Poinography!

January 10, 2009

Poinography August 2006 archive

Filed under: — Doug @ 2:06 pm

Poinography!

8/31/2006

Have you heard?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:50 am
There is a debate tonight on Hawaii Public Television. 7:30pm. Dan Akaka and Ed Case. If politics is not your cup of tea, here are some other viewing options.

I may find my way to a place with cable television (no over-the-air reception in my neighborhood, and no cable at my house), but I think the debate is going to be more of a political theater event than something that will change the minds of voters still on the fence. I am curious to see which questions AARP has selected from those sent in by email, though.

On top of that, tomorrow I’m going to sea for the day. Thus, even if I’m able to see it, anything I have to say about the debate will probably not go online until late in the day, if at all.

META: I hope that somebody is able to quickly post a transcript online (C-SPAN?), and/or make the video available as a download. Leave a comment with a link if you find a source for either.

Comments (2)
State Archives marks 100th year

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 10:49 am
An interesting, if not very “political” Advertiser story about a chance to see some of the closer-held items held at the State Archives (with a website for the special event). There is some great stuff in there. The show lasts for a year.

Contained deep in the archive’s storage vault, normally sealed off to the general public, are some of the most valuable of the state government’s collection. They include treaties between the Kingdom of Hawai’i and countries such as Great Britain and Japan, government seals used by Hawai’i’s monarchs and even dies used to create the government’s official coins.

“We have a lot of things people don’t normally associate with an archive,” Shaner said. “The only reason we collect these kinds of things is because they are connected with the government.”

Government documents are generally open to researchers seeking historical information. However, people are not allowed into the vault. Instead they can request certain documents to be brought out by archive staff. Legislative records are some of the most common documents that are viewed, Shaner said. Genealogical research is also common.

The state archive is also home to hundreds of boxes of gubernatorial records, dating back to the first territorial governor, Sanford B. Dole. They include correspondence, speeches, reports and proclamations from each of Hawai’i’s chief executives.

I’ve only used the State Archives a few times, mostly because it is rather cumbersome and, in librarian parlance, almost all of their stacks are “closed.” As the article says, users submit an order for what they want, and the staff go and fetch it, i.e. no browsing. Sure, you can search an [incomplete] online catalog, but sometimes that is worse than a “needle in a haystack” because it can become a “needle in a stack of needles.” For example, I doubt that gubernatorial correspondence is catalogued with extensive cross-referencing regarding topics, people, dates, etc. Creating that type of database would be a huge task, but without such a database (or the permission to sit down and wade through the archives) what’s the point? I understand the need to protect the archives from damage, but still…

Comments (0)
Hooser gets his turn for a profile

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:49 am
Today the Advertiser profiles Gary Hooser (website, dKos tagged posts) as they continue a series of articles about the candidates for the Hawaii 2nd Congressional District.

LIBERAL/PROGRESSIVE

While he shuns labels, it would be easy to label Hooser a liberal Democrat or a progressive. His environmental credentials include this: The Sierra Club’s Environmental Scorecard gave him the highest ranking in the state Senate for his votes on issues involving the environment.

He sponsored a successful bill to prevent developers from prohibiting agricultural uses in agricultural subdivisions. He backed a resolution (which leadership killed) opposing the Iraq war before the war was launched. He has been a strong supporter of alternative-energy measures.

In Congress, he believes a stronger, traditionally Democratic presence is needed.

“I believe the Democrats in power have been too passive on issues at the core of the right things to do,” he said.

He supports universal healthcare, strong environmental protections, education assistance and personal liberty.

“I don’t want to lessen the privacies that we have. I want to increase them,” he said. “I’m worried about the direction our country’s going in.”

Hmmm. So far as I can tell, Hooser did not sponsor either bill behind the law (passed over Lingle’s veto, by the way) to prohibit private restrictions on the agricultural use of agricultural land. Hooser wasn’t even a co-sponsor of those bills. Uh, is there another law on that subject??

UPDATE: The idea did come from Hooser, but the language was drawn from his bill and inserted into a gutted SB 255. In the process the computer system stripped him from the limelight. It happens.

Moving on, I’ll say that Hooser made an impression on me at the candidate forum in Kaneohe last night. I do not know if there are to be more of these events, but the intimate format was a great way to learn about the candidates. If you haven’t been to one already, then I recommend that you go if you get a chance. Try to prepare a few questions in advance, however, because the quality of the (10-minute) interactions hinge on asking questions that will not be deftly re-channeled into stump speeches [this means you, Matsunaga and Aipoalani].

Minor complaints: Menor, Schatz and Garcia (and the Republicans, Hogue and Kawanakoa, who were obvioulsy not invited) did not participate. Unlike the Kapolei event, the audience in Kaneohe did not conduct a straw poll at the end of the night. Bummer.

Comments (4)
Prosecute a corrupt politician, or prosecute the staff. Choose one.

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:41 am
Yes, I noticed the Advertiser story about the latest development in Bev Harbin’s attempt to win election to her House seat. I don’t know anything about it beyond what it says in the article. The article seems to make no attempt to verify the allegations Harbin is making, even though Harbin refers to trial transcripts that (if they exist) should be publicly available.

The crux of Harbin’s complaint is that key testimony against former Honolulu Councilmember Andy Mirikitani during his federal trial over a kickback scheme would not have been forthcoming had it not been for a prosecutional immunity deal to protect the two Mirikitani employees who received thousands of dollars in bonus money and then kicked a portion back as Mirikitani directed them to.

Despite her own criminal past, it sounds to me like Harbin is unclear of how a criminal case is built. Without being promised immunity the employees would have probably not come forward and, had the employees not revealed the content of Mirikitani’s secret conversations in court, it would have made proving the allegations against Mirikitani nearly impossible. Apparently Harbin would have preferred that the two employees of Mirikitani who were clearly the junior partners in the scheme (in particular the employee who is married to Harbin’s campaign opponent) had been prosecuted, but proving such charges against the employees would have required …granting immunity from prosecution to Councilmember Mirikitani!

I’ll let the voters of District 28 judge which outcome is the better result.

Comments (4)
8/30/2006

Inouye retracts support for Lieberman, Case does not

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:38 am
The Advertiser has an AP article confirming what David Shapiro said earlier, i.e. that Senator Inouye has withdrawn his support of Senator Lieberman’s re-election campaign. Senator Inouye will support the Democrat that won the Connecticutt primary, Lamont.

Doesn’t this isolate Congressman Case as the only member of the Hawaii Democratic Party who (publicly) supports Lieberman’s run as an independent against a Democrat? Will anyone in the Party initiate a formal action against Case for that infraction, especially now that Senator Inouye has finally stepped out of that firing line?

Hmmm, if the Party were to expel Case, what would that mean for the Akaka v. Case contest? It is too late for Case to register as an independent (as Lieberman has done), and since absentee ballots have already been distributed I think it’s too late for Case to be moved from the Democratic Party section of the ballot to the independent section anyway. (Maybe the GOP would offer him Mr. Coffee’s spot on the ballot? haha)

A formal charge against Case presents a politically tricky situation for Hawaii Democrats, obviously. It would be described by Case supporters as the ultimate piece of evidence in support of the “insiders vs. the outsiders” meme that is a key part of their campaign strategy against Akaka. On the other hand, ignoring Case’s violation would send a message (both to the Party members, and to the public at large) that Democratic Party bylaws are purely ceremonial, i.e. that Democrats have no discipline. As it happens, that message is something the GOP has been alleging for years. What a pickle! Since the “no discipline” message will not directly threaten Akaka, and because this race is essentially an all-or-nothing wager for Case, one scenario I can imagine would actually have a Case supporter file the complaint. Heh.

While I’m thinking out loud, I reckon the Hawaii Republicans have similar bylaws (but the GOP bylaws are not on their website for me to confirm that hunch). Have there been any prominent Republicans in Hawaii that have publicly supported Lieberman (either before or after he registered as an independent) instead of the [long shot] GOP candidate, Schlesinger? Unlike much of the blogosphere, I’m not paying heaps of attention to the CT race for U.S. Senate, but I do recall many GOP bigwigs nationwide have been rushing to Lieberman’s side…

Comments (7)
Hee’s style is either strength or liability

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:37 am
The latest candidate for Congress to be profiled in the Advertiser is Clayton Hee. Here’s how the story begins:

State Sen. Clayton Hee isn’t known to back down from a fight.

Even when he finds himself on the losing side, Hee said he’s no “shrinking violet” when it comes to taking a tough position on an issue.

Such was the case when the senator was one of only two to vote against a wiretap bill, which permits evidence gathered in federal wiretap investigations to be used in state cases, during the last legislative session. The bill passed and was signed into law by the governor, but Hee said that does not necessarily make it right.

Over the past 24 years in elected office, Hee said he is used to being on the unpopular side of issues.

“Being liked is secondary to taking positions which may not be popular,” Hee said. “A federal district court judge has ruled that President Bush overstepped his authority in the federal wiretap legislation. The state wiretap legislation was patterned after the federal. So while it may not be a popular position, it seems to me at the end of the day it’s the right position.”

Hmmm. I am fairly sure I understand what message Hee is trying to get across (i.e. he is a defender of privacy and due process), and I’m glad that Hee voted against that bill on Final Reading. However, before that opposing vote he had voted in favor of the bill 4 times (in the JHW Committee, at the Senate 2nd Reading, the Senate 3rd Reading, and then in the Conference Committee). The first three of those aye votes were on drafts of the bill that were slightly different from what ultimately passed, but the fourth aye vote was on the same language that ultimately went to the Governor and became law. Sure, a lot of un-/semi-informed voting happens in Conference Committee as legislators scurry around to make quorum calls, so perhaps Hee did not have (or take) the time to review the Conference draft of the bill before voting.

Beyond that, I think Hee offers an illogical argument in defense of his opposition. Hee says that because the law which he opposed is (more or less) similar to a law that a federal court found President Bush has violated (in the course of wiretapping U.S. citizens without warrants), it follows that the President’s actions demonstrate that Hee was correct to vote against the Hawaii law. That makes no sense, especially if you apply that logic to a better-known subject: Hawaii has a Bill of Rghts similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights. If the President’s wiretapping actions violate the U.S. Bill of Rights, then should Hee oppose the Hawaii Bill of Rights? Of course not.

A recent Advertiser Hawai’i Poll showed that Hee has the largest unfavorables ? 27 percent ? of all 10 Democrats. Former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and state Sen. Ron Menor have the second-highest unfavorables at 24 percent.

But Hee shrugs it off.

“Mine is not much higher than Mazie Hirono, is it?” he said. “That’s a byproduct of success. … My experience has been, when people have (high) unfavorables it’s because people are willing to take positions on issues.”

True, but that’s a stock response.

Russert: Why do people hold you in such low esteem?

President Bush: Heck, I don’t know, Ronald Reagan was unpopular in Europe when he was President, according to Jose Maria Aznar. And I said, ?You know something? ?

He said to me, he said, ?You’re nearly as unpopular as Ronald Reagan was.? I said, ?so, first of all, I’m keeping pretty good company.?

I think that people ? when you do hard things, when you ask hard things of people, it can create tensions. And I ? heck, I don’t know why people do it. I’ll tell you, though, I’m not going to change, see? I’m not trying to accommodate ? I won’t change my philosophy or my point of view. I believe I owe it to the American people to say what I’m going to do and do it, and to speak as clearly as I can, try to articulate as best I can why I make decisions I make, but I’m not going to change because of polls. That’s just not my nature.

Maybe the escape hatch (for both men) is found in the “try to articulate as best I can why I make decisions I make” clause… both men need a lot of improvement in explaining their decisions.

Comments (0)
Honolulu gives old buses to Hawaii County

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 10:36 am
Both of the Hawaii County dailies have stories about 6 buses sent by barge from Honolulu to Hilo. (West Hawaii Today article is here, and Hawaii Tribune-Herald piece is here)

The 12-year-old buses are 40 feet long, seat 41 passengers, and are equipped with wheelchair ramps and bike racks. The buses will be integrated into local routes between Kona and Captain Cook, as well as along routes between Hilo and Pahoa, according to County Mass Transit Administrator Tom Brown.

Honolulu donated the buses to the county, leaving the county to pay only for the shipment from Oahu to Hilo, Brown said.

——–

The Big Island is the only county receiving such a gift from Honolulu, and it came at the request of [Mayor] Kim back in May. Brown said this isn’t the first time Honolulu has been able to help out Hawaii County Mass Transit.

“The City and County of Honolulu have been very generous to our system over the years,” Brown said.

Nice going, Mayor Kim. Were the other County Mayors given any notice that these buses were going to be available? I’m glad these buses are going to be put to work, but if they are still good enough for continued service then why were they given away instead of auctioned?

Comments (0)
8/29/2006

Luau tomorrow at Waimea High School

Filed under:
General
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:07 am
This is not political news, but check out this Garden Island News story (and the photo from the homepage) about a wounded boar that wandered onto the Waimea High School campus. The boar began to act dangerously and was captured and killed by a teacher and some students using an improvised weapon.

Lord of the Flies, much?

Wow. Until I saw this story, I was all psyched up to write a post about the little earthquake I felt yesterday evening. Nevermind.

Comments (0)
Hanabusa in the spotlight today

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:05 am
Today the Advertiser continues to profile the candidates for the 2nd Congressional District with this article about Colleen Hanabusa. As the article begins to relate, Hanabusa has taken on quite a lot in her two terms in the Hawaii Senate and, as a result, people have strong feelings about her. I’m not sure how much that translates into visibility/credibility on the neighbor islands, but I’m sure she (like the other Oahu-based candidates) is working busily on that.

She points to a range of challenging issues she has thrown herself into, including co-chairing the Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee on the Felix Consent Decree that looked into how well the state was complying with a federal court mandate to provide educational services to students with mental and emotional disabilities.

She has also been in the thick of various Hawaiian rights issues, and held hearings on the potential impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Rice v. Cayetano, a decision that ultimately led to the opening of elections for Office of Hawaiian Affairs board members to non-Hawaiians.

Hanabusa introduced a controversial bill to offer tax credits of up to $75 million for development at Ko Olina Resort, a move she defended as necessary to spur development for the Leeward area.

——–

Among her major objectives is to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. “We’ve got to call an end to it,” she said. Not only are military personnel and their families suffering, she said, but so too are entire communities that are losing doctors and other members of society for months or years at a time.

Hanabusa is also concerned by what she views as an erosion of civil rights since the Sept. 11 attacks, and blames the administration of President Bush.

In my opinion, the jury is still out on the cost:benefit of the tax credits for Ko Olina (where Hanabusa owns a home, the last I recall). However, should the Democrats regain the U.S. House, I would love to see Hanabusa get the chance to question the administration about the numerous civil rights catastrophes, because she is exceptional in her preparation for public hearings (assisted by her able staff, of course) and she is rarely distracted by spin.

