The Quisling’s of Wailuku

Four years ago the elected leadership of Maui County, betrayed the people of Maui. Betrayal is a strong word, but after much reflection I do not hesitate to use it. Many thanks to the Maui Independent for the excellent article (see link at bottom) reminding me of this important piece of history.

I am speaking of course about the “Maui Miracle”, and the shameful actions and inactions of the Maui government that followed.

The people of Maui, led by the grassroots citizenry, for the first time ever in the history of Maui County gathered the signatures required, placed on the ballot and voted in support of a moratorium on the growing of genetically modified crops until adequate studies were done proving their safety.

The elected leaders on Maui failed the Maui citizenry not in some esoteric, vague, or simply perceived manner – but directly and completely failed them by refusing to legally defend the will of the people in court.

The people of Maui followed the law, they worked hard, followed the rules and against all odds won with over 50% of the votes.  And then a majority of their elected councilmembers and their Mayor, deserted them and climbed into bed instead with Monsanto and the GMO chemical companies.

This information presented now, especially in light of all that has come forth in the past 4 years with regards to the clear and present harms of glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, and a host of other pesticides used heavily on the GMO crops – makes the betrayal of Maui’s people by their Maui County government even more egregious.

Very recently in the Dwayne Johnson RoundUp trial the jury found that Monsanto “acted with malice or oppression” which is a mild and somewhat sterile expression for the kind of corporate thuggery that the chemical companies exercise in Hawaii and around the globe.

The government enablers of Monsanto’s behavior on Maui and throughout Hawaii need to be held accountable. The passage of four years does not absolve them of responsibility for the treachery dealt to democracy and the citizens of Maui County, specifically.

To my friends on Maui, stay strong and vote those who betrayed you out of office.  On November 6th, my hope is for a second Maui miracle.  If you show up, and if you make sure your friends, neighbors, and family members show up – you can make this happen.

In solidarity,

Gary Hooser

#theywillruetheday

IMPORTANT: Please click on the below link, read and share this piece widely, encouraging others to do the same – especially to your friends on Maui.

https://mauiindependent.org/bhttps://mauiindependent.org/betrayers-of-maui-democracy-ask-voters-to-re-elect-them-this-november/

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“The strange and tortuous path of the education Con Am” – for legislative nerds and policy wonks only – 

The Con Am as we now know it, was born on January 24, 2018 as SB2922 with the primary introducer being Senator Michelle Kidani, Vice President of the Senate and Chair of the Senate Education Committee.  

After months of intense and divisive community debate, on October 18 the Con Am’s short but turbulent life was ended via a declaration by the Hawaii Supreme Court stating the measure was invalid.  According to the court, the proposal did not comply with legal requirements that ‘the language and meaning of the ballot question be clear and not misleading.

While the Con Am is now dead, it may be useful to review at least briefly, the twisted and somewhat unusual path of its legislative history.

Numerous Bills relating to the issue were introduced in the House and in the Senate during 2017 and in 2018, but it was SB2922 that for whatever reason was selected to be the vehicle for this well intended but ill fated public policy measure. 

For purposes of this narrative, the only language quoted will be the final key statements as to what would eventually be printed on the ballot.

The original SB2922 stated:

The question to be printed on the ballot shall be as follows:

“Shall the legislature fund a quality public education for all of Hawaii’s children, including the retention of teachers, public preschools, lower class sizes, special education programming, career and technical education, art, music, Hawaiian studies, Hawaiian language instruction, and afterschool programs, by establishing a surcharge on visitor accommodations and residential investment property valued at one million dollars or greater, excluding a homeowner’s primary residence, as provided by law?”

Originally referred to the Senate Committees EDU/ETT/JDC, WAM (Education/Economic Development/Tourism and High Technology/Judiciary, Ways and Means) – SB2922 was then “re-referred” to just EDU, JDC meaning only two committees in the Senate would review and potentially amend and/or vote on the issue.  WAM as the all powerful “money committee” which normally reviews all Bills having potential budget impacts was for some reason removed, as was ETT.  Re-referral decisions are made by “leadership” and ultimately the Senate President signs off in agreement.

The Senate Education Committee on February 5th conducted the one and only public hearing that was to be held in the Senate and passed out SB2922 “as is”.

