Honolulu media usually don't pay much attention to Kauai, but now we're on their radar in a big way for the first time since the Superferry.
Today, Civil Beat has two stories on us. One is about whether Mayor Carvalho will face any re-election fallout for vetoing Bill 2491. The other is about how the planning department has clamped down on requests for public records following a Civil Beat report that showed Kauai was the fastest and cheapest in responding to requests. Now there's some unintended fallout for you…. Auwe!
In the piece on Bernard, reporter Sophie Cocke writes:
The unconventional advocacy group Babes Against Biotech, which has emerged in recent years as a highly visible presence in Hawaii’s anti-GMO movement, nicknamed him “the birth-defects mayor.” The group’s organizers — young women known for their bikini-clad pictures and pin-up calendar — plans to canvass on Kauai to secure Carvalho's electoral defeat in 2014. (The group claims to have 9,000 members.)
Given an absence of substantive public polling, it remains unclear how many people on the island actually respect or support Carvalho's decision, or support Bill 2491.
So, despite a rally by at least 1,500 people [a figure now often inflated to 4,000 and even 6,000] to encourage passage of the bill in September, no one knows for sure where a majority of Kauai's 65,000 residents stand.
“One of the things that is really interesting about this entire process has been that you have a very active group of people who have dominated the conversation,” said Jan TenBruggencate, a former Honolulu Advertiser reporter who runs a communications consulting firm and is a member of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.
TenBruggencate even suggested that there may be a silent majority against the bill. "So I have heard people surmise that some of the supporters of the measure on the council could actually lose votes. And that the support for the bill is relatively thin.”
I don't think the off-island-based Babes hold any political sway on Kauai. There's a big difference between visibility and clout. People here don't go for cheesy theatrics, just like they don't go for screaming at the mayor or the red vs blue divisiveness. Yes, the bill passed, but the process left a lot of appalled people in its wake — folks who vote.
As I told Sophie, though she didn't use the quote, it's meaningless to canvass against someone unless you have a better candidate to offer in his place. So far, no one has stepped forward to run for mayor, and I don't really see anyone on the horizon who could beat the big guy.
I wonder, though, if the surprising vote to make newly-appointed Councilman Mason Chock vice chair of the Council is an attempt to insta-groom him for the mayor's post. Before he voted for himself as vice chair, Mason said something about how he keeps getting the call to lead, and so he must heed it. Which is fine, so long as it doesn't turn into a Messiah complex.
An awful lot can happen in a year, so it's hard to say what people will be thinking when the election rolls around. And let's not forget the Democratic machine, because surely it will have something to say on the topic, too.