Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Musings: Changing Times

The full page ad that Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers ran in the local paper speaks volumes about the socioeconomic changes under way on Kauai (click on graphic to enlarge):
I love sunshine. I love hiking to secret spots and running with my dogs. I love a good book read from a hammock. I love yoga, and pilates. I love my work and the people I work with, and a company that supports this in every way. I love Poipu and the many people that love it too. Yes, I certainly do love my Hawaii Life!

Notice the pricey price tags on the houses, and the complete absence of any reference to volunteerism, giving back, agriculture, mingling with the larger community or multiculturalism, much less the indigenous culture. It's all about indulging one's own little narcissistic desires in a resort town that could be Anywhere Sunny USA.

Yup, that's Hawaii Life — the agency that supports the anti-GMO movement, mayoral hopeful Dustin Barca and sweeping changes in real life on Kauai. In addition to the $5,300 in Hawaii Life donations previously reported, Melissa Norman, whose husband Neal started [correx: works for] Hawaii Life, recently gave Dustin $1,000. Pierce Brosnan's wife, Keely, kicked down $500.

The Hawaii Life ad stands in stark contrast to a recent Civil Beat article about yet another family driven out of Hawaii by the high cost of living. It prompted kanaka maoli Hale Mawae to comment:

Why not do a story about a "real" Hawaiian family that is struggling and are forced to move from their actual home because of the illegal occupation. Not some transient Haole family that moves here because of some self-inflated dream of living in the illusion that is paradise. Let's keep it real people!

Indeed. Which is why I had to raise my eyebrows at an ad that Councilman Gary Hooser ran where he made no mention at all of his instrumental role in Bill 2491 — “The Great Divide” — and described his past life as “business owner” rather than Realtor. Gee, Gary, do you think people's memories are really that short?
Gary, who scored sixth in the primary and was running in the red, put out a desperate appeal for cash that garnered him $6,602 in contributions that qualify for matching state funds. His donors include Realtors, anti-GMO activists from the Big Island and Kauai and attorney Lance Collins, who staged the bogus challenge to the county's procurement of pro bono legal services to defend Bill 2491 while claiming he had no connection to Gary. Uh huh....

First-time Council candidate Arryl Kaneshiro, meanwhile, brought in $8,345 that qualified for matching funds, much of it from small donors, and not one from a resident north of Anahola.

Councilman Mel Rapozo, the top vote-getter in the primary, reported $4,760 in qualifying contributions. Councilman Tim Bynum, who came in seventh, collected $4,613 in qualifying contributions and Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura brought in $4,415.

Councilman Mason Chock picked up just $1,875 in qualifying matching contributions, less than Felicia Cowden, the twelfth-place challenger who got $3,049 from her primarily North Shore supporters.

Felicia, meanwhile, seems to have hit on a way to woo the Filipino vote that ignored her in the primary: tag on a few lines in her newspaper ads. Because, of course, none of them can speak English.
Council candidates KipuKai Kualii, Darryl Perry and Arthur Brun, who scored eighth, ninth and eleventh, respectively, in the primary, did not seek matching funds, and neither did Councilmen Jay Furfaro and Ross Kagawa. 

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Watched a recent council meeting on tv dealing with property taxes. A Princeville man testified saying he does not read the local paper, does not watch local tv
and does not get involved locally. Probably golfs every day, afternoon cocktails at Hanalei sunset, dinner out. Nice lifestyle, his right to do so. But certainly not an asset to community or a lifestyle to be advertised as Kaua`i life. It robs the buyer of community and culture.

Anonymous said...

maybe we shoudn't ignore the fact that Syngenta and Grove Farm are outfitting Brun and Kaneshiro's campaigns for council.

Dawson said...

"Notice the pricey price tags on the houses, and the complete absence of any reference to volunteerism, giving back, agriculture, mingling with the larger community or multiculturalism, much less the indigenous culture. It's all about indulging one's own little narcissistic desires in a resort town that could be Anywhere Sunny USA.

Yup, that's Hawaii Life — the agency that supports the anti-GMO movement, mayoral hopeful Dustin Barca and sweeping changes in real life on Kauai."