On February 23, the Judiciary Committee (JDC) chaired by Senator Brian Taniguchi held a “Public Decision Making” meeting that does not permit public testimony to occur at the meeting (though the public is notified and written testimony is accepted). This is standard procedure in Senate “A bracket” committees and permitted within the Senate rules.  JDC then passed out SB2922SD1, that amended the original Bill in numerous ways including changing the language suggested to be printed on the ballot to:

SB2922SD1 – SECTION 4.  The question to be printed on the ballot shall be as follows:

“Shall the legislature be authorized to establish a surcharge on visitor accommodations and on residential investment property, excluding a home that qualifies for a homeowner’s exemption, valued at one million dollars or more to fund public education for Hawaii’s children, as provided by law?”

The full Senate then passed SB2922SD1 with only Senator Gil Riviere voting NO.

On March 6, SB2922SD1 was transmitted to the House of Representatives where on March 8 it was referred only to the House Finance (FIN) committee, chaired by Representative Sylvia Luke.

The measure sat without any activity in FIN for approximately 3 weeks and then on April 2 was “re-referred” (by House leadership) to the House Education (EDN) committee, chaired by Representative Justin Woodson who promptly scheduled a public hearing on the measure with 48 hours notice, for April 4.

The House EDN committee then passed out a further amended version SB2922HD1 that stated in SECTION 4: 

The question to be printed on the ballot shall be as follows:

“Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?”

This is the language that ultimately was placed on the ballot, and ruled invalid by the Hawaii Supreme Court. And it begs the question as to how the Chair of Education came about to amend the measure in such a manner?  These types of decisions do not happen by accident and do not occur in a vacuum.

Was the language change suggested to him by House Leadership?  Did the House staff attorneys make the suggestion? Nowhere in the written public testimony is there overt reference to the need to make such changes, and nothing in the committee report provides any hint as to the impetus for the move.  Normally the “subject matter chair” deals only with issues pertaining to the core subject matter, in this case that would be the measures impact on education. The legal language and other constitutional matters would be left to review of JUD, and in this case of course that vital part of the process was missing.

After the House EDN committee action, the House of Representatives voted unanimously in support.  Interesting, even all Republicans in the House while acknowledging “reservations”, ultimately were counted as YES votes.

The next step in the process would normally be “Conference Committee” and a process of further review by House and Senate Conferee’s, and potentially further amendments.  But in this case, on April 18th the Senate discharged its Conferees and simply agreed to the “House version” (that contained the final language that ultimately was used on the ballot and then found invalid by the Hawaii Supreme Court).

While SB2922HD1 was “enrolled to the governor” on May 3, the Governor does not have the power to veto these types of proposals and apparently simply receives them.  For normal Bills the process would be for the AG to review and make recommendations to the Governor if there were concerns that might warrant a veto.  In this case, the Hawaii State Constitution states in Section 4: “No proposal for amendment of the constitution adopted in either manner provided by this article shall be subject to veto by the governor.”

Upon reviewing the legislative history there are numerous actions and inactions that stand out as unusual.  Bear in mind that we are discussing a fundamental change in the Hawaii Constitution.

1)  Only two public hearings were held during the entire process, one in the Senate with 3 days notice and another in the House with 2 days notice.  

2)  Only three committee’s were involved, Education and Judiciary in the Senate & only Education in the House.

3)  Neither the Senate Ways and Means Committee, nor the House Finance Committee reviewed or voted on the measure.  It should be noted that both money committees normally review all legislation that will have a potential budget impact.  This is especially true in the House of Representatives where the House Finance Committee has a history of being used as a “back stop” to review and filter/amend/block any and all legislation regardless of budget implications.  One could argue I suppose that there would be no immediate budget impact and so a “money committee” review was not needed.  Still yet, given past practice and the huge significance of this measure, bypassing both WAM and FIN seems out of character.

4) The House Judiciary Committee (JUD) chaired by Representative Scott Nishimoto did not review or vote on this measure.  

