Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Musings: Readers Write

Sometimes I get emails and comments that deserve a bit of attention, so today I'm devoting the blog to submissions from readers.

The first was an email from a reader whose comment was not posted, due to the potential for libel:

I was upset last night when I suggested we post all ice dealer's names on your blog. (Sure, let's put a target on your (cornrowed) head for one more thing!). Hahaha

I just feel for the families of our addicts, especially when we choose to ignore the problem or just plain don't KNOW what to do.
I always considered myself a crusader against injustice and in turn want to support our young people when they are fighting for a cause.

I'm a kapuna and I love our keiki, so I'm stating my obvious; 2 things that can't be put off any longer - that SHOULD be glaring and out there front and center and in our faces:

1. Vacation Rental sewage ruining our reefs (OMG they are brown and ugly!)

I'm glad there is an impartial fact finding group reporting back to us about seed companies/GMOs.  Let's hope that helps us mend things somewhat so we can pay more attention to other issues.

I must say, I agree with this reader 100 percent. Why is the county allowing TVRs with cesspools to renew their permits? And we need drug treatment centers for adults and youth ASAP.

This next piece was also an email, submitted after Iona Loi was arrested in altercation with a group of young visitors at Hanalei Pier — an encounter whose details are still murky:

Joan, just like I think both parties are at fault when some dumb shit stuff happens at Polihale, we'll never know how much involved Iona Loi was in the [Hanalei] Pier incident.

BUT I know here's what would be sooooo NOT happening, but soooo humbling and honest:

Every kid that was verbally or physically violent involved in the Hanalei Pier incident, to come forth as a group and say "it wasn't just our bruddah, we threw some shit too."

In my fantasy world, as a group reaching out to get help, due to their violent abusive up bringings, somehow they would be rewarded for their honesty, and shown some compassion and leniency.  Be taught how to deal with their rage, get some community service helping others, and generally be given a chance to become better men.

As usual — and I've seen it sooooo many times over here — they lie, their friends lie and their parents lie. This only makes them into not better men.

Yup. Time to stop the cycle of violence, which so often begins in the home and then spews out all over the community. And it all starts with personal accountability and responsibility.

Next up is a comment submitted by a good — and yes, there are more than a few — county worker who is tired of being maligned and lumped in with the rest of the schwag:

Hi Joan, you don't have to post this if you don't want to. It may come across as a whiny complaint, but I just wanted to say that it's quite unfortunate that the bad apples in the bunch have spoiled it for those who actually want to do a good job, and take pride in what they do. It's also unfortunate that negative attitudes, and people making assumptions and lumping EVERYBODY into the same rotten bunch make the "good ones" feel unappreciated, defeated, and disrespected. I, personally, experience this constantly. While I recognize that many around me don't have the same mentality or work ethic as I do, it's frustrating to be lumped in to that "do-nothing" pool. It would be really nice for people to focus on those who are trying to do the best job they can and maybe throw out a, "hey, great job, you're awesome", rather than, "the people you work with are worthless POS's, so you MUST be a worthless POS too". The way people treat you simply because of WHERE you work, and WHO you work for without regard for the work you actually do is really frustrating. I truly wish people would take a step back and appreciate that. Just because you don't see our faces in the newspaper, or on the video screen at Council doesn't mean we are not striving for change, we just do a little more quietly. Just because we're invisible to you, doesn't mean you're invisible to us. We hear, and read every negative thing that is said, and it wears on us constantly. Comments made, whether facetiously or not, about the tacit acceptance of the "old boy" ways, and covering up and helping out "cronies" will only strengthen the idea that it's okay the way it is because people just accept it and don't care. And if you really, truly DON'T care, then just go away and shut up because those of us who do care, and want to work towards change are getting really tired of being indirectly shit on. Sadly, this is why many people I know who are good, hard-working people have left this employ. Sorry for the rant, but it's getting really tiresome.

I've personally encountered a number of really good county workers. It's important to express appreciation for their work, especially since they're so often picking up the slack for the slackers.

And finally, this was submitted after I ran the Grand Delusions and Pssst (Grand Delusions, Too) posts, which focused on some of the North Shore nuts:

South Kauai has its own version of the Grand Delusion — The Holo Holo Kauai Scenic ByWay project, touted by a front page Garden Island newspaper story headlined “19 MILES OF HISTORY.” The article’s subhead read: “One man’s dedication helps Koloa land island’s first scenic byway.” 

A spokesman [Ted Blake] for the sponsoring organization (who, by the way, may get to collect a pretty hefty tax dollar funded-fee) called the project “a grand slam because it highlights our history.”  The spokesman went on to say, “How many people here know the history of where they were born? How many know the traditional place names here?” Likely not any more than residents of Honolulu, Kaneohe or Lahaina know about their places, so what’s the big deal?  Continuing to sell, the spokesman said, “I think we are the only tourist destination in Hawaii that’s surrounded by all this. “ Yeah, right. Ever been to Kona, or South Kohala?