Dominate the economic structure of the land. Demote the natives to laborers, servants and entertainers. Co-opt their culture into a product for marketing. Reap obscene profits.

For anyone who thinks the motives, methods and morality of classic colonialism aren't calling the shots on Kauai, Hawaii Life Real Estate should convince you otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Aloha Joan:
Pardon the criticism, but I feel I must say something (again):

“Notice the pricey price tags on the houses, and the complete absence of any reference to volunteerism, giving back, agriculture, mingling with the larger community or multiculturalism, much less the indigenous culture. It's all about indulging one's own little narcissistic desires in a resort town that could be Anywhere Sunny USA.”

Do you really believe the poor (who cannot afford those “pricey price tags”) do more volunteerism or give back more than the wealthy? Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs would refute such an assertion. I would be willing to bet the ratio of volunteerism, philanthropy and the like is much higher for the rich than the poor, even though the poor outnumber the rich specifically because the rich can afford to do so. I would also bet you would be willing to agree.
Again are there mean self-absorbed rich people, of course? However, simple math/statistics will tell you that there are way more mean self-absorbed poor/middleclass people in the population than rich (since allegedly only 1% of the people control the wealth of this nation).
What is happening in Hawaii is similar to many parts of the world. Families are struggling and moving from Southern California, San Francisco, New York and the like for jobs and the ability to find some comfort in an area they can afford. That is why (like your Oahu Family example/link) many people are moving to Texas, where jobs are being created (thanks to a pro-business atmosphere, low cost of living, low property values and taxes, amongst other things). Soon it will happen in Texas to, due to demand and overpopulation.
As you know, it is called the law of supply and demand, and it is the same in this Country as it is in many parts of the world. Hawaii is not unique. See London, Hong Kong, Paris, Russia, etc. The law of supply and demand is the same for all races, nationalities and economic classes. Supply and demand also applies in the poorest nations of the world.

Anonymous said...

Continued from above...

Hawaii is expensive. It is expensive due to its remote location, beauty and demand. As a result, the cost of living is high, (very high), and will only continue to get worse. Although it may be sad, it is the law of economics. If you cannot afford to be in a place, you should leave, or learn to live with what you have. You cannot move to London and complain about how expensive it is. That is just silly.
While I agree it is sad if you were born in Hawaii and have to move, again it is not a uniquely Hawaiian problem.
(I will plagiarize, adapt and paraphrase some previous comments by poster(s) some months back):

"Born and raised" on Hawaii is not an accomplishment, nor is simply living there for a year or many years; especially if you are barely getting by.

“Born and raised” or living for years on Hawaii is so much more about your responsibility, not your right. We should be way more concerned about what we are doing with the time spent on the island, then how much time we have spent.
I was born and raised and lived in Orange County California. I was priced out of owning a house there before I even began my first job. I can't remember any resentment; and that might be because I also don't remember a single person, let alone a constant drumbeat, saying I had some sort of birthright to live there; ever! It is a victim’s mentality; a form of neuroticism or psychosis.
Instead, I was expected and prepared, by my parents and the society, to forge my own unique and independent path and do the things I needed to do to succeed, not wallow in resentment and watch society pass me by and then hate it/them for it. You can succeed; you must make the sacrifices needed to do so.

Everyone born on Hawaii has the chance to get a good education forge their own path and make good money to stay. There are no simple answers, but most, not all, who have to leave, or have come to Hawaii and have to leave, failed themselves by not playing the game of life (getting an education, starting a business or successful career) and more importantly have any sense on how to live within their means and or budget. Those may sound like harsh words but they are the truth. This world will eat you up and spit you out if you think otherwise. The majority of the rich you see in Hawaii, London, San Francisco, New York, worked hard (or should I say worked smart) and earned their way. Some may have lucked out, but they are the minority. Most rich people are highly educated, self-employed and superstars with finances. What is wrong or bad with that?
(By the way: It is hard to feel sorry for your Oahu Family example/link. They moved basically because of the “seduction” of Hawaii two years ago from North Carolina (a real cheap place to live). They knew it was expensive but went anyway, could not afford their own place and moved in with family initially; hoped she could make money and he took a job that paid less than North Carolina with UH who he knew were conducting furloughs and was eventually laid off. That is not smart and it is poor planning. Quite frankly with two kids it was irresponsible. How are we supposed to feel sorry for them that they have to move back?)

