If you missed last night’s Community Talk Story with the mayor in Pahoa last night, you’re probably better off. Â Despite a room packed full of the most active community residents, everyone who has announced they are running for public office, and all the mayor’s cabinet â€” all the key department and division heads! â€” the meeting was largely unproductive. Â It was by all accounts reflective of what a messy pukefest a community meeting can be. Â If you like reality television and drama, though, the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility was the place to be.
The dominant topic of conversation was geothermal and the most vocal against geothermal did not let the raining evening keep them away from coming out to challenge the mayor and his administration’s interest in the Puna-based renewable energy. Â There were moments when the mayor’s trial lawyer training came out, calming the ruckus by walking up to the most outspoken members of the public to look them in the eye, as he assured them that he does not intend to exploit the district he and his family have called home for generations. Â As he pointed out, his middle name refers to Puna specifically, having grown up in the historic Hawaiian village of Kalapana. Â The Pahoa talk-story event, which filled the smaller room of the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility and left about 30-40 people outside to look into the meeting through the window louvers, ended about 9:30 p.m. Â Beyond the hooting and hollering, conch-blowing and otherwise lack of decorum, Kenoi stayed to the very end and expressed a willingness to meet with and mitigate the concerns of those who are most adamantly against geothermal technology. Â For that reason alone, perhaps, the community meeting was productive.