Online Q & A with the candidates for HI-02
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:15 am
Someone from the Gary Hooser campaign contacted me last week asking to arrange an interview for this blog. I declined. Basically, I know nothing about interviewing, and I really donâ€™t have much motivation to acquire the skill since most of what I write here is based on personal experiences, my opinions and publicly-available articles and information.
Hooser did agree, however, when I offered an alternative to an interview. Hereâ€™s the deal:
Leave your questions for the candidates for the Hawaii Second Congressional District candidates in the form of comments to this post. In a few days Iâ€™ll ask the candidate(s) to email me his or her responses and I will post the audience-created â€œinterviewsâ€ for everyone to review. Weâ€™ll see how successful this is, but if there is an unexpected flood of questions I will wait until they taper off before asking the candidate(s) to respond. I use the plural because if there are other candidates (from any party) who would like to offer their own responses to the questions offered, Iâ€™ll be happy to post them, too.
I get heaps of comment spam, so, as usual, your questions wonâ€™t go online until I approve them out of the comment queue. That means your question may address the same topic as a question already waiting in the queue. If I think such related questions are significantly different, Iâ€™ll approve more than one for presentation to the candidate. If questions are too duplicative, only one will get the nod. Please read the existing comments before adding your question; doing so will help you choose a unique topic and will help me deal with the question pool if there is a lot of participation.
Candidates that choose to respond are hereby warned, though, that the readers and I reserve the right to point out â€œresponsesâ€ that are evasive. Readers and myself are also free to fact check the responses.
After all, Iâ€™m not doing this just to give candidates a free ride into our little slice of the Hawaii blog world. Heh. Most candidate â€œsurveysâ€ yield responses that are vague and frustratingly rhetorical. I really donâ€™t want to recreate another example of thatâ€¦
Those of you who support (or oppose) certain candidates should realize what an opportunity this could be. Your assistance in getting all of the candidates you support (or oppose) to participate is encouraged. Iâ€™m not going to spend my time tracking down the candidates and then bicker because some of them refuse to participate, that sounds too much like â€œwork.â€
UPDATE: Mahalo to everyone who submitted questions. Iâ€™ve got 25 now and Iâ€™m gonna draw the line there.
Still no answer from local telecom carriers about NSA program
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:14 am
The Advertiser editorializes today on the NSA telephone record surveillance program and the Hawaii aspect of the story.
In Hawaiâ€™i, the state Public Utilities Commission has stepped up to fulfill its mission of protecting the consumer interest. In this case, the public wants to know whether telephone carriers have supplied the NSA or other federal agencies with their records ? data that it rightfully considered private.
In June, the commission sent a letter to these carriers: Hawaiian Telcom, Sandwich Isles Communications, Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint PCS, Nextel Partners, AT&T Communications, Sprint Communications, Oceanic Communications, Pacific LightNet, Verizon Long Distance, Verizon Business Services, and Verizon Communications.
In it, commission Chairman Carlito Caliboso underscored that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the commissionâ€™s own rules require carriers to protect personally identifiable customer data, â€œexcept as required by law.â€ Caliboso asked each company to describe its privacy policies and procedures and to disclose whether it received any government request for telephone call records.
Once the responses are compiled ? and please make it soon ? the next step is for the PUC to disclose as much information as possible to the public that it is bound to serve.
Does the PUC have any recourse against the carriers if they do not reply to these letters in a timely manner? For example, can the PUC threaten to fine and/or suspend the operation of a carrier that does not disclose the information? The letters are described here as requests for disclosure, which sounds akin to asking with a â€œpretty please.â€ It should not have taken the carriers a week, much less a month, to reply if any reply was intendedâ€¦
On the national front, there is an effort to consolidate all of the various lawsuits directed at the NSA program. I see that at as a good news/bad news situation. Bad news because if it is consolidated into the D.C. courts the NSA will probably prevail, but good news that it would at least speed the issue to possible SCOTUS appeal.
Lingle has union endorsements, too
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:14 am
Just a qucik follow-up to my post from yesterday, via this SB story:
Hawaiiâ€™s largest labor organization, the state AFL-CIO, is endorsing former Sens. Randy Iwase for governor and Malama Solomon for lieutenant governor.
Randy Perreira, AFL-CIO president, said the group of 71 affiliated unions would support the two Democrats over both challenger William Aila and Republican Gov. Linda Lingle. â€œIt is our feeling that they are better in respecting our workers,â€ Perreira said.
Adding that the unions were concerned when Lingle vetoed a series of bills addressing workersâ€™ compensation this year, Perreira called Lingleâ€™s actions â€œdisappointing.â€
â€œBoth Sens. Iwase and Solomon during their legislative careers were strong advocates for working families,â€ Perreira said.
In response, Lingle said she could not be categorized as an anti-labor candidate because she won the endorsement this year of the Hawaii masons union and has been endorsed by the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.
â€œI think some take the position that if you donâ€™t agree with them on all things, they are against you,â€ Lingle said in a recent interview.
So that answers the â€œdoes Lingle still have the UHPA and SHOPO endorsement?â€ What about Unity House, where Lingle once was an employee?
A while back UHPA and the Lingle administration agreed to a new contract with back-loaded raises. The mult-year contract extends well beyond the end of Lingleâ€™s first term, so itâ€™s not a surprise that UHPA would endorse Lingleâ€™s re-election in the hope that the â€œfattestâ€ years of the contract would not be questioned by any new administration. In my opinion, it was an open question if the Governor could legally commit the State to granting raises so many years in advance, but it happened and (so far) it hasnâ€™t been challenged.
As for the SHOPO endorsement, most SHOPO members work for the various Counties, so there is less opportunity for Lingle to disappoint the membership than if they worked for the State. Plus, the law enforcement types are not exactly known for straying from a â€œthough on crimeâ€ stance and Lingle delivers (or at least pursues) a fair amount of that.
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:17 am
Less than a week after the Advertiser editors urged people to â€œjump inâ€ and become candidates, todays column by Jerry Burris ends like this:
Looking through the legislative races, you rarely see more than two names other than in a handful of districts where the incumbent has stepped down.
But those [hotly contested races] are the exceptions. What we need to be thinking about is why there is so little apparent interest in running for office. If it takes a vacant seat to stimulate candidates, you have to think that the motivation is more about gaining office for its own sake rather than advancing ideas or a political ideology.
Thatâ€™s a rather sad thought. If people only run when they have a good shot at winning, we leave behind a lot of good ideas and fresh perspectives.
Is he serious?!
It takes more than just good ideas and fresh perspective to compete in an election. As I wrote on Tuesday, it also takes a commitment of time. Too many people (who may or may not have good ideasâ€¦) simply donâ€™t have the financial means to spare the time.
But, for the sake of argument, letâ€™s say that a person has the luxury of time. If he or she is going to challenge an incumbent the first challenge to face is trying to raise money as a relative unknown (unless he or she is fortunate enough to already be known in the district, which either take the happenstance of birth/fame or a previous investment of time). So, keeping track of the hurdles, now there are at least four: good ideas, free time, name recongition, and money.
Then comes a fifth hurdle, where Burris and the rest of the media share part of the blame: to a shocking degree the media ignore most of the small races and make it very difficult for a challenger to get his or her ideas (be they goood or bad) heard. When the media (and letters to the editor) are not reminding people of how annoying yard signs and sign-waving candidates can be, the media are regularly reporting on which candidate has raised the most money. The former is portrayed as tacky desperation and a lamentable (if necessary) burden, the latter as an implied proxy for â€œelectability;â€ setting up a self-reinforcing mechanism of the worst sort.
Until there is the possibility of opting for a publicly-funded campaign, the majority of people who are going to run will be incumbents who â€œhave a good shot at winningâ€ and challengers who think they can overcome those hurdles. Unfortunately, the â€œgood ideasâ€ hurdle will often trip up the challenger who, against the odds, clears the other fourâ€¦
Iâ€™m intentionally ignoring the topic of gerrymandered districts, which hasnâ€™t had much play in this compact state.
When the contest is so lopsidedly biased in favor of incumbents, most rational people wonâ€™t choose to play unless there is an open seat.
Endorsements begin to gel
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:17 am
The opening part of the story is two weeks old now, but today the Advertiser has an article about the Sierra Club 2006 legislative â€œscorecardâ€ and, in more up-to-date developments, the article also reports that the Hawaii State AFL-CIO has endorsed Iwase and Solomon for the Gov-LG ticket.
Iwase picked up several early union endorsements, including from local ironworkers and longshoremen, and hopes to get the support of the Hawaiâ€™i Government Employees Association this weekend.
[Senator Akaka] has been backed by the HGEA, the Hawaiâ€™i State Teachers Association, the Hawaiâ€™i AFL-CIO, the Progressive Democrats of Hawaiâ€™i, the Council for a Livable World and the National Treasury Employees Union, among others.
Case has been endorsed by the National Restaurant Association.
In 2002 Governor Lingle won a few union endorsements. Have any of those unions re-affirmed their support?
Kukui Garden affordability looks unlikely
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:15 am
The PBN has a short story that includes some comments from the likely new owners of Kukui Gardens. Currently the apartments are â€œaffordableâ€ until 2011, but earlier we heard that when the sale goes through the federal financing may be paid off in advance and that would obviate the need to keep the rents affordable.
â€œOur long-term business plan is to operate Kukui Gardens as rental housing,â€ Carmel Managing Partner Chris Beda said. â€œIn the short term, we will operate the property consistent with the rental terms established in the standard form HUD use agreement.â€
That is vaguely reasssuring, but only if you donâ€™t read it closely. â€œRental housingâ€ is often not affordable, and the â€œHUD use agreementâ€ may be null and void if the HUD loan is repaid in advance shortly after the purchase goes through.
San Francisco-based Carmel intends to seek county and state tax exemptions to fund monthly discounts for qualifying households. At the federal level, Carmel will seek a rental voucher program to be used by qualifying families towards rent subsidies after May 2011. Carmel favors a system whereby the subsidy stays with the recipient rather than with the property.
â€œIf a subsidized resident moves to a different location, the subsidy should travel with him, Beda said. â€œIt is the person who is in need â€“ not the property.â€
Beda said the company is also willing to discuss building high-density housing on a portion of the property. And he committed Carmel to cooperating with any future transit station on the land.
What Carmel describes sounds very much like the federal â€œSection 8â€ rental housing voucher program, which is consistently facing difficulties in putting tenants into suitable units. Further, the â€œsubsidy should travel with [the tenant]â€ means that over time as residents holding vouchers move (or die) the rents for individual units at Kukui would rise to market rates .
Little Strykers turning up all over the island, big Strykers rarely seen
â€” Doug @ 8:07 am
An interesting story emerges from this Advertiser article about a series of small metallic placards created by a local artist who is installing them in places where people congregate all across Oahu. The placards are shaped in the silhouette of a Stryker military vehicle.
The artist, Mat Kubo, spoke to the newspaper in an earlier interview:
[Kubo] said he is gluing 319 of the cutouts ? the number of Strykers coming to Oâ€™ahu ? in places where people congregate â€œto give the notion that there is this other presence here.â€
In the interview, Kubo said 25 percent of Oâ€™ahu is â€œoff-limits military base,â€ and that figure is growing because of the Stryker vehicles.
â€œIâ€™m just trying to draw attention to that, and keep that in the public consciousness,â€ he told the newspaper.
Evidently that is a message that some people would rather not hold in their consciousness, because a police officer, military spokesperson, and a few toursists call the placards â€œvandalism.â€
Kubo calls his project â€œMiniature Monuments to Empire.â€ In the previous interview, Kubo said some feel the Strykers are invasive, but individuals also may feel protected by them, and he wanted to â€œcreate some dialogue around the subject.â€
One of the placards was installed at the Advertiser building, which served to continue the intended â€œdialogue.â€ Heh.
A review of the Advertiser online archive can give you a good taste of the long history of how the deployment of Strykers to Hawaii was debated and finally completed. Few of the articles in that archive are editorials, but the editors did express concerns about what the vehicles (and the associated additional troops and families) arrival would mean to the already tight rental housing market. Those opposed to the Strykers lost the fight, and the Strykers are here. The traffic congestion and housing pinch will further degrade to some extent, but most residents, policy-makers, business leaders and tourists, whether they supported or opposed the Stryker brigade, will be unlikely to personally encounter a Stryker in their daily experience to remind them of how that struggle ended. It seems to me that the placards will, in a very small way, change that dynamic.
Itâ€™s also interesting to imagine what the reactions of those in the article would have been if Kubo had instead given an interview where he described the message as being entirely pro-military, pro-war, pro-empire, etc. Suddenly, to defend the placard would be the â€œpatrioticâ€ thing to do and before you knew it weâ€™d probably see somebody begin to sell magnetic Stryker silhouettes for placement next to the magnetic â€œsupport our troopsâ€ yellow ribbons.
Last, Iâ€™m wondering if the Advertiser will tell its readers if they preserve or remove the placard currently on their property.
Such a humble candidate
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:06 am
Yesterday I briefly mentioned local blogger Mike Hu and his run for office, and today I noticed this post on his non-campaign blog where he crows about his independence from the GOP game plan. A structure wherein, if you read between the lines of what he writes, he thinks some things are impossible. This from the same man who thinks that Governor Lingleâ€™s popularity is going to be the key to victory for down-ticket GOP candidates.
As in most other activities of human concern, people don?t usually stop to consider that it could be done any other way than it?s always been done before â€“ and since the party was desperate for a candidate, they pretty much gave me carte blanche authority to do things my way, which immediately makes anything possible. Then I systematically and methodically make it more probable, and then, inevitable.
Eventually, we share that logical conclusion. It will be enlightening writing about it and sharing with others the entire process of becoming an elected official. And we certainly need it in this country because the media reporting makes it seem so contentious and aggravating that people don?t want to have anything to do with it â€“ when it should be one of the ultimate participations of every citizen â€“ no matter what the outcome.
I think in this, it is most valid to say that it doesn?t matter whether one wins or loses as much as it does how one plays the game. If one thinks they can only win by lying, cheating and stealing, that will be their legacy in life. What bureaucrats and technocrats fear most, is the challenge from a consummately creative person â€“ because they can?t control where that person is coming from, and dictate the rules of engagement.
Is that confidence or arrogance? Weâ€™ll see.
That has been a major theme of Thinking Hawaii [Huâ€™s non-campaign blog] â€“ on a general level. But I?m not the theoretical and philosophical person many people think I am â€“ categorically and exclusively. My real talent is manifesting and embodying the intellectual â€“ often described as integrating mind and body, thought and action. That?s usually been a divide that has reached unhealthy levels of extremism in promoting a specialist?s advantage in life and society.
Fortunately, that trend seems to be reversing â€“ as many more realize that in today?s life, one can do it all â€“ or as much as they surely want to, but preferably, one thing at a time.
Haha. Wow, he is so kooky unlike most candidates! The political scientist side of me almost hopes he wins just to see how the other politicians and the media would respond to himâ€¦
Helicopter extracts for last-minute wannabe candidate
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:05 am
Iâ€™m not sure what to make of this at first glance, but I was tipped by Aaron Stene to these stories in the Hawaii County dailies about a person who tried to register as a GOP candidate for the Hawaii House of Representatives to oppose Josh Green. Due to the last-day arm-twisting to persuade the candidate to file, a helicopter was used to shuttle the man back and forth from Hilo (where the nomination papers were picked up and filed) to Kona (where he needed to find registered voters to sign the papers). The question being raised is who arranged for those helicopter rides.
Kona businessman Seth Gambee said he was asked by the Republican Party to challenge Democratic state Rep. Josh Green, who is unopposed for a second two-year term to represent North Kona.
â€œIt was a last-minute thing,â€ said Gambee. â€œI donâ€™t think anyone should run unopposed, and when we found out, we agreed to give it our best shot.â€
Gambee said he collected what he thought were enough signatures, but some were disqualified Tuesday when the county clerk found the names did not match home addresses.
