Upon looking at clouds, I often wonder, what exactly is that color? And last evening was no exception as I gazed upon the clouds that hung over the water. They were a remarkable shade of pearly gray-blue that defied any known (to me) color, and in honor of the sunset, were crowned with salmonish-pink.
Just before that, I had been wondering as I drove through Anahola and saw a dead cat, body twisted, mouth and eyes wide open, lying alongside the road, why that particular stretch of highway seems to have a higher than average carnage rate. I get so tired of seeing dead cats and chickens and birds and dogs along all our roads, because it tells me that people are driving too fast and they just don’t care.
Yesterday morning I was driving down Kuamoo Road, following the course of the Wailua River, which was snaking along on my right, watching squalls gathering on the horizon before me, seeing everything all sparkly and silvery and shimmery in the early light and then I turned onto the highway and there they were, the incumbents and hopefuls, holding signs that bore their names. And I just had to laugh, because it seemed almost surreal, this strange way we have of choosing our elected officials, and also because I know and like most of them, even if I don’t always agree, and it was funny to see them out there, humbling themselves, mindful in the days before an election that we motorists, on our way to work or wherever, are the ones who will decide their fate.
Then they get elected and do the bidding of those who gave them money.
I’ve been poking around in some of the campaign contribution reports and while it’s tedious, it offers an interesting perspective. For instance, I noticed that Rep. Jimmy Tokioka got $1,500 from Monsanto, $500 from Dupont and $2,000 from the Hawaii Association of Realtors.
Meanwhile, Councilman Jay Furfaro got a grand each from Jeff Stone and Mike Loo, his buddies at Princeville, and a thousand bucks from the Kauai Alternative Vacation Accommodation Assn. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that they forked over the money after Jay cast a favorable vote on the bill that allows vacation rentals on ag land.
I found Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s reports especially revealing, what with $5,000 from the Ironworkers Local 625, $4,000 from the Hawaii Operating Engineers Industry, $4,000 from the Plumbers & Pipefitters PAC, $3,850 from SHOPO, two grand each from the Hawaii Laborers, Masons and HGEA PACs, $1,800 from the ILWU, $2,000 from the IBEW, $2,000 from the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers PAC and $1,300 from the Carpenters and Joiners union.
I think it’s pretty clear what they all have in mind. More building! More government! More control!
Then there was $3,000 from A&B, which is no doubt relieved at his decision to move the new dump off its land. Falko Partners gave a whopping $4,000, which prompted just a tiny wondering about what development plans it might have up its sleeve. North Shore developers Jeff Stone and Jeff Lindner gave $1,000 and $1,500 respectively.
And then there were all the contributions from county employees, including his assistant, Gary Heu; county engineer Don Fujimoto and his deputy, Ed Renaud; Deputy Police Chief Mark Begley; film commissioner Art Umezu; finance director Wally Rezentes Jr.; transportation director Janine Rapozo; county spokeswoman Mary Daubert, and of course his brain, Beth Tokioka, among others.
That’s to be expected. After all, their jobs are at stake. And to give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they also believe in Bernard. But I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to those county workers who didn’t give, at least a little.
And I felt more than a little uneasy when I saw the contributions from Al Castillo and the deputy county attorneys, who are supposed to represent not only the Administration, but the Council and Planning Commission, too. If they’re giving money to the mayor, how can they honestly say that they’re giving unbiased opinions to the Council and Commission, especially if they’re on a different track than the mayor?
Yet even as I looked through the reports last night, I kept recalling the comments I'd heard Adam Asquith making on KKCR earlier. He was talking about peak oil, and how independent scientists agree that we are definitely going to get to the place where oil becomes too expensive to burn indiscriminately, like we have been. The only question is when, with a lot of folks saying sooner than later.
As Adam pointed out, high-priced oil has tremendous implications for Kauai, where the economy is based on tourism and virtually everything, including the fuel oil for our electricity, is imported. The time to start planning for such an upheaval is now, he said, in order to ease the pain of economic transition.
Yet not one politician is talking about that, he said; heck, it’s not even a topic of discussion.
Instead, when you look at the candidates’ contributions and platforms, it’s as if they believe it’s going to forever be business as usual, a steadily growing stream of cars filled with workers and tourists, merrily waving and smiling at the candidates holding their signs.
It's almost surreal.