Monday, September 8, 2008


SAME OLD DOGS, SAME OLD TRICKS: Though there are few benevolent bright bulbs running for council along with the usual sucking black holes, the same can’t be said about this year’s Mayor’s race.

It’s Slim Pickens out there and we’d probably vote for him if he was running before one of the four headless horsemen. It’s one of those elections where the “none of the above” crazes come out of the woodwork.

Having an NOTA choice on the ballot might make some fools feel better but is an exercise in futility.

NOTA as an electoral choice only make matters worse. It forces another vote, usually for an even worse slate. It makes you wonder where all the NOTA people were when others were filing to run.

Sometimes there is a candidate who fills the NOTA niche- a candidate who, we’re told, has no chance of winning but who everyone agrees with on the issues. Such an apparent non-sequitor is informative of the sorry state of what passes for democracy in our two-party-addled system.

This year on Kaua`i even our NOTA candidate is a malahini high school teacher with no government experience whose only campaign promise is that he will give his salary back to the taxpayers.

For all we know, if elected he may even need to watch one of those 50’s film strips on “How a Bill Becomes a Law” replete with talking cartoon documents, narrated by the condescending Mr. Know-It-All.

At least during the last election, among the usual “electable” dregs we had good-governance aficionado and current council candidate Bruce Pleas to vote for for mayor. It gave people an opportunity vote their conscience and at least use their vote to make an NOTA statement.

But Rolf Bieber could be a Ralph Cramdon or a Ralph Richardson but he’s no Ralph Nader and no one is lining up to support his policies because he doesn’t appear to have any.

As for the “aboves”, Bernard Carvalho would be four more years of even more of the headless chicken dance that passed for an administration under Bryan Baptiste- same department heads, same private interests sitting on all the boards and commissions, same cronies, same time, same station.

All the corruption, secrecy and general inactivity you’re come to know and love will dig itself in a little deeper, approve few more hotels, sell off a few more beach accesses and generally run the place into the ground.

Bernard can best be described as the lack of brains behind Baptiste, putting together secret task forces and done deals and generally exhibiting an expertise only in paper shuffling.

The reason his ads say “together we can” is because he has no idea how to do it himself. He hasn’t got a clue and needs all the help he can get from anyone who’ll give it.

Not that he’ll take it from us. He’s usually already made his decision based on what the various and sundry crooks have told him because he knows he’s not capable of rendering a learned one. Few other than he himself will disagree that he treats you and your required public testimony as a bothersome nuisance.

It’s hard to imagine anyone worse for our future but perhaps only if you hadn’t met that piece of work they call Mel “tail-gunner-Joe” Rapozo.

There actually is a shot in hell of him ripping into some of the sleaze in county government but only if it’s someone Mel has it in for anyway. He can be petty and vindictive and isn’t above abusing his position with the witch hunts and cover-ups that have characterized his tenure on the council.

It usually depends on who’s got what on him at the time.

And that leaves our sister JoAnn Yukimura. She’s a shell of the activist she once was- the one dedicated to public service who spoke and acted her mind and was wildly popular for it..

Now she’s ditched all service but the lip kind and become the consummate politician.

She is single-handedly responsible for continuing vacation rentals in non-tourism areas, the thousand acres of million-plus-dollar homes at Kukui`ula and keeping official legal opinions and council public policy decisions away from public eyes..... all the while claiming to have ended the vacation rental crisis and led “affordable” housing efforts and verbally championing the sunshine law.

But she’s also the one of the smartest people in government– or at least she used to be until she thought she lost the ‘94 election because she didn’t make everybody happy.

Then she took one of those Steve Covey “Seven Irritating Habits of Highly Annoying A-holes” seminars and became the developer’s best friend, creating “win-win” situations by losing what had already been won.

She now compromises and compromises until the final product doesn’t resemble anything but the dreams of the developers and other assorted thieves and rogues. Anyone who waves a park, a road, land for an unneeded new school or some other unfathomable pet project at her is thus entitled to a private beach or some other golden-egg-laying goose in return.

But while she’s no longer smart enough to see what she’s doing to herself or us, she is smart and at one time did great things for this island.

We don’t expect her to change but at least under JoAnn we would have a mayor who knew what the right thing to do was at one time and may actually set a few things in balance.

Which is why- and even we can’t believe we’re saying this- we are urging people vote for JoAnn Yukimura for Mayor on September 20.

It could be worse... a whole lot worse.


Katy said...

