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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 19, 2006

How about anti-'opala tita squad?

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

The folks on Maui are really on to something.

This week, Maui County launched a multi-pronged anti-litter campaign to address the pervasive problem of illegal dumping and irresponsible 'opala-ing on the pretty Valley Island.

Along with measures such as community education, stepped-up policing and tougher prosecution, the anti-litter effort has a face and a 'tude Tita-tude, that is.

Maui radio personality Kathy "Tita" Collins will serve as the SpokesTita for the "Listen to Tita. No littah!" media blitz. Her image will be on posters and bumper stickers, her voice on public service announcements. She will visit school kids to deliver the message.

But if a tita on a poster gives any would-be illegal-dumper pause, imagine what a tita could do in person.

What if there was a squad of do-gooder titas cruising around each island busting on people for not picking up their plate-lunch containers or leaving their baby's diapers in the bushes by the beach?

They would drive around the back roads and beach parking areas, the tall-grass empty lots at the end of country cul-de-sacs and the road leading to the refuse transfer station (when it's closed on holidays) and if they spotted someone leaving behind a mess, they would jump out of the back of the shiny black pickup truck, take down the guy and call in the collar.

"Eh, dis' Chondra. Jonell-dem caught one guy trying to dump six car batteries, two toilets and the rear bumper from one old Datsun in the Waimanalo back road. Right now, Stannette get 'em pretty much subdued but I think he waking up. You guys like send couple squad cars to pick 'em up or you like us just tie him to the racks and bring 'em in? Over."

Kids could use this to shape their parents' behavior:

"Hala, Daddy. You better pick up your chili rice container or else Da Tita going get you!"

The anecdotes would start to take on urban legend quality. "Eh, better not take that freezer back-road Kalihi. You know that's where Da Titas always check."

The actual Maui County initiative does have a bit of strong-arm strategy built in. On the county's Web site, there is this warning from the deputy prosecutor:

"If we don't prosecute the little criminals, their tendency to disrespect and disobey the laws will lead them to become bigger criminals. In that regard, our office is committed to pursue prosecution of not only the serious felonies, but the misdemeanors or petty misdemeanors as well, which include criminal littering."

Rough, no? Right on.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.