  • This is probably the most significant factor which violates both past practice and best practice.  Why the House Judiciary Committee (JUD) whose subject matter purview is core to the proposal of a constitutional amendment chose not to review this matter is significant.
  • Why House leadership or why the EDU Committee did not insist on review by House JUD, is also difficult to fathom.
  • Perhaps there was an “informal review” by the Chair and/or legal staff that gave House leadership and the JUD chair a level of comfort that they felt holding a hearing unnecessary?  
  • Or perhaps the JUD Chair did not support nor want to hear the Bill, and in that case House Leadership kept his committee off the referral list? It is inconceivable that the discussion over whether or not to refer the measure to JUD, did not occur.

5) Except for Senator Gil Riviere, no other member of the House or Senate voted in opposition to the proposal.

6) Nowhere in the public record of testimony does there seem to be any input from the Attorney Generals (AG) office. The caveat to this is that searching the public testimony files can be an imperfect exercise and it is possible that the AG did in fact consult with members of the legislature on this measure, however if so that is not readily apparent. It is also not clear whether any legislator actually requested an AG opinion.

7) The governor is ostensibly absolved of responsibility for the language, as per our constitution, he does not have the legal authority to veto proposed constitutional amendments.

At this point, I do not believe climbing aboard the “blame game train” is a productive exercise.  You can be sure there is plenty of this going on right now in the back rooms at the Capitol as both key staff, committee chairs and House/Senate leadership scramble to accomplish the essential survival tool code-named CYA.

Suffice it to say that it was everyones (ie the majority) fault in both the House and the Senate.  The House approved a referral process that failed to include its own Judiciary Committee and allowed and accepted key changes to the ballot question language proposed by the House Education Committee.  And the Senate, then acquiesced to those same House changes by failing to engage the Conference Committee process.

For context, this all occurred in an election year and involved an issue supported by one of the strongest constituent groups in the State.  The pressure from teachers, parents and community supporters was intense and I am sure many in the legislature simply felt, “they had to pass something”.

It is fascinating to review the history and speculate on why certain decisions were made along the way.  But clearly what is more useful and essential at the moment, is for leadership at all levels, legislative, community and business, to unite behind the common goal of increased funding for public education.  Our teachers, students, families…and our communities future deserve that much.

Note: I encourage all to review the source information contained at http://capitol.hawaii.gov Simply type into the search box SB2922. All the information is there.

First published in Civil Beat on October 24th, 2018

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Indulge for a moment, a rant on the topic of voting.

Voting is such a boring topic so I figure a rant is in order.

People that already vote, will yawn and say “been there done that…move along…I’ve done my part and now I can get back to working in the yard.”  

People who don’t vote will likely have already skipped this column after reading the first sentence, saying to themselves with a double yawn…”why bother…nothing changes…and I am far too busy complaining about all the stuff that is wrong in our town…plus I have yard work to do”.

Pardon my obsession with the yard work, but that also has been at the top of my list lately (to be clear not willingly).

To both the voter and the nonvoter, I say a pox on you both.  Frankly I am sick and tired of the excuses from both sides.  Hawaii has the worst voting turnout in all of America and it is your fault.  It is more than just embarrassing and it should be criminal.  Not voting and not making sure others vote, is like walking away from the helm of a ship full of people that is heading for the rocks.

Abdication of your responsibility as a citizen is not something to be taken lightly.  If you neglect your job, you can be fired and if you neglect your children, you can go to jail.

But you can neglect your community and get away with it.  Many of you don’t even feel guilty about it.  Shame on you.  Our entire community for generations to come, pays the cost of your neglect and you go about your business oblivious to the harm you are causing.

I am betting that most in the community do not realize that whether you voted or not in the last election is public information.  Yes, I can simply look up your name on a data base of voters that is public information and see whether or not you voted.  The information available will not say who you voted for, nor what political party you belong to, but it will indicate whether you voted or failed to vote.

Maybe that information should be public, as in posted online or in the local newspaper?  Does anyone think that public shaming would increase voter turnout?

As you can tell by now, I am mad as hell and am not going to take it anymore.

To those few who are still reading today’s rant on voting, thank you!  We can only manage our community problems and steer our community forward to a positive place, if we all take responsibility for the decisions and decision makers.  In desperate situations, sometimes a rant is in order.

I ask that you stick with me for a few more paragraphs, please.

To those who now vote, thank you for doing so but simply filling out the ballot is not enough. 

