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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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The governor’s “Yellow Cab” ad is cute but almost invites criticism

July 22nd, 2014 · 2 Comments

I’ve seen Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s latest ad on television a number of times, often appearing almost back-to-back in or around the evening newscasts. You know, the one where Neil appears as the driver of a Yellow Cab, at one time the campaign symbol associated with this once-rebel politician.

It’s a cute ad, which shows off the way Neil’ sparkle when interacting with people. He just comes across as a really likable guy.

But I’m worried that this ad may trigger a different response than intended.

Am I the only one who, after several viewings, wondered how this same routine would play if they were driving through Kakaako instead of Kapolei? Did his advertising team consider this scenario? It almost invites critics to dub in their own dialog.

The two passengers enter the cab and are taking in the sights.

“What’s that construction over there?”

“Oh, those are the new condominiums that start at only a few million dollars. Some will go for tens of millions. I hear lot’s of foreign buyers have been lining up.”

“And what’s that?”

“Oh, that’s Kewalo Basin, the state harbor that’s going to be managed by the same private developer building luxury condos for more out-of-state buyers just across the street.”

“Who’s responsible for all that?”

“Governor Neil Abercrombie!”

The overdevelopment of Kakaako is one of those political criticisms of the governor that I’ve heard a lot. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, and I’m still likely to cast my vote for the governor, but it’s one of those areas where Abercrombie is vulnerable to criticism from left and right.

And this ad, even as is, sends a message: Abercrombie, the development governor.

But I think there are enough voters at least a little uneasy about the pace and direction of development, and the threat of overdevelopment, especially in Kakaako, to make a difference in the election.

At least one prominent environmentalist, attorney David Kimo Frankel, has endorsed David Ige in several emails sent to friends.

The Sierra Club, which endorsed Abercrombie in 2010, appears to have refrained from any endorsement in this year’s gubernatorial primary. That’s a worrisome message in itself for the Abercrombie campaign team.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Campaigns · environment · Politics

Criminal charges filed over sunshine law violations by Florida board members

July 21st, 2014 · 1 Comment

Floridians take their Sunshine Law seriously.

At least that’s what I thought after seeing a news article describing the recent indictments of a former state representative and several transportation officials for sunshine law violations (“Expressway investigation finds 4 Sunshine Law violations“).

Yup. Indictments returned by a grand jury.

The alleged sunshine law violations involved secret communications between members of the Orlando Expressway Authority Board, who are believed to have used the former state rep and his girlfriend as go-betweens to carry the improper messages.

But the alleged sunshine violations appear to have been related to a separate issue, a $32 million land deal. According to the article, the expressway authority was looking to buy property owned by the former state rep’s business partner at a price nearly three times its appraised value. In order to push the deal through, the board members were trying to coordinate the removal of the agency’s executive director, and his replacement by another former state rep who would apparently be friendly to the purchase.

What a tangled tale to hinge on these sunshine law indictments.

But then I stumbled onto a column from the Seminole County Post taking a different viewpoint (“Sunshine Law Indictments: A Primer“). The tag line captures the tone: “State Attorney Jeff Ashton grasping at straws & overcharging AGAIN?”

The column points out that despite the grand jury indictments, the alleged offenses are range from minor to insignificant.

Florida’s Sunshine Law isn’t very long, and it is pretty descriptive. It leaves little to the imagination, and as it contemplates punishments for violations of these crimes, it leaves no discretion to the prosecutor. Here is a basic summary of it:

If you are a public official, like Rebekah Hammond was, or like FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad, the only punishment that can be handed down to you for violating the Sunshine Law is a non-criminal civil citation. This is the legal equivalent of receiving a citation for littering. If you are a member of a board or authority, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and you can serve up to 60 days in jail and be fined up to $500.

Then an article from the Florida Society of News Editors filling in some of the pieces I had missed. Turned out the first former rep was also lobbyist for the one who owned the land. And they were conspiring to get their guy named to the board, and then their choice named as director.

Anyway, check this out: “New court records reveal fmr. OOCEA board member Marco Pena has flipped on Chris Dorworth, Scott Batterson.”

Whew.

The sunshine law charges, while relatively minor in legal terms, appear to be part of the prosecutorial strategy to pick apart the allegedly broader pattern of illegal dealings by the board members.

Hawaii law also provides for criminal prosecutions of sunshine law violations. Here’s the provision in Hawaii’s sunshine law.

§92-13 Penalties. Any person who wilfully violates any provisions of this part shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction, may be summarily removed from the board unless otherwise provided by law.

But I can’t recall anyone facing criminal charges, or even facing a criminal investigation for sunshine law violations.

Perhaps a few such investigations would get our public officials to take their responsibilities under the law more seriously?

→ 1 CommentTags: Court · Politics · Sunshine

Vintage guide to Hawaii vegetables now available as free download

July 20th, 2014 · 3 Comments

My mother, Helen Y. Lind, was the lead author on a slim 100-page volume, “Ways to use vegetables in Hawaii,” published in February 1946 as the University of Hawaii’s Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 97.

The softbound book featured nutritional information, along with hints on selecting, storing, and preparing a variety of vegetables, as well as recipes ranging from asparagus to watercress.

A digital edition of the original 1946 book is now available for free in pdf format as part of the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources celebration of the 100th years of its Cooperative Extension program.

If you’re into vegetables, it’s quite an interesting resource.

My mother’s co-authors were Mary Bartow, then a UH Home Economics instructor, and Carey D. Miller, professor of foods and nutrition, and longtime chair of the Home Economics Department. My mother taught in home economics from her graduation from UH in 1935, until she resigned in 1942.

I have a copy of the original book autographed by all three authors, and donated a second autographed copy to the UH Hamilton Library, which is preserving a collection of Carey D. Miller’s personal and professional papers.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Education · Food · Vintage Hawaii

Waiting to see if there’s more rain to come

July 20th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Oahu’s flash flood warning was just cancelled, according to an alert from Honolulu’s emergency management department, following the dazzling show of lightning and thunder over night here in Kaaawa, and across much of the state, overnight. We had a spot of rain, too.

The evidence was there this morning when we went out for our early walk to the beach.

There were a number of waterfalls visible on the cliffs behind Kaaawa, including this one, viewed over a neighbor’s house, as well as evidence of at least one mud slide.

Behind our house in Kaaawa

Makaua Streem was flowing, and there was lots of debris, and several large boulders, that appear to have been swept along by high water sometime overnight.


As we walked along the back roads through Kaaawa, there was standing water in several areas that are prone to flooding. Most of this yard on Puakenikeni Road was under water.

Flooding in Kaaawa

→ 2 CommentsTags: environment · General · Kaaawa

Another look at a few of our Kaaawa K-9s

July 19th, 2014 · No Comments

Ms. BellaI recently fielded a request for more pics of our many canine friends here in Kaaawa. Luckily, this is the time of year when the sun is up early and there’s plenty of light for photographs when we’re out on our early morning walks. So here goes.

This is Ms. Bella, who we stop to visit with almost every morning (unless the tide is too high and we can’t walk along the beach in front of her house). And, yes, she is as sweet as she looks!

She and Mr. Murphy, her partner and the Alpha Dog in the household, watch for us, and come flying out of the house as we arrive. Bella used to fly right out of her yard onto the beach, but seems to have largely abandoned this risky behavior.

If I count correctly, I gave out dog biscuits to 17 dogs this morning, and managed to get pictures of most (but not all) of them.

–> See all of today’s Kaaawa K-9s!

→ No CommentsTags: Dogs · Photographs