The propaganda war is heating up as the Council's Sept. 9 meeting on Bill 2491 nears. Did the biotech-friendly Hawaii Crop Improvement Assn. really think they'd get any sympathy claiming Hoike deliberately lost hours of videotaped testimony that no one is going to watch, anyway? Or by attacking Councilman Gary Hooser for how he ran a meeting three weeks ago, especially when he ran it well? If that's the best their high-paid PR firm can come up with, they need new flacks. Or better yet, just give it a rest.
On the other side, a group is seeking kids for a video that captures how youth feel about 2491. In an email going around, parents are urged to familiarize their kids about the bill, “as impartially as possible” before filming.
Apparently that's to ensure a truly objective response when they're asked “how they feel about large amounts of dangerous chemicals being sprayed in Waimea and possibly more areas on Kauai” and whether they “think it's a good idea for the island of Kauai to take care of this issue, or do you think it would be better to let Honolulu and the state of Hawaii - who are very busy with all the islands - to deal with this?”
The Council put off the meeting until Sept. 9 ostensibly to get the County Attorney's opinion on the bill. Will it be released to the public, or kept secret like almost everything else?
I asked for a copy of the CA's logic- and morality-defying opinion that all the folks who gamed the system get to keep their vacation rental certificates because they were approved by former Planning Director Ian Costa, albeit improperly.
But County Attorney Al Castillo refused to release it, citing attorney/client privilege. I'm still waiting for him to identify the client. Is it the mayor? The planning department? The Council? Though it's called the “county attorney's office,” which would seem to include the people who live here, citizens don't actually have any legal representation at the county unless we hire it ourselves.
Speaking of those improper approvals, I asked county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka, “Why does the mayor keep Ian Costa on staff in light of the planning department's own revelations about the bungling of the TVR ordinance that occurred under Ian's leadership? Is Ian going to be held in any way accountable?”
To which Beth replied:
As you know, in late 2010 the Planning Commission voted to remove Ian as Planning Director. The Mayor appointed Ian as Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation in December 2010 because he felt he had experience and qualifications that would benefit that area of county operations. The Mayor is pleased with Ian’s performance in that capacity, not only managing parks operations, but also utilizing his skills as a licensed architect to benefit parks capital improvement projects. [Update: Beth said she made an error. Ian resigned as Planning Director. He was not removed.]
So in other words, it's all good with the big guy.
To paraphrase that great line from “Apocalypse Now:” The bullshit piles up so fast on Kauai you need wings to stay above it.
Hey, I've been hearing talk about Rep. Derek Kawakami running for mayor. Now that's a candidate who could beat Bernard Carvalho Jr. He's got the political machine, business and management experience, intelligence, youth and ambition on his side. And he must be sick of schlepping over to Honolulu with the likes of Rep. Jimmy Tokioka. As mayor, Derek could stay home, make more money and gain visibility for a key race. He could even create a legacy. I mean, heck, Bryan Baptiste didn't do nuttin', and they named the busiest bridge on Kauai after him.
In other political news, the Charter Commission is pressing hard this year to get an amendment on the 2014 ballot that would establish County Council elections by district. They're looking at five geographic districts, and two at large. Now that's a step in the right direction if we want to bring in some fresh blood, because it's very hard for unknown candidates to canvass the entire island. But there's gonna be stiff opposition from the three commissioners who do Bernard's bidding – Jimmy Nishida, Carol Suzawa and Mary Lou Barela. So if you support Council districts, let the Commission know. It will be dealing with this topic at its Aug. 26 and Sept. 23 meetings, which begin at 4 p.m. in the conference room of the Moikeha Building. Or you can email email@example.com.
In looking at the commission's agenda, I was amused to learn the county really is getting serious about sustainability. No, not by supporting farming or reducing imports or anything like that. It's starting with small, manageable steps, like discontinuing the practice of providing commissioners with bottled water. Instead, they have been issued water bottles which they must bring in to be filled.
Like I said, there's the real, and there's the facade.