Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bikes and Pigs: Neighborhood Board No. 5

February 14, 2008

I just got back from our Neighborhood Board meeting, and am settling in with a glass of wine (luzon verde, a red from Spain made with organic grapes. It's a basic table wine, nothing special). The meetings have been far less traumatic recently, and this one mostly went well despite the return of the divas.

Public Safety Reports. The cops are getting better at speeding through this. They used to take up most of the meeting, letting us know that there was a theft on Kapahulu on Tuesday and a break in on Roberts on Wedensday and so on in the slow and relentless drone that school kids get when they have to stand up and read their book report against their will. We got our monthly fire safety tip from the police department rep, a new guy, pretty handsome, and I was trying to figure out how old he was and forgot to listen to the very important tip. The crime prevention tip: don't leave your valuables in your car and in plain site. The public safety tip: don't step off the sidewalk and into oncoming traffic unless you are sure the drivers of the cars in the oncoming traffic see you.

All good.

The Skateboard Park Task Force reports that they are hoping to get City money to build their Park, which made Board member Roxie laugh. It's always nice to see Roxie laugh. She recommended trying for public funding.

... and then, at the 45" mark, we did something useful and effective. It might be a first. I almost did a little happy dance ....

Solar Roofs Initiative - Roxie introduced, and the Board approved, a resolution to publicize a City plan that allows low and middle income families to apply for loans at 0% to 2% to install solar water heaters. I never even knew this program existed. Nor did most Board or community members.

Then it was time for our elected officials.

I pestered the Governor's Office with questions on bikes and pigs. On bikes, I asked for the status on a bill that was passed in July 2007 authorizing the Department of Transportation to access federal funds to make bikeway improvements. He'll get back to me on this.

Then I brought up the World Society for the Protection of Animal's report on the long distance transport of pigs for slaughter in the islands. I'll post the video after - basically we have been tagged as on of the world's perps for animal cruelty. Pigs are bought in Alberta, Canada, placed in containers, shipped live to Hawai`i (a seven to nine day truck and boat trip, during which they aren't fed, watered, cleaned, or let out of the bins), where they are then slaughtered and sold as "Island Pork." It's needless cruelty, all for a label.

The gov's rep wasn't familiar with it. I'll make sure that he is. I'm already shaping up to be the pest on bikes, and I've got no problems being the pest on pigs too. Shoots, maybe I can even base a campaign around this. Save the Pigs, Vote for MC. It has a nice ring to it.

Senator Les Ihara gave some good information on updates to the sunshine law. Speaker Calvin Say didn't send a rep, Rep Scott Nishimoto's rep had nothing to say and we had no questions for her, as usual I ignored Councilmember Djou's rep, and Councilmember Kobayashi returned to her usual rail-bashing routine.

Walea, from the Mayor's Office, reported back on all the questions we piled her with last time (bus pull outs, status of the charter amendment, traffic safety, recycling etc.). She does a good job - but the reports she had to deliver were bullshit. At least, the ones from the DOT on bike and bus planning were. They're going to update the bike master plan. That's their response to Charter Amendment 8 mandating that they engage in active planning. Active doesn't mean rewriting a plan that has gotten rewritten every three years for the past three decades. It means doing something.

I'll be following up on that too. Bikes and Pigs, my new kuleana.

Deborah (kuleana: recycling) pushed for news on the recycling program here. We have had three pilot programs and, as Deborah put it, it's not rocket science. It's time to stop studying and doing it.

The divas made a play for chaos when it came time to approve the minutes from last month, but the Chair kept them in line.

And then at 9pm on the dot the Kapahulu Parking issue came up and the meeting went completely off the rails. Since it involves my employer I kept my mouth shut and abstained from all the decisions - and had to watch as the divas put forward a call for an audit of the General Fund (i.e. the source of my paycheck). The relationship of the fund to parking is negligible, but the Board is pissed and just wants to fight. They were inspired, however, to see the whole community come together to fight for so important an issue (except for me, who was hiding behind a partition during the protests taking less that 100' from my desk).

And of course, we talked about potholes - within seconds, in fact, of the Chair saying he didn't want us to focus on potholes.

Back to the pigs. I think I might end up with some unlikely allies on this one:

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