So what is the Grand Delusion? The project was sold to the community /elected officials as a means to highlight our heritage resources;preserving/enhancing cultural, historical, scenic and archeological sites. Sounds good. Island leaders jumped on the project, making speeches, supporting resolutions, giving accolades. An official said, “It’s just another example of how we continue to preserve and recognize our culture --- and never forgetting.”

Oh really? Read  into the requirements for Federal Byway designation (which Koloa has received) to learn that byway designation comes with requirements like submitting a MARKETING NARRATIVE. A document describing how the scenic road will be marketed and publicized, including what is in place and what is planned. A PROMOTIONAL PLAN. Describing how the scenic road will be promoted, interpreted and marketed to ATTRACT travelers, including those from other countries. A MULTILINGUAL INFORMATION PLAN. Addressing multilingual information needs. And finally a TOURISM PLAN that describes how increased tourism will be accommodated, what lodging and dining facilities, roadside rest areas, parking lots and other tourist necessities are in place or planned. 

Interestingly enough, there is very little describing how the host community is supposed to benefit nor how full time residents are expected to cope.  One would expect a plan of this nature to be funded and promoted by area business/resort interests, not by a community based non-profit.

What this REALLY is, is a tax dollar funded (80% federal/20% state) plan to attract more tourists to the South side with little regard for an already overtaxed and degraded infrastructure or for the negative impacts sure to be felt by the area’s full time residents. Oh, the sponsor has also been put in charge of a to be created “area trolley service,” paid for by who knows who (maybe tax dollars again?) which is supposed to be the answer to the traffic woes sure to come.

Most of the down home long time residents don’t even know what a scenic byway is, let alone that Koloa has one. 

In the name of transparency, the project’s Corridor Management Plan, describing for what, where and how much ( tax dollars ) are to be spent should be posted on the sponsor’s website.

Recently one of Hawaii’s leading economists, in a speech to business and government leaders, pointed out that Kauai County compared with other counties is the most dependent upon tourism. The speaker urged that steps be taken to diversify Kauai’s economy against the time when dollars created by tourism begin to diminish.

So dear readers, decide for yourselves: another grand delusion?

Thanks, folks, for reading and commenting and sharing your manao and views.


Anonymous said...

The county doesn't want to hear about how the byway is going to make capitalist people rich by having low wage jobs. All they hear is jobs.

One person that has already got his is Jeff Sachini the marathon creator. The county pays this guy 80K to 100K for a one day event each and every year. The guy charges over $100 for every entry fee (over 1300 entries this year). The county doesn't need to pay this guy. The Kauai Marathon is recognized all of the U.S. and in some countries. The county can save money by not paying Jeff every year and make money from collecting the overcharged fees.

Now let's not get into how much is he charging vendors or if he is paying GE taxes on all of this line by line because once again the county will be caught with its pants down.

Manuahi said...

I think the animosity against public workers arises from the feelings of frustration by the public at the lack of ability to correct the all too often, if not rampant lack luster work ethic of many of these workers. We voters only have the ability to vote in our elected officials. We have zero ability to choose who these officials, or their subordinates, hire to actually do the work of the County. Since the workers are protected by a powerful union that makes it extremely difficult to weed out the crumby could-care-less workers, even our elected officials (politicians) are powerless to effectively deal with county worker sloth. In fact, our elected officials are at the mercy of these protected workers because the workers are the ones who can literally make an elected official look good & productive or otherwise. So once in, our politicians, no matter what they say to get elected, must pander to the union that does have the power to discipline and regulate their members, but doesn’t because the union bosses too are elected and they want to be re-elected by their members to their highly desirable jobs. When a worker has absolutely no fear of losing their job and their advancement in position & pay is dependent on merely how many years the person has been on the job, the could-care-less attitude becomes institutionalized. Workers should be critically evaluated, and their advancement should be dependent upon meaningful measures of work quality, productivity and efficiency; not simply on how long someone has been there. The current system protects the worst workers and gives impetus for the good workers to lose their admirable work ethics. So good workers, like your commentor Joan, if they want to be appreciated and recognized for their efforts, it is they who must change the system from within, demand that their union effectively evaluate their co-workers, and rid the County of those workers who for so many years have made the good ones look bad. It takes balls to do this so I understand why it hasn’t been done already. Plus, if you’re in the minority, the majority will ostracize you if you rock the boat. This is why true socialism where all means of production are government owned & operated or controlled, is the least productive and most inefficient and costly of economic systems.

Anonymous said...

The County has the Job Performance Rating (JPR) system annually, so yes, there is an evaluation mechanism.

