Sunday, August 10, 2014

Musings: Beyond the Echo Chamber

Mayoral hopeful and political novice Dustin Barca may have been baffled by the election results, but that's what happens when you live in an echo chamber.

Dustin, a former pro-surfer/MMA fighter whose campaign was funded by Hawaii Life realtors and off-islanders, apparently thought he was going to waltz into the Round Building with a platform of platitudes and minimal campaigning. Because, after all, he was on “a mission from God.”

But Dustin and the other candidates who emphasized an anti-seed company platform fared poorly. Dustin got just 30 percent of the votes in his race against Mayor Bernard Carvalho, and Dylan Hooser was similarly trounced by Jimmy Tokioka in the 15th House District race. 

County Council incumbents Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum, who co-sponsored pesticide/GMO regulatory Bill 2491, came in sixth and seventh, respectively, and Mason Chock, who was brought in to override the mayor's veto of the bill, looks likely to lose his seat, with a dismal tenth place showing.

Meanwhile, incumbents Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa — the only two Councilmembers to oppose the bill — took first and second place, respectively, and were joined in third place by pro-seed candidate and Grove Farm employee Arryl Kaneshiro in his first bid for office.

Newcomer and pro-seed company candidate Arthur Brun also edged out anti-seed company candidate Felicia Cowden for eleventh place, despite her advantageous connections to “community” radio station KKCR.

Equally interesting is the vote spread. Mel was 2,300 votes ahead of incumbent JoAnn Yukimura, who took fourth place, and nearly 4,000 votes ahead of his nemesis Tim Bynum, who has former Councilman KipuKai Kualii and Police Chief Darryl Perry nipping at his heels.

While Kauai typically lags behind the state in voter turnout, things were different this time. Some 47 percent of Kauai registered voters cast ballots, compared to the statewide total of just 38 percent. Absentee votes accounted for 28 percent of the figure, with the remaining 19 percent going to the polls. That poll voting made a difference for Gary and especially Tim, who was seriously lagging in the first return of early walk-in and absentee ballots.

Still, despite all the talk of “change,” it's apparent that folks don't really want any, since the incumbents did so well. The only exception was Gov. Abercrombie, who was soundly defeated by Democratic David Ige. It's hard to say whether folks were tired of the guv's acrimonious personality or his decades of slurping at the public trough, but in any case, he's out and good riddance.

Other notable results: Though Rep. Derek Kawakami easily won re-election to his 14th District state House seat, which encompasses parts of Kapaa and the North Shore, some 25 percent of the Democratic ballots were left blank in that race.

Looking at the precinct returns, (which start on page 331) Dustin, Felicia, Gary, Tim, Jay Furfaro, JoAnn, Mason and newcomer Tiana Laranio were the top vote-getters in Hanalei and Kilauea, as expected. But their gains began to erode in Anahola, and in Kapaa, Arryl started showing up in the top five and the mayor was beating Dustin.

In Hanamaulu, the tide had solidly turned toward the final results — a trend that continued around the island, including Koloa, and becoming more pronounced as the vote moved westward. 

Which tells us three things: the anti-GMO movement is indeed North Shore-based, a reality that they repeatedly denied; the movement is smaller and less powerful than has been claimed (or feared), and the westside vote is still critical to a candidate's success.

Given the results, perhaps some of the waffling Council members will find the courage to grow a backbone and consider the interests of the entire island, rather than a vocal minority.

As for Dustin, if he truly likes to "strive for perfection," perhaps he could start by getting an education so that he could more successfully formulate and articulate his views. Dylan, meanwhile, can go back to raping the sea of sunrise shells, and hopefully Felicia no longer fancies herself the voice of Kauai.


Manawai said...

Good posting, Joan especially your summary.

Anonymous said...

I pray Kipukai Kualii and Chief Perry can edge out Hooser and Bynum for the last 2 spots...

Unknown said...

All things considered, the Barca campaign was very successful, and the future looks bright! :)

Your angry and simplistic political views need a dose of mind expansion.



Anonymous said...

A third of the island voted for an undereducated totally unqualified first time candidate - just to desperately trying stop the seed co poison. Happy gloating.

Joan Conrow said...

Dear Steve, please do not not subscribe emotions to me that are not mine. I 've generally found such comments to be projections of the poster's own state of mind.

And Anon, if people actually voted for Dustin because they believed he could stop the "poisoning" they are seriously deluded.

Anonymous said...


"angry and simplistic views"...really?

Sorry, but adding a peace shout out doesn't change my reading of Joan's clearly written and factual blogpost as having a decidedly gentler tone than your comment.

It also seems to me that angry and simplistic views were very well cornered by Dustin's campaign. The future MAY look brighter for Dustin - if he were to follow Joan's advice to be able to more clearly articulate his views...

Anonymous said...

