Hugh-isms — Regarding Silly Season

By Hugh Clark

Silly Season has arrived.

Those who like politics less than some of us others call it the silly season. No reason to doubt that 2010 can escape that reference based on recent entries on this blog.

A good case in point is Solomon Singer, a name with a nice ring and without question a fresh face on this island’s political scene.

To make sure there is no misunderstanding, I like horses. My favorite boyhood book was “Black Beauty,” a loving take on a rescued horse I read at age 6 or 7 and still have in my lumbering collection.

“The Horse Whisperer” is among my memorable movies. So I have no anti-equine feelings I am aware of, especially since the fabled Seabiscuit of thoroughbred racing fame lays in rest near by boyhood home.

But I fear Master Solomon is not ready for political prime time as a 18-year-old wanna be candidate in adult politics, regardless of his love of horses and self-promotion as a part-time Tarzan. Read more

Letters — Regarding The County Council’s Powers And Functions

Aloha Tiffany,

Regarding the County Council’s powers and functions, my position is that we need to get back to basics.

To affect real benefit to constituents it is essential for any and every Council member to understand the reality of separate, if complementary, powers and functions of different jurisdictions – County, State, and Federal.

Were time, money, and public attention infinite, the difference in jurisdictional powers and functions might not be something of concern. However, time, money, and public attention are finite.

When time, money, and public attention are directed toward issues over which the Council has no decision making powers or statutory function provided in the County Charter and/or State Constitution, it is inevitably done at the expense of progress on other issues over which the Council does have (sometimes primary) decision making responsibility. There may be occasions when this expense is worth the benefit gained; there are definitely other times it is not. Read more

Letters — Regarding The Heavy Hitters At The HPPOA Meeting

Mayor Billy Kenoi image courtesy of Peter Frost.

Dear editor:

Heavy, the hitters that were in attendance today, at the HPP Hui. The Mayor, Faye, Emily, James and even Hunter Bishop. This was the first time I’ve ever heard the Mayor talk. He’s good. He can work a crowd. I admit I’ve talked long dung about the Mayor’s Office and the “mayor” but, personally, the local guy himself, he’s a force. NOT a Harry Kim. See for yourself (video follows).

Not nearly the force of Emily though, who was proclaiming, “I am da power in Puna, my cousin is da mayor, we got dis.” Wow, that could be good or bad, I guess that would depend if they liked you or not. But the promise was made to have a park built in one of the 20 acre tracts in HPP designated for such. We’ll see. And school bus stops! Even connector buses to the highway. Lots of promises.

The general meeting began after the Mayor, Em and Faye all made their cameo and split. Read more

Guest Column — James Weatherford’s Stance On Nine Issues

James Weatherford

By James Weatherford

In this political campaign, I am committed to avoiding attacks against other candidates. More than a few of my increasing number of supporters, while being sympathetic to my desire to avoid ‘stink talk’, have nevertheless insisted that I do need to differentiate myself. A few have put it elegantly straightforward: “What would be different?” Questions for another candidate recently posted on Big Island Chronicle are also pretty much along this line.

Accordingly, this commentary is not about attacking anyone. It is simply a discussion of how, as an elected Council member, I will (and will not) decide how to vote on an issue, with specific examples given. The reference point, aptly, is the performance of the District 5 incumbent on the Council.

Reasons for votes cited by the incumbent that I find particularly inappropriate for any Council member are: (1) supporting the Mayor because he is a cousin; (2) opposing legislation by another Council member because that member had previously done the same with the incumbent’s legislation; and (3) using the pretext of divine intervention.

A vote is just one word (‘yes’ or ‘no’). That is necessary, but not sufficient. Read more

***Commentary*** Notes From The Transit Administrator’s Visit With The Puna CDP Action Committee Today

County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency Administrator Tom Brown at the Puna Community Development Plan (CDP) Action Committee meeting Thursday. Photos By Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

I’m doing some occasional mentoring with Kea’au High School students enrolled in a Kea’au Youth Business Center (KYBC) Youth News Service program.  The students are spending about six weeks in and out of the KYBC campus in the Kea’au Shopping Center. It’s a few blocks away from the Kea’au Community Center, where the Puna Community Development Plan (CDP) Action Committee met today.

