Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Musings: Blunderings

The air had that wintry nip when Koko and I headed out in the colorless time just before sunrise, the grass sparkling with the remnants of last night’s rain. It could have passed for frost, except my feet, in rubber slippahs, knew better.

Garbage cans lined the street, the relentless Tuesday morning reminder of our great throw-away society, which always makes me feel a bit glum. But then a shama thrush, with its rust-colored breast and shiny black coat, flitted on to my mailbox, then my trash can and sang a few notes of beauty before retreating to the mock orange hedge, its tail flashing white in flight.

Spirits thus lifted, I was able to endure a peek at the headlines of my neighbor’s paper, where I learned that Gov. Lingle is defending her unconscionable decision to cut funding for the state’s universal health insurance program for children.

Lingle told reporters an alternative to the "Keiki Care Plan," called Children's Plan, will be sufficient even though parents will be charged $55 a month for each child who is enrolled. The Keiki Care Plan cost the state about $50,000 a month and was mostly free to families.

Now, $55 a kid might not seem like much to someone who is childless and earns what she does, but to families on the lowest end of the economic spectrum, it might as well be $550. Surely the state could cut $50,000 a month from the tourism promotion budget. Or better yet, why not raise the rents on the military? Don’t you think the Navy would pay more than its current $187 per year for PMRF? And if the military can’t afford the rising rents, well, then it could move to Las Vegas and Okalahoma and Texas, like the Hawaiians who have already been squeezed out.

As many predicted, it didn’t take long for the rapidly eroding eastside shoreline to start squeezing out that ribbon of coastal concrete known as The Path.

Yes, in typical Kauai County fashion, one blunder has been made atop another, and the blundering is poised to continue. First, the county built a seawall behind Pono Kai without a permit. Now — surprise! — the coastline is eroding around the seawall. This tends to occur around “shoreline hardening” projects, which is why they’re discouraged and permits are required.

After searching for a solution for more than a year, [County Engineer Donald] Fujimoto told the Kaua‘i County Council last week that the only feasible option is to build a new revetment behind the existing one.

This will entail ripping up a portion of the coastal path that the county completed last year. Due to space constraints created by an abutting private property, the path will likely be redesigned to run on top of the new seawall, Fujimoto said.

Let me get this straight. It didn’t work the first time, so let’s do it again at a cost of at least $2 million. OK, sounds like a plan.

Interesting, how in a bit of campaign fluff deposited in my mailbox yesterday, Bernard Carvalho takes credit for leading the county task force assigned to completing the Kapaa to Kuna Bay portion of the path.

Yet the Garden Island article on the seawall notes:

Council members Mel Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho said last year they cautioned the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s administration to wait until the revetment issue was resolved before constructing the next phase of the coastal path from Lihi Boat Ramp to Kealia.

Hmmm. This boondoggle doesn’t seem to reflect too well on Bernard’s already meager managerial skills.

I was actually starting to feel a bit kindly toward Bernard until I got that campaign flyer and noticed that among his “accomplishments,” which totaled all of six and included cleaning up Black Pot and Hanamaulu beach parks (BFD), he took credit for expanding bus service and initiating 10 affordable housing projects currently in progress.

Now how, pray tell, could the head of parks and rec have done that? It’s one thing to have limited experience. That’s understandable for someone who isn’t a career politician, and it’s OK. But to feather your cap with made up stuff, well, that’s pretty lame, Bernard. Perhaps he'll clear his conscience in confession at St. Catherine's, where he's a pastoral council member and past president of the parent-teacher guild. Oh, and don't forget he was also past president of the Kam Schools Assn. of Kauai. Wow, Bernard, your "commitment to community" is certainly impressive.

There’s something else that really bugs me about Bernard — besides the photo of him playing in some long ago Hula Bowl game on his most recent election flyer — and that’s the glaring dearth of haoles in any of his campaign literature.

I’m sure he doesn’t need, and maybe he doesn’t even want, our vote. But most politicians attempt at least some semblance of inclusiveness in choosing photos that show them interacting with the ethnically diverse members of our community.

His slogan may be “Together we can!” But the real message of his campaign is: “Locals only.”


Anonymous said...

Bernard was the head of the Office of Community Services which oversaw the Bus and the Housing agency as well Office of Elderly Affairs before becoming Director of Parks.

One of the best examples of Bernard's work was when he came in at the tail end of the contentious Mel and Shaylene show and simply answered their questions. When more questions came up he went back to his office, got the answers and went back to the council and answered their questions. A good example was when asked about security for the path he said it would take some time because it would cost money and would have to hire employees. Straight forward direct answers.

A friend of mine told me that she thought that in bad times people gravitate to family, friends, and personal connections. Stability is important.