â€œObviously it was our fault,â€ said Gambee. â€œWe waited too long. [The clerk] followed the rules.â€
But John Buckstead, head of the countyâ€™s Democratic Party, said he is not so sure the Republicans followed the rules when they arranged to have a Blue Hawaii helicopter fly Gambee to Hilo to meet the filing deadline.
Aiona said it was the party that made the arrangements, but did not specify who.
â€œAs a matter of convenience, we assisted in renting a helicopter,â€ he said. â€œIt will be treated as an in-kind contribution to the Republican Party.â€
Buckstead said he wants to know exactly who arranged it.
â€œWas it Sam Aiona, or the governorâ€™s office?â€ he said. â€œAnd if it was the governorâ€™s office, then was it state staff?â€
Weâ€™ll probably never know. However, the NSA could probably tell us who called Blue Hawaii on Tuesdayâ€¦
By the way, is it really â€œrentingâ€ a helicopter if they plan to report it as an in-kind contribution? Whatever.
Hooser rattles the dKos cage, with some success
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 7:12 am
Iâ€™m not sure what impact it will have on his campaign, but Gary Hooserâ€™s post at the mega-blog Daily Kos is a notable â€œfirstâ€ for a Hawaii campaign. Hooser essentially calls out the vast audience of that blog (riffing on the themes fleshed out in Crashing the Gates) and the readers respond in a mostly-positive way.
Will it make a difference among voters in the district? Will it lead to much in contributions? I dunno.
Hooser is the first (only?) Hawaii candidate to personally take his message to the nationwide blog community that I know of. I see plenty of people blogging in support of Hawaii candidates x, y, and z. What we have with Hooser is a candidate personally hitting the â€œpostâ€ button (and then hanging around to field comments from the audience).
The purely pragmatic question is (no matter how gratifying it is for the blog audience to be taken seriously): is it the best use of the candidateâ€™s limited time? Hooser needs the support of a plurality of voters from his district in less than 2 months. If he reaches new eligible voters efficiently through dKos, then maintaining a personal presence there is an intelligent use of his time. He hung around for an hour fielding comments from blog readers (and some who became donors) from who-knows-where. How many (in-district) doors could Hooser have knocked on in that amount of time? Or phoned? Or sign-waved? On the other hand, if Hooserâ€™s presence online drums up a significant flow of contributions then perhaps it will pay for efforts that will directly target the audience he most needs to reach.
Whatever, maybe Iâ€™m thinking too deeply about it. On a purely superficial level, I think it is neat.
On a semi-related note, Iâ€™ve added another blog from Mike Hu to the blogroll. Heâ€™s going the opposite direction, i.e. from (odd) blogger to GOP candidate for Hawaii House district 21. Any other Hawaii campaign blogs out there (excluding non-blog websites) may leave a comment with the url, too.
Kawananakoa calls on Hogue to suspend column
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 7:10 am
Both Honolulu dailies have stories based on a press release from Quentin Kawananakoaâ€™s campaign that asks his opponent , Bob Hogue, to suspend his column in the Midweek newspaper. The Advertiser story is here and the SB piece is here. The thematic issues Kawananakoa raises, that Midweek is showing an unfiar bias by carrying Hogueâ€™s column during the campaign and that â€œHawaiâ€™iâ€™s Republican candidates have always prided themselves on being governed by a higher standardâ€ may be worth considering, but neither the Midweek editor nor Hogue really respond to those allegations. Instead, they deftly reframe the question to be about a â€œright to work.â€
Hogueâ€™s most recent disclosure form does not reflect any hint of how much he is paid by Midweek, but in 2004 he characterized income from that job at category â€œCâ€ on the pay scale (that denotes a certain range in dollars, the meaning of which I canâ€™t seem to find the key to decode at the moment). His legislature salary (just under $40K/year) is in the â€œDâ€ category. So, while heâ€™s probably comfortable, Hogue is not exactly getting rich between the Midweek gig and a series of other category â€œBâ€ sports media jobs.
Kawananakoa has been out of the Legislature for a while, so his records are no longer online. However, according to a recent Advertiser article:
Probate Court figures show that six heirs to the Campbell Estate fortune will each receive $100 million or more while another 15 members of the family will receive at least $50 million.
They include Abigail Kawananakoa, 80, who will receive about one-eighth of the trustâ€™s assets, or about $250 millionâ€¦
80-year-old people usually donâ€™t hold onto their money very long before it goes to their heirs, if you get my drift.
Iâ€™m not a huge fan of Senator Hogue (I am his constituent), yet I think Kawananakoa is barking up the wrong tree if he thinks Hogue is getting any political mileage from his Midweek puff pieces typically describing inspirational young amateur athletes. I donâ€™t even link to Hogueâ€™s column (although I do link to a few other Midweek columnists) because there is nothing political contained in what Hogue writes. I suspect that Kawananakoa could easily afford to buy weekly campaign ads in Midweek at least as big as Hogueâ€™s columnsâ€¦ Heh.
Brown people love trains – isnâ€™t that funny? No.
â€” Doug @ 6:19 am
The lead post at Hawaii Reporter when I visited this morning was a crosspost from the honolulutraffic.com website. It features a photo of a train blanketed with South Asian passengers, and is a lame attempt to parody the mass transit project being debated for Oahu.
For whatever reason, the article cites a report â€œannounced last monthâ€ by a a respected Indian novelist who has been dead 5 years. Ho ho ho. Hawaii Reporter and Cliff Slater are such masters of satire and racial senstitivityâ€¦
First candidate forum brings Democratic candidates for Congress to small groups
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 6:18 am
Kudos to the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii for hosting a gathering of 9 of the 10 Democratic Candidates for the 2nd Congressional district. I did not attend, but it certainly appears to have been a useful tool for voters trying to learn more about the race.
The best media account I have found so far is from Chad Blair of KHPR (mp3). Blair gets revealing quotes from many of the candidates. Listen to it quickly, before the mp3 goes offline in two weeks. There were also articles at the Advertiser and SB. The report at KHNL is a disappointment, though. That story basically says that the event occurred and (at least in the online version) the story doesnâ€™t inform the audience of what any of the candidates had to say on the issues:
When it came to topics, nothing was off limits.
From the war on Iraq to taxes to views on abortion.
Why bother â€œcoveringâ€ the event if thatâ€™s all the more detail on the substance you provide? Sheesh.
The SB story contains a mystery: Even though Republicans Peter Carlisle and Mike Gabbard are not on the official registry of candidates, they and a few others not officially filed are included on a sidebar to the article listing the candidates from each party. Wha?
Secret court records sought by newspaper
â€” Doug @ 6:17 am
Itâ€™s impossible to tell exactly what is going on, but I will be watching the legal challenge underway by the two Hawaii County dailies that want to know what is going on in secret court proceedings over there.
West Hawaii Today sought a copy of civil case 04-1-211 but was told by Wesley Suwa, the Third Circuitâ€™s deputy chief administrator, that the case had been sealed and [Judge] Masuoka had sealed the order sealing the case.
West Hawaii Today Editor Reed Flickinger said Stephens Media LLC is legally pursuing the case based not on what the files may contain, since that is unknown.
â€œRather, this is a question of First Amendment rights and of the concept of transparency in our court system,â€ said Flickinger. â€œIf this civil court case is secret, and allowed to remain so, how many other secret cases might exist?â€
The good news is that Jeff Portnoy is representing Stevens Media. Portnoy has a good track record of winning victories for the media.
Transparency is standing by
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:38 am
Well, it didnâ€™t take long for one of the Advertiserâ€™s new blogs to provide me some fodder.
David Shapiro has a post that begins with his thoughts on the gasoline price cap now that mainland gasoline prices are actually climbing faster than Hawaii prices.
Whatâ€™s sorely needed is a longer view under a greater variety of market conditions, but thereâ€™s no assurance weâ€™ll get that kind of careful examination from the state.
The repeal measure directed the Public Utilities Commission to continue calculating capped versus uncapped prices in case the governor ever moves to reinstate the cap, as the law allows.
But the Legislature didnâ€™t fund the analysis, which would have been of little value after lawmakers concocted a convoluted new capping formula that had more to do with Senate politics than rational economics.
The new law also promised to make oil-company pricing practices more transparent, but consumers may never see the benefit of that, either, as a result of confidentiality provisions enacted by the Legislature.
The way Shapiro describes the amended gasoline price cap bill is false. (In fact, itâ€™s still false, haha) So, Iâ€™ll spell it out again:
The PUC was not directed to continue calculating the capped prices. To the contrary, the law says that they shall suspend such calculations.
What the legislature failed to fund was the so-called â€œtransparencyâ€ provisions. It remains to be seen if confidentiality would make those data of any benefit to consumers, because the PUC has never bothered to undertake the (unfunded) transparency mandate.
What would be worth checking out is this: if the PUC hired additional staff to carry out the gasoline price cap law while it was in effect, then what happened to those staff (and the money to pay for those positions) upon the suspension of the price cap? It seems to me that if those staff are still on the state payroll during this time of a suspended gasoline price cap law, then those same staff (and funds) could be redirected to carry out the transparency provisions of the amended law. Are those workers simply sitting around like Maytag repairers, waiting (in vain) for the governor to reinstate the cap?!
Sailors returning safely to shore
â€” Doug @ 8:37 am
Iâ€™m happy to update that those aboard the yacht that sunk yesterday have been rescued by a merchant vessel and will be transferred to another ship headed to Hawaii. The SB has a thorough story and the Advertiser has an article, too.
In other scary news from sea, earlier this week an enormous car carrier flopped onto her port side near the Aleutian Islands, forcing the helicopter evacuation of the crew.
Who wants to know?
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:37 am
A strange survey has been sent by USPS to certain Hawaii County residents, according to a shared story in the two dailies from that County. The survey asks respondents to indicate how they intend to vote in certain races on the 2006 ballot, but it does not consistently list all of the candidates for each race. Numerous prominent politicians and candidates contacted by the reporter have disavowed having a connection to the survey, as have the two major political parties.
Barbara Wong, executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, said candidates are allowed to spend campaign funds on surveys.
â€œThey can use their money on anything that allows them to further their campaign,â€ she said.
However, Wong added the commission is interested in slanted or biased polling.
â€œBut if it has everyoneâ€™s name on it and it just asks who you are going to vote for, itâ€™s probably OK,â€ she said.
Duke Gonzales, U.S. Postal Service spokesman in Honolulu, said anonymous questionnaires are acceptable if they donâ€™t contain offensive or fraudulent information and do not threaten or coerce the recipient to respond.
â€œIf the piece was sent out as a first-class piece, the authors are perfectly within their rights to identify the source as the â€˜Community Pulse Survey,â€™â€ he said.
On first glance, I have no real problem with it, but the anonymity alone makes me curiousâ€¦
Kukui Gardens to remain affordable until the HUD financing is paid off – which may be soon
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:37 am
I guess Iâ€™ve been asleep at the switch regarding the Kukui Gardens topic, but an Advertiser editorial contains this (news to me, maybe to you) description of where the sale of the property sits:
This week, the Kukui Gardens Corp., the entity set up by the late Clarence T.C. Ching as the nonprofit owner of the development, took a major step toward its desire to sell the project to a for-profit developer, Carmel Partners, for a reported $130 million.
The announced sale caused ripples of concern from here to Washington. Local affordable housing advocates hoped that HUD would block the sale and redirect Kukui Gardenâ€™s owner to deal with a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of the affordable units beyond 2011.
But in a surprise move, the corporation invoked a rule that sidestepped the need for HUD approval by simply giving notice that it intends to pay off its low-interest 40-year HUD note.
Ooof. Am I only imagining that I read all those reassurances from the owners (and the new buyers) that they planned to keep it affordable until 2011?!
HUD is weighing whether to reject the prepay notice so it can control the sale. Considering the housing crisis, that may be warranted. It also may set an unwanted precedent or open up a long and pointless legal battle.
The state also is prepared to step in after a new law was signed last month specifically authorizing the state to extend the life of Kukuiâ€™s affordability or invoke eminent domain. That should be a last resort. Condemning Kukui Gardens for a takeover by the state would require public financing that would be costly to taxpayers.
With at least 1,000 more units expiring within the next decade, the state must begin now to look at ways to preserve affordability before we are plunged even deeper into crisis. That should include timely negotiations with owners to buy properties or extend affordability agreements. These talks must happen soon ? thereâ€™s no time to waste.
Uh, so which is it, Advertiser editors: the power of eminent domain should be the last resort, or there should be â€œtimely negotiations to buy properties?â€ It looks like weâ€™ve been hoodwinked and the only hope is for the feds to reject the prepay notice (or at least defer it long enough for the state to get its ducks in a row).
Pacific Cup yacht sinks; Coast Guard to rescue crew
â€” Doug @ 5:44 pm
I donâ€™t have any official detail, but the coconut wireless among my sailor friends suggests that the yacht collided with a whale during a delivery sail to the mainland after finishing the race on July 15th. Wow!
The vessel has a functioning EPIRB and the crew were able to deploy a liferaft. Thatâ€™s about all Iâ€™ve heard. I sure hope they are rescued soon.
There are more than just Coffee
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:07 am
The race for U.S. Senate is not (officially) over after the Case v. Akaka contest in the Democratic party primary. The Republican ballot will offer a choice, too. Maui Time Weekly has an interview with one of the seven candidates in the Republican party primary race, Mark Beatty.
Q: What do you think about George W. Bush?
A: I?m fairly positive toward George Bush.
Q: What is your favorite thing about him?
A: He makes decisions based on what he thinks is the best thing to do. Look at the Iraq war. Public opinion is down, and then there are a few victories and public opinion goes up. You can?t run public policy based on a fickle public opinion. In fact, it will probably go up pretty soon.
I?ve talked to a lot of people that have been involved on both sides of the Vietnam War. The communists were one week away from giving up when we pulled out. That?s sticking in my mind?victory is so close in Iraq. Think about it, five years ago, who would want to go to Iraq for vacation? Maybe in five years, people will.
Q: What do you think is the best way to approach Hawaiian sovereignty?
A: Do you want me to dance around this one?
Q: No, I want you to answer it.
A: Well, first of all I would direct you to some of the articles I have written on my website. I think what we should do is modify the Hawaiian Homelands Homeownership Act of 2000, and give those people the land, fee simple. The Act can be seen as non-ethnic because it is based on an actual law. We don?t need a government agency that sucks up a lot of money in itself. Also, they can participate in the welfare system like everyone else, regardless of race.
Uh, good luck to you, sir.
META: Beatty may be a bigger Douglas Adams fan than President Bush fan, because his website suggests a $42 donation (instead of $43).
Bored? Why not run for office?
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:06 am
The Advertiser has a last-ditch editorial that urges people to take the plunge into running for office. Of course, anyone interested would need to complete the entire registration process by 4:30pm today. The hardest part would be getting the necessary signatures while most of your friends are at workâ€¦
The deadline to file to run in this yearâ€™s election is 4:30 p.m. today. There are more than a few opportunities awaiting those willing to put their money (and the next few months of their time) where their mouth is.
As of this writing, there were 24 legislative seats (nearly one third!) in the state Legislature in which the incumbent is unopposed. In addition, there are an unusually high number of vacancies (10 at last count) where the incumbent has chosen not to run for re-election.
That makes for a lot of opportunities and guaranteed turnover before the 2007 session begins. In addition, there are county council races, Board of Education slots and more to attract interested candidates.
So why not jump in? The filing costs are minimal and the requirements (you must be a registered voter and have collected the signatures of a couple-dozen supporters on your nominating petition) are far from onerous.
Actually, the 24 unopposed incumbents account for more than one third of the legislative seats that are contested this year (because Senators have staggered terms, only 13 of the 25 will be on the various ballots). I fully expect a few last-minute filings today, but I donâ€™t think they will be the result of people deciding to register on a whim. Rather, such filings will have been strategically timed to â€œsurpriseâ€ the opposition candidates. I know, pretty low-grade drama in most cases, but there are usually some candidates that love to take themselves too seriously (and, in doing so, limit their ability to raise campaign funds early).
