POSTED: 17 FEBRUARY 2007- 5:00pm HST

The Nuu Math for Kauai: 5 x 2 ~ 10

Hans Bethe (1906-2005), winner of 1967 Nobel prize in physics at the blackboard.

by Jonathan Jay on 14 February 2007

Glenn is right on several fronts, and I believe wrong on the substance. Yes - OK the secret is out - there is nothing new about the new math. The truth is the new math is exactly the same as the old math, "something close to 10k" votes. The only thing new, is the broader knowledge of this truth. Before, the only ones who new this truth was the entrenched system. Why should they resist change? Because the present system is already working for them they are invested and profiting from the present state of affairs.

More of what Glen got right - the establishment IS a tough nut to crack. NOT impossible, but yes tough - like a kukui. In order to be successful, you gotta do it right. The multiple ways to achieve leverage were not all used by glenn at the same time, the voting block he appealed to was not the one of which i speak, the folks running came with political baggage, and were not appealing and not obviously running as a block unitl the very last weeks of the campaign, and the driving issue that unified them not was a positive progressive one. You ever hear the old saying "if at first you don't succeed, give up because it's prolly impossible." The truth is, you don't always succeed the first time - Billy DeCosta may likely prevail on a second run, his was an excellent solo first effort. Also, last time I checked, Gary Hooser was a Haole. Not only did he serve several terms on the county council, he is now Majority Leader of the State Senate.

Jay says "Get more people at council meetings" I am not sure what i might have writtten that could cause Glen to feel this way. Maybe he means Fufaro? I think the council meetings are an utter waste of time. People should go to work, or to the beach - there is NO decision making happening there. Those public meetings are merely an exersize in social management. I have been to several, I will go to no others. The meeting exist as a steam-release mechanism, to give folks the impression they have had some kind of imput. Like public group therapy. Best avoided. The only meetings worth going to are the ones the public is excluded from. Thats where the real shit gets hashed out. Funny that. I think what Jay Fufaro (if i am reading that right) may be getting at with more people at meetings is that perhaps Glenn Micken represents himself and not a formidable constituancy or voting block capable of exerting discipline on council members that fail to toe the line.

However, my overall response to Glenn is one of great appreciation. His years of experience on Kaua'i is absolutely instructive - for both the successes, and the stymies, where you often learn more than success. He is one of the Allies and Mentors, and has much wisdom to share. Here are some of the things I heard inside Glenn's writing when I held it up to the mirror:

#1 Don't go it along - team up and play to type. There is an obvious bias away from Haoles in the electorate. This is twofold in origin - The big block of North Shore are expat Mainlanders who came here to 'escape', they are not here to engage. In short, they don't vote, and the locals do for locals. Go figure. What can be learned here? At least two things: no more than one of two of "The Five" should be Haoles, and Haoles on the' Malama Block', or whatever you wanna call it should be life-long, grew up and went to school here kine Haole. Like Gary. Learn from experience.

#2 Experts should be "On Tap' not 'On Top. Ray Chuan is a great guy, and a real trooper of a soul, but has he readily admits, he is a nit-picker, not a charismatic leader. Ray is wrong is wrong (to run as a council candidate) for several reasons - He is too smart. A lotta times you don't know what he is talking about - people don't trust people smarter than them. They might trick you, and you nevah know. Also, Ray loves the details - problem is the details are complex and confusing - nobody wants to see sausage made, just fry it up. Finally, lovable as Ray is, his focus is a negative one - what's wrong with this, wrong with that, wrong with the process, etc. Fair enough, and I am glad there is a watchdog. This is an important role. However, the focus is on what's wrong. Positive sells.

#3 Do it for love and not for money, and Map out how you want to run the table, don't just try to sink one ball. What i propose is unlike the Ohana Bill. I am proposing a comprehensive broadly positive vision, to bring already active groups of people energetically engaged in trying to save some threatened chunk of the island or their culture, and get who is already pushing in the same direction to push together. Unified campaign. For all the effort that did go into the Ohana Bill and the 13,000 votes garnered, the effort to run a block of candidates would have had more success had they run in the SAME ELECTION CYCLE, and NOT four years later. Missed that wave, brah.

#4 impact happens. Like a centipede that has been pricked in the belly, the county absolutely IS reacting to the 2004 Ohana Effort. That is not nothing. That is something. If the Ohana Effort had been combined with candidates as above, it would have had even more effect. These are just a few steps in the direction i am speaking of.


I think Glen has brought many pieces together, just not at the same time. These experiences are invaluable, as they point to the way forward - a broad positive effort with support from numerous already active grassroots networks, along with coordinated campaigns running as a block from the get go, with a massive and sustained voter registration effort, that starts plenny before the election, and carefully develops the 'brand' value and recognition of the block's efforts. And don't go to any council meetings:)



POSTED: 15 FEBRUARY 2007 - 59:30pm HST

Back to the classroom

by Glenn Mickens on 11 February 2007

Interesting reading but under careful examination what Jonathan Jay has proposed has already been tried and we still have the same ol same ol system.

