Who is behind anonymous phone survey asking about Molokai Ranch, wind turbines and the undersea cable?

| November 27, 2012 | 29 Comments

I Aloha Molokai News Release

Can anyone solve this mystery?

Over the past few weeks many Molokai residents have received anonymous calls, asking for personal information and personal opinions about Molokai Ranch, about the proposed wind turbines and undersea cable, and about a variety of so-called “benefits” which might be offered. This phone poll is being conducted by Ward Research of Honolulu. But when you ask, “Who’s paying for it?” the callers say, “Sorry, we can’t tell you.”

Ward Research of Honolulu is conducting a survey of Molokai residents for an anonymous source. The survey is asking about Molokai Ranch and the proposed wind turbine project. This view from Kepuhi Beach shows what an industrial-scale windmill project would look like on the West End.


Some of us have answered the questions; others have just hung up. But we can only guess who ordered this poll, and why.

If it’s a local group, local readers should be able to clear up the mystery.

Some survey questions relate to Molokai Ranch. Perhaps they ordered this poll. But if so, then why the anonymity? The Ranch is on island, employs local residents, and says it wants to be a good neighbor. Anonymity just sows suspicion and distorts the response.

If this was a government survey, we would have been told up front. According to some government officials, Ward Research is not one of the pollsters they use. As of last Monday, Senator English’s Office and Representative Carroll’s Office knew nothing about it, advised citizens not to participate in anonymous polls, and planned to call Ward Research for more information. Council members Mateo and Baisa were also unaware, began inquiries of their own, and asked to be kept informed. One helpful staff member from the Public Utilities Commission did call Ward and reported back that there are two surveys, one just completed and one just starting. The second concerns “consumer satisfaction with electric service,” and is statewide. But Ward Research refused to tell even the PUC who paid for the surveys! When asked about HECO (an obvious candidate for the second survey) or a cable bidder (a possible candidate for the first survey) the PUC could only say, “they are private companies, so they can do what they want.”

If the Molokai survey was ordered by a private company, such as Molokai Ranch and/or a wind developer, then we need to ask ourselves this question: Is it a good idea to let private interests snoop around, asking leading questions about public issues? And how can they possibly discuss “benefits” when no agreements have been reached and no contracts signed? In the case of bidders, it should be against the law for them to manipulate local opinion, even after a contract is signed. How much worse then, before they are hired!

It may seem innocent to ask opinions, but this poll is clearly more than that, and it clearly has big money behind it. On Molokai nearly everyone is being called, even the cell phones of “snow birds.” Questions are being asked about demographics, such as “May I speak to the man of the house?” or “Are you aged 25-49?” Some of the questions seem designed to plant specific ideas and test the reactions of different groups of people. This isn’t just polling, but targeting, a kind of surveillance where you divide the community into different target groups who can be approached in different ways. A poll like this is not just fishing for existing support, but trying to figure out everybody’s price or breaking point.

Someday soon, someone will announce the results of this poll. Will all the results be reported, or only those convenient for the buyer? Will the results include all the people who refused to answer an anonymous questioner? Of what value is the poll? None of those who responded knew who ordered it or who wrote the questions. We don’t know who or how many were called. And how can we trust the results when the buyer refuses to be identified?

A poll like this is typical of mainland-style hardball politics. It can be made to say whatever the buyer wants it to say. If the buyer wants to say that Molokai residents are divided about the industrialization of their island, then that’s what the poll will report. Those who want to ram these wind turbines down our throats, can then use the poll to say, “Well, since opinion is divided, we have to choose, so we choose windmills. Have a nice day.”

Sooner or later the secret pollster will crawl out of the bushes. But the bigger mystery is, why is opinion-poaching permitted at all? Why are private companies allowed to masquerade as public agencies, spinning discussion and cooking the books on sensitive public issues? If I put on a ski mask and hold up the corner store, I go to jail. How is it then that a corporation, wearing a similar mask, can interrogate, tempt, and divide a community without even raising eyebrows?

At the very least, these polls should be cleared with our elected officials. Instead, our officials are themselves in the dark, and are turning to us for information! Perhaps the one official whose help we need right now is our State Attorney General, whose sworn duty is to prosecute those who subject us to misrepresentation and fraud.

We are I Aloha Molokai, and we believe that public business should be conducted in public, by our elected officials. The next time an anonymous caller wants to ask you questions, we suggest that you tell them to “have a nice day.” Mahalo.

