Wednesday, June 4, 2008


AND YOU GET ALL THOSE MEATY BY-PRODUCTS TOO: The talk of the town today is a piece- we won’t say a piece of what- in Hawai`i Business Magazine headlined “Something’s Happening Here” written by 2006 Excellence in Journalism Award winner Scott Radway.

But the only award Scott could hope win for this one would be for parachute journalism- and that presumably if he lied and said he had come to Kaua`i for the undatelined story.

If he did do the drop-in, it didn’t show. Radway’s telephone and email skills are lackluster as is his lack of depth in describing “A string of controversies on Kauai is changing the way people do business” as the article’s sub-head states.

Unwittingly Radway dishes more of exactly what people on Kaua`i are fed up with- current day lunas seeking to reestablish plantation mentality claiming a silent majority of cowed, plantation lackeys they wish still existed and proposing more dog and pony shows to try to keep us the way we were.

He quotes every business mouthpiece and hack around- the kinds of BS artists who are as out of touch as they could be. The story is based on quotes from the following, all trying to tell Radway what the common people are thinking:

-Long-time County biz-shill Beth Tokioka,

-Top-tourism promoter Sue Kanoho,

-Future Lunas of Kaua`i wannabe and current Kauai Chamber of Commerce (CofC) President Randall Francisco,

-CofC Chair Joy Miura Koerte who doubles in the daytime doing the usual public relations slime-work at Fujita & Miura,

-Randy Hee, the top apologist and good old boys at KIUC, the “co-op” electric company,

-Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura who chairs the “how-far-should-we-bend-over”, “how much money ya got” and “where-do-you-want-to-put-it” Planning Committee and

-Hizdishonah Mayor Bryan Baptiste who, if he had a dollar, a day and a brain he would still be two short of each.

They all do their best to tell investors and developers that, not to worry, people here are so dumb and snowed you actually can take a dump on Kaua`i people as long as you make believe you asked them first.

The article starts with some of the usual Oahu-centric myths about the Superferry which now includes apparently charges of “vandalism of vehicles” during the first attempted docking of the hated harbinger in the harbor, replete with snide comments about the protesters from Kanoho.

Radway starts with an insincere derision of the world’s view of Kauai’s Hobson’s Choice with statement “Outside of Kauai, people could not help but ask whether the Garden Island was officially antibusiness? In a series of in-depth interviews, Kauai leaders emphatically stated that’s not the case, it’s far more complex than anything so black and white”.

But then he goes on to find out how that anti-business attitude can be overcome by smart PR and proper subjugation of the populace.

When Radway quotes CofC’s PR Queen Koerte as saying “(t)here are a lot of frustrations that cannot be left un-addressed. We need to really take the time to figure out where we are going and how we are going to get there”, there’s not much doubt about where “there” is- ramming big-money backed development down our throats but sugar coating it enough to not make us gag too much... and making it seem like we asked for that sweet turd on our plate in the first place

He quotes Tokioka, the County’s top development enabler with the past two “never met a hotel they didn’t like” administrations, as saying “(t)here is a heightened awareness of anything that might impact our quality of life. Processes are not easy on Kauai right now.”

That’s right- beware developers- it’s so bad out there you’d better schmooze and pay off people with millions set aside to grease the skids if you want to put your money suction machine wherever you want.

The article mentions some horrifying stats from the Kauai Planning & Action Alliance (KPAA) about how bad living condition for the workforce are on Kaua`i and praises the overdevelopers in Po`ipu and their fully ineffective “Dust Management Hui” which swept under the rug the issue if not the dust from a dozen simultaneous projects.

But painfully obvious in it’s omission is any possibility that your new gated golf course, resort and luxury home project might be the wrong fit for an island littered with them (and more already zoned), rather intimating it’s all a matter of presentation and not getting people so pissed off they block the harbor or threaten to burn it down when you sue to “get ‘er done”.

And talk about audacity. The articles says that Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura criticized the lack of implementation of the General Plan by the administration, and

“says instead Kauai often manages growth by reactionary measures such as a laundry list of approval conditions and at times, litigation. “One thousand conditions is not the answer,” she says. “You have to address the issue before it becomes a controversy.”

These words come from Ms. Sell-Out herself. Yukimura came back to politics after being credited with stopping the 1000 acre Kukui`ula resort, luxury home and golf course project as a citizen and then turned around after re-election and guided it through a contentious Council rezoning process toward approval.