Point in example: as you know we did run a block of people for council in the last election and how did we make out----nada!!! When we worked our rears off trying to get the best consumer advocate on this Island, Ray Chuan elected to council we still came up empty. Ray was 700 votes out of 7th place but, as in sports or anything else close just won't get it.

Ken, I don't know the answer to getting the silent majority out there to vote for what will do them the most good but the "establishment" is and will always be the tough nut to crack---it is that simple. No matter how corrupt the system is or how hard the good guys try to change it, those voters out there who can make a difference WILL NEVER GO FOR A HAOLE IF HE IS IN THE RACE!! They will stay with the status quo because, as the saying goes, blood is thicker than truth
or any change for the better. Sorry way to look at it but it is the truth.

Even Billy Carvalho (a local boy) couldn't get his foot in the door alone KC or Ming or Monroe!! Yea, Ron got in there but only because of name recognition and having been part of the system for so many years. Tim got in there because he is in the Mayors back pocket and Bryan pushed him hard along with his own campaign.

All the committees and commissions and task forces in the world won't dent the impenetrable system that is now in place---and has been in place forever. The right people have to be on that council and a city manager has to be at the top but try and get those people in that position---how??

As another example I have been trying for 15 years to get our roads paved by code which will save the people of this island millions of dollars but after hours and hours of testimony and writing I am still at square one. The money is going into the pockets of the "right" people and no one wants to tamper with the system.

Jonathan says to get more people at the council meetings---once it was Ray. Richard, Andy and me and now it is just me. Oh yea, Barbara Elmore will come once in awhile but good ol Kaipo just says thank you, the item is received (or sometimes deferred ) and the beat goes on.

Another example is the Ohana Kauai Amendment. The ten thousand votes that
Jonathan said we need to get something done is obviously false. We got 13,000 people to pass our amendment but you know what happened---- county sues the county!!!! Walter, Chick, Monroe, Dr Smith and I will be going to Oahu on Thursday as the State Supreme court will hear the oral arguments of this case and we want to hear it. Even if Ohana prevails the county can take it to the Fed Supreme court if they wish to as they have this bottomless pit called the tax payers money to spend any way they want to.

Guess that I am still stupid enough to beat my head against a stone wall and will undoubtedly keep trying to beat the system. But, please, don't go after a group of people to get together and try to change things---it will never happen. Heck, you saw it at the Charter Review commission----99% of the people wanted the manager type on the ballot but we couldn't even get it there for a vote!!!! UNLESS WE GET NEW FACES ON THE COUNCIL AND IN THAT MAYORS OFFICE NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE----AND I JUST DON'T KNOW HOW WE ACCOMPLISH THAT!!



POSTED: 9 FEBRUARY 2007 - 9:30am HST

The New Math for Kauai: 5 x 2 = 10

by Jonathan Jay on 10 February 2007 rev 2.0

Out of Advocacy & Into Action
Lobbying and education is one way to accomplish a political agenda.  Although there has been significant and important successes, on Kaua'i this has been too little, too slow.  When our representatives are unable or unwilling to take needed actions. The next step is to displace them.   If the progressive  Grassroots, Hawai'ian, and Sustainability  groups  unite in coalition of basic principles,  our broadly overlapping agendas could finally begin to move forward in a very positive direction - directly into office. 

As the record amply shows on, the present political apparatus persists in pushing unsustainable attitudes and actions on Kaua'i.   Some of the political leaders, just don't seem to 'get it.'  Some represent interests that benefit from our enduring unbalanced state of affairs.  Some may be too timid to respond forcefully with the rapidly needed, or perhaps they just lack imagination.  And then there are the ones who do 'get it' but are basically alone, and do not have the critical mass to push a sustainable progressive agenda through the county governmental apparatus.  This must change, or it will be too late.

In the 2006 election cycle on Kaua'i, of all the ballot items - including all the  candidates for al the races federal, state, county and OHA, and all the ballot measures, state constitutional questions, and county charter amendments , only two contests had more than 20,000 voters engaged.    Every person or position that received more than 10,000 votes triumphed - with many contests passing or being elected with far less support.  What does this mean?  "10 Thousand" is plenny big enough to be the 'magic number' to get something done on Kaua'i.

The New Math:  10 Thousand votes.  
On tiny Kaua'i, there are only 65,000 folks.  As of 2006, less than 40,000 are registered, and less than 55% of them (~21,500)  actually voted.  What do all these numbers mean?  Simply put, the democratic process on Kaua'i is human-scale.  By obtaining as few as 10,000 votes you can very likely find success in your effort.   With the same 10,000 votes for each of the 4 council candidates and 1 mayoral candidate, this island is locked  down. In the last election cycle, only two county candidates received more than 10,000 votes. With such a small population, grassroots democracy is actually feasible at the county level.

