Friday, April 30, 2010


LET THE GOOD GUY WIN EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE: The “last minute” maneuver in the state house to pass the civil-unions bill- HB 444- was still quite a shock to the system despite the fact that we’d heard that a massive push was underway by civil rights activists in Honolulu including some pretty intense one-on-one lobbying of house members by those with access.

Process geeks like us can check out Derrick DePledge’s blow by blow live twittering to find out how it came down.

It was aided by, if there’s such a thing within a legislative body, a grassroots effort by a handful of house members that greased the skids on promoting access and putting their own time and effort into convincing their colleagues to force the vote.

Next time you see Mina Morita give her a hug.

But what strikes us is the brilliant political move of the activist in letting the sleeping dog lie as the session wore suckering the bigots and religious zealots into complacency and do their work under the radar.

Now for the next six months we’re going to hear the big lie that’s becoming the popular rallying cry for many of the wing-nuts and, well, nut-case groups in general... that they are some kind of overwhelming majority even when their ranks are far outnumbered.

Whether it’s the same 18% (in a NY Times poll) of the populace that makes up the tea partiers- the same percentage that supported the war criminals by the end of the last administration- who bafflingly maintain they speak for the majority or the dog ladies on Kaua`i who claim “everybody” wants to engage their dirty smelly mutts when they go down to the ocean (and designed a push survey to prove it) it’s the latest in bogus lobbying through lies.

If you don’t have the majority on your side, just say you do over and over and get the press to report that you said it in their “he said she said” coverage.

Which is why we’ve got to make sure that if the homophobic lobby is going to try to make the November election about this we’ve gotta make sure we turn out and both support those who supported civil rights and replace those who didn’t- or keep those new candidates who don’t on the outside.

Here on Kaua`i the no votes came from the always bigoted Jimmy Tokioka and his west side cohort Roland Sagum. We can only hope good candidates will come forward to challenge them.

But assuming a Lingle veto- meaning we’d have to start from scratch in 2011- we’re going to need someone to sign the bill next year and that leaves only Neil Abercrombie.

Most know that Duke Aiona is generally one of the worst religion-addled ass-wipes around. But fewer know that the corrupt Mayor of Honolulu Mufi Hannemann opposes civil unions too.

Candidates aside our most daunting task will be to make sure that the other big lie- that civil unions are somehow related to same gender marriage- is put to rest by November... and that includes whenever some well meaning pea-brains like Jerry Burris conflates them as he did in today’s Honolulu Advertiser... just as columnist Dave Shapiro did as we mentioned last week.

Whatever Ms. Ding-a-Lingle decides to do we’ve go our work cut out for us on this one.

Thursday, April 29, 2010



(PNN) -- Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s nomination of Heidy Yamamoto to the Liquor Commission has been withdrawn after the county attorney’s office told the administration that “it would be prudent to withdraw this nomination to avoid any potential conflicts given the fact that part of Costco's merchandising includes alcoholic beverages.” according to a letter to councilmembers from Board and Commission administrator John Isobe.

As PNN reported last month Ms. Yamamoto’s job at Costco would make her ineligible to serve due to the plain language of the county charter which prohibits anyone “who is or becomes engaged, or is directly or indirectly interested in any business for the manufacture or sale of liquor”.

Council watchdog Rob Abrew who discovered the conflict of interest obtained the letter only after the council voted to receive the resolution that would have confirmed Yamamoto.

At first the administration tried to go forward with the nomination claiming that since Yamamoto didn’t deal directly with liquor in her job duties she was exempt from following the law.

Abrew persisted in trying to get answers from the council as to what happened in the interim during his public testimony and finally was told of the letter. Then, during a recess Abrew said was chided by an angry Councilperson Jay Furfaro for exposing the matter to on-camera public scrutiny.

Abrew discovered the conflict of interest after a successful battle earlier this year to obtain the applications of prospective board and commission members when their names are put before the council, a practice that the Office of Information Practices (OIP) required in a previous opinion.

Abrew still has an outstanding case with the OIP after filing a complaint earlier this year due to what he says was stonewalling and intentional delays by the council in following the sunshine law.

For PNN’s prior coverage of Abrew’s attempts to bring sunshine to the board and commission nomination process see:





Monday, March 22, 2010

The following is the full text of the letter from the county attorney


(To) Honorable Kaipo Asing, Council Chairperson; Honorable Jay Furfaro, Council Vice Chairperson
(From) Mr. John Isobe, Executive Assistant to the Mayor

April 12, 2010

Withdrawal of Appointment to Liquor Commission

This responds to your request for clarification regarding a possible conflict of interest on the appointment of Ms. Heidy Yamamoto to the Liquor Commission based on her employment at Costco, who is a retailer of liquor.

This matter was referred to the County Attorney's Office for review and opinion along with Ms. Yamamoto's job responsibilities none of which include a reference to the manufacture or sale of liquor. Although the County Attorney's Office did not provide a definitive answer, they have advised that it would be prudent to withdraw this nomination to avoid any potential conflicts given the fact that part of Costco's merchandising includes alcoholic beverages.

For this reason, we are hereby withdrawing the appointment of Ms. Heidy Yamamoto to the Liquor Commission.

Please be informed that we have advised Ms. Yamamoto about this possible conflict and she is in agreement with this course of action.

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding this matter.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


COPY!: After twenty-five years plus of providing unending targets for ridicule it was a bit uncomfortable for us to gush over anything remotely related to our joke-of-a-local-newspaper during the brief period that saw reporter Mike Levine waste his talents on Kaua`i.

But if it’s possible, with Mike’s departure, the paper might just be the worst it’s been in at least a decade or more with the addition of Leo Azambuja who has quite apparently never seen the inside of a basic newswriting textbook.

As if the flighty fluffmeister “Business Editor” Coco Zickos and the always incomprehensible “police and courts reporter” Paul Curtis weren’t bad enough, Azambuja seems totally baffled after being hired to cover the all important “government beat”.

A new article is supposed to have what’s called a lead- or lede as it’s spelled in the trade. A good reporter sits down to file a story and takes a breath to come up with the most important thing that that happened and put it at the top- all in 25 words or less.

The rest of the story follows what’s called the “inverted triangle” and tells a story- another important element- with the more important information nearer the top and the less important depth and background to follow.

It’s kind of the opposite of normal writing and a writer who is not a journalist must unlearn everything he or she knows in order to be a good reporter.

In covering a meeting the one thing you don’t want to see is a chronological regurgitation of what happened and a lede something like “A meeting of the county council was held yesterday at 9 a.m. in the council chambers at the county building”.

But apparently Azambuja either missed that day’s lesson or never attended a class.

Take his wrap-up of the budget hearings- which individually were a minute by minute recap with no context or narrative. Here’s his lede:

NAWILIWILI — Kaua‘i County Council members have been keeping busy since April 9, reviewing Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s proposed $146.29 million operating budget for Fiscal Year 2011, which starts July 1.

Classic. It the type of thing that a frst day student might turn in- one who hadn’t bothered to do the reading or pay attention in class.

Another skill is deciding the most important story to report if there’s more than one. But today. while Azambuja was filing a somewhat disjointed report from yesterday’s planning commission meeting about an ongoing, weeks-old story about an art gallery permit in Hanalei, Joan Conrow was reporting about the Transient Vacation Rental (TVR) bill that was passed out of the planning commission- a bill will basically ditches all the restrictions the council placed on TVRs last year and could, if passed by the council, have repercussions for decades to come.

Perhaps the most egregious thing one can do is to “bury the lede”, waiting until halfway through the article until you report the most important thing.

Azambuja’s story last Thursday on the “dog path” bill started with the end, calling the deferral of the bill to allow dogs on the entire bike path a “surprise” and regurgitating much the testimony of the “dog ladies”.

Finally 634 words into an 874 word story in the 22nd paragraph of a 27 paragraph report he writes that

The Parks and Recreation new plan suggests leashed dogs be allowed from Kealia lookout to the north end of Kuna Beach, popularly known as Donkey Beach.

United Public Workers Business Agent Trina Horner said the union supports leashed dogs on the portion of the path proposed by Rapozo, because allowing them on the entire path would put an extra burden on maintenance workers.

And that was it- no other reference to the administration’s official recommendation that dogs be allowed only on the extreme northern section of the path rather than the entire path as the bill currently calls for. There was no reference at all to an all important grievance filed by the union that could make the use of the entire path as a dog walk difficult without a resolution to the filing.

Seems that the workers are willing to perform the added maintenance duties on the northern portion for now as a compromise. They could have said no to any additions since new job descriptions cannot, by law, be imposed on them unilaterally and must be negotiated.... especially, apparently, the job of picking up dog poop.