With Transit Administrator Tom Brown scheduled to speak to the CDP Action Committee, I thought it was an opportune time to give some of the students a civil lesson and illustrate it with something they can relate to: our island’s public transportation.

Kea'au High School students with Hawaii County Council District 5 Candidate James Weatherford.

Three high-school girls and my own girl, a toddler, accompanied me to the meeting.  I opted to testify to show the girls that, first and foremost, journalists are residents.   Read more

Letters — Weatherford’s Words

James Weatherford photo by Peter Frost

Dear editor:

I attended 5th District Counsel Candidate, James Weatherford’s get-together at the HPP hui yesterday and I heard the words I ‘ve been waiting to hear come out of someone’s mouth, other than my own, for a very long time.

Dr. James Weatherford said we need to seek out the D.O.J. I’ve been saying for awhile with respects to the goings on in this county bureaucracy. Before we can address the ‘drug war’, property crime s(some commited by police), the infrastructure and the long list of other needs, we need to clean up the corrupt county seat. Read more

Letters — Council District 5 Candidate Certified For Comprehensive Public Funding

(Editor’s Note: The following letter from a Council District 5 candidate is being published only for the fact that it offers insight into comprehensive public funding. Generally, only introductory letters from candidates will be published.  Beyond that, candidates for public office are encouraged to pay for advertising during the 2010 campaign season. An ad on this blog can be linked to one’s personal or campaign website.  For information on how to set up a website or design a website for this blog, email

Thanks to you folks (and several more I do not — yet — have email addresses for) I was notified today by the Hawaii State Campaign Spending Commission that I have been certified for Comprehensive Public Funding. This was the culmination of the application process that required me to collect, from 200 registered voters, a signature and $5 contribution payable to the Hawaii Campaign Election Fund.

The application, along with the $5-checks and $5-money orders, and my nomination papers were filed with the County Elections Office on March 17.

The James Weatherford for County Council campaign will be receiving (probably early next week) $9,826 to conduct operations for the Primary Election, September 18. Read more

*** Commentary *** Regarding the Council District 5 Campaign And How Unlikely It Will Be To Unseat Emily

Tom Lackey cartoon

This guest cartoon, like most others penciled by Tom Lackey, makes me laugh out loud.  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.  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.  My prediction is that she will term out.  Call me crazy, but the woman remains wildly popular in spite of her stupid legislation.  She is absolutely extraordinary.  It’s a wonder to observe her.

I saw her yesterday at the Bruddah Kuz Youth Jamm.  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 more

***Commentary*** Politicians, Don’t Take What I Say Personally; No, I’m Not Running For Public Office

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.

Letters — Introduction From A Council District 5 Candidate

(Editor’s Note: Following is a campaign-related letter from James Weatherford, Ph.D., who intends to run for the Hawaii County Council District 5 seat currently occupied by Emily Naeole-Beason.  Big Island Chronicle is publishing the following letter as an introduction to Weatherford as a political candidate in the campaign season to come.  Those  intending to seek public office in Hawaii County are encouraged to write introductory letters to be published here.  Introductions aside, those who wish to publicize their campaign on this blog should buy an ad.  Email for ad rates.)

James Weatherford

James Weatherford


My name is James Weatherford and I will be a candidate for Hawaii County Council District 5 in 2010. With my wife, Elizabeth, I reside in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

The Council can make a positive difference in what matters to us all. As a Councilor, I will be a creative and productive force in helping to bring that difference to materialize.

My approach on the Council will be to apply the work ethic I learned as a child doing farm chores and applied in more than 20 years of public service in agriculture and rural development, mass transit, economic analysis, and education.

My priority on the Council will be good government for Hawaii County and sustainable livelihood in Puna. I will get to work on this on Day One, because I have a clear awareness of persisting and emerging issues, a sound grasp of the nature of alternatives available to successfully contend with the issues, and a well-grounded understanding of the role of the Council in implementing appropriate measures. Read more

Letters — Questions Regarding Council Members Sunshine Law Violation OIP Opinion

(Editor’s Note: Following is a letter Puna resident James Weatherford drafted in response to the Office of Information Practices opinion regarding the Sunshine Law violation by Hawaii County Council Members.)