But I don’t hold much hope that she’ll win this seat. [shrug]

Comments (0)
Kawananakoa takes Hogue to task for supporting tollways prematurely

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 8:05 am
After his “give up your day job” strategy failed, Kawananakoa has now taken to a more substantive issue to differentiate himself from Hogue in their race for the GOP spot on the ticket for Congress. A post from the Kawananakoa campaign found at Hawaii Reporter claims:

Kawananakoa said Hogue, in a forum on KHNL-TV, advocated High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes for the Honolulu High Capacity Transit Corridor Project. Kawananakoa called Hogue?s preference for HOT lanes and complete disregard of other possible transit solutions ?inappropriate? and ?potentially damaging? to the effort to the transit project if Hogue were elected.

?Bob Hogue essentially said he has little regard for the exhaustive process the City and County and Leeward Oahu residents have gone through for years,? Kawananakoa said. ?For him to express a preference for HOT lanes while the community is still grappling with the issues raises the question of whether he would work in Congress to support a rail system, which public opinion in Leeward Oahu appears to favor.

?Mr. Hogue?s comments tonight reveal a troubling mindset that misunderstands the role of a congressional representative,? Kawananakoa continued. ?A member of Congress doesn?t preempt the selection process by expressing a preference before the process has run its course. A congressman fights for what his constituents want, not what his close political allies prefer.?

Really? Has there been polling to indicate that “public opinion in Leeward Oahu appears to favor” (or oppose) a rail system? That would be news to me. I did not see the KHNL event, so I can’t confirm if Kawananakoa is fairly characterizing what Hogue said yesterday. However, Hogue has previously expressed his preference for HOT lanes and was ambiguous about seeking federal funding for a rail system.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see if Hogue responds to Kawananakoa and, if Hogue does respond, I’ll be watching to see if the response clings to the Cliff Slater talking points.

Comments (1)
8/28/2006

Kauai candidates for Mayor describe major challenges

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 10:29 am
The Advertiser has a rather thin story about the four non-partisan candidates running for Mayor of Kauai. Unfortunately, the occasionally flakey Garden Island News website is offline this morning again, because I seem to recall seeing a series of articles recently about the candidates (but maybe not about the Mayor’s contest?).

UPDATE: It’s now working again. And, according to the zero results I had via the website’s search engine, the GIN “Election 2006? coverage has not discussed these candidates yet.

A few of the candidates are keen on curbing the increasing property taxes, and most of them are eager to create more affordable housing. The problems on Kauai are all related to rapid development and gentrification, but I don’t see much concrete talk of strategies to address that root problem.

Also, since I just mentioned it yesterday, I’ll note that none of the candidates took this opportunity to mention anything about providing more open government.

Oh, and do check out the crudely-animated GIF near the bottom of Fukushima’s website… followed by his boast of running the campaign entirely from Kauai—including Kauai-provided graphics and artwork. Stick people. Ho, da nice! haha.

Comments (4)
Mid-list candidate for Congress is profiled

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 10:27 am
The Advertiser has a profile of my former boss at the Legislature, Nestor Garcia, and outlines his campaign for Congress. There was a time when I was a bit miffed that, after 6 sessions working closely with him at the Lege, Garcia did not hire me when he went to the City Council—but I’m over that. As it turned out, I don’t think I would have like it in that “off Broadway” milieu, anyway… I much prefer the intermittent nature of session work at the Legislature for a variety of reasons, but mostly because there are definite drop-dead dates on the calendar and the issues taken up by the Lege are more interesting.

As chairman of the House Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee, Garcia championed passage of a law that sends first-time, nonviolent drug offenders to treatment instead of prison.

And he supported expanding prison space in the Islands for men and women so fewer convicts would have to be sent to the Mainland to serve out their sentences. Garcia said keeping prisoners in Hawai’i would make their transitions back into the community easier and decrease repeat offenses.

I am proud to have been involved in both of those efforts, but the second idea foundered due to NIMBY-ism and a (deserved) wariness of privatized prisons. Instead, we now send hundreds of our inmates to privately owned prisons on the mainland. Sigh. Pick your poison…

I am surprised by this part of his biography:

In 1994, Nestor was hired as a Vice President with the Corporate Marketing Division of City Bank. Following more than a decade of helping communities statewide in this capacity, Nestor left City Bank in 2005 after it was acquired by Central Pacific Bank to earn the teaching credentials necessary to serve as a substitute teacher in Hawaii?s public school system.

Seriously? Is he currently a substitute teacher in addition to his City Council duties, or does it take more than a year to earn those credentials? If this is for real, then I think it says volumes about his humility for him to go from a VP in the banking industry to the low-pay/-prestige of a substitute teacher. Make of that what you will.

Finally, it appears that Garcia (like almost every candidate in every race) really has little concept about how to blog a campaign.

Comments (0)
8/27/2006

Advertiser endorses candidate x (but y?)

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
HI Media
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:36 am
I was reading Advertiser Editor Mark Platte’s column today and was (indeed) surprised by this passage from his discussion of the Advertiser’s “duty” to endorse candidates:

It might surprise readers to learn that that not every endorsement choice will be in sync with our editorial policy.

“The candidates we choose don’t always share our board’s position on every issue,” says Jeanne Mariani-Belding, The Advertiser’s editorial and opinion editor. “The point is what kind of leadership or stewardship they would provide for our community, for our state. We feel it’s important to have candidates whose views vary to some degree to enhance the quality of debate and ultimately improve the quality of legislation.”

[blink]

Uh, please let your readers know whenever you folks endorse someone against your editorial policy and in pursuit of that “varying views” rationale.

Sure, I like lively political debate as much as the next political junkie. In that regard, a few extra kooks can improve the “legislative entertainment” broth. Makes for occasional blog fodder, too. However, I think it is reckless to endorse a candidate on that basis because it discounts the possibility that the position he or she supports (which the editors oppose for ostensibly sound reasons) might actually carry the day.

“Well, it’s bad policy …but what a debate that was!” doesn’t wash for me. Let the kooks endorse the kooks, is my advice.

Comments (0)
Two interesting letters

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:36 am
There are two letters to the Advertiser editors today I’d like to point out. First, the PUC Chair has a letter explaining that providing “transparency” for gasoline pricing is difficult when given only $1 to work with, but…

In the meantime, the PUC is finding alternative means to establish the required information system to properly investigate and monitor the operations of the petroleum industry for the benefit of consumers in Hawai’i.

Wha? Well, which is it? The PUC can’t act without the legislature appropriating more money, or the PUC has found “alternative means” to establish it? More to the point: when will we see these data?

Also, we see this letter:

Recent news articles have suggested Rep. Ed Case and Sen. Daniel Inouye are supporting Joe Lieberman’s bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate as a member of the Connecticut for Lieberman party. The Democratic Party is a voluntary association and does not demand very much from its members, but it is a gross violation of the most basic party rules for a Democrat to actively support a candidate of another party against a fellow Democrat. This holds especially true for elected officials who have themselves benefited by running under the Democratic banner.

Lieberman tried to win the party’s nomination, but the Democratic voters chose Ned Lamont. Case and Inouye should honor that choice and drop their support for Lieberman.

If the party ignores these flagrant violations, how can it reprimand members who support a Ralph Nader in the next presidential race? Or who appear in campaign ads for Linda Lingle?

Bart Dame and Rachel Orange
Co-chairs, Progressive Democrats of Hawai’i

How? Well, we’ve been over this already.

If a member of the Hawaii Democratic Party files a formal complaint, then the Party has a formal process to deal with it. Letters to the Editor will not substitute for a formal complaint. In light of that, and despite their earnest intentions, Dame and Orange are as guilty of “ignoring” the violations as any other member of the Party who shares their opinion of Case and Inouye’s perfidy.

UPDATE: According to David Shapiro, Akaka has “reversed course” and now backs Lamont over Lieberman. This makes it much more likely that the gloves will come off against Case, if a member of the Party bothers to file a formal complaint.

Comments (1)
Takai studies what to do when part-time military members in the Legislature go full-time

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:35 am
An interesting SB story today about legislators who are military reservists or members of the National Guard and the effect of their being called to active duty status.

Rep. Mark Takai, who was activated two years ago with the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 29th Combat Brigade Team as preventive medical officer but did not deploy to Iraq, said although he found that there are no federal laws that prohibit state lawmakers from serving on active duty, there are specific requirements for lawmakers who are activated or deployed.

Takai said Pentagon rules mean that a military service member may not perform any function or take any action as a state legislator.

“The people are penalized,” said Cabanilla-Arakawa, who has been in uniform for 20 years including participation on active duty in 1991 Desert Storm campaign, “and my district would be without representation.”

City Councilman Charles Djou, an Army Reserve captain and military attorney for the past four years, said in 2003 at the start of the Iraqi war, he introduced a resolution that gives the City Council the authority to pick a temporary replacement for a Council member who has been mobilized for 180 days.

Djou, who as yet has not been called to active duty, authored the change to the City Charter, which was adopted by the voters two years ago, because the law was silent on what would happen to his seat if he was called to active duty.

Takai said he will push similar legislation to be considered by state lawmakers next year.

Of the 57 state lawmakers throughout the country who also are members of the U.S. military, two, Takai and Cabanilla-Arakawa, are members of the Hawaii State Legislature.

Seven of these state lawmakers have deployed more than once during their careers, while 20, like Takai, say they have been activated for a period lasting more than 139 days but not sent overseas.

That was the result of a survey taken by Takai, vice speaker of the House and a captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

Since the survey was only of state legislators, it did not include comments from Djou.

The results of Takai’s survey – begun in December 2005 after he ended five months of active duty and completed this month – was presented to the National Conference of State Legislatures on Aug. 17.

At first I was surprised that out of the 7,382 state legislators nationally there are only 57 who are reservists or members of the Guard. However, if we were to compare raw numbers of reservists and National Guard members to the total U.S. population (exact figures which I don’t have), then we would find that they are statistically over-represented in the state legislatures. (7382:230 million is less than 57:perhaps one million)

Takai’s survey found that 30 state legislatures have at least one member serving in the military. Iowa leads with five; while New York and Wisconsin both have four. California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas and Washington have three.

The two highest ranking officers, both one-star generals, are Brig. Gens. Jodi Tymeson and Dean Johnson. Tymeson, a representative in the Iowa state House, is the assistant adjutant general; while Johnson, a Maine state senator, is an Army National Guard chaplain.

I’m a veteran myself, and I don’t see much problem with reservists and members of the Guard serving in the Legislature—but I wouldn’t be comfortable with that Iowa situation where the #2 position in the National Guard is also a legislator. In my view, that is too close to crossing the line of civilian control of the military.

Comments (0)
A few neighbor island media nuggets

Filed under:
HI Media
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:35 am
The Maui News has a letter to the editors in resonse to an earlier lamentation about the content of local television news (produced on Oahu). Todays response links to this nascent weekly(?) news program that will be produced on Maui and distributed by Hawaiian Cablevision (i.e. not broadcast over-the-air). From the looks of the website, it looks to be a one-man show, although this PDF speaks of 30 years of storytelling experience (and describes the program in the past tense?). Anyway, I’m curious to see how it turns out, even though I don’t live on Maui (nor do I watch television, for that matter).

Moving to Kauai, there is an interesting editorial in the Garden Island News that describes the stonewalling the various County officials and politicans engage in. They are clearly frustrated over there. Sounds to me like open government would make an excellent campaign issue for anyone challenging an incumbent—asssuming that the voters share the editors’ concerns. That would only go so far, though, as the problem (as they describe it) extends beyond politicians to involve civil servants.

Comments (1)
8/26/2006

A failed harvest seems likely

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:09 am
The Advertiser has an article today that appears to be (or, less presumptuously, serves as) a response to a post I wrote on August 13, regarding the State Ethics Commission.

The state Ethics Commission said it cannot legally comply with a request by the Legislature to probe possible ethics violations by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism related to funding of trade missions.

The Legislature had asked for the review following concerns generated by DBEDT’s use of a nonprofit organization to handle $268,000 in private sponsorships raised for Gov. Linda Lingle’s trade mission to China and Korea in the summer of 2005. Lawmakers had said they were concerned about the appropriateness of state officials soliciting large contributions from the private sector and whether sponsors were promised special treatment.

However, in a response dated Aug. 16, the commission said state law prevents the Legislature from directing the commission to launch such a review. The commission can only launch such an investigation on its on accord or in response to a formal complaint, said Ethics Commission Director Dan Mollway.

Mollway said he could not comment on whether the agency was conducting its own probe into DBEDT’s actions. However, both the state attorney general and the state Procurement Office have said DBEDT’s actions did not violate any laws.

DBEDT Director Ted Liu, responding to the Ethics Commission decision in a letter to The Advertiser, said contributions solicited by his agency were used to defray trade mission costs, which benefitted the state and not individual state employees. Liu also said that sponsors did not receive any special consideration.

[all emphases mine]

When it is Executive Branch behavior that is in question, one would hope that whatever the Attorney General and the Procurement Office say would not be taken as the last words by the Ethics Commission. DBEDT Director Liu claims here (again) that the sponsors did not receive any special consideration. That may be true, but the violation that I perceive does not hinge on the sponsors receiving any special consideration but rather on the State offering the sponsors special consideration—the offers were made in letters which were leaked to the Advertiser and subsequently published.

Honestly, I really don’t see how the Ethics Commission may ignore that evidence without any investigation. As the article notes, it is possible that the Commission is conducting an investigation. However the confidential nature of how the Commission operates (in some aspects the Commission is like a Grand Jury) has the perverse effect here of rendering it impossible to discern if either the Commission has already investigated the behavior and found nothing wrong with it, or if the Commission is not investigating. Of course, if the Commission is investigating and eventually finds a violation then they would initiate a formal charge and at that point it would no longer be secret. However, if there is/was going to be an investigation, then I’m at a loss to see why it would take so long to start and/or finish the job.

Thus, I’m driven to conclude that either the Commissioners are too timid to initiate a formal charge during this election season, or the Commissioners find nothing unethical about those letters. Those are unsettling conclusions.

Comments (0)
Hau’oli La Hanau e Ku’u Ali’i Lili’uokalani

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:00 am
Now that Scott Crawford has returned from his vacation, I noticed this new post at his blog about an event to commemorate the birth of Quuen Liliuokalani. The gathering will be held next Saturday, September 2nd, at Iolani Palace. …and not at the State Capitol next door.

Perhaps Senator Slom, Representative “Liberty” Marumoto, William Burgess, Ken Conklin, Malia Zimmerman and the rest of the GIH hui that scheduled a Statehood Day observation at the Palace two Fridays ago will stop by next Saturday to exercise their First Amendment freedoms and will share their opinions regarding the Queen?

