Thursday, July 16, 2015

Musings: Get Thee Behind Me

The Kauai County Council has advanced a resolution that would allow voters to decide whether they want to rescind Council term limits.

The issue will go to a public hearing on Aug. 16. On Sept. 2, the Council will decide whether to place the charter amendment on the 2016 ballot.

I asked Councilman Ross Kagawa why he introduced the resolution. He replied:

I'm just doing it because I feel like a lot has changed in Kauai since 2006 and that term limits could keep some very important people like Mel [Rapozo] from continuing to serve at a very critical point in our lives. That being said I believe the voters are doing a fine job themselves of keeping councilmembers from serving too long.  No councilmember has ever reached the term limit, Jay Furfaro came the closest, he was seeking his 4th term. So the question is why have it?  Let the voters decide, they're already doing it anyway.  We had only 9 people run for council in 2012, 24 ran in 2014.  3 new councilmembers were elected.  A lot has changed.  

But Carl Imparato, noting that voters approved term limits by a margin of 69-31 in 2006, told the Council there is “no reason to think voters are willing to change their mind.”

Ross, however, disputed that, saying he didn't think voters put much thought into the issue in 2006, when a dozen charter amendments crowded the ballot.

Councilman KipuKai Kualii said he would like to see the Council members run for numbered seats. “People who are doing well wouldn't even get challenged and incumbents who are upsetting the voters will get challenged,” he said. “Term limits, that is not the way to give voters more choice. Anybody different always has a chance.”

Meanwhile, the Kauai County Office of the Prosecutor has lost its most skilled deputies. First Deputy Kevin Takata has already departed, with Lisa Arin, Melinda Mendes and Teresa Tumbaga, who was considered the office's best up-and-coming young prosector, on their way out.

As one observer noted:

The OPA under Justin Kollar has seen the same level of turnover as former Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri. Except Shay hemorrhaged deputies from the bottom tier, and Justin's hemorrhaging them from the top.

Still, to Justin's credit, none of his deputies accompanied their resignation with an EEOC complaint. At least, none that I know of.

Interesting to see that the very high profile trial of Darren Galas — charged in 2012 with murdering his wife, Sandra — is finally scheduled for 2016, which just happens to be an election year for the prosecutor.

On a somewhat related note, I recently read a great article entitled, “Is Monsanto Satan? The Pleasure and Problem of Conspiracy Theories.” I especially liked this part:

Belief in Satan has faded over the centuries. But Satan has not disappeared. We need him too much. In the ongoing struggle with inexplicable suffering, there is no greater comfort than finding a target for simple, righteous blame. And so the list of Infernal Names, now secularized, grows ever longer: Big Government, Big Business, Big Pharma, Big Food. These are complex systems, of course—too complex to serve as satisfying scapegoats. But through the alchemy of capital letters we transform them into fairy-tale caricatures of corruption and deceit, villains that help to make sense of it all.

This is why believing in Satan is so dangerous—and so tempting: If he really exists, we can protect our most deeply held beliefs by blaming any opposition on the work of a great deceiver. There is no need for dialogue. In fact, dialogue is inadvisable, because the deceiver is so powerful that any contact risks corruption.

[The conspiracy theorist’s view] is frightening because it magnifies the power of evil, leading in some cases to an outright dualism in which light and darkness struggle for cosmic supremacy. At the same time, however, it is reassuring, for it promises a world that is meaningful rather than arbitrary. Not only are events nonrandom, but the clear identification of evil gives the conspiracist a definable enemy against which to struggle, endowing life with purpose.

Which segues so nicely into closing  with this “existential comic;” (you can click to enlarge, or follow the link):

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

No Joan: "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." (The Usual Suspects)

Luke Evslin said...

Thank for sharing the Satan piece.

It reminds me of Alan Watts's observation that as religion wanes we are replacing it with political activism-- just trying to fill the same void. As a struggling atheist who spends too much time reading Paul Krugman, I can relate.

"At once new myths come into being-- political and economic myths with extravagant promises of the best of futures in the present world. These myths give the individual a certain sense of meaning by making him part of a vast social effort, in which he loses something of his own emptiness and loneliness. Yet the very violence of these political religions betrays the anxiety beneath them-- for they are but men huddling together and shouting to give themselves courage in the dark."
- Alan Watts

Anonymous said...