Anonymous said...

Continued from above...
Additionally, the high costs of rents in Hawaii are not as a result of greedy landlords, they are in fact a result of limited housing, high taxes, insurance, hurricane insurance, flood insurance, high association fees, etc. (If you are in a condo, a typical condo’s association fees are in excess of $600 a month).
You cannot have it both ways. You cannot have limited development on the island and low rents. That flies in the face of logic. “Housing cost can go down....in weeks if your County Council, with a STROKE of a pen, allows more density. Allow more units on differently zoned and/or Ag land; but no one wants that.” Housing can go down with lower tax rates too, but as you all are aware they just dramatically increased them because they cannot keep spending under control due to waste, favors, errors, oversights, and plain ignorance. If you think the typical landlord is making crazy profits on rents in Kauai you are sadly misinformed.
Moreover, the rich contribute/pay the overwhelming majority of the taxes, not just in Kauai, not just in Hawaii but everywhere around the globe. We should be thankful for the rich. Resenting them is silly. Complaining about the law of supply and demand is even more so. Living in one of the most expensive places in the world and complaining about how expensive it is, illustrates complete idiocy. It is like playing with fire and complaining about getting burned.

Your loyal reader, who is not rich, and agrees and disagrees with you; but believes you hate the rich, even though you deny so

Anonymous said...

Rapozo being the top vote getter shows exactly how short preoples memories are.

Anonymous said...

FYI.

I have been read that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook bought the 357 Acre Kahuaina Plantation

Can you confirm it?

Joan Conrow said...

No I can't. I tried but the sale included a confidentiality clause.

Anonymous said...

"Dominate the economic structure of the land. Demote the natives to laborers, servants and entertainers. Co-opt their culture into a product for marketing. Reap obscene profits."

That's the 200 year old story. trying to figure out the next phase is the hard part.

But you better believe it's something like a totalitarian religious new age revolution.

Luke Evslin said...

Anonymous 11:15:
You said:
"Moreover, the rich contribute/pay the overwhelming majority of the taxes, not just in Kauai, not just in Hawaii but everywhere around the globe. We should be thankful for the rich.”
The top 10% pay 68% of income taxes in the US, but, they take home 50% of total income and own 75% of total wealth in the US. So, their income tax contribution is actually less than their share of total wealth.

"Although it may be sad, it is the law of economics. If you cannot afford to be in a place, you should leave…”
That isn’t a law of economics— that is an extremist view of laissez-faire capitalist ideology.

"Everyone born on Hawaii has the chance to get a good education forge their own path and make good money to stay. There are no simple answers, but most, not all, who have to leave, or have come to Hawaii and have to leave, failed themselves by not playing the game of life (getting an education, starting a business or successful career) and more importantly have any sense on how to live within their means and or budget.”
Thank you for the lesson on social Darwinism: the basis of imperialism and fascism. Your viewpoint is not only dangerous (as it led directly to the rise of Nazism), but it is wrong. Children in families that rank among the bottom 25% of wage earners are 10 times less likely to earn a bachelors degree than those among the top 25%. If you come from a low income family the system is heavily stacked against you. And, extremist views of free market ideology are flawed simply because they cannot account for necessary government intervention (i.e. affordable housing mandates, higher minimum wage, support for public transportation, increased spending for early childhood education, etc) to rectify that chronic imbalance.

Nobody is saying that rich people are evil. But, accepting that our economic system has deep systemic flaws is a pre-requisite to finding viable solutions to our most pressing problems (inequality, starvation, homelessness, loss of biodiversity, climate change, etc). Citing extremist free market ideology as a natural world order that can’t be messed with, is the equivalent of setting your town on fire and justifying letting it burn down by saying that fire is “natural.”

Sorry for the rant.