Even a person who doesnâ€™t follow politics closely is likely to realize that there is more to running for office than just â€œjumping in.â€ As the editorial notes, candidates need to have lots of available time to devote to campaigningâ€”and for most people that means theyâ€™ll need money to survive during several months of no (or limited) outside employment. Now, maybe a retired person or someone who is a member of a financially secure household can meet those criteria, but they would be a stretch for the average editorial reader.
Advertiserâ€™s daily bloggers go live
â€” Doug @ 1:03 pm
The Advertiser pimps their new stable of bloggers today. The blogs can be found here. Iâ€™ve had a look and they donâ€™t look too shabby. Iâ€™m blogrolling two of them (Jerry Burris and David Shapiro) that seem as if they will focus (or at least include) political commentary.
Good for them. Now all they need to do is set up RSS feeds and think of something interesting to sayâ€¦ Iâ€™m also curious if they will link to other blogs (cough) in their postings and/or in their sidebars.
Political â€œnewslettersâ€ as campaign literature
â€” Doug @ 1:03 pm
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has an article based upon the complaints filed by a challenger to Hawaii County Councilmember Safarik. The complaints ask for an inquiry into whether any public money was spent on Safarikâ€™s website or to pay for his campaign literature.
Safarik said he has not used taxpayer resources to develop his campaign Web site, saying he has a personal check to prove he paid a Web developer and administrator from Hawaiian Ocean View Estates.
â€œI have a Web site, but I didnâ€™t use any resources of the county,â€ Safarik said before adding, â€œI do have a constituency mailing.â€
He said his mailing is similar to the ones sent out by many political candidates, giving â€œa basic rundownâ€ of his last 18 months in office, including details of capital funds he helped appropriate for Puna projects.
Safarik said those mailings were sent to about 800 people in his district at taxpayersâ€™ expense.
â€œI didnâ€™t send them to everybody in every subdivision. I sent them to Neighborhood Watch programs, associations, community groups and community leaders,â€ he said. â€œIt was nothing clandestine.â€
Such mailings are one of the big advantages of incumbency. Politicians of every stripe (State and County) love to expend their postage allowance by sending â€œnewslettersâ€ to their constituents that are only thinly disguised campaign material. (The members of Congress actually have franking privileges and donâ€™t even pay for the postage!) The newsletters point out all the [great] things he or she has done for the constituent, sometimes they even include a mail-in survey form (primarily used to generate a mailing list for genuine campaign literature). At the very least, the mailings serve to get their name in front of a voterâ€™s eyes on the way from the mailbox to the recycle bin.
Are there completely legitimate uses for a newsletter? Of course. However, disseminating unbiased information is not their primary mission in most cases.
Candidates for Congress air transit soundbites
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:50 am
The Advertiser has an article today that suggests transit is one of the more important issues in the race to fill the U.S. House seat for rural Oahu and the neighbor islands. The reporter spoke to 8 of the 10 Democratic candidatess, the 2 Republican candidates, and did not speak to the non-partisan candidate.
Each candidate was asked for a 25-word (!) answer to the questions: Do you support a rail or other mass transit system on Oahu, and would you try to seek funding for it? Except for Hanabusa, Hee, and Matsunaga (who gave various slippery answers) the Democrats answered â€œyes.â€ On the Republican side, Hogue said no to rail without saying no but yes to federal funding, while Kawananakoa qualified his support of â€œitâ€ with some unrealistic conditions (e.g. Cliff Slater will never agree on the ridership numbers).
There is a fair amount of focus on the amount of transit funding that flows to uran Oahu at the expense of the less-populated parts of the state (i.e. the 2nd District), but in a zero-sum world I would not expect much change in that allocationâ€”especially from whichever candidate becomes the junior member of Hawaiiâ€™s congressional delegation. In the less-densely-populated areas mass transit requires greater subsidies than in urban areas. Furthermore, the state law that authorized the Counties to impose a GET surcharge for transit purposes would not bring in enough revenue to the neighbor islands. In expanding on the 25-word soundbites, a few voices mention the connection between mass transit and land use decisions, but that horse has already left the barn, unfortunately.
Itâ€™s doubtful if Oahu will be able to muster the political will to advance a mass transit plan this year. I have almost zero hope that the neighbor islands will do any better in the near future (and certainly not during a single two-year House term).
Enigmatic Kim says no
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 10:50 am
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim issued a statement yesterday that (finally) ends the speculation that he would run for Governor. The Advertiser has a story here and the SB has a piece here. Neither article seems to have solicited any comment from the various Democrats who had been urging Kim to enter the race while portraying him as the Democratsâ€™ last (or only) hope. Iâ€™m specifically speaking of Cayetano and Abercrombie, but there were other quasi-important figures, too.
The only other mildly interesting aspect of the articles is:
Randy Perreira, president of the state AFL-CIO and deputy executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, acknowledged that the HGEA was waiting for Kimâ€™s decision before making an endorsement for governor. However, Perreira said, neither organization had promised an endorsement to Kim if he would run.
AFL-CIO leaders are scheduled to meet on Wednesday to decide endorsements. HGEA leaders will gather July 29.
Iwase already has the support of the ILWU. If the same Democratic candidate garners the AFL-CIO and HGEA endorsements, he (and the Democratic challengers so far are all men) will be annointed the â€œleadingâ€ candidate and at that point the other candidates can pretty much give up hope of any serious media attentionâ€¦
Come next weekend the sentiment among the punditry may well be, â€œHarry who?â€
Legislature candidates get another year to obfuscate their contributors
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 10:47 am
There is an Advertiser article today that describes how the Campaign Spending Commission has been busy scanning the paper versions of campaign contribution and expense reports in lieu of implementing an all-electronic filing system that would include all of the candidates for the state legislature. Itâ€™s said that the Commission did not have enough staff to train all the candidates to use the latest (third edition) software in a timely manner. Well, okayâ€¦
I can only hope that the when this training finally takes place the Commission online database becomes easier to use. Itâ€™s a mess. There are two different filing systems, known as HERTS1 and HERTS2, and candidates use either (or both) of the systems. The records for each system seem to be in separate databases.
In the meantime, candidates for the affected offices will be required to continue reporting their donations the old-fashioned way: on paper. The commission will scan those documents and post them online within 24 hours of each filing deadline, Wong said.
â€œWe still meet the spirit of the law, which is to have the information online immediately when the reports are due,â€ Wong said. The paper reports also are available for review at the commissionâ€™s office.
Thereâ€™s a difference, however. The electronic reports feed a database that viewers can quickly sort through to determine additional information, such as whether a contributor to one candidate also donated money to others. That information can still be gleaned and compiled from the scanned paper reports, but the process can be arduous for those unfamiliar with it.
â€œItâ€™s not as readily searchable as electronically filed reports,â€ Wong said.
Reviewing donation and expenditure reports can give voters an idea of who a candidateâ€™s strongest supporters are, and how that could influence the decisions they make if elected, she said.
â€œI think there are a lot of people who arenâ€™t aware that they can look at candidatesâ€™ reports and see whoâ€™s contributing, and what theyâ€™re spending their money on, and I think itâ€™s critical to be informed when they vote,â€ Wong said.
Candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, mayor and prosecutor have been required to make the electronic filings since 1995, and candidates for city and county councils were added to the law two years later. After years of pressure, lawmakers added the requirement to themselves and OHA candidates last year as part of Act 203, which took effect in January.
About three out of 10 candidates who were not required to file their reports electronically had already begun doing so, but others seemed determined to resist, Wong said. Some would actually fill out the electronic report on a computer, but print out and file a paper copy rather than take one more step and file the report electronically, she said.
My original intention for this post was to try to search the database and figure out which sneaky buggahs candidates were using the reporting software but then filing on paper as Wong described. The CSC website is so lame, however, that I gave up trying to figure it out. Then I tried a few searches of both contribution databases, selecting all candidates in the pull-down menus and then (for an example) I entered Kaneohe (my home) as the city of the donor. Those searches return no results?! It hardly inspires any confidence in the accuracy of the systemâ€¦
GOP manager worried about what apathy means for Lingleâ€™s campaign
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 10:46 am
I noticed a novel letter to the Advertiser editors today. Itâ€™s the first Iâ€™ve seen of any concern that Governor Lingleâ€™s perceived dominance could be dangerous for her re-election campaign.
ITâ€™S IMPORTANT TO VOTE ? AND VOTE FOR LINGLE
It saddens and worries me to hear about the increase in voter apathy and ignorance amongst Hawaiâ€™i voters. I am particularly concerned that this attitude might result in negative outcomes for the political races this year.
Everyone keeps saying that Linda Lingle has it in the bag; so no need worry about voting for her. But letâ€™s remember thereâ€™s never been a Republican governor re-elected in the state of Hawaiâ€™i. And we certainly need one re-elected this year!
Any Democrat who runs, however inexperienced, automatically gets 25 percent of the vote just because theyâ€™re Democrat.
I hope voters will take the races seriously this year and get to the polls. Hawaiâ€™i needs another four years of Governor Lingleâ€™s leadership, and we canâ€™t let apathy ruin this chance for Hawaiâ€™i.
Hmmm. I had a hunch that with her name there would not be much Google ambiguity (ambiGooguity?), and I was correct. According to the GOP Hawaii website, Joanne Bretschneider is their Headquarters Manager.
Incidentally, googling for that name also led me to the Hawaii Young Republicans site, where there is a page with a link to a (small and sleepy) online community, Right Wing Hawaii Forums. Unable to resist that link (heh), I found a place with members logging in under names such as â€œhaole,â€ and â€œRightwingextremist.â€
Democratic candidates for U.S. House to meet with voters next week
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 7:39 am
The Progressive Democrats of Hawaii is announcing an event where small groups of the public will have an opportunity to briefly talk to most of the Democratic candidates for the Second Congressional District.
Itâ€™s a clever format, with the candidates circulating among the small groups of voters, but I am skeptical if it will be of much use for voters unable to attend. For instance, it will be difficult for the media to convey what is said at the event, as they would require them to (somehow) monitor several conversations simultaneously.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, I hope the event goes well, but I also hope that a non-partisan group steps up to hold another event involving more/all of the candidates from the various parties.
Vigilantism after deadly car crash
â€” Doug @ 7:37 am
Iâ€™m not a regular â€œcrime beatâ€ blogger (if there is such a thing) but: The Hawaii County newspapers carry a story about what appears to be a blatant case of vigilantism following a recent multi-fatality car wreck allegedly caused by a creepy thug. Hawaii Tribune-Herald story is here and a West Hawaii Today version is here.
I would expect the Honolulu media to be all over this new (and sensationalist) angle to the story, but nothing yet. Weâ€™ll see.
It will be interesting to watch if the prosecutors pursue the assault charges against the vigilantes and if a jury would find them guilty. Judging purely from the comment section at the end of the H T-H story, Iâ€™d guess â€œnoâ€ on the second question. Hard to guess how much the prosecutors value the rule of law in the face of that type of public sentiment.
Candidates positioning themselves for filing homestretch
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 9:50 am
Both Honolulu dailies run stories that note another sitting legislator who wonâ€™t be on the ballot in November. The SB piece is here and the Advertiser article is here.
â€œIt is similar to what happened in 1994 when we had a combination of people retiring and seeking higher office,â€ Rep. Marcus Oshiro, majority leader, said.
At the same time, as of yesterday there were six uncontested Senate seats with no one running against the incumbent and 12 House seats without a contest. Tuesday is the state deadline for candidates to file for the fall elections.
Speaker Calvin Say agreed the departures will open up â€œa lot of opportunity for people after the November elections.â€
With a large influx of new members, there are always changes in some leadership positions, but Say said he does not think his own position is in jeopardy.
â€œI havenâ€™t heard of any criticism. I have been a fair and open speaker, and I havenâ€™t heard of any rumbling at this point,â€ Say said.
Although Say said he is expecting Republicans to challenge in several Democratic house districts, Oshiro said he expects the open districts to elect representatives from the same party as the previous incumbent.
Hmmm. Abinsay is the third House committee chair to leave. Arakakiâ€™s surrender of the Health Committee chair may be the biggest change (certainly the biggest political plum), but, with the departure of Abinsay from Agriculture and Kanoho from Water, Land & Ocean Resources, there is a possibility for a significant change in the direction of land use legislation in the House, too.
Oh, and Harry Kim says he will announce his intentions tomorrow instead of waiting until the Tuesday deadline.
â€œI realize that I am being unfair and causing a problem by indecision,â€ Kim said.
â€œThis is a real dilemma for me. And I know people who are in the political world who especially donâ€™t accept this [cough, yours truly], but this is not a game. This is not an ego trip. This is a dilemma of me separating what I feel I want to do in life versus what I feel I should do.â€
Sources close to Kim and people who have spoken to the mayor and his aides said he is agonizing over the decision.
Several union and party leaders said that Kim, a former civil defense administrator now in his second term as Big Island mayor, would have some populist appeal against Lingle.
Sources said Kim has been privately critical of the governorâ€™s leadership and might use a quixotic campaign as a forum to speak his mind.
Well, Mayor Kim could start a blog if all he intended to get out of a campaign is a forum to speak his mindâ€¦ Heh.
At the great risk of reading too much into what may have been intended as mere rhetoric, Kimâ€™s description of the â€œdilemmaâ€ is rather profound when you think about it. Kim is saying that either a) he should not run; or, b) he does not want to run!
Gambling by â€œphone cardsâ€ implicates HPD
â€” Doug @ 9:47 am
A very good Advertiser story today that examines an (or, depending upon the outcome in court, another) operation that allegedly involves the HPD and what may turn out to be considered gambling.
More than 80 Honolulu bars and hundreds of other restaurants and retail establishments have installed the machines that, for a dollar, dispense cards allowing the purchaser to make brief long-distance telephone calls as well as participate in â€œsweepstakesâ€ games with cash payouts of up to $1,000.
Honolulu Liquor Commission Administrator Dewey Kim Jr., who took the reins of the agency in May, said he expressed misgivings about the phone card machines shortly after taking office.
Maj. Kevin Lima, head of Honolulu Police Departmentâ€™s narcotics/vice division, said in a recent interview that the department is also investigating the legality of the machines.
One of the departmentâ€™s officers, narcotics/vice division detective Timothy Mariani, is a distributor of the machines through a company he owns called KP Amusements Inc.
Mariani declined to discuss the business, but his attorney, Keith Kiuchi, said the machines are legal and Mariani received permission from the department to operate the business, and approval from the Liquor Commission to install the machines in liquor-dispensing establishments. The Liquor Commission approval was granted before Kim took office and raised questions about their legality.
According to HPD â€œoutside employmentâ€ forms, Marianiâ€™s request to operate KP Amusements in his off-duty hours was approved by the department in January 2005. The form said the companyâ€™s business was to â€œprovide amusement game and vending machines.â€
Okay, thatâ€™s interesting enough, but it gets even better when the Advertiserâ€™s own â€œPigskin Picksâ€ contest is drawn into the subject by the distributor of the phone card machines.
One of the major distributors of the phone card machines in Hawaiâ€™i, Larbil Inc., said in a letter last year to the city prosecutorâ€™s office that the â€œsweepstakesâ€ game is no different from other legal promotional contests offered around the country by national firms like Coca Cola and McDonaldâ€™s, companies that he labeled â€œthe big boys.â€
The letter, written by Larbil attorney William Milks, included The Honolulu Advertiserâ€™s â€œPigskins Picksâ€ football contest in a listing of such promotions.
â€œA common characteristic of legal sweepstakes promotions is the fact that potential purchasers can play the sweepstakes game without the necessity of making a purchase,â€ Milks said.
The â€œno purchase necessaryâ€ option to the games â€œeliminates one of the three essential elements [see â€œlotteryâ€ definition] in Hawaiâ€™i necessary for a sweepstakes game to constitute gambling,â€ Milks said.
Later in the article, however, it is explained that (unlike the Pigskin Picks contest) the â€œno purchase necessaryâ€ option enters a person into a unique game, and, furthermore, each vending machine is its own game. To play directly against those who are playing at a vending machine, a purchase from the same machine is necessary.
But wait, thereâ€™s still more.
