***Commentary*** Campaign Season 2014; Political Rant #1

By Tiffany Edwards Hunt

I love how people think I can just sit with my nose to the grindstone, investigative reporting all the time. I am working at my family’s shop, that’s what I am doing right now. I  am sitting here paying bills and ordering merchandise.
The way that people act toward me they think that newspapering is the same as being a politician, that I belong to the public and that I absolutely must jump when they say jump.
The latest is an irate email calling me out for not investigating the Puna Community Development Plan Action Committee and perceived misrepresentations of the Hawaiian Acres and Fern Forest communities in the plan. I do not truly understand the resident’s frustration. From what I gather she does not believe that these private subdivision roads should be used as the community’s connector roads. And, so, because I do not choose to spend time delving into this “exposé,” I suck.
This inspires a rant, really. I cannot help but feel like people think that because I am a writer with a community journalism focus, I am at the public’s beckon call. It’s as if I have no life other than saving the world, or the island, or Puna, with my writing.
I am not a politician; I am not funded by taxpayers’ money. And I actually scrape by with the advertising money I do receive through Big Island Chronicle. It is a labor of love, therefore I labor when the bill-paying jobs are done.
Meanwhile, we do have State and County politicians who do receive the public’s dime and who I have to wonder are being called or emailed about community concerns.
It seems to me like the resident irate about the PCDP and the private subdivisions’ road use should be calling her council member, Zendo Kern, seeking legislation to address her concerns. It could be that he doesn’t return her calls or emails. Then that would be a story to tell.
This morning, before coming to work at our retail store, I attended a Pahoa Booster Club meeting. The club recently formed to support athletics for all Pahoa regional schools, charter and regular DOE.
We had two politicians attend, Greggor Ilagan, one of our Puna councilmen, and Joy SanBuenaventura, who is seeking the State House District 4 seat.  Joy focused on introducing herself to our group and kept her comments to two minutes. I was appreciative of that, because I really couldn’t help but wonder, what does Joy’s candidacy have to do with the booster club?
Greggor spoke at length about how we had just missed the County grant-in-aid application process (when he had three invitations to attend our last three monthly meetings and advise us!) He suggested we do a steak fry to fundraise, but then said he wouldn’t be able to help, and that he wasn’t sure we would get enough community support for attendance at sports events!
He just sent me over the edge. I couldn’t help but thinking, why did the community elect someone like this to the County Council? 
I ended up going off on Greggor and telling our Booster Club president not to put any more of these politicians on the agenda this campaign season unless they can lend a hand to the booster club specifically. It’s a waste of our time meant for trying to promote athletics in the Pahoa schools, listening to politicking. (Greggor ended up giving $20 to the booster club.)
Prior to Greggor running for Council, did you ever see him involved in the community? The same could be said for Zendo. He was a planning commissioner, but I am talking grass-roots community stuff. One time during his campaign he helped us with a rummage sale for the Puna Community Medical Center. And a couple times at my request he judged our keiki Halloween contest. But we haven’t seen the guy since he was elected, not even walking in the parade, politicking.
I don’t know about Joy – she says she has been a lawyer in our community for 30 years and she practices sustainable living in Hawaiian Paradise Park.
My question is, how many people that we elect to serve in public office here actually are involved in the community and do any community good?
I think the answer to both questions is, very little. Why do you think that is the case?
Is that okay? Is that what the community wants, people who don’t bother to roll up their sleeves to affect change?
Believe me, I had my issues with Fred Blas and Emily Naeole. But Fred had a crew of people weed eating through town and made it his mission to see the road in lower Puna’s only village paved. Emily, before she was elected, personally stood in front of Pahoa Cash and Carry trying to get people to get off drugs and turn their lives around. When she got into office, she made it her mission to feed the hungry, with the Poi Bowl.
People, rather than lamenting on those who give what they can, not for the paycheck but for the betterment of the community, should really do some refocusing this campaign season. And get involved. Come to some of these meetings and see who is showing up and who is not. If the PCDP Action Committee is failing you, sign up and be a member!  If these politicians you helped elect aren’t serving you, pull your nomination papers and give them a dun for them for their money. I get so tempted to everyday, believe me. For now, I am sticking with the booster club and working as a part-time investigative journalist who freely rants.

8 replies
  1. Hugh Clark
    Hugh Clark says:

    I can understand your rant based on receiving calls as a sports writer and news reporter over a 46-year career.I’d guess one out of every five or six calls led to a story or a useful tip. The rest were from the confused, chronic malcontents and folks misunderstanding about what a journalist does.

    Your recent outpourings suggest you have had more than your share of nonsense calls. I usually tried to listen the first time, to seek confirmation and to cajole the clueless when not on deadline.

    I had a competitor who was reprimanded for not demonstrating more patience with a known crank so be assured you ain’t alone.

  2. Brian F. Jordan
    Brian F. Jordan says:

    Helene Hale and Frank De Luz told me the same thing when I started in politics.
    It isn’t important the few you choose to see but how many can easily see you.
    When citizens have problems they want the attention of a Representative or Council Person. We have a few Councilmen and Reps. who see and represent who they choose.
    This is not the way to serve the community much less get get re-elected.

  3. Damon
    Damon says:

    That “Mercury” must be floating around… and I have no belief in Astrology.

    I wish folks would understand that our sites are more about sharing… then money making.

    At least mine is!

  4. NeighborWatch
    NeighborWatch says:

    I, I, I, I…..geeze guys
    I can….
    I started…
    I wish…
    yea!! an I appreciate…
    You are singing the de ja vu blues.
    Kinda remember being in a similar movie.
    There isn’t any Neighbor Watch* anymore.
    My neighbors are all on their own, like before.
    I all pau, did a share of community service.

    If there’s no money in it, take a hiatus and write a book, there can be money in that. You have a couple in ya I’m sure. I’m halfway through one now. Cyber writing is the bits.

  5. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Tiffany,

    I too, understand your rant. It is a means to re-group. And it works.

    Whenever a community member puts themself in a position to voice their opinions in support of community matters, they’re essentially offering themself as a spokes person for those who want change but for one reason or another, can’t or don’t want to be that spokes person. Therefore the community uses you as their mouth piece.

    Now if you have 10,000 people listening to you, with 10,000 different issues and want it heard at the same time?,…….it is time to rant. Ha!

    We are in support of your ranting,….. for by reading your craft and the type of responses you generate, it is easy to see that it’s justified. I admire you for putting yourself in this position. I certainly am not qualified, nor would I be as eloquent as you are in it’s dealings, hence “Handyman”. (I appreciate your professionalism in this matter)

    This is your sandbox, we are but guest,….and I appreciate your hospitality.


  6. Stephen Wellman
    Stephen Wellman says:

    Aloha! Good work and so much community service depends on family budgets and free time allotted. If you run for office and campaign on community action then you need to make sure you have budgeted the time and expenses to cover your promises, otherwise it ends up being nothing more than an ego trip at the expense of the community.

    Everything in life is a commitment. For those who complain about the system it is typical that they prefer others to take action. Take action yourself. America has turned into a Sofa Empire where the complainers far out number the activists. Arm chair politicians are the norm not the exception. Well, at least until re-election rolls around …

    The first politicians in America were farmers … now they’re lawyers!

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