11 Oct 2010 / politics
I went to the Pop Warner games in Pahoa Sunday and, I have to tell you, don’t miss the next series of games held out here. Â What an event. Â There must have been at least 300 people when I was there, and I was there just after big downpour and before the Puna Panthers played. I was only going to stay a minute to snap a few pictures, but my two-and-a-half-year-old got really into being there. Â Aunties Madie Greene, Barbara Lively, and Betty Blas doted over her, and Madie fed her curry that was being sold as a fundraiser for the Panthers. Â Auntie Luana Jones was there and took Coco and her grandson, Dayton, to buy Braddah Pops. Â Coco enjoyed running around with the keiki , loved watching the Wailoa Razorbacks cheerleaders, even the game. Â ”I want to play football,” she kept saying at the event and afterward. Â I was surprised to run into a lot of people I knew who had children or grandchildren that play for the Panthers. Â I met many of the players and coaches for the three different divisions. Â Some folks I know from running our surf shop, others I’ve know from the beach. Â I had no idea Luana’s granddaughter was on the team, even that there were a couple of girls playing. That’s pretty exceptional Â I also didn’t know that Hanale McGuire, who is an exceptional surfer and skateboarder, is the quarterback for the Panthers.
I met Calvin Lee and his son, Kevin, who, with Fred Blas, organized the teams earlier this year. Â ”This is the start of something great,” Calvin told me. Â He was so enthusiastic and energized, it was inspiring. Â He told me of their plans to see that these Pop Warner kids in Puna ultimately get a bonafide high school football team. Â I told him about the recent 60 Minutes episode I watched detailing how American Samoa has produced 30-plus NFL players and more than 200 Division 1 college players with equipment and facilities far more substandard than the Puna players have. One of the coaches, Donald La’a, pointed out how they had painted the field and goal posts and power-washed the bleachers, which were filled with spectators. Â Madie said that the Pop Warner organizers have decided that because Pahoa’s field is one of the more nicer fields, they will hold more games there. Â Indeed, this IS the start of something great.
I went to a number of schools on the mainland, big and small and, I have to say, there’s nothing better than a Friday night high school football game â€” especially in a small town. Â Actually, in Douglas, Wyoming, the whole town centers around the “Douglas Bearcats.” Â There’s actually bearcat footprints on sidewalks throughout the historic downtown area and leading all the way to the high school. Â On game days, the whole town gets into the team spirit, wearing school colors, decorating shop windows, what-have-you. Â The team spirit transcends the sport, really, and it actually does a lot for community pride. Â I see the Puna Panthers and the Pahoa Daggers â€” remember how exciting it was when the Daggers won the state championship in basketball? â€” doing wonders for community building.
When the day comes that you are asked to support a Panthers or Daggers fundraiser, I urge you to do so â€” whether or not you like football or basketball or volleyball or wrestling. Â And why not go to a game? Â This is your community, after all. Â Get into the spirit.
I’ll start this commentary off by telling you about Primary Election day. Â In the afternoon, as I was preparing for my election coverage that night, I realized I didn’t have a battery-operated radio that I usually have to listen to pundits Ken Hupp, Hugh Clark, Aaron Chung and Todd Belt on 670 AM. Â I got on my bike and rode around Pahoa, asking friends and neighbors if they had one I could borrow. Â No luck. Â I rode down Pahoa Village Road, looking for Madie Greene, who I had seen sign waving for Fred Blas earlier in the day. Â Greene owns Puna Buy and Sell, and I wanted to know if she had a battery-operated radio at her pawn shop. Â As I rode up, Greene was standing with Barbara Lively, one of the four Council District 5 candidates. Â I razzed Greene and Lively about standing together and waving at the passersby. Â Lively, in, I don’t know how else to put, a bitchy tone, said to me, “Well, your candidate is over there,” gesturing further down Pahoa Village Road toward Kalapana. Â ”And who is my candidate?” I said. Â ”James.” Â I paused for a minute, then said something to the effect of, “Don’t act like that, Barbara.” I gestured toward Greene, who stood there waving for Blas. “We’re all friends here. You can’t take this stuff personally.”
