Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Musings: In Case You Missed It

I arrived way late at the “Lawmakers Listen” thing, but as I pulled into the Wilcox School parking lot, I thought, wow, plenty cars. The cafeteria was packed, just like the last time I was there, when the billing was “Feds Listen” to what people had to say about moving monk seals down from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. And the time before that, when it was “KIUC Listens” to the members' views on the FERC process for hydroelectric.

But though people are always talking at these things, the listening part is questionable. Per usual, I saw a lot of folks checking their phones, or standing outside, talking to each other.

I stood at the doorway and scanned the room. The Democratic Party-county government-nonprofit crowd was out in force: mayor, some department heads, county prosecutor, a councilwoman, hmm, David Pratt, haven't seen him in ages. But not Mel Rapozo and KipuKai Kualii, because I'd passed them driving over here, coming out of the county building after a Council meeting.

“Did I miss anything?” I asked a friend.

“Well, Shaylene got into the food before anybody else,” he answered. “What's up with that?”

I glanced at the stack of white take out boxes, all closed, sitting on a table in front of me. They smelled good. And no way would they come close to feeding this crowd. I wondered who had brought them.

“Really? What else?”

“They talked about SB755 for a long time. They all voted for it. Derek said it's jobs and they still have to comply with state and federal permits.”

Well, except for that pesky special management area permit, and those cumbersome shoreline setback variance requirements. "Did very many people ask questions?”

“You know, these guys, it takes them 15 minutes to ask a question and then it's 15 minutes to answer, so we've only had like five speakers. But Felicia Cowden asked about the GMOs, and Jimmy Tokioka went on and on, about how Rodney Haraguchi had come into his office and was saying the only reason he wanted GMO was because what if some disease came along that wiped out the taro and Jimmy said they both started crying and how he goes back and forth on this issue, he's torn up over who he's supposed to represent. Come on, like we don't know who he represents. And he was going on and on about how Rodney grows more taro than anybody else, but he lives in a small house, these guys don't make any money.”

“Uh, huh, yeah,” I said, nodding and smiling to Rodney as he walked past.

“And that one aunty, I forget her name, the one with the really pretty silver hair – you know who I mean, she was all active in the Superferry."

"Nani Rogers?"

"Yeah, when she started out talking she did this really beautiful pule. And she said, it's kinda late you know, for you guys to be coming out to listen to the people, now that the session is almost over.”

“She's got that right. Were there very many names on the sign up sheet to speak?”

“I don't know. But Randal Valenciano is sitting right up there, he's got the list.”

“Randal's doing the speaker sign up? Did they have any handouts?"

[Update: It wasn't Randal Valenciano, but Randy Francisco of Chamber. Now that makes more sense...] 

He passed me a blue folder. "It's from Derek's office. You can have it."

I looked inside. A 17-page document, “2012 Mid-Session Snapshots,” outlined “some of the accomplishments” of the state House to date, using headings like “spending wisely” and “maintaining public order and safety."

There was a single sheet that showed the bacon our guys would be bringing home to Kauai: six capital improvement projects totaling $5.5 million. Interestingly, it had only the names and contact info for Derek Kawakami and Dee Morikawa at the bottom. Hmmm... are those two distancing themselves from Jimmy, as any intelligent person would?

Just then Ed Coll got up to ask a question, but the microphone wasn't working, so I couldn't hear it, and Jimmy was answering, going on and on, and then they were going back and forth, but I couldn't catch what they were saying. Then Sandra Kato-Klutke got up to ask about the status of a bill. 

Time to go.

On the way home, I called a friend who I knew had been there.

“So what did you think?” I asked.

“I showed face. That's what tonight was all about: to see and be seen.”

Ah yes, public meetings as public theatre on Kauai.

Later, at home, I checked Facebook. And it was so cute, Justin Kollar had done a mobile posting from the meeting, a photo of the lawmakers sitting at a table, with the caption: Democracy in action!


Anonymous said...

