fashion.

And if they fail to plan for the health safety and welfare of the people (tourists, environmental impacts or otherwise) - then what are they doing?

Andy Parx said...

The problem is that according to our charter the council cannot "order" administration personnel to appear before the council without a 3.17 investigation. They can only "request" they appear and use the purse strings as a cudgel.

Anonymous said...

They are NOT going to do a 3.17 investigation - it will 'jeopardize' the contested cases hearings or put the county in big time liability for those permits that they did and didn't issue - no matter that they were not pari passu.

Anonymous said...

Mike couldn't speak before but he can speak today? Looks like Al's strategy to stall for time worked.

Anonymous said...

they, meaning the planning department, were not without partiality when issuing permits - yup that about sums up the inequality in which those TVR permits were issued.

Anonymous said...

These people are using the same game plan as the gas theft incident, the pohaku program, and the Koloko Dam.

If they weren't so original then people wouldn't notice.

Joan Conrow said...

FYI: Hawaii Supreme Court just ruled you can take medical cannabis between islands:’s-conviction.html

Elaine Albertson said...

Mahalo for the heads up on transport, Joan.

The response of "we're researching" is so lame. What it really means is either (1) we really don't know because our system is so screwed up, or (2) we don't want you to know, and so we're going to plead ignorance.

This whole situation goes so far beyond the ridiculous. It makes Boss Hogg look like a philanthropist with an ethical conscience.

Anonymous said...

I need to smoke pot to cope with the planning department.

Anonymous said...

Ms Conrow-Maybe you need to get your facts straight before you continue to insight people into believing what you say to be the truth-
As an example one TVR property that you targeted (and have a video attached to) is not even the same house in the video-the house in the video is several properties down the street-
Also it appears that you are only targeting those properties in one neighborhood- why is that? what about all of the property owners who are listing their rentals on VRBO and Craigslist and not complying with the TVR laws or paying taxes on their rental income-if anyone is "guilty" they are-not the homeowners who have been following the ordinance, doing everything that is asked of them by the County and have been paying taxes all along-they are not trying to hide or go under the radar-your ambition is misguided or misplaced-maybe you should use your writing skills for other purposes and focus on the postive and not use your (not so hidden and abvious) agenda to waste the time of the people who are helping us and not tearing the economy to shreds-

Anonymous said...

I need to smoke pot to cope with the planning department.

June 5, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Don't worry - they are smoking it too, just a few of them but whatever.

Anonymous said...

Seven people with unquestionable motives investigating" this morass. I can't wait. Joan will have enough material to last a year.

Anonymous said...

"And if they fail to plan for the health safety and welfare of the people (tourists, environmental impacts or otherwise) - then what are they doing?"

Sitting on the plane (first class?) going to meetings in Honolulu and the mainland.

Yucking it up with their serfs, and slugging down beers down at parties and "fund raisers" Got ukulele? Like sing?

Collecting pay checks?

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

RE: June 5, 2013 at 1:29 PM
- ah.....what is your agenda?

Anonymous said...

In regard to my June 5th post someone asked what is my agenda?
It is only fairness-rather than using a situation for their own gain or notoriety-
To those who read these blogs-just remember they only represent one persons opinion on the matter-they are not the truth or the facts
If you want to know for yourself go directly to the source-and in this case you can visit and even watch the meetings or read the captioned version-then have a better idea of what's really going on
Also what happened to a spirit of Aloha and supporting one another and finding solutions? I will bet that those that spend so much time responding with negativity don't have any ideas on solutions-except to say "not in my neighborhood" which the last time I looked Kauai belongs to everyone who lives or visits here-if you want a private island then this is not the place for you-
It's easy to point fingers and blame everyone else-but we are all in this together-so we should be working together-not against each other-"if you are not part of the solution-you are part of the problem"

Joan Conrow said...

7:46 -- All my assertions in the Abuse Chronicles are documented, with links provided to the original source so people can indeed verify for themselves. I encourage them to do so, which is why I provide such links.

And yes, Kauai does belong to everyone, which is why it bothers me so much when I see people abuse her for their greed and usurp public beaches for private gains.

Finally, it's always so ironic when a person points a finger at me and provides no solution while saying "don't point fingers and where's your solution?"

Anonymous said...

Even if you got rid of all of the vacation rentals, Haena and the rest of the island will still be overrun with tourists. Economic oxys.

Anonymous said...

my solution is to let the people that we elected do their job-and if you don't like what they are doing there is always an opportunity to take their place-run for office yourself or apply for a job there or vote some of them out of office-or better yet-offer your services helping them instead of criticizing them

Joan Conrow said...

I've given them access to hundreds of hours of research and investigative work to assist their TVR enforcement, which they are apparently planning to use, so I think I've done my part.

Btw, at least when I criticize others I have the courage to use my name, rather than hide behind Anonymous. If you have anything further to say, use your name.

Anonymous said...

Well said Joan. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

You are obviously one of humpty dumpty's follower!