Monday, February 18, 2013
DEAD IS DEAD: We can sympathize. Travel does make you sort of move around in your own little mindless bubble.
"How do we get from point A to point B today so we can see and do X, Y and Z that we saw in the guide book or that our friends told us about?" All else is just a silly obstacle that is meant for someone else, not us.
When checking to see if we have brought everything- camera, toothpaste, credit cards, stun gun- we seem to consistently leave one thing at home... our brains.
Yes the brainless tourist. Here on Kaua`i we see them every day and become them when we venture off-island. The inevitable result is that, as an article on the local newspaper yesterday reminded us (as if we needed reminding):
In less than two months, Kaua‘i’s waters have claimed the lives of six individuals — five of them tourists — compared to a total of four drownings, two ocean and two freshwater, in 2012.
So what's the response?
According to the article Dr. Monty Downs, emergency room doctor and president of the Kaua`i Lifeguard Association:
“Even when things are going well, I’m kind of fearful of what can happen,” Downs said. “We thought we were getting somewhere and came to find out we weren’t.”
Like many others, Downs said the major issue is visitors “not being informed” about Kaua‘i’s dangerous ocean conditions.
They're just not being informed. eh? This implies that while the message is right we just presumably need to get it out there better or more. The article continues...
Sue Kanoho of the Kaua`i Visitors Bureau (KVB) agreed, but said there are a wide variety of resources out there.
“Every year we try to do something better,” she said. “At some point, it needs to be everybody sharing the same information.”
And what "information" is that? The idea is apparently that we're doing the right thing, just not enough if it. If we could just reach more people with the same message we're sending now, we could save more lives.
But guess what- we are NOT doing all we can to stop people from drowning, as this article tries to claim. We need to be stark in what we tell tourists. "Please try to be safe" isn't cutting it.
The fact is that the KVB doesn't want a more strongly worded message for fear of scaring the tourists away.
It's time for the obvious solution: how about big warning boxes as you book your Hawai`i vacation, big banners you can see as you board the plane, as you're leaving the airport baggage claim area and above all at the check-in desks at all the hotels and in every restaurant... and finally, on placards on the desks next to all the TV in every hotel room....all saying something along the lines of:
"DEATH awaits you in the ocean. People JUST LIKE YOU go into the water and DIE ALL THE TIME, sometimes even in calm, waist deep water. Sometimes they get swept in and DIE JUST STANDING ON THE SHORE near breaking waves.
Do not think you are special- YOU CAN AND WILL DIE TOO if you leave your brain behind when you come here and go to the beach. This is not Malibu. You are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Swimming ONLY at beaches with lifeguards may be the ONLY WAY to increase you chances of NOT DYING IN THE OCEAN."
We're not sure if even this will work but we do know that KVB and HVB have been blocking such stark language from appearing so as to avoid scaring off tourists. That has been the case since people suggested it 30 years ago.
Dr. Downs; you have the power to push the visitors' bureaus into using language that may cut through the lack of attention to their surrounding that tourist apparently embrace. You've done incredible work focusing all of us on ocean safety. There's just one more step- let's scare the b'geezus out of 'em
Saturday, February 16, 2013
GETTIN' 'FACED: Admittedly we've been neglectful of our poor "blog"- a term we've finally stopped cringing at just in time for us to take this little pre-burnout semi-hiatus.
So where have we been? For those who haven't noticed, believe it or not we've been on Facebook.
No, not the "she burned my eggs again at breakfast, how's your mother's gout, what kind of wrinkle cream is Mich Jagger using," social network but the incredibly effective, grassroots political organizing tool Facebook.
Yes you heard right. We may be exaggerating or lacking some objectivity but, for instance, organizing the effort to get the state legislature to repeal the creation of the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) could not have been anywhere near as effective without the Abolish the PLDC working group as well as the just plain day-to-day political conversations that Facebook lends itself to.
As more and more sign up, Facebook has gathered together many of the "usual suspects"- political activists and organizers around the state that have seemingly in many ways been key to efforts to expose and publicize some of the more horrendous abuses by PLDC stalwarts State Senators Malama Solomon and Donovan Dela Cruz.
Solomon especially, has tried every dirty trick in the book and some we've never before seen attempted in almost 40 years of legislature observation (with attempted neighbor island participation)... from blocking hearings through verbal and even physical intimidation, to bursting into hearing rooms and going on screaming jags, to political intimidation as committee chair (threatening members with denial of hearings for "their" bills and essentially killing them) if members made any noise about her shenanigans. Said shenanigans include a "gut and replace" of a PLDC repeal bill introduced by Sen. Laura Thielen- who has been exposing Solomon's sh*t on her blog, for example, making signatures on the testimony of many who noted a specific repeal bill now appear to favor a bill that would keep the PLDC in place.
