What a show
I want to express my deepest mahalo nui loa to Hawaii County, the Hawaii Fire Department, and all those responsible for bringing the fireworks to Kona for the Independence Day celebration.
I was one of the thousands of people who were disappointed when the fireworks did not happen on July Fourth, but was thrilled to find out that the show would go on July 5. And the show was amazing! As I oohed and ahhed over the display of colors, so did all the people around me who spoke many languages and were of a variety of ethnic backgrounds — all coming to celebrate together our blessed country. And after a year and half of sheltering at home due to COVID-19, what an awesome way for all of us to be together again.
A stacked deck
Things aren’t always what they seem. Despite Mayor Mitch Roth’s habit of trying to spin silk purses out of sow’s ears, his picks for influential boards, commissions and heads of departments remain development and tourism-centric. This is especially true of his recent stacking of the Leeward Planning Commission where he characteristically ignored community recommendations that would have given that body meaningful voice to improve seriously lacking cultural and environmental perspective.
But, in the end, the buck stops at the legislative branch where the mayor’s nominations require County Council approval — part of the job description that Councilwoman Heather Kimball seems to have difficulty grasping. Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder deserves kudos for voting with West Hawaii councilpersons Holeka Inaba, Rebecca Villegas and Maile David against the mayor’s latest myopic and unpopular pick. Meanwhile, Councilman Tim Richards remains reliably in the Hilo power base lane, while swing-vote Kimball keeps everyone guessing until, with few exceptions, she wows only herself with questions any prepared nominee could answer — right before she votes (as she did on July 8) to approve developer-derived Leeward Planning Commission nominees along with the Old Guard majority (Aaron Chung, Sue Lee Loy, Ashley Kierkiewicz, and Richards) — continuing to ignore the wishes and goals of West Hawaii residents who have entreated, lobbied and prayed for more balance and representation in their local government.
Fortunately, in small communities like ours, political pressure can undo what big money brings to politics. We can stay informed, make our voices heard (including attending important local hearings), fight for campaign finance and voter protection laws — and vote. With a lifelong commitment, we citizens hold the power to preventing our democracy from sliding further into the grip of unfathomably bucks-up corporate puppet masters and potential king makers.
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