Sorry, Councilman Kualii, your idea reeks of cronyism. Who will determine which council members are "doing well" and which ones are "upsetting the voters"? I think you'd love it if Council Chair Rapozo was given that honor, along with the ability to appoint a county manager. Numbered seats would give you a way to work your way up the ladder until there was no way to be unseated. You were not appointed, you were elected to serve all the people of Kauai. I know you might fancy the idea of turning your chair position into a lifelong political career, but we need fresh eyes and new blood from time to time. Having to sit out a cycle before running for council again is a great way to gain some perspective outside of your political fiefdom.

Joan Conrow said...

And thank you for sharing Watts' eloquent observation. That pretty much sums up what we're seeing today.

Anonymous said...

You see how greedy these people and how they want all the power and control to rule for decades at a time.

That is in essence to why term limits are so important.

Listening to Yukimura congratulating the admin for an embarrassing audit and moving in the right direction after creating a HR dept in 2012. The county is asking 3 more years to fix the problems. Well they already had already over 3 years going on 4 years so when it's all said and done they need 7 years to get shit right.

Anonymous said...

9:44. You're way off base. Candidates would choose whether to run against Councilmbers who are upsetting the public not Mel. Paranoid much?

Anonymous said...

Love the cooking lesson!!

Anonymous said...

There's something seriously wrong in the OPA if you have lost or will lose deputy prosecuting attorneys and a first deputy PA and on what account?

I guess NO department on Kauai is immune to the Kauai Disease.

Anonymous said...

In Garden Island article it made no sense, the DA agreeing to continuances but blaming the court saying it won't force the defendant to go trial. How is it court's fault if DA agrees to it?

On term limits, it is dangerous to go changing laws because of one favorite politician. Sorry Ross, gotta disagree with you on this one. Term limits serve to protect us against cronyism and corruption. Mel should run for Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Actually the new Religion is a combination of Earth Mother and Environmentalism. As our society has moved from the hard realities of pure survival. Where today it is not important to work in order to be fed, sheltered and medicated. Plus the light bulb took a little of the mysterious fears that evoked Satan.
The f'cked up thing, since we have drifted into regions of the unknown abyss...is Pandora, if she hadn't captured Hope in her box, we would all be saved. It is Hope that wrecks it all. Without Hope, nothing would matter. But, the Abyss whether with Satan or Big Brother Obama as your friend, the Abyss will always stare back at you (Nietzsche).

The replacement of God/Religion with Government can not be true, other wise we would all be deemed crazy. Continuously doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
But Ross has it correct. Let the people decide. Elections are the great exterminator.
And hopefully, as the NS Haoles clamor to the chambers to vilify Ross for his proposal, they do NOT start a yakkin' about Council Districts. We are one island, a dinky 550 odd square miles and 60K peoples. We are small enough to have ample representation in island wide Council races.
The NS Unicorn-Gazing, Goat cheese, Anti-GMO Fistees will shrilly shriek that we need Districts. Horseshit. Eventually, there will be enough of the wealthy transplants, with no ties to island to start electing namby-pamby anti-development, anti-Local Council people. Shucks, We got three already. Mason, Da Hoos and JoAnn fit anyone's idea of a full blown anti-Housing, anti-Roads and anti-Local.
Just think of our leadership. Da Hoos, JoAnn and Mason have Kauai in a Ginourmous lawsuit. Jay Furfaro another lawsuit King gets a high paid hi-powered insider County Job-for-Life, Tim Bynum (the King of Deceit) is on line to be the Marrywanna Seller, since the State has allowed Satan's Drug to be sold legally. The list of insiders is endless.
And the Citizen can look forward to a continuous Multi-Viagra screwing thru hi-taxes, hi-rents, crowded roads and endless f'in' Hope. Might as well, don't Hope and put yo'self out of the misery of false expectation.
But, Still Mel, Ross and Arryl are the good guys and you want them in your foxhole. They at least care about the people.

Anonymous said...

There is no devil - there are four devils and they have infected these agencies with personnel problems.
ENVY
HATE
LUST
JEALOUSY

Anonymous said...

@9:44 am and 2:43 pm

Sorry but I agree with Ross. I reserve the right to vote out any unwanted candidate. Even JoAnn has been there forever but hey she has enough supporters to keep her in office and that is a plus for her. Not saying I agree with her positions but the democratic process is based on what the people want. Term limits are a way to circumvent the democratic process by saying we the minority don't agree with the elected candidate so let's add term limits and minority control.

Anonymous said...