It was through Facebook that a petition with hundreds of signatures was organized to remove Solomon from her position as Chair. Some think that this petition helped convince Solomon that she was not going to keep her devious efforts surreptitious and away from the public eye.
There is even an effort well under way to, if not remove her from office, at least to organize for her defeat in the next election. No politician- even one as bold, brash and boisterous as Solomon- needs this, especially winning her first election (after having been appointed to the senate from her former house seat) in a squeaker to a popular former mayor of Hawai`i Island.
The Facebook petition- originated and organized by a Democratic Party leader on Maui and publicized by a blog post at Civil Beat- was thought by many observers to have, if nothing else, helped focus the attention of both members of the public and other legislators on Solomon's actions. Some long time legislative observers say that no one trusts Solomon at all at this point, and likewise no one wants to be seen to be "on her side."
All eyes, public and legislative, are on every single word of any PLDC related bills in and coming out of her committee.
"Staffers have their uku combs out" when it comes to Malama's PLDC bills said one.
The focus and petition have even spawned some real "out there" conspiracy theorists trying to find a "there there" when there actually wasn't any at all, showing the level of grassroots attention that is now being paid to making sure that a clean repeal bill comes out of the senate- preferably one identical to the one passed by the whole house last Monday (2/11) so it can go directly to the governor’s desk without passing "Go" and having to be "reconciled" in a conference committee--which would give Solomon and Dela Cruz one last bite at the abuse-of-process apple and delay passage possibly until May- something house members greatly fear.
"We (legislators) just want this to be over early in the session so we can move on to important things like the budget," said Kaua`i Rep Derek Kawakami (D 14th- North Shore) who, though he originally supported the PLDC said during a chance early January post office interview, that he was now resigned to repeal.
If you'd like to testify at this point, ask for a bill containing a "clean, full repeal of the PLDC, preferably one identical to one the house passed" without referring to a bill number- and email it to email@example.com .
Of course that's not the only thing being organized through Facebook these days. Many activists are working against GMOs and for labeling as well as dozens of other efforts, sharing bill numbers, gathering testimony, getting the word out when hearings are set and performing many other essential tasks that, until now, were performed through email. But unlike email, Facebook allows anyone to peruse and latch on to, duck in and out of, and instantly participate in the effort(s) of their choice- or not- whether it's local, state or national, whether it's legislative or purely through outside the system efforts- or somewhere in between.
The best feature is that it's instantaneous and allows conversations between dozens or even hundreds of individuals, allowing hundreds if not thousands of interested parties to look over the shoulders of those discussing the best way to, say write testimony and/or lobby and/or organize events, rallies and/or meetings.
Many even feel satisfaction that they've been able to turn one of the most time-wasting symbols of American vacuousness into a heretofore unparalleled tool of truly grassroots activism.
Regarding Facebook itself, of course it's a clunky horrendous system controlled by a bunch of greedy little twerps, bent on control and profit using people's personal information so as to sell them more crap which they don't want or need, reaching new heights of consumerism.
The "staff" are apparently unable to stop tripping over their own feet every time they try to "monetize" the monstrosity they've created and the tradeoff is that everything you say is there forever in the public domain.
And the majority of the people there are still there to tell their "friends" what Hollywood movie didn't totally suck and post pictures of their assorted and sundry genitalia.
And, there are also pitfalls, not just for activists but for politicians- especially the phonies and jerk-wads- who dare to step into the fray.
Case in point, one of the most despicable human beings- not just politicians but people in general- it has ever been our displeasure to have met personally: Representative James "Can't Keep His Pants On" Tokioka (D- 15th District- Kapa`a; Lihu`e).
(The kinder gentler Rabid Reporter we've referred to of late is finding out that the trick is to be benevolent to and considerate of the feelings of friends and lovers, but not necessarily so much for total sc*mbags like Tokioka who consciously and consistently prey on the public trust for fun and profit without one iota of true public service behind their efforts.)
This slimy little pr*ck has consistently been "for" one thing- Jimmy Tokioka- for a couple of decades, first as a Republican councilmember on Kaua`i who managed to lie, cheat and finagle his way to reelection every two years until he somehow cut a deal to "replace" our retiring original-good-old-boy machine-made-man Ezra Kanoho by switching parties and, somehow, managing to get elected- and reelected- without ever facing any opposition.
Although it's been said about many ever since- including about Tokioka himself- Kanoho was the first to have it be said about him that he was "the man who never met a hotel he didn't like."
Please- someone- run against this guy. Unless you're on the sex offender list or fail to bathe regularly or something, you're probably a shoo-in.
