by Andrew Walden
With all the attention to the failure of Hawaii Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago to properly organize the General Election at numerous Oahu precincts, focus has been drawn away from the even greater wrongdoing by Nago and his bureaucratic cronies on the Big Island.
(To understand the election disaster in Hawaii County, one must first recognize that it is possible for both Nago and Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi to be in the wrong without in any way diminishing Nago’s wrongdoing.)
Public records uncovered by West Hawaii Today reporter Nancy Cook Lauer via a Freedom of Information Act request show that since at least April 17, 2012 Nago has been fixated on retaliation against Kawauchi. Reason: The firing of the previous Hawaii County Clerk Pat Nakamoto, who is the live-in girlfriend of Dwayne Yoshina, a previous State of Hawaii Chief Elections Officer, former boss and mentor to Nago.
(Yes. The State of Hawaii Chief Elections Officer sabotaged an election because someone’s girlfriend got fired.)
Nakamoto, along with two other Hawaii County election workers, had been fired by Hawaii County Council Chair Dominic Yagong after Yagong discovered booze and sign making equipment at the Hawaii County Elections warehouse in Hilo. Yagong went to inspect the Warehouse after an elections employee was busted for drunk driving coming out of the warehouse after the General Election, in the early morning hours of Wednesday November 3, 2010. In addition to drunken election night parties, the Elections Warehouse was also allegedly used to make campaign signs for old-boy Hilo political operative and former Council Chair Jimmy Arakaki.
HGEA naturally supported Nakamoto and her cronies. As she fought to get her old job back, Nakamoto and Dwayne Yoshina also worked openly on the unsuccessful 2012 Hawaii County Council campaign of old-boy Ken Goodenough.
These are the supposedly trustworthy and non-partisan people who run Hawaii elections and have been since Yoshina was installed in Pearl City in the 1990s.
On April 17, Nago “acting as an individual” wrote to Hawaii County old-boy mayor Billy Kenoi asking for Nakamoto’s reinstatement. The next day Kenoi also received a letter from election worker Arlene Waugh:
“My friends and I are adamant. We are not going to volunteer as long as (fired elections workers) are not reinstated or treated fairly. Maybe our absences will not matter, but consider it our way of protesting as to the underhanded and evil ways of someone who seems to have something against these people.”
Waugh and her cohort skipped work on Primary Day August 11 thus causing disruptions at several Hawaii County election sites. Precisely as the saboteurs intended, blame for this was laid at the feet of Kawauchi, thus punishing her for her transgression against the entrenched old-boy bureaucratic interests in Hilo and improving the chances that Nakamoto would retake control of the Hawaii County Elections Office.
Due to the timing of the April 17 and April 18 letters, it is difficult to escape the impression that Nago was conspiring with the saboteurs. Moreover Nago’s fig-leaf choice to write “as an individual” about election–related business shows that he knew it was inappropriate for the Chief Elections Officer to be involved in this effort.
Capping of months of media manipulation during which Nago systematically fed anti-Kawauchi stories to reporters, Nago’s office in October took control of the General Election in Hawaii County. But apparently he was so busy working to make Kawauchi look bad, that he lost control of affairs on Oahu and ended up with an even bigger disaster on his hands.
Success is the greatest revenge, but revenge is not success.
The nest of bureaucratic infighting Nago and Yoshina have exposed should cause observers to reevaluate their understanding of the 2009 departure of Kevin Cronin. Cronin had been hired in 2008 by the Hawaii Elections Commission after Yoshina was finally squeezed out of office. A series of petty controversies generated from within the office led him to quit.
Was Cronin sabotaged by Yoshina and Nago’s cronies in order to make way for Nago? In retrospect, the campaign against Cronin bears all the hallmarks of the campaign against Jamae Kawauchi.
2012 General Election: At Least 69 Precincts Ran Low on Ballots—Some as Early as 10AM
Resignation of Kevin Cronin (Question: Was Kevin Cronin sabotaged from within to make way for Dwayne Yoshina’s crony Scott Nago?)
Dwayne Yoshina 1996 (Helping make sure the 1978 constitution is not rewritten)
Dwayne Yoshina 2000 (Budget games and bureaucratic maneuvering)