I’ll tell you straight, I DID vote for James Weatherford. Â Yes, I realize, he has a tendency to act like Mr.-Know-It-All. Â But he does know a lot. Â And we have similar philosophies on life and on politics. Â Since I’m being honest, I’ll tell you straight up that, if Weatherford wasn’t on the ballot, I would have voted for Fred Blas in the Primary Election. Â I totally disagree with Blas’ anti-marijuana stance. Â I think he is actually quite naive about the whole drug thing. Â To me, he is denying an entire industry in Puna by taking a stance against marijuana. Â But, hey, that is just about the only bone I have to pick to Blas. Â And I’m not of the belief that it is the County’s kuleana to address the marijuana issue. Â I don’t agree with people who think the Lowest Law Enforcement Priority of Cannabis Ordinance is enforceable in Hawaii County. Â I think, in order to address marijuana, it needs to be taken up at the federal level. Â One can argue that it can be addressed at the state level, since we do have our own constitution and technically there really are limited federal powers. Â But that would require a governor and a State Legislature that are willing to stand up to the feds, until the feds address the issue once and for all.
In the meantime, what I would like to see is for us restore some common sense in Council District 5. Â I would like to see a Council representative focused on the roles and responsibilities that are laid out in the County Charter. Â The County Council is supposed to be focusing on roads, water, Â wastewater, solid waste, rezonings, Parks and Recreation â€” those sorts of things. Â We seem to have strayed away from leadership that is focusing on our basic needs at the County level. Â I feel like Fred Blas is sane and reasonable and rational and, at least for the next two years, he can help stabilize our district. Â Heck, with Blas at the helm, we might actually get Pahoa Village Road repaved and restriped. Â We might be able to get the mess at Pahoa Aquatic Center sorted out, and we might obtain more police presence to aid us in better response times.
Let me tell you how I first came to know and adore Fred, who I teasingly call “Freddy.” It was back when I worked as a legislative assistant for Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason. Â At that time, Blas was one of her supporters. Â And I was tasked with meeting with him on occasion to aid him in community projects. Â One of my frequent callers as a legislative aide was Rob Tucker. Â Tucker was hell-bent on getting the County Department of Public Works to hear his plea to aid him in getting some poles relocated on Post Office Road. Â He also has a vision for sidewalks in Pahoa, which I am not too keen on, but I was willing to hear him out. Â So, I set up a walkabout in Pahoa with Blas and Tucker.
Let me just tell you that I called Tucker this morning and shared with him what I’m going to share with you, so I kinda feel bad if I hurt his feelings, but I feel like honesty is paramount in this case. Â As I was walking through Pahoa with Tucker on one side and Blas through the other, I felt like I was standing between a positive and a negative force. Â For every “no can” I heard from Tucker, there was a “can!” from Blas. Â Tucker is defensive and concerned that I think he is a pessimist. Â I reminded him that this is merely my perception. Â The point is, I feel like Blas is an optimist, and he is a doer. Â After our walkabout in Pahoa, a month didn’t pass before he singlehandedly arranged and erected the “Aloha, Old Pahoa Village” signs fronting Puna Baptist Church and Jan’s Barber Shop. Â When I need something, I call Blas. Â He is busy campaigning for election, but every now and then he checks in with me and reminds me he is still working on Mainstreet Pahoa Association’s mission to get bike racks through Pahoa. Â He organizes a crew of people and walks through the town weed-eating and picking up trash.
Tucker is a community servant as well. Don’t get me wrong. Â We can thank him for Â those “Akeakamai Loop” signs at Jan’s Barber Shop and Book Buyers. He ram rodded the tear-down of the shacks fronting Pahoa Cash And Carry. Â He has worked on the Pahoa Skate Park, and he, after a lot of balking, got a hold of the right people to get those poles relocated on Post Office Road. Â My point is not that Tucker doesn’t do good, it’s his approach. Â He uses salt, while Blas uses sugar. Â Blas is a cheerleader. Â He has shown himself to be such a doer that people in the County actually WANT to help him. Â I honestly feel like Blas will do more good than bad if he is elected to serve on the Hawaii County Council the next two years.
