Sunday, April 19, 2009
Advertiser endorses Felix but what kind of hope or change can he bring?
by Larry Geller
The Advertiser may well be right in their choice of John Henry Felix to endorse for the Windward seat vacated by Barbara Marshall. They gave some good reasons for their choice. Although I’m sure that more could have been said about other contenders, an endorsement isn’t a balanced news article, it’s pushing one’s reasons for a recommendation.
Felix will correctly be associated with his long-running home wedding business. It was his choice to continue that business despite the controversy. The Advertiser dismisses this in a short paragraph:
Missteps invariably come in such a long career, and Felix has dealt with his. He rightly was criticized for skirting regulations that barred a home-based wedding-chapel business during his tenure on the council; he paid the fines and corrected the violations.
Trouble is, it was no mis-step. As other parts of the article note, Felix is an accomplished businessman.
He has been very successful for himself. The wedding business was for his profit at the expense of his neighbors.
Most discussion revolved around the legality of his operation (20 or so weddings a month, according to reports). The question was whether it crossed a fuzzy line. Particularly in today’s interconnected world, people commonly work out of their homes. Some people make crafts for sale. How does sitting behind a computer screen and typing all day, perhaps storing business records in a spare bedroom, and maybe even doing bulk mailings out of a home differ from holding weddings?
Certainly, home businesses in a primary residence are an important source of income that should not be cut off. The fuzzy line, as I understand it, revolved around a prohibition against “personal services” in his neighborhood.
The difference is the disruption to the neighborhood that Felix’s particular business caused. But laws don’t necessarily detail how much noise is allowed or what parking restrictions might apply, for example.
Felix operated his business with himself in mind in this case also. Neighbors be damned.
So saying that he paid his fines and corrected the violations doesn’t cut it.
Plus, it appears he has just moved into the Windward district so that he can run for that seat. Again, Felix working for Felix. Sure, that happens a lot, and he’s not the only one. But Felix for Felix nevertheless. Steve Holmes is back, too.
Voters will take the Advertiser endorsement into consideration, and perhaps he is the best-qualified candidate, but I’m guessing that in today’s age of hope and change, voters may have new ideas about who might best serve the people rather than themselves.
There are candidates in this race who represent new thinking, which IMHO is badly needed on the Honolulu City Council. I wouldn’t expect the Advertiser to endorse anyone but a business-friendly candidate anyway, and I hope readers realize this. The paper is moving to the right even as its readers reject the Old Right for what it has brought us.
No, I’m thinking that we don’t need a selfish successful businessman on the Council as a priority. We need to bring people into government who represent just the opposite of what the Advertiser has endorsed. But let’s see what voters think on this.
Sometimes I think our city councils should be selected by a draft, that no one should be allowed to run for office. A delegation shows up on your doorstep one day and says; "you've been chosen to serve, do you acccept?'