It's not a third of the island. It's a third of the 47% of registered voters who voted. Typical exaggeration of antis.

Anonymous said...

Great observations, Joan! Thank you for telling it like it is.

Anonymous said...

Anti-GMO Candidates Lose Big Statewide

Anonymous said...

FROM: Gary Hooser

Aloha Friends,
The result of today’s elections will be seen essentially as a referendum and as a statement of values for our community.

To be clear, the message sent by voters today will have a great impact on the future direction our community takes.

The message is loud and clear.

Anonymous said...

Back in 1988, when gentle Bernard Akana upset incumbent Hawaii County mayor Dante Carpenter, voters by the thousands awoke to the same realization: To their astonishment, other voters had cast an idle, bemused protest vote, too. Dante's too arrogant style and swank car had upset people. They thought, "Hey, just for fun, I'll express by displeasure by voting for Bernard." Akana was the Harold Stassen of Hawaii County politics -- he'd run for office unsuccessfully 10 times.
I can understand that kind of protest vote. In some respects, it was replicated yesterday by the deluge of votes for David Ige. Neil had just rubbed too many people the wrong way, so vote for the other guy.
But Dustin Barca? Really? Really?

Anonymous said...

The North and West divide was apparent before the election. Now the proof is in the poi. It is more of a I'm rich and smart and you are not so rich and need guidance, divide.
Hopefully, now Jay can shut down these NS blabbermouths at the Council meetings when they veer off topic. It seems that Jay was afraid of the NS haoles and forgot the locals can actually get of their sofa and vote.
No one really knew how much power was in the anti-Ag group. Where are dem darn fistees when ya need'em. A reflection of the lack of anti-Ag Ooomph is in the defeat of Dylan Hooser. Dylan, in spite of a shave, haircut and Hooser name got skidaddled. Dylan did a very good job in his campaign tho, hitting every weak spot Jimmy has. If Dylan had won, it would be time for everyone to quit their job, smoke dooboskis, relax at the beach and say H*ll with it. Still not bad for a uneducated multi-arrestee to make a few heads turn.
The good and a few very deserving folks who did not make the Cut, and I mean you Sandi, will see their votes go to Perry and the other candidates who are for the working people.
Chock deserves to be bounced. No honor or integrity. Cowden is way whacky, but has covered it well in the campaign.
The big surprises were Tim, Gary and JoAnn. How anyone could vote for Tim after his temper tantrums, law suit and basic whiny snively behavior is one for the mystery books.
Now watch the Big Anti-GMO money come pouring in......come on Hawaii Life fork over dem shekels....the mainland groups are already lining up to give to da Hoos, Jackpot and da Hoos water carrier Chock.

Manawai said...

Can a leopard change its spots? Will Gary, the consummate populist change his stance to one of accommodation of the seed companies vs. his throw-them-off-the-island rants and anti-GMO activism? That would mean he has no principals at all. But then we know that. He cheated on his taxes to try and save his failing business. He stole money from us taxpayers for his own enrichment. It matters not that he paid some of it back (sans penalty and interest). What matters is that he is of the character that would do it in the first place. He has no morality. He has no principals. Remember the rule of "fish heads and rice". Our kupuna would eat fish heads and rice before cheating on their taxes. He is dishonest and will to anything for his self promotion and aggrandizement. Only those who think like he does would ever vote for his type of duplicitous character. Hooser is a FAKE! Those who fall for his rhetoric and believe his smooth lying touts are fools.

Anonymous said...

No harm waiting for the General Election before going all Delphic.

Anonymous said...

Hooser & son. Two crooks that have been found out. You can fools some of us some of the time, but now when we know who your really are. Take a hike!

Anonymous said...

A thoughtful and well-reasoned analysis. It's becoming increasingly obvious that the anti-biotech faction is the mouse the roared, full of sound and fury but signifying very little at the ballot box.

Rob Zelkovsky said...

Maybe some day "anonymous" will throw his/her hat in the ring and stand up to the shots.
How about some kudos to the first timers who got involved in our political process.

Anonymous said...

If the incumbents are reelected it means people like the drama but not necessarily the results. What beats the bizarre theater that is the Council and those who voluntarily come to testify at the meetings?

Anonymous said...

Joan, it appears that you are correct. Thanks for your reporting--get better reports from you than from the Island's newspaper! However, i truly believe that in the near future we will all realize the harm caused by the pesticides used by the seed companies. A few weeks ago the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that no more GE crops or bee toxic pesticides (neonics) will be used in National Wildlife Refuges. This amounts to 150 million acres of US federal lands. I think that this is just the beginning -- a wake up call for all of us---we need to be careful, prudent and do all we can to protect and care for our aina and the creatures that inhabit our precious islands!

Anonymous said...