I think a lot of people might be missing a big point of just what happened in the primary.Â James Weatherford, Barbara Lively and Anthony Marzi all ran classic western campaigns and did not survive the primary.Â Faye Hanohano, Emily Naeole-Beason and Fred Blas all ran classic island campaigns and survived the primary.
I sense a true culture gap here. East meets west. Guess what Toto? We are not in Kansas anymore.
A look at the numbers on the third and final printout shows Fred Blas leading the race for Council District 5 over Incumbent Emily Naeole-Beason. Votes cast were 1,496 votes to 1,320 votes, meaning Blas and Naeole-Beason will have a runoff in the General.
Similarly, In Council District 6, Incumbent Guy Enriques will face Brittany Smart in the General, with Smart receiving 1,657 votes and Enriques receiving 1,506 votes.
In Council District 6, it looks like Angel Pilago will have a runoff with Debbie Hecht. Pilago, in the end, received 1,707 votes, or 46 percent of the votes cast. He need 50 percent plus one to succeed in the Primary. Hecht received 691 votes, Rath received 604 votes, and Imcumbent Kelly Green received 333 votes.
Incumbents Pete Hoffmann, Brenda Ford, and Donald Ikeda succeeded over their challengers, winning the Primary outright with 50 percent plus one.
J Yoshimoto, Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, and Dominic Yagong all were unchallenged in the Primary, but had enough blank votes cast to indicate some voter dissatisfaction and the possibility that a challenger could have given them runoffs in the General.
On the State Legislature side, all democratic incumbents succeeded the Primary and will face off with their Republican challengers.
In Puna, State Representative District 4 Incumbent Faye Hanohano narrowly succeeded Anthony Marzi. The votes were 2,296 to 2,183, with 354 blank votes cast.
Although the County has a higher than ever voter registration count at 100,061 voters, only 39 percent voted in this election.
Tags: Angel Pilago, Anthony Marzi, Barbara Lively, Brenda Ford, Brittany Smart, Debbie Hecht, Dennis "Fresh" Onishi, Dominic Yagong, Donald Ikeda, Emily Naeole-Beason, Faye Hanohano, Fred Blas, Guy Enriques, Hawaii County Council, Hawaii State Legislature, J Yoshimoto, James Weatherford, Jim Rath, Kelly Greenwell, Pete Hoffmann, State House District 4
Second printouts show there will be a runoff in Council District 5 between Fred Blas and Incumbent Emily Naeole-Beason.
Votes were 1,373 to 1,258 votes. James Weatherford had 881 votes and Barbara Lively had 674 votes. There were 177 blank votes.
For Council District 6, complete results shouldn’t be expected until the third printout. With Upper Puna numbers in, Brittanyy Smart is leading with 1,183 votes, while Guy Enriques has 1,134 votes. Maile David has 564 votes and Marie Burns has 228 votes.
As for the State Representative seat, it looks like, in District 4, Incumbent Faye Hanohano leads the Democratic ticket over Anthony Marzi by 94 votes. Votes in that district are 2,192 votes for Hanohano and 2,098 votes for Marzi. There were 340 votes cast.
Until third printout, that race can’t be called and a definitive statement made that it will be Incumbent Hanohano facing Republican Marlene Hapai in the General.
Listening to radio pundits on 670 AM, they are looking at the Ka’u and Kona races, and making statements that are really too premature.
It’s difficult to say that Angel Pilago could win the Primary Election tonight. Sure, he has a 1,000-vote lead over Debbie Hecht in this printout, but we know that ballots are still making their way across the island.
It’s safe to say we will not see Incumbent Kelly Greenwell coming back to lead Council District 8.
As for the governor’s race, we know that Democrat Neil Abercrombie continues to lead over Mufi Hannemann.
Former District Court judge Sandra Schutte Song is on 670 AM talking with pundits Hugh Clark, Aaron Chung, Todd Belt and Ken Hupp. She speculates the string lead over Abercrombie was likely a result of Hannemann’s negative campaigning.
