Tuesday, May 28, 2013
NO RUNS, NO HITS, JUST ERRORS
NO RUNS, NO HITS, JUST ERRORS: It used to be that when some big corporation or government agency had some hair-brained scheme that was universally opposed on Kaua`i the "pusher" would just push harder.
But many times that's blown up in their faces and in some cases they've eventually had to back down on a project leaving them with no project plus millions of dollars in free publicity... the kind they didn't want.
One recent archetypical example of this was a project to plant trees to burn for electricity and do it on Hawaiian Homes land in Anahola- land that the Hawaiian community there had always thought would eventually be developed for homes for those Hawaiians who qualify.
The company, which had plans and an agreement to lease the land really cheaply, took a slew of body blows at various meetings and now the projects seems to be on its way to the scrap heap.
But after that ignominious instance the latest corporate-governmental "partnership" ploys seems to be, "if they push back hard, get out quickly... and cleanly- a la the PLDC.
But it's being done in a uniquely Hawai`i way.
The next instance was the plan by the semi-autonomous Kaua`i Water Department (KWD) to drill a horizontal potable water well into the "wettest spot in the world"- the sacred "Mount Wai`ale`ale."
Community groups- both environmental and cultural- essentially said "are you nuts?" and geared up for a long drawn out battle.
But instead the KWD announced that, despite all the professionally made charts and graphs they drew up and lugged to the first of many planned community meetings showing the project to be on Wai`ale`ale, in fact some lower level bureaucrat had simply "made a mistake" and instead they really had planned all along to drill into Mount Kahili.
Of course no one explained how it could have been a simple mistake. Nor did they mention that, although you'd need to drive half way across the island to get from the base of one to the base of the other, Mount Kahili is simply the back face of Mount Wai`ale`ale.
And now they've announced that they're canceling the meeting about the "new" Mt Kahili project entirely.
Many think that the whole project is suspicious, saying it's not being done to provide water to current customers but to essentially support massive planned future tourism development... and do it on the backs of the current water-users/rate-payers.
Other say it's because they need all that water for all that North Shore Ag land so that the "seed farmers" can grow more biotech (GMO) corn, soybean, cotton and other "seed." Right now there isn't enough water in the Moloa`a-Kilauea area even for the current small, organic "truck farmers."
But this $50 million drilling project- whether Kahili or Wai`ale`ale- will supply all the water the north shore could use for any kind of agriculture in an area where the irrigation ditch system left over from sugar cane days is now dilapidated to the point where it would be prohibitively costly to repair. Plus, if it could be repaired, there's no easy way to pay for it since it's not the kind of potable county water KWD controls- as was discussed recently by the county council.
It's not that surprising this announcement comes on the heels of that council discussion.
Back to our PR lesson- one that was not lost on the the Coast Guard whose recent announcement that they were going to extend the ocean "danger zone" for the Kekaha shooting range (which sits next door to the Pacific Missile Range Facility [PMRF] Naval Base) was met with a slew of negative comments from fishers, swimmers, surfers and other beach and ocean users.
But today an article in the local newspaper says that they have withdrawn the plans for expansion.
So what happened? The newspaper says:
“I think we could chalk it up to a mistake,” (Lt. Col. Charles) Anthony said by phone Monday. “A project manager had increased the size beyond what we had seen in the earlier drafts. We will be making up a proposal with a much smaller footprint.”
Just a mistake, that's all. Not a blunder by the military where an attempt to control more land and ocean has spurred some opponents to suddenly start talking about it being time to get rid of the shooting range, if not the Navy's next-door missile range, entirely.
Is this the wave of the future? Will Monsanto suddenly announce tomorrow that it had been a mistake to oppose the labeling of GMO products saying it was a decision made by some low level technocrat in Sector "R?"
But locally apparently it's "any port in a storm," the belief being that they can save face with the "I no like say nahting" locals by saying it was all a simple mistake.
But a word to the wise- the natives are becoming restless.