Rambling country roses in bold red and sweet pink, hollyhocks of many hues, bunches of fragrant lavender, clumps of Russian sage, jasmine clinging to fence posts, pansies turning their sweet faces to the morning sun — these are the flowers that greet me in the chill of a desert dawn, the sky already achingly blue.
Kauai is thousands of miles away — and feels like it — though she returned last night in a dream. I was pointing out to a state inspector something that most definitely did not belong within what was clearly the public shoreline, as evidenced by the waves washing up around it, and he was saying, with that characteristic sideways glance, that subtle shrug of the shoulders, “Yeah, but ....”
As in just pretend what you're seeing isn't actually what you're seeing.
I encountered a guy the other day who, upon learning I hailed from Kauai, said, “yeah, I just heard something about how Monsanto is taking over there. That's not right.”
I assured him that no, it wasn't, both figuratively and literally, since Monsanto has no presence there.
The topic that has consumed and polarized Kauai for a year now ripples out across the Pacific and takes form as a misinformed sound byte. Ah, yes, the whole world is watching......something else.
It's worth watching how the Kauai County Council handles the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) charges against Police Chief Darryl Perry, who could well be one of its members after the fall election.
An executive session is scheduled for Wednesday morning to brief the Council on the three claims of workplace retaliation that the EEOC has upheld against the Chief/KPD.
What I find most disturbing about this whole mess — whose fallout include the mayor suspending the chief and three assistant chiefs; a lawsuit to determine if the mayor had that power; an appeal of the Circuit Court decision that yes, he does have that authority; several investigations; and now, claims for damages brought by three police officers, two of whom have been out on medical stress leave for 18 months — is its root cause.
And that is this: A man in a position of authority in 21st Century America made repeated (and disparaging) comments about the breasts of a lower-ranking female colleague.
Even a Kauai cop should know better than that.
What I find most intriguing is how the Council so quickly again finds itself in the position of navigating a politically-charged legal mine field in the manner of Tim Bynum vs Shaylene/Sheilah/County. The chief wants a chance to tell his side, as did Shay; the chief is at odds with the mayor, as are many on the Council; the Council is at odds with the county attorney's office, which is negotiating the settlement; and they're all wondering how this will play out for them politically.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of dollars later…..and still counting…..
Also up on Wednesday is a Council committee review of Councilman Tim Bynum's politically-driven bill to “punish” the seed/chem companies by eliminating their ag tax deduction. His proposed Bill 2456 would exclude horticulture and “lands that are used primarily for the research and development of crops or parent seed production, which do not directly gain monetary profit from the ultimate consumer.”
But in the typical blinders-on fashion that narrows and distorts everything to do with the seed industry on Kauai, it fails to consider the broader picture, who else and what else might be affected.
Like experimental hemp crops, or the future cultivation of hemp for fuel, food or fiber. Research on biofuels. Taro, cows and pigs raised for home consumption. The north shore organic ginger and turmeric farmers producing seed for export. Flower growers making keiki. Taro huli banks. Fruit farmers and beekeepers selling to the meadery. Anybody producing a wholesale ag product rather than peddling directly to a consumer.
Aside from hindering non-GMO ag activities that most of us would support as positive contributions to the island, the bill arbitrarily, and bizarrely, bans crops and seeds from the definition of agriculture. For some inexplicable reason you can grow trees, though we have no lumber mills here, and no direct consumer market exists for such a product, but you cannot grow seeds.
Which opens the door to another discrimination lawsuit from the multinational chem/seed companies, as already promised in public session by Pioneer rep Laurie Yoshida. (Btw, after repeatedly hearing the claim that none of the four companies ship seed off the island, I sent inquiries to Dow, BASF, Syngenta and Pioneer, asking if that was true. Laurie was the only one to respond, saying Pioneer harvests and ships “significant amounts of seed” from Kauai.)
Then you have to stop for a moment and look at who, primarily, would be affected by the loss of the ag tax rate under Bill 2456: Gay & Robinson, Grove Farm, A&B, Kamehameha Schools, the state.
In other words, all the big landowners. And what always and invariably happens to ag land in Hawaii, on Kauai, when it is no longer in production?
That's right: Development. Gentleman's estates. Resorts. Golf courses. Shopping centers. A smattering, here and there, of affordable homes.
And the question any thinking person must raise is this: Why? Why in the world would we want to start down this rutted road?
Unless it's to boost the real estate/tourism/construction industry and help Councilmen Tim Bynum — and by extension, Gary Hooser and perhaps Mason Chock — get re-elected.