Tiffany Edwards Hunt
Tags: Aaron Chung, Angel Pilago, Anthony Marzi, Barbara Lively, Debbie Hecht, Emily Naeole-Beason, Faye Hanohano, Fred Blas, Hugh Clark, James Weatherford, Jim Rath, Kelly Greenwell, Ken Hupp, Maile David, Marie Burns, Mufi Hannemann, Neil Abercrombie, Sandra Schutte Song, Todd Belt
We are waiting for the second print out, which was expected to come out at 9:30 PM and will include complete numbers for Puna, Hilo, Hamakua, and Waimea.
Complete numbers for Ka’u and Kona races should not be expected until the third print out.
As for the second printout, we can expect fairly complete results for Puna, Hilo, Hamakua, and Waimea.
As we await the printout, I took the opportunity to chat with Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong.
For the District 5 Council race, Yagong predicts that Fred Blas will hold as the leader. But he says it is a coin toss who will join him in a runoff in the General Election.
Yagong seems to think that it could very well be James Weatherford who challenges Fred Blas in the General, and that incumbent Emily Naeole-Beason might lose outright tonight.
Yagong seems to think Brenda Ford has won the race. She had 958 votes while Enock Freire had 518 votes in the first return.
Yagong believes that Kelly Greenwell will lose in the Primary Election. He thinks Angel Pilago and Debbie Hecht in a runoff in the General.
As for Council District 6, Yagong seems to think the results tonight will result in a runoff in the General.
He notes, if you look at the votes for Maile David and Marie Burns, it’s not likely any of those votes will go to Guy in the General.
Yagong seems to think Brittney Smart, who is trailing behind Guy, has a good chance of defeating the incumbent in the General.
As for the governor’s race, Yagong figured, with Mufi having all the union endorsements, that more votes would go to Mufi. It’s unprecedented to see that Abercrombie is beating Mufi by so many votes, without the union endorsements.
He said it’s “extremely exciting” that Abercrombie is leading — Yagong openly endorses him. Should Abercrombie succeed as governor, Yagong notes he won’t owe anybody anything.
Tiffany Edwards Hunt
Tags: Angel Pilago, Anthony Marzi, Barbara Lively, Brenda Ford, Debbie Hecht, Dominic Yagong, Emily Naeole-Beason, Enock Freire, Faye Hanohano, Fred Blas, Hugh Clark, James Weatherford, Jim Rath, Kelly Greenwell, Ken Hupp, Maile David, Marie Burns, Mufi Hannemann, Neil Abercrombie
Letters â€” The Conservative Forum For Hawaiiâ€™s Report Card For The Hawaii County Council District 5 Candidates39 Comments
We do not endorse, we only analyze from a conservative perspective.
Due to this late decision, we were unable to gather enough material on all candidates to present a measured analysis.
As most board members are residentâ€™s of Hawaii County Council District 5, it was decided by the board to begin the task focusing only on that race.
Weâ€™ll do more next time.
All candidates were invited to a meeting with the Board and the Ad Hoc committee on Monday, Sept. 6, 2010. Incumbent Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason failed to respond to multiple phone messages, emails and visits to her county office. Candidate Fred Blas although unable to attend in person, did respond to a lengthy phone interview with president Walter Moe. Candidates James Weatherford and Barbara Malia Lively appeared for a 1-hour interview with The Forum. Read the rest of this entry »
11 Sep 2010 / news
The public is invited to a candidate forum on Sunday, Sept. 12, 10 a.m. to noon in Keaâ€™au. County Council candidates Barbara Lively, Emily Naeole-Beason, and James Weatherford plan to attend. Candidate Fred Blas has also been invited.
The forum will be hosted by the Puna UUs (Unitarian Universalists) at the Eagles hall. (From Keaâ€™au head for Pahoa. Just before the Humane Society on the left, turn right at the Eagles sign on the highway, and go up one block to the Eagles.)
For information call Cory Harden at (808) 968-8965.
(Editor’s Note: Â A much shorter version of these questions and answers from Hawaii County Council candidates appeared in the Sept. 1, 2010 edition of the Big Island Weekly.)
Council District 1
current council member and retail management
When elected, what is your first planned piece of legislation?
Introduce legislation that would un-authorize the Mayor to sell the nearly 2000 acres of Hamakua Lands situated in Paauilo.