Please people, don't be so mean spirited. Let the people decide if a candidate is under educated, totally unqualified. There are several people on the council who can be referred to as crooks, if you know their backgrounds---but hey, let the people decide and some of them have changed their lives around and are not crooks anymore! They may want to do good things in their present lives---let the people decide!

Anonymous said...

Hi All! Maybe the north IS smarter than the west. Cuz they are rich they may have more time to study up and learn about the issues that face the world. We can't cut them out of this whole debate, they may know stuff that we don't! Let's listen to both sides and see what we can do to make this a better island. Why divide this place?!! Many pro gmo folks (like on this blog)are the very ones who stir up anger and divide! Teach the people, put out stuff for people to learn from--not just rants and put downs! Aloha

Anonymous said...

To 8/11/14 @ 10:35 am:

WHAT? Did you just stir the pot yourself by insinuating that those (the westside folks) who have less and who work their butts off to provide for their families are somehow unable to educate themselves about the issues? Boy, have you stepped in it!

Anonymous said...

@10:35. UNBELIEVABLE! You assumption is ignorant. This is a perfect example of the echo-chamber. Round and round we go.

Anonymous said...

to: 11:13--they can if they have the time and will! i didn't say they couldn't--there are a lot of very smart, wise people on the west, don't get me wrong. I am responding to anon at 5:24 who insinuates that the north people are richer and smarter. And, there are very rich folks on the west---not as many as on the north shore, tho'.

Anonymous said...

10:35 you're assuming that the rich who own property on the north shore actually live here. I watched the 2491 hearings and I guarantee you that the red shirts' rocket scientists were few and far between. And how do you explain the vote for a high school dropout?

Anonymous said...

If the people on the northside are richer, you are saying they are smarter, August 11, 2014 at 10:35 AM?

I donʻt see it that way.

The local families, working hard to get by due to an unreasonable influx of ʻnorthieʻ types to their island may not have the luxury of time so much because they work honest and hard jobs(s) to feed their families.

Which brings me to the influxees, many from the north but the wealthy ones in particular. Most of these idiots (and they really are mostly) came by their fortunes in sordid, unscrupulous and immoral ways.

Hereʻs a laundry list of their former ʻoccupationsʻ:
Marriage (green card or wealth)
Lawsuits (pros looking for suejobs)
In-home Cam service (walk around the house naked 24/7)
Pedophiles selling kids
Mortgage & Finance crooks

Gee, should I go on? The point is it takes a different kind of human to want money so bad all things honest are off the table. And when you see the obscene amounts of wealth these days, you wonder where that $ came from cause Fort Knox sure doesnʻt have it vested in fiat money.

But once they did make their fortunes they can repent and move to Hawaii and feed a few homeless when the cameras are on.

Anonymous said...

Whatever else this primary does, it finally enumerates “We, the people” of Kauai Rising’s Kauai and exposes it for what it is: a heavily white minority from the privileged enclaves of the north shore. It is no accident or quirk of fate that the producers of this drama and the incumbent whose disingenuous appointment secured passage of 2491 over the Mayor’s veto have not done too well in the primary. They are hanging on by the bloc of north shore voters who helped ram 2491 down everyone else’s throat with their theater. Perhaps the next order of business should be a bill to repeal 2491/960 once a new Council is seated to reboot this dreary farce. Then intelligent, well informed people from all sides, interested in something other than their political careers, can take the time and care to craft something equitable to all sides including to us, the people.

Anonymous said...

August 11, 2014 at 8:53 AM
The people did decide at least in the mini-Hoos case.
As far as Northshore/ Westside euphemisms go, be clear, the Anti-Ag know-it-alls are the White guys and the Pro-Ag are usually darker. It gets confusing with all the hapas running around and plenty of the Haoles have been here a long time.
The real deal is the attitude and consistent barrage of Mainland LA pushiness. The first lesson most newcomers should learn is that most Locals aren't outspoken and tend to go with the flow.
This election spurned on by the the deluge of lies coming from Hooser, Bynum and the other Fistees really got to plenny of the regular folks. These 2 stopped any meaningful discourse by raising the hysteria and fanning the flames on anything Ag.
They might get elected, but the island will take years to get back to the tenuous harmony that was once Kauai.
Jay can do a lot of good if he starts running the Council as a real administrative body by keeping the Testifying ranters on topic. Hit the gavel Jay, call "point of order" Council members, keep to the subject on the table.
Bottom line, working people get registered to vote, register your friends and let's elect people who care. in other words, get rid of Jackpot Bynum and Fistee Hooser.....these 2 who have done moocho hurt to the island. And as Anonymous I say (retribution is real with this duo)--I have known both of'em since they arrived on the island (carpet cleaner and government minion) and have watched their progression from regular guys who wanted to help the island, to grandstanding, single issue dudes. From caring and meaningful compromisers to
we'll take the whole F'en ship down if we don't get our way. Not good, boys, not good.