But you’d never know that from the story which only mentions the administration’s position in passing as if it had no consequence when in actuality it very well could cause the first veto of Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s administration.

Though the story ranted on and on about the survey there was no mention that it was as nonscientific as could be or that the information was gathered by dogs-on-the-path zealots and so predictably found that “everyone” wants dogs on the path- apparently including those who have been bitten or harassed by or just don’t like being around huge unpredictable animals.

Which leads us to the “surprise” deferral- one that was, as Parks and Transportation Committee Chair Lani Kawahara said, done to allow for the committee to decide on an amendment to give the administrations proposal it’s due consideration and then either accept or reject it... and do so in committee where council’s “work” is supposed to be done.

These are just a few examples of the piss-poor job being done by the one person who this community relies upon to inform the public of governmental doings via the self-proclaimed “newspaper of record”.

There’s no shortage of excellent reporters in the state and even the island and a slew more out-of-work journalists to come with today’s announcement that the merger of the Honolulu Advertiser and Star Bulletin will proceed, initiating mass layoffs as the two staffs combine into one.

But hiring one of them would entail actually paying them a living wage, something the local paper avoids at all costs according to many past employees.

We don’t like denying anyone their job. But the tracking of the doings of government for the community is too important to be left to amateurs.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


...AND THE UGLY: There’s good news and bad news on the Lepeuli- aka Larsen’s Beach- front.

The good news is that the appeal of the Bruce Laymon’s CDUA permit- filed by Sierra Club- along with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (HLC) and the Surfrider Foundation and supported by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has been granted.

The bad news is that it will be heard in Honolulu on the May 13th meeting of the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR).

According to Hope Kallai of Malama Moloa`a (MM) Laymon has clearcut the beach and shredded coral and apparently no agency seems to care. And there’s still no usable access while the various “stakeholder” parties wrangle over whether or not to honor the traditional Alaloa or make believe it never existed with the later seemingly being the one thing they all agree upon.

For those who are uninitiated in the debacle, follow the links above for our past posts.

Apparently the best Kaua`i people who can’t afford airfare can do is to write to various people and agencies.

Here’s a primer in preparing testimony from MM.


Lepeuli CDUA appeal will be discussed at the BLNR meeting May 13 in Honolulu

According to (Tiger) Kimberly K. Tiger Mills, Staff Planner for the State of Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR) Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL), the appeal of the approval of the Paradise Ranch Conservation District Use Application to convert shorefront coastal scrub into commercial cattle pasture will be considered by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) on THURSDAY, May 13, 2010. Meetings begin at 9 am at the
Kalanimoku Building1151 Punchbowl St.Honolulu , HI

The agenda is not available yet, but Lepeuli as an agenda item has been confirmed. Book flights now!

The BLNR meeting agenda for May 13th will appear on our website one week prior on May 6th:

· There are many reasons for considering the appeal of this CDUA. There has been seriously inadequate community involvement. Repeated requests from the public as well as 3 requests from Senator Gary Hooser (even offering to fund the DLNR trip to Kauai for the meeting) have been refused.

-There are inadequate agency comments. Three federally listed species will potentially be negatively impacted by this project, yet there is no Habitat Conservation Plan (as required under HRS 195D-21) for these species. Federal funds are being used for pasture conversion of a native habitat with potential impacts to endangered species.

-There must be a current shoreline certification. There has not been a state survey since 1978. Project applicant states “property boundary is makai of shoreline.” He manages the coral cobble and sand with a BrushHog. This is PUBLIC LAND in the Conservation District. Applicant has removed the debris line with machinery.

-Ancient Alaloa has NEVER been closed off. It is a significant trail with important cultural and PASH access needs. It has been in continual use for many hundreds of years. All ancient roads and trails are state land. The cultural comments of segment of the Alaloa (Arch siste 1034) managed by the Na Ala Hele trail system document the importance of this trail system and the antiquity of it. The Lepeuli must be recognized as an Archaeological Site and offered state protection.

-There must be a Cultural Impact Assessment of the ahupua`a of Lepeuli before any more mechanized manipulation of cultural sites present.

DLNR never contacted any harvesters or user groups of the most important limu kohu resources in Hawaii .

-Agriculture (cattle operations) will not benefit the reef. This statement is ridiculous.

-There has never been an estimate at the usage and visitation of the Alaloa or the County Right-Of-Way. The user groups must be defined and consulted before any new trail is designed. Traditional gathers must be consulted about trail access.

-Any new trail configuration must be designed to PASH and ADA Standards. The Ancient Alaloa falls under Historic Trail standards; the County Right of Way must adhere to ADA Trail standards.

-Impact to protected species of Alaloa closure (and subsequent increase in beach travel) has not been considered.

-Native plant communities and indigenous wildlife are protected under HRS 195.

-Beach access is protected by Hawaii state laws including the right of safe transit along the shorelines. HRS 115-5 offers the public a 6’ transit corridor in areas where there are rocky shorelines or cliffs. Blocking any public access with fences or gates to the shoreline is a misdemeanor and punishable by fines.

Letters can be written to the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) at

Adaline Cummings, SecretaryBoard of Land & Natural Resources1151 Punchbowl Street, Suite 130Honolulu, Hawaii 96813Phone: 808-587-0404Fax: 808-587-0390

Comments should also be sent to Tiger Mills of the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands

Kimberly K. (Tiger) Mills, Staff PlannerState of HawaiiDepartment of Land & Natural ResourcesOffice of Conservation and Coastal LandsP.O. Box 621Honolulu, Hawaii 96809

Request a current Shoreline Certification from the State Land Survey Division

Reid K. Siarot, State Land Surveyor
Department of Accounting & General Services
Land Survey Division
1151 Punchbowl St., Rm 210
Honolulu Hawaii 96813
(808) 586-0390
(808) 586-0383 fax


Christopher L. Conger, Shoreline Specialist
University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program
Department of Land and Natural Resources
1151 Punchbowl St., Rm 131
Honolulu Hawaii 96813
(808) 587-0049 work
(808) 520-4892 work cell
(808) 587-0322 fax

Request a Cultural Impact Assessment (CIA) and Archaeological Inventory/Assessment from

Puaalaokalani Aiu, Administrator
State Historic Preservation Division
Kakuhihewa Building,
601 Kamokila Blvd., Suite 555,
Kapolei, Hawai`i , 96707Ph: (808) 692-8015Fax: (808) 692-8020


Clyde Namu`o
711 Kapi'olani Blvd., Ste. 500
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 594-1835
Fax: (808) 594-1865

OHA Washington, D.C., Bureau50 F St. NW, Ste. 3300Washington, D.C. 20001 Ph: (202) 454-0920 Fax: (202) 789-1758

OHA Kaua'i & Ni'ihau2970 Kele Street, Ste. 113Lihu'e, HI 96766Phone: (808) 241-3390Fax: (808) 241-3508

Comments should also be sent to the county at;;;;;
State emails:;;;;;;;;;

Monday, April 26, 2010


THE HARD PREJUDICE OF HIGH EXPECTATIONS: When we first heard about the new “Peer News” project- E-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar’s new Hawai`i based on-line journalism project- we were excited to say the least.

Afterall he’d hired John Temple, late of the now defunct Rocky Mountain News as editor and what with slowly dying “he said she said”, ledeing/bleeding, corporate TV and print press- all of it Honolulu centric- we’d expected that soon we’d be seeing a healthy dose of investigative and enterprise journalism and investigative reporting.

We looked forward to them digging deep into the corruption behind the daily reporting headlines, along the lines of what is doing nationally or sites like, Voice of San Diego, New England Center for Investigative Reporting, or The Bay Citizen are doing in their local markets.

Thanks to Ian Lind for the list and descriptions of each in his piece last Thursday, Peering at the Civil Beat,

Civil is the name of the news venture as previewed last Tuesday in a soft launch with a the promise of a May 4 official “launch” and Ian, like us- and apparently many people- is apparently more than a little disappointed.

First eyebrow raised was at the price- a $240 a year tag ($20 a month) which ‘Disappeared News’ Larry Geller called “a gated community”, which as he and others have pointed out is more than even the Wall Street Journal charges.

We were prepared for paying for great content, even if many of those leaving comments on Ian’s piece thought it was way too much. But as far as we’re concerned the problem isn’t the price but the mission of Civil Beat itself.

Omidyar’s introductory piece speaks volumes for those who have been looking for what the “publications” listed above offer. He writes

Welcome to Civil Beat! We're glad you're here. We are building a new civic square for Hawaii, and we hope you'll join us.

One thing I've noticed since moving back here four years ago is that Hawaii is blessed to have many people who are committed to making our Islands a better place to live...

