Tuesday, May 28, 2013


NO RUNS, NO HITS, JUST ERRORS: It used to be that when some big corporation or government agency had some hair-brained scheme that was universally opposed on Kaua`i the "pusher" would just push harder.

But many times that's blown up in their faces and in some cases they've eventually had to back down on a project leaving them with no project plus millions of dollars in free publicity... the kind they didn't want.

One recent archetypical example of this was a project to plant trees to burn for electricity and do it on Hawaiian Homes land in Anahola- land that the Hawaiian community there had always thought would eventually be developed for homes for those Hawaiians who qualify.

The company, which had plans and an agreement to lease the land really cheaply, took a slew of body blows at various meetings and now the projects seems to be on its way to the scrap heap.

But after that ignominious instance the latest corporate-governmental "partnership" ploys seems to be, "if they push back hard, get out quickly... and cleanly- a la the PLDC.

But it's being done in a uniquely Hawai`i way.

The next instance was the plan by the semi-autonomous Kaua`i Water Department (KWD) to drill a horizontal potable water well into the "wettest spot in the world"- the sacred "Mount Wai`ale`ale."

Community groups- both environmental and cultural- essentially said "are you nuts?" and geared up for a long drawn out battle.

But instead the KWD announced that, despite all the professionally made charts and graphs they drew up and lugged to the first of many planned community meetings showing the project to be on Wai`ale`ale, in fact some lower level bureaucrat had simply "made a mistake" and instead they really had planned all along to drill into Mount Kahili.

Of course no one explained how it could have been a simple mistake. Nor did they mention that, although you'd need to drive half way across the island to get from the base of one to the base of the other, Mount Kahili is simply the back face of Mount Wai`ale`ale.

And now they've announced that they're canceling the meeting about the "new" Mt Kahili project entirely.

Many think that the whole project is suspicious, saying it's not being done to provide water to current customers but to essentially support massive planned future tourism development... and do it on the backs of the current water-users/rate-payers.

Other say it's because they need all that water for all that North Shore Ag land so that the "seed farmers" can grow more biotech (GMO) corn, soybean, cotton and other "seed." Right now there isn't enough water in the Moloa`a-Kilauea area even for the current small, organic "truck farmers."

But this $50 million drilling project- whether Kahili or Wai`ale`ale- will supply all the water the north shore could use for any kind of agriculture in an area where the irrigation ditch system left over from sugar cane days is now dilapidated to the point where it would be prohibitively costly to repair. Plus, if it could be repaired, there's no easy way to pay for it since it's not the kind of potable county water KWD controls- as was discussed recently by the county council.

It's not that surprising this announcement comes on the heels of that council discussion.

Back to our PR lesson- one that was not lost on the the Coast Guard whose recent announcement that they were going to extend the ocean "danger zone" for the Kekaha shooting range (which sits next door to the Pacific Missile Range Facility [PMRF] Naval Base) was met with a slew of negative comments from fishers, swimmers, surfers and other beach and ocean users.

But today an article in the local newspaper says that they have withdrawn the plans for expansion.

So what happened? The newspaper says:

“I think we could chalk it up to a mistake,” (Lt. Col. Charles) Anthony said by phone Monday. “A project manager had increased the size beyond what we had seen in the earlier drafts. We will be making up a proposal with a much smaller footprint.”

Just a mistake, that's all. Not a blunder by the military where an attempt to control more land and ocean has spurred some opponents to suddenly start talking about it being time to get rid of the shooting range, if not the Navy's next-door missile range, entirely.

Is this the wave of the future? Will Monsanto suddenly announce tomorrow that it had been a mistake to oppose the labeling of GMO products saying it was a decision made by some low level technocrat in Sector "R?"

Dream on.

But locally apparently it's "any port in a storm," the belief being that they can save face with the "I no like say nahting" locals by saying it was all a simple mistake.

But a word to the wise- the natives are becoming restless.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


SUBTRACTION BY ADDITION: As much as our secret life is one of a devoted sports fanatic, this space has had a decided dearth of athletics-related material over the years. And today is really no different.

Yes, our subject de jour is this week's 180 performed by new University of Hawai`i Athletic Directer Ben Jay who, after banning the use of the name "Rainbows" by UH men's teams shortly after his arrival earlier this year, decided this week to once again allow UH teams to use the beloved moniker.

But while it's a sports story everywhere else in the Hawai`i media, let us be the first to remind readers that is actually a long-sought repudiation of former football coach June Jones' bigoted and homophobic striking of the name Rainbow in 2000 because we don't want no sissies or fairies (or any other six-letter "f" word) amongst the macho men of our football team.

