Monday, October 27, 2008

Musings: Political Talk Story

The sky was a brilliant blanket of stars last night and that clarity persisted until morning, when Koko and I went walking beneath a sky that was blue in the center and soft pink along the edges. I ran into farmer Jerry almost immediately, and he pointed out the thinnest thumbnail of moon in the eastern sky, waning to a place of newness tomorrow.

Every crevice and jagged peak of every mountain was visible, and as I gazed upon Waialeale, which usually seems to be flat-faced, I realized a bowl has formed on its eastern side, which makes sense, considering how much water has poured down from that summit.

But none was flowing today, only mist lakes floating in distant pastures. The nippy air had prompted Jerry to bundle up in a flannel shirt, and my neighbor Andy had gotten a late start, saying it was just cold enough to make him want to linger in bed.

With both, the conservation turned to politics, which seems to be the favored topic of discussion with nearly everyone I encounter, even more than the economy. Andy was surprised that Rep. Mina Morita had appeared in an ad endorsing Derek Kawakami, who I happened to see at shopping at the Kapaa Big Save yesterday.

He and his wife were decked out in their red and gold Kawakami shirts, and he greeted everyone, including me, as he pushed his cart through the aisles. He’s better looking in person, more alert. He tends to look sort of sluggish in his photos.

Later, I mentioned seeing him to a friend, who said that another friend had told him that the Kawakami campaign was passing out tongs during its door-to-door canvassing, and nice ones, too. But he didn’t have any on him at Big Save.

I said I was favorably inclined toward Kipukai Kualii, whose dad was hanaied by the Corr family in Hanapepe, whom I like, and my friend said, yeah, but isn’t his campaign all about gay rights? I said no, I’d never heard a word of that. And why would that even be an issue for someone running for Counci, and who was spreading these homophobic rumors, anyway?

The conversation then turned to Lani Kawahara, and he said he’d liked her initially, but read that she favored the Superferry if they talked to the community, so that had turned him against her, and I said, I’ve got news for you, even JoAnn Yukimura is now supporting the Superferry.

Nah, he said, no way, and I said, yes, it’s true, so long as all the environmental concerns are addressed, but you know they never they can be, even if the EIS claims they can, so what does her position really mean, anyway?

He was even more surprised by the ad that showed Jimmy Nishida, a mutual friend and former JoAnn supporter, endorsing Bernard Carvalho with the words: “Bernard is a person you can trust to keep his word and follow through.”

“Maybe he trusts him but he’s not going to vote for him,” my friend ventured, and then it was my turn to say nah, no way.

Jimmy’s endorsement had also caught the eye of another mutual friend, and longtime JoAnn supporter, who I ran into on the mountain trail on Friday. He wasn’t surprised, noting only that “for a non-aggressive person, JoAnn sure has made a lot of enemies.”

Tis true. A lot of her supporters aren’t as wholehearted as they used to be, and some, like Jimmy, have jumped ship completely. I find that I’m uneasy with Bernard’s lack of experience, yet also uneasy with JoAnn’s experience. I’ve seen her in action, and it wasn’t always pretty.

Having someone I like and respect, like Jimmy, come out in favor of Bernard has given me pause, made me wonder what I've missed in my assessment, just like Mina’s endorsement of Derek, who I was prepared to write off. And several friends have asked for my opinion on candidates and ballot measures, which I know they’ll take seriously.

It struck me that these types of personal connections influence elections far more than campaign signs and debates and bumper stickers, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even if you try to be informed, what do you know about most of these people, anyway?

I read all the candidate statements submitted to Kauai People, and most of them sounded good, and surprisingly similar. Candidates can, and do, say anything, and the rumor mill further clouds the waters. So when it comes time to choose, if we’re uncertain, we turn to those we know and trust: our family and friends.


Anonymous said...

Who can best govern in these hard times? Does either mayoral candidate have a plan for a depressed economy? Given these economic times, is anyone riding the Superferry? Have airfares gone down with the price of fuel?

Andy Parx said...

Lani Kawahara was misquoted by the local rag and they have refused to print a retraction correction. She, like many including the leaders of the anti-Superferry movement are for a real EIS, not the Act 2 one. Please please please read- her statement at the top of her web site - one she sent to many people via email immediately- after she was misquoted- for her real position.

Funny how Jimmy Nishida is all of a sudden approving projects willy nilly on the planning commissions and supporting dolts like Bernard as soon as he got his land subdivided... sounds like the Kaipo story all over again.

Anonymous said...