The assistant chief of police was approached to become a â€œconsultantâ€ for Larbil and other companies, but declined the position due to ethical concernsâ€”at least until he retires. Soon after declining the consulting work, the assistant chief began a crackdown on similar machines â€¦ from a competing company. The machine was at a venue where Larbil also had a machine, but apparently the Larbil machine wasnâ€™t part of the investigation. Um, yeah.
Excellent work, Mr. Dooley!
SLIGHTLY OFF-TOPIC META COMMENT: From the HRS link above, consider the definition of gambling:
â€œGambling”. A person engages in gambling if he [sic] stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. Gambling does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, including but not limited to contracts for the purchase or sale at a future date of securities or commodities, and agreements to compensate for loss caused by the happening of chance, including but not limited to contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health, or accident insurance.
The law is what the law is, but those exclusions are rather arbitrary, to say the least. Insurance agents and financiers are by far the biggest bookmakers around. A friendly reminder.
Late-breaking LG candidate (re-)enters the political fray
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 9:02 am
Both Honolulu dailies report on a press release announcing the entry of Malama Solomon into the race for the Lieutenant Governor spot on the Democratic ballot. The Advertiser piece is here and the SB article is here. The articles refer to Solomon as the only â€œestablishedâ€ Democrat and the only Democrat in the race with â€œcampaign experience.â€ The full list of candidates is here (PDF).
Unfortunately, I donâ€™t remember much of substance about Solomonâ€™s tenure in the Lege as I was new to the House staff in 1997 and her career in the Senate finished in 1998, but I do remember one day when the Capitol was all a-twitter after it looked as if it would come to blows between her and another Senator during a daily floor session. I canâ€™t remember the issue or who was her antagonist, though. I do remember that the general consensus was that Solomon would have prevailed had their actually been any fisticuffs. Heh.
Leave a comment if you remember any of those detailsâ€”or anything of more substance about Solomon.
Democrats were unable to find a challenger to Republican Gov. Linda Lingle until Iwase and Aila stepped forward to fill the void.
The search for a lieutenant governor had been even harder, and the party was a week away from not having a well-known candidate to counter Lt. Gov. James â€œDukeâ€ Aiona.
There is still speculation that Big Island Mayor Harry Kim will enter the governorâ€™s race, and several sources said yesterday that a Kim campaign would likely lead a prominent Democrat to jump into the lieutenant governorâ€™s race.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Stir the pot while you can.
On that note, the Hawaii County dailies share a story that gently reminds us of the unknown implications of a Kim candidacy for down-ticket races. Assuming that Kim reveals his intentions (challenge for Governor or serve out his term as Mayor) in time for the down-ticket folks to reactâ€¦
A call for debates
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:55 am
I mostly agree with the SB editorial today that argues in favor of primary election debates for the U.S. Senate and House contests. My only concern with the editorial is that these debates should be organized by a neutral party, say the League of Women Voters. The debates should not be organized by the parties.
Frankly, I donâ€™t particularly trust either party to give every candidate an equal opportunity to be heard and to challenge the opposition. We need only look at the increasingly worthless Presidential â€œdebateâ€ format to see what happens when the parties hijack the process get involved in setting up the groundrules. It ends up being a series of 3 minute monologues that may or may not even address the question presentedâ€”and those are â€œbipartisanâ€ rules, imagine what each party acting alone would dream up.
Letâ€™s have a real dialogue, even if it requires more than a tidy 30-minute or 60-minute block of commercial television time. Iâ€™m sure the public access channels statewide would agree to televise the event in its entirety and the networks could use the feed as they wish. Streaming the debates to the internet, both for viewing in realtime and for archiving, is another no-brainer.
I wouldnâ€™t hold my breath in expectation of this happening, however.
Working class are not middle class, so who is?
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 9:03 am
Lee Catalunaâ€™s latest column challenges what she sees as a sense of entitlement among the homeless who, in her view, unfairly malign the â€œmiddle class.â€ Itâ€™s rare that any discussion of class is found in the local media, but I think Cataluna only scratches the surface of what is at play.
In many of the calls for compassion and aid to Hawaiâ€™iâ€™s large homeless population, there is an undercurrent of disdain that has emerged for the middle class, a kind of â€œyou folks, you have it easyâ€ attitude that used to be reserved only for the very wealthy who got their money through inheritance or on the backs of laborers rather than by their own sweat and ingenuity.
It is as if the middle class doesnâ€™t have the right to question homeless peopleâ€™s personal responsibility for their homelessness because somehow, the thinking goes, if you have a house, you got a pass. You got it easy.
But in 2006, there is very little that is easy about being middle class in Hawaiâ€™i.
I think Cataluna needs to acknowledge that if there is in fact such an â€œundercurrent of disdainâ€ it is not directed at the working class, which Cataluna haphazardly lumps in with the middle class. The scenario she describes, a difficult life of paying the rent or a mortgage and working every day in a loathsome job, is not â€œmiddle class.â€ It is working class, and, more importantly, it is very often only one paycheck away from homelessness. Indeed, many of the homeless were once working class folks who simply had some bad luck. Cataluna implies that the homeless should not be so offended if those with homes question their â€œpersonal responsibility.â€ Well, considering how close many of those with homes are to joining them on the beach, such resentment is understandable.
The middle class is vanishing. Iâ€™m not the first person to say that, of course. Consider this American Prospect article from the mid-1990s:
A middle, of course, implies a higher and a lower. In the U.S., high-income groups are becoming even wealthier, while average family income is stagnating and declining. Partly as a result of this capture of economic gains by the upper brackets, the cost of what seems a normal American standard of living is increasing. For example, 20 years ago an average-priced car required a third of an average familyâ€™s income; today, it takes more than half.
By broadly defining almost everyone as part of an elusive and mythical middle class, both Democrats and Republicans are ignoring the fact that not only do many Americans define themselves as working class, but also that many who are reported as saying they are middle class or aspiring to it are falling further behind.
Another barrier to a realistic view of income classes in the U.S. is the official poverty line, which is pegged at too low a level. Even if not officially defined as poor, people between the poverty line and 80 percent of the median income derive most of their income from work, not from transfers, and are definitely not able to reach middle-class levels of living.
I refer you also to an earlier post where I noted that a median-income Hawaii household (bringing in $67,750/year!) buying a median-priced Oahu home would owe over half of their income each month. I donâ€™t know where the line for â€œmiddle classâ€ should fall, but anyone in that situation is not very economically secure, in my opinion, and Iâ€™d hesitate to label them â€œmiddle class.â€
Senator Specterâ€™s gift to the NSA may obstruct the path to answers about Hawaii telephone surveillance
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 9:01 am
The SB editorial today casts a little light on a topic that I had been monitoring since I read this recent post at the excellent blog, 27B Stroke 6.
UPDATE 7/19: Another great post from that blog today parses the bill in greater detail.
In reaction to the revelations of various government agencies spying on broad swaths (if not all) of U.S. citizens without court orders, Congress has proposed to address the situation by:
a) issuing subpoenas to the various three-letter agencies and putting a stop to it all;
b) maintaining the status quo; or
c) gutting the requirement that a court order is required for each individual citizen targeted for scrutiny and replacing it with a cursory (secret) review of each spying program.
The answer, no surprise, is â€œc.â€
So, where do all the Hawaii candidates for U.S. Senate and U.S. House (and Senator Inouye, too) come down on this issue? Will any of them (pledge to) act? Brian Schatz has already taken a prominent role in asking the necessary questions. Has (or will) anyone else?
In the context of the national debate, Hawaiiâ€™s concerns about possible violations of state privacy laws might seem provincial. They are not.
Legislators want to determine if phone and other telecommunications companies voluntarily turned over customer information to the National Security Agency, which could violate state law, or if they were ordered to do so. The companies, citing pending lawsuits, have been circumspect about describing their actions and did not appear, as requested, at a legislative briefing last week.
Lawmakers arenâ€™t sure if they will convene hearings and issue subpoenas to get the information, which the Public Utilities Commission also is seeking in its own investigation.
Their attempts might prove futile in the face of national security issues, but both are obligated to question authority on behalf of Hawaiiâ€™s citizens.
At the very least Hawaii (and here I mean our Attorney General, specifically) should aggressively pursue this. Even if we lose, this new law needs to be struck down yet it wonâ€™t be reviewed by the courts until a test case comes up on appeal. Hawaii should be that case.
One more week of beating the Kim horse
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 9:13 am
Iâ€™m thinking that Misters Aila and Iwase are not very pleased with the headline chosen for this AP story that ran in the SB today: â€œDemocrats still seek opponent to face Lingle: Party leaders think that Big Island Mayor Harry Kim has the best chance.â€
Okay, for whatever reason, the local media love to regularly ping on the Harry Kim for Governor (non-)story, usually to create an impression that a non-candidate has a better chance than any declared candidate. Letâ€™s get real, now.
Is Harry Kim really such a well known Democrat statewide? In my opinion, Kim has a decidedly (perhaps intentionally) low profile; the soft-spoken â€œregular guyâ€ in his jeans. (Hmmm. Is Kim more â€œeverymanâ€ than Aila? No. Kim wears jeans, but he is still a politician.)
But seriously, if people are going to lob out names of higher-profile Democrats, why stop at Kim? After all, any of the living former Democratic governors could (in theory) run again in 2006, since intervening years have reset their â€œtwo consecutive termsâ€ clocks. Kim might provide the media with a better David v. Goliath story, of course. However, if Kim actually runs at this late date (and if Kim chose to continue a policy of self-imposed contribution limits) it would be more likely to play out as not-exactly-David v. Goliath, Inc.
That said, if Democrats continue to hear and begin to give credence to this message that â€œonly Kim can motivate Democrats to victory,â€ then the Democrats may well psyche themselves out before the election season gets well and truly underwayâ€”unless Kim enters the race.
Oahu (where most of the voters live) really doesnâ€™t have much media coverage about Kimâ€™s tenure as Mayor of Hawaii Countyâ€”be it good news or badâ€”and most of the Oahu audience doesnâ€™t really give much thought to the other islands, much less to neighbor island politics. You may debate that chicken or egg scenario amongst yourselves, but my point is that the rest of the state doesnâ€™t know much about Harry Kim except that there is this low-level buzz about him for some reason. Itâ€™s like a viral marketing campaign; a meme that means â€¦ what, exactly?
Itâ€™s pretty weird!
Know-nothings for candidates X, Y, and Z
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 12:24 pm
Today the SB offers us another installment of Borrecaâ€™s series of â€œInsider Surveys;â€ with two articels (one and two) and a column on the topic. Meanwhile, the Advertiser ran an op-ed piece by retired Hawaiian Trust Company executive Tom Macdonald. The topic of the day is the low voter turnout in Hawaii.
Borrecaâ€™s â€œinsidersâ€ trot out the usual laypersonâ€™s explanations for Hawaiiâ€™s low turnout and offer the usual suggestions to improve turnout. Macdonald challenges the entire notion low turnout being a problem, and riffs heavily on a study (PDF) done for the Cato Institute by Ilya Somin of George Mason School of Law. It makes for a very cool juxtaposition, indeed.
Apparently Macdonald either didnâ€™t finish reading Sominâ€™s paper, or perhaps Macdonald doesnâ€™t agree with the conclusions Somin draws. Maconald concludes his op-ed like this:
So we are left with the fact that millions of rational decisions on the part of voters result in a worrisome outcome: elections decided by the votes of the politically uninformed.
Is it time to think about requiring potential voters to pass some variation of the old literacy test that would ensure that they had at least basic political knowledge before they could register to vote?
Or would that be too â€œelitist”? Are there other possible solutions? Or do we just let our democratic system gradually unravel?
Bread and circuses, anyone?
Sominâ€™s paper does not contemplate any specific responses to the uninformed voters, rather (and not surprisingly, in a paper written for the Cato Institute) Somin concludes that it suggests the need for smaller government where it might be possible for voters to make better-informed decisions. (see pp. 20-21)
Other than its reliance on rational choice theory (which I continue to have serious theoretical reservations about), Sominâ€™s paper is useful for its discussion of the various theories of how voters are thought to make their decisionsâ€”even if I disagree with his conclusions. Itâ€™s an interesting paper, and mostly free of academese so even us know-nothings can benefit from reading it.
Service industry strapped for low-wage workers
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 12:24 pm
An interesting Advertiser article today focuses on the troubles of retailers looking for low-wage workers, but misses several points that Iâ€™m curious about.
This year, for the first time, an overwhelming majority of the members of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaiâ€™i ? 86 percent ? listed the quality and availability of Hawaiâ€™iâ€™s workforce as one of the top three issues facing Island businesses in the chamberâ€™s annual survey.
â€œThis is the first time the issue has moved to the top of the list,â€ chamber president Jim Tollefson said. â€œIt is a definite concern. Not a week goes by ? probably not a day goes by ? when I donâ€™t talk to someone who is looking for people. It is a reoccurring theme thatâ€™s impacting large and small businesses. Itâ€™s across the board.â€
The University of Hawaiâ€™i Economic Research Organization this month predicted that Hawaiâ€™iâ€™s low unemployment rate ? combined with rising inflation and shrinking visitor arrivals ? would slow the Islandsâ€™ economic growth this year and next.
UHERO cited â€œsome evidence that tight labor markets are beginning to act as a brake,â€ according to the organizationâ€™s latest economic forecast.
Uh, where are the good jobs? Is it really so bad for the economy if businesses such as these canâ€™t find workers? Frankly, if there are fewer places to get an ice cream dessert or a cheap haircut, I really donâ€™t care. Let the price of those non-essential items increase enough to attract employees by allowing for higher wages and/or let us consumers do without.
What is missing is any discussion of what is a living wage in Hawaii. Other states, especially those not so dependent upon the various service industries, can look to young workers (or immigrants) to provide a steady supply of workers to fill retail positions. In Hawaii, meanwhile, an educated worker is usually smart enough to figure out that service industry wages will only rarely be enough to get ahead in the short- to mid-term. So the educated workers leave Hawaii, or they bide their time living with family until a better option comes along, or perhaps they string together several several part-time service industry jobs and more-or-less become wage slaves.
Digging further into the â€œqualityâ€ of the workforce that the Chamber of Commerce members lament, letâ€™s consider the real world and the starkness of the bell curve, please. Unless the members have been hiring low-quality employees during the years of higher-unemployment rates, itâ€™s wishful thinking to hope that in a time of 3% unemployment there are going to be many quality workers who donâ€™t already have a job. This is not Lake Woebegone, where everyone is above average.
On a more meta level, we should consider why capitalists continue to fund start-up ventures in Hawaii which share a business model hinged upon constantly churning through a scarce supply of low-wage workers hoping to find and, against all logic, retain workers of â€œquality.â€
Sierra Club scorecard frustrates Big Isle pols and Honolulu readers
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 12:23 pm
I was referred to this earlier in the week but didnâ€™t write a post about it at the time, but today a letter to the SB editors reminded me of the topic:
I am writing today to discuss the massive failure of the media outlets here in Honolulu. The Sierra Club handed out its 2006 legislative scorecards on 10 key environmental bills and most of the media ignored the event.
The Sierra Club is a key organization dedicated to improving the environment and standing up when no one pays attention. According to Jeff Mikulina, the director of the state chapter, one third of our Legislature received failing grades. This is unacceptable. In a state that supposedly holds such high regard for the environment, why did the media and why do our politicians ignore it?
The West Hawaii Today ran a story a few days ago that sought the reaction of members of the Hawaii island delegation to the legislature who were called out by the Sierra Club scorecard (PDF).
While [Sierra Club Hawaii chapter director] Mikulina said this review only touched on a few of the bills, he encouraged residents to look at the range, rather than just the numbers.
â€œYou hear from your legislator that theyâ€™ve done all this good stuff for the environment, but then you see the actual voting record,â€ he said. â€œOf course everyone says theyâ€™ll fight for the environment, but we wanted to take away the sound bites and show how the votes really come out. If you donâ€™t like the way theyâ€™re voting, talk to them about it or vote for someone else.â€
â€œOther legislators are worried they are going to get a bad rating and they wonâ€™t get re-elected. If people donâ€™t want me in office, then they wonâ€™t vote for me anymore,â€ [Senator] Whalen said. â€œ(The Sierra Club) is using the report to try and pressure legislators in doing what they want.â€
This is the fourth environmental scorecard released by the Sierra Club, and Mikulina said it will continue to release them.
