elections

"operating within the confines of a capitol closed to the public amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic"

It has been almost two weeks since the legislature concluded “sine die.” In that time there have been a handful of news stories that attempt to sum up this year’s session. For my part, as the conclusion of the 2021 legislative session recedes in the rear view, I’ve contemplated my own assessment of the session.

While there are certainly bright spots worth highlighting, from my perspective the legislature was as it always is. A colossal disappointment.

Legislators, operating within the confines of a capitol closed to the public amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, were largely sheltered from a public that usually would be bustling around the building. Though there were arguably exceptions, legislators did “the people’s work” while ignoring them.

I’ll get to that. First, the highlights.

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xkcd voting

Earlier this week, ballots began to arrive across the island of Oʻahu as the 2020 election season finally reaches the closing stretch. Though nearly all the attention this year has been on the handful of high-profile races for Honolulu Mayor and Prosecutor, I’ve also been focused on a number of state legislative races.

But when my ballot arrived, I realized there were four Charter Amendment questions included that I’d given no thought to. So now I am doing the work of learning about them and, hopefully, providing some useful information to help folks make their decision on how to vote for these:

  1. Shall the Revised City Charter be amended to establish for the Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu a term limit of two consecutive full four-year terms, the same term limit as is applicable to the Mayor and Councilmembers of the City and County of Honolulu?
  2. Shall the Revised City Charter be amended to establish a Youth Commission under the Managing Director?
  3. Shall the Revised City Charter be amended to allow the Honolulu Ethics Commission to control its own budget after it has been enacted?
  4. Shall the Revised Charter be amended to require the ethics commission staff to be appointed based on merit principles, but exempt from the civil service position classification plan, and to have the salaries of all ethics commission staff set by the ethics commission, subject to specified limitations?
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This week Honolulu saw the results of the first two scientific polls for local elections this year. The first, a poll on the Honolulu Mayor’s race, was published earlier last week. The other, on Honolulu’s race for Prosecutor, was released this past Friday morning.

In both cases, there is a fairly high number or respondents who hadn’t decided, or indicated they don’t like any of the candidates.

There’s no denying we’ve all be more than a little preoccupied with the impact of COVID-19 on our families and our communities. Rightly so. So while all the candidates will do their best to spin the results, we should keep in mind the current circumstances when viewing the results.

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A Sad, if Not Unexpected, Day

I woke up this morning to sad, if not unexpected, news. My candidate for the Democratic nomination for President, Bernie Sanders, has suspended his campaign.

In response to a friend’s disappoint this morning, I wrote this:

I’m equal parts angry and sad.

I didn’t see a path forward for Bernie, so I’m sad not angry he’s dropped out. But I AM angry at the persistence of a social-political structure that will claim victory and do little more than inch forward.

It seems the liberal-democratic establishment learned little from 2016 and I do fear Trump will wipe the floor with Biden.

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Self-Isolate

It’s been roughly two week since I’ve become even more of a home-body than normal.

While I remain confident that not only do I not have the Coronavirus, I have not interacted with anyone who does. Still, out of a combination of shared self-sacrifice and alternative-lacking, I have spent nearly 24-hours a day in my home for almost every day of the past two weeks.

As an introvert, you might think this time has been like a dream come true for me. Lovely long days spent alone with my thoughts, my work, and small apartment. It is not.

A friend shared on Facebook this article (https://introvertdear.com/news/introvert-but-quarantine-sucks/). Being single and childless, I can’t completely relate, but it does nonetheless hold some “truths” for me.

Being an Introvert Doesn’t Mean Solitude is Preferred

Last year, after a couple of different experiences, I wrote about what it really means to be an introvert. I used to think being an introvert meant we prefer solitude to other people, but that’s not true. Rather, it means that social interactions can be taxing both physically and emotionally. Solitude is necessary for our balance and for “recharging”. That’s definitely true in my case.

This experience has reconfirmed that fact for me. Not being able to go out (except for necessities), not being able to interact with friends and colleagues in the real world. Not being able to visit the Capitol, etc. All these are taking their tole on me.

In fact, I’ve understood for years that being cooped up in my house is a recipe for downward spirals. Under other circumstances, even without any of those things, spending an afternoon in a coffee shop was a welcome respite from the concrete cave that is my apartment.

Years of therapy have taught me this lesson well. So much so, that I’m able to often correct my trajectory so as not to completely lose it. In this way, I feel lucky. I imagine there are lots of people who will experience depression during this period of isolation, not recognize it for what it is, and won’t know how to deal with it.

Introvert or No, This is Hard

In addition to being an introvert, I’m also prone to depressive episodes that can last any where from a few hours to weeks at a time.

More than anything else, what keeps me on an even keel (under normal circumstances) is my work. So long as I feel productive, those depressive episodes are shorter and less frequent.

2020 was supposed to be an action-packed year. A legislative session pushing for advances on progressive issues, a flurry of local candidate campaigns, a presidential campaign, and county, state, and national Democratic Conventions. The Coronavirus has upended all of it and I’m struggling to fill my days. My professional work has all but come to a grinding halt.

Sure, there no end to all the reading I can and should be doing. And of course there’s writing and photography and walking I could undertake to keep myself busy. The trouble is I work best under deadlines. With no end in sight to this way of life, I struggle to get myself motivated to do much of anything.

What’s more, I tend to work and think better when there is some level of background noise and activity around me.

In college as now, quiet work spaces are not for me. Libraries, as much as I love browsing bookshelves, have always been a terrible place for me to get a lick of work done. Some of my best writing and thinking has taken place in bustling coffee shops blanketed with hi-fi headphones and a well-chosen playlist.

A Routine Built on Externalities

Yet another quirk of my brain is the need for at least some structure and routine. For me, entropy is a very real issue. Within a margin, deviation from a routine is jarring to me. It causes stress and can trigger depressive episodes.

So many of my friends are true “self-starters” who are able to find productive things to occupy themselves and their time. This, sadly, is a skill I’ve never been terribly good at developing. I can do it in fits and starts, but it’s always been short-lived.

Maybe I should see this global crisis as an opportunity to improve myself in this area. I am trying, but entropy, the relative quiet, and solitude makes it difficult.

To Do’s

While I’ve learned not to commit to something I’m not fully prepared to do, I leave here both for posterity and motivation a list of tasks and activities, at least some of which I hope to undertake as this global health crisis and necessary isolation persists:

  • Do more photography
  • Do more writing
  • Restart video blogging
  • Learn the ukulele
  • Take walks
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