(L)earning from people who have different backgrounds from ourselves, and being enriched by it -- informs what we are trying to build here: a new kind of civic square.

What does it mean to build a civic square? For us, it's about building a place where we can all learn about and better understand our home, the challenges we face, and debate and discover ideas and strategies for moving forward. Our greatest asset in successfully doing that is the richness and diversity that Hawaii represents. In my experience, the best solutions come out of discussions that involve a diversity of points of view, conducted in a respectful and good-faith search for common ground and meaningful compromise.

That's what we're going to try to do. But building a new civic square isn't something any of us has done before. We're going to be learning constantly as we build. One thing we're pretty sure about, however, is that we have to start with a different kind of news service.

High minded words but more notable for what it isn’t than what it is. Compare it to the statements of the others- quoted in Ian’s piece- and you find none of those words like

-shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them

-exposes injustice, waste, mismanagement, wrongdoing, questionable practices, and corruption so that those responsible can be held to account and so the public can be armed with the information needed to debate solutions and spark change.

-arm citizens with information needed to fully participate in the democratic process (and) hold the powerful – including major institutions, officials and policy makers – accountable to the public.

-Protect the vulnerable. Expose wrongdoing. Seek solutions to problems.

Omidyar makes it clear that his main thrust will be to create:

a new civic square without putting up any news articles. That’s different – a news service without news, at least initially. It’s intentional. We want to begin by talking with you about what we’re doing, to hear what you want from us and what you think we should be asking. We believe conversation and civil debate with our reporter-hosts and with other members is central to what will make Civil Beat valuable.

That’s apparently exactly what his reporter-hosts are for the most part, doing now if you read through the blog formatted entries so far- throwing out short bursts of some facts and soliciting feedback.

But if Omidyar’s mission is not what we were expecting, Editor Temple’s description of the nuts and bolts make it clear we’re at the wrong place.

I’d like to tell you about the journalism you can expect to find here from our team of reporter-hosts. It’s different. And I’m excited to begin talking with you about it before we start publishing articles on May 4.

We start this news service with the belief that we’re here to serve you. That means our daily work is to ask the important questions citizens might have in the face of the complex issues facing our community. And to answer them in a way that helps members reach an informed opinion, based on our reporting and the discussion that will take place as we together create the new
civic square.

While there are people who complain that reporters talk “at” and not “with” readers we suspect that their number is small compared to those who just want more out of reporters than shallow “sound bite” interviews from the “two sides”. All that’s seems new here is that the reporters will actually answer the commenters, unlike most news sites.

But if a reporters’ next story is limited to living up to the rather limited expectations of their readers- as opposed to “enterprise journalism” where a story writes itself based on days, weeks or even months of research, evolving as the facts present themselves- it will be a rather limited product since readers generally “don’t know what they don’t know” as the saying goes.

The kicker is that apparently the content- the news article, as it were- are going to be open to non-members and those who pay are essentially paying for the ability to “comment” and “discuss” issues raised by their seven “reporter-host(s)”.

It’s truly baffling. While there are differences between Omidyar’s for-profit model and the non-profit nature of most of these other new local sites this venture seems to be more of a social networking site than a news site... a kind of Facebook for news and politics junkies like us.

Apparently its business model is not to sign up those who crave deeper news reporting without the economic biases of the shallow corporate-controlled press but to take advantage of the boom in “comments” on blogs, on-line versions of print newspapers and social networking sites and to do it for an issue-oriented audience.

The only difference seems to be that Civil Beat will mandate that all comments be, well, civil- as a matter of fact that’s why they named it that. They are apparently not going to take “anonymous” comments which is a plus. But who’s going to determine what’s civil and what’s not is a question that’s eventually going to have to be answered.

But even so, it’s gotten to the point where we personally never leave or even read comments at newspaper sites anymore and only sometimes peruse the comment sections at blogs and only very occasionally leave a comment- and then only in order to provide information pertinent to the post not the other comments... something that is many times the last thing you find in most comment sections.

Even the blogs with the best comment sections are generally dominated by those who seem to choose up sides and go at it with “conventional wisdom” comments reflecting their side’s take on the issue. Some are even paid to do so, as evidenced by how some of the more prominent blogs like Derrick DePledge’s and Dave Shapiro’s at the Honolulu Advertiser grow in length when candidates for office are mentioned... or the issue is Honolulu rail.

Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe we’re missing something. We certainly will find out on May 4 and will certainly return to the subject. We really hate to be so critical so soon but after a ponderous weekend we felt the need to say this now rather than later.

So far, paying $20 a month to be able to leave comments- even if it is billed as a discussion with a civil “town hall” format- doesn’t sound like what we or most people were expecting, waiting for or are willing to shell out $20 a month to do.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


CHANGE TO DECEIVE IN: Our usual attitude toward following the back-room dealing, sunshine-challenged Hawai`i State legislature is similar to that of a baseball catcher trying to catch notoriously unpredictable knuckleball pitchers- just knock it down if you can and wait for it to stop rolling and pick it up.

But still there’s one last push to revive the civil union bill that will have to start from scratch next year if we can’t get a vote out of the house- the same house that passed HB 444 last year when the senate (which passed it this year) balked.

A press release from Citizens for Equal Rights says they are:

inviting people to include themselves in a photo booklet of supporters of civil unions and H.B. 444. The booklet will be given to state House members next week to show mainstream community support for passage of civil unions legislation this session...

Those who plan to lobby legislators are expected to use the booklet as evidence of community support to ask House members to vote on H.B. 444 before the session adjourns.

CFER invites anyone who wants to be included in the equal rights booklet to email their name, photo, and affiliation to . CFER plans to group the photos by community categories such as realtors, lawyers, paddlers, faith groups etc. For more information, the public should send an email to, or go online at .

It’s worth a try and we urge you to lend your face.

But we don’t expect much, not just because the house supporters have all the guts and backbone of a squid but, in large part because even people who know better continue to use the 1998 vote on same gender marriage to claim that “the already people voted on the issue” even though this is a civil unions bill, not a marriage measure.

It’s not to say that same gender couples shouldn’t be entitled to the same misery as opposite gender couple. But if the “leaders” of the movement have decided to fight for this intermediary step despite the fact that marriage equality is sweeping the country and world, so be it.

Speaking of those who should know better, take Honolulu Advertiser columnist and blogger Dave Shapiro- please.

Today he writes:

Supporters of civil unions for gay couples are again pressing for a vote in the Legislature this year, trying to persuade lawmakers that public opinion has changed since voters rejected same-sex marriage by 2 to 1 margin more than a decade ago.

The big question is whether it's public opinion that has significantly changed since 1998 or just Democratic Party politics.

In case his conflationary confection isn’t muddled enough, in answer to a comment he says:

it was absolutely clear in 1998 which way those voters wanted the Legislature to define marriage and the Legislature acted accordingly. The challenge now is to show that sentiment has changed, not to continue playing games with terminology.

That’s bullsh-t... and you know it Dave. Not only does the bill not bestow marriage rights but back in ’98 the supporters of the constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to define marriage as restricted to opposite gender couples said they had nothing against the type of equal rights the civil unions provide, they just wanted to restrict marriage.

You were there Dave- you were editor of the Star-Bulletin and covered it every day.

We were there too by the way and, much to our chagrin, we got it first hand from hundreds of people as we registered them to vote.

It was one of the most miserable of experiences but as fate would have it we had agreed to volunteer to register voters on the county building lawn- as a fundraiser for the League of Women Voters of Kaua`i- during the first year of “Wiki-wiki” registration.

And boy did they come in droves asking “is this where I register to vote against same sex marriage?”.

We had to register all comers, many of whom had never voted before- or likely since. But as we talked to them we came to realize it was the word marriage itself- and certainly not the rights bestowed by it- that people objected to.

To a person they all said they would support allowing everyone, regardless of gender, to enjoy the rights marriage brings but they didn’t want actual marriages to be effected.

This nonsense has gone on for the last two years and even people like Shapiro carelessly spread the false notion that the ‘98 vote has anything to do with HB 444, as the handful of vociferous religious wing-nuts have tried to claim.

Don’t fall for it. While they- and our friend Dave- are entitled to their own opinions they aren’t entitled to their own facts.


Another three day weekend this week- be back Monday.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


HAIRY PLUGS: You’ve gotta see yesterday’s long delayed non-discussion of county furloughs during yesterday’s county council’s budget hearings to believe it- or you can read the rather boring, dry account that has become the hallmark of new government beat reporter Léo Azambuja in the local newspaper.