â€œWe get criticized, but I think itâ€™s necessary for the voters,â€ he said.
I think the WHT piece is a fair way to present the findings. Apparently the Honolulu media were not willing to run with what they saw as a one-sided â€œspecial interestâ€ story and were not willing to go beyond the press release and do original reporting (as the WHT did).
Hawaii executives work hard – to lower their golf handicaps
â€” Doug @ 12:23 pm
June Jones is a good golfer. Yawn.
The PBN has what I can only describe as a â€œlifestyleâ€ piece intended to appeal to its target reader demographic. I read it anyway. Heh. The article discusses the impressive golf handicaps of various Hawaii executives.
Anyway, after finishing the article I was left wondering if the online database of golf handicaps mentioned in the article might contain evidence of (m)any politicians putting in similarly excessive amounts of time on the links to lower his or her handicap. I played around with a few high-profile names (with nothing to report for doing so), but someone should do a systematic look for any â€œhard-workingâ€ politicians on the list.
Back from sea
â€” Doug @ 4:40 pm
I had a long day today off-loading gear and data from the research ship and then making the bus ride back to Kaneohe.
Iâ€™m volunteering this evening as a radio operator for the Pacific Cup finish committee, and, before that shift begins, Iâ€™ve got a bunch of â€œget my life back in orderâ€ errands to do, too.
Iâ€™ll be back to regular blogging tomorrow.
Republican enters the Senate race
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 11:10 am
I realize this post is a few days stale, but I should mention that the race for the U.S. Senate became a bit more interesting with the entry ofJerry Coffee into the contest on the Republican ticket. Although (to my knowledge) Coffee has no record of elective office to review, Iâ€™m sure his opponents will be carefully mining the text of his many speeches, his book(?), and his Midweek newspaper columns. All critique of Coffee will be tempered by the reverence afforded in polite company to a former prisoner of war, of course.
Among other sources, there are stories in the Advertiser, the SB and even a (puff) post at Hawaii Reporter.
Rather than dwell on his darkest days in Vietnam, he uses the experience in his motivational speaking tours. Now rated one of Americaâ€™s Top 10 Speakers, Coffee commands nearly $50,000 a speech and has been inducted into in the Speakerâ€™s Hall of Fame.
Now he wants to take yet another career â€“ this time in politics.
Besides national defense, Coffee says he will build his platform around bettering public education and getting tougher on crime.
Congressman Case, also vying for the seat, says he welcomes Coffee to the race, maintaining that Hawaii voters will now have three clear political philosophies to choose from.
Akaka was rated the most liberal Senator in the 100-member Senate in 1998 and continues with an extremely liberal voting record; Case has been deemed a moderate Democrat because he is a fiscal conservative who has supported limiting the federal budget and the troops in the war on terror, but is socially liberal; and Coffee, who is a Conservative Republican, backing the president on most of his initiatives including tax cuts, reducing the deficit and the war on terror.
â€œVoters can choose between extremes on both sides or someone who is more moderate and in the middle of the political spectrum,â€ Case says.
Hey, isnâ€™t that â€œmoderateâ€ message the Linda Lingle shtick? So much for all those rumors of Lingle running for Senate. She probably would not have been at the press conference if she had any plans to enter the raceâ€¦
What kind of audience can afford to hire a speaker like Coffee, and what exactly does he tell them? I would guess that his typical audience would consist of executives at a corporate convention, or perhaps a membership meeting of large national organizations. Locally, I recall announcements of him speaking at Rotary-kine events. A man with his background (retired Navy Captain and former POW) is likely to have been approached to (and may in fact) sit on corporate boards, too. In other words, Coffee should be able to raise campaign money fairly easilyâ€”indeed, he may have a sizable bankroll of his own money to spend, too.
No matter. My hunch is that the voters of Hawaii will find Coffee too conservative for their tastes and, if his rhetoric at the campaign announcement is any indication of how he intends to present his message, most Hawaii voters will find Coffee too abrasive.
AG decides to defer to NSA rather than to ensure our Constitution is being upheld
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 11:23 am
I was very glad to see a few articles today that follow up on the effort to determine the extent of Hawaii telecommunications companies participation in handing over customer calling records to the federal government. However, I am frustrated to see that our Attorney General is failing to pursue the matter. The Advertiser piece is here and a SB report is here.
At an informational briefing yesterday at the state Capitol, several House lawmakers asked Bennett why he has not demanded that carriers reveal whether they gave any phone records of Hawaiâ€™i customers to the NSA. The lawmakers argued that the stateâ€™s constitutional right to privacy and Public Utilities Commission regulations protecting the confidentiality of phone records may have been violated by the surveillance.
But Bennett said the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution would allow the NSA to pre-empt state law as long as the agency was acting within the scope of its congressionally delegated authority. â€œI think we have to wait and see how this works through the federal courts,â€ Bennett said.
Uh, that almost sounds reasonable (if pusillanimous) until you consider that if a federal government lawsuit succeeds in squashing the New Jersey subpoenas then Hawaii will never know how this would have worked through the federal courts!
The facts and the law here in Hawaii are (probably) not the same as the facts and the law in New Jersey. Furthermore, the two states are not part of the same federal judicial circuit, so any ruling in New Jersey would not be binding in Hawaii until appeals through the SCOTUS are complete. Thus, I think Hawaii should go forward with its own subpoenas and, if the facts confirm that the Hawaii telcos have been abridging our Constitutional rights, our AG should make as strong of a case as he can to uphold our Constitutional right to privacy.
Instead, our Attorney General lamely punts the issue to the Legislature. The Legislature which wonâ€™t be able to investigate, much less to follow up in Court, until January 2007. The Legislature should certainly do so, and candidates would be wise to remind the voters which party is taking the lead to uphold the Constitution.
Jon Van Dyke, a constitutional law professor at the University of Hawaii, disagreed, noting that the state Constitution and previous case law grant Hawaii citizens a higher level of privacy.
If a phone company operating in Hawaii voluntarily turned over information â€“ as has been reported nationally â€“ it would be in violation of state law, Van Dyke said. It would be different if a company were ordered to turn over information.
â€œIf theyâ€™re asking the phone companies to violate state law, the phone companies should say no,â€ Van Dyke said. â€œState law governs up until the point that companies are ordered to violate state law.â€
Both Bennett and Van Dyke said the secrecy with which the NSA has operated the program makes it hard to know what kind of request was made and whether the law was violated.
â€œWeâ€™re all in the dark here,â€ Van Dyke said.
Actually, even the NSA is in the dark because the program canâ€™t work!
Assuming that the program exists, which the government has pretty much confirmed, few people even bother to examine if such a program has any likelihood of success. Any competent statistics geek would be able to demonstrate mathematically that the type of program described has no chance of success. The government may just as well grab a random telephone customer off of the street and flip a coin to decide if he or she is involved in a terror network. Such a designation would be bogus, of course, but it would have better odds of success than this massive invasion of our privacy.
Tesoro CEO no-comments on gasoline price cap
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 2:28 pm
A Tesoro corporation official had a chat with the SB editors that resulted in an interesting story wherein we can infer that the company is concerned about keeping its employees on the same page of talking points.
[CEO] Smith said he is in Hawaii to meet with some of the companyâ€™s 600 employees and address some of their concerns about rising gas prices. The company plans to unveil new promotional materials today addressing the costs of gasoline.
â€œItâ€™s primarily about trying to empower them a little bit more to be aware of the issues,â€ Smith said, â€œnot just the emotional issues of high gasoline prices, but really the factual issues so they can do a little bit better job of being an advocate and not feel bad about working for the company.
â€œIt is a complicated issue.â€
From that I would infer that some of the Tesoro employees here in Hawaii are of the mind that they are working for a company that is not doing right by its community. Thatâ€™s saying something!
Also, in all the discussion Smith never makes the claim that they ever lost money during the price cap. You would think that if it had been unprofitable he would have made that argumentâ€”since it is essentially the â€œtrump cardâ€ in the debate. If it ever came to the point where they were losing money, the PUC had the flexibility to adjust the price cap formula to allow for a reasonable profit.
However, Tesoro never reported they were losing money. Instead, Smith describes an incident where Tesoro chose to transport some of its gasoline from the Hawaii market to other markets without price caps.
Hmmmm. So, the profit margin on gasoline in Hawaii was at that time so slim that, even after the added expense of shipping fuel to the mainland, Tesoro had a better profit potential outside of Hawaii.
What I come away from all of this with is: In order to maintain maximum return on its investment, Tesoro had to gouge some other market for a change. I think that speaks volumes about their pricing strategy in unregulated markets. I can easily understand why the Tesoro management would think that its workforce would benefit from a pep talk a dose of propoganda designed to allay their collective conscience.
Also, I remind everyone that if the â€œtransparencyâ€ provisions of the amended gasoline price cap law were actually being carried out, then everyone (the employees and the public) would know if Tesoro and Tesoroâ€™s competitors are playing fair or gouging Hawaii consumers.
Off I go
â€” Doug @ 11:48 am
Well, here I am at sea again for another research mission. We will be out here until Saturday morning. Last month I was able to find time to (slowly) read the news and update the blog. Weâ€™ll see how it goes this month.
At least Iâ€™m not missing a special session. Heh.
Photos of vandalism ordered offline by DOT
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 11:44 am
The State DOT has just provided a big dose of street credibility to a Kailua clothing company by censoring its website. The SB has the story and a link to the photos the DOT wants removed.
â€œYour Web site encourages individuals to vandalize state property by means of putting your â€˜UDownâ€™ stickers on state highway signs and encourages individuals to submit pictures of those vandalized to you,â€ said Deputy Transportation Director Brennon Morioka in the letter.
â€œThose who aid, abet, solicit, or counsel individuals to vandalize state property, may be, at the very least, liable for civil damages for the cost of removal,â€ Morioka said.
He warned UDown that the matter would be referred to the attorney generalâ€™s office for â€œcriminal investigation and prosecutionâ€ if they do not remove the photos from the Web site.
Is it vandalsim? Of course it is.
However, I see nothing on that website to support the charge that Udown explicitly aids, abets, solicits or counsels anyone to vandalize state property. Go after the (cute) vandals and/or the photographers who are aiding them. They are the criminals here.
Suppose I choose to begin to post photos here of political graffiti (created by vandals unknown to me) on government property featuring slogans that were embarrassing to the government. I would not take the photos offline without a fight. Iâ€™m not saying that Udown has a First Amendment issue with their commercial website, but I am saying that the pretext the DOT is using to censor them is pretty bogus.
Jones Act splits Case, Akaka
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 11:57 am
The Advertiser highlights another issue that differentiates Senator Akaka from his challenger, Representative Case.
The Jones Act requires that cargo moving between U.S. ports travel on ships that are made, owned and crewed by Americans. Hawaiâ€™i lawmakers have traditionally defended the act as necessary to ensure the Islands, which depend on imports, have a reliable domestic connection to the Mainland.
But Case believes the law has created a monopoly that has rewarded Alexander & Baldwinâ€™s Matson Navigation Co. and, to a lesser degree, Horizon Lines ? the two carriers that dominate the market ? at the expense of consumers.
Case said his differences with Akaka on the Jones Act are not just about policy, but about changing the stateâ€™s political culture.
â€œItâ€™s not the policy disagreement of the Jones Act, itâ€™s the concentration of power and the projection of power ? to reward your friends and punish your enemies ? simply to maintain the status quo,â€ Case said. â€œThe Jones Act is like the modern-day incarnation of the worst of the Big Five. It is a monopoly over a key lifeline for Hawaiâ€™i.â€
Akaka said the Jones Act has led to the dependable delivery of goods so products can go right to store shelves rather than staying in warehouses in the Islands at higher cost. He also said that having the ships under domestic control strengthens national security. â€œHawaiâ€™i and the nation need a strong maritime industry,â€ the senator said, â€œand the Jones Act is an essential part of the industryâ€™s survival.â€
The article concludes by noting that the Jones Act might be an essential part of Akakaâ€™s political survival, too.
Akaka has also received the financial backing of the International Longshoremenâ€™s Association and Alexander & Baldwin, Matsonâ€™s parent, which, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, have been the senatorâ€™s biggest campaign contributors over the years through political action committees and individual donations.
â€œI think their support is because I have supported them,â€ Akaka said of Alexander & Baldwin. â€œBut I support them because theyâ€™re good for Hawaiâ€™i.â€
Case, who has had doubts about the Jones Act since he served in the state Legislature, parted with the rest of the delegation to Congress in July 2003 when he introduced three alternatives to exempt Hawaiâ€™i from the act.
The congressman proposed that Hawaiâ€™i, Alaska and other offshore locations be exempt from the Jones Act; that only Hawaiâ€™i be exempt; or that only Hawaiâ€™i agriculture and livestock be exempt.
The bills never advanced in the House, and Case said they likely never would in the Senate given Inouyeâ€™s influence on the Commerce Committee.
Case believes he has suffered political consequences for his opinion but said he will continue to explain his differences with Akaka and the delegation because he thinks the Jones Act is harmful.
â€œPeople in Hawaiâ€™i tend to simply accept the status quo and believe thereâ€™s not another way of looking at things, and that somehow because things have been a certain way, they should be that way, and they should go on being that way,â€ he said.
Okay, the article suggests that the economic argument (i.e. abandoning the Jones Act in Hawaii would lead to cheaper, foreign-built/crewed freight deliveries) is not a slam dunk for either side. Letâ€™s move to the pro-Jones Act argument involving national security. Is that disputed? What exactly is the evidence that the Jones Act improves national security? What is the specific threat we face if it were to be repealed? Assertions with no evidence are not very convincing to me:
â€œItâ€™s very important that Hawaiâ€™iâ€™s lifeline be operated by an American company instead of foreign interests,â€ said Jeff Hull, Matsonâ€™s director of public relations.
Why is that so important? Just by saying it does not automatically make it so.
Caseâ€™s comments about the concentration and projection of power, and the political rewards and punishments are the most provocative parts of the article. Especially when the defense of the Jones Act status quo is so tautologicalâ€¦
Blogging, the interwebs, and Hawaiiuh
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 11:36 am
Did you notice that the Garden Island News mentions a DailyKos post by Gary Hooser? The article was written by an intern, but stillâ€¦
Adding to the homogenous nature of the campaign, every candidate but Kaua?i resident Gary Hooser is from O?ahu. Hooser?s status as the only Neighbor Island candidate is a possible advantage.
Hooser is also trying to distinguish himself by taking advantage of a new resource for political campaigns: the Internet. In a June 29 post on the popular political blog, dailykos.com, Hooser sought donations for his campaign.
Are there any other candidates who (personally) post on blogs to get their message out? Iâ€™m aware of Hooser, Zuiker, Karamatsu, and Hough and all four are on the blogroll already. Schatz seems to have given his up, so I deleted him.
Please, post a comment if you know of any candidates who either have their own blog or have been posting on other blogs.
Maui County Council to wade into ferry waters after tipping their hand
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 11:35 am
The Maui County Council and Mayor are making noises that the Superferry situation at Kahului should be put on hold while a closer look is given to the topic of the best use of the harbor space. The Maui News has another meaty article that explains what the pols have in mind.
Pressure continues to mount on the Superferry to pull the plug on its scheduled July 1, 2007, launch date at Kahului ? at least for a while ? to allow time for a better plan, especially at already-pinched Pier 2, where Young Brothers Ltd. is being forced to abandon a fourth of its space to make room for the new enterprise, which has created fears of a shipping crisis on Maui and Molokai. To keep things from getting worse, State Sen. Shan Tsutsui has asked Gov. Linda Lingle to put a hold on releasing the final $20 million that the ferry system needs for barges and ramps.
