Thursday, June 27, 2013

Musings: Suspicions

So what really happened out at Polihale last weekend? Though The Garden Island published the account of a woman whose brother was reportedly there, both the police and prosecutor say actual victims and witnesses have been extremely reticent to speak up. Police say this leads them to suspect there's more to the story than has been revealed, such as perhaps the victims weren't entirely blameless, or were engaged in illegal activity themselves.

Though the sister told the paper that cops did not show until 5 a.m., Police Chief Darryl Perry said “we arrived about 20 minutes or so after the call was received because it was in a remote location and checks did not reveal anything to the extent that was reported.”

He said an eight-second video clip had been turned in, but it didn't show much.

The episode got me thinking about Polihale, which I understand to be a leina — a jumping off place for souls. But like so many other sacred spots, it's now been overrun by casual  tourists and yahoos with no respect for the place. Sad.

Also sad was seeing all the folks wearing different-colored tee-shirts to separate themselves from others at yesterday's County Council meeting on the pesticide-GMO bill. It passed on first reading — kudos to the Council for not chickening out — and is headed for a marathon public hearing on July 31. 

Maybe people could wear purple to that session as a reminder that even though we hold different views on this issue, we're all living on this little island together. This debate is going to continue for quite some time, and it would be nice if it didn't completely rip the community apart. Because isn't it ultimately about what's best for Kauai? By which I mean her, Mama Aina.

Given some of the Facebook chatter, it seems the meeting was a wake-up call for anti-GMO activists, who were surprised at the strength and intensity of opposition to the bill. It's so easy, when caught up in the Facebook/KKCR echo chamber, to believe that everyone else thinks the way you do. Though the testimony was tedious at times, new information did come to light and everybody got a chance to see that passions run deep on both sides of the issue.

One of my favorite moments was when Councilman Ross Kagawa said he still had faith that some of the state and federal officials “are not corrupt, like those who care about the seals and shearwaters.” Little does he know that the suspicions extend to those folks, too.

Speaking of which, upon checking my Anahola post office box, I found a full color brochure and form letter from Eric Knutzen touting the supposed benefits of leasing Hawaiian Homelands to harvest albezia trees for a woodchip-burning power plant in Koloa. The mailer had lots of pretty pictures, as promotional literature typically does, but failed to address concerns raised by beneficiaries — concerns that no doubt will be raised again at tonight's meeting at Kapaa Elementary School.

The website it refers people to is similarly short on substance. But then, Eric, who runs KCC's Ho`ouluwehi Sustainable Living Institute, has proved evasive and slippery in discussing his Green Energy Team project. After stringing me along for a month when I was working on an article for Honolulu Weekly, he ultimately refused to answer some pretty basic questions:

Some of the concerns raised by Anahola community include possible contamination of the bay due to mud from the cleared lands. What is the scenario for clearing and replanting, and how will you prevent erosion? Will you be chipping on site, or transporting logs? What other improvements are planned, in terms of roads and water lines, and what is the dollar value of these improvements? Do you anticipate the need for irrigation, and if so, where will the water come from? Are you anticipating the acreage (aside from the 267 acres for lots) will be planted or cleared when the lease term ends?

Please explain your feed stock scenario. How many acres total are needed to supply the facility on an ongoing basis? I understand you have an agreement with Hawaiian Mahogany -- how many acres does that include, and how long will that supply the facility? I saw a reference to 2,500 acres of short-rotation biomass -- how long does it take to grow the feedstock you need?

If you don't get the lease with DHHL in Anahola, do you have a back up plan for acreage elsewhere? Have you approached Grove Farm?

What is happening with the 1,037 acres at Kalepa you leased?  Some of the tenants up there have complained that Green Energy initially promised to pay for the improvement and upkeep of roads, but now GE is proposing that those costs be shared. Is this correct?

How did Green Energy get the federal loan guarantee? Does it essentially ensure that the two main partners -- GBC and Green Energy -- won't be left with any financial liabilities if the project fails? Is the project eligible for or receiving any state or federal tax incentives for biofuel projects?

What byproduct, if any, will be generated from burning the feedstock at the plant, and what will be done with this product?

If this project is so fantabulous, why the lack of transparency? After all, it plans to sell power to KIUC at an undisclosed price that we ratepayers will pay, and it's benefitting from a $73 million federal loan guarantee.

Eric also keeps repeating the fiction that this plant will “lower energy prices.” I asked KIUC's Jim Kelly about that claim and got this reply:

Burning wood and not oil will certainly stabilize bills and reduce the whipsawing effect of oil prices. But if the price of oil – which we’re still going to have to buy – is $200 a barrel in 2015 then everyone’s bill is not going to go down.

Eric also likes to claim the project is "carbon neutral," in reference to the amount of fuel oil that KIUC can save. But he has not yet explained how the fuel used by trucking and chipping factors in to the project's overall carbon footprint.