Until the last dog dies, Tokioka was a stalwart supporter of the defeated House Speaker Calvin Say and apparently remains bitter about the defeat and loss of his power that was derived from his support of Say. He remains staunchly pro-GMO and his list of contributors reflect a corporate debt.
As a long time corporate-bought-and-paid-for shill, he was a main force behind the PLDC on the house side and was on the house committee where various PLDC related bills were heard.
His list of campaign contributors indicates a man with a corporate indebtedness. His top ten PAC contributors include Monsanto, A&B and American Resort Development Association Resort Owners Coalition Pac (ARDA Roc-Pac) while his top ten individual contributors include lobbyist supreme John Radcliffe and infamous Republican resort honcho Lynn McCrory- a thick gruel of PLDC supporters indeed.
So this week when the repeal of the PLDC was up for a vote in the full house, even though he had been embarrassed into completing a unanimous vote for full repeal in committee he was apparently still fuming and beholden to his corporate backers.
Observers say Tokioka was apparently trapped and couldn't get out from behind the table and out of the room before the vote and would have made headlines had he tried- or, as an alternative, vote against the repeal bill. The acquiescence of those who had been blocking repeal in the house came literally as a last-minute surprise when those opposed to repeal saw the handwriting on the wall and, after verbally listing all the reasons they were against repeal suddenly turned on a dime to allow the full repeal to pass out of committee. Even the bill reads as if it were going to keep the PLDC, only to repeal it in the last couple of sentences.
So it was no surprise that Tokioka was notable for his absence from the "unanimous" vote of the full house to pass a "clean, full repeal" of the PLDC.
Well, starting a day or so after the vote the "Abolish the PLDC" Facebook group- which has apparently become one "source" for a few reporters in the state looking to "feel the pulse" of PLDC opponents- began discussing Tokioka's absence from the full house vote and the subject was seeming to threaten to make headlines in one publication or another.
So all of a sudden, in the middle of one the many conversation "threads" that were becoming more and more critical of Tokioka's action- or lack of it- there was a "comment" from none other than his vileness his own self.
After thanking one person for seemingly trying to make plausible excuses for Jimmy he wrote:
To respond to Xxxxxx's question about why I was absent at the time of the would like you to know it is my dad's 82nd birthday today. In May of 2012 my dad had a massive stroke and has been bed ridden since then. Who knows how many more times I'm gonna get to talk to him on his birthday and between my mom and I we were coordinating the phone call that could only be done at that time. If you look at the committee vote, I voted Yes to repeal. I hope that better clarifies my vote and my actions. (all sic)
Here we go again. This is quintessential Jimmy Tokioka. Jimmy has made a career out of grabbing at and yanking on some concocted heart-string (or is it heart-chain) whenever he is cornered by some act of his that there's no way to explain his way out of. It's a well worn tool in his obfuscation and dodge-ball playing toolbox- a tried and true (to turn the phrase around) "the best defense is a good offense" ploy.
If you don't read it carefully it might seems like he had been with his sick dad- who could drop dead tomorrow- on his 82nd birthday. And even if you do read it, you'd think there was some kind of reason why if he had stayed for the vote he would probably never see his dad again.
The gist seems to have been that only by skipping the vote would he be permitted to speak to his beloved mother or see his on-his-deathbed father again... or something like that.
But the fact is, as alleged by a few of those who were there for the vote and were discussing Tokioka's absence- and confirmed in a Civil Beat article by Chad Blair and Nathan Eagle:
So that's where we've been- in addition to organizing we've been posting a lot shorter pieces and sharing articles that we might otherwise weave into a column... had we not been so lazy of late.
So "friend" us under "Andy Parx" if you’re interested in seeing what we've been writing on Facebook. Or you can check in here now and again- usually daily or so- although we're not really sure if you have to sign up to see it (another BS feature- don't get us started...).
We're actually surprised that the chattering classes- especially those who directly cover the "social media" have not picked up on this "Facebook as a political tool" phenomena yet. We just stumbled upon it after family members and close friends (yes- we do still have some) got spammed-out and gave up on email and forced us to toss our very soul into Zuckerberg's zeitgeist
But although we might go back and forth between feeding this space and the social network cum organizing tool, Jimmy Tokioka will always be an unwavering slimeball.
Friday, February 1, 2013
STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE MONTHS: It not something we'd often admit to but occasionally watching a good political fight can be almost as stimulating as illicit sex.
The emotions behind the charges and counter charges of two combatants and the laughingly-obvious concerted half-truths and outright lies all leading up to an orgasmic first Tuesday in November, then, when it's over we clean it up and go back to our normal boring life.