Who might be suitable and willing to step forward and carry the responsibility of
this task?   Perhaps you personally are not well suited to sit through myriad staggeringly dull council meetings, BUT, likely there are some who are suited to this, and you probably know them. There will be much learning.  There will be much wrangling on planks and platform, position and message crafting.  Because we are human, there will be a heaping dose of egos to deal with.  We gotta deal, and then we gotta move on.  After all this, there must be hard-headed determinations on how to best:

2) peel off a significant percentage of the existing voting blocks to pull together 10k votes. 

The New Math:  5 (4+1) Candidates = 1 Block
There are 7 positions on the county council.  The math is simple - 4 are needed for a majority.  With 4 folks on the council who not only 'get it' but are also 'with it'  and 1 Mayor who is also on board (4+1=5), the path is suddenly wide open for a tremendous backlog of untouched Progressive, Hawaiian, and Sustainability issues to get done in a hurry.  And frankly the sooner, the better, because the window of opportunity on Kaua'i is closing.  Honestly, the sooner fundamental change can begin, the less painful the transition will be.  These 5 vetted standard bearers should run not as individual personalities, but as a mutually supporting block, pushing broad themes that offer a comprehensive and compelling alternative to the dead-end path we are on. Don't vote the person - Vote for a Pono Kaua'i.

Certainly a 'Big Tent' is part of the answer, as is the explicit running a block of candidates pushing broad themes, backed by a coalition of grassroots Kaua'i Orgs.  The block is critical.  To squeeze one or two charismatic 'progressives'  into the existing old-boy network might feel good, but will accomplish little.  This will present an opportunity for posturing and squawking, but will not provide the traction needed to bring the important issues up and move them forward.  Q: How much more effective might JoAnne be if she had enough green allies on the council to consistently achieve majorities and pass legislation?  A: Tons, Metric Tons.
click to download

The New Math:  2 Years - 2007, 2008
Like many things worthwhile, assembling this coalition will take time. That is why we should start now. There are many good groups doing good work on the island.  However, these groups are fairly splintered, and typically forced to react negatively to counter this or that emergency instead of working proactively on a visionary long term plan.  If our groups were united, we all would be much stronger.  If progressive representatives were in office enacting policy instead of outside trying to lobby against idiocy, we could be directing our energy that much more effectively.

There are elections every two years on Kaua'i.  Instead of waiting until only 6-8 months before the next cycle to get a team and a plan in place, why not start at the beginning?  Spend the full 2 years preparing, coalition organizing, issues and broad themes, knocking on doors in communities all around the island, actually listening to the concerns of the island residents, working these perspectives into 5 or 6 broad thematic campaign components which are then hammered away relentlessly on in the 8-6 months coming up to the 2008 elections... As one example, serious candidates for (federal) office are now beginning  their campaigns for fall '08 elections. In all likelihood,  no one is even thinking of doing that yet on Kaua'i for local elections.  Start early, work steady, gather momentum over time. Plant, water weed and tend. Harvest, and bring to market. wash, rinse repeat.

Re-establish Kauai's natural districts
Also important is the county charter - the organizational blueprint for basic county governance.  In the past, this has been open only every ten years for review, but as of the most recent election, the charter review committee will stay open over the course of the next ten years.  Strong ballot items that go to the heart of a situation have a way of galvanizing and activating the base - this leads invariably to greater voter turnout. If chosen wisely, this can also become a unifying goal and an underlying theme to a movement. Restoration island-wide of the Ahupua'a system of land management and district organization would be an excellent rallying point that would bring together exactly the kind of coalition we are seeking.

The march toward 10,000 votes, can not be done in one fell swoop, it must be broken down into bite-sized pieces. Choosing the Ahupua'a (watershed) and Moku (district) as a first and obtainable goal of gathering a couple thousand signatures would provide a key organization building opportunity. The success of gathering the signatures will be a tangible accomplishment, and provide a data base.  One winnable choice for a ballot item would be to restructure representation on the County Council based on the Ahupua'a and Moku  districts.  This item nearly passed in the last election in spite of the fact that it was weak worded, and no one was actually pushing for it.  A strong and clear Ahupua'a Districting proposal with a determined and wide-ranging grassroots backing would almost certainly pass, and Kaua'i will be the better for it.

Allies and Mentors Critical
Finally, Allies and Mentors will play critical roles in the success of this effort. For our own sake, and Kaua'i's, we must not fail.  Just to be clear, the goal of all this effort is NOT to slow or blunt enduring damage to Kaua'i, NOR would the point be merely to 'save' Kaua'i, and keep further damage from happening.  We can do far more - the goal should be RESTORATION.  How far down this road of repair will we get?  No where if all we are trying to do is stay put.

We can keep doing nothing more than what we are already doing - if we think doing more of the same might produce different results... OR we can try a different approach.  If Hawaiians and Progressives can go into coalition together with a serious plan, we can all move forward to make some positive change on our island home.  We can finally obtain traction, and stop spinning the wheels. Do we want to be more effective and successful in our efforts to protect, preserve and restore the vitality of this 'aina and allow a diverse and sustainable future to flourish on Kaua'i?  Or do we just want to give that lip service. I think you know the answer - Let's make this happen.