I understand that some are supporting the albezia-clearing as a way to get homesteaders off the waiting list and onto the land, which is laudable. But the overall project looks and smells suspiciously like a boondoggle.


Anonymous said...

Did Ross Kagawa actually say that some of the state and federal officials “are not corrupt, like those who care about the seals and shearwaters” ?

Caring about seals and sheerwaters is corrupt, in his view?

I bet he is far, far worse than Paula Deen in his racial views. He would get fired from the food network but Kauai will elect him.

Joan Conrow said...

Wow, amazing how things can be misinterpreted.

No, 10:22, he was using them as examples of officials who are not corrupt, or at least not likely to be thought so by environmentalists.

That's why there's a comma between 'corrupt' and 'like,' to cue readers that an example is forthcoming.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pursuing the Polihale story. Souns fishy. I understand why some or many would not want to talk to the police but I'm getting suspicious as to why this group isn't talkin to KPD. West side cops have a very bad reputation. Some of it is unfortunately earned by their disregard for the law and what's right.

To the 10:22 comment: Ross is saying that those who care about the seals and shearwaters are not corrupt. Ross knows, like any thinking person, that there is a lot of corruption in politics at all levels. There may even be more corruption with county, state and federal officials.

Anonymous said...

I only saw paid off support for Poison co. at the rally...

Anonymous said...

One big problem I see with the DHHL deal is that the land will be pocked with thousands of stumps that will be very costly to remove when the 20 year lease is over or the project goes belly up. They must have a Bond to insure that the land will be cleared of stumps.

Carbon neutral? Chain saws, cutting, hauling? And doesn't burning of that stuff release CO2 in to the atmosphere?

Anonymous said...

The project is so full of holes - trying to justify a profit and provide a benefit to the residents.

If Eric was unable to answer any of those specifically relevant questions and if DHHL allows this flawed project to proceed - then we can all be sure to know that it pays to pay the politicians.

I did enjoyed Kipu Kai's paid endorsement.

Anonymous said...

You know the saying "born yesterday"? Thatʻs for Kagawa.
How the hell did this guy get elected. Itʻs like thereʻs no activity up there. The glazed and amped expression kind of scared me.

The shirt color separation was offensive. GMO corps trying to create a them and us. Thatʻs wrong.

Stupid thing about this, they donʻt get: ITʻS NOT ABOUT THEIR JOBS BEING THREATENED.

Knutzen is shady.

Anonymous said...

Knutzen was and probably still is being sued for numerous counts of bad faith, etc. by Evergreen(?)
Can look it up. Point is when asked about it he lied and said "No."

Anonymous said...

You nailed it Joan. People who read this blog daily (myself included) need to wake up and realize that jus because they, along with their friends, feel one way, does not mean the rest of the island feels that way. I said this last week, just because the politicians dont agree with the majority of eclectic readers does not mean they are corrupt. Please remember that as eclectic readers, we are a very small percentage of isle residents. Very small. As for polihale, the victims sister wasn't even there! Wake up Megan, why do u think no-one wants to say anything? Maybe because they were the instigators? Maybe they shouldnt be harassing old ladies. Or at least check to see that the lady they harassed don't have her family 100 yards down the beach. Maybe they are cleansing themselves from all the drugs that was consumed that night. Yes, consumed, not smoked. Maybe, jus maybe they were the ones that took out a bat first? Ms. Wong, let me tell you that your brother and his crybaby friends are not the poor victims here. Wake up and think for a second....

Anonymous said...

That attack could have been military guys.

Anonymous said...

just cause the rest of the island thinks we should keep poisoning the land dosent mean we should do it and that the few of us shouldnt fight for what is right. Although I do agree about the Megan thing and her crybaby brother.

Anonymous said...

you wonder why no one wants to speak to the KPD about the Polihale incident-it's called retaliation-think it doesn't happen here-think again-

Anonymous said...

How can using all those chemicals, and we're not just talking pesticides, but all the household, automotive and other miscellaneous chemicals that are used by pretty much all of us daily, not to mention the crap we eat, drink or otherwise consume that ends up in cesspools, septic systems, sewers, drains, streams and rivers, not impact the environment?

Anonymous said...

We KNOW what we are using in our homes and in our autos. The chemicals I use have ingredients listed and I can look up the contents and the dangers. I know not to mix bleach and ammonia because of the harmful effect of the combination. I can choose which are the safest products for my family to use in our home. I can look at the ingredients of processed food and choose what is best for my family based on what I know about the particular ingredients. I choose to not live on the highway where car fumes are thick. I choose not to live by smokestacks billowing out whatever. I choose to not put roundup in my yard.

We WANT TO KNOW what HEAVY amounts of pesticides are being used over thousands of acres of this small island AND in what combination.

That is a very valid question and concern. Who knows if there will be power enough to stop what is being done, but the first step is SIMPLY TO KNOW WHAT IS BEING USED.