In a letter sent to Lingle two weeks ago, Tsutsui requested that Lingle ?restrict release of all remaining funds indefinitely so that this issue may be revisited during the 2007 (legislative) session.
?Updating our harbor master plan is key to getting this done right,? he added.
Willie Kennison, Maui division director of ILWU Local 142, agrees on behalf of 21,000 workers across the state. Kennison worries that if Young Brothers stops shipping small loads, it could cause job losses and raise prices.
?Superferry should wait,? said Kennison. ?I think the state is just rushing, rushing, rushing into it. We need to try to see how the harbor can be adjusted to handle LCL (less than container loads). There?s so much congestion now, and I think the state needs to take a good look: Is that (Pier 2) the right location??
Mayor Alan Arakawa said that, instead of Young Brothers, something else might have to give ? and it might be the cruise ships. Arakawa said Friday that the Norwegian Cruise Line vessels that dock at Pier 1 in Kahului Harbor for six days a week should move to Lahaina or anchor outside the Kahului breakwater where passengers could be shuttled to shore. Then Superferry could move into the cruise ship berth that hooks up to a real terminal, bathrooms and parking instead of the tents, portable restrooms and no parking that will be available near Pier 2.
?We?re just suggesting that,? said Arakawa. ?If it?s really critical, that?s an alternative that should be considered.?
Ho boy! The NCL folks had been whistling nervously on the sidelines during the harbor space debate until now, I reckon. Too bad the article doesnâ€™t have any comment from anyone at NCLâ€¦
Although [Council Chair] Hokama?s resolution does not carry the weight of law and can?t require the state or Superferry to comply, the state apparently is taking it quite seriously. Last Thursday, no less than four high ranking state officials made the rounds of the eighth floor of Kalana O Maui, the county building, to visit with as many council members as they could.
The Honolulu contingent included state Transportation Director Rod Haraga and his deputy director in charge of harbors, Barry Fukunaga, along with Mark Anderson, deputy director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, and Marsha Wienert, Lingle?s tourism liaison. The governor is one of Superferry?s biggest supporters.
Wienert was asked why the chief of tourism was involved.
?We?re a team, we support each other,? she said. ?I know most of the other council members. We just put this team together.?
Wienert said there was no attempt to lobby anyone.
?Oh, no,? she said. ?We were trying to determine from their point of view, what were the issues. We want to put together a presentation that would address their concerns. It really is about finding some solutions and moving forward.?
Sounds to me like the type of discussions that should be conducted in public, instead of in sequential â€œdivide and conquerâ€ meetings with individual councilmembers. In my opinion the Councilmembers (if they are seriously concerned about whatâ€™s going on) really gave the Governorâ€™s officials a gift by â€œexplaining their concernsâ€ in advance of the public meeting. Stand by for a razzle-dazzle PowerPoint snowjobâ€¦
Legislative aides work hard for modest pay – yet are portrayed as cheats
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:00 am
The PBN runs a story that hits pretty close to home for me. Itâ€™s about legislative session workers who apply for unemployment benefits when the session adjurns and they are looking for work. Shocking, I know.
The maximum weekly unemployment benefit is $459. To maintain their benefit, recipients only have to show they applied for three jobs each week. They can send in their reports online, so they donâ€™t even have to be in the state.
What the article doesnâ€™t explain is that a legislative sesson worker in the scenario they describe wonâ€™t receive the maximum weekly benefit because in order to get that maximum amount the worker needs to have a quarter of work (within the last 5 quarters) where he or she earned at least $3213/mo. [Do the math, using these explanations] Butâ€¦
The low pay and long hours are unattractive to many. Clerical staff members make $1,700 to $2,000 per month and a budget analyst makes $2,200 to $2,500 per month.
â€œWhatâ€™s frustrating is that when you get good, committed people during session you canâ€™t keep them because I donâ€™t have the resources for it,â€ said Kevin Kuroda, House sergeant-at-arms. â€œThere are some regulars who come back, but for the rest you have to retrain them and explain to them their responsibilities, expectations and how the Legislature works every time.â€
Does anyone think that the sort of perennial churning of staff Kuroda describes doesnâ€™t impact the quality of the legislation that is produced and processed each year? Think again.
At the Legislature I am paid a salary of $2,600 per month, even though I now have ten years of experience and for the past 6 sessions Iâ€™ve held a MA degree. I didnâ€™t start at anything close to that salary, and, as far as I know, I earn the maximum salary that a House member is allowed to pay a session employee. Furthermore, I routinely work 50 hour weeks. I obviously donâ€™t do it for the money. Are there private sector workers who toil harder than I do for less pay? Sure. But I am not an unjustifiable burden to the taxpayer.
I have never applied for unemployment compensation because I was lucky to fall into a parallel career in science (which pays even less, if youâ€™re wondering). However, if I did apply, would it be unreasonable that I would get $371/week? I donâ€™t think so. Nobody in Hawaii is going to live very well or very long on $1,500 per monthâ€¦ The lower-paid clerical staff and budget analysts would get even less unemployment compensation.
The National Conference of State Legislatures said itâ€™s unclear if this work-unemployment-work cycle is unique to Hawaii.
â€œOver the last couple of decades, the trend is to hire fewer session staff because legislative aide is a profession,â€ said Brian Weberg, the conferenceâ€™s director of legislative management program. â€œLegislatures hire more full-time staff.â€
Even with the perk of unemployment pay, legislative officials say they are having a hard time finding workers.
â€œWe had a terrible time finding people this session,â€ Mau-Shimizu said. She went to all the local colleges, advertised in the papers and through word of mouth tried to hire about 75 people.
The â€œperkâ€ of unemployment pay?! Unemployment compensation is an entitlement earned by all workers; it is not unique to legislative session staff employees. Actually, even pot-stirring journalists would qualify for it. Heh.
Senator Slom, and anyone who reads the article (and my post) and is still upset about the cost of paying these unemployment benefits should pause to compare it to the alternatives: denying the benefits would make it even harder to find qualified workers and more likely that the legislature will perform poorly; professionalization and making the legislative session into a year-round operation would cost much more than paying these benefits.
Special session still an unknown
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 9:27 am
Jerry Burris has a very reasonable column in the Advertiser today, urging the Democrats in the Legislature to think carefully about which, if any, vetoes they choose to override. Sound familiar? This after several major unions wrote to the legislators urging them to overturn any and all vetoes earlier. Meanwhile, at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald there is a story that at least tries to get some comment from the legislative leadership regarding the likelihood of a special session, but nothing comes of it.
A few things could be at play here. Itâ€™s possible that the legislative leadership has yet to make a decision about convening a special session. Itâ€™s also possible that the legislators have already made a decision but will wait to see if the Governor vetoes any of the 28 bills before their deadline to make a decision (itâ€™s unlikely that she would telegraph her intentions early, however). Announcing their intention to convene would give the Governor a free hand to veto most or all of the bills, which would provide her maximum political gain at minimal real-world cost to employees (since the legislature would be able to override). By keeping its intention secret, the legislature forces the Governor to weigh the political costs a bit differently. Without knowing the legislatureâ€™s intentions, if Lingle were to veto some of the more substantive measures (i.e. not the opihi bill), she faces the risk that there may be no special session to revive them. Those vetoes could become campaign baggage that Republicans would rather not carry.
Thus, we should expect both sides of this showdown to run out the clock.
Polls may not mean much, but they are â€œfunâ€
â€” Doug @ 9:26 am
Another peek behind the editorial curtain today brings us a column about the reaction from a campaign manager who charges the newspaper with â€œmaking the newsâ€ by conducting polling. Since they refer to â€œherâ€ I am going to assume it is Elisa Yadao of Senator Akakaâ€™s campaign, unless there are other female campaign managers who might be upset with the direction the June polling went..
The point isnâ€™t that polls are flawed. Theyâ€™re just a snapshot in time reflecting what people think at the moment they are being questioned. Views and events can change quickly from the time polls are developed, results are tabulated and votes are cast.
I would argue that our four days of poll results were fascinating. Hawaiâ€™iâ€™s views on Iraq, Ed Case, Dan Akaka, Linda Lingle, Mufi Hannemann, the economy and so on are reflective of something voters are feeling, at least on the day the polling is conducted. Itâ€™s fun for people to debate what the numbers mean or donâ€™t mean [here, here, here, and here], and we intend before the September primary to get another peek into votersâ€™ minds.
To respond to the campaign managerâ€™s complaint, weâ€™re not making the news because we have no vested interest in how voters respond. Itâ€™s more likely that candidates with their own polls are framing the questions with intended results in mind.
True, that may be more likely, but most of the media are willing to report those dubious poll results originating from the candidates, too. After all, hiring pollsters and reporting on poll results is much easier than trying to actually pin down the candidates on the issues. Indeed, some voters find the horesrace polling to be the only political news worth following. Issues are so, you know, complicated.
Several years ago, we commissioned an excellent series called â€œThe Vanishing Voterâ€ that detailed over many installments the problems Hawaiâ€™i historically had getting people to the polls. We got some good response, but the overall reaction was a collective shrug. [Indeed, even the Advertiserâ€™s link is now dead] It seems that nobody had a good answer about how we might get people in this state to care about voting.
One way for The Advertiser to keep them interested is to make sure the races and the issues are fresh in the publicâ€™s mind. Thatâ€™s why we spend so much effort developing comprehensive votersâ€™ guides and devote so much space in print and online to issues-oriented pieces. Part and parcel of that coverage is knowing how voters feel about the issues.
Polls are a useful way to find whatever resembles a political pulse in a state that was dead last in voter turnout the past two presidential elections.
Truly, our voter turnout is embarassing. Has anybody studied the states with the best voter turnout to see what Hawaii might learn? Do the high turnout states have more or less polling? More or less campaign spending? Higher or lower cost-of-living? Where might the difference lie?
UPDATE: Yadao left a comment to say it wasnâ€™t her. So, which campaign is managed by a woman, then? Not that it really matters much, but I am curious.
The Napkin Cam
â€” Doug @ 9:26 am
A very curious Maui News article describes a dispute over video recording at a meeting of, get this, the Tri-Isle Subarea Health Planning Council. ?? Whatever that is. The article waits until the very last sentence to mention what the meeting was about. Most of the article is about the dispute.
Miriam de Vera and Susan Thomas came to testify and also brought a video camera and tripod to record the proceedings of the Tri-Isle Subarea Health Planning Council.
Chairman John Ornellas announced that the panel had agreed at an earlier meeting to deny videography, after a news organization had asked to tape a meeting. He said audio recording would be OK.
He also noted that Maui Memorial Medical Center had hired a professional sound recordist to record the meeting.
Well, that sounds like a bummer for insomniac Sunshine Law fans of public access television, but itâ€™s not something I would lose any sleep over. However, it gets more interesting.
De Vera draped a napkin over the lens of her camera and continued to record sound until Nick Nikhilananda, a member of the Akaku: Maui Community Television board of directors (and also a Maui County Council candidate) came in and objected.
Nikhilananda said he called Akaku?s lawyer and got advice that in an officially noticed public meeting, videography must be allowed.
Would that lawyer have been another Maui County Council candidate? The drama evolves.
Ornellas disagreed, and Nikhilananda demanded, ?Where is your deputy attorney general? Have a seat. That video is not going off.?
Dr. David Sakamoto, the administrator of the State Health Planning and Development Agency, the supervisor of the council, said he would call a deputy attorney general.
?It?s your dime, call the AG,? said Nikhilananda.
Ornellas had his cell phone out and was on the verge of calling the Maui police.
However, he called a recess instead, which lasted about half an hour. Sakamoto read from a rule booklet published by the Office of Information Practices, which said that audio recording must be permitted but that videography is discretionary with state bodies.
However, OIP suggests allowing videos if they do not cause ?undue interference? with the meeting.
You can almost imagine the unspoken, â€œstep off, punks!â€ from Sakamoto. Heh.
Governor will call the shots on the homeless disaster
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 9:35 am
The SB editorializes today about the Governorâ€™s disaster proclamation and the State-County interaction it will require.
As Lingle was preparing to meet with homeless advocates on the Waianae Coast more than two weeks ago to assess the problem, Hannemann announced that three beach parks where many of the homeless sleep â€“ Maili, Nanakuli and Keaau â€“ will be closed at night in September for renovation. The city will perform similar work in August at Waianae Beach Park, but it will not be closed at night because no homeless sleep there.
Lingle has said she expects that â€œbetween now and the end of the year, we can have substantial emergency shelters set up along the Leeward Coast.â€ Possible locations are Kalaeloa, formerly Barbers Point, Lualualei and commercial property in Waianae.
The mayor has refused to delay the renovations because â€œthe community is tired of waiting.â€ He agreed last week to telephone Lingle to set up tomorrowâ€™s meeting only after being peppered with questions by reporters about why he had not done so previously.
That was last week. This week, thereâ€™s a new sheriff in town.
As of the disaster proclamation, the Governor need not worry about any â€œrefusalâ€ by the Mayor to delay the renovations. For that matter, since the proclamation specifically suspends any (HRS 46) actions by the County the Governor feels would impede providing relief to the homeless, the Mayorâ€™s only options are to either be a part of whatever solution the Governor wants or to step aside. I donâ€™t think it will come that, since the Mayor probably understands just how much power a disaster proclamation provides for the Governor and is unlikely to embarrass himself by trying to challenge it. However, itâ€™s now the 800# gorilla in the room.
Meanwhile, at the Advertiser there is a story that describes a few of the tentative locations for the relief camps to be established.
The state is considering a number of potential sites on the Waiâ€™anae Coast for emergency homeless shelters, including land next to the Waiâ€™anae Boat Harbor once proposed for the controversial â€œCamp Hopeâ€ shelter, an official said yesterday.
Other possibilities include property behind the Makaha Marketplace and numerous sites controlled by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, [Governorâ€™s representative] Park said.
To the extent that one article and so little public knowledge of it could indicate, so far the community reaction seems cautiously supportive.
Hmmm. Taking another look at the disaster proclamation, I note that the Governor did not suspend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. Until she does, this project would seem to require the usual DHHL process to use any of the DHHL lands.
New publisher named at The Garden Island News
â€” Doug @ 9:35 am
I donâ€™t know if this is good news, bad news, or even worth mentioning, but PBN reports that the GIN has a new publisher in Mark Lewis. He (like me) completed a USMC enlistment in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and then (unlike me) began a career in the newspaper circulation business.
Iâ€™m am curious what has/will become of the former-publisher, Shanna Pollard. The article only says that Pollard â€œleft the company.â€
Superferry opposes shipping plan
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 1:00 pm
This was only a subtext in earlier reports, but the Maui News fleshes out an interesting aspect of the Maui Land and Pineapple effort to enter the freight consolidation business for less than container loads bound to and from Kahului on the Superferry.
Because of Superferry and ML&P?s close connection, it was assumed that the companies were working together when Nishida explained the plan Monday night. There was no mention that Superferry had any concerns. No one from Superferry attended the meeting.
When asked how Superferry officials responded when ML&P had earlier shared its proposal, [ML&P president] Nishida said: â€œWe really didn?t get any sort of reaction.â€
According to Nishida, ML&P will continue to ask for fast track approvals from the PUC and other agencies that would allow them to consolidate freight at their Kahului pineapple plant and ship the loaded trucks to Oahu ? without individual drivers. The application will include a request for â€œfavorable pricingâ€ as a common carrier with guaranteed space on Superferry on every sailing between Maui and Oahu. If all approvals and price breaks are granted, ML&P thinks it can offer a shipping service at the same prices Young Brothers charges today, even though Young Brothers has said it loses money on that part of its operation.
But O?Halloran said Superferry will not guarantee space or cheaper prices to ML&P ? or anyone else ? on the ferry that is scheduled to begin service in July 2007.