I think it was amazing when Council member Hooser was sharing his views by using the word POWER...and SELF SERVING with a straight face as he addressed his colleagues as the reasons to NOT support the resolution presented by Ross Kagawa. And he said it with such conviction!
If I was to add up every Council members qualities of true service and commitment to ALL the people of Kauai...Gary is the only one that is using his position to the full extent of whatever platform he is spewing for his own agenda..HAPA...SHAKA...Babes...you name it...he's front and center! Lets see...Oahu...Maui...Hawaii..Sweden..and lets not forget his BITE ME remark when he didnt get his way at a hearing at the legislature .He cares for anyone who will be mesmerized by his fear mongering. 2006 is ancient history...and if it doesn't pass...that's okay too....but let the people decide.

Anonymous said...

Ross is the man! He gets the haole vote even while he gives them the shaft. Charming buggah. That's why he #1!

Anonymous said...

Global Warming. caps

Anonymous said...

Yukimura has been taking rights away and taxing before many voters were born. She has created more useless services and public service positions than any politician in the history of the county. She has attempted to outlaw more freedom than Castro.

Anonymous said...

7:19 We have found that we can live with JoAnn's taxes and costs. But her true legacy is Mt Yukimura and stopping all local housing.
As Luke Evslin (hopefully a Council Candidate) alluded in his small Alan Watt's quote, JoAnn epitomizes big Government and all of the false promises therein. So as you pay your huge rent, big taxes, get stalled in traffic, view Kauai's environmental disaster (Mt Yukimura) and wonder how your kids can afford 800,0000 dollar houses....thank JoAnn.
Her influence over the Decades has created a quagmire of rules and laws and subservient like-minded Commie type Department heads at Planning and Water. Oh yeah, kicking the Military out of Kauai after Iniki when they offered to Power Up the island from their Sub. Yep. And then her Iniki Broadcast over the radio "Come one come all...there is ICE (the frozen H2O kind) in Lihue. And 2000 cars race to Lihue to get the rare ice, to find her ICE shipment was one 20 foot container that was enough for about a hundred cars. A lot of p*ssed of* people.
And The Bus, the 2nd most expensive disaster on the island. It would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly to rent the HitchHikers and Hotel Workers who use the Bus, a car. The Bus is inefficient, expensive, usually empty and expensive.
Confused Dazed and Self-Righteous. Still a nice lady, but not good for the island.
Time for her to go and fetch her 100K (plus) per year in life-time benefits.

Anonymous said...

7:42 how do you explain Honolulu with all its roads and subdivisions having worse traffic and higher home prices than Kauai?

Anonymous said...

Mass resignations at the Office of Prosecuting Attorney? No surprises there. So what Justin is doing about that? He needs to go too next year.

Anonymous said...

All of Justin' senior attorneys are bailing. Some younger ones too. What's going on? I heard 10 attorneys so far have left since he took over. Any successful trials lately? None. Many plea bargains leaving victims without true justice. Come on Joan, do your thing. Like you did with Shay and Hooser. At least it's worth a look. Please?

Luke Evslin said...

@ 7:19
That's not my take on the quote. I believe it's the "violence" of politics (as well as the "violence" of religion) that Alan Watts is condemning-- in other words, that we choose political sides in a search for inclusion and meaning, and then engage in perpetual rhetorical warfare with the other side. He's not condemning the size or scope of government. I wasn't alive in the '60s, but from what I understand "outrage politics" was just as strong then as now.

In those terms. I would actually take the opposite stance in terms of councilwoman Yukimura. Rather than politicize 2491 to cater to her base constituency, she rode a treacherous middle road (amending out the GMO portions of the bill, saying that she thought it wasn't likely to pass the muster of the courts, etc) which alienated a large portion of her followers while galvanizing her foes. A decision that showed in the polls. Whether you agree or disagree with her stance, that's not the type of political dogmatism that Watts was criticizing.

For the record, I support and respect JoAnn Yukimura.

And I'm actually writing this on my phone from The Kaua'i Bus. I'm not sure where you got the impression that it's "usually empty," but if you get on at the beginning or end of a work day, it's standing room only. Right now, at 1:53 on a Friday afternoon going from Lihu'e to Kapa'a there are 26 people with seating capacity for 31.

In terms of the OPA resignations-- when you're a county competing against private sector salaries, there is always a high turnover rate among attorneys. Not sure what the national average is, but it seems in a small department the reasons for leaving are more important than the numbers leaving.

Luke Evslin said...

Also @7:42, I do appreciate your comment that I'll hopefully be a council candidate. However, my tendencies for argument and holding polarizing positions makes me worry that I'd be divisive and/or innefective. Probably not what anyone wants in a council member on Kaua'i. But, though you likely changed your mind by now, I do appreciate the sentiment.

Anonymous said...

But OPA attorneys get paid more than they would earn in the private sector. Many who quit took pay cuts to do so.

Anonymous said...