Category: Business, News, opinion, Sustainability

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  1. kalaniua ritte says:

    why is iam surprised about this.they have members who work and support micogen.micogen works the same way i.e secretly and they do what they want.all of the corparations on molokai act that way.may be iam should ask these members how and why big corparations treat the community this way.

  2. mkklolo says:

    If we didn’t know better 😉 we’d suspect the Ritte’s were closet Big Wind advocates, smearing the opposition rather than arguing their position. There are likely some IAM supporters who work for MECO, the State, or even the Ranch…gotta put food on the table. So what?

    Mycogen/Monsanto do sufficient damage to themselves by their conspicuous and terrible soil mismanagement. I’ve never gotten any anonymous calls about their issues…they can’t possibly give a shot what we think.

    Bottom line is that all large organizations (especially government) wind up being driven by sociopathic personalities who lie and conceal and will steal and cheat any way they can to get their way, their bonuses, their under-the-table payoffs, etc. The Big Wind, HECO, State of HI, Molokai Ranch cabal is right in there with the nastiest of them. Sleeping with dogs will get you fleas.

  3. kalaniua ritte says:

    i just think that some of iam higher ups are huge hippocrits …they oppose big wind for the negative environmental and human impacts that the cable and turbines will create,but the company{micogen}that they work for has those same negative effects happening now.

    Gotta put foo…no wait… cell phones for the whole family,cars for the kids,christmast TREES,jewelry,boat,high speed internet,kindles playstations,ipads ,ect,… please dont use food as THE EXCUSE.

  4. HaoleDaHaole says:

    I totally agree with Kalanuia.
    We should stop all opposition to the windmills because some of IAM’s people work for Micogen. Totally.

    I think we should get rid of Micogen first, even if windmills go up first, let’s just do one thing at a time, anything more is too complicated. Then we put uncle Wally in charge of IAM, and ensure that those who raise their opinion or voice in any forum are promptly shouted down.

    Totally.

  5. Hi and Mighty says:

    If only everyone was as High and Mighty as Kalaniua Ritte, the world would be so much better…. NOT.

    • kalaniua ritte says:

      if only everyone had the balls to use thier real names on their comments like kalaniua ritte the world would be a better place…YES.

      • Hi and Mighty says:

        you are such an idiot. would love to see you survive over here on Oahu for just one week.

        • HaoleDaHaole says:

          Kalaniua, the only reason you could possibly want people to use their real names is so that you can launch a personal attack against them as you have done in the past on this blog and other places.

          It does not matter whether I am a Dudoit, a Kanemitsu, or a Haole who was not born here, but lives here now. What matters is that people are willing to stand up and fight for what they believe in.

          The tactics used on this island, often with your ohana especially, is to shout anyone down with a different opinion, and try to intimidate them to keep their mouths shut. The dancing at paddlers in the anti GMO shirts was especially precious.

          The cool part about the anonymity of the internet, is that this tactic no longer works. We can be anonymous, have our voices heard and hopefully impact those issues that need help, all without risking personal attacks. I know it must be terribly frustrating for “let’s shout you down” political “process” or “protocol” to understand and cope with.

          Instead of petty personal bickering, perhaps we can all get on the bandwagon to keep windmills off of Molokai, regardless who signs your paycheck.

      • kalaniua ritte says:

        shoots, can you pick me up from the air port?

      • molokainews says:

        As the editor and publisher of this blog I agree with Ua. Stop hiding behind anonymous and ridiculous names. Stand up for what you believe in, and be pono, and you will receive respect. Molokai people need to fight for the ‘aina. If you’re against the strong defense of the ‘aina then yes, you will be intimidated. If you care more about jobs than the ‘aina, leave Molokai. Better jobs on other islands and the mainland anyway.

      • kalaniua ritte says:

        hi and mighty i dont get mad when i know who is attacking me,its when people use fake names and attack me that i get verbally aggressive.i do respect real peoples opinions.

  6. steve says:

    beware the push poll- a form of polling in which seeking your opinion is simply cover.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Push_poll

  7. kalaniua ritte says:

    i stand up and fite for whats rite …but i put my name and self out there…i aint the toughest but i aint scared of putting my self out there,some times against people who can smash me physically,but i dont care because i TRULY believe in what i say is ritte..i mean rite.you think the blacks got equality by being anonymous.

    ps this is america i can wear what i want and dance where i want.who says i want to keep wind mills off this island..molokais new theme seems to be JOBS,EVEN IF I HAVE TO POISON THE AINA AND MY NEIGHBORS AND SUCK THE AQUAFUR DRY.