And she says she did so because she got those “one thousand conditions” mostly so inconsequential and totally insufficient that they could and will never come close to paying for the county services impacts. The major “conditions” included a school no one (including the BOE) wants or needs, “workforce” housing that is so restrictive and expensive no one will want it and the road that runs through and serves the subdivision (and turns a quiet dead end road to Spouting Horn into a superhighway) but includes no other provision for roads to support the thousands of rich mainlanders who are going to overpopulate it and Po`ipu.

After some typical “huh??” words from Baptiste about how it’s not really a problem he created despite his administration’s lack of implementation of the General Plan and a Planning Department with a notorious revolving door to the remnants of the plantations at Grove Farm, Gay and Robinson and others the other CofC honcho Francisco does the dirty work of trying to divide Kauaiians by race and claiming the people here basically know their place and it’s a handful of outside rabble rousers stopping development

According to Radway, Francisco:

“acknowledges there is definitely an undercurrent of cultural division contributing to divisiveness.”

“I think people felt embarrassed,” Francisco says, referring to the Superferry protests. “We as people of Hawaii and Kauai, most of us came from a plantation community. That multicultural upbringing gives us our identity and sometimes for newcomers, there is a disconnect.”

”Francisco continues that, in plantation culture, where everyone was so interdependent, you didn’t always express your opinion so negatively, so publically(sic). “Sometimes how we use language, verbal and nonverbal, is the Red Sea that divides us. I don’t fault newcomers, because they don’t share that experience, but the majority of the community does have that as a reference point.”

Ah the good old days when the darkies on the plantation “no like say nahting” and if one of them looked the wrong way at the head of the CofC they were jobless, homeless and blacklisted before the sun when down.

Then Koerte cracked massah’s whip again saying:

“With a lot of issues, there is a silent majority, made up of a lot of local people, born and raised here. They do have the same interests and they do want to preserve our community our culture, our unique social fabric, but really weren’t against the Superferry and understand why the monkeypod trees have to come out,” says Koerte.

“A lot of the longtime people experience the shutdown of the plantations. They understand something has to come in so there are jobs and their children can return, can come home for work,” she says. “They understand something has to happen for us to progress and compete in a global marketplace. They are people who have experienced downturns.”

Yeah how’s that workin’ out for ya after following that scheme for the 50 years since most of the plantations closed?

We all know how-- with more hotel plantations giving our kids the opportunity to have six jobs each cleaning rich people’s toilets with their tongues at starvation wages while the ultra rich move in next door or put in a vacation rental driving our taxes through the roof and making housing cost more than Tokyo as the working poor on Kaua`i slide down the razor blade of life while the pols create “for sale” affordable housing at a price just out of the reach of anyone who needs it so the rich end up getting a cheap deal when we can’t even afford or find a rental unit.

Tokioka then takes it home with the advice that it isn’t really about how bad the project is, how it will hurt the community, how it will continue the hopelessness of most local families or dash the hope that they will ever get any sleep before the kids leave home.

It’s all about how you sell it to the plantation-whipped plebes.

From the article:

“There is always a concern in business in trying to get something done quickly or efficiently, but I think where we are as an island, it is probably better to take more time and in some cases, a lot more time, and take the input and get buy-in,” Tokioka says. “So you have success at the back-end.”

Is the Superferry a good example of the opposite approach?“

Hindsight is always much easier, but clearly that project is not moving forward as planned,” she says. “You really can’t rush things here. It is better to take a little time and do your due diligence and come out with a better product, embraced by a greater segment of the community.”

Francisco puts on the capper that puts us in the crapper:

“Kauai is not antidevelopment. This is a place with tremendous heart and aloha. People want to know you’re genuine, your intentions are good and if the community is taken care of, the business will succeed.”

Sincerity is important and, as they say, if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

You bet there’s something happening here Scott- and what it is is all too clear to us if not you or your readers.


Anonymous said...

What's your realistic alternative Andy? Anyone can moan about how horrible the tourist industry is, but what other choice do kids have for making a living in a place 3000 miles from anywhere, with no mineral resources to extract, a poorly educated population, high costs for most anything and high export tariffs in the form of the same 3000 miles of transport cost?

You think we're going to have Silicon valley here? Or will this just be an Elephant's graveyard for aging mainlanders with the local population providing health services? There is a reason half the population got up and went to Vegas.

Given your own mis-steps and inaccuracies, slagging others for poor googling skills is pretty rich to boot.

Anonymous said...

andy, you rip! the article blows but somehow you made it more enjoyable. thanx for sparing no one. modern day lunas, you kill me.