Also, no word if any of the higher-profile political leaders, the Aloha Petroleum patriotic soloist, the Kalani High School band, the media, or law enforcement officials are expected to be present at this event. Heh.

Everyone shoot lots of video for posting to YouTube, please, and try to forgive me for this snark.

Comments (2)
8/25/2006

2nd Congressional District candidate Q&A

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:21 pm
Wow, somehow I almost overlooked the Advertiser story that includes the candidate survey responses that I’d been anticipating. Every candidate participated, which is more than I can say for the survey here involving your questions… (where only Hooser and Kawananakoa participated)

Any nominations for “Worst evasion of a direct answer?” How about nominations for “Most obviously a message pandering to the party base?” Heh.

Seriously, though, despite how much I’m sure that the candidates don’t actually think alike, it’s striking how many of the responses sound quite similar.

Comments (2)
More 2nd Congressional District candidate fora are on tap

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 8:41 am
The Advertiser announces a televised candidate forum scheduled for September 7 at the Hawaii Theater (in District 1…) and the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii announce a few more “speed dating” events (Democrats only?) with the candidates on August 28 in Kapolei and August 30 in Kaneohe. I hope to attend the Kaneohe event, although it is possible I will go to sea briefly sometime next week and miss it.

It’s unclear from reading the Advertiser article if the Hawaii Theater event will have a live audience. Also, the article says that “students from the 2nd Congressional district are being asked to submit questions,” but does not explain how they may go about submitting questions. It’s good to hear from the students, but the decision to limit the question pool in that way is odd.

Steering clear of making any endorsement, [1st District Congressman] Abercrombie noted all the Democratic candidates have avoided warring with each other and are trying to present their best sides rather than expose their opponents’ worst.

“Everybody is looking at the others and saying they have various virtues, but mine are better,” he said.

NO GREAT DRAMA

The problem with this kind of collegial campaign is it makes it difficult to rise above others with similar views and political experience.

“That doesn’t make for great TV. It doesn’t make for great drama, and I don’t think anybody’s going to break out,” Abercrombie said. “Nobody has any time or money to do anything. That’s going to leave a lot of voters in the dark about who is the best person to vote for.”.

Which is precisely why events like these are so important. These events level the playing field and provide some (free) time for the candidates to talk with voters. Whether a candidate will capitalize on the opportunity to “break out” or if they will remain “collegial” probably will depend on if the candidate is comfortable with his or her endorsements, name recognition and campaign fundraising success.

Comments (0)
Another open seat draws newcomers into campaign

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 8:39 am
The Advertiser has a story today about some of the candidates for House District 4 (where Helene Hale is retiring). The candidates mentioned in the article are Sarah Burgess, Faye Hanohano, Luana Jones, and Gerald Silva. Hale, as you may recall, has previously endorsed Jones. The candidates profiled inthe piece are all Democrats.

But there are two others in the race.

I’m trying to figure out why the article relegated the Republican, Brian Jordan, and the Libertarian, Aaron Anderson, to a single sentence at the very end of the article and completely excluded the two from the sidebar/photos. Overall, the Advertiser is to be commended for this ongoing series of articles, but criticism is due here. The piece has no balance.

Comments (1)
8/24/2006

DOT not pleased with revised graffiti website

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:22 am
The spiffy new Udown website that the SB reports about today could become even more notorious if the State continues to pursue it…

In UDown’s new Web site, which was reactivated on the Internet last week, the company added a disclaimer that reads, “UDown does not aid, abet, solicit or counsel anyone to vandalize public and/or private property.”

“In fact, UDown, wants to advise people to not attempt to put a sticker (or anything for that matter) on any private or public infrastructure, signage, etc., so please do not put your life in jeopardy for UDown,” the disclaimer says.

Said Justin McCoy, one of the four UDown business partners, “We hope the disclaimer discourages anyone from putting their lives at risk.”

McCoy said they kept the photos on the revamped Web site because “we feel that it’s a freedom of speech and entertainment.”

“There are way worse Web sites out there that have way worse things going on,” McCoy said.

[DOT spokesperson] Ishikawa said UDown’s Web site is still promoting vandalism and encouraging the public to put themselves in danger through its photos.

“It’s more than just vandalism,” he added. “Somebody is climbing up 30-foot signs and putting these stickers up there. It’s a miracle nobody has gotten hurt yet.”

At worst it’s a mixed message, given the new click-through disclaimer (which is the same strategy used by many “offensive’ websites, and has its own built-in joke for the third option). Udown could further complicate the issue if they were to include some photos where the Udown logo was digitally inserted onto various bits of private and government property. In that case there would not be any actual vandalism. Hmmm.

So, what are you going to do about it now, Mr. Attorney General?

Comments (1)
Iwase challenges Lingle on gasoline prices

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:22 am
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Randall Iwase has an op-ed in the SB today, where he takes Governor Lingle to task for ties to the oil industry.

Iwase is unfair when he chides the Governor for not introducing legislation to have the PUC regulate gasoline prices. The Governor made comments to that effect at the end of the legislative session when the gasoline price cap was suspended, so the legislation (if any) she intends to introduce will have to wait until January 2007, when the legislature convenes. I very much doubt that she’ll follow through with it, but it’s too soon for Iwase to accuse Lingle of inertia simply because she has not (un-Constitutionally) rearranged the legislative calendar…

Anyway, Iwase concludes:

The time has come for this state to regulate the profits of the oil companies and make their pricing policies and decisions transparent and obvious to the everyday person who drives up to the pump. I believe the public has the right to know how much gasoline profit there is in every gallon of gas. I believe the gasoline companies should be willing to disclose their profits especially since there is so little competition. It is time for government to defend the public interest, not the corporate pocketbook of the oil companies.

I’ll say it again: transparency is not just a good idea, it’s the law. Can anyone explain to us why we don’t have transparency?

Comments (0)
FTA sticks finger in Djou’s eye, but will audit city procurement next year

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 9:21 am
The SB runs a story today with news from the federal transit authority that finds Mayor Hannemann did not act improperly in reassigning consulting work for the mass transit project from Communications Pacific to one of his close supporters. You may recall that earlier Comm Pac had a lawsuit dismissed on the same topic.

The Federal Transit Administration has determined that the city did not violate the federal procurement code when substituting a public relations subcontractor for others to examine mass transit alternatives. The FTA was responding to a complaint filed last year by City Councilman Charles Djou to the U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general.

Djou asked for an investigation after he said the city failed to adequately explain to him how a political supporter of Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s became a subcontractor.

In a copy of a memo sent to the acting inspector general from FTA Deputy Administrator Sandra Bushue, the FTA concluded that it could not find evidence that “political connections” led to the change in subcontractors.

Instead, the FTA determined, “The substitution of the subcontractors was for the purpose of enlisting a subcontractor deemed to have necessary skills and resources to accomplish (the city’s) goals for robust community outreach.”

Comm Pac is still trying to revive its lawsuit, according to the article. I wonder what the timeline on that case is…

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie was scheduled to hold a news conference today on the FTA report. In December, Abercrombie accused Djou of trying to sabotage the mass transit project with his inquiry.

The Mayor’s spokesman comes out with a strong chastisement against Djou for filing the complaint, but I predict that Abercrombie’s comments will be even more scathing.

Comments (1)
Palolo Valley race for Senate

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:21 am
Today the Advertiser describes the race in Hawaii Senate District 9, where Democrat incumbent Les Ihara, Jr. faces a primary challenger, Randall Yee. Meanwhile, on the GOP ticket, the candidates are Michael Palcic and Gladys Hayes. Ihara at least has a url, but none of these people seem to have a functioning campaign website. Welcome to the 21st Century, folks!

Unlike many of the other articles in the Advertiser series, there is some blunt criticism of the incumbent included today:

Yee, the son of former state lawmaker Wadsworth Yee, is forgoing a re-election bid to the school board to run for the Senate.

“I feel that I can do more for education at the next legislative level,” said Yee, who ran unsuccessfully for the City Council, the state House and the Board of Education before winning a BOE seat in 2002. “While it’s been a very good learning experience on the Board of Education, it really does come down to funding and who decides the funding.”

Making both the Department of Education and the school board more autonomous also are initiatives Yee wants to push.

I’m not sure I follow that logic. Yee says he hopes to do more for education by being “at the next legislative level” in the Senate, but then says he wants to give the BOE (where he is leaving as Chair) more autonomy instead of having the legislature “decide the funding?” Perhaps Yee plans to grant that autonomy and then leave the Senate to run again for a BOE seat to “do more for education.” I dunno.

Yee said another reason he’s running is because he believes someone who has been in the Legislature as long as Ihara should be chairing powerful committees and introducing major legislation.

“There has not been a lot of evidence” of either, Yee said. “I guess it is my feeling that I think that our district should have someone that is going to do more.”

Ihara, however, said he has done plenty.

“I think what people want are solutions to the problems and that’s what I’ve done,” Ihara said.

The Sierra Club, Hawai’i chapter, has named him “the most environmental senator” and he has been a co-convenor for the senior citizen caucus, he said. Additionally, he said, he has been known as a champion for open government and ethics among lawmakers.

Given the factionalization of the Senate, where President Bunda is repeatedly facing the threat of a leadership change, Ihara’s lack of committee Chair duties is not necessarily anything he can (or should) resolve, nor is it believable that Yee would do any better as a freshman Senator (unless Yee is planning to align himself with any random leader who will offer him a Chair position). As for the bill introduction criticsim, I counted over 100 bills from the 2004-2005 session where Ihara was a primary sponsor, and scores more where he was a co-sponsor. Now, maybe Yee has a stringent definion of what is “major” legislation, but in my opinion that dog won’t hunt.

Comments (6)
8/23/2006

Prices go up and stay up – and we still don’t know if we are being gouged?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:01 am
The Advertiser reports that gasoline would be significantly less expensive if the gasoline price cap law had not been suspended.

With the cap no longer controlling the market, Hawai’i prices have returned to their pre-cap pattern of remaining high and stable compared with Mainland prices.

The average price for regular on O’ahu has moved within a 7-cent range since early May ? between about $3.25 and $3.32 a gallon, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Meanwhile, the U.S. average has ranged between $2.85 and $3 a gallon during the same time.

Had the cap been allowed to remain in effect, Honolulu gasoline prices likely would have been lower during most of this past summer. The cap, which limited wholesale prices and was adjusted each Monday, would have dropped by 24 cents this past Monday and about 9 cents next Monday.

[see also the Advertiser’s graphic plot of prices]

——–

The law that suspended the cap also called for more oversight and monitoring of the state’s oil industry. Oil companies now are supposed to disclose crude oil costs and sources, refinery operating expenses, marketing and distribution expenses, and corporate overhead expenses. However, the state does not expect to begin collecting such data until next year.

Hmmm. Exactly who was it that said the state expects to begin collection of that data next year?

I’d still like to find out if the PUC has any workers hired to implement the price cap that are still on the payroll now that the cap is suspended. If there are such workers, surely they could be put to use to provide the “transparency” provisions of the law. On the other hand, if no such workers were ever added to the PUC staff to implement the price cap law, then it’s hard for me to see why the unfunded “transparency” mandate is any more burdensome for the PUC than it was to task its employees to implement the price cap law.

If the PUC received legislative appropriations to hire additional staff to implement the price cap law and those appropriations and staff were terminated upon the suspension of the price cap, then I could understand this “wait until after the election” stance. However, unless that scenario is proven to be true, I say it’s a political decision to not provide the transparency data to consumers/voters.

Comments (2)
Akaka, Case agree on debate format

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:01 am
According to published accounts (Advertiser and SB), this is how the televised debate will be conducted:

The questions will be selected by AARP Hawai’i, the debate’s sponsor, which has invited voters to submit suggestions. Gerald Kato, chairman of the University of Hawai’i-Manoa’s School of Communications, will be the moderator.

Akaka and Case will each have five minutes for opening remarks, two minutes to answer each question, one minute for optional rebuttals, and three minutes for closing statements. Kato will enforce the ground rules and may ask follow-up questions for clarity. The candidates will not be allowed to question each other.

——–

No live audience or news media will be allowed in the studio during the debate. Recordings of the debate will be provided to the media for use in news coverage.

Stanton said the debate format was based on AARP’s national guidelines and has been used in thousands of debates sponsored by the group across the country during the past two decades.

———

“I think both sides were more than willing to make this debate work,” said Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP Hawaii state director.

Stanton said the debate will follow guidelines that have been established and used previously by the national organization. AARP is a nationwide senior citizens’ advocacy group.

——–

Questions will be selected by AARP and will not be provided to candidates in advance.

Stanton said the group usually limits questions to issues of concern to AARP members, but because of the anticipated interest in this debate, “we thought we’d open it up a bit.”

All questions will be reviewed by AARP, and because of the anticipated volume there is no guarantee that all submitted questions will be used.

My advice (and I’ve already sent my question) is: don’t wait for somebody else to ask that question you have in mind. SEND IT IN YOURSELF!

Comments (0)
No clear frontrunner in Makiki, Tantalus House race

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:01 am
Another interesting legislative race is profiled in this Advertiser article about House District 25, where the incumbent (Brian Schatz) is giving up the seat to run for Congress. The GOP will have Okubo running against whichever Democrat (Belatti, Steelquist, or Turbeville) prevails on September 23rd. Okubo’s website is useless. The other three websites are useful, although not exceptionally so.

I am pleasantly surprised that 3 of these 4 candidates are women. Only one other contested House district (the 44th), will have a ballot with more women than men seeking office.

Comments (2)
8/22/2006

Lingle pulls harbor space rabbit out of a ($2.6 million) hat

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:25 am
Yesterday and today I’ve come across numerous reports about the State finding space for Young Brothers to continue to consolidate less-than-container load (LCL) cargo at the various state harbors. There are stories at PBN, Garden Island News, Advertiser, SB, and KHNL. A press release from Young Brothers is here (hat tip to Aaron). The Governor’s press release is here, and a PDF summary of the agreement is here. Why the entirety of the memorandum of understanding was not also made public is a mystery to me.

Anyway, that’s a fair amount of reading, I know, but my first reaction is that this MOU will relieve much (but not all) of the immediate political fallout caused by the Lingle administration’s decision to strongly support the Hawaii Superferry’s entrance into the already-crowded State harbors milieu. The Lingle administration still supports the Supeferry, but if YB had stopped LCL service and shipping rates rose dramatically then the Governor would have been left to hang out on a political limb with not only ferry opponents, but also small businesses, searching for the nearest saw.

Barry Fukunaga, the state Department of Transportation’s deputy director for harbors, said the state began looking for a way to help Young Brothers continue less than container load service when officials realized there likely wasn’t enough time for freight forwarders to successfully fill the void.

He said the state is continuing to examine ways to deal with the limited space at the harbors and noted there are no guarantees the less than container load service will continue beyond the dates in the agreement.