As to the concern about TVR cesspools and their annual renewal, I would suggest they contact State Health Dept so that they can investigate it. They have the investigators to determine what you're looking at, chemically speaking. Saying its so doesn't make it so. Bark up the right tree and you might get results. Bark up the wrong tree and you might get a quizzical look. And I definitely wouldn't put any stock in what Don Heacock or Terry Lilly would spout....I was highly entertained by his chemtrails picture of the piston driven Orion - poor guy doesn't know squat about airplanes....

Anonymous said...

@ Manuahi - I wholeheartedly agree with your statement. Unfortunately, not all good workers have the benefits of union backing. There are many who do not have civil service status. I truly wish there were more of a merit-based system in place. You're right that the unions are extremely powerful BUT the sad thing is that the very unions that ideally should be working toward fairness, are the very same mechanisms many use/abuse to allow them to continue the bad behavior. The system is broken, and though there are those making efforts to try and change things, it is a slow, grueling process. You're absolutely right that they are afraid of being ostracized, but that is why I feel it is important for those doing "good" to feel some kind of support from the public, especially since they often do not receive that same support within their own organizations. It's nice to see your understanding and perspective though.

@1:38 - the JPR system is not an effective mechanism when bosses give their "friends" good reviews even if they aren't doing a good job.

Anonymous said...

Not every department uses the JPR system "annually." There are a few departments where I know for a fact employees had to ASK for their reviews because they were never given one.

Anonymous said...

Cesspools are the states jurisdiction. When you apply for a building permit the state department of health reviews the wastewater plans and gives approval. Building plans are submitted to the county without attached wastewater system plans and wastewater plans need to be submitted directly to State wastewater division. I don't see the difference between wastewater branch and pesticides branch. I think that the county is preempted from additional requirements imposed on applicants for tvr or b and b application. One clear difference is that TVR and B and B owners don't have the deep pockets that the seed companies have.

I saw the planning commission trying to impose that condition on a TVR applicant and the Planning Commission walked that requirement back until it was acceptable to the applicant but I feel that the county is clearly preempted by state. I did not see the comment from Department of Health regarding the TVR application but I think that a requirement for conversion upon change of use would require inclusion in the state law.

I think that this is a case of the County learning from court decisions.

Anonymous said...

5:03 I think that is a crock. The county can impose conditions on development and in fact must get the comments and suggestions , input from DOH before approval. With TVRs the county utterly failed to get any interagency approvals, including DOH on the wastewater capacity before approval. The entire original implementation of the TVR approvals was done incorrectly and most certainly should have included sign off from the department of health that the system was adequate to handle the additional wastewater. It needs to be corrected.

Anonymous said...

8.16 you're wrong. Try read the TVR ordinances. No where does it say these applications for certificates had to be routed to DOH, or any other agency, for "input."

Anonymous said...

6:57, it was a grand failure of the ordinance to skip the part of routing it to other agencies, a standard for all development proposals and corrected in the home stay ordinance , also a recommendation of the consultants who were ignored, no one said the ordinance required it, just that they most certainly should have.

Anonymous said...

Notice how the first two letters didn't receive many comments?
The silence speaks volumes. We're screwed.

Anonymous said...

Of course TVRs need not be routed. The very application of the statute makes it clear density is not an issue.
And as for the DOH, what a bunch of useless, left wing hacks. No cane burning. No cesspools with 250 feet of water etc. Only sandy soils provide a danger to horizontal contamination. The other soils type pretty much sequester bacteria and household chemicals in a matter of feet. It has been against regulations to build one into a water table since the 197Os. As for septic systems, they are no better than cesspools in inland tidal flows through sand.
But that is true without regard to a TVR.

Anonymous said...

@8:16 pm : Touché

@6:56 am: That deficiency needs to be corrected.

Language changes and additions regarding wastewater should be inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Just reading about the scenic road . now I know why about the new signs. No body came talk to us about the scenic road. maybe they had meetings by the neighborhood center, I don't know, but us guys hardly go to those meetings. mostly newcomers go. more and more we see this kind stuff happening. all kine ideas, sounds good, make Koloa better. save the aina, build up the town, but when you look close, good for the business guys, good for tourists, good for few locals cutting themselves in, but not so good for anybody else..

Anonymous said...

Koloa is a lovely little town. Sorry to say, it became nicer during the recession when the newcomers left and tourists retreated. Now it's hard to buy food again because of tourists pointing and gawking at the prices and jamming up the aisles.

Scares me. I'm close to retirement, and I don't see how I can survive on Kauai on Social Security and some savings with the rental and basic necessity costs.

Anonymous said...


sorry to say "you ain't seen nothin yet". At a recent meeting about how koloa town will expand. other than a few locals and government guys, the audience was mostly off islanders mixed in with realtors/developers. once the developers do their thing, Koloa is gonna look and feel like Lahaina with prices and ambience to match. We are being told this is a "good thing."
Bull shit

Hakim said...