Bernard's background is closest to being a county manager in this mayoral race. His background is in administration. He hasn't been a politician.

I don't think its possible to be elected with only a "local" vote. I think that it will be the "haole" vote that will get him elected.

We shall see. Two weeks. I can't wait.

Joan Conrow said...

You know the old saying: be careful what you wish for

Katy said...

The other day I had a brief conversation with an acquaintence who is pretty apolitical and just a regular working-class local guy. He mentioned that his friends tell him that if Carvalho wins, there will be jobs, and if Yukimura wins, no more jobs. What does this tell us about the message that Joanne and her supporters get out to the public? I think we all have a lot to learn about that.

I like to think that a sustainable plan will come with a good economic base for working folks, but somehow, that's not what people are hearing, and I wonder why.

I can really identify with people who are voting because they want jobs - my family is struggling to make ends meet and so are many others. Right now, for people who aren't steeped in political talk all the time, "sustainability" does not sound very bread-and-butter.

How do we turn it around? It may be too late for this election, but in the long-term, we better figure it out.

Joan Conrow said...

What that really means, Katy, is people think Bernard will be biz as usual, i.e., any kind of growth that the developers want to give us, and JoAnn will be anti-growth.

Sustainability doesn't have anything to do with it.

Katy said...

I'm confused - what's the difference?

Anonymous said...

Good point about county manager; probably Beth Tokioka would make a better one than BC. As for haole's being the swing vote; don't bet on it. BC has enough 'local' votes to carry the day. No endorsement by Mel Rapozo hasn't hurt BC as much as it hurts Joann's cause. Glad it's a two year term. Maybe the pro county manager faction can utilize the time wisely and get Jonathan Chun's attention about what the problem is that needs to be solved by allowing the Charter Commission move forward with the proposal.

Joan Conrow said...

True sustainability would be creating an economy that provides people jobs, but isn't based on endless growth.

I don't think most people are thinking along those lines. They're just locked into the old mindset of we either keep growing or we die. Bernard is part of the pro-growth old guard. JoAnn is perceived as being in the other camp.

Anonymous said...

Joan said, "JoAnn is perceived as being in the other camp."

I think "perceived" is the operative term and perceptions can be deceptive.

Katy said...

I see now - you are pointing out the misperception of sustainability. I argue that we need to take responsibility for that misperception and figure out a better way to get the message of sustainable economics out.

Andy Parx said...

Bernard was the head of the “Community Assistance” agency, a fake department which included the housing, transportation and office of elderly affairs “agencies” as well as the "recreation" component from the Public Works Department’s Parks and Recreation division. Then slowly, with the bike path, they added “Parks” to his duties with actual personnel staying- corruptly and incompetently -in the PWD.

The point is all of these got worse under him. He’s totally incompetent. And has no clue. One minute it’s leadership” but when it comes for making a decision it’s “ I’ll ask the people.” Sheesh.

I wish JoAnn would say this stuff herself

Bernard never answer the 29 questions (now 35) that some think have been answered. Instead they were evaded it with their usual comedy routine

He says “I’ll have to find out” and then after two months of deferral they send the wrong guy to answer the question and another two months of deferrals and then new questions, new people and an occasional guest appearance with Bernard doing his simplistic outline of ideas calling it his “PowerPoint presentation” like the format makes the content..

But no one ever provides answers much less those.

Anyone who watched the meetings can tell you that. Bernard delayed so long that when Bryan died Mel and Shaylene just gave up.

JoAnn could win but she’s gonna lose., mostly because there are “'I'll never vote for JoAnn people” just like there were “I'll never vote for Ron people”. She has to convince even them how bad Bernard is.


Anonymous said...

Joann may be perceived to be in the no growth camp but the main thing about her to remember is, when push comes to shove, the guy from the mainland has her ear more than the locals.

I think Kauai has catered soooooo long to what the developers want maybe itʻs time for a little pro-family interest local style.

My vote will be for Bernard, ESPECIALLY because heʻs not a politician. We donʻt know what can come of him being Mayor but we have lived through Joannʻs double-speak and it is too much to bear already. My only hesitation for Bernard is Beth Tokiokaʻs attachment to him.

As far as Beth Tokioka goes, she is out for the $$$$$ anyway she can get it...she also has shown herself to have a limited ability to see anything other than her little world. Could also be called a silent climber - sneaking in through the back.

Anonymous said...

Katy Rose said...

I see now - you are pointing out the misperception of sustainability.

No I was pointing out that Joan said some perceive Joanne as being in the sustainability camp. Sustainability is not being mispercieved, but perhaps Joanne is misperceived as being an effective member of that camp. This observation does not imply any endorsement of Bernard which additional posters are seeming to imply.