I was there. Its nothing like what you described. It's sad that you won't even give young local people a fair shake. Most people walked out refreshed that they were willing to answer the hard questions. I wrote Kawakami off prior to tonight. I am voting for him tomorrow. Not one of our leaders has been willing to do what he did tonight. You are sad Joan.

Anonymous said...

Randal Valenciano wasn't there????

Anonymous said...

I don't like him but he's got balls. That is for sure.

Anonymous said...

AWW don't out JOAN. She's got balls too...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to go. I didn't. The leg is worse than ever, Mina and Gary would never have voted to gut the environmental laws. It's just crap they need to do that for job creation. We need more than just jobs.
Derek, even though i support you, you have made me to ashamed to even bother showing face.

KamaKele said...

People will portray something however they want to see it. That's what Joan did in this article.

Anonymous said...

You missed Rodney Haraguchi at the very, very end. he ranted for about 5 minutes about how there were too many birds, that it broke his heart to see poi cost 10 dollars in Hnl, that he was not in it for the money, and oh yeah, give us 500,000 to fix the broken diversion. He was embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy can be expected to act this way given his love affair with the hotel industry and big business. Derek - well Derek should know the district he represents does not support gutting environmental laws. Derek should know that the District that voted in Mina Morita year after year is a District that puts the aina first. Derek not only voted in favor but he led the charge against the environment with his speech on the floor of the House. Auwe!

Anonymous said...

What's sad is our lawmakers double talk

Anonymous said...

But main thing--Shaylene got her free box lunch.

Anonymous said...

Tell Rodney it's the lack of varieties that makes the poi industry susceptible to disease. No GMO thank you. Talk to the "Kalo Man" about how to grow kalo and maybe he might find some real answers to making the poi industy sustainable and viable.

Anonymous said...

Haha! Government encounters what private developers have experienced for years and presto! The rules don't apply to the government! I'm not saying we don't need law that protect the environment but how can government construction create less of an impact?

Anonymous said...

Ask Derek. He knows.

Anonymous said...

When one witnesses the average-ness of the individuals sitting at the forefront deemed as our leaders, doesnʻt it make you think:
gee, look at that guy (Tokioka for instance, or Kawakami, or any of them), he isnʻt one tenth as educated as myself and my friends on all the issues but we wait with baited breath to hear the dummiesʻ ʻgreatʻ decisions that they ʻstruggled withʻ on our behalf.
Starting with Kauai, we have got to get some foreward thinking (just basic thinking would suffice) to run for these seats. Look, Sagum got tossed out on his crooked ass.
They are freeloaders.
Plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the first comment. I was there. Not a lot of people were refreshed. This meeting was too late. It wasn't a listening session. It was a justify-a-decision-that-has-already-been-made session. And what really ticked me off were members of the public that took 20 minutes to rant their concerns, not caring that there were a lot of other people who had signed up to ask questions. And Rodney has a point...there ARE water issues in Hanalei and there ARE issues regarding how the Feds treat the birds with more respect than the farmers. Get educated, people.

Anonymous said...

"But main thing--Shaylene got her free box lunch.
April 12, 2012 12:49 PM"

I'm still laughing. Good one!

Anonymous said...

Oh get over it already. Whatʻs your point, free luncher?

Anonymous said...

We have a Deficiency in government and lack of knowledge by most who voted for these characters for office. The circus has come to town!

The people in control like to smoke and mirror people with good intentions then "pad" their own pockets and egos.

The people on top like to keep the people on the bottom stupid (about GMO, the environment, effects of pesticides, etc.), occasionally giving out "treats" (promises of more jobs) like to a dog to keep them happy and voting again.

Dr. Shibai

Anonymous said...

Is it ok for politicians to get free car, free gas, cruise to the mainland or Oahu or Maui or Hawaii every chance they get no matter what with spending money for meals and whateva, no work for days and come work all polluted, stink breath? You know get some in government.

Anonymous said...

Finally there is someone to pay attention to those outside of Hanalei. Kapaa has been neglected for too long.

Anonymous said...

I'm calling bullshit on that one. kapaa hasn't been neglected and Mina didn't favor Hanalei over Kapaa.

Anonymous said...

who be drinkin at work?