But while defender of the realm Councilperson Darryl Kaneshiro- who well may be the first councilperson ever to be voted out of office for a second time this November- did his best to usher in the age of nefarious and keep the sunshine out by screaming down Tim Bynum and Lani Kawahara when they wanted to discuss the Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s furlough-dependant budget, we have no idea where the two dissidents were going with the discussion.

Because the real issue isn’t fiscal its political.

Many people ask us why we don’t run for office. The answer is simple- we believe in more government regulation and higher taxes. Who’s voting for that?

In this case, after services have been cut well into the bone at both the state and county levels, only a handful of screamin’ meemie wing nuts are actually asking to cut essential government services further.

In the case of the county raising the real property tax rate it seems like a no-brainer to all but the “where’s my free lunch” crowd.

For the uninitiated, counties in Hawai`i are given only one way to tax people- through real property taxes.

Each year two things happen at budget time. First the real property division office adds up the assessed value of all properties on the island. Then the mayor proposes a tax rate which when multiplied by that amount yields how much revenue the county can expect to take in.

That amount must at least balance with the expenditures in the budget.

For years, as valuations have skyrocketed in the housing and real estate market, a handful of people have screamed about their property taxes doing the same. But the council, in a political move that everyone recognized as disingenuous double talk, has claimed that they didn’t raise the property tax “rate” while the budget practically doubled.

And of course technically they were right- although revenues have almost doubled the “rate” remained the same.

So now that the bottom has dropped out of the assessment side of the equation the revenues have plummeted too- only the tax “rate” remains the same in this budget.

The system was set up so as to use the rate as a tool to balance the budget. When assessments are up, the rate goes down. As assessments go down the rate should go up.

Only the council has played this little “I didn’t raise your taxes” game for so long that the “big lie” has worked and people only look at the rate to tell if their taxes are going up. In reality if they were to raise the rate to require that people pay only what they paid last year- or even an average of the last few years- there would be no need for furloughs or vacant or dollar funded positions which are bringing the wheels of county services to a halt, according to those who provide and use them.

In the 90’s and early ‘00’s famed original “nitpicker” and activist-supreme Ray Chuan made sure to mention this at every opportunity making it an issue that eventually led to an ordinance that set a 2% cap on actual yearly real property tax payments. It came as a result of the pressure of the “`Ohana charter amendment” a few years back that, although it was struck down by the state supreme court, was. in part. implemented by the council.

People, notably then councilperson Joann Yukimura, warned at the time that when the boom ended and the bust came it would only take as little as one year of lowered payments to cause revenues to go so low that the mechanism for raising revenue in the charter- upping the rate- would be ineffective to fund essential county services.

That’s essentially why the supreme court ruled as they did.

This is that year, although the trend started last year. If the rate is not raised to account for the decreased assessments this year- and probably again next year and maybe the year after too- eventually we will get to a point where, assuming the housing bust continues, no matter what we do we will never be able to fund essential services like fire, police and life guards.

The list of similar repercussions is endless.

Though furloughs are the most visible “cut” in this year’s budget we’re also delaying hiring and maintenance of things like equipment and roads that will exponentially catch up with us very soon- especially if we can only raise tax payments two percent a year after they’ve suddenly dipped 10 or 20 percent.

It’s time to raise the real property tax rate and put an end to all these idiotic penny-wise and pound-foolish cuts. But that will take political will and courage especially in an election year- something that has traditionally been in short supply on Kaua`i.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


...AND WARMER STILL: A week ago Monday, in focusing on “the price of the electricity that Pacific Light & Power’s (PLP) proposed ‘solar thermal’ power plant sells us” we critiqued the corporate model of “we sell you electricity” under which Kaua`i Island Utilities Co-op (KIUC) still operates.

We asked way, assuming the veracity of the rhetoric that limits the number of homeowners’ photo voltaic systems that receive “net metering” (the meter running forward and backward at the same price)- something we’re not convinced of- why we would use up a portion of that limited solar power we can practically use on a huge investor owned project rather than promote the consumer friendly net-metered home units.

But after talking to many over the last week and after reading a piece by Greg Wiles in Sunday’s Honolulu Advertiser we’ve come to see another bigger problem with the“power purchase agreements” that KIUC will undoubtedly be signing with the PLP and many other “alternative energy” investors in the future.

Wiles writes:

A 10-megawatt solar power project that would have boosted the amount of renewable energy on Kauai isn't moving ahead at this time.

The reason? The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative wouldn't agree to pay what the developer wanted for the electricity.

The stalled project provides a glimpse into a not-so-often discussed portion of green energy as the state drives toward adoption of sustainable power projects: Going green could translate into higher electricity prices in the short run for Hawaii residents.

Utilities are being offered and, in some cases, agreeing to wholesale power purchase contracts that could translate into people paying slightly more for power than they do now. Proponents say it will help stabilize energy costs and lower energy bills in the long run.

"The prices that they're agreeing to are higher than what they might pay if it were fossil fuel," said Dean Nishina, who as head of the state Division of Consumer Advocacy regularly spars with utilities on proposed rate increases.

"Initially you'll see that bumping of costs. But in the long run the hope and vision is that we will be thinking 'it's great we have these renewable energy projects.'"

The main theory of course is that oil prices will be sky rocketing and so we can bet on that by locking in a price that is higher now but will almost assuredly be lower in the future.

Almost assuredly? All right- that sounds right. But the real question is why we are gambling and playing games with the investor and setting up winners and losers in the first place?

Of course KIUC isn’t alone in this mindset. It’s going on across the electricity generation and delivery “industry”.

But in many ways Kaua`i is unique in that not only is KIUC owned by the users under the co-op model but, much more importantly, we operate in a closed system. We cannot bring in or ship out electricity which means the choices we make- and how we make them- can’t be plugged in to an existing model.

The article is full of phrases like “complex set of variables...variety of factors...very complex one is willing to say...may result in higher prices” but that’s because we are choosing to play this “winners and losers” game with secret negotiations and everyone “stuck with” whatever is worked out behind closed doors.

It need not be like that although Kaua`i doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to what’s needed here- smart growth.

It comes down to being a planning issue and like the county’s planning department and commission we are being driven by the decisions of the “developer” rather than the community.

There are any number of people “investing” in “green energy” these days and if we simply use those “complex set of variables” and “variety of factors” to determine the actual cost of the energy and add on a fair rate of return on the investment- something the State Public Utilities Commission has been doing for years- we can come to an agreement that doesn’t gamble on our energy future.

No one, neither the consumers or the investors- needs to “put one over” on the other and wager as to future oil costs- as a practical matter the price of solar energy has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of oil.

Yet somehow we’ve allowed those numbers to become part of the model where what we pay for alternative energy- which in the long run is probably going to be cheaper than even the current price of using fossil fuel for generations to come into the equation.

And if these “investors” are intransigent and refuse to negotiate a fair price independent of what oil is costing us- a type of extortion when you really think about it- there’s a new bill moving in the U.S. Senate that “would allow an entity such as KIUC to construct a large scale PV farm with member investment, and the individual member investors can take the tax credit” according to KIUC Board Member Ben Sullivan.

Current incentives are all pro-corporate investment so KIUC has had a harder time self-performing on PV projects because the tax credits, which KIUC cannot use directly, cover as much as 65% of the cost of these project.

The bill would enable KIUC to allow individual member investors to take advantage of the economy of scale of a solar “farm” without having to have units in their yards or on roofs and keep the much of the savings that individualized units would provide if not more.

When assessing the PLP project perhaps it’s wiser to, instead of having them and KIUC pull a price our of their, er, ear and tie it to the exorbitant prices we’re paying for oil, using smart growth principles to tell them where to go with their oil-price-based “investment” return.

Monday, April 19, 2010


BIN THERE, DUNCE THAT: The news that the mayor’s proposed budget contains a provision to start charging for curbside trash collection in 2012 is certain to cause the knee-jerked feet of the “I don’t want to pay for the services I demand” crowd to start up their usual dance of the demented dimwits.

But for anyone who’s paid attention to the last few years of council wrangling over the final R.W. Beck report’s solid waste plan it’s yet another “can’t anyone here play this game” moment from Bernard the Big Babooze’s “ready, fire, aim” compatriots.

Although much to it’s discredit it ain’t no “Zero Waste” study, the final Beck report did manage to include at least one Zero Waste concept on recycling- one that was changed after almost two years of recent community and council criticism that spurred the consultants to go back and recommend a curbside recycling and central sorting process for waste stream reduction.

After endless hours the final report called for the county to first build what’s called a MERF – a materials recycling facility- and then implement a curbside recycling program with separate bins for all recyclables.

Then and only then- once citizens are given the opportunity to easily reduce their and the county’s waste stream- was a plan to implement a fee system for curbside trash pickup to be started.

