elections

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?

Continue reading Four Charter Amendment Questions

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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. Continue reading Polling When No One is Paying Attention

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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.

Continue reading The Struggle Continues

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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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Goodbye 2019. Welcome 2020.

So. I’ve never actually written a year-in-review type post before. At least, not that I can find. The closest I can come is this post from the beginning of 2018. It’s not a year-in-review so much as a forward-looking post at 2018 in front of me. As that post says, I’m not much for New Years’ Resolutions. Though I am all about reflection, so this revelation is actually a bit surprising to me.

Or, maybe because I’m so contemplative on a regular basis it’s never really seemed worth the effort to write an end-of-year summary. That streak ends today, as I look back on 2019 (and a bit at 2018). There’s no doubt the last year or two have been some of the most interesting and challenging of my life.

2018: A Quick Look

The year started off normal enough; school, work, politics. I had no idea what was in front of me.

Taking a night dive into uncharted waters, in March of that year, I left my job in the Governor’s Office to take a position as the Campaign Manager for Kim Coco Iwamoto in her bid to be Hawaii’s next Lieutenant Governor. I left the stability and safety of a dead-end job for an exciting new one which I didn’t know where it would lead. Or what would come next.

Finishing a disappointing fourth place, it was nonetheless a tremendous experience I’m glad I had. Not understanding how hard things would get financially, I took the remainder of the year to try to stand up my own consulting business and finish my Master’s Degree at GW.

2019 Began with Hope and Energy

2019 saw me graduate from George Washington University, my first official consulting client, and travel for work.

By the time January came around, my bank account had dwindled to pennies and my credit card debt had exploded. But I was hopeful because I also was making better-than-decent money consulting.

I was doing the work I loved on causes I genuinely cared about. Things were great. My business was taking off and I thought I was on my way.

But then the dumpster fired of a legislative session came to an end. And so did my contracts. At the time, in early June, I was still somewhat hopeful that it would only be a matter of time before the next gig came around.

Then, Reality Kicked Me in the Head

Again my bank balances dwindled, credit balances continued to rise and I didn’t actually find any other work until the end of October.

Being self-employed can be great. Freeing. Fulfilling. For me, there’s not much better than sitting down at my desk with freshly made coffee still in sleep attire. No shoes or pants required.

It can also be incredibly difficult and lonely. I went from working in an office full of other people to spending more than a few days working from home. It’s not an exaggeration that I am not social. Even in the office, I’d rarely talk story with my co-workers. Except when I did.

Having the choice was something I didn’t think I’d miss. But now I can easily spend a few days not leaving home except to venture out for meals or smokes. Being alone with my thoughts can take a depressing turn at any moment. Staying focused can be challenging.

I started to think maybe I had made a terrible mistake risking stability and comfort to venture out on my own. I applied and interviewed for a few full-time jobs back with the State, though none went anywhere. Had it not been for the love and support of my parents, it’s likely I would have been forced to pack up and move back as a failure to my high school bedroom to start anew.

I’m an Odd Mix of Hope and Brutal Reality

My life in Hawaii hasn’t been without challenges. From long bouts of unemployment to a chronic illness diagnosis and major surgery, my 17-plus years in the special place has molded who I am as an adult. Despite these challenges, I’ve always managed to land on my feet. Sooner or later.

So, while I continued to struggle toward the end of 2019 I started to think, again, about packing it in. Then, I received a call for a job that sent me to Mississippi for two weeks of work. It couldn’t have come at a better time. It was a great experience I’d happily take up again. And it kept me solvent for another month or two.

Strangely, when it comes to my personal life, I have long since given up on the possibility of “meeting someone”. Instead, I’ve chosen to focus on other parts of my life. Professionally though, I’ve always managed to stay mostly positive. Despite struggles and financial ruin (at least twice now), I continue to hold out hope that it’ll work out in the end and that I’ll be successful. Eventually.

Looking Toward a New Start in 2020

While I contemplate how best to deal with the crippling debt I’ve acquired over the last few years, new professional opportunities present themselves.

The 2020 Legislative Session begins in just a few weeks. And it won’t be long before the election season kicks into high gear. It will no doubt be a busy, stressful, and challenging year. As I sit here with my morning coffee on January 2nd, I am hopeful. Hopeful that income will begin pouring in. Hopeful that at least some of the projects on which I’m working will be successful. Hopeful that 2020 will see my business grow.

Here’s hoping. And here’s hoping 2020 will be a positive year for all of you.

Time to get to it.

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