Do I need to say it again?  Filling out the dang ballot is not enough and you must do more.  You need to take your civic duties to the next level and talk to your friends, family and neighbors; ask, insist, beg them to vote.  Then ask them again to make sure they voted.  Then drop the hint that whether or not they voted is public information and you will find out (possibly the whole world will find out), whether or not they are lying to you.

To those that do not vote, and perhaps have never voted…I will take a kinder gentler approach and appeal to your higher angels.  Please, we need you to participate.  And your vote, truly does matter.  In the recent Primary Election there were candidates who won or lost by literally a handful of votes.  Your vote, the vote cast by those who have never voted in the past, is in many respects the most important vote as it reflects the future.  New voters are often the youth, and God knows we need the spirit, guidance, and vision of the youth today. 

Finally…to the 5 nonvoters who may still be reading, don’t believe the office of elections when they tell you “The deadline for voter registration is (blank) day.”  

I know it is hard to believe that while I tell you with one breath how it is important to vote, in the next breath I tell you that the Office of Elections does not have its act together.  But it is true.  While they WANT you to register to vote early, there is no requirement to do so, and you can register to vote on the same day that you actually do vote.

Thank you all who have gotten this far, for letting me get this off my chest.

Now, go vote, and bring a friend and neighbor with you.  Please.

First published in The Garden Island Newspaper – October 17th, 2018

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Funding Public Education – The art of kicking the can down the road

Watching and listening to various individuals and organizations beating up on public school teachers and their effort to increase funding for public education is disheartening.

Every single opponent leads with, “I support public education and teachers but…(fill in the reason for opposing paying more for education)”.

Almost everyone acknowledges that public education is underfunded but those holding the reins of power and money, refuse to support any increased funding.

Their children of course go to private school, as did mine.

But the vast majority of Hawaii’s children attend public schools, as I did when I was in school. We as a community are morally obligated to make available to all children an education that provides them with the foundational skills needed to survive and prosper in an increasingly complex world.

Hawaii teachers are the lowest paid in the country, when the cost of living in Hawaii is factored in. Each year 1,000 teacher positions remain vacant, and positions are often filled by uncertified and unqualified long term substitutes. In addition to low teacher pay, small class sizes which have been proven to increase student learning also require a public investment. The list of funding needs for public education is long, and the neglect by the legislature to adequately funding those needs extends even longer.

The legislature and the public has been playing a game of “whack a mole” for a long, long time, effectively dodging the responsibility of properly funding Hawaii’s public education system. They say no to increasing the General Excise Tax (GET), no to raising tourist taxes (except for rail of course), no to taxing sugar drinks, and no to legalizing and taxing cannabis, taxing retirement income, casino gambling and/or a lottery.

Whack the mole, pass the buck, and kick the can down the road is how our state has dealt with funding public education, and we all should be a little ashamed of ourselves for letting that happen.

The Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Realtors, the big banks and the big landowners and developers, rarely if ever support any tax increases for any reason. Their world and the world of politics and policy is driven by self interest. I get that.

But don’t shovel out the shibai narrative that the Department of Education (DOE) needs to be audited first. Can’t we audit and increase efficiencies at the same time we are increasing funding? And don’t give us the disingenuous hyperbole that “this is going to cost everyone”. Shouldn’t it cost everyone? Shouldn’t we all pay a little?

The legislative intent is clear. The new surcharge will be targeted at the wealthy investor who does not live here and who does not rent to local residents. The intent and the actual language in the amendment is clear as well. The funds will go to education.

Though the opposition’s favorite whipping boy of the moment are teachers, the funds raised should this pass, will not necessarily go to them. I would hope that it does, but the language simply says to fund “public education”. Teacher pay is an issue of collective bargaining and subject to contract and negotiation as are all public worker salaries.

We owe teachers a debt of gratitude. They work long hours for substandard wages, and we rarely even say thank you. Now, when they take an upfront role in pushing to increase funding for public education, they are bashed and pounded upon by the bastions of the business community who themselves have failed to step up and help.

There is no right way to raise taxes so the result is nothing happens.

This insane cycle of neglect must stop.

The proposed constitutional amendment, allows the public to choose to increase the funding for public education via a surcharge on investment properties, or do nothing and just keep whacking the mole.

The choice is ours. I am voting yes.

*first published on October 17th, 2018 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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Who and what am I voting for or against? A look at my Kauai general election ballot choices.