Once again, a decent grassroots activist gets the hair-brained idea that she can represent or lead a movement from the corridors of government, and once again we see the devolution into a compromiser and sell-out. Does this still surprise anyone?

Andy,is there a single example in the U.S. of an elected official who actually did more good from "inside the system" than they were doing while they were out organizing in the community with the rest of us?

Again, why do we cling to this fantasy about our problems being solved by electing "good" people?

The ONLY thing that will matter - no matter who becomes mayor - is the effectiveness of the pressure put upon her from the outside. Clearly, the developers have been better at that game than the common people so far. The results speak for themselves.

I'm not saying "Don't vote," but I am saying "Don't just vote," and I am challenging the notion that we can expect elected officials to act on progressive principles without tremendous pressure that overwhelms the pull of moneyed interests.

We have a long way to go,especially considering the fact that most common people are primarily concerned with earning a decent living. The grassroots has not yet offered a compelling vision of economic security that is consistent with sustainability. Until that is articulated, there is no way to put coherent pressure on elected officials toward progressive goals, because the working class of Kaua'i will not unite around any agenda that threatens jobs - for damn good reason.

Anonymous said...

The notion that the politician will typically yield to public pressure and the necessity, therefore, of an active community is correct.

However, the blanket rejection of the notion that politicians can do any real good from "inside the system" is not correct.

There is a natural tension between political power and people power.

If, for example, if a developer who has previously bought land zoned for resort wants to build a mega-resort, and a minority of the residents fully oppose the resort and a majority of the residents don't want it either but will reluctantly support it because of economic concerns... Who is the better mayor, the guy who will fast track the mega resort or someone like Joanne who will try to seek some compromise and perhaps a scaled-down, somewhat "greener" version gets built?

Anyway, the good politicians may not accomplish as much actual good as we'd like, but they can and do prevent a lot of bad stuff. I'm sorry, but if politicians didn't pass laws against slavery, child labor, toxic dumping, etc., each of these would be much more prevalent than they are here today.

Joanne chooses to make crap money compared to what she is worth in the private sector, and does her best to balance economic realities and majority rule with her ideals. And it is not fair to trivialize her hard work and accomplishments. In some situations, a mayor can stop environmental atrocities with a phone call - or choose to ignore the issue. Why would we direct all of the good people into community activism and none of them into politics?

While community organizers are good for society and all, if none of them make the switch and run for office, there will be no one even half way decent to vote for. Then watch what the bad guys do. And if forced to choose between compromising on an issue or losing on the issue - maybe compromise is the better move. Its what politicians have done since before ancient Rome. Sell out is not a proper characterization of such a compromise, in the world of majority rule and political reality. Risk management or loss prevention might be a better way to characterize compromisers like Joanne.

What we need is both. Good politicians and community activists. And the dualistic tendency to say we need one, but not the other is counterproductive. The truth lies somewhere in the tension and the balance between the two, and like minded community folks and politicians should be fully supporting each other, recognizing the different but equally necessary roles they play.

Katy said...

Okay,you make some good points. Of course, I'm an anarchist and therefore naturally dismissive of government. But given that we do live in a hierarchical system, I will concede that I prefer "good politicians" over "bad" ones. I suppose the point I'm making is that even "bad" politicians can be pressured by strong social movements. Even Nixon was forced to support some civil rights legislation because of the power of the movement at the time.

My main objection is not so much that electoral politics draws off individuals who are good organizers in the community as much as the fact that it has the tendency to draw off a significant amount of attention and energy from grassroots struggle as everyone rushes into helping someone get elected instead of continuing the momentum so dearly won on off-election years for grassroots movement building.

I think it's a trap, and the more energy the grassroots puts into electoral politics, the weaker we are at influencing the very politicians we worked so hard to install.

Andy Parx said...

There are successful pols who have bright line they will not cross in compromise Vegreef. They are rare. They will not support certain things that fully sell out what they wanted in the first place. JoAnn used to be one of them. She’s not any more. You present a lot of Hobson’s choices and a lot of “it’s always been that way” rationales but that slippery slope is exactly how good pols become bad ones. .It’s the rare one that can stand 10 years in office and still remain faithful to their ideals and know the lines they shouldn’t cross and actually enforce them.

For each Gary Hooser and Mina Morita- to name two examples for Katy- there’s a dozens of Kaipo’s and JoAnn’s by the wayside. And we got 20 good years out of each of them before they were corrupted by power.

No doubt she will be better than Rapozo or Carvalho just like Obama might be better than McCain. But in my book that’s a dictionary picture of damning with fait praise.