Luke Evslin said...

Sorry, as always, I digressed off topic. In more direct response to Anonymous 11:15, check out this article:
http://grist.org/cities/heres-one-idea-for-taxing-the-rich-and-making-housing-more-affordable

"The logic of letting the free market balance supply and demand to fix housing prices depends on the demand side being composed of people who actually live in the city. When it is, prices are limited in part by how much money people there make. But when rich people who don’t live there buy up properties, prices can be totally out of sync with the wages of residents, making the cost of living unaffordable...
The idea that attracting rich people is always in a city’s best interest is overly simplistic. So is the belief that the free market solves all ills. Rich people only bring economic activity if they actually bring themselves. Cities need jobs, but they also need affordable housing for the teachers, firefighters, garbage collectors, janitors, store clerks, nurses, bus drivers, and environmental journalists who make the city run. So cities need to use regulation and taxation to help bring housing supply and demand back into balance. "

Anonymous said...

Neal Norman did not start Hawaii Life... Matt Beale and Justine did, with Wellborns in tow. Neal's "Koa Properties" was sucking wind(so he said...) so he brough all his listings to a salivating Matt and voila!! He pays no percentages to the firm...All those cute little auctions of Michelle Hughes wet properties were corrupted by Neal and his associates to get the biggest buck from fradulent dual agency. He loves to stroke the gray area of realty to his liking.Tons of fun under the radar facts...i recall him first on island from east coast with his salsa and stoned out of his mind, start up money coming from his wifes rich family. Hes loves himself, and his cash flowing clients. Good for him. Hi Life sales force has been dwindling, fleeing the puny promise of "we got your back" without fair payment to their hordes. Plus they insist newbies partner up for 2 year. Only the few top notch high heeled and glee groaning transplants stay put. They have zero local interests other than sales. Soap opera TV spots and ad space doesn't change the facts that they hire people to write their blogs.
Zuckerburg is in fact the buyer of Pila'a Plueger property and Moloa'a ranch, and another mauka Plueger holding. It'll come out around the confidenciality clauses in place. This is Kauai. Ask around with the power dorkers and you'll find willingness to give out the goods. There are plenty "edward snoddens" here, willing to expose the self righteous.
I love the "local born" dilution dialogue. thats for the benefit of newcomer argument on anything other than respecting those of us who have lineage here with our hawaiian ancestors. That instantly trumps to make it appear that the nouveau rich blocking accesses and buying land have any say.

Anonymous said...

Hawaii Life owners and top Realtors are not known for integrity or honesty.
If the Ilocanos knew how wahcky Felicia is they would never vote for her. most people just want to got to work and be left alone.
Felicia would join her political dopplegangers JoAnn, Gary, Jackpot Bynum and Chock in raising taxes, making more laws against Ag and business. She appears to be interested in what is going on, but I think the Smart Meter cosmo rays effect her thinking. She has very friendly unicorns.
If Gary, Tim and Chock get elected Kauai is doomed. We can live with JoAnn, she adds some humor. Jay, the big bag of egotistical gas that he is, may have an enlightenment and realize that he has the power to actually do some good for the working man.

I am voting a pure local ticket. Brun, Perry, Kaneshiro, Rapozo and Kagawa......these guys will support the working slob, old timer and young folk....enough of the BS, fix the roads, Replace Mt Yukimura and get a real landfill site, get some zoning for da old folks homes, drug rehab...get some beach access ETC....fix the budget..

Anonymous said...

Gary I read your website asking for money for the good works you have done. Well.

Woke up this morning and Mt. Wailaleale and Makaleha loomed, so close I could touch them. What a place, the birds sing a morning song and all is right with the world. I could smell the beauty of life.
My kids are rustling around the house as the world woke up. I love Kauai.
Time to take the kids to day care and go to work. My truck wouldn't start, two hours later after help from a friend, I drop my crying kids at the day care and go to work. Late.
After stink eye from the Boss and promises to take all the bad shifts, I was fortunate to get some big tips. I love these tourists.
I go to Wilcox, my Dad is doing well with his Cancer treatments, Mom is upset, but handling. As I was leaving a skinny hippy type pulled me aside and scolded me, telling me that my Dad had cancer because of GMO and the Chemical cartels. She went on and on and tried to get me to sign some petition.
I told her Dad was born and raised in Kalihiwai Bay and though we have plenty family on the West Side, he never worked the fields. This lady may have meant well, but it pissed me off. She don't know me.

