Friday, February 18, 2011

Musings: Of Service

It was a pale kind of night, neither light nor fully dark, seeing as how the full moon was suffocated by clouds that brought very little rain — far less than the predicted amount, which had prompted a flash flood watch, which gave Kauai County officials a pretty pathetic excuse, which they later partially retracted in favor of the truth, to cancel an anti-marijuana rally that had prompted the ACLU to file a complaint, the exact nature of which I am still trying to ascertain.

But the officially unofficial show went on, with county drug czar Theresa Koki marshalling the Boys & Girls Club and Councilman Mel Rapozo rounding up a Christian pastor to take an anti-drug stand.

Good grief. No one is trying to get the kiddies on drugs, except the schools that push parents to give their children Ritalin and other forms of legalized speed so they’re easier to control in class.

I only wish Mel, Theresa, County Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and all the other taxpayer-supported reactionaries would put a bit of energy into restoring funding for the fiscally starved Boys & Girls Club so it can resume some of the after-school programs that are far more effective than rallies in keeping kids away from drugs. But that’s the kind of service that doesn’t garner any headlines.

As for state Public Safety Director Keith Kamita, rather than spending taxpayer money flying to Kauai to incite elected officials, he might want to help the poor, overburdened clerk charged with processing applications for medical marijuana, seeing as how his office is still working on prescriptions submitted back in September. But that’s the kind of service that doesn’t garner any headlines.

Moving on to other issues, I recently met with Joel Guy, who is very much interested in being of service to the 14th District, or more specifically, in gaining an appointment to the seat being vacated by Rep. Mina Morita, who has been named chair of the Public Utilities Commission. I was left with the impression that he's passionate about trying to make a difference, and I've always been a sucker for idealists.

Joel worked for Mina in the Lege for a number of years, so he shares her political philosophy. What’s more, he not only understands the legislative process, he actually can stomach it, which is an important consideration for any prospective lawmaker. He’s also North Shore born and raised, so he knows well the part of the district that is most apt to be ignored, including its many problems with ice, gentrification, dislocation of local residents and marginal public services.

Council Chairman Jay Furfaro and Councilman Derek Kawakami, who also have expressed interest in the seat, have the capability to serve, but the small problem of a prior commitment. Appointing either of them would leave a puka on the Council that would spark the kind of power plays and contests for control that characterize Kauai politics at their ugliest.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the Council would for sure select KipuKai Kualii, the eighth-place Council candidate, to fill any vacancy. But I just don’t feel comfortable letting them pick whomever they choose.

I can certainly understand why Jay and Derek, after sitting through a few Council meetings with its current line-up, would want to escape the frustrations and tedium of that panel. But they could have spared themselves their present agony by running against Ron Kouchi for the state Senate seat. Since either of them could have beat Ron, they would have ended up in the Lege, where they now want to be, KipuKai would be on the Council, Ron would be back pimping for Kauai Lagoons and we the people would be better served.

Derek has the potential and political machine to one day serve in Congress, and perhaps Mina’s seat will prove to be one stop on that road. Jay, on the other hand, is nearing the end of his political career, and it kind of sticks in my craw to think he would be handed the House seat, especially when he failed to beat Mina when he previously ran against her.

In the end, it’s up to a very small group of people — the precinct captains — to put together a list of three nominees, with the governor having the final pick. And I imagine he’ll be asking Mina who she would like to see carry on her work and be of service to her constituents.


Anonymous said...

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, "Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug. According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 104 million Americans aged 12 or older have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetimes, representing 41.5% of the U.S. population in that age group."

So, if marijuana is a gateway drug, why don't we see way more ice, heroin, oxy and coke addicts? I'm sure it's a gateway drug for some, but so are tobacco and alcohol.

As for the "war on drugs", who profits? The cartels and dealers that sell the illegal substances, the police, the prosecutors, the courts and the prison systems, that's who.

Anonymous said...

Joan: I usually like 98% of what you write, but the average citizen on Kauai is against the legalization of marijuana.

Anonymous said...

The above average citizens on Kauai are in favor of a sensible drug policy, not some b.s. "war" that drains taxpayer $$$ and creates empires funded by the sale of illegal substances.

Joan Conrow said...

I'm glad I score 98% with you Anon., but just to clarify, none of the bills pending before the Lege legalize mj.

As for me personally, I'd be happy with decriminalization, some major revisions in the medical mj law and an end to Green Harvest.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Here is Arnold on Leno saying "No one cares if you smoke a joint or not".

So in California no one cares if you smoke a joint, but according to hawaii police and prosecutors the kids will all turn into junkies and the economy will collapse. Refer madness at its worst. Total propaganda and fear mongering.

Anonymous said...

I would much rather have the driver behind, infront, beside me to have just smoked a joint than drank too much alcohol. Why is alcohol SO LEGAL!!!!????And pot such an issue????

Anonymous said...

Seems that there is a bit of a difference between testifying in front of the council as a county official and using public resources to stage a rally in favor of an ideological position. The first seems kinda reasonable, the second, less so.

Kolea said...


The nominations to replace Mina come from a larger group than "the precinct captains." The party doesn't have precinct "captains." but maybe you meant precinct "presidents"?

The decision is made by ALL the precinct officers, assembled as the District Council. Those officers are the precinct president, vice-president, Treasurer, secretary and district council representative. There are 5 precincts in District 14, so that makes 25 potential members, plus the district chair.

(I say "potential" because some positions are probably vacant.)

Can 26 grassroot Democratic party leaders fairly represent the views of Democratic voters in the 14th district? Well, it's imperfect, but a great improvement over the earlier system whereby the Governor had complete control over the choice. And when the Governor was of the opposite party, as in Lingle's case, she had a clear conflict of interest, with a strong incentive to appoint someone more aligned with her philosophy than that of the party the new member is supposed to be aligned with. As well as an incentive to appoint a representative with a weak chance for re-election, particularly in districts where a GOP might have a chance.

I live on Oahu, but have my fingers crossed for Joel Guy. Mina is backing him, of course. But who knows what might factor into Neil's thinking?

For Kauai to lose both Mina and Gary Hooser is a setback not just for Kauai, but for the interests of most of Hawaii's people. They were two very top-notch legislators.

Good luck to you folks AND to all of us in this selection.