“We bought time, but we don’t have a definitive way of saying this will always be the case,” Fukunaga said. “You really need to keep working the solutions and looking at the planning involved with the harbors so that you can start to look at what spaces there are.”

Translation: LCL shipping will last at least until November 2006… Heh.

It remains to be seen if these harbor improvements will be completed on time and on budget. It also remains to be seen what the reduction of Hawaii Superferry space in Kahului will mean for the ferry operations. The previous Superferry plan involved a rather dubious and convoluted passenger and traffic flow in Kahului, and I reckon the new plan could only look worse after the state gives some of the ferry’s space to Young Brothers. The costs of this harbor space shuffling are likely to be seen as a gift to the Supeferry folks, if anyone pays attention.

Lingle said the expansion at Kahului Harbor should not disrupt canoe paddling in the harbor.

She also reiterated her position opposing the requirement of an environmental impact statement study for the Hawaii Superferry.

Lingle said other commercial shipping entities such as cruise ships have not been called upon to provide an environmental impact statement and that the Hawaii Superferry should not be singled out.

Lingle said the state is also working with Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa’s administration to acquire land near the small-boat landing to expand Kahului Harbor.

Environmental groups on Maui have opposed the Hawaii Superferry and related harbor improvements, saying they want a more comprehensive plan.

Ron Sturtz, president of Maui Tomorrow, said the harbor expansion for the Superferry is moving forward without looking at the impact on traffic.

Mayor Arakawa is no big fan of the Superferry, so acquiring that land (should Arakawa remain in office) may be a problem. Furthermore, unlike the floating barges (instead of land-based dockside improvements) that helped the DOT to skirt the EIS process for the Superferry, an outright expansion of Kahului Harbor would almost have to trigger an EIS. I reckon the Lingle administration will try hard to decouple that EIS from any scrutiny of the Superferry, even though the need to accomodate the Superferry (without stopping LCL cargo) is clearly the impetus for the proposed harbor expansion.

Comments (3)
Governor’s appointee faces battle to hold seat

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:20 am
She’s a light year ahead of Bev Harbin, but the fact that Representative Stevens was appointed to her seat means that voters of the 23rd district may or may not give her the full dose of the incumbency advantage. The Advertiser continues its district-by-district coverage and has an article encapsulating the contest between Stevens and her opponents.

All the candidates have websites: Stevens, and her Republican challenger, Peters, will face off in September. (Peters has a stagnant blog, too.) The winner of that contest will face Brower (whose site is now significantly less “amateurish” than before, so I will re-classify it as “MySpace-ish”), Erteschick, or Saunders on the Democratic line of the ballot.

Check them out if you vote in the Waikiki/Ala Moana/Kakaako district.

Comments (1)
8/21/2006

First-time hopefuls set sights on House

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:25 am
Perhaps to atone for excluding them from the recent article expounding on the Iraq War opinions among candidates for the Hawaii Second Congressional District, today the Advertiser has a piece about Hanalei Aipoalani and Joe Zuiker.

Zuiker has a campaign blog (which I’ve linked to for some time) and a unique “running around” gimmick/strategy, while Aipolani has a Flash-based website that sent me a lot of pop-ups as I browsed around. Todays article marks the first time I had visited Aipolani’s site, and I did not know that he worked for Patsy Mink in the late 1990s. Unfortunately for him, some of Mink’s surviving family members have already endorsed Mazie Hirono.

Comments (0)
Bad news? Tell it with PowerPoint!

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 8:25 am
Not related to Hawaii, but during my daily browsing I came across this little nugget:

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is facing a fiscal crisis and part of the response is to adopt a 72-hour pay period for government employees According to this version of a Marianas Variety article, the CNMI Governor apologized for signing the bill into law.

“Forgive me,” said the governor in an interview when asked if he had a message for the public regarding the new law.

He said there was no other alternative but to further reduce government spending due to the steadily declining revenue in an economy that has been in a deepening slump since 1998.

He is scheduled to address the commonwealth on MCV, the only cable television provider in the Northern Marianas.

“I will address the people of the commonwealth on TV not only on the issue of (work hour) reduction but on other issues that we have been facing,” said the governor. “I will make a power point presentation.”

My offline friends already know this, but I absolutely loathe PowerPoint presentations. For whatever reason, reading a few sentences from a slide is too often believed to turn the utterly banal into the truly profound. Nevertheless, in many large organizations the notion of a meeting without this type of intellectual crutch is unthinkable.

More (and a very funny cartoon) from a classic Wired magazine article here.

Next slide, please.

Comments (2)
8/20/2006

Advertiser bloggers are optimistic and gaining audience

Filed under:
General
HI Media
— Doug @ 6:05 pm
I feel somehow obligated to comment on Advertiser Editor Mark Platte’s column about their stable of bloggers.

Our writers (and, we hope, our readers) like the instant feedback on an item and sometimes the debate that it sparks among readers.

“The benefit I sense is it stimulates a forum where people talk with, to or past each other, making little reference to what was originally posted by me,” says Burris, one of the state’s chief political experts. “That is, it sets in motion a conversation (nominally about politics), and I just get out of the way. That’s a good thing.”

Dave Shapiro, who writes the Volcanic Ash column each week, also likes the interactivity of his daily blog. The reaction (or lack of reaction) he receives has caused him to put more thought into each entry.

“Some topics draw more comments than others, and I’m learning more about what interests people most than I ever did from the column alone,” he says. “They’re going to have to continue suffering, to some extent, through what interests me most. But when an entry draws little comment, it makes me think about how to present the idea in a more compelling way that better conveys why I think it matters.”

Indeed, some entries draw tremendous reaction, and some sit there with no comments attached, which can make a blogger feel a little lonely.

“The hardest part is coming up with interesting and/or universal topics that will generate reader discussion,” says Nakaso, the Mind Your Business blogger. “The most disappointing part is that serious issues like the minimum-wage debate have gotten lackluster reader response while blogs like Joe Moore’s recent tantrums have been deluged.”

The comments at Burris’ and Shapiro’s blogs are not bad—I’ve left some comments there myself. Quantity, if not quality, of comments is unlikely to be a problem.

What Shapiro said about readers suffering through what interests him is dead on. It’s a bit different for him than it is for me (since he is a “professional” and I do this as an amateur) but ultimately I think any blogger that posts because they must instead of because they care is going to fail.

Unlike the Advertiser bloggers, however, I don’t judge the success or relevance of what I write by the number of comments (which are almost always few) that any particular post attracts. Would I like more comments? Of course. However, I’m not going to pander to the comments. Seriously, if you don’t think I write about the “right stuff” then start your own blog! It’s easy. If you write about Hawaii politics (or something else that I care about), then I’ll even link to you.

That said, I figure this is as good a time as any to ask for constructive criticism (or praise) on the generic topic of “your thoughts about Poinography.” I’ll approve the praise for posting…

Just kidding. I’ll approve the criticism for posting, too.

Comments (1)
A weekend full of news from the sea

Filed under:
Science
Sailing
— Doug @ 6:05 pm
Ian Lind’s blog post from Saturday tipped me to this story about the drownings of two USCG divers assigned to the icebreaker Healy. I sailed on Healy two months last summer during the North Pole expedition, and I vividly remember one of the casualties, BM2 Duque. I’m a bit confused by the other death, listed in the articles as LT Jessica Hill. When I was on the ship the Marine Science Officer (and diver) was LT (JG) Jessica Noel, so I’m not sure what to make of that. It’s close enough that it could be a typo, I suppose, but maybe the replacement MSO just happens to have a similar name. Anyway, whether I knew her or not is not important, either way it’s sad news.

UPDATE: Sadly, it is the same Jessica that I sailed with. She reverted to the Hill name after a divorce, hence my confusion. Damn.

I also received word that Doug Gardiner, the navigator I sailed with aboard Seafire during the 2005 Transpac, was killed in a mainland traffic crash. I only sailed with Doug for a few weeks last year, but during that type of extended race on a small vessel you get to know people pretty well. So that’s more sad news.

In better news (which is small consolation), we did well in our racing on Saturday and Sunday, and the SB has a story about a new Army ship that arrived this week. My dear friend and long-time, thousand-of-miles sailing shipmate Don Brown serves as the Chief Engineer on the boat, and he is justifiably proud of her. Maybe now Don will finally retire from the Army, where he has served (both on active duty and as a reservist) for about as long as I have been alive!

Comments (1)
Photo caption is the extent of debate coverage?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 6:04 pm
I’m running late today (and I’m tired after a day of heavy wind sailing), but while scanning the SB I noticed the leading photograph from this story has the following caption:

William Aila Jr. prepared yesterday to debate rival Democrat Randy Iwase at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu.

“Great,” I thought, “Aila and Iwase actually had a debate and the SB covered it.”

No such luck. The article is mostly about fundraising by the Democrats and Governor Lingle’s part-time campaign work and huge money advantage.

There should have been some written coverage of the debate between Aila and Iwase. A photo is not enough, did they send a photographer without a reporter?!

Comments (0)
8/19/2006

Honolulu teenager selected for Transpac movie project

Filed under:
Sailing
— Doug @ 5:54 am
It’s not nearly as cool as Andrew Lewis being selected to race around the world on a youthful team that performed quite well, but the Advertiser has a story today about Mark Towill, who has been selected to join another young team of sailors who will train together, compete in the Transpac race, and star in a movie about the effort.

I could take or leave a movie role, but doing Transpac on a very trick yacht (Towill will crew on Roy Disney’s Transpac 52 Morning Light) is a dream of mine… I’m jealous. Have fun, Mark.

On the sailing topic, I’m racing to Haleiwa today (Saturday), spending the night in Waimea Bay, and racing back to Kaneohe on Sunday. Thus, any blog posts Sunday will be late and your comments will be stacking up in the queue until I’m back online.

Comments (1)
Statehood event ends in predictable confrontation

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 5:53 am
I have not seen the KHNL video (which requires Windows Media to play) of the event, but there is an account in the SB today as well as another Hawaii Reporter post that describes the clash that occurred yesterday at Iolani Palace. The West Hawaii Today has an article not specifically on the Iolani Palace confrontation, but on the Statehood Day topic.

Other than Senator Sam Slom, Representative Barbara Marumoto (dressed as the Statue of Liberty), Bill Brennan of Mayor Hannemann’s office and (candidate for Congress) Noah Hough, it is unclear if any other politicos ventured into the fray. A previous Hawaii Reporter post had said that Congressman Case was “expected” to attend. Well, was Case there? Perhaps there were widespread “scheduling conflicts” among candidates. Heh.

UPDATE: Aaron Stene provides useful links to more video from the event here.

Comments (10)
Federal office seeks to identify Native Hawaiian organizations

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 5:53 am
The Maui News has an article that describes a federal effort to make a list of Native Hawaiian organizations.

The Office of Hawaiian Relations, a branch of the U.S. Department of Interior, is compiling an official Native Hawaiian organization notification list to be used by federal agencies required to notify Hawaiian organizations about actions they take.

Hawaiian Relations Director Kaiini Kimo Kaloi asked for information from the Native Hawaiian community in a series of meetings throughout the state this week.

“It?s about empowering the Native Hawaiian community by giving more information,” says Kaloi, who is half Native Hawaiian himself, and grew up on Molokai and in Ka?u on Hawaii. “With this list, there will hopefully be less miscommunication.”

The Office of Hawaiian Relations aims to “preserve and promote Hawaii?s natural and historic resources and the Native Hawaiian culture,” says Kaloi. He adds that the office serves as an informal liaison between the U.S. Department of Interior and the Native Hawaiian community.

The list will be a more comprehensive resource for federal agencies that need to contact Native Hawaiian organizations under the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

Most recently, of course, NAGPRA was in the news regarding a legal struggle between Hui Malama and a museum over disputed artifacts. Hui Malama took some criticism in its role as an organization specifically designated in the Act, so this list-making is significant.

A Native Hawaiian organization is defined in federal law as a group that serves and represents the interests of Native Hawaiians, has a primary and stated purpose to provide services to Native Hawaiians, and has an expertise in Native Hawaiian affairs.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Hui Malama are the only organizations that are mentioned in NAGPRA, and so there is a limited source list for federal departments that must notify Native Hawaiian organizations or have questions about Native Hawaiian affairs.

What will become of the NAGPRA process if the additional groups on this list have strongly divided opinions when they are notified by the federal government of pending actions? It certainly has the potential to become a(nother) “divide and conquer” scenario.

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8/18/2006

Petroliotism

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:20 am
Kicking back on my day off, I noticed a Hawaii Reporter post on the subject of Statehood Day and a campaign appearance patriotic celebration at Iolani Palace.

Citizen organizers of Hawaii’s 47th Statehood Day Celebration, State Senator Sam Slom and Small Business Hawaii (SBH), will also honor Hawaii’s men and women in uniform along with Hawaii’s admission to the union.

[Thursday], Governor Linda Lingle and Lt. Governor Duke Aiona, released an official Proclamation encouraging participation in Statehood Day. The celebrated Kalani High School Marching Band, under the direction of Dennis Kaneshiro, Aloha Petroleum patriotic soloist Tom Yamaguchi, Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s representative Bill Brennan, Congressman Ed Case, uniformed military and others are expected to join an anticipated crowd of several hundred tomorrow.

SBH and Slom stepped forward last week to organize and sponsor a celebration of Hawaii’s Statehood after years of non-observance. The event is free and open to the public with all costs assumed by the sponsors, not the taxpayers.

The event is planned as a proud recognition of being part of America, enjoying the benefits of freedom, and honoring our American troops. Individuals and families attending are encouraged to wear red, white and blue and bring an American Flag.

[blink]

Did that really say, “Aloha Petroleum patriotic soloist?” Yup. I see this as a not-so-subtle attempt by the organizers to reinforce the notion that petroleum, patriotism, and militarism are essentially (and properly) joined at the hip in the opinions of some in our United States.

You can decide for yourself if it is politically significant that Congressman Case plans to attend, while none of the other members of Congress are mentioned, and Mayor Hannemann is sending a surrogate… Heh.

Well, I’d better hurry to get on the road, the event starts very soon! Not.

Comments (6)
Big Isle civil case may be unsealed

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HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:19 am
The Advertiser has a good follow-up article concerning the disturbing sealed court records in Hawaii County.

It now appears that the parties involved in the sealed case are circulating an agreement that would allow for the case to be unsealed. If that were to happen, then the media lawsuit to see the records would be moot.

[One of the parties in the sealed suit] told The Advertiser he signed an agreement circulating among the parties to unseal the case. When that happens, [media attorney] Portnoy’s challenge will be “moot,” Gierlach said.

But Portnoy said even if the case is reopened, the high court should still issue a ruling to notify judges, lawyers and parties that they cannot seal a case without at least holding a hearing to give the public a chance to object.

He said the public would not even know about the case if West Hawaii Today did not receive a tip.