I fought Kapaa traffic and as I pulled into my driveway, Mrs. Ishimakua, my landlady waved to me. She was crying and told me that she had to raise my rent. She got her tax bill and now has to charge me an extra $232 a month.
She was trembling as she also said she had to sell her house, the taxes were too high.
We are close family friends and we talked awhile. I told her not to worry, me and my kids can make do, but she was in a plight, the property was in the family for generations. She was sick.
I have to move, rent is raised, got a $300 dollar electric bill and my kids are screaming waiting for dinner.
Waialeale still loomed, but somehow the allure was gone.
Thank you Tim Bynum. Thank You Gary Hooser. your tax increase really didn't hurt local families.
Just think the $1.5 million your lawsuit cost the County is close to 20 percent of the County budget shortfall.
That 1.5 could have gone toward helping 1500 families with a $1,000.00 tax decrease. I worry about Mrs. Ishimakua and all the other kapuna, I love Kauai.
But I hate the way our leaders are destroying the island and her people.
This means you Gary and Tim….the two taxers, lawsuit spenders and you care not for the people.

Joan Conrow said...

To 10:44 If you look at the campaign reports, there are no contributions from Syngenta to Arthur Brun.

Arryl Kaneshiro received donations totaling $300 from people I recognized as Grove Farm employees, which is slightly more than 1% of his total. I'd hardly call that "outfitting" his campaign.

To 11:15 -- Yes, the poor do give more than the rich.

"In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those with earnings in the top 20 percent—contributed on average 1.3 percent of their income to charity. By comparison, Americans at the base of the income pyramid—those in the bottom 20 percent—donated 3.2 percent of their income."

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/why-the-rich-dont-give/309254/

To 3:46, thank you on the correction on who started Hawaii Life. Re: Zuckerberg: It's my understanding the Pilaa parcel was bought by someone else. I haven't been able to get firm confirmation on his other alleged purchases.

Anonymous said...

hang tight Joan....the whole swath of land was bought by the same person Mr Z. heres how it went...offer was placed, next day the money was wired to account. 100mil. done.everyones astonished as its huge money to us, not a blink from them. Pila'a is Pluegers, incorporated with the moloa'a ranch and the others...dig a little deeper...
Elison looked at jeff Stones stuff by the Tavern, instead the chinese guy grabbed it...lots more coming...wait til you hear about Omidyars newest push from his Ohana realty goons...Hanalei is gonna get nasty...plenty of impending unified bowel movements...

Anonymous said...

So Omidyar wants to put in some houses on a bluff that was approved for an enormous Stark hotel. It is zoned and it is privately owned. Less impact than a Hotel. The bluff is already impacted.
The feel good Realtors, Bali Hai and Hawaii Life have both come out against Big Ag and big Development.
Bali Hai Realty is the numero uno Beachfront developer IE Haena and Anini and countless ag CPRs...now that they have made their millions, they come out as anti-development. Gag me with a Commission Spoon. Most Realtors are regular folks, but when the big elite dogs in the Real Estate community start howling and biting into other people's property rights, it is embaraskin.
Of Course Bali Hai and Hawaii Life are solidly in the Bynum, Chock, Hooser and Felicia camp...."love me, love me I'm a Liberal...." -Phil Ochs

Anonymous said...

4:31 - Your story is exactly what many others are experiencing. It should be printed in the newspapers, except that our paper probably won't print it. Thanks for sharing and I hope people who can make changes to policies that affect our lives will read your story.

Anonymous said...

Joan, all our political candidates find many creative ways to campaign. Some attend weddings, baptisms,kiss babies, crash neighborhood gatherings, or coffee chats at someone's home, you name it, everyone's free to stay or leave. Why do you have such contempt & disrespect for Felicia?
Among all the new candidates in the fray, you seem to have zeroed in on her, like some kind of sorority initiation rite, or the two of you competed for the same guy decades ago?

