Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ON A WING AND A PRAYER

ON A WING AND A PRAYER: Ever since Joan Conrow’s article a week ago in Honolulu Weekly about the county’s decision to end what she said was traditionally called “Friday Night Lights”- a term we’ve never heard used on Kaua`i to describe high school football games in 30 years of attending them- in response to the federal suit brought to protect the endangered Newell’s Shearwaters, she’s been building to something.

And today she really let loose on Mayor Bernard Carvalho, accusing him of intentionally planning the “Buck the Firds” backlash by making the county’s first and thus far only reaction to the suit to shut down the traditional night games in favor of afternoon contests- something bound to get people up in arms and blaming the birds, not the county for it’s decades of inaction in the face of federal threats to clamp down.

She writes that:

the outcry over the end of Friday Night Lights was never based in reason or reality. Otherwise, people would have been calling for Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s head. Because as leader of the county, and former director of Parks and Recreation, he’s the one responsible for the decision to end the games.

And make no mistake, it was a calculated decision, a diversionary tactic intended to take the heat off the county and instead, as one friend noted, “make people want to stomp the birds and the Sierra Clubbers.”

She cites an email from a reader “who has been close to the action” and was similarly enraged over the ploy, who wrote

one thing you failed to mention was that the county did not have to go to this extreme in shutting off all the lights and canceling night football games. They could have focused on other areas such as Kilauea, and other games such as night soccer or tennis courts. The county cut the Friday night games to spite the state and the feds and to turn public sentiment against the birds. It's absolutely disgusting the way they handled it and what they did and I think your article should have been tougher on them.

But while, in the rest of the post, she searches for answers from the administration, an examination of events before the county council for the last decade or so reveals what’s at the core of the county’s malfeasance in ignoring those warnings.

The Carvalho administration isn’t the first to ignore the feds when they told the county as far back as the 1990’s that they had to at least start mitigating the effect on endangered birds of county facilities including, but not limited to, lights.

But rather than getting started and then developing an ongoing mitigation program, which is all the feds really asked at the time, the council, which controls the purse-strings to get the work done, decided in their incredible arrogance and stupidity to demand a list of precisely what the feds wanted the county to do and seek assurances from the feds that, once they had jumped through these specified hoops, they would be free to kill as many birds as they wanted.

Instead of heeding the answer of “just get started already” they all agreed that until they had an “end point” in a list of everything they needed to do in order to not get fined for “taking” any more birds, they wouldn’t do anything.

Eventually by the mid ‘00’s the council’s position, most often expressed by Mr. Liability, Councilmember Jay Furfaro, became that they would do nothing until they council was assured that there would never be any problems again with the feds over the `a`o- the real name for the shearwaters.

The feds of course finally threw up their hands at trying to get the county to get with the program and sued them.

While Carvalho- or most likely his chief henchwoman Beth Tokioka- is certainly to blame for the treacherous decision to whip up the misplaced community backlash there’s certainly enough blame to go around for the predicament in which the county has found itself today.

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We’re taking a long weekend. Be back Monday.

1 comment:

Innocent Bystander said...

Friday Light Nights is Texas talk.

Better the County/State saves the money and leaves the lights off. Play in the daytime and be done with it. Easier to see, less driving around at night, less drinking after the game etc etc.

Disconnect the lights on all parks during bird season. Save money and maybe save a bird or two.