But one of the council’s recommendations was that the fees should be collected only on a second bin each week in order to incentivize recycling.

The savings in this system are well established. Not only is the trash stream greatly diminished due to the decreased need for landfilling- including all the ancillary operations such as transportation- but the process yields a commodity in the recycled materials.

It’s call a "integrated” process for a reason- each element is based on the other with each one dependant on doing it in the right order- first the facility, then the recyclables collection, then the fees.

But the ever-incompetent Department of Public Works dunderheads first went out and bought a half a million dollars worth of recycling bins and set up a “pilot project” in Lihu`e with no place to bring the collected recyclables. Then instead of using the process to give people a cash reason to recycle they are not only going to charge everyone for the first bin but are going to further remove it from the users’ consciousness by adding it onto the real property tax of the property owners.

While a MERF and island wide curbside recycling is on the horizon they surely won’t be ready by the time the fees kick in.

But why should this time be any different than the others in a series of ignored and un-acted-upon Beck reports we’ve paid for over and over for the past decade or so?

Friday, April 16, 2010


IT’S NEWS TO US: We’ve pretty much given up on ever seeing- or hearing to be precise- daily, general, issue-oriented news and public affairs programming hosted by knowledgeable, competent, news-oriented programmers on Kaua`i Community Radio KKCR.

With the exception of Joan Conrow’s twice monthly hour-and-a-half of air time the “talk” time is limited to a minimalist schedule of either niche programs or opinionated blowhards who have no idea what’s going on in local politics and government- usually providing laughably inaccurate information for an audience that’s equally clueless.

So it’s gratifying to find out that the Hawai`i Public Radio (KHPR-FM) signal out of Honolulu is now reaching Kaua`i at 89.3 FM.

According to the Star Bulletin’s Erika Engle “The Buzz” column:

The "Challenge 2010" spring pledge drive now under way at Hawaii Public Radio is getting a boost -- literally -- from signal boosters that fill in the stations' coverage in areas where reception was previously difficult....

The enhancement for Honolulu stations KHPR-FM 88.1 and KIPO-FM 89.3 emanates from Mt. Kaala where the FM boosters are co-located "on a new mast," said HPR President Michael Titterton.

The 400-watt boosters were fired up Tuesday and are aimed at Kauai so listeners' ability to hear the signals on the North Shore of Oahu is a "collateral," but not unanticipated, benefit.

A Lihue resident contacted the stations yesterday, "thanking and congratulating us on the nice surprise that 89.3, which he had not previously been able to hear 'but always wanted to, is now coming (to Lihue) strongly and clearly,'" he said....

"We don't have any physical plant on Kauai," Titterton said, and have no immediate plans for such, as HPR is working to maximize its presence on Maui and the Big Island.

Its twice-yearly pledge drives are scheduled to go 10 days "and as we always do, we hope it's going to take considerably less time," said Titterton.

Now that KHPR’s signal is available here perhaps their reporters will be too, sooner rather than later, especially if contributors specify their desire to hear Kaua`i included in the kind of news and public affairs KHPR does and KKCR apparently is satisfied to give lip service to but can’t seem to move off the dime despite 10- plus years of “we’re working on it”.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


AND WE ALL KNOW HOW PAINFUL THAT CAN BE: We mentioned in passing the other day the local trend in the courtroom of 5th Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe (we’ll try to continue to spell her name right) to deny the community it’s right to plan its development future by seeing absurdly bogus “property rights” everywhere she looks citing the latest “anything goes” trend in land (ab)use law.

But although Watanabe has established this warped phenomena on Kaua`i it certainly isn’t unique to the island.

And it’s not just a trend in the courtroom.

Our hurry-up-and-wait-and-screw-the-public-at-3-a.m.-behind-closed-doors-at-the-last-minute Hawai`i state legislative process briefly coughed back up the idiotic “flag” bill yesterday before putting it to rest again according to a blog post from Honolulu Advertiser capitol reported Derrick DePledge.

In case you missed it, earlier in the sessions a bunch of jingoistic vets- ones who survived despite their willingness to die for a piece of cloth- wanted the lege to override their “planned community” rules for displaying flags and allow their gaudy any-kine erections to fly in everyone’s face.

But really this business is nothing new and Kaua`i lives with a reminder of a 5th Circuit Court decision made decades ago that continues to violate both the community’s right to plan and the eyes of anyone who travels from Lihu`e to Kalaheo.

Some may wonder how the heck that huge neon “Jesus Coming Soon” sign just past O`mao is allowed to so blatantly flout the local sign ordinance.

Back almost thirty some odd years ago the church just put the sign up without a permit and claimed that it was their religious belief that they had to proclaim the second coming “from the rooftops”... and this was their way of doing just that.

The issue was pursued by then retired local newspaper editor Jean Holmes who was offended enough by the sign that she threatened to start her own “Church of the Hearing Ear” and erect a 100 foot tall auditory appendage on her roof in Lawa’i.

The matter wound up in the court of Judge Cliff Nakea who surprised everyone by accepting the church’s argument based on the first amendment and dismissing the case.

The sign continues to despoil the viewplane to this day because the county declined to appeal the case.

But even if they run the flag pole bill up the flag poll again perhaps it won’t matter if this report in today’s Onion is accurate:

U.S. Flag Recalled After Causing 143 Million Deaths

WASHINGTON—Citing a series of fatal malfunctions dating back to 1777, flag manufacturer Annin & Company announced Monday that it would be recalling all makes and models of its popular American flag from both foreign and domestic markets.

Representatives from the nation's leading flag producer claimed that as many as 143 million deaths in the past two centuries can be attributed directly to the faulty U.S. models, which have been utilized extensively since the 18th century in sectors as diverse as government, the military, and public education.

Now that’s justice- if not actual then poetic.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME: Kaua`i is no place for environmental and kanaka maoli activists who find themselves with no other option but to sue to stop ill-advised projects that find officials all to eager to flout laws and rules in order to accommodate their degradation.

The exceptions that prove the rule- that local attorneys will never take pro bono cases because they are too busy getting rich representing various and sundry land rapists- have been the firm of Dan Hempey and Greg Meyers and, although they operate out of Honolulu, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) headed by Alan Murakami and, of late, former Sierra Club attorney David Kimo Frankel.

It’s no secret they’re up to their `okole in potential suits so when they take one in the public interest it isn’t in order to represent the interests of a person who is acting as plaintiff but for the wider community that has a stake in the matter and has invested their interests in the plaintiff.

But for every Nani Rogers- whose financial plight as a result of a suit brought on her behalf by Murakami, Frankel and the NHLC, which she detailed yesterday in this space- there’s apparently a Waldeen K. Palmeira who, if the report in the local paper today is accurate, has fired the same team because she had not “received adequate representation” in the matter of the `iwi kupuna (ancestral bones) along the Wailua Beach road widening project.

Though she wouldn’t comment further and we have no knowledge of why she did it we can confidently ask “what in the f—kin’ hell are you thinkin’ lady?”.

No matter what the reason, to think that this is her case and not the community’s takes a lot of gall. The fact that they took the case had little or nothing to do with her and everything to do with making sure the project went through the necessary steps in following the environmental and cultural protection laws of the state and county.

We can only guess at why she’s done this- most likely she had no freakin’ idea how to go about approaching the legal system to stop the project from avoiding the necessary steps, like the EA/EIS (environmental assessment/environmental impact statement) process which only requires that impacts are “mitigated” while she wanted the project stopped permanently with some kind of magical injunction.

It’s not like we haven’t seen that happen before. But if you’re going to play on the king’s field you kick the king’s ball and play by the king’s rules. If you want to go the “sovereign” route in court, fine but do it with consistency up and down the line and accept the consequences. Don’t get everyone dressed up in the king’s uniforms, hire the referees and then try to take the ball and go home... because it ain’t your ball.

The point is that when you act as plaintiff and use our precious resources- in this case two of the best in the “business” of protecting environmental and cultural justice- it’s ain’t about you. Get over yourself Waldeen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


GETTING PERSONAL: Looking for justice in the 5th Circuit Court on Kaua`i has long been an exercise in futility. But now apparently it’s gone beyond perpetuating attacks on the community’s right to plan their future and may result in a personal financial slap down of one of the most committed kanaka maoli activists on the island.

As we’ve mentioned a few times lately, with the appointment of two judges with close ties to the county, it’s gotten worse for those that are frustrated with some of the blatant flouting of laws and administrative rules by both administrative and legislative officials.

But although former deputy county attorney, Judge Kathleen Watenabe has yet to rule against the county when it comes to process when it comes to protecting rich land owners’ “right to despoil” it’s been quite the opposite.

One of those cases was the Thousand Friends suit to require an EIS for two east side developments and enforce a planning commission requirements for the project.

