It was all gold and glimmery in the east when the dogs and I went walking this morning, providing light enough to find our way, though the world was still predominantly dark, and I thought of how the night before, even a sprinkling of stars had provided ample illumination to navigate.
So it is as we try to dig our way out of this deep socio-economic hole.....
Before I headed out to cover Saturday's “Occupy” event on Kauai, I was talking on the phone to a friend who lives in Tijuana. From his vantage point in that hard scrabble border town, the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” movement isn’t especially inspiring.
“Their message is inchoate, but what it sounds like to me is they want a bigger piece of the pie — a pie that is already unjust,” he observed. “It’s like receiving stolen goods. I keep waiting to hear what they’re willing to do without to achieve justice on a global scale. Because even the poorest American has so much compared to others in the world, and that insatiable appetite is what’s feeding America’s wars. I still have that button you gave me years ago. It’s right here, glued to my desk: Materialism breeds militarism.”
A baby boomer friend had a similar perspective when I talked to him the next day. “In the 60s, the message was, ‘you can keep it all, I refuse to be party to the machine.’ Now it’s, ‘we want a piece of the action.’ Philosophically, it’s very different.”
I thought about that when I saw a graphic on Facebook that said something to the effect of “show Wall Street what you really think, do your holiday shopping at a small neighborhood merchant.”
Mmmm, yeah, but what about don’t do any holiday shopping at all? Or donate the money you would have spent to a famine relief organization or some other worthy cause?
Because yes, there’s a huge income disparity in this country, but there’s also a huge income disparity between Americans/Western Europeans and the rest of the world, like the Congolese enduring violence and earning a dollar a day to mine the coltan needed for our cell phones and computers. Btw, here’s a link to a very engaging video series on just that.
Still, I’m always glad to see people standing up and speaking out, because it’s empowering to link up with like-minded folks and be reminded you’re not alone in recognizing that the system needs a major overhaul, even if you’re not yet entirely sure how to pull it off.
Unfortunately, the county Ethics Commission would not let Councilman Mel Rapazo speak at all when he came before them with his complaint about the possible conflict of interest in the relationship between the Salary Commission, Boards and Commission’s Administrator John Isobe and Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s administration. I gave more details on the issue in my Sept. 30 post.
The matter was scheduled for the Ethic Commission’s meeting last Friday, but as Mel noted in an email when I asked him how it went:
It didn't go well. Deputy County Attorney interrupted the start of the meeting and advised the Board to not allow my matter to be heard because it would be a violation of the Charter. She advised them that I was using the review process to file a complaint, and that all complaints should be heard in exec session. This was a strategy to stop me from exposing the corruption. After an hour of discussion by the members, I was not allowed to testify on a publicly posted item. They said that they would defer the matter to a special meeting but the fact remains that they violated the Sunshine Law by not allowing me to testify on a matter that was properly posted. Simply unbelievable. I will be taking action on this, probably through a private attorney. The good news is that the entire fiasco was videotaped by a school's media class so I will get the video in the next few days. This is ridiculous and illegal.
The Commission knew exactly what was in Mel’s complaint, so why put it on the regular agenda and then forbid him to speak? Unless, of course, you’re just trying to stall…. or use the old wear ‘em down until they give up approach….
Once again, this raise the issue of county attorneys serving three masters: the Administration, the County Council and the various Boards and Commissions. How can they possibly be effective in representing the various, and often divergent, interests of all three, especially when complaints arise about one of those masters?