  8. kalaniua ritte says:

    i didnt write this..some people just will stoop to any level..come on man i know my name is cool but you dont need to steal it.use your own.

  9. mkklolo says:

    @editor:

    David, even if you were able to enforce civil behavior here on this blog, you would not be able to prevent intimidation, threats and actual violence off the blog. The “Godfather” of Molokai has been enforcing his will and getting his way by using loudmouthed intimidation threats, his army of sycophant thugs, even arson against his opposition. It creates an atmosphere not unlike Germany in the late 1930s. For those of us who have to live and work here, anonymity is the only way to feel free to express ourselves. KR, of course, has nothing to fear because of being affiliated with the Godfather.

    As a journalist, you should know that anonymous posts are an important part of the founding of this country. Look up Silence Dogood if you don’t remember. While I see nothing of her journalistic quality in these pages (or in fact, anywhere on the web), it is a necessary and useful device for public discourse in an atmosphere of intimidation. A secret ballot is a democratic requirement in order to prevent intimidation from being the driving force of the republic. Discounting an opinion because it is anonymous is simply another side of “Argumentum ad Hominem”, the well worn logical fallacy which avoids arguing the issues themselves by attacking the source of opposition…more intimidation tactics.

    • I am an American citizen and Molokai resident, and I agree with Mklolo.

      But da godfather ain’t da godfather no more… and da godson ain’t nothing but a hoodlum trying to be important.

      It will be interesting to see if David is willing to allow ongoing anonymous posts or if he will pressured and cave into allowing the vocal minority to manipulate him.

      and last i heard, all of the tax money that goes for unemploymetn and welfare is paid by the people who have jobs. So if you are going to wish away jobs, you should also wish away the welfare and unemployment too. Lets see how popular you are when the welfare and unemploymetn runs out.

      • molokainews says:

        No one is against gainful employment, don’t twist my words. However, the high cost of doing business here is not conducive to high paying jobs, that was my point. Also, the expanding markets of a capitalist system combined with the fragile ecosystem of Molokai is not a good combination. That does not make me a Communist, it just means that the fragile environment, that has already been deeply affected by human actions, must be vigilantly protected.

        @96770: In my 29 years as a newspaper editor and reporter I have never caved to pressure on important stories or been manipulated by any minority faction. I deeply disagreed with Walter Ritte on several occasions. One time he threatened violence against a group of New Zealand professional hunters who flew in with helicopters to reduce Molokai’s wild goat and pig populations. He has had serious disagreements with The Nature Conservancy of Molokai that I have taken issue with. But NEVER has Walter ever threatened or intimidated me or been less than courteous to me in person. Don’t give him ridiculous titles like ‘da godfather’ and he won’t take on any special power of intimidation, trust me.

        • HaoleDaHaole says:

          After watching this discussion degenerate into personal attacks, I think that it is a perfect micro-model for how Molokai politics work. We should ALL be against the windmills, but can we present a united front? No way. Too many small minds get hung up on the people and forget about the issues….

          And this is why the pro windmill machine will roll over the bitter bickering between the split opposition we have and we will only have ourselves to thank.

      • kalaniua ritte says:

        i dont wish away jobs,just the nazi-like jobs that poison the land ,resources and people.i dont wish any thing..i put in time and WORK to stop these types of jobs..free of charge..you sick fake person you 96770.

    • molokainews says:

      Wow, I had no idea we lived in an “atmosphere of intimidation.” If I felt that way about Molokai I would have left a long time ago. There is only one story I have tried to write that I was intimidated out of writing and it had nothing to do with the Rittes or any other activist. (It was a story about a local haole cult that ended up being stifled by legal threats.)

      No one has ever prevented me from “arguing the issues themselves.” Always interested in investigating such allegations, though, Mr. Lolo. If you could provide some examples I would be obliged.

    • kalaniua ritte says:

      wow and they say im crazy.lets go out on a limb and say im really a crazy,sycopathic thug..then what does that make people who poison the land and people for a pay check and those who support and defend them,{im talking about monsanto and micogen employees}.
      AND PLEASE GIVE ME EXAMPLES OF THIS INTIMIDATION THAT EVERY ONE IS TALKING ABOUT.I mean against real people with real names.if i have i give my word that i will apologize..but remember they have to be real people.and it cant be dawn bicoys boy friend..whats his name..the bald guy.. because he intimidated my wife.i cant help that i look like a large ugly samoan.that mean look i have at meetings is my normal happy look.I LOVE MY ISLAND AND HER RESOURCES,AND WILL DO ANYTHING TO PROTECT THEM,FREE OF CHARGE.just like the heroes in the military who go to other countries and kill the natives so WE can live the american dream.i say these things and i put my name on it because i believe them to be true.i am not some corporation that hired BLACK WATER to intimidate you.{im talking about monsanto again}
      DAVID YOUR BLOG IS WAY MORE FUN THAN THE DISPATCH.
      THE REAL KALANIUA RITTE