We won’t rehash the specifics but suffice to say that planning department incompetence was at issue and their seeming inability to properly include a “finding of fact” by the commission– and to understand that was all that was needed- was key according to attorney Dan Hempey.

Nani Rogers was one of the plaintiffs in the suit who agreed to lend her name to the filing in order to protect the `iwi kupuna - the bones of her ancestors- and now, even though the case is going to be appealed she’s being hit with a court-cost bill of $38,919.04 which includes $10,000 to be paid to the county of Kaua`i.

One of the attorneys, Lyle Hosaka, of Coconut Plantations, has gone so far as to ask Watenabe to allow him to cross examine Rodgers in court as to her assets.

Rather than try to characterize it further we’ll post an email from Nani which we received this morning followed by a letter from her attorney David Frankel detailing what he calls the “egregious” request by Hosaka.


Re: Help! this is an attack on a Kupuna who protects na iwi kupuna

Aloha kakou,The story of what these insidious lawyers are trying to do to me should be hitting all the newspapers and tv stations! Can you folks help?

This case is not about Naue na iwi kupuna, Naue court date is in October, 2010.

This is about other na iwi kupuna that needed protection against the construction of two huge resort developments in Waipouli, Ahupua`a o North Olohena.

Coconut Beach Development, LLC applied for permits to build on approximately 20 acres of land (TMK: 4-3-02:15 and 16 a.k.a. Lot 3 and 4.) Plans for the parcel include the development of six hotel units and 334 condominium/ timeshare units to be constructed in three phases.

Coconut Plantation Holdings, LLC applied for permits to build on 12 acres of land in Waipouli Ahupua`a, Kawaihau District, Kauai, Hawaii (TMK: 4-3-007:027) Plans for the parcel include the development of a condominium project on approximately 9.73 acres of Lot 6 with 192 condominium/ timeshare units and 6 hotel units.

Also included in the case was the Kauai Planning Dept. for granting these permits without an EA. My part was to protect the cultural resources at Waipouli as described in Thousand Friends of Kauai& Puanani Rogers v. Dept. of Planning, County of Kauai et al., Civil No. 07-1-0007.

We went to court to petition for an EA for these two properties. Plaintiffs named were Kauai Thousand Friends(KTF) and by their invitation to join them, Puanani Rogers. I applied and requested legal services to Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.(NHLC) in January 2007,. My request was granted and my assigned lawyer was David Kimo Frankel of Honolulu who would work jointly with KTF lawyers Greg Meyers and Dan Hempy of Lihue. My NHLC legal services contract states: "NHLC will assess the following: The merits of the claim that the development needs an environmental assessment and whether litigation can protect traditional and customary practices."

Court filings and hearing began from January 2007 THROUGH Oct 9, 2009. Kauai Thousand Friends and Puanani Rogers were denied their claims, so on October 9, COCONUT PLANTATION filed their motions for Costs in the amount of $7,265.34.

On December 3, 2009, the Court entered its Order Granting the COUNTY OF KAUAI Defendants Motion for Bill of costs in the amount of $10,187.04.

On December 17, 2009, the court entered its Order Granting in Part and denying in part intervenor COCONUT BEACH filing of costs against Plaintiffs in the amount of $21,466.66 with interest at the statutory rate of ten percent per annum.

I added it all up and the total came to $38,919.04.

KTF and NHLC will be filing an appeal to stop the construction of the two resorts.

You have also seen the e-mail from the attorney for Coconut Plantation, Lyle Hosaka, threatening to get a court order to allow him to cross examine me in court regarding my assets. (see his message below) No hearing date has been set for that, nor do I know if the judge received or granted the bad, nasty lawyers' request to do their nasty deeds...

I need help with documents that I may present to the court that will protect me if and when I refuse to enter their courtroom. I was told by some people to use Convention IV per Prof. Francis Boyle. I need to research that. I don't want to step into that courtroom, as a Kanaka maoli and through past experience I know that I was discriminated against because I am Kanaka maoli, my political activism and the Naue na iwi case; and because the court refuses to acknowledge all traditional and customary rights of cultural claims, practices and beliefs.

KTF is an organization that has no money so they are not feeling any threat, but KTF and NHLC will be appealing the judgment to permit the building of the resorts. KTF members are very concerned about my situation and are offering to support and help me as much as they can.

Mahalo a nui for taking the time to read this long message.

I am praying that the judgment for costs may go away if the appeal is granted. I am praying for kokua and support, not necessarily for money, but for prayers and solutions.

Me ke aloha ana`ole,

Kupuna Nani Rogers


Forwarded text:

From: David Kimo Frankel
Sent: Fri, April 9, 2010 1:43:31 PMSubject: it gets worse

Lyle Hosaka, of Coconut Plantations, is doing something even more egregious.

He has requested information from far more banks than Joe Stewart did, including several federal credit unions:

Garden Island, Kauai Community, Kauai Government Employees, Kauai Teachers , Kaumakani, Kekaha, Koloa and McBryde.

He has also asked the Court for an order allowing him to cross examine you in court and to bring:

1. Any and all pay stubs you received in the past 6 months.

2. Any and all account statements that you received in the past 6 months

3. Any and all check registers.

4. Any and all documents evidencing a debt owed to you.

5. Any and all documents evidencing ownership of and/or an interest in real property

6. A list of all 3rd parties that owe money and/or property to you

(The preceding post has been edited from its original content)

Monday, April 12, 2010


GETTING WARMER: Now that the Kaua`i Island Utilities Co-op (KIUC) election is over one of the first issues that the new board may have to grapple with is the price of the electricity that Pacific Light & Power’s (PLP) proposed “solar thermal” power plant sells us.

If the article in the local newspaper this weekend is accurate KIUC’s President and CEO Randy Hee is balking at paying whatever PLP is asking- although apparently no one will say much that is.

Naturally, alternative, carbon-free energy advocates are up in arms and accuse Hee of having no interest in getting off fossil fuels and based on the current foot-dragging Hee and the board it’s no wonder.

Westside activist Bruce Pleas is quoted in the article as saying that paying a small amount more in order to get off oil might be acceptable while many of the comments on the article were typified by the person who said:

All who are not onboard with solar power are basically neanderthals (sic) protecting themselves from extinction, nothing more than that.
Time to step aside all you freaks who want to hamper progress your day is done.

The problem here is that few are recognizing that framing the issue as one of price alone is a Hobson’s Choice at best.

The main “problem” with solar power is the night according to many. Solar Thermal addresses a little of that challenge.

According to PLP’s press release for the project

Solar thermal parabolic trough technology works by precisely arranging mirrors to capture the sun’s heat. These mirrors focus sunlight onto a tube filled with heat transfer fluid, which is passed to a heat exchanger that generates steam to power Rankine and Organic Rankine cycle turbines. In this closed system arrangement, there is no need for new supplies of water, as the water cycle back through the system.

But that doesn’t mean that the generator continues to produce power throughout the night. The release says:

PLP Kauai 1 will include up to 3 hours of heat transfer fluid storage with the flexibility to shift power generation during the day in a manner most valuable to KIUC.

That means that even in the summer it will produce electricity only until about 10 p.m. which, though it gets well into the peak” hours still requires supplementation, especially in the winter when that goes only until 8 p.m..

The question is whether this type of system- where the price per kilowatt to consumers is apparently a lot higher than the cost to produce it- in a “we sell electricity to you” utility model is a better investment overall than facilitating true net-metering for photo-voltaic (PV) systems on people’s roofs.

Hee’s KIUC has been uncompromising on enforcing the cap on net metering where the meter runs backward and forward at the same price. Those slots are all used up so that now new PV system owners buy back their “excess” electricity at a premium, supposedly because of the problems of providing energy when the sun doesn’t shine.

But at the same time KIUC is only too happy to embrace a solar thermal system which, while it provides a few more hours a day of juice still faces the same challenge- and does it at a price that will raise a few eyebrows especially among those that advocate carbon free energy but can’t afford more than the “top rate in the nation” they currently pay.

A $70 million investment plus a goodly premium for “clean energy” is a lot of money to invest in something that really doesn’t help the individual co-op members with their electric bills the way home generation does.

Though plans for a revolving fund loan system to enable home PV systems to be built and paid back over the life of the unit are underway, they won’t fully benefit homeowners unless the rate of buyback is the same as the feed-in- plus a small fixed amount for use of the storage capacity of the grid.

If all we’re getting is that extra three hours of steam heat storage, that capacity doesn’t have to be part of a $70 million project where the cost per kilowatt is outrageous.