Why should constituents vote for you?
I work very hard to understand the issues before the County Council, and I do my very best to bring forth solutions to address community challenges.Â I conduct business in complete transparency and provide opportunities for the community to participate in the decision making process.Â I understand that my job is to represent the voice of the people, and I do it through listening and communicating with the district that I am fortunate to represent. Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: Angel Pilago, Barbara Lively, Brenda Ford, Brittany Smart, Debbie Hecht, Dennis "Fresh" Onishi, Dominic Yagong, Donald Ikeda, Emily Naeole-Beason, Enock Freire, Fred Blas, Guy Enriques, J Yoshimoto, J. William Sanborn, James Weatherford, Jim Rath, Kelly Greenwell, Maile David, Marie Burns, Pete Hoffmann, Raynard Torres, Sammye-Ann K. Young, Steven Texeira
Edwin Robert Lively, husband to Barbara Lively, who is vying for the Council District 5 seat currently held by Emily Naeole-Beason, was sentenced last week to 30 days in jail for growing marijuana. Â There was coverage last Thursday in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, with a headline suggesting he and another person with a marijuana conviction received “light” sentences. The article by John Burnett did not note that Edwin is married to Barbara. Â Several people have pointed me to this HTH article, and I have invited Barbara to write a guest column on the matter. Â She has accepted my invitation, and you can expect to hear from her in the next couple days.
Edwin, in a plea agreement with prosecutors, will serve weekends in jail, after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors and pleading no contest to second-degree promotion of marijuana.
In a raid of the Livelys’ home in March 2009, police found 2.4 grams of dried marijuana, 10.1 grams of marijuana seeds, and a .22 Â caliber semi-automatic pistol with ammunition, along with 160 plants from seedlings to 8 inches tall. Â They also found 95 plants between 8 inches and two feet tall outside the Livelys’ home. Â Read the rest of this entry »
It’s a little after 5:30 pm at the Malama O Puna Council District 5 Council Candidate Forum.
The incumbent Emily Naeole-Beason is not present. She is presumably still at or making her way back from the Hawaii County Council meeting in Kona.
Fred Blas was here momentarily, but announced he had to leave for a fundraiser in Hilo.
James Weatherford and Barbara Lively are here, dutifully answering questions pre-prepared by Rene Siracusa of Malama O Puna. They will also be answering questions from the public as the night progresses.
A L O H A
Check out my blog @ www.bigislandchronicle.com. Inquire about my advertising rates.
16 Comments12 Aug 2010 / business, commentary, Education, environment, food, Island Events, politics, Your Comments Appreciated
Still trying to find the time to sit down and write a summation of the Big Island Chronicle Candidates Forum and Debates held Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010 at the Akebono Theater. Â In the meantime, I want to point out to you that Dave Corrigan, with Big Island Video News, has coverage of the event posted on his blog and I strongly urge you to check it out here and here. Mahalo nui loa, Dave! A round of applause for Big Island Video News! Baron Sekiya of Hawaii247.com also videoed some of the forum and debates and, when that coverage is up on that site, I’ll let you know.
You can also check out the live blogging from Bruce Albrecht at the event here andÂ here andÂ here andÂ here andÂ here andÂ here and here andÂ here andÂ here andÂ here and here and here and here andÂ here and here and here and here and here and here and here (more links when I have time). I can’t thank everyone enough for the participation and all the help that went into making this a very successful and informative event. Individual thank yous will be saved for my summation to come. Folks interested in local politics should know Malama O Puna is hosting a candidates’ debate at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility (Puna Community Center) at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010.
