Yesterday morning I was treated to a scarlet ball rising out of a placid sea as a round, white moon peeked around the corner of Waialeale, where a smoldering pile of red and black clouds hovered just above the summit in an otherwise clear blue sky.
By this morning, everything had changed. The mountains were socked in and the sky was low and dense with gray, save for a flash of purplish-orange when the sun made a brief appearance before it was swallowed up by clouds that hold the promise of some much-needed rain.
It’s the final week before the election, the time when politicians step up their promises and the electorate should be looking closely at whether past promises have been kept, forgotten or flat out broken. It’s also the time when Honolulu media branch out to the Neighbor Islands in an attempt to freshen up city-centric political coverage that’s grown a bit stale.
Such was the case with Civil Beat, which today has a piece that purports to assess how the governor’s race is shaping up on Kauai. You can’t read it, unless you’re a member, so I’ll share a few of the highlights.
Actually, they might better be termed lowlights, like all the space the reporter gave to perennially defeated Republican candidate JoAnne Georgi, who talked about how “the Christians need to rise up and say we need to vote for candidates and vote for ones they believe in.” That was right before she repeated some of the common folklore about the Superferry protests, claiming it was just 200 to 300 noisy people who “punctured tires.”
Then he has Councilman Jay Furfaro saying that what's key to understanding Kauai is a general plan that only allows development in certain areas of the island — essentially, the four resort areas of Poipu, Lihue-Kalapaki, Kapaa-Wailua and Princeville.
Except Jay left out the part about how that’s been ignored, thanks to vacation rental bills that turned the entire island into a resort and gentrified agricultural subdivisions that have sprawled into all the open space in between. Here’s the key to understanding Kauai: if you’ve got money and the good old boys in your pocket, you can get whatever you want.
The reporter then maintains — quite humorously, to those of us who live here — that The Garden Island “offered a useful inroad into understanding Kauai's politics.” In fact, TGI doesn’t offer a useful inroad into understanding anything, except school sports, seeing as how it’s a compilation of press releases reprinted verbatim and articles that are so badly reported and written that readers often use the comment section to correct the mistaken impressions these stories leave.
He then asserts:
Community, family, the environment, civic participation — that's Kauai.
Um, no. Community, family, bitter, ugly fights about the environment and a dearth of civic participation — that’s Kauai.
By way of ascertaining just how conservative Kauai is, the reporter notes that three of the seven FM stations on his rental car dial were Christian themed — yeah, but they certainly aren’t the most popular stations — and a lot of people on the Westside drive pick ups trucks and wear cowboy boots. OK, but that’s Kauai style. It doesn’t mean they think like people in the Midwest, even if the reporter did say it looked “a lot like western Kansas.” Well, except for the ever-present mountains and ocean.
He did finally stumble on something, though he inexplicably buried at the very end of the story, and those were the points raised by Dee Morikawa, the woman who thankfully ended Rep. Roland Sagum’s piteous tenure in the Lege.
As Dee noted, voters on Kauai aren’t locked into party loyalties, but instead make decisions based on the person — you know, who you know and/or are related to and/or are told to vote for.
Which leads to the issue of race in the gubernatorial race, something I touched on in a post last week:
"Haole versus Hawaiians — they won't say it, but that has something to do with it," she said.
Now that’s the key to understanding politics on Kauai.