Waste Not — Mayor Billy Kenoi and his P Card

By Kristine Kubat

For as long as I have been writing this column, I have been preaching the zero waste gospel with all the fervor of a religious fanatic. Rethink, reduce, reuse, recycle. Don’t just turn things you’re finished with into a rubbish heap. Heaven help anyone who tries!  And since a good portion of what’s appeared here has been critical of a mayor who at one point sought just as fervently to damn us all to 25 years of high volume resource destruction, you might be wondering how I am feeling now that Billy Kenoi is headed for the rubbish heap.

Suffice it to say, as we gather round the metaphoric sort station to determine Billy’s fate, I feel conflicted. In many ways, a mayor is terrible thing to waste.

It’s probably best to start the sort process verifying that Kenoi is indeed headed for the rubbish heap. . . relatively easy to do if you have any connections in the higher echelons of government (by which I mean people who don’t use taxpayer funded credit cards at hostess bars).

According to those in power who are also in the know, Hawaii’s political establishment is done with Billy and his colleagues are trashing him across the board as they scramble for moral high ground. Anyone in denial can check out the recent Hawaii News Now piece wherein former Honolulu Mayor and Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle not only recommends impeachment but also gives instructions on how it’s done.

Which brings us to the question of whether to follow Carlisle’s recommendation and take out the trash or find a way to get another 20 months out of Kenoi as a means to avoid the hassle and expense of electing his replacement.

Any reasonable salvage decision depends on understanding what something’s made of in the first place and here things are not so cut-and-dry.  Let’s face it, Kenoi’s  composition is complex. Although I’m inclined to tag it as something putrescible given recent disclosures about his pcard use, considering the entire arc of the man’s career, I’d put him on a par with Mylar. . . a new breed of material, forged from radically different layers, tough in certain ways, fragile in others and incomparable as a medium for slick processes that trick consumers into acting as if what’s inside is something they can’t live without.

The bad news for Billy by way of this comparison is that Mylar is seldom recycled and far more likely to end up in an incinerator. As much as I relish the irony in that turn, I stand firm in my opposition to such wasteful practices.  Let’s not burn our Mylar mayor, but let’s not recycle him back into the political process either; instead let’s find a new use for someone of his demeanor and talents.

Billy Kenoi has never impressed me as mayor material. Let me reduce a lengthy explanation “why” to a short account of a photograph I published while serving as founding editor of the Big Island Weekly during Kenoi’s first campaign for mayor. . . in it Billy and his wife stand holding campaign signs, smiling and waving while flanked on one side by their two parked cars and on the other by a “NO PARKING” placard.

Over and over and over again, Mr. Kenoi, highly trained in the administration of the law, has proven that he sees himself as immune to its provisions, and someone with that mentality is not, and never will be, suitable for public office.

Instead Billy’s real talents lie in his lust for the spotlight, his penchant for humor, his quick comebacks and his ability to acquire fans. He’s an entertainer, one who deserves his own late night television show where he can act silly at someone other than the taxpayers’ expense. Let Billy Kenoi be the David Letterman of Hawaii until he becomes the Billy Kenoi of the world. Let him make it easy on us all by resigning post haste. Let us bear the cost and hassle of a special election so we can get on with the not-so-funny business of being a society governed by laws rather than fools.

Kristine Kubat is a freelance writer who is in the political know, having worked for Recycle Hawaii and was the editor of the now-defunct Stephens media owned Big Island Weekly.  


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