I heard OPA has a "mean girl" problem.

Anonymous said...

Luke you are worried about being devisive and polarizing so maybe you should not serve in public office? That is what those opposing change will ALWAYS accuse those seeking change of, in order to keep change from happening. Someone's ox is always going to be gored whenever change happens and those who suffer the pain of change will always paint the change agent as the one who is causing devisivness and is polarizing the community. I suspect it is your unwillingness to confront directly those local entities and people who are in power and your tendency to over-think that is at the root of your decision not to run for office. While your blog and writings are thoughtful and well written, you are like the majority of commenters on this blog simply an arm chair quarterback. A well read and educated and articulate armchair quarterback, but still just someone on the sidelines with lots of ideas but no real clue as to the reality. Like Joan, you sit on the sidelines and tell the rest of Kauai what is wrong but do nothing tangible of any lasting significance to put your shoulder to the task to fix it. I applaud all 7 council members representing 7 diverse viewpoints for being willing to at least try to do the heavy lifting and not just talk about it from the safety of a key board.

Anonymous said...

I heard OPA has an excessive travel problem. A favoritism problem. A backdoor deals problem. A supervision problem. A training problem. A conflict problem. A qualified trial attorney problem. A management problem.

Joan Conrow said...

And I heard OPA has a bunch of malcontents who won't actually speak up to their boss, or anyone else on the record, but love to complain anonymously on a blog. I also heard the legal community has a bunch of backbiters who also won't stand up to Justin, but are hoping if they talk enough trash, I'll do something.

Well, I did check into his travel and reported on it. It wasn't excessive. Nobody ever promised Justin would be perfect, just different than Shay. If you don't like him, find someone to run against him instead of sniping anonymously and trying to sic me on him. Grow up already!

And 9:06, who wrote, "Like Joan, you sit on the sidelines and tell the rest of Kauai what is wrong but do nothing tangible of any lasting significance to put your shoulder to the task to fix it." How do you know what I've done? I've devoted many, many hours to working for nonprofits and also in volunteer work, trying to make a difference. Kauai's problems are deep and systemic, and I hate to disappoint you, but the Council isn't doing anything, either.

Anonymous said...

Yes someone please run against him. No one is perfect but Kollar promised to be different from Shaylene. And Joan you were the number one rabble rouser of the boot Shaylene campaign. Kollar benefited from that. What we got was business as usual and then some.

Joan Conrow said...

I went against Shay because she was misusing her office and her power. It's good she's gone. Justin may be an inexperienced manager, but he's not engaged in political retribution or racking up EEOC complaints. Don't blame me if you're not happy with Justin. No one else was willing to run against Shay.

And still there you, still wanting someone else to make it all better -- "yes, someone please run against him." Take some responsibility. If you work for OPA and don't' like it, get another job and/or run against him. If you're not an attorney, find a candidate. But quit complaining and blaming others.

Anonymous said...

It's not like Justin can't replace any of those attorneys in a New York minute. Lawyers are a dime a dozen these days and plenty of attorneys will be happy with the good pay and benefits at OPA.

Joan Conrow said...

To the Anonymous who just left a comment that I did not post -- yes, that could be an abuse of power. Except in this case, it's bullshit, with lots of innuendo and no proof.

Anonymous said...

Duh! They have 700K-900K more people than Kauai.

Ding Ding Ding I could manage kauai with that answer. I Would probably be the smartest county of kauai worker who ever lived.

Luke Evslin said...

@ anonymous 9:06--
While I strongly agree (and have written it many times myself) that writing is exponentially easier than actual governing, I'm a little confused how you, as an anonymous commentator on a blog, can criticize me for expressing my view? The only comments critical of a council member came from anonymous 7:19, who I assume (though I may be wrong) is you.

To be clear, I have a huge amount of respect for everyone currently in public service on Kaua'i and anyone who's ever put their name forward for an election-- especially the seven diverse viewpoints on our council. Despite the fact that they've all dedicated their lives to working for the well being of everyone on Kaua'i, our council members are among the most criticized people on our island.

Also, while I can be critical of the direction we are going-- my goal in all of my writing has been to show that none of the issues that we face has an easy answer. And, most importantly, that polarization with a blind insistence on ideology will not get us any closer to solving any of our problems.

Anonymous said...

Anybody would have been better than Shaylene. She was CRAZY abusing her POWER!

Anonymous said...

Lawyer Ethics Rule 3-1.3
"(f) A prosecutor should not permit his or her professional judgment or obligations to be affected by his or her own political, financial, business, property, or personal interests."

There is going to be an election and this is going to be its theme.