Friday, April 10, 2009

ALTERNATE REALITY

ALTERNATE REALITY: It’s the rare individual who hasn’t shaken his or her head in both disbelief and frustration upon reading a press account of an incident they either witnessed or otherwise had first hand knowledge about, wondering if it was the same event as the one reported.

Sometimes it’s just the “playing telephone” effect where a story is conveyed through so many people that the end product is a garbled, barely recognizable version of the original message.

But the when Big Islander Jeff Satcher (through Brad Parsons) pointed us to some national CNN coverage of the community’s efforts to repair and reopen Polihale it seemed to be purely a whole-cloth spin on the real story.

Anyone who has followed the story locally saw a grassroots effort by a community, led by activist and former county council and mayoral candidate Bruce Pleas, to rally the Westside residents to avoid a possible two-year wait until the state could muster the resources to fix and reestablish access to the storm damaged area and do the job themselves- a job that would supposedly cost $4 million.

Slowly Pleas put together the muscle, negotiated with the state and eventually got Troy Martin to donate the materials and machinery to repair an all important bridge. Then the work started and it all came together in a little more than a week.

But to read Mallory’s take it was all due to co-owner Ivan Slack and his company “Napali (sic) Kayak”, a firm that actually operates under questionable legality, using Polihale as a pick-up destination for Na Pali kayak tours.

After three short paragraphs quoting Pleas (pronounced “place”) and describing him as “a local surfer who helped organize the volunteers (emphasis added) and describing the state’s interminably long-term non-plans for repairs, she gives credit where little is due

(I)f the repairs weren't made, some business owners faced the possibility of having to shut down.

Ivan Slack, co-owner of Napali Kayak, said his company relies solely on revenue from kayak tours and needs the state park to be open to operate. The company jumped in and donated resources because it knew that without the repairs, Napali Kayak would be in financial trouble.

"If the park is not open, it would be extreme for us, to say the least," he said. "Bankruptcy would be imminent. How many years can you be expected to continue operating, owning 15-passenger vans, $2 million in insurance and a staff? For us, it was crucial, and our survival was dependent on it. That park is the key to the sheer survival of the business."

So Slack, other business owners and residents made the decision not to sit on their hands and wait for state money that many expected would never come. Instead, they pulled together machinery and manpower and hit the ground running March 23 ...

"We can wait around for the state or federal government to make this move, or we can go out and do our part," Slack said. "Just like everyone's sitting around waiting for a stimulus check, we were waiting for this but decided we couldn't wait anymore."

Then after mentioning the state’s new “Recreation Renaissance” project- the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ (DLNR) rehashing of the roundly rejected “master plan” to commercialize the parks for tourism and as a money generator- it’s right back to Slack who last we heard still operates in a state park without the necessary state permits and in any case exploits our natural resources without paying a fair-share for the use.
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In a Chaplin-esque “Modern Times” move our would-be hero Slack (or is it slacker hero) heard it was happening and got in front of parade to lead the crowd.

Yet Malloy just keeps up her misinformed version of the non-facts writing:

The park is a fixture on the west side of the island and a favorite spot for many in the area, but it's also a hub for tourists.

Uh, actually rent a cars are banned from using the road and the ones that do routinely get stuck and have to be pulled out by local bystanders. And at the end of the road it’s not clear how it could be called a hub.

Apparently this was all done due to our love for the tourism industry according to Malloy and Slack.

"Tourism is our lifeblood. It's what pays all of our bills," Slack said. "The money that pours in comes from tourism is really an important factor for everyone here in Hawaii, and it's such an important time to encourage tourism."...

"I think it's crucial to say the doors are open, everyone is ready," Slack said. "So when one of the most important parks in Hawaii is closed, it really changes things."

Now, because of their hard work, volunteers hope they'll be ready to send that positive message -- right in time for the tourist season.

Slack said he likes to have business up and running by April 15, and the season gets busy around May 1

The business owners and residents are hopeful that their generous contributions in time and resources mean the park should officially open soon.

And that’s why Polihale will be open soon- because we just love the tourists tearing up the road and overrunning our recreational facilities.

While being interviewed this week for a new documentary on the broad subject of changes in culture, politics and demographics on Kaua`i we were asked about the impression that outsiders have that after the Superferry debacle and people’s direct action in turning it back. There is a new activist community that is poised to push for a more sustainable future and get involved politically to force the corrupt governmental entities to get in line with that vision.

We thought for a minute and asked “well then, where are they? We certainly don’t see them where it matters- at the planning commission, county council and other board and commission meetings where the real decision are made. All we see there is the same old handful of faces.”

Maybe they’re all out working at opening Polihale, which we must admit is certainly as admirable as anything.

The Superferry uprising wasn’t as much about the military or even about state misconduct and outside well-connected businesses getting away with murder..

It was more about protecting our recreational facilities from an onslaught of tens of thousands of campers in thousands of SUV’s, all simultaneously descending on our already stressed-to-the-max if not fully over-used and trashed-out beaches and camping areas.

It just makes sense that if there is a group that is ready to act, they’d act to protect and keep available the precious places where we go to play when work is done.

And it might have been nice if the people and their motivation got the recognition from Mallory and CNN.

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Update: Someone called yesterday to say that he was listening to Rush Limbaugh and all of a sudden heard the name “Bruce Pleas” and Rush was telling the whole story of how “this is America” $4 million job done in 8 days by people, blah blah. But interestingly he credited Bruce and the community effort barely mentioning the kayak service- seems like maybe he might have done a little research and found “someone” had a little different version of the story.

Update 2: Well our friend didn’t quite get it all right but Limbaugh did talk about it pretty much with the same tone as CNN. Here’s a link to the transcript

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_041009/content/01125104.guest.html

5 comments:

MauiBrad said...

Hey, where's the dog reference in the title?

Andy Parx said...

In this alternate reality (and in Polihale) there are n dogs allowed- ;>)

line of flight said...

That's outrageous, I should have been given all the credit for the Polihale repairs, I don't even live on Kauai! What kind of non-existent, incompetent, press release addicted stringers are the national media outlets hiring these days?

Andy Parx said...

Update: You’re not going to believe this but someone called to say that he was listening to Rush Limbaugh and all of a sudden heard the name “Bruce Pleas” and Rush was telling the whole story of how “this is America” $4 million job done in 8 days by people, blah blah. But interestingly he credited Bruce and the community effort barely mentioning the kayak service- seems like he might have done a little research and found “someone” who had a little different version of the story.

john said...

Uh, actually rent a cars are banned from using the road and the ones that do routinely get stuck and have to be pulled out by local bystanders. And at the end of the road it’s not clear how it could be called a hub.

Thanks for the information...
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