I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know how much latitude the court is allowed in this type of situation. However, it seems to me that Portnoy should also ask the court to demand an accounting of all other previous case which have been secretly sealed. Who knows what would turn up?

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Maui candidate forum elicits clear policy goals of candidates

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:19 am
I don’t know if it is because of the unusually outspoken candidates, or if it is because of better-than-average reporting, but this Maui News article about a recent candidate forum is full of candidates taking clear positions on some of the most politically thorny issues.

It’s an impressive story, however those two factors may have combined.

Various candidates propose higher taxes for “high-end second homes” and timeshares, a development moratorium, government-built affordable housing, large water system infrastructure improvements, and even firing a department head. The event lasted several hours and was “packed.” Good for Maui!

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Maui Senate race is a 2002 re-match

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:19 am
Continuing its district-by-district work, there is an excellent Advertiser piece today that highlights the race between Democrats Buen and Tsutsui (to be decided on September 23 primary, since there are no other candidates) for Senate District 4.

The article provides a nice introduction to the district and to what are said to be the major issues in the campaign. The fact that this race pits the immediately-prior incumbent against the current incumbent adds a little extra zing, everyone loves a grudge match.

In the sidebar of the story I had to chuckle when I compared the “one big idea” from each candidate:

TSUTSUI: To secure $100 million in funding for Maui Memorial Medical Center.

BUEN: To bring peace and harmony to everyone in the world.

Uh, obviously they have different interpretations regarding the scope of that question, haha.

Comments (2)
8/17/2006

Bill limits Waikiki street closures – in theory

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 9:44 am
The Honolulu dailies both mention a bill that passed at 8-1 at the Honolulu City Council yesterday that would limit the amount of parades in Waikiki. The SB story is here, the Advertiser story is here, and the bill itself is Bill 84 (PDF).

The bill separates out “First Amendment” parades for exemption from the annual limits, but the determination that an event is a First Amendment parade is to be handled by the Corporation Counsel and it seems that it is not subject to review or appeal.

ACLU of Hawaii legal director Lois Perrin said at this point they do not plan on suing the city over the bill, but there is the potential for other groups to do so.

“I think it does open up the Council for potential litigation from a group who has been denied the opportunity to march in Waikiki on the basis that their event is not a First Amendment event, because the First Amendment virtually encompasses everything with respect to expressive activity. Almost every parade is a First Amendment parade,” Perrin said after the meeting.

Indeed, the definition in the bill is so broad that, so long as the event is free of charge, I don’t see how the Corporation Counsel could do anything except find all parades to fit the definition.

?First Amendment parade or activity? means a parade or activity that
constitutes an expressive activity in which individuals may participate without
charge.

Translation: either the Corporation Counsel will approve every application that claims to be a First Amendment parade (a strategy which I reckon it won’t take long for most parade organizers to adopt, since it sidesteps the annual limit on parades altogether), or the City will quickly be sued again when a First Amendment parade application is rejected.

It is an improvement from an earlier draft, and I predict the Mayor will sign it anyway…

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A crowded Kalihi valley House race

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HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:35 am
House District 30 features a 4-way Democratic primary in September, and a Republican, a Green, and possibly an independent for the November General Election. The Advertiser profiles the candidates very briefly today and speaks broadly about the district, characterizing it is as old and neglected.

Three of the seven candidates have websites: John Mizuno (who I had mentioned earlier), Terry Visperas, and Bill Woods.

UPDATE: Charmaine Crockett has a website, and she is one of the plaintiffs suing Hawaiian Telcom over the NSA domestic spying program, too.

Each candidate seems to have a background that will appeal to certain constituencies, but it will be hard for these relatively unknown (although Woods is a longtime Neighborhood Board fixture, and Visperas’ bio includes a stint as a KCCN radio personality) candidates to capitalize on those appeals.

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HUD position on Kukui pre-payment is unknown

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HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:22 am
Today the Advertiser editorializes to urge the federal Housing and Urban Development Department to carefully consider the owners’ proposal to pre-pay the financing on Kukui Gardens. Approval of that proposal would release the property from its existing obligations (i.e. to remain affordable until 2011).

There’s one more player to be heard from in the controversial sale of 857 affordable units at the Kukui Gardens complex in Downtown Hono-lulu: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In the interest of increasing the chances that Kukui Gardens’ large stock of affordable units stay affordable in the long term, it’s time for HUD to weigh in on the sale and the Kukui Gardens Corp.’s loan prepayment offer.

Now, it could be that it’s been done and I simply have not noticed the story, but has any reporter (from the Advertiser or elsewhere) actually tried to get any comment from HUD officials about this? Maybe check to see if this is a commonly-approved tactic used by other owners of HUD-financed housing projects?

If HUD blows off the reporters, maybe our Congressional delegation could do better, or perhaps our “Friend of W” Republican Governor?

Comments (0)
8/16/2006

Akaka agrees to appear with Case on PBS

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HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:00 am
The Garden Island News reported yesterday morning that an announcement was coming that day, and today the Honolulu media have very preliminary details about a debate between the two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senator from Hawaii. The Advertiser story is here, a SB article is here, and a KHNL report is here.

If the two men (and their handlers) can agree on a format, they will take questions on PBS Hawaii at the end of August. Thus, it remains to be seen just how much of a “debate” this event is allowed to become, or if it will be more accurately described as a simultaneous Q&A session. Akaka has already upset Case by insisting that the format not allow the candidates to directly question each other. Case is also displeased that the event is to be broadcast on public television. The Akaka camp says that by going with PBS the debate does not unfairly benefit a single commercial entity.

Uh, would it really be so hard to allow every interested media outlet to cover the event? It seems to work just fine at the Legislature on Opening Day and the Governor’s State of the State address… or is that an arrangement not palatable to the commercial networks and/or PBS?

By the way, there is another statewide race with an upcoming primary. Will anyone step up to host a televised Aila v. Iwase debate for the right to challenge Governor Lingle?

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Lieberman race creating Hawai’i dilemma

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HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:00 am
An interesting David Shapiro column today speaks to the division in the Hawaii delegation to Congress with respect to support of Joe Lieberman.

Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka both supported the incumbent Lieberman in last week’s Democratic primary, as did U.S. Rep. Ed Case, who is challenging Akaka for the Hawai’i Senate seat.

But the three are going separate ways now that Lieberman is running as an independent after losing the primary to Lamont in a rush of voter resentment over Lieberman’s support of President Bush’s war policies in Iraq.

Akaka supports Democratic nominee Lamont, while Inouye and Case have said they’ll forsake their party’s nominee and back Lieberman in his independent run.

It gets especially complicated for Inouye, Hawai’i’s senior senator. He disagrees with Lieberman on Iraq, he strongly supports Akaka in his anti-war campaign against Case, but he agrees with Case in supporting Lieberman.

Not that it particularly matters in this calculus, but where is/was Abercrombie on all of this?

A few Democrats are discussing whether Inouye and Case should be sanctioned by the party for backing a candidate other than the Democratic nominee in Connecticut, noting that local party rules seriously frown on such disloyalty.

Other Democrats here have faced discipline for crossovers in the past; O’ahu Democrats brought charges against former state Sen. Milton Holt for supporting Frank Fasi in his Best Party run against Ben Cayetano, and the state party tried to sanction at least one Democrat who supported Ralph Nader’s third-party run for president against Al Gore.

“If they can do it to the little ones, what about the big ones ? or are they too tied to Inouye’s money?” said Marsha Joyner, a Democratic activist and former state Senate candidate.

Some Akaka backers who have questioned Case’s commitment to the Democratic Party would love to make an issue of his support for Lieberman, but they can’t credibly do so as long as their patron, Inouye, is also backing Lieberman.

State Democratic Chairman Mike McCartney said no investigation of Inouye or Case would be launched unless a party member files a formal complaint ? and even then, he isn’t inclined to pursue the matter.

“I respect both Dan and Ed,” McCartney said. “I have more important things to do than get involved in a technical debate over the rules that distract us from what we have to do ? get Democrats elected.”

Wha? Getting Democrats elected no longer includes supporting an independent (in Lieberman) over the Democratic Party’s nominee (Lamont), does it? What exactly are Hawaii Democratic Party “sanctions,” anyway? I’m thinking that neither Case, who is in a make-or-break race, nor Inouye, who is, well, Inouye, are very concerned… Whatever, I am very curious to see if any high-profile member of the Hawaii Democratic Party has the audacity (or should I call it integrity?) to file a formal complaint against either man.

UPDATE: It would appear that the sanctions involve the party not endorsing the candidate who does not support other Democrats, although I suppose there is some wiggle room since neither Lamont nor Lieberman are members of the Hawaii Democratic Party.

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Who will be my State senator?

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HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:00 am
Continuing as the only source of district-by-district coverage of state legislature races, the Advertiser introduces the three candidates vying to become the State Senator from District 24. This is the district I live in, and since I’ve yet to have a visit from any candidate (incumbent or challenger) in any election for any office ever come to meet me, I appreciate this introduction. Tom Pico does not seem to have a website. Keoki Leong and Jill Tokuda have campaign websites.

I’m a bit surprised that the article did not highlight the fact that Leong and Tokuda have previously held Executive Director posts in their respective (GOP and Dem) parties. I reckon this will be a tough battle along partisan lines.

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8/15/2006

Case’s 1998 bill criticized; Akaka campaign piles on

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HI State Politics
— Doug @ 3:01 pm
Sorry, my posts are going online late after I was sidetracked by a power failure for a good chunk of the day.

In the SB today Borreca has a story that I first noticed as a post on Hawaii Reporter last week. It is about an e-mail (the text of which is included near the end of the HR post) circulating among Kamehameha Schools graduates. William Meheula, the author of the email, characterizes a bill that (then Hawaii House of Representatives member) Ed Case introduced in 1998 as being anti-Hawaiian.

Case’s bill said its purpose was to “provide self-sufficiency and self-determination for native Hawaiians.”

Meheula, however, argued that Case’s bill would “have stopped native Hawaiian recognition for all time.”

To further his argument, Meheula, who has represented the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in court, sent an e-mail to “about 20? political supporters of Akaka.

[Akaka’s campaign chair] Winer said his law partner’s e-mail was not part of the Akaka campaign, but there was no objection to it.

Elisa Yadao, Akaka campaign spokeswoman and a former spokeswoman for Kamehameha Schools, also said the e-mail was not part of the campaign, but she called it “an accurate assessment of Ed’s legislative record and pretty illuminating and revealing of his position of native Hawaiian issues.”

Case said that since the native Hawaiian sovereignty bill pushed by Akaka has failed in Congress, people are now considering “the concepts that I put forward as a way of providing a path forward.

“Time has proven the merits of some of the ideas,” he said.

But he acknowledged that in 1998 he had to withdraw the bill because it was so controversial. At the time, Case said it was “the right idea, put out by the wrong person at the wrong time.”

Unfortunately the online archives of legislation only go back to 1999, so I can’t refresh my memory of the bill. What I do remember is the huge protests that thundered through the rotunda that year and the overnight vigil with chanting and drums…

The article doesn’t dig into the comparison at all, but (as Case asserts) that 1998 bill certainly sounds similar to the Akaka Bill in its goals, even if they propose to attain the ends by using different means.

That comparison is almost irrelevant at this stage, as few voters are going to be undertaking that type of in-depth analysis. Instead, the issue has become “Meheula (read Akaka) said, Case said” and that type of dispute fits the typical campaign story boilerplate. In this kind of reporting the specifics hardly seem to matter. Instead, each side is basically allowed to characterize the legislation as they please and no attempt is made to confirm or deny either characterization.

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Congress candidates speak issue sound bites about the war

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HI State Politics
— Doug @ 3:00 pm
A rather underwhelming Advertiser story gathers the responses from the candidates for the Second Congressional District on the subject of the Iraq war.

Asked about one of the most divisive issues facing the U.S. Congress, most of the candidates for the U.S. House seat in the 2nd Congressional District reflected their parties’ stances on the Iraq war.

Six of the eight prominent Democratic primary candidates queried called for withdrawal plans and time lines, the other two called for withdrawal as soon as it is “safe” or “practicable,” while the two Republicans defended the United States’ continued presence in the war-torn nation.

The most clearly stated positions from Democratic candidates fell in line with the stance taken by top congressional Democrats who last week called on President Bush to begin pulling troops out of Iraq by the end of the year.

State Rep. Brian Schatz and state Rep. Gary Hooser both called for withdrawal to begin immediately.

——–

On the other hand, the two Republicans ? state Sen. Bob Hogue and former state Rep. Quentin Kawananakoa ? both said the United States should continue in its efforts to put a stable government in place in Iraq.

For whatever reason they didn’t include the response from Democrat Joe Zuiker. Not “prominent” enough, perhaps? It isn’t because his response is any less (0r more) substantive… Anyway, Zuiker’s response is here:

The Iraq ?Fiasco? is wrong and it hurts America every day. It also makes us less safe every day. If we love our Nation, we leave within six months.

By the way, the balance of that post by Zuiker also gives us a peek at the other questions asked of the candidates. I think it is safe to predict that we’ll see more Advertiser articles based upon those other questions and responses.

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A glimpse of the District 44 House race

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 2:58 pm
Another in the series of Advertiser profiles of Legislature races, this time it is District 44 where Representative Kahikina faces a primary challenge and the GOP primary is also contested.

Kahikina, who is chairman of the House Housing Committee, said he would like to continue his work in addressing homelessness and affordable-housing issues.

“I held the position of compassion when the governor came in and asked for her appropriation to address the homeless and housing situation,” he said. “I basically doubled the appropriation.”

Kahikina said he also helped lead the way in some policy decisions that he hopes will lead to more affordable units being built faster. “That in itself needs some direction and follow-up.”

He is in favor of having out-of-state real-estate investors help finance more affordable homes since they’re helping drive local residents out of the housing market. “Let’s increase the conveyance tax to really hit the guys who are speculating. That’s our families that should be buying,” he said.

[Kahikina’s Democratic challenger] Rezentes said the Legislature made a good start toward addressing housing last session, but more needs to be done to stop people, such as seniors on a fixed incomes, from being pushed out of the housing market.

Some of the seniors living on the beach could afford to pay $600 or $700 for rent, but $1,300 to $1,600 is out of reach for them, Rezentes said.

“How do we deal with someone who has for years been able to live in housing, but because of the pressure of development (in) the growing economy, she’s now priced out of the market?” she said.

Rather than look at housing on its own, however, Rezentes, a longtime neighborhood board member [like I was saying] and three-session staffer for Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, D-21st (Nanakuli, Makaha), takes a more global view.

For Kahikina to say that the homelessness issue “needs some direction and follow-up” is perhaps the understatement of the race… Residents of that district can’t hide from the scale of the problem like much of the rest of the State can. While Kahikina doesn’t come out looking so good, for her part in this article Rezentes doesn’t offer up any concrete policy ideas on the topic either.