Steam and other storage mechanisms currently in use and/or under development can just as easily bring us clean solar that will last 24 hours a day as a solar thermal unit which may be obsolete in a few years. And it can do it in a way that serves the individual consumers rather than investors.

All it takes is a change in the current mindset at KIUC from that “we sell you electricity” investor-owned model to one of a true co-op that serves the needs of the members first.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010



(PNN)-- Mayor Bernard Carvalho has told multiple reliable sources that will be announcing the new landfill site on or before April 15 and, according to many, that site is likely to be the one across the highway from the current landfill in Kekaha.

According to reports the previously selected “Umi” site in Kalaheo was “mis-scored” when the fact that it is currently in long term agricultural use by Kaua`i Coffee was not considered and Carvalho has told many community members that he will have an announcement of the new scoring results by April 15.

“Discussions continue in regards to the next steps on the landfill siting. The Mayor is hoping to issue a statement on this matter later this month” according to county spokesperson Mary Daubert who would not confirm the date or the selection of Kekaha..

“Kekaha Mauka” was announced as the site ranked second by a task force earlier this year and a source close to the current process who asked not to be identified told us that it is likely to be the one “selected” on the 15th.

But anyone who thinks that the Kekaha community will be up in arms over environmental justice concerns had better think again.

“I don’t really have any objections” community leader Bruce Pleas told PNN “ as long as the ‘host community benefit (HCB)’ is sufficient and the community buys in”.

Although he thinks that there could be some new more innovative ways to deal with the current and new site he doesn’t think most of the people of Kekaha will object since they have already bought into the concept of being paid by the county for hosting the current landfill.

But that presumes problems with the current HCB can be resolved.

Under a current program the county has set up a HCB Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) which is deciding what to do with $650,000 plus another $80,000 in yearly monies designed to compensate the town for the last 57 years of hosting, the first the “dump” and later, the “sanitary landfill”.

The problem is that the money is still under county control according to a source close to the advisory group who asked not to be identified because it is “too controversial a topic and it will take skill and time to assess the broad range of perspectives, attitudes, and feelings emanating from the community of Kekaha”.

The original amount of $650,000.00 which the County Council approved has not yet been "received" by the community, our source told us.

“That amount is in the Solid Waste department of the County of Kauai. The additional amount of $80,000.00 is also with the Solid Waste department. Presumably, an amount will be allocated annually to the community when the landfill is sited, until such time when the County of Kauai decides that no Host Community Benefit Fund will be awarded.”

How the money will be distributed and how the final decision on how to use it will be made remains problematic, with the HCB CAC wanting to make sure that the community gets to make the final decision and the administration wanting to retain final say over how the money is spent.

“As matters now stand... (a)t the last (CAC) meeting, it was decided that some recommendations would be made in writing to the Mayor for the Mayor's consideration as to whether the recommendations should be implemented. At that meeting, also, a formal request was submitted by the community organization to have the HCB Fund allocation awarded directly to the organization to hold in behalf of the community with the understanding that the HCB Fund CANNOT be expended by the community organization without the approval of the community in determining as to how that fund should be expended.” our source said in an email.

If that issue can be resolved the question remains as to whether the community will buy into hosting the new landfill without some guarantees over how much more money they will receive, how the money will be distributed and their ability to determine how the money will be spent.

For his part Pleas wonders whether there isn’t another more innovative way to use the existing footprint.

Places on the mainland have been “mining” their old dumps that contain mostly metals, glass and other recyclable items after all the organic waste has decomposed, he said.

If that were done to the 36 acre closed “phase 1”- using the in-use “cells B and C” for the “mined” non-recyclable materials- we’d have not just have a huge area for a “new” landfill site but could have all of our prior solid waste placed over currently required “liners” to insure against leakage into the water table and ocean, Pleas said.

But that would require implementation of a “zero waste” program which the county council recently nixed in approving a coordinated solid waste approach contained in the latest iteration of the county-funded R.W Beck study.

Also dealing with all the toxic materials- which any long time Kekaha resident will attest were dumped there over the years, especially by the nearby navy base- could make such a project problematic.

The county has grappled with siting a new landfill since at least 1988 when then-mayoral-candidate JoAnn Yukimura called the lack of landfill space a “crisis” that needed immediate attention.


Another long weekend a’comn’. Be back Monday.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


COURTING DISASTER: Another day another charge of sexual harassment in government offices on Kaua`i this time at the state judiciary as reported in today’s local newspaper.

While the county has racked up at least three current sexual harassment suits- those of Kristan C. Hirakawa, Kathleen M. Ah Quin and Margaret (Hanson) Sueoka- as well as at least two thus far confidential Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cases, every time we’ve reported on them we’ve heard from judiciary employees that the county’s penchant for hiring and protecting harassers is nothing compared to that of the state court system on Kaua`i.

So the suit against former Deputy Chief Court Administrator Ernest Barreira, comes as no surprise. The fact that he’s a “former” deputy and was, according to the suit, fired for his actions against Leanne Rosa speaks volumes as to the veracity of her claims as does the presence of a lawsuit which means that she has been granted “a right to sue” by the EEOC and the Hawai`i Civil Rights Commission (HCRC).

But, we thought, at least it’s not the county this time.

Until, that is, we read the penultimate paragraph in the newspaper story:

Barreira said in a brief telephone interview Monday that he is soon to begin a new job with the County of Kaua`i Department of Finance, as a procurement officer.

Are you freakin’ kidding? How many ways is that wrong?

First of all is the obvious liability given the guys history as a serial harasser as the suit alleges, which is exacerbated by the repeated failure of the county to do anything about it’s own complaints as we reported last December. The council has already appropriated untold dollars to fight the current suits and complaints and will probably be on the hook for huge settlements in some if not all of them.

But the question of how this guy got a civil service job in the finance department with a record of being fired and sued for harassment just further confirms the corrupt hiring practices of Malcolm “Mel” Fernandez’s Personnel Services Division as we’ve detailed here, here and here.

Looks like we’ll probably be paying for this too. Aren’t ya glad to be a Kaua`i taxpayer?

Monday, April 5, 2010


SKULL F-IN' WITH YA : Since the departure of our local newspaper’s only reliable reporter there hasn’t really been a story worth reading.

So it’s no surprise that, in their frantic search to fill their “news hole”, they reprinted a press release promoting a group of fraudulent hoaxters that raked in the dough on the island this weekend and today.

According to the article:

LIHU‘E — Billed by organizers as an “extraordinary event,” a public workshop with Max, an ancient crystal skull believed to hold healing powers and be one of the oldest artifacts known to man, is Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m...

Lee Patrick Hanks is traveling with Max, and in a press release said Max is one of the oldest artifacts known to man, with testing suggesting Max is between 12,000 and 36,000 years old, though others feel he could be much older than that.

A bargain- at $77 a pop for their “workshop”.

But according to Wikipedia:

The crystal skulls are a number of human skull hardstone carvings made from clear or milky quartz rock, known in art history as "rock crystal", claimed to be pre-Columbian Mesoamerican artifacts by their alleged finders. However, none of the specimens made available for scientific study have been authenticated as pre-Columbian in origin. The results of these studies demonstrated that those examined were manufactured in the mid-19th century or later, almost certainly in Europe. Despite some claims presented in an assortment of popularizing literature, legends of crystal skulls with mystical powers do not figure in genuine Mesoamerican or other Native American mythologies and spiritual accounts.

The whole story of the hoax- which started in the mid 18th century when a pre-Colombian art dealer named Eugène Boban started peddling one around the world- was exposed in an article by Jane MacLaren Walsh, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, in the May/June issue of Archeology Magazine.

Though the press release in the local newspaper refers to how the “British Museum and many other archaeological authorities consider Max to be one of the rarest artifacts ever found “ Walsh writes that:

These exotic carvings are usually attributed to pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, but not a single crystal skull in a museum collection comes from a documented excavation, and they have little stylistic or technical relationship with any genuine pre-Columbian depictions of skulls, which are an important motif in Mesoamerican iconography.

They are intensely loved today by a large coterie of aging hippies and New Age devotees, but what is the truth behind the crystal skulls? Where did they come from, and why were they made?

She goes on to detail sixteen years of scientific inquiry into the subject after:

a heavy package addressed to the nonexistent "Smithsonian Inst. Curator, MezoAmerican Museum, Washington, D.C." was delivered to the National Museum of American History. It was accompanied by an unsigned letter stating: "This Aztec crystal skull, purported to be part of the Porfirio Díaz collection, was purchased in Mexico in 1960.... I am offering it to the Smithsonian without consideration." Richard Ahlborn, then curator of the Hispanic-American collections, knew of my expertise in Mexican archaeology and called me to ask whether I knew anything about the object--an eerie, milky-white crystal skull considerably larger than a human head.