In response to several requests that have come via text, email and FaceBook, I have summarized below how I intend to vote on the various items contained on the General Election Ballot.  Though this is a Kauai specific list…several of the items are also applicable to ballots statewide.

I present my thoughts here with some hesitancy as I do not want to appear to tell others how to vote, and on some issues and people my thoughts and ultimate vote, also rely on the opinions of others whom I respect – I speak here specifically of the votes for OHA.  Like many non Hawaiian voters, I feel somewhat disinclined and unqualified to weigh in and vote on these choices however my friends in the Hawaiian community believe it is important that I do so.

In addition, when suggesting candidates that I am supporting, there is implied opposition to the “other candidates”.  As much as people say “it’s not personal”, I know from experience as a candidate that in fact it is taken as personal and thus breeds hostility…the repercussions of which sometimes reverberate into the future.  

But oh well…the alternative of being silent creates within me even more angst than the concern over what others might think and the offense they and their friends and family might take.  Remaining silent of course would also be abdicating my responsibility as someone who aspires to leadership in our community.

So here goes – I will start with the easy ones:

Governor and Lieutenant Governor: David Ige and Josh Green

U.S. Senator: Mazie Hirono

U.S. Representative: Tulsi Gabbard

Kauai Mayor: Unknown and possibly blank

Kauai County Council:

  1. Mason Chock
  2. Felicia Cowden
  3. Adam Roversi
  4. Luke Evslin

Read here why these 4 are my top choices.

https://garyhooser.blog/2018/10/03/four-excellent-choices-for-kauai-county-council/

5) Norma Doctor Sparks – I have decided that Norma Doctor Sparks will be my fifth vote for the Council.  She has by far the most experience with regards to managing large government budgets, and she has demonstrated through her actions and outreach that she cares about and will be responsible to the concerns of all Kauai residents.  My vote for Norma Doctor Sparks is an insurance vote intended to support the end result that at least 4 new independent and community based voices are elected to the Council. Plus – we need more women serving on the council!

Though Kauai voters are allowed “up to 7 votes”, in an effort to maximize the impact, my personal votes will be limited to these 5.  You can read more about this strategy of “block voting and plunking” here:

https://garyhooser.blog/2014/10/18/on-plunking-block-voting-slates-and-other-such-kauai-county-council-voting-strategies/

Moving to the questions regarding questions pertaining to amending the State Constitution:

I am voting NO on all Constitutional and Charter amendment questions.

I am voting NO on the question: “Shall there be a convention to propose a revision of or amendments to the Constitution?”

Read the basis of my No vote here: 

https://garyhooser.blog/2018/09/20/why-im-voting-no-on-con-con/

On the questions pertaining to amending the County of Kauai Charter:

Relating to the Public Defender — Question 1 – I am voting NO  – Shall the charter be amended by repealing Article IX, Public Defender, as this function is already provided by the State?

Relating to the Electric Power Authority – Question 2 – I am voting NO – Shall the Charter be amended to repeal Article XXX, which empowers the Council to create an electric power authority by ordinance?

Relating to the Zoning Board of Appeals — Question 3- I am voting NO – Shall Article XIV, Planning Department, sections 14.01, 14.03, 14.12, 14.13, and 14.14 be amended by removing all references to the zoning board of appeals? NOTE: My No vote is based on my lack of understanding as to whether or not this diminishes the rights of those who would want to make an appeal.  I understand the Planning Department wants this change, but I am not clear whether the replacement is adequate.

While some make a strong argument that the three amendments above are not needed.  I see no harm in “keeping them on the books” in case they might be needed in the future.

Relating to the Public Access, Open Space, Natural Resources Preservation Fund — Question 4 – I am voting NO – Shall Article XIX, Financial Procedures, Section 19.15 © be amended to permit the Public Access, Open Space, Natural Resources Preservation Fund to include improvements? NOTE: I prefer these funds be used primarily to acquire new properties and am concerned that they will be used up by “improvements” which could drift into the realm of regular maintenance.  These funds should be used to purchase long term assets (property) and not as operational funds.

