Wednesday, December 29, 2010


SAY WHAT?: As readers well might surmise we spend our early mornings perusing the local newspapers and it doesn’t seem a day goes by without one of those “that can’t possibly be true” moments that, more often than not, turn out to be anything but erroneous.

One subset generally reserved for county governments is the “what did you think would happen” story typified in a story picked up by both the local and Honolulu papers from a Kaua`i Department of Public Works’ press release.

The release began unremarkably saying

(t)o prevent flooding from occurring in the Waimea area, the Kikiaola irrigation ditch was opened this morning allowing storm water mixed with treated wastewater also known as effluent to flow into Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor.

Now we can understand sewage spills in heavy rains. The storage areas- usually concrete “ponds” become deluged and an intentional release, if required to make sure it doesn’t just spill all over the place, is common. And it would be reasonable to directed the spill into the ditch.

But then, if you read further you find out that

(o)fficials estimate that up to 2.25 million gallons of treated wastewater had been stored in the irrigation ditch (emphasis added).

That of course means that, as a matter of practice the Waimea Wastewater Treatment Plant stores its effluent in an ditch that naturally leads to the ocean.

We’re not sure of the legality of that practice but can certainly challenge the wisdom.

Another subset is the “how could they really not know?” which is also usually also related to a government function.

Hard to say why we actually read the article in Sunday’s Honolulu paper headlined “No legal aid for officer accused in HPD scandal” regarding the overtime abuse among DIU checkpoint officers on O`ahu.

But we did- and even got through a six paragraphs before reading:

The seven officers work for the Selective Enforcement Unit, part of the Traffic Division that organizes roadblock checkpoints to catch motorists under the influence of alcohol or drugs (emphasis added).

Do they really not know what the term “selective enforcement” means?

According to Wikipedia

Selective enforcement is the ability that executors of the law (such as police officers or administrative agencies, in some cases) have to arbitrarily select choice individuals as being outside of the law. The use of enforcement discretion in an arbitrary way is referred to as selective enforcement or selective prosecution.

Historically, selective enforcement is recognized as a sign of tyranny, and an abuse of power, because it violates
rule of law, allowing men to apply justice only when they choose. Aside from this being inherently unjust, it almost inevitably must lead to favoritism and extortion, with those empowered to choose being able to help their friends, take bribes, and threaten those they desire favors from.

As a matter of fact when the use of DUI checkpoints first began they were set up using “selective enforcement” tactics, picking those who appeared drunk at the checkpoints for further scrutiny. But the courts told them they couldn't do that specifically because it was a form of illegal selective enforcement.

That begat the practice of stopping every “X” number of cars and assessing the driver for alcohol and/or drug use- which the courts okayed.

Although the loophole allows the checkpoints, many civil liberties groups still think it reeks of selective enforcement- a term which, along with “selective prosecution” is used pejoratively to denote an illegal practice of favoritism in the administration of justice.

We can understand maybe the guy who named the unit didn’t know but the fact that apparently this didn’t raise any eyebrows among the rest of HPD is kind of unfathomable.


Doug said...

That is too rich.

Coming soon, the KPD Constitutional Rights Offender Force!

Blahblahblah said...

Where else would you expect treated wastewater to be put?

Putting it into a stream, offshore (as in Kapaa) or some such is pretty much the standard operating procedure for disposing of the treated effluent.