The Republican candidates, Awana and Ku, are mentioned in the article, but nothing of any substance is said by or about them.

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8/14/2006

GOP also-rans for Senate

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:38 am
Both Honolulu dailies run the same AP story about the cannon fodder GOP candidates vying to face the winner of the Akaka v. Case contest. The Advertiser story is here, and the SB story is here.

I’ve already mentioned one of these candidates, Mr. Beatty. So let’s have a look at the others with a web presence.

Not much works on Jay Friedheim’s website (and maybe it’s a good thing that the “@ work and play” photo gallery link is broken… haha), so I can understand why the article focuses on the one substantive page that does work. He wants to start a “draft” for “national service” during peacetime and war. So far as I can tell, he is talking not talking about a draft (where some are chosen by lot to serve) but rather universal conscription for those between ages 16 and 60. I’m not sure if that means the United States would simply offshore the entire private business sector, or if we’d leave that to the elderly and teenagers.

Mr. Tataii’s website is instantly annoying, with its screwy mouseover gimmick that reminds me of the (equally annoying) rhythmic gymnastics ribbon event. The most interesting thing I found there (beyond the fact that his chief goals seems to be to use a Senate seat as a platform to advance a free Kurdistan movement) is the description of his political experience:

Political experience: I have run for U.S. Congressional district 2, Hawaii, in the 1992, and 2002 elections. My Victory was unjustly denied, when the inner circle politicians plotted against me, and created two special elections. After filing 5 election contests in the State Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, and U.S. Congress Committee on House Administration, my Contest did not prevail mainly due to ignoring two main evidences attached to my filed documents, and conveniently dismissing my election contests. I have also run for Hawaii State House in 1988, 90, 94 (wining the Primary), 96, 98 (challenged the results of 98 elections due to a deceptive campaign endorsement advertisement, ruining around 25 other similarly situated Candidates’ elections as well. Case being dismissed by Supreme Court on Technicalities, and later at the U.S. Supreme Court, and I represented myself. Have run for City Council Seat in the 2000 special election, but lost due to Press Slander on a key issue.

Wow, what a run of bad luck! Heh.

Comments (2)
Kukui Gardens sale a conflict of interest?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 10:38 am
Another new wrinkle in the Kukui Gardens transfer of ownership is described in this SB story. In an earlier post we heard that the affordability of the units might go away before the previously-known 2011 date. Now there are allegations that a breach of trust has occurred.

The state attorney general’s office is investigating allegations that some trustees of Kukui Gardens Corp. might have violated their fiduciary duties in activities related to the pending sale of the affordable-housing project.

Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones said, “We are investigating potential conflicts of interest and potential claims of trust violation.”

Jones added, “We think these are serious enough that the court should appoint a special master to investigate the allegations and report back to the court.”

Hmmm. Well, if nothing else, even if this lawsuit were to fail the “special master” appointment and investigation process could provide the State with more time to come up with a response…

The attorney general’s office oversees charitable organizations. Kukui Gardens Corp. was formed as a tax-exempt charitable housing organization to build and operate Kukui Gardens, an 857-unit affordable-housing project on the edge of Chinatown.

The investigation was triggered by allegations made in a lawsuit filed last week by Wallace Ching, the only board member to vote April 27 against selling the complex to San Francisco-based Carmel Partners for about $131 million.

In his lawsuit, Ching alleges that the other trustees, including his brother, Lawrence, violated their fiduciary duty to the trust by subordinating its interest to those of St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii and the Marianist Center of Hawaii, which operates Chaminade University and Saint Louis School.

Ching alleges in the suit that trustees who have longtime ties with those organizations put their needs first at the expense of Kukui Gardens and its 2,500 residents.

I am not a lawyer, but at first glance it seems that there is an obvious conflict of interest…

However, from an earlier SB piece, there is this description of the Board:

The sale is being driven by the 15-member Kukui Gardens board of directors. The board is composed of five members of the Marianist Center, the Catholic religious order that operates Chaminade University and St. Louis School; five members of St. Francis Medical Center; and five members of the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation, a nonprofit that Clarence Ching established in 1967.

According to financial documents, the elder Ching set up the two independent entities with the provision that if either dissolved or the project was sold, two-thirds of the assets or proceeds from any sale would go to the Marianist Center and the balance to St. Francis.

[blink]

It would seem, then, that the conflict of interest may have been essentially incorporated into the Kukui Gardens corporate charter. Unless it is just a coincidence that the board members represent the three organizations that would benefit from the sale (i.e. the fact that the board members represent the Marianist Center, St. Francis Medical Center, and the Ching Foundation is not mandated by the corporate charter), it seems it would be impossible to dissolve or sell the project in a way that would not trigger a conflict of interest.

Anyway, it’s all very odd.

Comments (0)
Ethics charges can now lead to fines

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:38 am
An interesting story in the SB today about a new law that may provoke a change of behavior among state politicians and employees.

Violators of state ethics rules could pay thousands of dollars in fines under a new law passed just in time for Hawaii’s peak period for ethics complaints: the political campaign season.

For the first time, state law allows the State Ethics Commission to exact fines of up to $500 per violation, which at first glance might seem weak. But considering most serious cases involve multiple violations, the fines can easily snowball.

Conducting private business in a state office, for example, can accrue fines surprisingly quickly. That is because what might seem like a single transgression often involves using state time, equipment and facilities, which are three separate violations.

“If a person did that, say, 30 days, that’d be 30 times three, and (the person) basically would have 90 counts,” explained Dan Mollway, the commission’s executive director.

Why stop at counting the number of days when violations occurred? I really wonder how far they will carry this “separate violations” interpretation. If, purely hypothetically speaking [cough], a legislator has his or her staff deliver campaign fundraiser tickets to each office (of the same party) at the Capitol, then would that be a separate violation (and $500 fine) for each invitation?

From there the article goes on to discuss how the Ethics Commission dismissed the complaint against Senator Kanno when they found out that Kanno would not seek re-election and how this new law would have provided them a reason to proceed. Let’s think about that for a second.

First, let’s remember that the contested case hearing is a very rare occurrence for the Commission. The complaint against Kanno was started in September 2005 and Kanno responded in November. Had the Ethics Commission acted more promptly, they could have easily taken up the contested case hearing long before the end of the 2006 legislative session when they found out Kanno would not be running in 2006. I still wish they would have taken up the charge more quickly, not because I think what Kanno did was unethical, but because I believe there really needs to be some fleshing out of just what is an “unwarranted benefit or advantage.”

One could even make the argument that by leaving Kanno twisting in the breeze for so long the Ethics Commission was essentially able to coerce Kanno to choose the ultimate punishment: removal from office. During a campaign, an unresolved charge is nearly as damaging to a person’s reputation as a conviction.

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8/13/2006

Almost harvest time

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:07 am
Unless they simply choose to ignore SCR 32, by September 1st we should expect to hear from the Ethics Commission about the solicitations made by the Lingle administration related to the Asian trade delegations.

Browsing about at the Ethics Commission website for any mention of this topic reveals nothing yet. However, the Commission typically works behind closed doors until they complete an investigation. Still, I’m very curious to know if they are investigating or if they will rely on a (genuine or fabricated) technicality to derail or defer the nvestigation.

In case you’ve forgotten, I have been following this saga with great interest. “Governments matter.” Indeed.

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Harbin delenda est

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:58 am
The Advertiser continues to profile the various contested elections with this piece about the candidates vying for State House District 28.

Cruise ships and fishing boats hug the piers, executives make deals in office towers, vendors sell ripe bananas from sidewalk stalls, and hookers prowl some streets day and night. Honolulu’s downtown area is a crossroads of the world, with a little bit of everything.

The neighborhoods that make up the state’s 28th House District are also home to more than 20,000 people from Iwilei to Makiki, living in everything from renovated lofts and plush condominiums to aging housing projects and crowded homeless shelters.

Democrats who hope to represent them in the state House include Rep. Bev Harbin, an outspoken and controversial small-business advocate who was appointed to the seat last year; Karl Rhoads, an attorney and consultant; and Carlton Middleton [no website], a newspaper street vendor and community activist. The only Republican candidate is Collin Wong [under construction?], a former policy analyst in the governor’s office.

The Democrat who wins the Sept. 23 primary election will face off against Wong in the Nov. 7 general election, and that’s likely to be one of the year’s high-profile House races. Wong ran for the seat and lost by just 150 votes in 2004, while Rhoads and Middleton are running for the first time. Harbin ran unsuccessfully for a different House seat in 1980 as a Republican.

Don’t expect me to be objective about this contest!

Karl Rhoads is my friend and professional colleague. He and I have very similar (but not identical) political opinions, and he is one of the smartest and hardest-working session staff employees at the Legislature. When we disagree he actually listens carefully to my argument before respectfully explaining his (typically well-thought-out) position. Karl Rhoads is the first ever and only candidate I’ve actually given a (small) donation! Without belaboring the point: If you live in District 28 and read this blog regularly (without cursing me out loud), then you would do well to vote for Karl.

I honestly don’t know much about Wong other than he worked in the Governor’s policy office during the 2006 session (I believe he worked as an energy policy analyst, although I’m ignorant/dubious of his qualifications for that post). My familiarity with the GOP Senate staff is almost nil (they are a relatively rare species, after all), so I don’t have any comment on his work with Senator Trimble. Wong did pretty well against Representative Hiraki in 2004, so it may be another tight race this year. In addition to the support of Governor Lingle, Wong is likely to enjoy a certain amount of ethnic support in Chinatown.

Comments (0)
8/12/2006

Neighborhood Boards found to have imbalanced refreshment budgment ledgers

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 9:38 am
Both of the Honolulu dailies comment on the City Auditors report about the Neighborhood Boards and Commission. (Advertiser piece is here and the SB piece is here)

I just wasted about 30 minutes reviewing the report, hoping to find something more intriguing than what is contained in the executive summary. No luck. For example, the fiscal audit carefully reveals discrepancies in the hundreds of dollars. Yawn.

Some follow-up on these Neighborhood Boardmember comments (Appendix C of the report) would be useful, though:

Conflicts of interest

Developers, landowners, and big business seem to control the votes on our board over the interests of our citizens.
Special interest groups should not be allowed to monopolize the meetings and promote their beliefs as
something the entire district believes. The board should project the needs and desires of the people in their area, not a particular member?s own special agenda.
I would like to see that anyone sitting on a neighborhood board should not be employed or a volunteer for any elected official. These described folks utilize neighborhood board meetings as a platform for their boss.
The previous board chair politicized our board to the detriment of the neighborhood board system and the community. He would often use the meetings to further his political agenda.
Which Neighborhood Board is controlled by developers or landowners? (perhaps it be easier to find out which boards are not…)

There’s no denying that Neighborhood Boards have provided a launching pad for many would-be (and actual) City and State politicians. Anyone willing to commit the time to get on the ballot and to attend a series of NB meetings will have, if not name recognition, at least something to put on their campaign materials for higher office. There are even some legislators that actually take offense if somebody runs for City or State office who is not from among the small universe of people who regularly attend NB meetings. “He (or she) is not known in the community!” they screech. My hat is off to people who volunteer to serve on these boards, but I can think of many other things that would do more to qualify somebody to serve as a legislator than the careful debate of burnt-out streetlights and formulation of “advisory” resolutions that are observed or ignored by higher officials as is politically expedient.

These people are sustained by high-minded notions of “grassroots government”, but they are more often treated like window dressing.

Comments (3)
UH students may produce television news program for public telelvision

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 9:38 am
The SB runs an AP story about an idea that would have UH film school students producing a daily(?!) television news show for broadcast, perhaps on PBS Hawaii. Why not? Even if the deal with public television falls through, such a show could instead air on the public access cable stations. The students will be challenged to find the time to produce a show every day (compare it to the campus radio station, KTUH , which is on the air 24/7, but DJs do not need to produce their own “content” in advance), but a big goal like that can be scaled back if it doesn’t work out.

[School director] Lee said he believed Hawaii viewers want to watch news broadcasts that delve deeper into the issues, even though some evidence – such as Hawaii’s low voter turnout – might indicate otherwise.

“When you get out to some of these community forums that politicians have,” Lee said, “people ask some very good questions. That, it seems to me, is largely not reflected in the local stations.”

[Cough]

I am curious as to how this effort will be funded and if the student producers will be recruited from journalism students or the artsy-fartsy and AV club geeks (I feel I can get away with saying that, because I fit that description once, haha).

Comments (1)
Lynx visits Kauai

Filed under:
Sailing
— Doug @ 9:38 am
The Garden Island News has a feature article about the wooden sailing ship Lynx (which I mentioned earlier). I’ve had my own share of time at sea on other vessels since she arrived in Hawaii, but I just wasn’t able to juggle my schedule to make a sail this time around, darn it.

I can only wonder if the print version of the story includes any photos…

Comments (2)
8/11/2006

Six newcomers vie for two vacated House seats from Kauai

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 2:50 pm
I’m getting a late start today since I began the day by offloading the research vessel and riding the bus back to Kaneohe. But I will take a minute to recommend this Advertiser story that continues their series of stories about individual State Legislature contests. The subjects this time are Representative Districts 15 and 16 where Representatives Kanoho and Kawakami are not seeking re-election.

I’m pretty pooped and I have a few errands to run and a stack of mail to plow into. More tomorrow.

Comments (0)
8/10/2006

Case v. Lamont?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:13 am
The internet connection was pretty spotty today, but I did manage to download an Advertiser article that begins to draw comparisons between the Lieberman defeat and the Hawaii contest between Akaka and Case. I was also able to find a perspective from the Right in a post at Hawaii Reporter, but it does not mention the Hawaii angle specifically.

The Advertiser article does not draw very many conclusions, but the implications are latent.

Akaka’s campaign has made Iraq a dominant theme in his September primary against U.S. Rep. Ed Case, sensing that public opinion among many Democrats in the Islands, and across the country, has turned pessimistic on the war.

Many Democrats nationally are interpreting U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s primary defeat Tuesday by millionaire businessman Ned Lamont in Connecticut as a measure of the war’s potency as a political issue this year. Lieberman, the party’s vice presidential candidate in 2000, was beaten largely because of his defense of the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq.

——–

Akaka reminded Democrats here that he had warned before the invasion that Iraq likely had no weapons of mass destruction, that the Bush administration lacked an adequate post-war strategy, and that the United States should not invade countries unilaterally.

“As we look backward today,” Akaka said, “every one of the things that I told you was true. So my vote was correct.”

Case, who is scheduled to speak before the Democratic Century Club in two weeks, said by phone that Akaka is trying to make Iraq the only issue of the campaign but is not willing to debate the war in detail.