I speak and read English and Tagalog and actually appreciate seeing my language in print. We have words that lose their beauty and melody when translated into English. By the same token, there are English words and phrases that are brief and to the point (efficient but abrupt to the ears) which work well for official documents and business dialog. I hope one of your Filipino friends can explain to you why we Filipino immigrants cling to our language (and various dialects:) we love speaking, hearing, and reading it. Ay sus!

Joan Conrow said...

Dear 4:26 --

You seem to have misunderstood. I have no problem with Filipinos using their own language. I pointed out Felicia's ad because it struck me as a phony bid to attract the Filipino vote when she had previously lamented her cool reception on the westside and attributed their disinterest to not seeing her ads before the primary. She couldn't possibly accept that it had anything to do with her lack of campaigning and support for 2491.

As for Felicia, after having listened to her on the radio and then dealt with her a few times, I found her to be to be a drama queen, scattered, unwilling to accept responsibility for her words and actions, lacking in introspection, eager to spread disinformation, self-serving, egotistical and not very smart or well-informed, though she believes she is both. We don't need any more people like that on the Council.

Anonymous said...

Felicia is a kook who believes in chem trails, Article 21 and other conspiracy theories. She is part of the Hooser-Bynum-Chock bloc.

Anonymous said...

To11:15 - RIGHT ON! Tired of hearing that the rich are the problem. The poorest person on Kauai could move to El Salvador and there they would be rich. Let's talk about morals not money.

Joan Conrow said...

Let's talk about morals not money.

Yes! That was my point. I don't care if people have money if they are also contributing in a meaningful way, especially in a small community like Kauai. I objected to the Hawaii Life ad because it was putting out the idea that folks can just exist in their little elitist bubble, without participating or giving back. That is not good for Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Joan - think ur reading to much into that article. Like Forrest Gump said after everyone was speculating on why he was running, he said ' I just felt like running'😉

Anonymous said...

No one contributes to the cost of living so much as our council. property taxes, forced impositions such as solar hot water heaters, water meter fees that are ridiculous, etc. make housing far too expensive for a young couple on their own.Frankly, I think the council is insane.

As for Joan's primary point that the very rich do not contribute, I agree because I see it all the time as head of a nonprofit. A couple of donations by these globe trotters to the council or the police department does not amount to much. Not when I see a poor local family writing a check that involves a substantial portion of their savings in order to further a Kauai charity they feel close to.

Anonymous said...

Those who give from the HEART, whether rich or poor do it anonymously. That cannot be measured or put on a spreadsheet.

Anonymous said...

Chem trails are real. Go to any mainland state and you will see them. Of course some people can not tell real cluods from mam made cloulds. Look , listen and learn.

Anonymous said...

DuPont and Syngenta are richer than anyone on Kauai.

You don't see anything good from them either, except low wages and an occasional tossing of leftovers to a food bank.

Anonymous said...

@12:29,
Here's a question for you: I f chemtrails are real, why is deliberate deception needed to support it?
For example: Every airliner, since at least the 747 in the 60's, goes through flight testing using banks of water barrels connected to sensors. People are circulating pictures of this as a "We caught them" statement. You cannot obtain these pictures initially without knowing their context. So answer the question: "Why is such a deliberate attempt at deception required?"

Pete Antonson

Anonymous said...

I know what I see. Why the strawman question ? Go to any of the 48 mainland States. Look for yourself .

Anonymous said...

10% of the people do 90% of the volunteer work on this island whether rich or poor.

Dawson said...

It's no use, Pete. From chemtrails to crop circles, it's virtually impossible to convince True Believers in Conspiracies that their beliefs have no basis in reality.

Sadly, Western culture is seeing a resurgence of such pop irrationality, topping even that of Victorian times. One only need check the programing lineup of cable channels like National Geographic Channel, History Channel and Science Channel to see the popularity of conspiracy-myth "documentaries."

All of which wouldn't be such a concern except... these people vote.