Monday, June 23, 2008

Musings: Scramble for Power

I had a call from a friend on Oahu who broke the news last night that Kauai’s Mayor, Bryan Baptiste, passed away yesterday afternoon. He apparently had a heart attack.

Accordng to KITV News, Baptiste, 52, had quadruple bypass heart surgery June 13 at Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, was discharged from the hospital on Friday and returned to Kauai Saturday night.

Now Administrative Assistant Gary Heu, who has managed to keep a very low profile during the six years he served under Baptiste, is serving as mayor pro tem.

KITV reports:

He [Heu] contacted Kauai's elected officials and plans to meet with county officials Monday to determine what happens next. Officials must determine the next steps according to the county charter.

What happens next, under the County Charter, is that the Council will select one of its own members to serve as mayor, with a new mayor to be chosen in the November election. The newly elected mayor will serve out only the remainder of Baptiste’s term, or another two years, at which point he or she will ostensibly be in a great position to run again.

Meanwhile, the Council gets to choose a person to fill the empty Council seat. Hmmm. I wonder who that might be? Hopefully they won't be so blatant as to bring on someone from Grove Farm, although that company certainly has had Council representation in the past. Or will they open the door to Derek Kawakami, who is already running for the Council and has the proper pedigree?

It ought to be interesting to see how the various Council members — Ron, JoAnn and Jay — who have already been eying the mayor’s seat conduct themselves in the scramble for power that this event opens up, especially since it’s happening in an election year.

One has to wonder, too, if Kaipo, who has more years than anyone on the Council, will decide he deserves the top post. Will Shaylene ditch her prosecutor’s bid and grab for the big chair? Will Mel decide he wants a piece of the action?

Yes, it ought to be quite a show. After all, opportunities like this don’t come around every day for a politician on Kauai.


Anonymous said...

Before we start "scrambling for power" can we stop and honor a good man who literally gave his heart for Kauai. I will miss Bryan.

Anonymous said...

Someone's probably stealing his stapler and pencil holder from his office as we speak.

It doesn't just happen in cubicles, you know.

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote: Before we start "scrambling for power" can we stop and honor a good man who literally gave his heart for Kauai.

Not with the Council and Gary Heu meeting today.....

Anonymous said...

Rumor in town is Mel making a grab for Mayor.

Everyone knew this mayor couldn't live long. He was sooo fat. He would suck wind after three steps. He was a poster child for an anti-obesity campaign. American media loves to write about the sins of adultery and murder, but often ignores the sin of gluttony - which apparently killed this man at 52.

Andy Parx said...

There’s not one of them that doesn’t want the Mayor’s job and they’ve been jockeying for position since 2006. The exception may be Shaylene who apparently wants the prosecutor’s job. So guess what- she will probably be the king maker. And she will pick her to ally Mel.

Tim could emerge as Mel’s rival only since there is a deep hatred between Tim and the Shay/Mel tag team. JoAnn is not well liked so her vote could also be crucial. and that leaves Jay as the wild card because she likes him.

But if there’s any way politics is moot because the support is spread too thin, Jay actually has the best administrative experience and probably has more brains than the rest of them put together. But if the fighting gets hot and heavy and there’s a two-two-two split Ron may be a compromise candidate who can pull support from all factions.

For council replacement Derrick Kawakami is a good old boy by birth and predilection and that may be what would be looking for all else being equal. But I wonder if they will dig deeper and go back to Darryl Kaneshiro. Whomever it is will serve for only a few months and I don’t see them really wanting a new climber like Derrick who might have designs on and usurp some of their power and would gain enough strength to move up and leave one of them eighth in November. Darryl is content to be the same as he was on the council- a reliable vote with the majority. Being on the council isn’t going to give him any more votes in November because he’s already a known council product. Plus he’s never really sought to “move up” either into council leadership of mayor or legislature so he would be a safe choice for them.

We need to all keep an eye on them and make sure that any and all discussions take place publicly. But look for apparent done deals cropping up when they convene open meetings to discuss it. I guarantee they’re already breaking the law since more than two of them are meeting this morning and discussing it. That is illegal since the meeting was not agendaed six days in advance nor is it apparently open to the public.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Baptiste was a good man who genuinely cared for the people of Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Brian was a good man and a good guy. He would have made an excellent mayor with a County Manager running the show. Brian could have represented Kauai like an ambassador, attending parties, shaking hands and smiling as he nearly always did. The county could use someone with real leadership and administrative skills to make the county work. Brian had good ideas like protecting agricultural lands (trying to stop the carving up of ag. lands for gentlemen's estates) and outlawing gated communities, but he lacked the skills to get them enacted into law. Too bad. I'll miss him as a friend. E.W.