Below are my lengthy notes written up during the event:“ALOHA attendees!Welcome to the Big Island Chronicle Political Forum and Debates… Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: Anthony Marzi, Barbara Lively, Big Island Chronicle, Big Island Video News, District 2, District 4, District 5, Emily Naeole-Beason, Faye Hanohano, Fred Blas, Hawaii County Council, James Weatherford, Lee McIntosh, Marlene Hapai, Mike Hale, Puna, Russell Kokubun, Solomon Singer, State House, State Senate, Tim Waugh
Candidates invited Â in the political forum and debate include:
Michael Hale, State Senate District 2
Russell Kokubun, State Senate District 2
Lee McIntosh, State Senate District 2
Tim Waugh, State Senate District 2 Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: Akebono Theater, Barbara Lively, Big Island Chronicle, Emily Naeole-Beason, Faye Hanohano, Fred Blas, James Weatherford, Lee McIntosh, Marlene Hapai, Michael Hale, Russell Kokubun, Solomon Singer, Tim Waugh, Toni Marzi
*** Commentary *** Regarding the Council District 5 Campaign And How Unlikely It Will Be To Unseat Emily15 Comments
This guest cartoon, like most others penciled by Tom Lackey, makes me laugh out loud. Â I saw it this morning, just after having a phone conversation with a friend about local politics and my observation about the Council District 5 race thus far. Â As you know, I had some critical comments in the last week about a bill our Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason has introduced to ban smoking in vehicles with child passengers.
My criticism stems from the fact that I recognize so many other pertinent issues and needs for our district than the need to legislate morality. The fact that our councilwoman has introduced only that bill other than the tent bill recycled from the last term is indicative that she and her team do not know what it is they are doing.
I’m sure there are others who would agree, but I don’t think there are enough dissatisfied constituents to unseat Emily in the upcoming election. Â My prediction is that she will term out. Â Call me crazy, but the woman remains wildly popular in spite of her stupid legislation. Â She is absolutely extraordinary. Â It’s a wonder to observe her.
I saw her yesterday at the Bruddah Kuz Youth Jamm. Â There she was, decked out in black and red, with a black hat so fancy it had black netting covering part of her face. Read the rest of this entry »
***Commentary*** Politicians, Don’t Take What I Say Personally; No, I’m Not Running For Public Office88 Comments02 Jan 2010 / commentary
Tonight I was babyless and headed into Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant when Auntie Em started hollering at me from across the road about my blog.
Our interaction started out tense, with her suggesting I’m in violation of an apparent law about former County employees deriving a profit from tellimg about the experience.
If I am in violation, I will take responsibilty for whatever public commentary that referred to Auntie Emily in the last year. I will pay whatever fine.
The initially-tense conversation with Auntie Emily was long overdue in my mind. When I have seen Emily she has always given me a look that suuggests I’ve done her wrong by writing about her, but she has stopped short of saying anything about it. I’ve heard from others that she has been hurt, and I’ve blogged about it saying I have nothing personally against her.
Tonight she voiced what I suspected she thought, that I am what Hunter Bishop used to be: the ring leader of public dissent, the head honcho of the snarks.
Emily emphasized how much God was on her side, how much good she has done for the community, and how much she did for me by letting me be the one in the County of Hawaii who got to telecommute. I couldn’t argue with any of that.
Throughout the public scolding, I stood there looking at aunty in the eyes, or atleast trying to look her in the eyes when she had them closed. I have nothing to be ashamed of; I’ve done nothing wrong.
There is no doubt in my mind what a good woman Auntie Em is, I want people to take that away from this reading. The fact that this blog has facilitated or instigated conversations about Auntie Em and her performance as a council member shouldn’t be taken as a personal affront to her.
The fact is, Auntie Em, as vice chairperson of the Hawaii County Council, is a public official. She is receiving public funds to do the public’s business.
There are no ands, ifs or buts about the public’s right to be able to engage in public discourse — even public criticism — about public officials. That’s one of the beauties about America, free speech.
The fact that Auntie Em has her heart on her sleeve, well, it is endearing to me at the same time it is a pity. Politics are ruthless and relentless. They are difficult on the emotions.
The public in its discourse has a compelling desire to be critical and cast blame. The blame is going to go to the public official, and considerably so if great expectations are created in the campaigning. This a big bitch with politics. I’ve seen it over and over, how eventually the public turns on an elected official.
In any case, it is important to note that, while I may have expressed criticism for Auntie Em’s actions on the County Council, I don’t feel like I have attacked her character. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Well, I guess I did say, “From Ms. Aloha To Madame Ego,” but that was me writing about my disapproval of that stupid-ass reorganization that polarized the Hawaii County Council. I stand by what I wrote; the reorganization still makes me mad.
