Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Honolulu Chinatown merchants cover up windows, hide rats from public
by Larry Geller
KITV and Keoki Kerr have stuck to the rat problem tenaciously. Last night they reported seeing fewer rats in Kekaulike Market, and that there will be classes, with translations into Chinese and Vietnamese, for the tenant vendors of that market.
They also report that the Department of Health has sent back a plan to attack the rat problem submitted by Gerell Management, which holds the master lease for the market that is owned by the City. The DOH wants more dates and specifics, KITV said.
More troubling was their video documentation that vendors are taping up newspaper and painting windows that were open to the public before. (click these pics to go to the KITV story and video)
It’s common in Chinatown for restaurants and shops to board up or otherwise obstruct their windows to prevent public view. Covering up conditions in Kekaulike Market is not progress, it its a step backward. If there are fewer rats, the windows would not need to be covered.
Also troubling is the closing statement of the newscast, that the state is not allowing any overtime. This means that the adjacent markets will not be inspected at night. KITV found fewer rats during their most recent visit to Kekaulike Market, but without paying overtime, DOH is not going to learn whether the rats have simply moved across the narrow street into Maunakea Marketplace or to one of the other markets.
Produce stacked in front of the window where the first rat video was shot is carted away every night along Hotel Street and to unknown storage locations nearby. We don’t know what the conditions are at those locations, or even where they are located. KITV got a shot at some of the produce being moved.
Kudos for KITV for staying with this. I suggest that we are seeing only the tip of the iceberg, however, and that the state is doing little or nothing that would even identify the extent of the problem or where our attention should be focused.
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