Monday, August 27, 2012


A MAN, A PLAN, A DEBACLE- RAPOZO: After decades of problems keeping the rain off the Kilauea Gym floor, the Director of the Kaua`i Parks and Recreation (P&R) Department, Lenny Rapozo, has finally come up with what many in the administration are calling a "brilliant" multi-pronged approach to fixing the structure which includes covering the current leaky roof with pili grass and moving the whole building 90 degrees to aviod the wet, easterly winds.

"A pili grass roof was good enough for the ancient Hawaiians so it should be good enough for us" said Rapozo, "especially if it's not raining."

The roof has never in human memory actually kept water out- which is thought by many in the Buildings Division of the Department of Public Works to be the main function of a roof- despite 137 attempts to replace it based on 373 different consultants' plans.

Rapozo also had a plan for the leaky door that faces into the rainy trade winds.

"We have hundreds of balloons and dozens of tanks of helium left over from the mayor's last campaign so we can just fill them up and float the building. And the beauty of it is that we can use all those political appointees and mayoral-approved civil servants who owe their jobs to him to turn the whole building, moving the door to a more desirable orientation... whichever way, after trial and error, that turns out to be."

According to Rapozo his own recent research has apparently shown that the current structure sits on the footprint and is a renovated version of the ancient "Kilauea Himanekium" where "pre-western-contact kanaka would go for drink beer." But, Rapozo said he discovered that during a 19th century renovation the building was inadvertently spun around sideways by witches, who were brought over for just such jobs by missionaries who were seeking to allow the structure to receive bigger shipments of bibles they could exchange for surrounding farms and home-sites.

"We're excited by the discovery" said Rapozo whose engineering expertise goes back to his days at Kapa`a High School where he lettered in "Pick-up Sticks" and "Tiddlywinks." He also studied basket-weaving, a skill he said may prove useful in the pili roofing project.

"I think I've got something here that nobody else could- or would- have come up with," Rapozo boasted with a straight face.

There are also plans to replace the wooden basketball floor with concrete and then put down lauhala mats in order to absorb any rainwater in case the pili grass leaks. "But the mats are only for when it rains because no one plays basketball in the rain anyway," said Rapozo. "Besides, the plan is all up here," Rapozo said pointing to his head "so we can save money on design consultants if the pili grass has to be replaced. Since everyone is used to paying over and over for consultants every year or so, we have an unending source of funding for the project, 'cause grass stay cheap, eh?"

Rapozo did not at first indicate where the cheap pili grass would come from since it is an all but extinct species but when asked of his plans for future recreational projects Rapozo said he's thinking of a Youth Program where students grow can pili grass on county land, then sell the product to the county for other roofing projects.

His boss, Mayor Bernard Carvalho applauded Rapozo's ingenuity. "That's why I hired him- since he has no expertise in any one particular area, he tends to think, not just outside the box but outside the entire realm of human endeavor and experience."

Rapozo also talked about- but didn't explain- either using the remaining balloons and helium to actually move Moran Pond at Lydgate or filling the balloons with the mud that now befouls the once popular swimming pools after a previous Rapozian plan to dredge the pools want awry... for some unfathomable reason.

"Then maybe the mud balloons will just float away," he said wistfully

Council Chair Jay Furfaro was cautiously enthusiastic over the plan saying "it wouldn't be the absolute stupidest thing we've ever approved- but it'd be close."

Councilperson JoAnn Yukimura was apparently skeptical but said she would have to see the plans in writing before she could really comment and recommend a thorough study of the project.

But Councilmember Mel Rapozo was both for it and against it, making sure that he didn't state a position until he figured out what the political implications were.

Blogger Andy Parx but did manage to wake up long enough to backhandedly mumble an ambiguous complement saying "it sound just like something Lenny would come up with since no one in the county is smarter or more suited to his job than he is."

Friday, August 24, 2012


I KNOW I HAD MY JOHN HANCOCK RIGHT HERE A MOMENT AGO: Sometimes an election can turn on just a few votes. A few years back the Kaua`i mayoral race was clinched by just four votes.

This year some legislative races came down to a few handfuls of votes and in the case of at least one- where turnout was alleged to have been reduced due to the Big Island county clerk's apparent incompetence- it spurred a Hawai`i Supreme Court challenge after polling places opened so late that many early-bird voters simply "gave up."

So it's no wonder that some candidates go to unusual if not illegal lengths to assure enough individual votes to assure victory.

According to reports, the loser of a Honolulu County Council race, Martin Rana Han, is challenging victor Joey Manahan's win alleging that Manahan went into voters' homes and intimidated them into filling out their mail-in, absentee ballots in his favor.

But even assuming it's true, that type of effort pales in comparison with the bad old days on Kaua`i when incumbent Mayors Eduardo Malapit and his successor "Uncle" Tony Kunimura didn't have to intimidate anyone to scoop up bucketfuls of votes from those in no position to vote for themselves.

Back in the late 70's early 80's as a Registered Nurse in training we had occasion to work in two "long term care" facilities on Kaua`i- Mahelona Hospital and the 2nd floor "Makai" unit at Wilcox Hospital.

During an early 80's election we also had occasion to speak with two nurses at Mahelona shortly after hearing that in late October the elections division folks had paid a little visit to assure the "residents"- many of whom were too infirm to make it to the polls- got their chance to vote.

That included not just those with their faculties intact but, to use decidedly unprofessional language, were little more than drooling rutabagas with vacant-gazes seemingly permanently propped-up on their tuffet in the day room.

According to the two nurses, ballots were distributed ,and if the resident was, ahem, "having trouble"- in many cases not even recognizing the pen as a writing implement much less the ballots as an instrument of voting- an election official would come by and "assist" them in voting, saying "oh, you want Uncle Tony, right?" and otherwise "properly" marking their ballots with not only votes for Kunimura but also the then-current council chair and the council majority that just coincidentally had hired the county clerk conducting the balloting.

When we asked why they didn't say something they told us that this type of activity had simply been the way it traditionally was every election year going back to Malapit and even before that.

And if they expected to keep their jobs they knew better than to try to end the practice now.

So was this an isolated situation? What about other "care homes?" We happened across two others, a nurse and nurse's aide, who worked in the "Makai" Wilcox facility and they needed little or no prodding to recount similar tales, one saying that the ballots were distributed "pre-marked" with the appropriate incumbents' names. Not only that, but apparently this practice had been a topic of hushed discussions with other healthcare professional who worked in other smaller private care homes on Kaua`i.

And those discussions left them no doubt that it was "routine" across the island for the Kaua`i elections bureau workers to mine the votes of those who didn't seem to mind if they did, thank you very much.

We doubt it's as blatant these days as it was was back in the day when the "old boys network" ruled in a far more open fashion. It was a lot easier to use the intimidation of "plantation mentality" in the days when the plantation still existed. Back then it didn't matter whether you worked for the county or state or worked somewhere else. If you expected to keep your job you were expected to keep your trap shut no matter what you saw.

But still you've gotta wonder how much it has actually changed and whether the practice of determining "voter intent" is still as cavalierly abused as it was more than 30 years ago.

Manahan isn't the only one being accused of going into people's homes and telling them what their intent is. State House candidate Romy Cachola has been similarly accused by his opponent.

If it happens in two races- that we know of- in Honolulu where the scrutiny is tenfold what it is here, it's kinda hard to say that in this "separate kingdom" of ours, where cronyism is arguably more rampant today then ever before, the abuse of our electoral system may not be tenfold worse too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


WAY, WAY OVER YONDER: Though our attention in this space has traditionally been on local issues, occasionally the ugliness of Americans is hard to ignore.

Though it's been decades since we've set foot on the great prairie it's not as if we're unfamiliar with some of the daft denizens who invariably wind up next to us on a coastal plane trip asking if we've "heard the good news."

Now we're all for freedom of religion as long as there's also freedom from it for us. In other words believe whatever the hell you want to, just keep it to yourself. And that means keep your religion out of women's bodies especially when it comes to abortion.

Our attitude toward abortion goes well beyond the usual "pro choice." We're actually pro-abortion. If you're even thinking of not bringing another mouth to feed into this war-weary half-starving, overpopulated world, we urge you to get an abortion and urge the government to pay for it as an investment in our future. A fetus is not a baby- a baby is a baby.

Unfortunately many of these bible-addled mid-westerners mistakenly think they have some kind of business in taking control over the bodies and lives of women. And in trying explain their opposition scientifically rather than biblically- as if- they've come up with some real doozies like this week's comments by Missouri senatorial candidate, Representative Todd Akin about how after "legitimate rape... the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing (pregnancy) down."

But somehow Akin's Christian fundamentalist brethren in the Republican party have made him their own personal pariah despite the fact that he's only been expressing a "mainstream" contention among anti-abortion zealots.

The mainly Republican movement for a constitutional amendment banning abortion even in the case of rape is not only on the agenda of many of Akin's party but is actually expected to become a plank in their platform at their Presidential Nominating Convention next week in Tampa. And a large part of the justification for not making an exception for rape (along with incest and life or health of the woman) has been pretty much the thoughts expressed- yet somehow now condemned- by those who are suddenly "shocked shocked" to hear that kind of attitude expressed so inelegantly.

The fact that these boneheads- almost all of them men- even have the adjective "legitimate" in their lexicon concerning the verb "rape" tells you all you need to know about their sickness.

In their world- one seemingly stuck in a century far away and long ago- rape must be violent to be "real" rape- a repugnant concept that fortunately was at least conceptually abandoned in courtrooms more than half a century ago. Back then rape convictions in court were difficult to obtain especially with all male juries. Rapists were allowed to claim- and juries were apt to consider- that women were "asking for it" by doing things like dressing provocatively. Even worse, rape defendants were allowed to submit the lack of glaring physical scars on the victim in their defense.

But some of Akin's churchies who are trying to bring back the bad old days where abortion is concerned, are thinking about allowing an exception for this so-called "violent" (legitimate) rape. If some of the more "compassionate" anti-abortion Republicans- and make no mistake, there are some "blue dog" Democrats who agree- have their way, women would have to prove they physically fought off their attackers and put their lives in danger to show rape occurred.

Yes, the same criteria used in the bad old days for rape convictions is apparently being proposed for eligibility for abortion. How much damage is enough- how injured must you be?.. how much hair must the rapist tear out- one clump or two?.. is a broken jaw enough or must a woman lose some teeth too?

How deep must the stab wound be to allow a woman to prevent herself from having to see the face of her attacker every day rather than ridding herself of a rape-caused pregnancy?

And that of course is only half of what these idiots espouse.

According to an article in yesterday's NY Times

The idea that during rape, “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” to prevent pregnancy, as Akin said, has surfaced periodically among anti-abortion advocates over the past two decades, usually involving the term “forcible rape” to refer to what Akin called “legitimate.”

Dr. John C. Willke, a general practitioner with obstetric training and a former president of the National Right to Life Committee, was an early proponent of this view, articulating it in a book originally published in 1985 and again in a 1999 article. He reiterated it in an interview Monday.

“This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight,” Willke said of a woman being raped, adding, “She is frightened, tight and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.”

The rest of the article is, if possible, even more reprehensible: It says that:

Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, a conservative Christian group, defended Akin on his program “Focal Point,” citing “John Willke, who is an M.D. by the way — a lot of these ignoramuses on Twitter are not.”

He read from Willke’s 1999 article, which described what is “certainly one of the most important reasons why a rape victim rarely gets pregnant, and that’s physical trauma.”

He continued with the article: “To get and stay pregnant a woman’s body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that is easily influenced by emotions. There’s no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy.”

So it's not exactly like this was some kind of "poor choice of words" or a "slip up" as not just Akin but many prominent anti-abortion Republicans have stated. The real reason the latter have called on him to withdraw from his senate campaign is because he got caught saying it and it got picked up by that "liberal media" a few days later.

The outrage among many is not only in discovering that these ideas still exist in 2012 but that they are held by many Republican candidates and even current lawmakers who are asking for the power to enact them into law. That and in most cases that alone is the reason why Republicans are calling for Akin's withdrawal from his senate race. It has nothing to do with the actual content which has been almost mainstream among extremist, anti-abortion, evangelical Republicans

Many- including Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan- have been quoted in the media as having made similar statements in explaining why they favor passing a strict "no abortion-no exceptions" constitutional amendment. The fact that he has suddenly disavowed it seems just a little disingenuous.

Unfortunately the showing of video clips juxtaposing back-to-back condemnations of Akin statements with clips of those doing the condemning making the same "points" are not the forte of the corporate press. They will have to wait until next Tuesday when John Stewart’s Daily Show comes back from their current week off.

The faux outrage of those trying to force Akin out of the race has nothing to do with recognizing the insanity of Akin's statement and has everything to do with the fact that women were outraged at hearing that these kinds of attitudes still exist and, as we are finding out, are "mainstream" among the conservative Christians in the bible belt.

We now return you to your regular local program of buffoonish corruption... already in progress.

Full disclosure: Andy Parx is NOT now nor has he ever been a member of the Democratic Party. He has been a member of the Green Party since 1996 and is a former Green National Committee member. He currently serves as an adviser to the US Green Party Media Committee.

Monday, August 13, 2012


DID YOU KNOW OR NO, YA KNOW?: The more you know the less you know because as you come to know what you now know you also come to know what you don't know. The trick is to know now what you don't know now and what you didn't know then... ya know?

Didn't think so.

What we do know is that even a gallon of hot sauce isn't going to make our keyboard more palatable after our misguided ingestion pledge last week.

Civil Beat's (CB) robo-calling poll accurately predicted an astonishing 20+ point win by Tulsi Gabbard (54.0%) over Mufi Hannemann (33.6%) in the 2nd US Congressional District Democratic Primary, proving to be more accurate than the Honolulu Star-Advertiser "real live person" poll, which had Mufi up by10. The fact that the difference was apparently due to exceptionally low totals for Esther Kia`aina (5.7%) and Bob Marx (3.7%)- who had been predicted to come in closer to 10% each- doesn't make our esophagus any wider or teeth any sharper.

But the results may have had little or nothing to do with the polling method because in the US Senate race it was the reverse with CB predicting a virtual tie and the S-A prognosticating a 12% margin for Mazie Hirono who actually won by 17% over Ed Case.

Go figgah.

Another thing we we got wrong, albeit a year ago, was our support for the winner of this year's Corrupt Pol of the Year award, Kaua`i Councilmember KipuKai Kuali`i. Though he didn't actually win in 2010 he wound up being appointed to the council. But the worst part is that he finished in the money this Saturday with an appropriate 666 finish - 6th place with 6.6% of the vote.

We do know now what we didn't know then- that asking people to "plunk" for Kuali`i in 2010 joins our qwerty-chewing pledge as one of our more bone-headed moves because he's turned out to be a first-class hack who's traded in his political soul in support of Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho's prosecutorial crime spree.

He now blindly follows Iseri adherent, her boot-licker-in-chief Mel Rapozo. Together they lead the goose-stepping cadre that champions our favorite race-baiter, "Ms Shay it, don't spray it."

That support grew out Kipukai's apparent back room deal for the redirection of a Victim-Witness program grant from Iseri's office to Kualii`s employer at the YWCA.

It's become laughingly obvious to anyone who watches the council in action that Kipukai has now gone to the dark side. But not only did he trade various votes to allow Iseri to get away with a slew of shenanigans and outright unlawful activity, it has cost the county a hefty chunk of cash in the form of an EEOC settlement for the firing of Victim Witness Counselor Erin Wilson.

Wilson was succinctly described by Joan Conrow as "the single mom who moved here all the way from Colorado to work as a victim witness coordinator, only to be fired a couple of months into the job because there supposedly wasn't enough work."

Of course there wasn't enough work because Iseri shuffled the job over to the "Y" in exchange for Kipukai's undying support for Iseri in the slew of past, present and we presume, future Shay-related scandals.

We do know that, unbelievably enough, for now, Kuali`i finished 1/10% (102 votes) ahead of Gary Hooser and 2/10% (152 votes) ahead of Tim Bynum in Saturday's useless election.

What we don't know is how to make sure that by Nov. 6 everybody knows about Kualii's little pact.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


HUNG UP?: Getting telephone polled (and everyone knows how painful that can be, as Steve Allen used to say) used to be a rare event. While some were annoyed at having to answer questions from a stranger at dinner time, more often "poll-ees" felt that it was so out of the ordinary that they might as well thoughtfully answer the "poll-ers'" questions.

But this year, with the ubiquitous use of the "robo-call"- those pre-recorded "push '1' if you plan to vote for candidate 'X'" calls- we knew it couldn't just be our imagination that the phone seems to ring with these things once a day and twice on Sunday.

We've actually answered at least a half a dozen of theses things this year and screened out another large handful- usually with an "egad, not again" attitude- more than the total number we've ever received over the years.

We'd gotten a strange feeling that these robo-calls- a term that some consider pejorative even though it's the common parlance for any pre-recorded call- were yielding bogus results for a long time, for many reasons.

But the absurdly counter-intuitive results of a "Civil Beat (CB)" poll yesterday that has Tulsi Gabbard taking a sudden and stunning 49%-29% lead over Mufi Hannemann in the 2nd U.S. Congressional District race, all but confirms our suspicions... especially coming, as it does, on the heels of a CB-reported tie a few weeks back and a 10 point lead by Hannemann in a "Hawai`i News Now/Star Advertiser HNN/SA" poll a week before.

Even with the respective "margins of error" a simply statistical explanation doesn't cut it. There has to be something else going on here.

And if our experiences, along with those of some of our Facebook "friends," is any indication it is the robo-calls themselves that provide an explanation.

First of all it appears that only those with a "land-line" have been robo-called. Those with cell phones need not apply. Some say that this discriminates against younger and poorer voters being included but no matter what demographic groups it favors, the results are going to be skewed one way or another.

It may be simply the annoyance factor that causes people to auto-hang-up on auto-calls.

We've developed a habit of doing just that. Whether it's the recent polling or other calls of late, as soon as it becomes apparent that the call is a recording, we hang up,`` having developed the attitude that if it's not important enough for them to call personally it's not important enough for us to answer.

Plus of course there is the modern phenomena of screening calls based on caller ID. This may vary with how busy one is at the moment but if we're busy in the kitchen and an unknown mainland number comes up, we're a whole lot less likely to answer it- and even less so if the caller's number and name are blocked.

We basically asked our Facebook "friends" if they had landlines or cells, how many calls they got and whether the calls were "live or Memorex" ("taped," for all you youngsters) as well as how the number of calls compared to past years.

What we found is that that we're not alone in our response to robo-calls or "touch-tone polling" as Civil Beat would prefer they be referred to. Here are some of the responses left on on our Facebook page (all "Sic"):

- I have been getting at least 3 to 4 a week on land line. I hang up or don't take calls but then they go to message and I still have to deal with them. Most of them come in early evening. They are from everywhere; local, state, fed.

- I think I've probably gotten about 3 in the last month. Not sure. I hang up as soon as I realize its a computer. Been getting a few voice mails asking me to vote for their candidate

-1) hangup on robo-calls, 2) Ask any live person who commissioned the poll, have yet to get an answer and hang-up, 3) if they tell me who commissioned the poll I throw flak at the pollster.

- I have had more survey calls than ever before. Maybe a total of six, four were robo calls. Two were definite push polls, maybe three. All calls were to a land line. Only screened one that I did not take, a repeat call from one surveyor I hung up on for being a push poll. One seemed pointed at prosecutor office, all others combined house and senate. One earlier included county council questions.

In response to that last one, probably because it wasn't clear, candidate for Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar responded, "Just so everyone knows, my campaign has done no robocalling. ZERO."

That concurs with a report from Joan Conrow- one that quite a few others have independently confirmed for us- that described what could only be called a "push poll" and seemed to be from Kollar's opponent, incumbent Shaylene Iseri Carvalho.

Our favorite questions from that Iseri push poll was "do you read the blogs?" quite obviously because she's in trouble if they do.

Oh, and here's one response we got via email,

I've had about the same experience you have Andy, though far more than a half dozen, with many calls being from out of the area and automated, a few were actual live interview calls. Some are obviously partisan, others I could not tell who was sponsoring them. I screened one caller, Bob Marx, as noted on my caller ID, and they called back 4 times within a couple of hours. They have all been on my land line, apparently gotten from the phone book. They are a nuisance.

But though this is a small sampling and of course is not a "scientific poll" it is significant in that everyone who responded did so with frustration- oh, all right call it anger- over robo-calls. Remember they don't seem to object to getting polling calls, just that they were the recorded type.

One factor we haven’t heard mentioned is the relative difficulty of the whole "touch tone call" phenomena. Although most of us are used to it by now, no one likes it. Humorists and comedians have had a field day with them for more than a decade now.

Arguably, once you get past the usual desire to talk to a live person- and the fact that that option either doesn't seem to be on the list or is the last one of 10 choices (and is never "0")- the worst part is trying to find the right button on these telephones that no longer have a separate receiver and number pad, but instead have the keypad right next to where you talk and listen so that you have to keep taking the phone away from your head to push the right button and bringing it back to your ear... until your arms (or ear) starts to fall off.

And boy are you in trouble if you didn't catch the first couple of selections of what has become a long, bewildering set of choices. Are you really going to have the machine read the selections again? Or are you more likely to just push any button just to get the thing over with?

And then there's the regular poll that turns into a push poll. Although there's been some argument- usually from the people who run them- that they aren't push polls for one double-talking reason or another, everyone knows them when they hear them.

And they've heard quite a few this year.

Our favorite was one where, five minutes in, the "caller" asks a series of questions beginning with "Would you be more or less likely to vote for Mufi if you knew that he" followed by some horrendous anecdotal tale of apparent avarice or corruption. One question included the words "Pearl Harbor" and "Senator Inouye" and if you weren’t paying close attention you might get the impression that Mufi was at the controls of a Japanese Zero honing in on the 442nd.

Another negative of robo-calls is the impatience factor with a long list of choices. You just know that 10 minutes into a call that had asked for "five minutes of your time" people are starting to push "1" or "2" just to make the process go faster, thinking they already have 10 minutes invested so they don't want to hang up now, they just want it to be over.

Whether these things we do make sense or not isn't important- it's simply what we do without really thinking about it.

Then of course there's the one where the choices change and they type of question remains the same. After a list of four or five questions with the same two possible answers, all of a sudden you realize there are now seven different choices and you just pushed "1" only because that was the one you had been pushing on similar questions.

But the big question here is, assuming that robo-calls give skewed data, why would it favor Tulsi over Mufi?

Well, let's look at those specifics.

Mufi is not exactly the kind of candidate that makes people excited about his candidacy. First of all he's a conservative candidate in what has been arguably described as "the most liberal district in the country." And he's running in a Democratic primary where he started with a big lead without any real progressive oppositions.

The Democratic base had been craving a candidate they could get excited about. Former Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser apparently chose not to run for the post he ran for some years back and many suspect it was because of the daunting task of raising enough money to take on the presumed favorite, Hannemann. And he had name recognition after also running for lt. governor last year whereas Gabbard has never run for statewide office before, just state representative and Honolulu county council.

Enter Tulsi. Then enter lots of money- much of it from the mainland- to publicize her status as a "born-again lefty."

Even though anywhere else he'd be a Republican, Mufi's support has come from the Democratic "machine" who are supporting him as the "establishment" candidate. Many have been supporting him simply because of name recognition.

But as Gabbard started to raise money and get her name out there she negated much of that and now has become the "go to" candidate who, although they were probably going to vote for Mufi before, has now excited those who were looking for a "progressive alternative."

And make no mistake about it- the Democratic progressives have become excited having long "got over" her former radical right wing stance on marriage rights and other issues.

Those are the people who would be more likely to stay on the phone to get their "choice" registered with the thought that polls numbers create the bandwagon effect.

No one's getting "excited" over the prospect of Congressman Hannemann... except maybe for those who expect a federal contract from the well "know pay-to-play" pol.

And don't forget about the "Mufi haters." Hannemann has tremendous negatives with high "dislike" numbers that he's generated over the years. He's been characterized, if not caricatured, as having a "bullying" style and has been accused of negative- even allegedly racist- campaigning, most recently in his run for governor where he lost to Neil Abercrombie two years ago.

Not too many Mufi Mavens are going to stay on the phone through a robo-call to register their support for him. As a matter of fact, we'd venture to say most of his supporters think it's "in the bag" already- don't forget, this poll wasn't out at the time.

All that could lead to a situation where those most likely to stay through a recorded call- even though they hate robo-calls- would be Gabbard supporters whereas the least likely would be Hannemann supporters.

And for what it's worth, it's a lot easier to hang up on a recording than a person, especially in the "Aloha State" so there's a natural skewing at the most basic level.

We really feel sorry for our friend Mike Levine whose job at Civil Beat was to try to explain how such an anomaly could possibly be valid. He actually did a good job of it and you come away thinking "well, it could happen."

But, upon reflection, no- it couldn't happen. A 30 point difference in two almost simultaneous polls cannot be reasoned away even with the old standby of "it's just snapshot."

When you look at the difference between the HNN/SA and CB polls, the main thing- maybe the only thing- that sticks out is the method of gathering the information. And if it's the method that's in question and one candidate is roundly not just disliked but actively hated then, as most critical thinkers and rational people will tell you, the likely answer is going to be the correct one- that something is kapakahi with the robo-call methodology.

If Tulsi Gabbard beats Mufi Hannemann by 20 points this Saturday we'll eat this keyboard. Because it would be easier to ingest a pound of plastic and metal than it would to swallow the validity of these robo-calls.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


YOU CAN TRUST US- WE'RE WITH THE GOVERNMENT: The brouhaha over 2010 voting irregularities on the Big Isl and the way they have been handled has stuck a nerve with us over an incident here on Kaua`i in the 90's.

According to an Associate Press article today:

An audit of Hawaii County's registered voter rolls found four people voted twice in 2010 elections and between 50 and 60 people were registered more than once, County Clerk Jamae Kawa­uchi said Tuesday.

Kawauchi says her office found no sign of systemic problems. She says a clerical error may be at fault, but she reported the four voters who cast ballots twice to the state attorney general's office during a meeting last week.

She said it's not up to her whether there will be an investigation into the matter, and declined to comment further.

Having people registered twice can happen. It is usually simply the result of the elections office failing to purge someone's old address when they move for one reason or the other.

It's the fact that the system didn't pick it up when someone- actually four someones- voted twice that bothers most people- that and the fact that no real explanation has been forthcoming either from Kawauchi or state election Chief Scott Nago.

While the seriousness of the incident is rightly or wrongly being played down by both, we've always wished we had pressed the matter of possible fraud over a stack of ballots all during the '94 election on Kaua`i.

Checking the signatures of absentee ballots has always been a community effort and then, as now, the county clerk invites representatives of the various political parties as well as non-partisan organizations- like the League of Women Voters (LWV)- and just plain interested citizens to act as "observers" by "checking signatures" against the originals on voters' applications.

Back then the number of mail-in absentee ballots was miniscule compared to today now that there's things like "permanent absentee status" along with a publicity campaign to convince people of the ease of mail-in voting... not to mention the fact that some precincts have actually been eliminated because there are too few people to make opening a voting center on election day justifiable as to cost.

But the method of checking the signatures back then was downright anachronistic, searching though boxes of alphabetized paper "originals" instead of using the computer-scanned copies of signatures used today.

We were there with LWV- Kauai and then-County Clerk "Bunji" Shimomura had assigned three-member teams- one each from the Democrats and Republicans and one non-partisan- and our group was assigned a "stack" beginning with all the ballots cast from Ni`ihau since there was no polling place on the island.

For those who've never voted by mail the way it works is that to avoid fraud voters place their ballots in a "secret ballot" envelope which is then sealed in a mailing envelope which must be signed on the outside so that by checking signatures you can tell if the person voting is the same person who registered, while at the same time protecting the secrecy of the vote.

"Signature checkers" was were told to give some latitude for the fact that people's signatures vary over time, especially when you're dealing with seniors. It's gotta be pretty obvious that the signer wasn't the same in order to reject a ballot- but it does happen.

We never saw a case in a half a dozen elections where the questions of actual fraud came up- except for "the Ni`ihau incident."

We were assigned a stack of ballots from "the Forbidden Island." So we started to go through them and one by one and guess what? The signatures on the envelopes didn't seem to be matching up with the original signatures on the registration forms. Not only that but by the time we had gotten through the first half dozen it didn't take a handwriting expert to see that a pattern was emerging- all of the envelopes were quite obviously signed by the same person.

We called Bunji over and there was no disagreement- the ballots had to be tossed. But when we asked what would be done Shimomura, who had been through many elections, convinced us to let it go and not "bring in the authorities" for an investigation.

So we reluctantly agreed to just toss them and leave it at that- something we've always sort of regretted.

The next two elections we went straight to the Ni`ihau ballots to see if the pattern had repeated itself but the answer was no- the signatures were apparently valid in '96 and '98. But we'll always wonder whether we make a mistake in not demanding that someone try to find out who exactly signed all those ballots.

We've never doubted Bunji's integrity or honesty but others said that they had the sneaking suspicion that a "word to the wise" had been passed on to whomever had enough authority to pull off the massive fraud that had obviously been perpetrated with the Ni`ihau ballots.

It's said by election officials that the current Big Island revelations are "nothing out of the ordinary" and that "these things happen" all the time. Yet there has been no explanation from election authorities as to exactly how and why. Rather they say that since there was "no pattern" revealed that there would be no further explanation forthcoming as to how four voters were apparently permitted to vote twice.

The official excuse that to further explain would "diminish the confidence of voters" in the system is seemingly bogus. It's not as if this kind of thing hasn't been a pattern for the elections bureau which was recently forced to promulgate official Chapter 91 Administrative Rules regarding communicating results after a lawsuit was filed.

But while those rules have been enacted there are still many areas in Hawai`i election law that that have no rules in place. Much is still catch-as-catch-can and seemingly arbitrarily put in place in a reactive rather than proactive manner.

It's time for the elections bureau to promulgate rules for all situations, especially those like this where if nothing else a full public explanation is due.

The damage to any confidence the public may or may not have is done. The only way to repair it now is to shine the light of day on the decision-making used by election officials for situations where apparently abnormalities can and do occur.