I have expressed that I think Emily would make a better leader of a church than the County of Hawaii. I truly believe that. The constant references to the Lord, for me and others, are like fingernails on a chalkboard. And it’s not like I don’t love the Lord. It’s just that I understand the true meaning of freedom of religion as much as I do free speech.
But just Constantine don’t like Emily’s constant references to religion doesn’t mean I have contempt for her.
To me, as a journalist, it is more intriguing than anything that Auntie Em genuinely believes God is sending messsages to her about what actions she should take or not. I call the voice my intuition, she calls it God.
I quested tonight to explain to Emily why I think blogging and it’s relative, journalism, are not out to get her personally and are important for the community.
Dissent is brutal on someone as sensitive as Emily. But it is necessary for the community’s health and well-being. As much as he picked on Auntie, Hunter Bishop’s blog played a very important role in facilitating public conversation. He went to work inside the county, along with two other journalists. Someone needed to take over as the facilitator of the public conversation in the blogosphere.
Emily was on my lanai the day I read Hunter Bishop’s blog was coming to an end, due to his jjob taken as public information officer for the mayor. I said then, “I’m getting my blog going!” I had Big Island Chronicle up and running the next day, on Dec. 1, 2008.
So, in Emily voicing her perception that blogging is bad and that I’m in some kind of club of her critics, there were a number of curious statements she made that I’m giving some afterthought.
She mentioned that she saw me head into a Puna business the other day just after a confrontation she and her husband had with the owner. The confrontation had been about her husband playing keyboard outside Subway. This was the same day I made a comment on my blog that I saw her husband playing keyboard outside Subway. She thought I mentioned it on my blog having spoken with the business owner. It was purely coincidental. I had no idea that she, her husband and the business owner had had a conflict. I didn’t talk with the business owner about Emily. I talked with him about this being a new year, a new decade, and I asked him to think about advertising on my blog.
Emily also said, “some legislative assistants are into control because they want to be the councilperson.” Initially, I thought she was referring to me, and I took offense. She asked why I refer on my blog to “when I worked for Councilwoman Emily.” I said it’s anecdotal, a matter of fact, an experience to which I make reference. I’m not saying it to brag, really.
I was about to be offended by the suggestion, then I noted the plural reference and I flashed on two other former legislative assistants: Dr. James Weatherford and Barbara Lively. Both used to work for former Councilman Bob Jacobson. They have announced they are going to challenge Emily for the Council District 5 seat in the next election.
Then I had an aha! moment: I’m being grouped as one of those former legislative assistants aspiring to be councilperson. Truth be told, people have asked me if I’m running for public office. The mayor is one of them. One of my good friends told me at a keili birthday party recently that a county official we both know has predicted I’ll run for County Council. I find it laughable when people make the suggestion.
Who knows, people might actually believe I’m that low class, that I would actually to unseat my former boss. News flash: Not only am I not interested in being Judas Iscariot, I’m not interested in the job itself at this juncture of my life.
Now that I have seen the Council position from both the perspective of a reporter and of a legislative assistant, I can honestly tell you that it ISA thankless job.
I’m sure there are some who relish in the attention, the schmoozing, the pomp and circumstance. But the ending is a real letdown, if you get all caught up in all that. It can be really hard being a has-been.
While you are in the position, you haveto be “on” all the time, at the bank, grocery store, at the pool, or the beach. The fact is, you have to be in the mood to talk to anyone and everyone, even the press, at all times, even when you are sick and tired. If you’re not, you are accused of being unfair or discourteous. Having been on the other end of nasty phone calls and letters, I can attest to how difficult it is not to be able to tell someone to take an effing hike.
I never want to put myself in a position like that. It would be tortuous not to be able to honestly speak my mind, for fear of being taken to the Ethics Board.
Yeah, sure, there is the idea of sacrificing for public good. I see that. But I see myself doing as much, if not more public good, by speaking publicly with honestly about my thoughts and perceptions. I see the facilitation of a public conversation about government and society as the ultimate public good. That, to me, is the virtue of journalism; it facilitates a public conversation about issues relevant to the community. To me, blogging is a 3-D newspaper. If only you could have a conversation with that person who writes the letter to the editor, draws the editorial cartoon, or writes the newspaper headline. With a blog you can have all those conversations and more. To me, facilitating community dialogue is far better than any ordinance or resolution I could draft.