â€œWe treat our commercial customers and our resident customers equally,â€ said O?Halloran. â€œAny commercial customer will need to reserve space on Hawaii Superferry, like everyone else, at our published rates.â€
ML&P might be the biggest local investor in the Supeferry, but it seems that ML&P may have overestimated the amount of influence its investment stake would entail. I donâ€™t know what the net capitalization of the Superferry is, but I would assume it is many millions of dollars. Thus, $600,000 isnâ€™t anything close to a controlling stake. Why should we believe it when Supeferry officials say that they did not know what was going on at ML&P, even though the corporations have two overlapping board members in Cole and Haruki?â€¦
Kauai voters to choose at least 3 new (of 4) State legislators
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 1:00 pm
Should she be re-elected, Representative Morita will be the senior member of the Kauai delegation to the State Legislature upon the announced retirement of Representative Kawakami. Previously Representative Kanoho announced his retirement, and, after Congressman Case gave up his re-election and decided to challenge U.S. Senator Akaka, State Senator Gary Hooser quickly announced he would be giving up his seat to campaign for Congress.
My first question is who will replace Representative Kawakami as the Vice-Chair of the House Finance Committee? If it comes about purely by seniority, then the Vice-Chair job would go to Representative Nakasone. However, itâ€™s too early to muse much about leadership roles before the elections are even heldâ€¦
A less-obvious question, will Representative Morita attempt to make the move to the Senate to fill Hooserâ€™s seat? As of June 30 she had drawn, but had not filed, papers to seek re-election to her House seat.
UPDATE: Uh, nevermind about the â€œless-obvious.â€ They have both left comments to set me straight. The obvious answer is that I have confused Senator Hooser (not giving up a seat) for Representative Schatz (giving up a seat). I think I wrote too many posts todayâ€¦
Boy, do I feel stupid!
Governor proclaims a major homelessness disaster
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 1:00 pm
The Governor has declared (PDF) the Leeward coast of Oahu to be a disaster area due to the thousands of people living on the beaches. This gives her one year (and up to one million dollars) to address the problem, and also allows her to set aside laws that might impede the provision of relief. The Advertiser has an article here and the Pacific Business News has an article here.
Upon reviewing the disaster declaration, I took a look at the related chapters (sections of 127 and 128) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. It seems to me that the Governor has incredibly broad powers to declare disasters (and to make such declarations without any sort of judicial review, as far as I can tell).
Her official â€œdeclarationsâ€ are on page 4 and 5 of the proclamation. With the various laws that have been suspended, the procurement and provision of any relief should go much more smoothly, but it will be interesting to see how the public reacts to whatever is doneâ€”since the public will be powerless to stop it.
Helping the homeless is always popular in the abstract, but the level of support declines when a shelter is proposed for somebodyâ€™s backyard. The proclamation, while it does (loosely) describe the disaster area as areas where homeless people congregate, does not explicitly limit where the Governor can create shelters. On an East Honolulu ridgeline, perhaps? Heh. On the other hand, if the proclamation is interpreted to read that any relief may only be provided (and statutes waived) within the disaster area, then get ready for homeless shelters to be erected directly on the Leeward beachesâ€¦
OHA wonâ€™t buy KGMB after all
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 12:59 pm
KGMB still has nothing on their website about it, but yesterday the full OHA board voted down the possibility of buying the television station. There is an Advertiser story here, a SB article here, a KHNL report here, and a KITV segment here. Itâ€™s interesting to compare these accounts for differences.
The Advertiser doesnâ€™t leave any impression that the idea is likely to be revived, but the SB and KHNL reports say that Trustee Stender may try again.
The Advertiserâ€™s source seems to foreclose the chance that the concept would have any chance for FCC approval:
Local attorney Chris Conybeare, vice chairman of the Honolulu Media Council, said heâ€™s not surprised that OHA is abandoning its bid for KGMB.
As a government entity, OHA faced little or no prospect of gaining approval from the FCC, he said. If OHA were to make a passive investment or were to finance the purchase of the station by a separate entity, the deal would come under close scrutiny by the FCC.
â€œThis whole idea of a state agency owning a television station didnâ€™t wash,â€ Conybeare said. â€œI just didnâ€™t think that it was an idea that would have proceeded very far.â€
The SB and KITV, however, say that federal approval would be possible:
Representatives of the Federal Communications Commission could not be reached yesterday, but it has previously issued licenses to government agencies for television and radio stations, which are mostly public broadcasting-type outlets. However, the state-funded University of Missouri-Columbia, home to a prestigious school of journalism, owns and operates KOMU-TV, an NBC affiliate in Columbia.
Some question whether a quasi-state agency buying a media outlet would be a good idea. There are no federal regulations against it.
All but KITV return to the question of the risks of government-owned media, with KHNL nabbing this comment:
Another reason to buy a t-v station is, explains [Trustee] Akana, to have some media control. â€œThe Hawaiians have never been able to tell their story. Thatâ€™s not to say weâ€™d try to control any content.â€
Instead, she says, OHA could change the format of local t-v news. According to Trustee Akana, none of the board members at the meetings said anything about using the t-v station as a propaganda tool.â€
Well, of course the boardmembers didnâ€™t say that! Naked propoganda is much less persuasive than a latent editorial bias. The SB provides us another interesting comment, from a Poynter Institute official:
â€œThereâ€™s plenty to be concerned about when anything that even smells like a government agency gets their hands on a television license.
â€œGovernment agencies have a habit of not being able to keep their hands off the throttle â€¦ To a boy with a hammer, everything looks like a nail â€“ and government agencies have this need to regulate.â€
No elaboration, however, of how a government agencyâ€™s so-called need to regulate is a priori a bigger risk to the freedom of the press than a corporate ownerâ€™s need to profit.
Political pressure for special session begins
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 12:59 pm
Legislators and the Governor may be privately hearing from supporters and opponents of the various bills facing possible veto, as I described earlier, but so far I have not noticed any letters to the editor in any of my usual sources urging the Governor either to carry out or to reconsider any of her possible vetoes. Today, however, the SB reports that union leaders have sent a letter to all Democratic legislators urging them to convene next Tuesday to override any vetoes.
The union leaders told the 61 Democratic legislators that the bills should become law because the measures are â€œall of the significant bills affecting the labor movement here in Hawaii.â€
â€œAs leaders of the major labor unions in Hawaii, we are looking to the Democrats in the House and Senate to step up and demonstrate leadership for the party by meeting the governorâ€™s challenge and returning in special session to override her vetoes of these critical issues,â€ the letter said.
In response, Lingle said the lawmakers should not look at the bills in a political light.
â€œIt is my hope that our legislators will put public interest before party. As public officials we must represent all the people, not just some. I am certain that the public will have no trouble recognizing the difference,â€ Lingle said.
The union leaders cast an override session as an opening salvo in the 2006 elections.
â€œIn our view, it is imperative before the 2006 elections that Democrats make a stand and demonstrate how we are philosophically different from (the) governor and her party,â€ the letter said.
For whatever reason, the article does not provide any reaction from legislators. From a purely procedural perspective, it seems obvious that any legislature that passes legislation with a huge majority should, at the least, try to override every veto. What is the point of going through all the effort to pass the bill, if not?
Inevitably, policy differences will be stark when opposing parties control the executive and legislative branches of government, but so be it. The executive should never refrain from vetoing legislation it finds objectionable, but, once that unilateral act has occurred, a strong legislature should not simply roll over and allow a veto stand.
As I wrote in that earlier post, the Governor has already begun to score political points simply by announcing her list of potential vetoes. The best way for the Legislature to score in return is to defend their work by overturning the vetoes while offering a clear justification for doing so. Love them or hate them, but a politician needs to stand for something other than cautious image protection. In the end, the election will be an opportunity for voters to decide if their elected officials have done the right thingâ€”or fumbled on the goal line.
Hokulea 30th Anniversary
â€” Doug @ 12:59 pm
Mahalo to the SB for a nice collection of feature stories about the Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokulea. Iâ€™ve been admiring the Hokulea programs since reading the book Voyage of Rediscovery by Ben Finney, which tells the tale of its Hawaii to Tahiti trip using traditional polynesian navigation techniques.
A few years ago a good friend of mine arranged for me to ride along on a brief sunset training cruise on the canoe. As the stars came out the navigator in training (studying under Nainoa Thompson) was able to introduce me to the most rudimentary understanding of how they are able to keep the boat on course without instruments. Iâ€™m so glad that this amazing skill is being preserved for the future.
As the book (and these articles) show, there is so much more to the canoe than the well-known and tragic Eddie Aikau story. My hat is off to the Polynesian Voyaging Society for its decades of valuable work.
OHA may buy a Honolulu television station
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 1:39 pm
Very surprising news that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is studying a possible purchase of KGMB. The Advertiser has a story here, and the SB has a piece here.
The first issue raised was â€œcan OHA do it?â€ I think they can. The law delineating the purposes of OHA seems squishy enough (if purchasing the station is viewed purely as an investment opportunity that will be profitable and thereby benefit Native Hawaiians), and the law describing the powers of OHA would certainly seem sufficient for them to buy and operate a television station (or any other business they choose, for that matter).
The next issue is then â€œshould OHA do it?â€ Thatâ€™s a much more interesting question.
Media ownership questions are always fraught with the possibility, or even likelihood, of censorship. Journalists worry that the owners will exert pressure (or worse) as they seek to influence editorial decisions. Government-owned media, then, are seen as dangerous to the preservation of the necessarily aggressive news-gathering about government activity.
The current system of corporate media ownership is only slightly less problematic. Instead of government-ownership, we find large corporations owning the media and, to varying degrees, those same corporations exerting influence over many of our government officials. The editors of corporate-owned media face a latent, but sometimes heavily overt, pressure to carefully weigh what impact his or her reporting may have on the owners. Not only in terms of direct impact (stories concerning the ownersâ€™ product failures, corporate malfeasance, etc.) but also in indirect terms (stories damaging to the ownersâ€™ political allies or business partners).
OHA boardmembers acknowledged that a Hawaiian-themed station would lose money, yet the articles note that the idea to buy the station came after meeting with native tribes in Canada who provide â€œnative programmingâ€ on their own network. It would be interesting to review how (if?) that network handles news about tribal politics.
The United States has no native-owned television stations as far as I can tell, but I did find this cautionary piece about the Cherokee nation and the history of freedom of the press issues at its tribally-owned newspaper. Many Native American tribes own print media companies, but few tribal constitutions guarantee the freedom of the press. I am not a lawyer, but, in contrast to the tribes, it seems to me that OHA, as an arm of government established under the Hawaii State Constitution, would have to provide for freedom of the press. What that would mean in practice is hard to say.
This could be a fascinating debate.
Maui Land and Pineapple – and Freight?
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 1:38 pm
Two recent stories (Wednesday in the Maui News and Thursday in the Advertiser) describe a new wrinkle in the Hawaii Superferry v. Less-than Container Load Freight issue. The Young Brothers barges that currently deliver that freight are running out of space statewide to consolidate and separate those small loads into and out of shipping containers, but the issue is coming to a boil on Maui first after the DOT reallocated space at Kahului Harbor to accomodate the Superferry.
The latest wrinkle is that one of the Hawaii Superferry investors, Maui Land and Pineapple, is offering to replace the LCL service in and out of Kahului that Young Brothers has plans to quit providingâ€”plans that were probably inevitable, but became critical after the State assigned some of Young Brothersâ€™ harbor space to the Superferry.
ML&P says that they have space available near the port to handle the consolidation work, they note that the Superferry would be much faster than barges, and they even claim that the price to the freight customers wonâ€™t go upâ€¦ IF the PUC approves some changes to the Superferry operating plan and rate structure.
Nishida [of ML&P] was the first member of the public to speak during the meeting that ran nearly 4 hours. Reading from a two-page statement, Nishida indicated that ML&P?s â€œcreative solutionâ€ could actually provide a sweeter deal for Maui residents than Young Brothers gives today ? even though Young Brothers has said it loses money shipping the small loads.
Nishida said some â€œcost-cutting measures that could make this new service feasibleâ€ have been identified, but â€œmay require regulatory approvals from the PUC, Coast Guard and others.â€
If â€œcertain conditionsâ€ are met, continued Nishida, â€œMaui?s small-business owners can receive faster, more efficient service via the Superferry at the same rates they are currently paying Young Brothers.â€
Nishida said in order for the proposal to work, ML&P would ask for a waiver of a requirement in Superferry?s PUC approved application that drivers must accompany each vehicle transported on the ferry. ML&P wants only a single safety officer to be allowed to travel with an entire fleet carrying goods. Drivers would meet the ferry at the other end for delivery.
ML&P would make other requests, too.
â€œWe would need PUC approval of favorable pricing for ML&P as a common carrier with guaranteed space on every Hawaii Superferry sailing between Maui and Oahu,â€ said Nishida. â€œWe would need to secure a reduced volume-based shipping rate from Superferry approved by the PUC so that small Maui businesses can maintain shipping costs comparable to that of Young Brothers? existing LCL service.â€
Basically, the PUC is being asked to make siginificant changes to the Superferry business plan. Iâ€™m trying to wrap my head around this better, but something just doesnâ€™t seem rightâ€¦
Incidentally, the PUC has a large collection of documents on Superferry and on the LCL issue here. I donâ€™t have time to review it all, but I did notice that back in 2004 Young Brothers was already raising concerns (PDF) with the PUC about the lack of space and about some of the claims made by the Hawaii Superferry. Superferry downplayed those concerns (see page 14 and 15 of the PDFâ€”and thereâ€™s even a redacted paragraph for some reason) at the time, and apparently the PUC was placated, as they issued the credential Superferry desired and allowed them to proceed.
Goodbye, Thomas. Hello, GovTrack!
â€” Doug @ 8:10 am
Long-time readers may recall that I donâ€™t have much fondness for the Library of Congress legislative tracking website known as Thomas.
Well, I was pointed to a better mousetrap yesterday and Iâ€™ve added it to the links. The site is GovTrack.us and it presents the same information in a much more useful and user-friendly way. Itâ€™s a big improvement!
Poll finds high approval ratings for Mayor and Governor
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:33 am
Wow, Iâ€™m beginning to wonder just how many more stories based on the same telephone poll the Advertiser could have in the works. There is another episode today about the approval ratings of Governor Lingle and Mayor Hannemann. Four consecutive days of stories based on the same polling data, so far.
Lingleâ€™s 73 percent job approval rating is the highest for the Republican governor in the Hawaiâ€™i Poll since she took office four years ago. Her popularity extends across political, ethnic and income lines, putting her in an enviable position in an election year.
Sixty-two percent of Democrats approve of the way she is doing her job, partially explaining why the two Democratic candidates for governor, former Mililani state Sen. Randall Iwase and Waiâ€™anae harbormaster William Aila Jr., have not attracted much enthusiasm.
Hannemannâ€™s job approval rating is 71 percent, validation for a mayor who has had to respond to an ugly sewage spill in Waikiki and homeowner anger over rising property taxes in the first 18 months of his term. The mayor also does well among different political, ethnic and income groups.
Strange that today the article mentions the (in)significance of ethnicity, but yesterdayâ€™s article about Native Hawaiian issues, based on the same telephone polling, did not describe the significance (if any) of ethnicity on those obviously ethnically-related questions regarding sovereignty. Go figure.
â€œI think this helps me with the Legislature,â€ Lingle said of her approval rating. â€œItâ€™s where I think it really helps, because itâ€™s an indication that the public agrees that the ideas and policies weâ€˜re putting forward are aligned with their own, and that weâ€˜re being effective, weâ€˜re getting the kind of results people appreciate.â€
Well, thatâ€™s one predictable way to spin it.
However, the â€œweâ€ in government goes beyond the Executive branch. Another way to interpret her approval rating is that approximately 3/4 of the Republican Governorâ€™s ideas and policies are in alignment with the overwhelmingly Democrat-controlled legislature. Read in this way, the Governor picks the other 1/4 of her (mostly losing) ideas and policies carefully, feebly fighting those fights as a sop to the frustrated Hawaii GOP base who often view Lingle as a RINO.
That interpretation could also explain why Lingleâ€™s leading opponents, Misters Iwase and Aila, are not â€œattracting enthusiasmâ€ among Democrats.
Lynx visits Hawaii
â€” Doug @ 8:31 am
I donâ€™t use the â€œSailingâ€ tag as much as Iâ€™d like, but this Hawaii Tribune-Herald story is about as good of an opportunity as Iâ€™ll get.