Anonymous said...

An interesting read is Monsanto's Dark History 1901-2013: Best Meal.Info.

These Toxic companies slaves support the killing of their people, their families, friends, their own lives and environment. What a embarrassment to call yourselves human beings for the sake of getting a pay check.

Anonymous said...

And the realtors want to know because it's hard to sell land that might need EPA Superfund relief. Imagine the disclosure: well, the chemical companies used to apply some really toxic pesticides and herbicides that may cause cancer and birth defects to the fields around here and the water's got more compounds than you can count, but look at the view!

Anonymous said...

People get physically attacked at Polihale all the time (typically at night) by troublemaking groups or individuals within groups. This is definitely not an isolated incident.
Not saying it involves west side locals, not saying it doesn't. But the one thing I can say, is that it always involves a bunch of punks, whether there's a reason, or whether there's not.
There are violent attacks at Polihale, that's a given. Who's to blame? That's another story.....

Elaine Albertson said...

3:59 - I doubt it. There are maybe 18-20 actual military people at PMRF, and several of those are officers...most are petty officers. The rest are all civilian contract workers. I've seen a statement from a westsider that says he has a photo of "lots of trash" left by the supposed victims...but then, if I'd just been attacked by a gang, I'd probably not bother picking up either. KPD says they were there in 20 minutes after they got the call; others say it was almost two hours. There's way too much being unsaid here. I've had conversations with some lifetimer folks here in Kekaha who say they're not surprised at what happened...but won't say any more. There are others who swear they've never heard of any gang type activity out here. What does that tell us?

Anonymous said...

They don't want to talk about it and have the conversation appear in a blog comment.

Elaine Albertson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Albertson, you are quick to defend PMRF. And, quick to subtly direct blame on local people.

Guess you donʻt remember the incident where a ʻgangʻ started a big fire. Witnesses (military guys) said they saw some dark-skinned men in black t-shirts running away.

Who was later confirmed to be the culprits? The military (gang) guys that ʻwitnessedʻ locals running away. The military guys finally ended up confessing to firing weapons that caused the fire.

Hawaii occupiers have a sickening history of these types of incidents blaming locals for their dirty deeds.

So, Albertson, I donʻt really vest much in anything I hear you say.

Elaine Albertson said...

9:33 - I wasn't "defending" PMRF...only stating a fact, and an opinion based on that fact. Starting a fire by accident and not owning up to it, or trying to deflect the blame, until called on it (yes, I remember that incident) is a whole different ball game than open assault. What I said is that people aren't talking about it because they're afraid. They're not afraid of PMRF crew. BTW...the deleted comment was mine, in that I said I have never betrayed a confidential source, and I will not here. I deleted it because I wasn't going to grace the derogatory comment from 7:41. I really don't care if you place any reliability on what I say or not. I have a right to relay what I have heard from what appear to be honest, reliable people who are too afraid to say it behind their own name. It could be that the north shore folks are full of it. It could be that what they say happened is true. We may never know, however, because of the long history of bullying and ineffective policing on the west side. I hope that Chief Perry can resolve that, and I hope that those who do the bullying get a clue. And, oh yeah...I don't post anonymously.

Anonymous said...

"What I said is that people aren't talking about it because they're afraid."

They're wondering, "who is this person to be asking me all these questions when we weren't even there and would only be guessing about what really happened?"

Anonymous said...

Seems to me the fire thing was caused by PMRF security people who have access to guns every day, and they're local guys working for contractor. From what I remember from being in the military, the navy guys don't even have access to guns on a daily basis. Gotta check them out for a good reasons. Sounds like some people trust her, because they're talking to her, but she isn't blabbing da details all over like you seem to want her to. No, she not born here but I was and know her, she live westside some 15 years and got connections here going back 40 years, and at least she has wiwo'ole to say what needs to be and use her name. Me? No way. I stay under da radar.

Anonymous said...

She wrote: "What I said is that people aren't talking about it because they're afraid." Why would they be afraid if they trust her?

Anonymous said...

June 29, 2013 at 10:42 AM

No matter how long someone been here. Thereʻs plenty big 5 still here wreaking havoc and profiting from their thefts.

KatieH said...

I don't think anyone in the anti-GMO crowd was surprised by who was against bill 2491, only that their employers bused them all to Lihue so early and paid them for the day. My personal assessment that most Kauai residents agree that we deserve disclosure hasn't been damaged, only strengthened. Since the introduction to the bill most people I talk to support the bill, and while sympathizing with those fearing for their jobs they do not see a direct correlation with the loss of jobs and the passing of this bill. For me, the wake-up was listening to those against the bill testify. I could not believe some of the incredible mistruths perpetuated by the employees. We have a lot of work to do to educate the employees of this industry. Their employers have been propagating myths for a very long time. We also have alot of work to do to show the council that they need to stop waiting for the Federal and State governments to act on behalf of our health and safety.