Tuesday, May 10, 2011


THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BAMBOOZLEE: After they teach new councilmembers the secret handshake and turn over one of the seven keys to the little politician’s room, someone- probably legislative analyst Ricky Watenabe who, in case you haven't heard, is the one who really runs the whole shebang- schools the newbies in the unique etiquette of council-being on Kaua`i.

No, we're not talking Emily Post politeness although there's that element too. We're talking the sickeningly sycophantic, Alphonse and Gaston (no not that kind gutter-brain), "I won't step on your political toes if you stay the hell off mine," hide-your-roaches, back-room bamboozling demagoguery that anyone who watches four-and-a-half seconds of a meeting knows all too well.

But the dynamic of this council has suddenly thrown all that to the proverbial tradewinds of late due to a rift that threatens to bring some fireworks to the normally tedious snoozefest to which we've all become inured.

Apparently no one but us noticed the first milestone- or millstone as the case may be- which occurred with the defeat of Councilmember Mel Rapozo's thinly disguised attempt to reverse the plastic bag "ban," purportedly due to food safety concerns but actually to appeal to the piggies who can’t imagine taking home their bacon without despoiling every tree and roadside with "white kites".

The issue had been decided before the bill was introduced with Councilmembers Tim Bynum and JoAnn Yukimura- who have become thorns in the side of Rapozo and vice-versa- voting "aye" on "first reading" for the stated reason that any bill introduced deserves the "common courtesy" of a public hearing and debate... although the obvious political reason was they thought that there was enough community support for the ban to make Rapozo look like an idiot for weeks on end in trying to end the prohibition.

But that kind of smile-as-you-kill backbiting is the hallmark of Watenabian counciling. What wasn't was the final act on the bill where something occurred for the first time in our decades of council-watching.

Oh there have been bills that were defeated before. But the method for that was always to "receive" the bill "for the record," by voice vote. No one caught on the record no one having their bill actually defeated, no one embarrassed.

But Rapozo's bill was actually defeated by a roll call vote or "ayes" and "nays" putting Rapozo on the record on the losing end of a 5-1 vote (then-Councilmember Derek "Mr. Big Save" Kawakami had recused himself).

So what? Well that was just the beginning.

Normally the teeth-clenching ultra-graciousness has resulted in an unflinching yet unwritten rule that when a bill is in committee any member of the committee may request a deferral for a couple of weeks- sometime much more- in order to purportedly do "due diligence," although the real reason may be to do a little arm twisting or to gather a cadre of community members to overwhelm the others with on-camera testimony, given to quell and even reverse a building tide that's going against them.

But lately the Rapozo-Bynum/Yukimura feud has resulted in a couple of instances where that "courtesy" was denied, most recently with the defeat of the nomination of Nancy McMahon to the Historic Preservation Committee- a story that went national today when the Associated Press picked up the local newspaper story on the matter.

Chair Jay Furfaro had requested a 60 day deferral supposedly so he could check up on many of the charges made against McMahon by a slew of members of the public. But the nomination had been deferred a few times already and Rapozo said he had enough information to act right then and there.

Now Bynum has made a point of always voting for first readings and deferrals after having had a few bills defeated on first reading during the last council, due to his feud with then Chair Kaipo Asing and the Minotaur’s henchmen.

So he supported the deferral even though he made a point of saying he'd also heard enough to vote and was doing so as a "courtesy" to Furfaro.

But when the vote came for deferral it was actually a 5-2 vote against after the usually Furfaro-allied Dickie Chang voted no and Yukimura, voting last and knowing the vote was already 4-2 against, saying she was ready to "accelerate my decision making process" (we just loved that one) doing the same.

So what does all this mean? It's hard to say but the obvious indication is that Chair Furfaro is increasingly becoming more and more unable to herd his councilcats as his predecessors did.

And, speaking of sickeningly polite, "that's a good thing" Martha.


Eleanor said...

I just wouldn't get this without your articles. Kinda good news. (It's all relative, as they say.)
Fortunately, I have convinced my gmail that you are not spam.

I like your having fun with words. There must be something in this for you. I'm sure it's not money.

Donna said...

Don't forget the Prosecutor budget. Also joann / wynum against Mel, who seems/seemed very close to pros. And the four who know nothing aboutbthe disaster that is the kauai courts blindly voting pro law enforcement - no questions asked.

Bynum is good on a lot of issues but that personality is so sniveling it's unbearable. Mel is like Neitze without morals - the enemy of my enemy is my friend - and he's 50 years behind on the drug issue. Furfaro is very shaky - is it Parkinson's, alcohol maybe?