Monday, December 8, 2014

Musings: Monday Mixed Plate

Bill Tam, deputy director of the state Department of Natural Resources, recently opined in a meeting that substituting imported foods is so important, the state should not lease lands to any growers who export produce to the U.S. mainland.

Mmm, maybe the state should start by looking at ways to help Hawaii farmers succeed in producing for the local market. Like addressing one of the big problems farmers face: the high cost of importing animal feed, fertilizer and soil inputs. And that leads us to the Jones Act and the shipping monopoly it perpetuates. As a friend noted:

Hawaii became viable for sugar planters when they got a Reciprocity Treaty. That remains our problem today -- reciprocity with a great and powerful continent doing business with the most isolated island archipelago on the planet. Don't expect any help from our congressional delegation. They're in bed with A&B, Matson, the ILWU and the League of Conservation Voters.

And so the dysfunctional state staggers on....

In related news, a senior United Nations official is predicting that all of the world's topsoil could be depleted within 60 years if current rates of soil depletion and degradation continue.  Soil destruction accelerates as the world gets hotter and the population grows, creating a vicious circle. But hey, let's not dwell on this heavy, doomsday stuff. Isn't Kim Kardashian wearing a new dress or something?

Speaking of money, the county is in the market for a new Finance Director, since current Director Steve Hunt is returning to his former position as head of the department's real property division, effective Jan. 1. According to county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka, the move is coming at Steve's request, since he always intended to serve only through the mayor's first term.

 Hmmm. Will former director Mike Tresler, now with Grove Farm, be returning to his old post?

Meanwhile, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.'s veto of the “agronomics” bill, which would have created a special real property tax classification for the seed companies, will be laid on the table at a special Council meeting on Wednesday. However, no vote will be taken at that time on whether to override or sustain the veto.

The “agronomics” bill was approved at the last meeting of the old Council, along with the amended shoreline setback bill, which includes the “brightline exemption” added by Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura. The exemption inexplicably allows certain properties on rocky coastlines, such as Omidyar's Hanalei Ridge project, to skip the shoreline review process.

The mayor did sign the shoreline bill into into law, even though it's sloppy, contradictory, confusing and arbitrary — yet another Kauai law that is a litigating lawyer's dream. In this day and age, any reduction in coastal setbacks is crazy — unless the lure of new real property tax revenues blinds county officials to the hazards they're creating.

The shoreline bill was pushed hard by current and past employees of Sea Grant, whose previous head is a close friend and prior colleague of Eric Crispin, vice president of Ohana Hanalei, the company developing the Ridge project. Sea Grant also required its own employee, Adam Asquith, to help with the Ohana Hanalei fish pond design. Something sure smells stink...

In a classic case of manipulated circular thinking, Councilman Gary Hooser fed discredited blogger Andy Parx bad info for a post criticizing Council Chair Mel Rapozo's rule changes. New blogger Loren Kohnfelder then used Andy's erroneous post a source for his own post, which Gary is now promoting. Spin, baby, spin.

The Garden Island has its own credibility problems. In an article and opinion piece on the $10,000 it's contributed to the monk seal murder reward, TGI laughably lauded itself for “editorial excellence” before stating:

A newspaper’s job is to report the news.

Indeedy. So why are TGI's pages packed with fluff and puff, while the real news is typically MIA? For example, TGI has yet to write about the formation of the GMO/pesticide fact-finding group, even though the issue is one of the biggest in the state, the story has been picked up by Honolulu media and group members are now being vetted.

As for the sicko monk seal killer, while most of us do want to see him apprehended — yes, I'm certain it's a “him” — and money can make people talk, TGI would serve the community far more by spending that $10,000 to upgrade its editorial efforts.

Fern Rosenstiel — amusingly identifying herself as an "environmental scientist" — has a letter to the editor properly blaming ignorance and false information for the polarization over the seal. Ironically, she lacks the insight to recognize how that also applies to the disinformation campaign she and her allies mounted to turn folks against the seed companies. 

Too bad Dustin Barca — Fern's Ohana O Kauai cohort — didn't use his mayoral run to advocate protection and respect for the seal, and instead of nearly running one over as he launched his canoe. Wonder what's happening with the NOAA investigation into that incident, which is considered a "take."

Kudos to reporter Darin Moriki, though, for reporting on a critical issue: the successful efforts of southside residents, many of them elderly, to prevent the proliferation of vacation rentals in their neighborhood around Whaler's Cove.

Meanwhile, prepare for the next wave of resort housing in residential neighborhoods as illegal TVR owners attempt to convert their properties to B&Bs. First up, that poor lil' diamond merchant Eddie Ben-Dor, whose sad plight will be detailed in tomorrow's post.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Re: TGI's selective reporting: A dozen protesters showed up at Walmart's two entrances on Black Friday, one of more than 2000 protest sites across the country. Their signs did not say "don't shop", instead demanded a living wage and stop firing older workers.
A TGI reporter interviewed and took pictures, but no coverage in TGI. Taken with refusal to print letters to the editor critical of Walmart worker policies, there is a pattern of pro-business, anti-worker sentiment at TGI.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, 9:30. I must've missed it. They were just a week after me, so not too bad.

Loren said...

Hi Joan, Would you kindly clarify your point about my blog in this post?

At the time, Andy's post with email purportedly from Councilmember Rapozo was the only information I could find suggesting rationale for the new rules which I thought it was important to write about ahead of the meeting. In citing the source I specifically wrote that this might not be authentic.

