The road was dark but the sky was brightening when Koko and I went out walking, so I looked up — up at the big moon playing hide and seek with patchy clouds, up at Waialeale, topped with soft wisps of white, up at the coconut palm fronds framing Venus, glowing dark yellow above streaks that shifted from gray to soft pink to scarlet orange.
I especially like to look up when I’m feeling a bit down, as I was after witnessing a bit of sausage making in Lihue yesterday. In a nod to “transparency and open government” — words rendered as meaningless as pristine and sustainability — the new County Council did its organizing for the first time in public, so I and a few other hardy souls stopped by to have a look.
It wasn’t nearly so pretty and inspiring as the sunrise, but it did mark the dawn of a new day. Not an especially bright, warm or sunny day, but a new day.
Let’s start at the beginning. First, JoAnn kept everyone waiting while she talked on her phone out in the lobby. Then they had Pastor Tom Iannucci give his blessing, which asked “Father” — I wasn’t sure if that was a reference to God or Council patriarch Jay Furfaro — to help keep the peace and level heads, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Then JoAnn had to tell everyone how privileged she felt to sit among them and how excited she was about the future before she going on to say that she wants the Council to be as open and user-friendly as possible, which for those of us with limited time might include starting meetings punctually and eliminating unnecessary chatter and the expression of platitudes.
Next came her plug to have the Council complete the Seven Habits or some such thing to help everyone “get along better.” By then I was starting to feel an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu.
After that, Tim said he was expecting Councilmembers to have “equal and equitable access to the key documents that are theirs” before going on to say he wants to structure the Council so that decisions made in Executive Session are made public. That way, you see, he won’t have to risk violating executive privilege by leaking them to a certain blogger.
Tim said he also wants more decorum, with no one else allowed to interject a comment when a member has the floor, noting that all other government bodies follow such rules. I guess he’s never heard of the British Parliament.
An hour into the meeting, they finally got around to choosing Jay as chair, with much fawning by certain members. Then things got interesting. Jay said he’d like to see Derek Kawakami — the top vote getter — serve as vice chair, in part because it would give the Council a chance to “invest in some continuity,” since Jay is 62 and his tenure on the Council will be the first to expire.
Derek was all good to go when JoAnn piped up with, “I’m interested, but I won’t nominate myself.” So Tim did — I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of their “teamwork” — and then Derek said he was “willing to serve on one condition: it’s unanimous support. I don’t want to start this thing off polarized.” He went on to say it was important for everyone to “put aside personal feelings and agendas and work together for the people” before removing his name from discussion.
That was JoAnn’s cue to back off, but of course she didn’t, because JoAnn wants what she wants. She did urge Derek to reconsider, but he wasn’t gonna go there. “Nah, no need,” he said. “I will work and get things done. You have my support.”
So now JoAnn is vice chair.
Next came the committee assignments, with Jay passing out his plan.
“I have something I put together last night,” JoAnn said. “Do you want to hear it?”
The other Councilmembers demurred, saying they wanted to first consider their newly elected Chair’s proposal, which had Nadine Nakamura, a real live trained planner, in charge of planning/environmental services; JoAnn heading housing & transportation; Dickie Chang chairing economic development and energy; Mel Rapozo leading public safety & public facilities; Derek chairing intergovernmental affairs; Jay heading up committee of the whole/annual budget, and Tim leading finance.
Dickie and Mel and Derek were fine with it, Nadine said that while she could see the connection, planning and environmental services seemed like a lot for one committee to handle, and JoAnn, after expressing her interest in planning, housing, transportation, budget and energy, had ideas on how to reorganize everything.
This prompted Derek to say to Jay: “We elected you as chair and with that role comes some acceptance of your leadership. I accept your slate. If we starting cutting this thing up seven different ways, we’re gonna end up nowhere real quick. If I don’t get everything I want, I’m OK. That’s no big deal.”
But it was for Tim, who said he didn’t want finance if it didn’t include the budget and he wanted to take parks and rec from Mel.
About that time Jay suggested they take a break before saying, “let me summarize….”
I’ll do it for him: Tim is there to do battle. JoAnn wants to run the show. Derek will blow this petty pop stand for the big time. Mel is trying hard to get along, but he’ll snap under Tim's whining and JoAnn's pushiness. Nadine needs to change her seat so she’s not sitting between Tim and JoAnn. And Dickie’s gonna be the guy to watch — now that’s a scary thought — as the swing vote.
In the end, Tim got what he wanted in terms of committee assignments, and so did JoAnn. The question now is whether they’ll also get something else they want — an executive search firm to find a new County Clerk. Mel and Derek said they like current Clerk Peter Nakamura and Nadine had to recuse herself because he’s her brother-in-law.
I know why Tim doesn’t like Peter, but I’m not sure what JoAnn has against him. I’m pretty sure he had to go through Seven Habits when he was her planning director.....