Tuesday, October 7, 2008


GIVE HIM A BISCUIT AD MAYBE HE WON’T BITE YA: Often when people criticize the actions of government they end their rant with the phrase “they must think we’re stupid”.

But that kind of statement implies a falsehood- the proposition that in fact that “we” aren’t... stupid that is. And there’s nothing that makes people stupider than money

And so the town of Kekaha met last night to decide what to do with the bribe that the administration and council came up with to get people on the far Westside to let them expand the landfill by paying them off with about a third of a million dollars “for the community”.

And the residents did what any group of people would do when given a big pile of money- they started squabbling over it.

What’s really going on here is a not-so-hair-brained scheme that assumes- probably rightly- that it’s going to be possible to do what otherwise has been impossible for the last 20 years due to individual community opposition putting a landfill in any neighborhood.

This trial balloon bestows taxpayer money upon Kekaha and according to at least one person in attendance, though the smelly site and rumbling trucks on the highway were unbearably and disgustingly objectionable just last year, now apparently money changes everything.

It seems that no one at the meeting- called to decide how to spend the money- now objects to the landfill anymore. But they do however object to being told how to spend the money.

Because County Engineer Donald Fujimoto revealed the attached strings last night by telling people that the county is forming a “citizen’s advisory board” to decide and the board will contain five members of the county administration and “eight community members” all of whom will be selected not by the community but by the mayor.

“That’s nonsense” says former mayoral candidate Rolf Bieber. “How is that a community process when the people are all selected by the mayor?”

Bieber described another of those PowerPoint presentations we talked about yesterday- a fancy name for 14 pages of big print containing outline subject headings, projected like a slide show on a screen with about enough content to fill one side of a sheet of paper.

In it Fujimoto told the crowd the parameters as to how the people were to be allowed to bicker over how to spend the cash.

Bieber also asked, as many at the meeting did, just what “the Kekaha community” is?

According to residents the worst part of the existence of the landfill in Kekaha is the trucks that rumble through town on their way to the dump. But unaddressed by the county is the fact that everyone along the highway all over the island has four wheels and flies rumbling by in an inversely proportionally diminishing number as the distance from the dump increases.

“So where’s the cash for those living right on the highway in Kekaha” asked residents, failing of course to ask that the money also be distributed to those on the highway outside of Kekaha, although some Waimea people in attendance weren’t happy they weren’t considered part of Kekaha and so not getting any of the new-found riches.

But this whole payoff to Kekaha is really just a way to try to deal with the fact that, though “everyone” wants a new landfill on Kaua`i no one wants it in their backyard.

That’s been the bugaboo for the last 20 years. in which time each attempt to site a new dump has met with such fierce opposition from the “host community” that the county council’s already pathetic lack of political will was diminished seven times over.

The answer to the questions “how dumb do they think we are” may not have a strict quantitative bottom but whatever the level of stupidity is, it apparently increases in direct proportion to the amount of money people are paid to be idiots.

So the plan is obviously to pick a community and pay off those who are on the other side of town so they’ll come out and actually support the siting of a new landfill even though their neighbors don’t want it in their back yard.

Knowing how self absorbed and greedy people are it’s not that bad of a “wool over the eyes" plan.

Suppose they want to put a new dump where the old one was in Kapa`a. You can bet anyone who lives in the area within 1000 yards of it won’t care how much money is thrown at the town- they won’t want it.

And in the past all else being equal their neighbors – even those five miles away- supported them and maybe even turned out en masse at a council meeting and threatened the pols with political oblivion if they put a dump in Kapa`a.

But if Kekaha is any example once there’s cold currency on the table the amount people who care if a dump is placed “in Kapa`a” is inversely proportional to how far away they live- the greater the distance, the less the concern. Someone in Kapahi or Wailua Homesteads or Houselots will probably take their bribe and shut up about it.

Is this how we want our cash-strapped county’s money spent- dividing and conquering our communities by paying them off with a new neighborhood center or swimming pool?

This actually goes back to the question of why the heck we are siting a new landfill in the first place instead of looking at a Zero-Waste program.

The answer, as we described in June, is that the money for another bogus study from favorite consultant RW Beck was recently spent for the third time and so we’re stuck throwing good money after bad for the next 50 years according to the incumbent councilpeople and many of their flummoxed newbie wannabe sycophants in this year’s election like Derik Kawakami, Dickie Chang and Ron Agor.

And its supported by both mayoral candidates.

The real solution- as we’ve said to no avail before- is to ship our trash back where it came from- the mainland.

Landfills in the northwest are fighting over the chance to take the last dribs and drabs of waste that cannot be recycled, reused and composted- and then even burned, if the Beck recommendations are implemented.

But the largess for the companies who run the current system is so great that the pols, who get their campaign cash from them, are bound to kow-tow.

And for more pressure look only as far as the county workers who irrationally fear they will lose jobs- irrationally because the jobs will just be switched over to loading the stuff on a barge rather than trucking it to a landfill.

Though the claim is made that it would be more expensive to ship it back, that contention- made going back to the beginning of the Kusaka administration- is not just shibai but has never been shown to be true in any of the numerous consultant studies. That’s because they have refused to actually quantify it in the Beck reports, despite promises from mayors and councilpeople to study the option.

And if we are going to be paying yearly hush money to a town to accept a new dump, the cost of landfilling is only going up.

Not only that but we now know that the price of the landfill is going to be twice of what the early guesstimates were and are increasing all the time, along with the number and types of expensive EPA requirements for opening maintaining and closing them.

When Honolulu recently started shipping it’s trash back - although only partially and supposedly temporarily- their announced total costs were even less than our current Kaua`i landfill “tipping fee” and that doesn’t include all the extra and hidden costs of the process.

And it doesn’t include the Beck proposed tipping fee increases since the fee doesn’t cover costs now.

And in an ecological sense shipping it back make perfect sense. Once you remove the greenwaste, 100% of our trash came from off island to begin with,. Does it make more sense to use our tiny island area and throw all the stuff we bring in into a hole or to send it back to where it came from where land is 1/100th the price and 100 times more available?

But instead of doing something that makes sense and is ecologically sound – and arguably would cost less money- we still act like the Minotaur- we “will do what’s wrong as long as we can”.

How stupid do they think we are? We’re not sure why but somehow the words to the following Bobby Dylan seem appropriate.

On The Road Again

Well, I wake up in the morning
There's frogs inside my socks
Your mama, she's a-hidin'
Inside the icebox
Your daddy walks in wearin'
A Napoleon Bonarparte mask
Then you ask why I don't live here
Honey, do you have to ask ?

Well, I go to pet your monkey
I get a face full of claws
I ask who's in the fireplace
And you tell me Santa Claus
The milkman comes in
He's wearing a derby hat
And you ask why I don't live here
Honey, how come you have to ask me that ?

Well, I asked for something to eat
I'm hungry as a hog
So I get brown rice, seaweed
And a dirty hot dog
I've got a hole
Where my stomach disappeared
Then you ask why I don't live here
Honey, I gotta think you're really weird.

Your grandpa's cane
It turns into a sword
Your grandma prays to pictures
That are pasted on a board
Everything inside my pockets
Your uncle steals
And you ask me why I don't live here
Honey, I can't believe that you're for real.

Well, there's fist fight in the kitchen
They're enough to make me cry
The mailman comes in
Even he's gotta take a side
Even the butler
He's got something to prove
Then you ask me why I don't live here
Honey, how come you don't move ?

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