Thursday, July 29, 2010


NOT BUT WITH A WHIMPER: As if there was any doubt as to the outcome or the specifics the council passed an even more loophole ridden version of the TVR bill yesterday with (predictably) Dickie Chang and (disappointingly but not unpredictably) Lani Kawahara joining Jay Furfaro, Darryl Kaneshiro and bill author Tim Bynum voting “yea” and Derrick Kawakami and Chair Kaipo Asing voting in the negatory.

That information comes no thanks to the lazy dullard on the government beat at the local newspaper who apparently couldn’t stay up as late enough to file a story on the all important vote but Joan Conrow who “juggled work with time in the Council Chambers to see for myself how the vote on the transient vacation rental (TVR) bill went down,” filed her post at 11:16 last night.

The added poison to the already toxic legislation says, according to Conrow:

you don’t actually have to be engaged in bonafide farming, as evidenced by tax returns, to get approval for your TVR on agricultural land. You can still get a permit if the planning commission finds intensive agriculture is prohibited by the shape, size, topography, surrounding land uses OR — and this is today’s big giveaway — for any other reason.

And as far as “Mr. Wala`au”, also predictably Joan quoted Dickie Chang as saying “(w)hether it’s right or wrong, we need to move forward” saying that apparently “that answers the question of whether his private pau hana briefing by beer-bearing county attorneys had any effect on his decision. 'Cause he was against the bill before that little meeting.”

But the big question is whether this will really be the political game changer many are predicting.

There is palpable fury over this bill among not just the usual suspects but those who ordinarily don’t give politics a second thought except for every two years in November.

Many felt that they were sold down the river when the grandfathering bill was passed but thought that the restrictions and difficulty of the process- replete with provisions for public scrutiny- would serve to phase out the existing TVRs in residential areas.

But not only did the corrupt planning department refuse to follow the guidelines but the planning commission didn’t seem to care. And now instead of seeking to strengthen the bill the council has essentially torn it up and thrown in a plum giving the most egregious illegality- those TVRs on ag- a path to legality to boot.

Other than those who stand to gain financially it’s hard to find anyone- even among those who ordinarily support the land rape of Kaua`i- who has supported the mess.

So how will this shake out- or shake up Kaua`i politics?

The questions are first, will this be the end of the political careers of Furfaro and more importantly Bynum as many have vowed to make it and on the flip side will the animosity over Asing’s reign of terror and the disappointment over the misplaced hopes some had for Kawakami last election be negated by their somewhat meaningless votes?

Furfaro’s popularity has always been an enigma. But his vote wasn’t disappointing anyone. His unflinching support for tourism development has always been a hallmark of his tenure on the council. But his growing pomposity and ego driven bombast recently has become more and more irritating, at least for those who catch it on TV.

Is the anti incumbent feeling this year enough to push him out? Don’t count on it.

Bynum is the big question mark. Before the TVR debacle his growing popularity in supporting what was seen as Kawahara’s push for openness and free-flowing information allowed him to ride her ample coattails which many predicted would lead her near or to the top of the polling this year.

But with Kawahara out of the race after being beaten to a bloody pulp by the likes of Asing, Kawakami and Kaneshiro voters may not put as much stock in the need for Bynum’s “second” to what was perceived, rightly or wrongly, as the fight her “new blood” introduced into the council dynamic.

With “his” TVR bill, as well as other votes that are seen as hypocritical of his words on sustainability and land use in general, that may well be the defining issue upon which Bynum’s continued incumbency depends.

That leads to Chang who slipped in last time due to name recognition alone. But really his victory in ’08 was a numbers game- one that may again be the more important factor this November.

With two “vacancies” in ’08 there was a dearth of viable candidates to fill the two slots other than Kawahara. A virtual unknown, Kipukai Kuali`i even came close without any endorsements from the progressives that a social workers and organizer might have gotten if organizations like the Sierra Club- and admittedly observers like us- hadn’t put all their eggs in the Kawahara basket.

This year is quite the opposite. The two who created the vacancies- Mel Rapozo ad JoAnn Yukimura who both ran for mayor and lost- are back and are virtual shoo-ins for election.

But other than Nadine Nakamura- who despite having some good buzz is still is a question mark due to the wariness people have over her profession as a “planner”, which on Kaua`i may be a dirty word- and Rolf Bieber who has made a name for himself in taking on the administration and the corrupt ethics commission, viable candidates are few and far between.

Given Chang's negatives after two years of cluelessness Nakamura stands to take advantage and move into his slot.

But that may all be moot if Asing or Kawakami- or both- fall out of the top seven something that, although unlikely if you look at past elections, may be possible in a year when disgust with council incumbents has made dents in their usual bases of support.

The question for Furfaro and Bynum may not be their negatives as much as how effective a charge Bieber or Kuali`i can make and how far the once mighty have fallen.

We have few illusions. To quote John Lennon- and perhaps explain Kawahara’s decision that she’d had enough-

There’s room at the top they keep telling you still
But first you must learn to smile as you kill
A working class hero is something to be

No comments: