A gust of cool wind was the first thing that greeted Koko and me when we stepped outside this morning. The trades are back, and as we walked, I watched them driving huge anvil-shaped clouds toward the mountains, where other clouds were already stockpiled, obscuring both summits and slopes.
From a report circulated via email by Council-watcher Keone Kealoha and an article in today’s The Garden Island, it seems that Kaipo Asing, still heady from his brief stint as stand-in mayor, played a similar role at yesterday’s organizational Council meeting.
The end result of his machinations? Kaipo installed himself as chair, although Jay Furfaro was the top vote-getter, and he set up all the Council committees to ensure that his little voting block — comprising newcomers Derek Kawakami and Dickie Chang, and in-and-outer Darryl Kaneshiro — will prevail on those panels.
As Keone observed:
The count is 4-3; whether you take a walk or consider you're self out, the outcome will appear to be the same in every case.
Such behavior is to be expected from power-hungry Kaipo, who is likely kicking himself in the okole for not running for mayor and whose action is designed to ensure that Jay can’t easily position himself for a mayoral run in 2010. As for Darryl, well, as a rancher he operates under the herding instinct.
But it’s really unfortunate that Derek and Dickie chose to make their entrance into politics in such a partisan way, rather than taking the opportunity to become their own men and establish themselves in their own right.
New TGI reporter Luke Shanahan did a good job of reporting just how dirty and closed Kauai politics can be —and remember, this is what’s conducted in public:
Furfaro, [Tim] Bynum and [Lani] Kawahara each proposed different committee structures, one including repackaging Transportation and Public Works into the same committee.
After meeting resistance, a visibly frustrated council member Bynum suggested that it is not fair that the rest of the council was not privy to the committee assignments process.
Back at the table, Kawahara said she had not been asked anything about how she might like the committees to be organized, and asked councilmember Kaneshiro if he felt the “pre-structured” committees to be in keeping with the idea that the majority rule, but the minority be heard.
“I haven’t heard any reason why it’s no good as it is,” he said.
The article went on to show how Kaipo, his big smile and penchant for blowing kisses aside, is no benevolent dictator:
As the frustration around the table grew throughout the two hour session, Bynum frankly summed up his take on the afternoons proceeding.
“You get four votes,” he said, speaking to Asing from across the table, “then you get to dictate the rest of the process.” He went on to suggest that, though it was legal, it didn’t seem fair.
At one point in the meeting, the new chair expressed frustration at Kawahara and Bynum.
“You pushed it, and pushed it, and pushed it,” he said to Bynum. “Lani pushed it and pushed it.”
It also became clear why Derek, who is obviously looking at his Council term as a springboard to higher office, was willing to align himself with Kaipo:
When Bynum asked for the reasoning behind Derek Kawakami’s appointment to chair the committee on Public Safety/Energy/IGR, Asing said that, as someone with family and other connections tying him to the Legislature, he was well suited to “bring home the bacon” to Kaua‘i.
Dickie, to his naïve credit, expressed dismay that “We don’t have a community assistance committee.”
Dickie, Dickie, Dickie. Don’t you know the Council does not exist to assist the community? Just take a gander at the actions of the man you’ve chosen as your leader.
Anyway, looks like the voters who were hoping for some more unity on the Council, and larger roles for Tim and Jay, have struck out. And those who watch the game from the peanut gallery should have plenty of opporutunity to boo, hiss and yell “kill the umpire" and "throw the bums out."