Most of the time.
When the arguably all-time most entertaining of local campaigns- this year's often indecipherable machination of former Kaua`i Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri Carvalho's reelection campaign- came to an end we thought all we'd have were the sweet memories.
Even when an executive session item on last week's council agenda referred to a settlement of one of those on the long list of harassment complaints against Iseri- this time the one by now-rehired deputy prosecutor Rebecca Vogt- we didn't expect a "for old time's sake" post-coital, spittle-filled rant from the Queen of Xanadu (ask around).
Yet there she was on our screen (7 hours 25 minutes in), doing her best Captain Queeg impression... all that was missing were the steel balls and the claim of "that's where I had them.. with the strawberries."
Yes it's all a conspiracy folks- County Attorney Al Castillo, her opponent and now Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar, Hizzonnah Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr, the council, Vogt herself and a cast of dozens- they wanted her out and would do anything to achieve their goal of stopping Iseri from protecting Kaua`i... presumably from the likes of them.
For those who missed some of the details of the federal suit revealed when veteran Kaua`i reporter Joan Conrow described them in her KauaiEclectic blog, last September 20, she wrote:
The complaint, filed Tuesday in Kauai Circuit Court on behalf of deputy Rebecca Vogt, raises concerns about equal pay, gender discrimination, free speech rights and county ethics violations. It names both the county and Iseri-Carvalho, who was sued by Councilman Tim Bynum yesterday.
Vogt alleges she was pressured to support Iseri-Carvalho, who rewarded employees she considered loyal. When Vogt did not actively campaign, she claims she was passed over for a raise, while five less-experienced male deputies who supported the prosecutor got hefty pay hikes ...
She says Iseri-Carvalho handed out the pay raises even though in March — following “sparse attendance at her major fundraiser” — she had told staff that she would be cutting salaries due to “budget cuts.”
When Vogt complained about the arbitrary nature of the raises, and their apparent unethical link to campaign support, she says Iseri-Carvalho retaliated against her, giving her more work, denying her comp time and stripping her of the authority to independently approve plea offers.
Vogt maintains Iseri-Carvalho violated the county Code of Ethics, which prohibits county employees from using their positions to secure unwarranted privileges, advantages and treatment for themselves or others. She also says her right to free speech was violated when the prosecutor punished her for speaking up.
The complaint alleges Iseri-Carvalho's actions were “willful, wanton, outrageous and oppressive,” and that Vogt suffered job insecurity, income loss, humiliation, and emotional and physical anguish as a result. The extent of the retaliation forced her to take a medical leave of absence, she alleges.
Vogt, who began working for the Office of Prosecuting Attorney in August 2010, says she had always received favorable work reviews.
Iseri claims that, as part of this vast conspiracy, the mastermind, mousey little CA Castillo- with whom Iseri had been feuding ever since she stopped answering the council's budget-time questions regarding her home-made sentencing diversion program- went off and arbitrarily decided all on his own to settle Vogt's suit without any other input, especially from Iseri herself.
So is it true? Could it possibly be true? Well, not exactly.
Because in cases of employment discrimination and wrongful terminations, you are not allowed to just go to circuit court and sue.
You are first required to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC then does its own investigation of the complaint, including requesting that the alleged offender's employer respond to the complaint... something, by the way, the county has a long history of not doing. Then, if, and only if, the EEOC finds that there is reason to believe an offense occurred, it gives permission to the complainant to sue in circuit court.
That means that it would have been impossible for Castillo to act totally on his own to settle the suit just to make Iseri look bad and insure Kollar's election because the fact that a suit was filed in 5th Circuit Court meant that the EEOC- which refuses to discuss cases, which are all "confidential" by law- had already found that there was reason to believe the complaint was valid.
This of course is just one factor. In this week's tirade before the council (which she submitted in writing to the council so it is public record now) Iseri kept repeating that no one asked her about "the settlement." But it was hard not to notice that she kept referring to "the settlement" rather than the facts in the case which presumably she has had the opportunity to refute- something she hasn't done publicly.
But admittedly we don't know, which of course is the point here.
What we do know is that Iseri was- and still is as far as we know- not talking to anyone about anything because early in 2012 she "lawyered up" and got the county to hire her an attorney rather than answer questions from the council when it asked her for the same kind of "due diligence" budgetary information it seeks every year from all department heads.
So is it over? Was Wednesday's testimony simply one last hopped-up harangue from our dear "long time comin', long time gone," Miss Loodacris Lilly?.. a final "say it don't spray it" moment from one of the most entertainingly delusional public figures Kaua`i has ever seen- and most likely will ever see again?
Guess we should just light up a cigarette knowing we'll always have POHAKU.