      • steve says:

        whether david’s blog is more fun than the dispatch is certainly subjective, but i hope david would agree both are important to the lonely isle.

        i will say this regarding the dispatch- THAT iam “press release” is way different than the one printed above. what gives witdat?

        btw- ua, you’re gonna offend bald guys and samoans talkin’ stink li’dat.

      • kalaniua ritte says:

        i meant to use polinesians but at the time i didnt know how to spell it.

      • somedumbhaole says:

        i agree- this blog is way more fun than the dispatch.

        my concern is: when i proposed installing an 8 mile long undersea rubbah garden hose to deliver water from maui to moloka’i back when the ranch threatened to cut off service to the west end, everyone just laughed at me.

        now, when the guv proposes plugging in a 40 mile long extension cord to send molokai wattage to honolulu big bucks come out of the walls, press releases fly, polling firms arrive, 30 comments wind up on david’s blog and bald guys and polinesians get slammed.

        moloka’i- please don’t evah change

        btw- i have a load of garden hose for sale…cheap!

  10. mkklolo says:

    @David,

    Most recently, at least one citizen that was vocal in support of the American Safari Cruises was variously threatened with being burned out and with physical violence. I won’t mention names to protect the innocent. Those persons are welcome to speak up on their own. I have been to meetings at MPC where the intimidation was palpable and the Godfather was up standing on the front table delivering his harangue to a full house. A few years ago he settled some old issues with the criminal justice system for violence directed at property. On two occasions, I myself have been assaulted and beaten to the ground for my dissent on various issues. I have been harassed at my home in the middle of the night and threatened with having my “junk” shot off, also in the middle of the night. I’ve been yelled at on the streets in Kaunakakai for no reason but my temerity at being of European decent and being here.

    This island is patrolled by two police officers at any given time, who may well be 40 miles away from your location. Response can be quite slow and even when it arrives, the likelihood is high that the cops have family or personal relationships with the perpetrators …been there, done that. In the case of the above mentioned threat, the call for police assistance was mysteriously “cancelled” by persons unknown and they just never showed up. Practically every swinging “Richard” on the island drives around with a loaded firearm in the car or truck.

    So kindly leave off expecting us to expose ourselves to whatever comes for the privilege of expressing ourselves. Due to age, infirmity, minority or remoteness, that may well be dangerous to our health, family, property or livestock. And don’t expect us to leave Molokai out of fear either. We came here for love of the land and we are here to protect it as much as anyone else. To wit, our opposition to industrial wind monstrosities and the slash and burn soil conservation practices of corporate agriculture.

    The fact is that Hawaii, never having had a written language prior to the arrival of Europeans, has always had a verbal tradition of culture, history, law and political discourse. As with any verbal tradition, the interpretation becomes very situational to suit the speaker and the times. The loudest voice in the room generally prevails and today, in the best modern tradition, the victors write the history.

    PS: KR, check your on-line dictionary for the difference between “sycophant” and “psychopath”. If the slippah fits, wear it.

    • kalaniua ritte says:

      is this bobby aldrich? the same bob aldrich who had to write a letter of apology to several ke nanai kai residents for falsely accusing them of doing something.

      • mkklolo says:

        KR, there you go again with argument against the source rather than the issues. You started off this discussion with the same tactic against the AIM folks, attacking their alleged affiliation with Mycogen/Monsanto but avoiding taking on the real issue of industrial wind and the sneaky tactics used by someone to try to load a so-called survey. You always try to shift the discussion to your own ends…from wind to Monsanto usually. And you are wrong again about this being Bob (either Aldrich or Stevens).

        Bottom line Mr. Ritte: Is you is or is you ain’t against an industrial wind farm on Molokai. Quit trying to shift the issue to our persons and tell us the truth without dodging and hedging, if you can. Walter has given us reason in his own words to question his intentions (Dan Boylan roundtable on PBS). Where do you stand?

  11. kalaniua ritte says:

    i am against wind mills but not for IAM….to many hippocrits in IAM….wind mills corn fields same same…both bad for the aina an people…how can one be good the other bad…to many hippocrits i tell you…there see i gave my opinion and put my name behind it and whoa.. i still alive.see not hard.

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