The privateer replica Lynx has arrived from California and will be in Hawaii for several weeks before returning to Washington state. I recently read Richard Henry Danaâ€™s Two Years Before the Mast, which stoked my long-held interest in sailing ships. Iâ€™m seriously considering signing on for one of the short passages while she is here.
Happy Independence Day
â€” Doug @ 10:16 am
So far it looks like it should be a great day for barbecues, parades, and pyrotechnics. Enjoy it all!
Open letter from Case to Akaka
â€” Doug @ 10:16 am
Received via email:
July 3, 2006
Dear Senator Akaka:
Last week, one of your spokespersons stated publicly that you had agreed to a debate or debates. Yesterday, another spokesperson stated that you continued to have our many pending debate and joint appearance invitations under â€œactive considerationâ€ (as you have stated since January) and you would be agreeing to one or some.
I am not aware of any specific forum you have agreed to from among the numerous pending debate invitations extended by our statewide and community television, radio and print media. I am similarly not aware of any specific joint appearance that you have agreed to from among the many pending requests, with the sole exception of an August 8th invitation from the Hawaii Publishers Association (which is not a debate but a back-to-back appearance.) You have also not responded to my invitation to join me in a series of ten or more statewide Senate Talk Stories.
Please confirm whether there are any invitations to which you have agreed other than the August 8th event. I would similarly appreciate your confirmation of which of the other debate or joint appearance invitations under your active consideration you will accept. I also ask for an answer to my own statewide Senate Talk Stories invitation.
There are just 81 days left to election day. We are both asking Hawaiiâ€™s voters to make a crucial choice on the future of Hawaiiâ€™s representation in the United States Senate.
Joint discussion and debate on these choices and related issues is critical to providing voters with the full range of information with which to make their decisions. It is a basic job requirement for any United States Senator, and it is a basic obligation of any candidate for the Senate, incumbent or challenger, to his or her voters. Several of your own Senate colleagues running for reelection have already recognized their obligation by debating their challengers on statewide and national television.
We should do likewise, and we have ample time, before and through our five-week August district work period as well as after, to undertake a range of appearances statewide. For my own scheduling purposes and so I can continue to fairly characterize your actions, I ask for your response at this time. [emphasis in original]
U.S. Congressman Ed Case
Hmmm. Which other incumbent U.S. Senators facing primary challengers have already participated in debates on statewide or national television?
â€œWith aloha,â€ yeah, right. Heh.
Sovereignty polling questions debated while DHHL faces lawsuit
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:28 am
I noticed an interesting pairing of articles from the Honolulu dailies today. In the Advertiser there was a another piece based upon a telephone poll conducted in June that is said to show a decline in support for Hawaiian sovereignty, while at the SB there is this article about a lawsuit filed by a Native Hawaiian that is said to have a small chance of dismantling the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
Results from last monthâ€™s polling show 63 percent of respondents support a recognized Hawaiian entity ? marking a decline from the 73 percent who supported it when virtually the same question was asked in November 2000.
The margin of error for the latest poll was 4 percentage points, while the 2000 poll had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
While a majority of [June 2006] respondents supported the idea of a Hawaiian entity â€œsimilar to the special recognition given to American Indian tribes,â€ support falls to less than half when a preface to the question refers to â€œa sovereign Hawaiian nation.â€
So, since the article makes so much about the phraseology of the poll questions, what was the wording used in the 2000 poll? Accounting for the margins of error, there may have actually been little change in public opinion (in 2000 could have been as little as 68.1% in favor, while in 2006 could have been as much as 67% in favor).
Poll respondents, by a more than 4-to-1 margin, favored keeping the existing Kamehameha Schoolsâ€™ Hawaiians-first admissions policy.
Ronald Okura, 63, of lower Makiki, said Kamehameha Schools should be left alone. â€œThe princess made it in the will. And whatâ€™s in there, they shouldnâ€™t change it.â€
A challenge to the admissions policy is under way in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Unfortunately for the Kamehameha Schools, the princess could not have predicted that the (foreign) U.S. judicial system might one day enforce (then-unexisting) laws regarding the â€œcontractsâ€ entailed in the educational services provided to students benefitting from her will.
Moving to the DHHL topic:
Patrick Kahawaiolaa doesnâ€™t want to destroy the system that awards leases to native Hawaiians, but he does want to destroy the controlling Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
He thinks the Hawaiian Homes Commission can run the land system without a department, and doing so would end injustices he believes exist.
Thereâ€™s a small chance that he may upend both the department and the system. Heâ€™s basing a federal lawsuit against the department on racial grounds, that non-Hawaiians are barred from Hawaiian Homes leases.
Deputy Attorney General Clayton Lee Crowell opposes that suit brought by Kahawaiolaa, 61, a retired postal worker, and five others.
The law prohibits Hawaiians from trying to protect the rights of non-Hawaiians, Crowell said. In legal language, Kahawaiolaa and the others donâ€™t have â€œstanding,â€ he said.
U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway already ruled against Kahawaiolaa. But there is no certainty about a pending appeal until a ruling comes from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
But could his lawsuit end Hawaiian Homes leases to Hawaiians only? â€œI donâ€™t think that will happen,â€ he answers. â€œI donâ€™t worry about that.â€
Wha? If Kahawaiolaa is â€œbasing a federal lawsuit against the department on racial grounds,â€ and if he thinks (as most plaintiffs doâ€¦) that he has a legitimate case, then how can he not think his lawsuit could end Hawaiian Homes leases to Hawaiians only?
In my curiosity to see if I could read this lawsuit online, I learned that federal court electronic records are not freely available and that I would need to whip out a credit card and register with PACER before I may search for and download the documentâ€”all for a fee. Bah, humbug.
Polling is all over the map
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 7:53 am
Two more articles in the Advertiser today based upon some recent polling done on their behalf. An article about the race to fill Representative Caseâ€™s seat in Congress is here, and a story about the Governor contest is here.
The polling on the gubernatorial race confirms the consensus view that Lingle is well in front of any challenger. It would be news if the results revealed a close race. Yawn. Oh, and they float the Harry Kim balloon once again. Remember him?
The story on the Congressional race is slightly more interesting, but the results are not very convincingâ€”despite the pollsters comments.
Only 165 of the 602 respondents in the poll lived in the district and said they planned to vote in the Democratic primary, making for a large margin of error ? 8 percentage points ? that might not reflect the actual mood of all registered Democratic voters.
â€œItâ€™s still something you can consider to be valid,â€ said Tammy Chang, a project director for Ward Research.
The margin of error means that the results, if everyone planning to vote Democratic in the 2nd District were polled, could vary by as much as 15 percentage points, but still not be statistically significant, she explained.
However, despite the room for error, she expects the results would be similar with a larger sample.
Uh, exactly how does she expect that? Is that her hunch, or is it something she can quantify empirically? Maybe she consulted a ouija board or an astrological forecastâ€¦
With only 94 respondents who said they are likely to vote in the Republican primary and a margin of error of 10 percentage points, the differences between state Sen. Bob Hogue and former state Rep. Quentin Kawananakoa were not statistically significant, but political observers think both have a shot at claiming the seat for the Republican Party.
â€œI think thereâ€™s a good chance,â€ said veteran pollster Don Clegg. â€œThis is not a slam-dunk Democratic seat, although people may think because a Democrat is coming out of it, it is,â€ he said.
Case, a moderate Democrat, appeals to independents and Republicans. â€œPeople who have supported him might very well vote Republican,â€ Clegg said.
Sure, Case might appeal to Republican voters, but I fail to see why that matters in the context of the Second Congressional District race. Such voters that prefer Case over Akaka may vote the Democrat ballot in the primary instead of choosing the Republican ballot (to choose between Hogue and Kawananakoa). However, once the general election comes along there is no requirement to vote for only one party. The more interesting question is if Republicans think it will be more important to defeat Akaka in the Democratic primary race than to stay home and pick between the Republicans running for U.S. House. I think the former scenario will prevail, but maybe Iâ€™m too cynical. Remember, Republicans voting in the Democrat primary will also have a chance to send the weakest Democrat through to face Lingle. Iâ€™m not aware of any contested Republican primaries that really matter, to put it bluntly.
Anyway, Clegg may be correct that a Republican could win the U.S. House race, but it seems odd for pollsters like Clegg and Chang to be presented with inconclusive empirical data and then quickly pronounce their own opinionsâ€”with no empirical dataâ€¦ Itâ€™s not that I donâ€™t expect pollsters to be human beings and have their own insights, but it would be good to point out if they have any tangible basis. Their status as â€œpollstersâ€ gives them a certain amount of credibility that could be exploited.
Poll shows Akaka has edge in Senate race
HI State Politics
â€” Doug @ 8:25 am
The Advertiser has doen some polling of a few hundred Hawaii voters and the results, according to the survey, donâ€™t really contain a clear message.
Ward Research Inc. conducted the Hawaiâ€™i Poll for The Advertiser among 602 registered voters on June 8 and between June 21 and June 27, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points. The interruption was because Akakaâ€™s Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill lost a procedural vote in the Senate on June 8, and Ward Research and The Advertiser did not want news coverage about the bill to unduly influence the pollâ€™s results.
The Hawaiâ€™i Poll found Akakaâ€™s job approval rating at 64 percent, a dramatic contrast to a separate monthly tracking poll taken by SurveyUSA right after the Senate vote, which showed Akakaâ€™s rating dipping to 48 percent. The Hawaiâ€™i Poll had Caseâ€™s job approval rating at 60 percent.
The Hawaiâ€™i Poll asked people to select a party primary in September, and 57 percent ? or 342 people ? picked the Democratic primary. Those people were then asked to choose between Akaka and Case. The 30 percent who said they would vote in the Republican primary and the 13 percent who did not know which primary they would vote in were not asked to decide on Akaka or Case.
The questions were designed to try to identify Democratic primary voters from the larger sample.
Interviews afterward with several people who participated in the poll showed that the concepts of experience and leadership transition, and not the differences between Akaka and Case on public policy, were driving their decisions. The interviews also showed that many have found it difficult to choose between two popular Democrats in the unusual primary.
Jerry Burrisâ€™ latest column basically rehashes DePledgeâ€™s article with a dash of his own analysis. [META: Itâ€™s almost blog-like, haha]
Forgive me while I play political scientist for a moment:
The articles donâ€™t make it clear, and perhaps itâ€™s beyond what the average newspaper reader would understand, but it is quite possible that the â€œfresh bloodâ€ and â€œseniorityâ€ appeals actually divide a good chunk of the survey respondents rather than demonstrate a collective inability to take either position. What is neeeded, then, is some discussion of the correlation between the poll quesitons. If it is the same people holding both beliefs, then the articles are correct and the Hawaii voters in this poll want to have their cake and eat it, too. However, if the â€œstrongly agreeâ€ respondents to both questions mostly (or totally) describe two different groups, suddenly the poll is more interesting. The correlations should also have included the responses to the two questions about the war, and, of course, the â€œhorse raceâ€ question.
Further, the poll was probably not designed to produce ambiguity, but it certainly could have been designed in a way to draw voters more into the issues and away from the seniority question. There are other issues where Akaka and Case have split (ANWR, Estate Tax, etc.) and the poll could have probed for opinions on those issues. Even a simple question like â€œDo you think the Democrats in the U.S. Senate should support the President more often?â€ could have been very insightfulâ€¦
Honolulu Councilmembers disclose how they spend their allowances
â€” Doug @ 8:24 am
The SB has a story this morning that gives a glimpse into how Honolulu Councilmembers spend their expense account money. Itâ€™s good that the City puts this information online, and the State should do the same for members of the House and Senate, in my opinion.
Travel, food, communicating with constituents and tackling tough issues were among the reasons for expenditures for Tam, Apo and other Councilmembers. Photocopies and mailings also account for spending.
The 2005-2006 fiscal year is the second year the City Council has put the accounting of each memberâ€™s expenses online and the second year that Council members were each allotted an equal amount for their allowances.
The story points out a few examples for each Councilmember (including a not-so-subtle jab at the Advertiser for high advertising pricesâ€”see Marshallâ€™s part of the report). The one beef I have with the article: there is no link to the (complete) online data! I searched around the Council website for a while, but I wasnâ€™t able to find it. Drat. Help me, if you can.
UPDATE: The links are found here under the heading â€œexpenditure reportsâ€ under each district (they are MS Excel spreadsheets). The story includes the link. I apologize for my earlier oversight and criticism.
150 years of chronicling Hawaiâ€™i
â€” Doug @ 8:24 am
Congratulations to the Honolulu Advertiser for 150 years. This almost makes me want to buy a dead tree edition todayâ€¦ Online there is an editorial about the occasion and there is also a neat historical article about the technology behind the product.
A start-to-present political and ownership history of the paper would sure be interesting reading. If anybody knows of one Iâ€™d love to hear of it.
Apana files papers to join race for Maui County Mayor
â€” Doug @ 8:23 am
The Maui News notes that (as expected) former-Maui County Mayor James â€œKimoâ€ Apana has filed papers to challenge incumbent Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa. It will be a re-match of a close race that Apana lost in 2002.
Apana?s opponents said they?d leave it to voters to decide who would be the best mayor.
?It?s going to be up to the people if they think he did a good job when he was there before,? said County Council Member Charmaine Tavares, who already has filed as a candidate. ?He was defeated once. It?ll be up to the voters.?
Arakawa said he had to ?clean up? mistakes of the Apana administration.
?It?s interesting he?s going back in again,? he said. ?We?ve done a lot of stuff, and we?ll stand on our record. It?s going to be interesting to see how he explains his record.?
Hana activist and declared candidate John Blumer-Buell said Apana didn?t listen to the community when he was in office.
?How can anyone expect different results if they continue to elect the same politicians over and over and over?? he asked.
Real estate broker Harold ?Hap? Miller said Apana?s entry was no surprise, given his close defeat by Arakawa.
?He wants a rematch,? he said.
Miller was looking forward to meeting Apana in a forum for mayoral candidates sponsored by the Wailuku Community Association at 5:30 p.m. July 10 at the Iao Theater.
Veterans? advocate Bill Stroud said Apana was a ?good man? who, while he ?made a few boo-boos? also did good things while in office.
He extended the same invitation to Apana as he did to Arakawa: to come work for him when he?s elected mayor.
?I still think I?m the best person for the job,? he said. ?These guys are all politicians.?
Other declared candidates include County Council Member Dain Kane; self-declared Hawaiian princess Valarie Aquino; and Wailuku resident Nelson Waikiki.
This is as good a place as any to mention that the candidate filing deadline is July 25. Last updated on June 30, 2006, the current list of candidates statewide is available here. Also, I noticed this Garden Island News article which gives a cursory rundown of many of the declared and undeclarded candidates for posts representing Kauai. It is said to begin a series of weekly Sunday articles on the campaign.
Ka Leo trolls for campaign reporters
â€” Doug @ 4:47 pm
Sorry for the late post, I had a fun day sailing from Waikiki to Kaneohe. Itâ€™s hooting out there!
Anyway, all I have is this. From a recent email posted on the UH Political Science department email listserv (which I still get as an alumnus):
As the Hawaii election season rolls around, we at Ka Leo need to accurately cover the issues and the candidates leading up to the primaries. However, being that we are a university publication that relies on the contributing works of students, I thought that it would be best if a Political Science major (or a few students) could help write some articles from a more politically sound prespective. Sometimes reporters get lost in the agendas of politicians, and it takes a poly-sci student to explain the true facts to the student body.
If you think that you have any students or faculty members willing to cover the elections beat and write news articles about politicians and political events/issues, please reply to this email. We do pay
writers for articles, and this would be an excellent opportunity for them to get published works. Please pass this message on to the members of your department.
Thank you very much.
Matthew K. Ing
Ka Leo News Editor
Hmmm. Do we know anybody with a â€œpolitically sound perspectiveâ€ who could â€œexplain the true facts?â€ Well, that depends upon how Ing defines those termsâ€¦ and exactly how much does Ka Leo pay writers for articles? Heh.
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