Lest we forget that's what Jones said it was all about at the time. He essentially announced that he was worried that his big, bad football heroes were afraid of being teased by other teams over the name "Rainbows" and that it was projecting an image he didn’t want for his team... wink, wink, elbow elbow.

To put it in historical context it was a time shortly after the voters of Hawai`i took away the historic, court-granted right to marry any person one damn well pleases.

And Jones used his position as football coach to project and impose his own intolerance, jumping on the anti-gay bandwagon in no uncertain terms.

It was the first and only time our constitution was changed to actually remove rights rather than protect them and it persists on the books today as a shameful reminder of how lacking in political spines our state legislators remains to this day- unable to even pass the legislation that the constitution allows to fully extend marriage rights to everyone, much less put the repeal of the constitutional amendment on the ballot.

But while the rest of the country moves into the 21st century (the 12th state, Minnesota, just okayed universal marriage rights yesterday) to seemingly compound the problem, Jay's original decision not only confirmed his own homophobia, he did it by exercising the same kind of arrogant decision-making that has brought down many a UH leader... "outgoing" UH President MRC Greenwood coming to mind after a similarly tone deaf performance, hers before a senate committee last fall.

Apparently Jay's reversal has pulled his own fat out of the fire for now. But memories are long and tenures at UH tend to be sort for those who come over to the islands and tell us what we need to do because we're apparently too dumb to manage our own affairs and we've been doing it wrong all along.

The circumstances surrounding Jones 2000 team renaming have been ignored by the Hawai`i press, especially in failing to compare and contrast the attitudes of a mere 13 years ago and this year- a year when news of the first "coming out" by a member of a major US team sport has been greeted with a hearty "ho-hum" in some quarters, many being something less than shocked to find out that some players are gay.

Is 13 years so long ago that no one remembers the bad old days when a football coach could get away with such appallingly bigoted behavior? Or is it just more of the Hawai`i presses "never was heard a discouraging word" attitude toward UH sports which has helped smooth Jay's short stint in charge of UH athletics?

The re-institution of the name "Rainbows" - albeit as part of the name "Rainbow Warriors," lest anyone feel like they're having their manhood challenged- has been said to be due to "tradition." But the end of a tradition of a**hole behavior should be receiving a lot more attention.

Because only if attention is paid to the more shameful parts of the history of the name "Rainbows," can there be a true end of the June Jones era of fear and loathing in the UH locker room.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

For my Mommy on Mothers' Day 2013

For my Mommy Amy Dunis Parks nee Maime Dunefsky (1917-1970) on Mothers' Day 2013

I remember how I sat on the floor at my Mommy's feet because I couldn't stand yet. And I remember how much I loved my Mommy.

I remember feeling wobbly just sitting up but my Mommy was right there, sitting at the sewing machine and wearing a long dress and I felt adventurous and brave. And I remember I loved my Mommy.

I sat in a conical beam of light that came through the same window where I sometimes watched the boats go by and I was mesmerized by all those sparkly specks of dust dancing in the light and I looked up when my Mommy said "Andrew?" And I loved my Mommy.

In her hand she held a slice of a tangerine with all the little strings carefully removed and she dangled it just out of my reach and I wanted "up" so I grabbed her dress in my little baby hands and with all my little baby strength I pulled myself up, climbing, climbing, one hand over the other, finally "standing" as it were, on my feet while leaning on her legs and holding on tight with both of my little baby arms. And I loved my Mommy.

And then she put the tangerine in my mouth and I toothlessly "bit" down and the juice filled my mouth and dribbled down my cheeks and all over my chest but I didn't care because I had barely tasted anything but my Mommy's milk before much less anything sooo sweet and it was sooo goood and I wanted sooo much more, more, more. And I loved my Mommy sooo much and wanted her more, more, more.

We did that over and over for what seemed like all day, one tangerine slice after another, while she worked the sewing machine with her feet on the treadle, one hand on the wheel and the other holding tangerine slices for me. Only for me. And I loved my Mommy.

And I would have loved my Mommy even if she didn't take care of me and hold me tightly when I cried and feed me from her breast when I was hungry and clean me up when I made a mess in my pants and keep me safe from all the scarey stuff and read to me and talk to me and coo to me and make funny sounds by blowing on my belly, both of us laughing, laughing, laughing...

The sweet juice kept coming and the light streamed through the window until she wiped my face and hands and belly with a damp washcloth. And even though I didn't like that washcloth I knew she wiped me clean because she loved me.

And I loved my Mommy. MY Mommy.

And my Mommy loved me.