The congressman has said he would have likely voted to give Bush the authorization to go to war, like many Democrats did at the time. But he had misgivings about weapons of mass destruction shortly after the invasion and has said he would not have supported the war solely to remove former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The main disagreement between Akaka and Case on Iraq now is when to bring U.S. troops home. Akaka was among the minority of Senate Democrats who voted to remove troops by July 2007, while Case believes setting a specific timetable is naive because it is not connected to whether Iraq is stable and secure.

It would be useful for somebody more familiar with the Lieberman/Lamont race to describe those candidates’ specific positions on the Iraq War. Is Lamont’s position the same as Akaka’s? Is Lieberman’s position the same as Case’s? My point being that the policy differences between the (crudely put) “stay” candidate and the “withdraw” candidate may have been more (or less) dramatic in Conecticut.

I reckon that all such comparisons are anathema to Case, of course, now that Lieberman has lost. Had Lieberman won the tables would no doubt have been turned—but Lamont won. Thus, Case continues to press for debates and to call attention to the issues he sees as his most powerful (effectiveness and “transition”), but that is just so last week…

The acerbic Hawaii Reporter post is a bit bombastic, but it is nonetheless interesting to read insofar as it may be indicative of how some on the Right interpret the Lieberman defeat. Basically it says that the Republicans should veer even further from the Lamont message, and to embrace centrism is a losing strategy. I have not read any of the actual GOP leaders saying as much, though I’m admittedly never looking as hard as I ought be to see what they have to say. Heh.

A Lieberman win could have been interpreted as a rejection by the Democrat[ic] grassroots of the hard-left ideology promoted by the likes of Howard Dean and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-CA). Such an event would have left the Democrats scrambling to reinvent their agenda only ninety days out from the general election.

On the other hand, Lieberman?s defeat moves the radicalism of Lamont, Dean, Pelosi, and their kind to ?front and center? in the media and among Democrat political hacks. Yet despite the vehemence of individuals like George Soros and his comrades of the leftist fringe, their message does not resonate. Outside of a few blue state Democrat strongholds, most of the nation soundly rejects their countercultural and anti-American beliefs.

Hmmm. The anti-war “message does not resonate?” Then why is it that Bush’s approval ratings are so persistently low?

“Outside of a few blue state Democrat[ic] strongholds…” Is that not an attribute of Hawaii?

So the potential does indeed exist by which the Lamont victory could spell trouble for the Democrats. However, the conservative analysts who have expressed such hopes may be forgetting another political reality of the Republicans that cannot be omitted from the mix. And if recent history is any harbinger, despite the phenomenal opportunity this situation affords them, the Republicans will fumble this one as well.

Just as Israel can reap great benefits from a decisive rout of Hezbollah in Lebanon, but only if it stays the course until the job is complete, so does the GOP stand to expose these Democrat troubles as an internal confrontation between forces of the left and the ?hard-left.?

But this will be the case only if the GOP asserts itself as a strongly contrasting conservative alternative. Unfortunately, it has done little to lay such groundwork in recent months.

I agree that the likelihood of a strongly contrasting alternative is low. However, I believe we are likely to see that stronger contrast if the voters decide that Democrats should retake the U.S. House on Lamont’s “message,” because, in any legislative body, parts of the minority party are more likely to speak loudly to the fringe on a few hot-button issues (while quietly voting to the center on most issues).

Comments (6)
8/9/2006

A preface to the candidate responses

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 12:25 pm
I’m a bit disappointed that only two (of the dozen) candidates for the Second Congressional District responded to your questions, but I’m not a cat herder and I said at the beginning that if readers wanted to hear from a particular candidate then it was up to you readers to convince them to participate. Anyway, I’m happy to provide you folks with the responses I have.

I hope that everyone will read both responses and I urge you folks to leave specific comments about the specific answers provided by the candidates. Mahalo to Gary Hooser and Quentin Kawananakoa for their participation. QK did not fully answer the questions regarding his mistakes and lessons learned, but for the most part I think the two men (or perhaps it’s more accurate to say, their handlers and speechwriters?) took your questions seriously.

Comments (1)
Gary Hooser’s response to reader questions

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 12:24 pm
Candidate Hooser:

Response edited only to remove weird punctuation artifacts present in the email.

(more…)

Comments (2)
Quentin Kawananakoa’s response to reader questions

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:24 pm
Candidate Kawananakoa:

Response edited only to remove weird punctuation artifacts present in the email.

(more…)

Comments (7)
Lawyers condemn pseudo-veto “singing statements”

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:23 pm
There is another AP story about the ABA convention in the SB today, this time about a resolution that was passed in opposition to the Bush administration’s use of bill “signing statements” and their effect of placing the President in an extralegal territory between (or beyond) a veto and commitment to carry out a bill signed into law.

It’s a good story, but what I never seem to find in any article like this is any discussion of how the Bush administration defends the practice. That they do not publicly defend the practice is no big surprise, but, in this example, the 99 ABA convention delegates who opposed even holding a vote must have made some argument, no? So, what is the argument being made?

Typically all I have heard is a toss-off comment that “Democratic Presidents have used the statements, too.” That is not a convincing argument to proceed, much less to continue allowing the unchecked use of the statements at the alarming rate the current President has been attaching them to legislation that doesn’t please him.

I think that perhaps now, but certainly after the primary elections are over, the candidates and the media should be pressing to find out where each person running for office comes down on this topic. This issue is a very good barometer of a politician’s support of a either “unitary Executive” or the long-established separation of powers. If Hawaii Republicans (and especially Governor Lingle and the GOP candidates for Congress) don’t disavow the use of these signing statements, then Hawaii Democrats should be quick to sieze on the issue. Unless the Democrats are okay with it, too…

Comments (0)
In the same room – at last

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:23 pm
As expected, the appearance of Senator Akaka and Representative Case at the same candidate forum is the big story of the day. There are no doubt many other links, but the Advertiser story is here and the SB article is here.

Neither candidate seems to have introduced any new messages, but they both had a more combative tone than what I’ve been reading previously. Basically, they both are starting to sound more like their loudest supporters. Heh.

Akaka portrayed himself as someone who has been able to be”that alternative voice, that nagging conscience.”

“Will it be Republicans or even individuals who claim to be Democrats, but vote to the contrary?” Akaka asked. “Or will they just rubber stamp this administration’s decisions?”

Case said, however, that Akaka has been named the “most liberal member of the Senate” and is backed by the “far-left one percent.”

Turning his attention to the war in Iraq, Akaka said he sees himself as someone who will “demand of this (Bush) administration a strategy and timetable for peace and how we intend to ensure a stable and democratic government in Iraq.”

But Case said Akaka was one of only 13 senators who voted to demand that American troops pull out of Iraq in one year.

“To set a firm timetable that is unrelated to the conditions on the ground, I think is a mistake. It think it is naive and I think it is simplistic,” Case said.

“You can’t just set an arbitrary time frame and say everything is going to be OK,” Case said.

The defeat of Senator Lieberman in the Conecticut primary was underway while both men were speaking. In the coming days I’m sure that there will be plenty of comparisons drawn between the two contests if Case loses in September, and contrasts drawn if Case wins. In fact, such articles are probably out there already, but I just don’t have time to track them down until I’m back ashore.

Would Case run as an Independent if he loses? Hmmm.

Comments (1)
8/8/2006

We are SO lucky this guy is no longer in government service

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 11:11 am
I was happy to see that the SB carried an AP story about the speech by John Yoo at the ABA convention. Yoo is credited with concocting the legal rationale for many of the Bush administration’s most dubious policies regarding civil liberties. Most egregiously, Yoo’s thinking was behind a memo that defined torture so narrowly as to allow some pretty awful things to be done to “enemy combatants.”

I’ve read quite a lot about Yoo’s work, but out here at sea I don’t readily have access to it at my fingertips (and websearches are darn slow). Just last month I finally got around to reading a 2004 book by Geoffrey Stone called Perilous Times, which is quite good on the subject of free speech during wartime—but rather thin on Yoo’s theories.

In the few thoughts of Yoo relayed in this article, I think it’s important to note that the wartime erosions of liberties he describes (approvingly) were later acknowledged to be huge mistakes. The story also does not go far enough to clarify that recently the Supreme Court has repudiated key parts of Yoo’s work for the Justice Department.

“In wartime, when you’re detained, you’re not being punished for anything. You’re being held so you can’t keep fighting,” [Yoo] said.

True to some extent, but Yoo’s policy would have us allow the government to hold a person indefinitely without offering any review of his or her status as a “fighter.” So Yoo could more accurately have paraphrased the concept as “[detainees are] being held so that [they] can’t begin or continue to fight.” That policy is unacceptable in a “free” country.

Comments (0)
Coffee campaign is over

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:08 am
No lack of drama for the Coffee family of late. Both Honolulu dailies have stories (Advertiser and SB) of the Republican political newcomer’s sudden withdrawal from the race for U.S. Senate. This after announcing his campaign, departing for Africa on a humanitarian mission(?), returning to the United States to attend the funeral for his mother-in-law, and having an emergency heart bypass operation (his third) while in Texas attending to that family crisis—all of that in the space of a little more than a month. Wow!

I direct your attention to this paragraph:

State election officials could not be reached last night, but the Web site for the state Office of Elections says candidates have until Sept. 1 to withdraw for health-related reasons. Five lesser-known Republicans ? Mark Beatty, Chas. “Akacase” Collins, Jay Friedheim, Edward Pirkowski and Steve Tataii ? are also on the
ballot.

“Akacase?!” That alias sure looks like some kind of joke, or a ploy to try to play off of the name recognition of the higher-profile Democratic party race and maybe confuse some voters into voting by accident/ignorance for that amalgam of the two Dems. Akin to the old Eddie Murphy “Distinguished Gentleman” plot. Heh.

Comments (1)
8/7/2006

Same drill, different month

Filed under:
General
Science
— Doug @ 12:12 pm
I’m on another 4-day research voyage. The satellite-based internet connection onboard is sketchy and slow, but I’ll do what I can.

It sure is nice out here today, I gotta say.

Comments (0)
Trying to assay the candidates; attempt #1

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 12:11 pm
Since I seem to be in a mood to praise the local media, kudos to the SB for this article that polled via the various candidates for 2nd Congressional District to get their thoughts about the various domestic spying programs currently being conducted by the Bush administration. All the candidates responded except one, proving that it is possible to dig a little deeper into the multi-candidate race without waiting for press releases…

Comments were in response to an e-mail survey by the Star-Bulletin, which asked congressional candidates: “Do you believe the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program is an effective deterrent to terrorism, and what changes, if any, would you seek if elected to Congress?”

Unfortunately, the question submitted to the candidates is pretty much a work in progress, since the Bush administration has not been not very forthcoming about what exactly is going on, and the Republican Congress has not pressed the issue very hard. Thus, the candidates were able to assume a “balance security with civil liberties” boilerplate response. So, to the extent that this was an exercise to differentiate the candidates, it was not much help.

However, a series of such efforts on different questions may (eventually) yield some significant differences. The trick is figuring out what to ask…

On that note, I’m still waiting for responses to your questions to the candidates. When I receive the responses (and my time onboard allows) I will try to post them all simultaneously.

Comments (1)
Oh yeah, there’s another race, too

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 12:10 pm
Don’t miss the SB story about the First Congressional District race, because you’re not likely to see another until after he wins.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie holds such a tremendous lock on his seat in the
House of Representatives that none of his three opponents think they can win.

Abercrombie, who is running for his 10th term in Congress, has more experience, money and support than any of the so-called contenders in the race.

——–

Abercrombie seems confident. He has run a low-key campaign so far, with few events planned. An incorrect phone number is listed on his Web site.

Heh. That shouldn’t be so funny, but it is.

On a more serious note, it’s interesting that we haven’t heard much about the Republican party fretting over the lack of a high-profile candidate to challenge Abercrombie. It seems they pretty much write that seat off completely.

Perhaps Jerry Coffee will challenge him in 2008? Or maybe the GOP could start to court the very-slow-trigger-finger “partisanbiguous” Harry Kim, haha.

Comments (0)
Maui Council candidates introduced

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 12:09 pm
I was somewhat surprised (pleasantly, that is) to see the Advertiser carry this story about the two contested Maui County Council seats. As is the trend elsewhere, the two races are a bit more interesting because the incumbent is not part of either race this year.

I don’t know very much about these candidates (or, frankly, about the specific issues they mention), but it’s pretty cool that the Advertiser is including/continuing this type of regional coverage.

Comments (0)
8/6/2006

Akaku chairman: before resignation, Board asserts control of its own destiny

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:23 am
I direct your attention to the latest installment from the Maui News in the Akaku brouhaha:

Board members of Akaku: Maui Community Television voted Thursday evening to remove themselves and call for a new board to be appointed, providing an apparent conclusion to the long-standing dispute that has divided the nonprofit organization.

The board voted 8-2 for the plan many said they hoped would give the community-access cable television station a fresh start. It calls for 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza, who oversaw the board?s mediated settlement earlier this year, to appoint a ?master? or a selection committee to pick new board members. The existing board would continue to serve until the replacements are seated.

——–

While the law that established Akaku gives the power to appoint board members to the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, [Board attorney] Collins said the board?s resignation would be contingent on the replacement plan outlined in the vote.

DCCA spokeswoman Christine Hirasa said Friday that the department would not comment on the situation until it had reviewed the board?s agreement.

Wha? Are these people serious?!

I am not a lawyer, but Judge Cardoza can’t agree to assume a task that State law specifically assigns to the DCCA. It’s a complete perversion of the separation of powers for an Executive Branch board to ask the Judiciary to circumvent a process established by the Legislature. Clearly, the board members do not want DCCA to appoint any replacements for fear of exacerbating (or resolving in Dowling’s favor) the acrimony and divisiveness plaguing the group recently, but this stunt is unlikely to succeed…

Either there is some key information that didn’t make it into this story, or this is theater of the absurd.

Comments (2)
High-stakes stonewalling and obfuscation

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:23 am
Another interesting article from the Advertiser today that compares Senator Akaka’s recent Supreme Court confirmation votes to how Representative Case says he would have voted had he been a Senator.

After a useful primer on the history, the article quotes the UH law school dean who comments about the politicization of the confirmation process. The only thing I found lacking in the article was any discussion of the other side of the confirmation hearings, i.e. the Executive branch and the nominee. Presidents are under a lot of pressure from the vocal segment of their party who want to step on the scales of justice by appointing ideologically “pure” justices to the Court. Judges who are ambitious recognize this dynamic, and I think this obviously influences some of their rulings at lower level courts. The judges begin (or continue) writing opinions that they hope will be useful in any future nomination process for promotion to appeals court seats or to the Supreme Court. Then, when they are ultimately nominated and come before the Senate Judiciary Committee, they suddenly refuse to speak clearly or vigorously defend what is sometimes a very clear record. It’s a pretty frustrating charade that both sides (under Presidents and Congresses of both parties) play. They groom these nominees to advance their philosophy and then, at the last minute, try to deny their history of bias.

