Thursday, February 28, 2008

Musings: Dysfunctional Politics

As we all know on Kauai, somebody is always watching what you do. As a reader noted in an email last night:

“At today's county council meeting where the ag subdivision moratorium was being re-examined, one of those salivating was Falko Partners’ director Shawn Smith. He was salivating probably because Falko has some nice ag property to subdivide, and it didn't look like supporters of the bill could sway the opponents on the council.

“He said it was better than the cage match he watched last night. I wonder if it was rigged like wrestling. I love it when developers reveal themselves true to their ruthless stereotype.

“Shawn is so close to councilman Ron Kouchi that he felt he could send him text messages DURING THE MEETING. For example, after Ron made a point against the bill, Shawn sent him the message "Kick ass! [I love it] when you get rolling." In the address book is almost as good as in the pocket.

“I just wonder what he's planning with Mike Tressler over at Grove Farm.

“To another lucky text recipient, possibly Larry Bowman, he spilled the beans: "Here's my secret - I wrote that letter blasting Bynum." Sure enough, today's TGI has a criticism of Bynum attributed to one Brian Flournoy of Kapa'a. Previous letters by that alias have the same vitriol against ADU sunseting and ferry protestors.

"Never trust a developer, but do read over their shoulders,” the reader/eavesdropper concludes.

Nor, it seems, are emails private. Anna Chavez circulated her response from Councilman Mel Rapozo:

“The problem with the ag moratorium is that it would not prohibit the large landowners from creating CPRs, which would legally bypass the public input process during the division of land. In fact, if the moratorium passes, CPRs would likely increase. Lands would be divided without any opportunity for the public to comment. Is this what we want? I don't think so. Currently, when a landowner wants to subdivide a parcel, it has to go through the Planning Commission. This allows for public testimony. I don't want to see CPRs popping up all over the island. This is a complex issue, and a moratorium is not the answer in my opinion. Thank you for your valuable input. Take care.”

Mel declines to note that CPRs already are popping up all over the island. Nor does he mention that the county has the legal authority to regulate or even stop CPRs on ag land.

But to expect the Council to do anything that would go up against the powerful real estate and development industry is obviously unrealistic.

All it took was a threatening letter from the Land Use Research Foundation of Hawaii to make Councilman Kouchi babble their party line.

As the Garden Island reports today: “The bill lacks statutory authority, a legal nexus and amounts to an illegal taking, Kouchi said, reading from the foundation’s letter.”

Now aren’t you glad you didn’t elect him Mayor when he was running against Bryan Baptiste and our choice, as one friend observed, was “between the sly f*** and the dumb f***”?

Unfortunately, in this case Bryan has shown himself to be neither bright nor politically savvy, which is why his legislation went down in flames although the testimony received was 100-1 in favor of the moratorium.

According to the Garden Island, even the Kauai Farm Bureau backed the bill:

“Roy Oyama, co-chair of the Farm Bureau, said he supported the moratorium despite its potential to harm farmers by temporarily stopping them from subdividing their land for legitimate reasons.
“Let’s stop the squabbling and get to work,” he told the council.”

Of course, the Council could have fixed some of the flaws — JoAnn Yukimura, an attorney, had amendments ready to do that — but it was easier to blame the Mayor and skirt the issue entirely.

In the end, only Bynum, JoAnn Yukimura and Kaipo Asing voted to keep the bill alive, while Mel, Ron, Jay Furfaro and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho (she’s running for prosecutor next, just so you know) killed it.

So much for caring about what the people want. We’re only the citizens and voters after all, not the rich and powerful ones who can advance their careers.

According to the Garden Island: “To make big decisions you have to take risks,” he [Baptiste] said after the meeting. “I don’t see why the administration has to do it all. This is a legislative body ... they can do legislation just as well as I can.”

Problem is, neither arm of government is doing it well, which is why it continues to be business as usual on Kauai, with the developers and realtors still firmly in control.

As one reader observed in a comment left on yesterday's post: "There is so much dysfunctional politics at play makes you want to disengage from the process and advocate for anarchy."


Andy Parx said...

One thing I mentioned yesterday that stands out is that Bryan could do this ag moretorium administratively.

Anonymous said...

makes the proposal to adjust our structure of county government, whether it's voting for council by district or having the mayor position be selected from the council (for ceremonious duties)and hire a chief officer to administer and manage county operations and services(i'd vote for both if given the choice) seems like reasonable proposals to strongly consider

Joan Conrow said...

I think the answer to that, Andy, is found in the Mayor's own words: “To make big decisions you have to take risks. I don’t see why the administration has to do it all."

Anonymous said...

the challenge of leadership is to move forward in concert or tandem with others, most importantly with those who may not be 100% supportive. this dysfunctional county government-mayor,council,dept heads etc,needs restructuring badly. add in the state's collusion into the pot, stir in some corruption, deceit, and ineffectiveness and the disenfranchised stew is ready to serve.
why the two branches of our local government can't link up to solve this issue is a question the public deserves to know. we are again being shortchanged by our public servants.

Anonymous said...

My favorite was Rapozo stating over and over that he wanted to kill this bill to "make a statement to the administration." Some of these guys have been working together waaaayyyy too long.

Anonymous said...

or working against each other for waaay to long!