Great post Joan, lots to think about and plenty to discuss. Joann's support seems strongest amongst those who are newer on island and perhaps a bit more progressive. Bernard's base has been and most likely will continue to be the kamaaina of Kauai. Lot's of local folks mention Iniki and how Joann had her chance, so they're willing to give BC a shot. Also some folks enjoy the status quo and are reluctant to change. A Yukimura administration,according to some, spells change.
Derek Kawakami impresses many because of his youth, his family connections AND his progressive views. Talk story w/ him and its hard not to be impressed. I will choose him over Mr Walaau any day of the week.
Lani and Kipukai would be great additions to the council. Both are open minded, progressive in views and have needed perspectives to enhance the council's old guard ways. I hope they can leap frog ahead of Daryl and Dickie.
It's a longshot for them but the diversity they would bring to the council should not be overlooked or undervalued.
The 3K's mentioned above(Lani, Kipukai and Derek) will be on the air this Thursday on KKCR's Out of the Box with Jonathon Jay and Dave Gerow. Listen and judge for yourself. 4-530pm 91.9fm

Ed Coll said...

Joan wrote; "Even if you try to be informed, what do you know about most of these people, anyway?"

Exactly Joan. When I attended the TGI sponsored mayoral debate I was at least expecting a question like "How would each of you vote on the ballot amendments?" That would tell everyone where each candidate stood, but it seems any question that requires a specific answer is taken off the agenda. This leaves only mushy double-speak allowing a variety of interpretations devoid of specifics. If their is a track record of "actions" taken then one has a better basis to judge depending on whether on agrees or disagrees with the actions taken.

Joanne because she has been a professional politician for years has had to take actions by which she can be judged. Bernard is a lesser known quantity due to less actions taken, and the fact that the actions he did take can be attributed to just following orders from the elected politicians.

Bottom line the ideal politician is one who is a master of double-speak and has never taken action. As soon as one really says what they will do or actually does it they alienate some voters. As long as everybody can walk away thinking they heard what they wanted to hear the better the candidates chances of being elected purely by how big their circle of friends and name recognition in the community is.

If my theory is correct expect Dicky (Wala`au) Chang to be a new council member and Bernard to be the new Mayor. THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF EITHER, but an observation that will be proven correct or not in short order.

Ed Coll said...

andy parx wrote; "Please please please read- her statement at the top of her web site - one she sent to many people via email immediately- after she was misquoted- for her real position."

I did and her is what Lani wrote;

"If elected to the Kauai County Council I would do everything within my power and authority to insure that when that date does come, that it be done in a manner that maximizes the benefits and minimizes potential negative impacts to our community."

Question: As a citizen she has the power to advocate and commit acts of civil disobedience. Will she? Has she done so before? Will she do so if not elected?

Lani's answer raises more questions than it answers but she "sounds" good to me.

Joan Conrow said...

Andy, I have to speak in defense of Jimmy, who is a good friend. I've known him for 20 years and he's a person of integrity. I don't like the implication that he's been "bought," because he doesn't operate like that.

Besides, he certainly didn't get any favors from the county with that subdivision. They put him through the wringer.

Anonymous said...

the mayor that just passed told me once there was a "culture war" on kauai. feel free, anybody, to expand on what he meant (examples welcome). thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

culture wars, not limited to this example: pakalas-princeville

Anonymous said...

kealia kai vs kealia

Anonymous said...

Everybody who tries to subdivide land is put through the wringer.

Katy said...

New Age missionaries vs. everyone else

Andy Parx said...

Jimmy and Kim have been good friends of mine too for more than 20 year but going through the subdivision process seems to change people’s perspectives, as does serving on the Planning Commission. It’s more an observation than an accusation, Joan.

There’s a corrupting influence there- I've seen it happen to others.. I’m not suggesting some kind of actual quid pro quo. But I am suggesting that personal; experience informs our public actions- for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes. The complaint of the perpetual adolescent. When one's friends grow up they "sell out."

Anonymous said...

Superferry to delay launch of Big Island service one year
From today's Honolulu Advertiser:

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii Superferry this afternoon announced that it is postponing the introduction of its second ship and the start of service to the Big Island for about one year because of the uncertain economic climate.

The company said it will delay putting a second ship into service for a year when the company anticipates the financial and economic climate will be more conducive to starting the new route. Superferry had earlier anticipated the second ship arriving in the islands in March.

Anonymous said...

"New Age missionaries vs. everyone else"

thanks, but i am not sure what that means. expand please.