Walsh details four “generations” of various crystal skull hoaxes since Boban, concluding by saying:

The skull that arrived at the Smithsonian 16 years ago represents yet another generation of these hoaxes. According to its anonymous donor, it was purchased in Mexico in 1960, and its size perhaps reflects the exuberance of the time. In comparison with the original nineteenth-century skulls, the Smithsonian skull is enormous; at 31 pounds and nearly 10 inches high, it dwarfs all others. I believe it was probably manufactured in Mexico shortly before it was sold. (The skull is now part of the Smithsonian's national collections and even has its own catalogue number: 409954. At the moment it is stored in a locked cabinet in my office.)

The local peep shows ended today and “Max” and his barkers are on to their next con job on some other “large coterie of aging hippies and New Age devotees” .

But in coming to Kaua`i these people sure knew where to find marks for their con.

Over the past month they paid $50 a pop for a series of paid email advertisements sent our by Richard Diamond (nee Moll) via his Museletter emailing list.

Kaua`i is thought to be a “vortex” for many mainland new agers and Diamond’s Museletter is the main place they go to find latest in new-age “services”.

Though Diamond’s popular daily listing of all things odd-ball “spiritual”- as well as various and sundry other more mundane offerings like cars and places for rent- is free, he also accepts paid advertising for “single page blasts” to his purported 2000 plus active addresses.

Diamond told us yesterday that he will send out the Walsh article via his Museletter when he comes back from his current vacation but declined to send out a “one page blast”- which are continuing while the Museletter is on hiatus- alerting his readers of the hoax.

The local newspaper has yet to publish anything else on the subject despite “comments” on the article at their web site replete with the URLs for both Walsh’s piece and the Wikipedia entry.

Friday, April 2, 2010


THEY WENT THAT-A-WAY: Our piece on the directionally challenged nature of recent reporting by the county and local newspaper drew a few emails trying to clear up the confusion as to what exactly happened – or more to the point where- last Saturday when an heroic effort by a father apparently saved the lives of his two sons in the strong ocean currents off the notoriously treacherous Hanakapi`ai beach.

Some confusion might have been due to our own attempt at brevity in saying:

(W)hile there are a couple of “temporary” caves that “appear” on the Ke`e Beach side of Hanakapi`ai – usually in the summer but sometimes in the spring- there are never any that appear “around a bend” on the Kalalau side.

A friend who actually lived in the valley in the early 70’s mentioned the caves that are accessible at times down the beach on the Kalalau side but, as we said, the newspaper story referred to “around a bend” which we took to mean past the valley proper.

Either way, whether they were swept to the Kalalau side- which would be more likely due to the currents- or the Ke`e side something was wrong with the story.

Although out point was that the use of east, west, north and south rather than the island-friendly “in the direction of a location” description- causes more confusion than need be we were still trying to figure out what actually happened when we noted a comment posted yesterday, apparently from the father himself.

He cleared up the matter by saying that the use of the word “cave” was the real misnomer and indeed they were swept with the usual current toward Kalalau.

Although he reiterates the “west” description any examination of a map shows that at that point of Na Pali it is actually southwest and if anything more southerly then westerly... which reiterates our point as to the uselessness of the continental descriptions.

Although we haven’t been able to independently confirm that the comment was actually from the father, here apparently is his harrowing story of the rescue.


I am the 43 year old father in the story. My sons were swept to the left of the Beach as you face the ocean. It is west. We were not in a cave but rather a small depression I was able to get us into just above the waterline. After I rounded the corner I only saw my younger son about 50 feet away in water that looked like the inside of a giant washing machine. Massive waves the size of cars pounded us. I thought Connor might be dead at that point because he was nowhere in sight. I went for Jack screaming for him to swim toward me with all of his strength, but I doubt anything could have been heard He would disappear under the massive waves for what seemed to be 15-20 seconds at a time then miraculously reappear. He is one tough little boy. Eventually we reached each other and I got him in the ring. The cliff walls were sheer and slimy, and the closest hand hold was way above my head an out of reach, but I was in the end able to get to it by timing the water rise. With one hand on I was able to push him up to a point where he could grab and he was able to pull himself to the first ledge. Just then a huge wave came and blasted him into the wall and back into the water. I got back in and we repeated the whole ordeal. When I got him up I shouted for him to climb as high as he could and he got into the small cave and he did a great job! I began looking around for Connor and to my amazement he was in the water about 15 or 20 feet from our location. He had been able to get onto a small rock but had gotten knocked off, I think by the same wave that had knocked Jack off. I was able to toss the end of the ring to him and pull him over to our location and got him up the rock and into the depression. This was not really what I would call a cave, more of a big edge barely out of the waves and extremely difficult to reach with the boys. We are reasonable rock climbers and my older son is a gymnast. timing the waves and not panicking was also key.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


TOO SMALL TO FLAIL: The things that piss off the electorate really baffles us sometimes. Perhaps it’s the ease with which we fall for the misdirection ploy. Maybe it’s that when a scam is of the MEGO (my eyes glaze over) variety people go back to something they can understand rather than spend the extra time to figure it out.

But whatever it is it seems that the masses prefer to worry about getting a Woolworth’s Funereal (being nickeled and dimed to death) than receiving a full walletectomy.

That may explain why we generally get up in arms over the pennies our elected officials receive for their services instead of the legal- and not so legal- bribery system that is democracy American style which cost us untold riches on the back end.

A perfect example is Honolulu Advertiser columnist/blogger Dave Shapiro’s seemingly never ending crusade to mention the pay raise the legislature received a couple of years back at every opportunity as if it alone were at the root of all economic miseries.

But what Dave fails to mention other than occasionally and in passing is that the low pay for “part time” legislators has led to a system where the nature of the outside employment of most legislators is a direct result of the power of their positions.

It takes a special “boss” to let their employee spend three months away from their job as well as a slew of time between sessions. Just go down the list of legislators’ outside jobs and you will more often than not see “consultant”- usually with firms whose profits rise and fall with the actions of the legislature.

Combined with those direct bribes known as “campaign contributions” we’re stuck with a system that cost us billions in tax credits and special interest legislation often actually written by corporate crooks and cronies doling out the moolah..

But while we’re worried about the actual salaries that the reps and sens are being paid, keeping them low is what actually causes this fraudulent system to thrive.

In order to be a state legislator either you play the “consultant” game and ply the rubber chicken circuit or you’re independently wealthy. There’s no in-between and no opportunity for the citizen-legislator we all cite as ideal.

We’ve spoken to literally dozens of people over the years, ones who everyone wishes would run for office but don’t because they simply can’t afford it. Yet Shapiro and his mindless adherents want to keep the salaries at a low enough level to keep the current system in place.

And it’s the same nationally. This week we’ve noted four copies of a “chain letter” email we first started receiving about six months ago but has gone viral on the local progressive “lists”, entitled “An idea whose time has come”.

It reads:

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they didn't pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws... The self-serving must stop....

This is the same congress that has not just allowed but perpetuated the fiscal system, bailing out Wall St. and the banks while people are being thrown out of their houses after being scammed by the self same crew- a crew that refills congressional campaign coffers like it’s a 7-11 refilling your 87 ounce Dr. Pepper.

Yet there’s no real regulation even proposed at this point for the banks or campaign finance. Instead the email proposes a:

28th Amendment to the United States Constitution

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ".

Are you freakin’ kidding? This is what gets your panties in a bunch? Not constitutional amendments denying the demented recent Supreme Court ruling confirming “corporate personhood” or the 30 year old “money is speech” ruling than makes public financing of elections a Herculean task if not an absolute joke?

Parenthetically that’s another tangential idiocy- people who say “I don’t want my tax dollars financing these politicians campaigns”. For every dollar we’d spend taking money out of political campaigns we’d be saving literally millions doled out to those that pay the legal bribes under the current system.

For instance we are now faced with a give-away to insurance companies instead of a single payer Medicare-for-all that would save us trillions because congress actually admits they are too controlled by campaign contributions to get it passed. It’s just one example of the cost of privately financed campaigns.

It’s the same stupid mentality that has people claiming the “moral hazard” of helping their neighbor payoff the impossible mortgage the bank scammed them into while thinking the trillions given out to “too big to fail” institutions was done in order to “save the financial system”.

It’s the same idiotic cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face “pay cuts for the legislature” mantra that actually makes sure that they have to live a shady existence to survive and serve at the same time.

Get off it folks. While we argue with the teller over the quality of the free toaster they’re giving out in the front of the bank the CEOs are shoveling cash out the back door.

We’re just too distracted by our own petty jealousies and craven covetousness to notice the fixed nature of the game of three-card-Monte being played out on the corner.