Honestly, I think there are too many laws and too much government. I don’t want to be in a position trying to figure out what more to regulate.
And, so, back to my conversation with Emily, I hope I clarified “I’m not in the Rob Tucker club.” Sorry, Rob, yours was the first name that came to mind. Just because Rob Tucker is an occasional guest columnist doesn’t mean I ascribe to all his philosophies. Rob Tucker has been one of Emily’s more vocal critics.
The same is true for Brian Jordan. Just because Brian Jordan advertises on this blog doesn’t mean I endorse everything he says and does.
This is the nature of newspapering. The press is perceived as quite liberal because, unless there is some conservative driving the editorial opinion, a diverse amount of views are shared. That builds community, in my opinion.
Emily and I hugged when we departed, and it was a great, big, juicy hug that I haven’t had from her in a long time. She is truly a lovable woman. It seemed like she understood my point of view; I hope she gets it.
I pointed out to her that she now knows Hunter Bishop from the perspective of a public information officer and she probably likes him.
She said natives really don’t understand the whole journalism thing. Sure they do. Newspapers have existed in Hawaii since, well, King Kalakaua was a newspaper editor.
The fact is, all politicans need to see the usefulness of dissent and somehow try to work with their critics. It takes a certain kind of person able to do that, and that’s what makes an effective poltician. Unfortunately, those people are a rarity, because it is naturally very difficult to to take criticism in stride. Like I said, I know how difficult it is not to be able to tell someone to eff off.
It’s really interesting, quite pathetic, actually, how much people rely on government to solve problems.
In cases like police and fire, government can’t be avoided. But through time, we as a community have come to rely on government to build our house, run our business, drive our car, even go to the doctor, or to eat.
At the same time this has happened, the public has generally become increasingly critical of government.
Just to step away from Hawaii County and to offer a national perspective: look at Barack Obama. His term in office started out with the public so reverent, like he was some superhero. I don’t know. Seems to me like if the pendulum swung that far it will swing just as far the other way. We won’t see the full magnitude of it being that Barack is the native son of Hawaii, but I think we will see the public turn on him.
It is so inevitable, particularly when there are high expectations.
I’ll probably make people mad saying that. Locally, I know going to make some people mad when I predict that Emily will win a third term in office. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from running, I’m just expressing what I perceive as the truth.
The truth is, Emily is quintessential Puna. Those who want to argue with me about that don’t know where they have pitched their tent. As clownlike and outlandish as she may seem, she is truly extraordinary. She has the determination and drive to personally greet a crowd of 500 people. I’ve seen her do it. It’s incredible to watch.
It will be difficult for anyone to compete with that. Those who want to try and outwave her won’t be able to, I’m sure of it. Yes, it is true that there are going to be candidates who can out-debate her. But are they going to be able to camp out in front of Pahoa Cash & Carry and chase the derelicts away by threatening lickens? Not a chance. Yes, of course, the job description isn’t to command that kind of authority, but you’ve got to realize that this is Puna, after all.
It ain’t Pleasantown, that’s for sure.
Personally, I don’t mind Auntie selling knick-knacks in front of Cash & Carry, since I know she is taking up a space otherwise taken up by loiterers. But I would prefer that Auntie spend Council time bending the ear of Police Chief Harry Kubojiri about the need for more cops in Puna than herself acting as enforcer.
I told her that tonight, that the priority should be on increasing the police protection in Puna. Hopefully, she can help persuade the police department to reassign positions so that more are stationed in Puna.
Yes, I know people are hungry and they should be fed, but leave the churches to feed them. That is not the role of the council member, or at least it shouldn’t be.
All that said, I hope I’ve made my point: any criticism I have had or will have for Emily, or any other public official for that matter, should not be taken personally. Criticism and dissent are occupationsl hazards of a politician. I’m not running for County Council. I’d rather get a hole in my head.