Relating to the Salary Commission — Question 5 – I am voting NO – Shall Article XXIX, Salary Commission, Sections 29.01 and 29.03 be amended to give the salary commission authority to establish the maximum salaries of all elected and appointed officials, and to add the director of human resources and the director of finance as ex-officio members of the commission? NOTE: If passed this will result in higher salaries for councilmembers, the mayor and top administrative heads – without the Council being involved which means they escape political consequences.

Relating to term limits for the office of Councilmember — Question 6 – I am voting NO- Shall the term limit of office for Councilmember be removed?  NOTE: This was put on the ballot primary to benefit Councilmember Kagawa whose term expires in 2020.  The people overwhelming support limiting the terms of councilmembers, if passed this allows unlimited terms.

You can read more about the basis for my decisions on the Charter Amendments, and about who NOT to vote for for the Kauai County Council here:

https://garyhooser.blog/2018/10/02/candidates-that-dont-show-up-dont-deserve-your-vote/

For the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Every voter in the State votes for every District race.  Here are the suggestions:

Maui: Ke’eaumoku Kapu

Oahu: Esther Kia’aina

At Large (vote for up to 3):

Lei Ahu Isa

William Aila

Brendon Lee

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Who I am. Why I am doing this. How you can help. (my recent email message in case you did not get it)

Aloha,

The goal of this email is to enroll your help in making our community and our world a better place. If we have not yet met in person, this message will further serve as an initial introduction as to who I am, and why I do the work that I do. Mahalo for this brief moment of your time.

I suspect that you are as outraged and also as saddened as I am over what has been happening in D.C. and around the world.  I am hopeful that you will join with me today in turning those feelings into action.

Climate change, species depletion and massive environmental degradation of air, land and water is happening now, on our watch right before our eyes. The economic disparity that exists between the top 1% of the population and the bottom 99% is beyond the pale of simply sad and unjust.

I believe we can and we must continue to fight back and take back what is our birthright – a healthy planet and a just world.

We can win but each of us must do our part. Some can do the constant and sometimes brutal heavy lifting, and some because of circumstances can help in smaller but important ways – together with all of us pitching in, we can win.

Hawaii can be a model for the change that is needed globally.

Working together with many others from across the state, we have a plan in place that can bring about significant positive change but we need your help – Please, join with us at: Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) (https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org/join/) and Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) (https://www.hapahi.org/take-action/) today.

Or if you have questions, concerns or suggestions that you would like to share with me directly, please email me at GaryLHooser@gmail.com (mailto:GaryLHooser@gmail.com)

If we have not yet met, let me tell you a little about myself.

While based on the island of Kauai, I travel frequently through-out the archipelago and beyond, working with a wide and diverse network of individuals and organizations who share a common focus of putting people and the environment over profits.

My full bio is here (http://garyhooser.com/#two) and a brief list of career highlights here (http://garyhooser.com/#accomplishments) .

Prior to first entering politics at the County level in 1998 and then being elected to the Hawaii State Senate in 2002, my background was in small business.

I understand the value of entrepreneurship and the need to build and maintain a strong economic base.

However it has become increasingly clear in recent years that our world is dangerously out of balance and that large corporate interests that put profits above all else combined with a dysfunctional political/government structure are to blame.

My life and work is dedicated toward fighting back and reversing the environmental, social, economic and political degradation that is occurring in Hawaii and across the globe.

Together, we can do this. Please join me today.

Sincerely,

Gary Hooser

Executive Director – Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) (https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org)

Board President – Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) (http://www.hapahi.org)

Gary Hooser Blog: Why I am voting NO on Con Con (https://garyhooser.blog/2018/09/20/why-im-voting-no-on-con-con/)


							
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Four Excellent Choices for Kauai County Council

I recently had the pleasure of co-hosting a KKCR “Out Of The Box” radio show that featured a discussion among four candidates for Kauai County Council.  I was genuinely impressed by each and every one of these individuals and found myself at the end of the show, hoping that each will be elected on November 6th.

The show was co-hosted by community radio stalwart, Jonathan Jay and we were joined in the studio by Kyahnasun Dakini, who shared her mana’o and among other things, asked the four candidates the “dairy question”.

Jonathan Jay had designed the show around exploring the embedded wisdom of the Hawaiian Proverb – ʻŌlelo Noʻeau –  “He Waʻa He Moku; He Moku He Waʻa”  – “The Canoe is an Island; The Island is a Canoe”.  He invited these particular 4 candidates to be on the show because each has experience in the canoe paddling world.