“Thank you for responding to my request for investigation into whether members of the Hawaii County Council had violated the Sunshine Law.

I also thank you for your Memorandum Opinion dated December 18, 2009. At this time, I request clarification regarding the OIP findings and opinion as stated in that Memorandum.

In particular, the OIP findings are “…that no individual Council member directly spoke with more than three other Council members about the issue” and “that seven members of the Council were involved through serial communications.” Read more

Letters — On False Names And Messages

Boukyo_Nostalgia by Hiroko Sakai

Boukyo_Nostalgia by Hiroko Sakai. For more information, or to see more of his work, click here.

Aloha Tiffany,

During the first year of Big Island Chronicle, you have frequently and generously shared your ideas and dreams about how to do this really fine thing you are doing here. On at least one (or two?) occasions you have alluded in some way to use of names in posting (please forgive me for not searching and searching to find it).

It is 100% your prerogative. Pau.

We all share this really fine thing you are doing here, and it is also good to share our motivations in why we do so.

My own motivation is to have a space in which I can have good information about what’s happening and to have genuine conversation, and let the conversation be spirited and challenging if the passions are there. For me, above all, let it be honest.

The question came to me today: If the word stating the messenger is false, might also the word stating the message be false? Read more

Letters — On Campaigning For County Council And The Comprehensive Public Funding Pilot Program


An update on campaign activities:

On Nov. 5 Elizabeth and I attended classes in Hilo by the Campaign Spending Commission regarding campaign finance. That allowed me to learn about and consider options in how to fund the campaign.

It is my desire and intention to participate in a comprehensive public funding pilot program being conducted in the Hawaii County Council elections.

Requirements for me to participate as a public-funded candidate include:

·        Collecting $5 qualifying contributions from two hundred registered voters in the district. Read more

Hugh-isms — A Pledge Not To Engage With Knotheads

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

By Hugh Clark

My late dad (1917-62) had a favorite expression of people he disliked. He called them “knotheads” and seldom used a modifier. He used to also advise me as the oldest in the clan, not to waste my time on knotheads. I have generally followed that common sense rule in a lifetime of dealing with crazies, drunks, folks who have committed the most onerous of crimes, politicians and women that I dealt with unsuccessfully.

I promised myself last week I would ignore all anonymous (or pseudonym) entries on Tiff’s blog. I fell off that wagon Friday and I have no one to blame but me, myself and I. By making a public pledge. perhaps I can keep it together this time.

In my news work (1956-2002), I did accept  (rarely) information that was anonymous and used it to write stories maybe a dozen times over that span. I always had second thoughts and, early in my Advertiser career, it backfired into a $1 million libel suit. My source was willing to go public — to release me from my pledge — but his boss said hell no. So it cost my company a lot of money during an earlier day recession to have the suit dismissed. Read more

Guest Cartoon — ‘Dr. Weatherford Ph.D. Is Taking A Stand’


Tom Lackey cartoon

Tom Lackey cartoon. To see more of the Puna cartoonist's work, visit

Oh, Tom Lackey, you amuse me so.  Inspired by what appears to be a combination of a read-through of Dr. James Weatherford’s Big Island Chronicle guest column, “Democracy Is Under Assault,” and hearing firsthand his testimony to council members on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009, cartoonist Tom Lackey has sketched his very own impression of Dr. Weatherford above. Tom Lackey’s message to Dr. Weatheford, who has announced his intention to run for the Council District 5 seat next year: “Give them Hell Doc. (E)very word that you said struck a good note with many. Stop the petty bullshit and start thinking about the people that put you there.”

Guest Column — Democracy Is Under Assault

By James Weatherford, PhD

What can I do to “support our troops”?

The call to “support our troops” has sold a lot of bumper stickers over the past seven-plus years, although I’ve not bought any. Neither, until April of this year, have I been able to really connect with what I personally and individually can do to “support our troops.”

On occasion, at a coffee shop or an airport or such like, I’ve talked with some of this new generation of veterans and, as one war veteran to another, privately shared my respect for their service.

Certainly, supporting the illegitimate government and policy that sent them into war was not what I could do. War protesting has never appealed to me as something I personally and individually would feel like was making any difference. Read more