More importantly, at the meeting the new Council Chair indeed said that "efficiency" as a prime motive for many of the rule changes, so what's the problem? In labeling Andy's post "erroneous" do you have evidence that the email Andy quoted is not authentic? In any case I think my post clearly says that if "efficiency" is the rationale given then the council should look closely at exactly what past inefficiencies it address and that the gain is worth the cost of concentrating power in one person. I was writing about the purported email Andy reprinted as a hypothetical argument that indeed came out later at council, not about anything Andy wrote.

I suppose I could have pretended to make up the efficiency argument but since I had seen this and it seemed plausible thought it was most honest to provide the reference without claiming it was fact.

My intention is to discuss the rules themselves, not who said what. Unless you think that efficiency was never given as a rationalization for some of the rule changes I think that's a perfectly valid topic.


Joan Conrow said...

I felt my point was pretty clear, Loren, but you do seem to have missed it. To clarify, it's this: You used misinformation that Gary fed to an non-credible source (Parx) in writing your post, which then allowed Gary to use your post to perpetuate his misinformation. Specifically, I am referencing the false claim that the new rules "restrict public involvement and access" — they don't — and your contention that this is part of a power grab by the Chair, which ignores the fact that the changes were approved in a 5-2 vote of the Council. Seems more like majority rules than totalitarianism to me.

Anonymous said...

Hawaii is never going to be self-sufficient while the Jones Act is in effect. Matson is a sacred cow that will never be touched. That's why Hawaii operates like a third world country.

Anonymous said...

Joan, Do the new rules eliminate early scheduled time for public testimony requiring indeterminable waiting for such testimony? If so, wouldn't that "restrict public involvement and access" compared to the previous rule allowing such testimony at a fixed time?

Joan Conrow said...

That would effect a maximum of six persons, or four, if you consider that Mickens and Rosa always took two of the six slots.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to have another Parx wannabe, blogging Fistee propaganda. Well written, but misinformed. Perhaps this newest newcomer will vet his blog now that Joan has made him famous.
The move to make the Council effective via Mel's suggestions (that were passed by a majority)is a good thing.
To by pass the Glen Mickens et al nitpicker show will save a lot of time.
Jay would still be on the Council if he used a little discretion on bringing bills up to the Council. He was a slapdoodle for the Fistees.
Now the Council can work on a real budget and focus on utilitarian projects instead of puff puff idealist journeys into some NS utopian ideal.
Steve Hunt is a good man and the County is losing a smart guy as head of finance. He deserves a "patience award" for not knocking the silly f*cking. know-it-all grins off of Bynum and Hooser's fat faces during the Agronomics and other tax episodes. Thank you Mr Hunt. Kauai is grateful that your talents are still in County employ.

Anonymous said...

I think the removal of the 18 minute pre-meeting segment was based on concerns by the Office of Information Practices. That is what I saw when I watched the meeting. Mel made that very clear in his comments. I could be wrong but that is what I heard.

Dawson said...

Joan wrote:
"...You used misinformation that Gary fed to an non-credible source (Parx) in writing your post, which then allowed Gary to use your post to perpetuate his misinformation."

Hence the term, "circle-junk."

Er... "circle-joke?"



Anyways, circle-something-with-a-j.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you should ease up on TGI. It must wear them out to cover all those charity fun runs and Terry Lilley freakouts.

Anonymous said...

How much does it cost for long meetings and what's the benefit? Pass the illegal bill at 3 in the morning after listening to six minutes times how many people?

Loren said...

Please don’t jump to conclusions about influence: I wrote about the rule changes based on a “Ramseyer” (differences comparison) I constructed directly from county documents cited as references.

Eliminating Rule 9 (public petition to council) is one major way the new rules "restrict public involvement and access" along with other changes as I detailed November 30.

If there is reason to believe the reported email from that other source mentioned in the December 2 post is not authentic please share the evidence. In any case, just the one paragraph references it: the rest is all based on county sources.

All the rest of my writing on the rules is based on original sources from the county. If there is any misinformation in there please help me correct it with specific references.

Thanks, /Loren

Joan Conrow said...

As I noted in another post, Loren, no one had ever actually presented a petition to the Council, which is why the Council staff, and not Mel, proposed dropping that provision from the county rules.

And as a previous commenter noted, the OIP itself — advocate of public participation — had expressed concerns about the 18 minutes of public testimony at the start of the meeting.

You got your knickers in a twist about nothing. People on Kauai still have twice the public testimony time as any other county, they can still submit written testimony, they can still snag their council members at Safeway and give them an earful.

And please, don't try to pretend you weren't influenced at all by Parx's post when you cited him as a source for your testimony.

Joan Conrow said...

Oh, and the public can also call, send an email to one of 4 email addresses, send letters by mail or in person, post messages on the Council's Facebook page or fax testimony. If they can't get their point across in 3 minutes then they can put it in writing.

So it really is false to say public access and participation has been restricted.

Anonymous said...

@9:43pm- "Terry Lilley freakouts"? P;ease gp to Terry's facebook page and read a little-look at the photos. If what is happening to Kaua'i's coral and sea life does not freak you out, too, then I think you may not be human.

Anonymous said...

"You got your knickers in a twist about nothing."

you tell'em joan! we love your blog and will always read yours first before any other kaua'i blog.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hunt, a good guy? You must be kidding. Tresler? Same old shit.

Anonymous said...

showing dying corals is sad, but it'slike showing a dead body an of course it is sad, sickening, but it does nothing to show causation. There is a host of things weakening the coral reef and the fact that 1 million people a year dip their heavily suncreened bodies into the water while the snorkel on the coral reef.