It was an interesting and thought-provoking show, a new generation of leaders sharing life lessons and attitudes about the value of trust and teamwork they learned from paddling waʻa. 

Besides the most obvious “we are all in this together” correlation with the canoe metaphor, many other common themes were brought to the surface as well.

Experienced canoe paddlers know and understand that once they are in the canoe, individual egos must be set aside for the common good and each paddlers strengths and weaknesses must be considered when evaluating their placement and paddle position.  The individual paddler must be self-aware enough to recognize their own tendencies and abilities in order to “play their position” as best as they can.  Each must accept, respect, and support the others so long as they are giving it their best, even if they may not be the strongest or the most talented.

Foremost is keeping the ultimate destination always in mind and all four agreed that ultimately that goal with regards to the Council centers around improving and protecting the quality of life for local residents.

All four recognized and supported the fact that the ultimate destination will only be reached ostensibly via a common vision supported by good planning, and steady management. 

In my experience serving in politics, these quality of life objectives are relatively easy to agree on but the specific proposals for solutions to real world, here and now problems are often debated and rarely achieve unanimous consensus.  The perfect storms that confront any legislative body attempting to reach consensus on public policy are inevitably controversial, and passing through unscathed is further complicated by the injection of ego and arrogance, often referred to as “the big dog syndrome”.

Anyone who watches the Kauai County Council knows what I am talking about.  While we never really got to the question as to what happens in a canoe when the “big dog syndrome” rears its ugly head, I suspect the answer would be somewhere between “throw him overboard” and “ignore him and just keep paddling”.

Keeping your eye on the long view, dealing proactively with the problems facing us today, and ignoring and disempowering the ego driven distractions, are the true tests of leadership especially needed now on the Kauai County Council.  I believe all four of these individuals, while each being uniquely different from the other, meet that test.

Mason Chock who presently serves on the Kauai County Council, is a solid rock of character and integrity.  He is grounded in community, pragmatic in his approach to problem solving, and serves as a leadership bridge of sorts on the existing Council.

Felicia Cowden cares deeply about all of Kauai as demonstrated by the countless hours she spends attending meetings and functions occurring throughout our island.  She is driven to learn and know more about the challenges that face us, and is committed to searching out solutions to those challenges.

Luke Evslin is likely the most analytical of the group and you will find that his eye will never leave the ball.  His focus will always be on the long game and achieving the end vision, but he is pragmatic enough to understand that in order to get to that end destination, stops and adjustments have to be made along the way.

Adam Roversi is a candidate who I know the least, but in many ways the one with whom I am most impressed.  He possesses a rare combination of deep thinking and realism.  A pragmatic idealist, he understands the need to find and develop tangible solutions to problems before the County today.  Adam Roversi is a former building contractor who put himself through law school (with a focus on Hawaiian and environmental law), and then came home to serve as a Kauai Deputy County Attorney.  Each and every endeavor he pursued was fraught with challenges, but in each case he rose to the occasion, learned the lessons that needed to be learned, and then achieved the goal he had set his eyes on.  I have no doubt if elected to the Kauai County Council on November 6th, that Adam Roversi will once again rise to the occasion and serve our community with distinction.

While each of these candidates is possessed with sufficient personal confidence and self worth to be “a big dog” in their own right, each also possesses the maturity needed to be able to set aside their personal egos in pursuit of the common good.  As proven by their existing life and past accomplishments, each is also incredibly hard working, knowledgable, and committed to our community. 

Oh, and about the dairy question? All four of the candidates answered it similarly and to paraphrase; “Based on the information that is available, I do not support a dairy of this size and scope in the area in which it is proposed.” 

 

Please talk to these four individuals yourself and in fact, reach out to all 14 council candidates.  Attend the forums and review their websites and FaceBook pages.  You’ll find the process of elimination is fairly straight forward.  Of the 14, some will not return your email and several will not have a website or a Facebook page.  When you attend a forum or two you will also find that unfortunately more than a few (those who believe they are the true big dogs) do not even bother to attend these worthwhile public events.  

Do your homework and make your own scorecard.  Talk to your friends and family and make your own informed decision as to whom can best lead our county forward in the coming years.

Most importantly, vote!

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