I don’t have much to add to the article, except to remind people that the “two key island issues” facing Supreme Court showdowns (race-based admissions at Kamehameha, and Native Hawaiian government recognition) are not supported by the Republican candidate for Senate, Jerry Coffee. Not that there is much chance he will win, but it’s still worth noting.

Comments (0)
Enough theorizing, just be sure to vote

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:22 am
Jerry Burris’ column in the Advertiser today is focuses on the increasing popularity of absentee voting.

Ideally, easy absentee voting should help push up Hawai’i’s rather dismal voter participation numbers. Voters can cast ballots whenever they want, from the comfort of their homes, rather than taking time out on a busy Saturday or workday Tuesday (for the general election) to battle lines at the polling station.

That’s good.

But the downside is that increasing percentages of votes will be cast without a complete picture of the candidates and their strengths and weaknesses. For instance, anyone voting early in the heavily contested 2nd Congressional District race will be largely going on name recognition.

Well, his is an interesting hypothesis in search of some data…

Good? How many of the absentee voters were non-voters in previous electionst? Without knowing that, it’s speculation to say absentee balloting will improve voter participation rates. It’s quite possible that there is little net gain in participation, just a shift from in-person to absentee voting.

Bad? How many in-person voters in the past were going to the polls on election day(s) and voting based on name recognition? Without knowing that, it’s speculation to say that waiting to cast an absentee ballot will make name recognition any less dominant a factor.

I could make an equally-plausible claim that by being exposed to the perennial last-minute barrage of advertising (largely from the best-funded candidates, who may or may not be the best candidates), telephone calls, mailings, and whatnot, a voter (in-person or absentee) who waits may be more likely to vote by name recognition. It’s been my experience that candidates are not known for waiting until the end of their campaign to finally put out substantive campaign messges… Maybe that could explain the low participation rate: those messages never arrive.

I’m not really this cynical, but the somewhat sloppy thinking annoyed me.

Comments (2)
8/5/2006

Inouye supports incumbent Senate Democrats – what a surprise

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:21 am
The Advertiser article I’m linking to concerns national politics, but I mention it because it again shows that the Advertiser is watching, reporting and participating in the blog world. I am happy to see it.

Several liberal and progressive Democrats in Hawai’i have described Case as a “Democrat In Name Only (DINO)” for his position on the war, his vote to extend the USA Patriot Act, and his support for capital gains and alternative minimum tax breaks favored by the White House.

Andy Winer, Akaka’s campaign manager, referred to Case as a “faux Democrat” in a Wednesday post [actually a comment on someone else’s post] on the liberal “Daily Kos” Web site. “DINO may not be a strong enough description for this terrible voting record,” Winer wrote.

Before concluding with those two paragraphs, the article does quite well connecting the story of the Connecticut Democratic Party Senate primary race to the Akaka-Case contest here in Hawaii. The blogosphere is following the CT race relentlessly, this blog is not. What I will add, however, is that it is almost unheard of for any sitting Senator to actively oppose a colleague facing a primary challenger… Have any Democratic Senators come out in support of Lamont? Has Inouye ever supported a Democratic challenger in his many years in the Senate? Those are honest questions.

One thing that went glaringly unsaid in the article is if Akaka has or has not endorsed Lieberman. Heh.

Comments (3)
From my spam folder inbox

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:20 am
Ed Case is banging the debate drum ever-louder:

August 4, 2006

CASE ACCEPTS MORE STATEWIDE TV DEBATES
WHILE AKAKA DECLINES

Fifty Days Before Election, Akaka Pursues Voter Avoidance Strategy

U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Ed Case has accepted an invitation from Hawai?i television station KHON/2 to participate in a one hour debate with his opponent, Senator Daniel Akaka, to be broadcast statewide on a mutually agreed date.

Case has also accepted an invitation from AARP Hawai?i to participate in a one hour debate with Akaka to be broadcast live by Hawai?i public television station PBS Hawai?i on August 31st.

Case earlier accepted two other invitations to participate in similar statewide television debates with Akaka on mutually agreed dates. One is on Hawai?i television station KITV/4; and the other on a to-be-determined Hawai?i television station in a debate sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Akaka has declined each and all offers under the guise of ongoing consideration, in some cases stretching over several months now. In the case of the OHA-sponsored debate, the Akaka campaign has pressured OHA to withdraw its offered sponsorship.

Akaka’s refusal to debate Case or even appear jointly in community forums has been repeated in several other instances. As examples:

Honolulu/Native Hawaiian Community. Case accepted an invitation to an O?ahu Council of Hawaiian Civic Clubs congressional candidate forum while Akaka declined.
The event will be held on Tuesday, August 15th, 7-8:30PM at the State Capitol.
West Hawai?i. Case accepted an invitation to a U.S. Senate debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, and Kona Outdoor Circle, on any date prior to the September 23rd primary. Akaka declined, citing scheduling conflicts.
The debate will be held on Monday, August 21st, 6-8PM, in Kailua-Kona at a place to be determined.
Honolulu/Students. Case accepted and Akaka declined a joint appearance invitation from Kapi?olani Community College.
The event will be held without Akaka on Wednesday, August 30th, 11-12Noon at KCC.
Akaka’s strategy dates back to the very beginning of the campaign. On January 25th of this year, after Case announced, Akaka refused to appear jointly with Case on PBS Hawai?i. Akaka declined to participate with Case in an April 17th joint appearance at Hawai?i Pacific University. He refused to respond favorably to an invitation to appear with Case before the Honolulu Advertiser’s Community Board. (See this link.) The one and only joint appearance to which he has agreed is before the Hawai?i Publishers Association next Tuesday, August 8th, in non-debate format.

“Senator Akaka’s clear strategy is to avoid, at all costs, any opportunity for Hawai?i voters to actually evaluate this crucial choice in a side-by-side appearance,” said Case. “Instead his goal is to hide behind his spokespersons and consultants and advertising millions, carefully constructing his image, attacking my positions without defending his own, denying voters any real opportunity to evaluate his beliefs, record and competence, and hoping that voters let him get away with it.

“These are not the actions of a United States Senator. A U.S. Senator must be willing and able to discuss, debate and persuade, whether it be on the floor of the U.S. Senate or at home with the voters. A U.S. Senator must be committed to open dialogue with constituents. Senator Akaka’s actions show a fundamental disrespect for Hawai?i voters and for the requirements and obligations [sic] of a United States Senator.”

The allegation that Akaka has been pressuring OHA to withdraw its debate sponsorship is news to me. Is it true? It certainly is within the realm of possibility, given OHA’s recent strong (and public) legislative alliance with Akaka.

Maybe Case thinks these repeated calls for debate hurt Akaka’s image, and, at least for some voters, that is no doubt correct. But at some point Case will need to pull something else out of his (apparently-shallow) bag of campaign strategies. Akaka may never debate Case—despite all of the “voter disrespect… requirements and obligations” charges coming from the Case campaign.

Comments (0)
Orwell-o-vision in Chinatown has blind spots

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 11:20 am
The closed circuit police surveillance cameras in Chinatown are either getting better or worse. So which is it: Glass half full (from the SB story? Or, glasss half empty (from the Advertsier story)? Actually, both stories give the same information, only with opposing characterizations regarding the progress of the camera repair work. Whichever version you prefer, 6 of the 26 cameras are not working.

The Honolulu Police Department is still having trouble finding volunteers to staff the monitoring of the cameras (I’ve snarked about this camera network back in the infancy of this blog), so even if all 26 cameras were functional the program would still probably be mostly a placebo effect. I’m not a religious follower of the crime beat, but in all the time they have been up, I sure don’t hear of many arrests/convictions that have been supported by the cameras. Crime is hidden in plain sight in certain parts of Chinatown, they need police officers, not un-manned cameras.

Anyway, I got a chuckle over how the two articles portray Downtown Neighborhood Board vice-chair Lynn Matusow quite differently.

The Advertiser version suggests Matusow has been concerned about the status of the cameras for some time:

The cameras were installed in 1998. From 2000 to 2005, the system was plagued with problems and most of the cameras were not reliable. But last year, Sensormatic revamped the system. Since then, an average of about two cameras have been down at any one time, the city and police said.

Lynne Matusow, vice chairwoman of the Downtown Ho-nolulu Neighborhood Board, said that she hopes the latest camera outage does not start a trend.

At every board meeting, Matusow asks attending Chinatown police officers how many cameras are down and how many are running. She said yesterday that she had not heard of so many cameras down at once since before the system overhaul.

Meanwhile, the SB version suggests Matusow had no idea there were cameras:

Cameras were installed in Chinatown in the mid-1990s and have helped police thwart drug deals and capture criminals.

Lynn Matusow, vice chairwoman of the Downtown Neighborhood Board, said her group first learned of the cameras at a regular meeting Thursday night, and “we were all flabbergasted. … It is very disturbing.” She said the board was given little information as to the cause of the cameras not working.

Finally, the police are (still) having trouble finding “suitable” voyeurs:

In the past, some have complained about the difficult application process for those interested in manning the cameras. But officials have said the screening is necessary to weed out criminals who want to watch the videos for their own purposes.

Volunteers must go through training, undergo a criminal history check and be screened thoroughly to ensure they are not undertaking the task for dubious reasons.

Right. Uh, someone should examine if maybe it is the reasoning behind the task itself which is dubious. If the program is too open to exploitation to allow a known criminal to participate, then we should remember that the HPD’s ability to sniff out unsuitable applicants for police work is itself unreliable.

Nobody can be trusted. We are watching you. Stand by for the Two Minutes’ Hate.

Comments (0)
Maui tax reform effort headed over a legal cliff?

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 11:19 am
A Maui News editorial about a property tax ballot initiative (and the legal problems the initiative may encounter) quickly reminded me of a 2004 initiative on Kauai that made a very similar blunder.

The fundamental question on Maui, according to the editorial, is if a County Charter amendment may be made via mere legislation passed by ballot initiative. Second, the editors also question if initiative is flawed in its legal form.

On Kauai nobody (media or government) raised these types of important questions until after the initiative was approved by the voters. It remains to be seen if the Maui group will consider these possible challenges and begin a new initiative, or if they will continue with this legally sketchy effort at the risk of having the courts throw out all of their hard work should the initiative pass.

If they start over, it doesn’t sound like as if they could legally attempt a Charter Amendment. If they throttle back and instead pass an initiative as a law, then the County Council (at possibly significant political cost) could quickly amend or repeal it.

Comments (0)
Not enough freedom for one taxpayer

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:19 am
I’m not sure why, but this venomous letter to the editor in the SB today has unusual mental “stickiness” to me:

Paying tax money for freedom is a waste

I pay about 40 percent of my income to the taxman, both federal and state. What bang do I get for my buck? Just a bunch of hog manure about being free, making the world safe for freedom and democracy, and that all the political hacks are great! Unless the government buckles down and actually works, then America is doomed by the year 2050.

Phil Robertson
Honolulu

Wow. Good thing that I’ll probably be dead by 2050… Heh.

The letter is so full of paradox. Railing about taxation; usually a right wing anthem. Casting aside “safe for freedom and democracy” rhetoric; usually a left wing anthem. The implication that he thinks that freedom is something one may purchase is off-putting, too. Then the enigmatic bit about “working” government.

Maybe he is only a raving crank, but he writes a pretty philosophically dense letter!

Comments (0)
8/4/2006

Tesoro profits sharply higher

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:15 am
Remember the gasoline price cap suspension and the transparency parts of the law that are not being implemented?

Thursday the PBN ran a story about the second quarter financial results for Tesoro. This is the type of information provided to consumers instead of transparency:

Tesoro reported a gross refining margin of $17.88 per throughput barrel in the second quarter, up from $13.28 a year earlier. Product sales margin was $16.21, up from $10.92. Its Hawaii refinery reported a refining margin of $7.32 per throughput barrel, up from $6.71 a year earlier.

Tesoro’s West Oahu refinery reported daily throughput of 30,000 barrels of heavy crude, up from 19,000 barrels a year ago, and 56,000 barrels of light crude, up from 51,000 barrels a year ago. In the same quarter last year Tesoro had scheduled maintenance that reduced production.

Companywide, for every barrel of jet fuel, Tesoro refined 2 barrels of diesel and four barrels of gasoline. But its Hawaii refinery produces almost a third more jet fuel than gasoline.

Let’s see, if two boats leave from riverfront towns x distance apart traveling at speed y with an average current of z…

Does this type of press release article actually clarify anything for a gasoline consumer who wonders if he or she is being gouged? I dunno, I can’t make heads or tails of it. Can you?

Comments (6)
SMS v. ABC; is Midweek #1 or not?

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 7:15 am
Given the corporate connections between the SB and Midweek, there is a surprisingly even-handed SB story about the latest readership (not circulation) figures for the major local newspapers. While the figures from a local firm (SMS Research) show that the Midweek has passed the Sunday Honolulu Advertiser, figures from a national firm (Scarborough Research, audited by another outfit called ABC) show the Advertiser still in the lead.

MidWeek is 22 years old, according to Ron Nagasawa, publisher of MidWeek and senior vice president of Oahu Publications.

“MidWeek is the people’s paper. They look forward to it. It’s all good news and good events mixed in with a little bit of fun – things people want to read about, style, restaurants, food, politics, you name it, we’ve got it.”

Hmmm. All good news and good events? Sure, I suppose that happy readers are likely to spend more money when compared to informed (and, thus, occasionally grumpy) readers.

However, I hope that if Midweek readership figures continue to threaten/surpass the “not all good news” newspapers in town that the competition will not succumb to the financial pressure and/or change their editorial content to become more like the advertiser-friendly Midweek. Midweek certainly fills a niche for many Oahu readers, but, because it has the advertising tail wagging the editorial dog, Midweek should not come to be seen as the only model for a “successful” Hawaii newspaper.

Comments (4)
Tough issues, and plenty of candidates

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:14 am
Thanks to Kauai’s at-large County Council elections, there is only one contest. It features 15 candidates in a non-partisan race. At the primary the field will be cut by one to 14 and in the general election the top 7 will win a seat on the Council. The Advertiser tries to describe the race, but it’s not a particularly helpful article for getting a good taste for the flavor of the candidates.

What the article does do well, however, is to introduce readers to some of the major issues in the Kauai campaign: property taxes, affordable housing, open government, and waste disposal. I was particularly interested to read this:

The candidates are of a community that was hit by devastating hurricanes in 1982 and 1992, and then by a rolling real estate boom 10 years after that. The boom has driven property prices and property taxes sky high and attracted wealthy, off-island buyers.

We hear a lot about shelters and evacuation plans, but we never really hear any discussion of (or planning for) post-hurricane real estate markets and the impact on affordability. What would happen on Oahu, with more than ten times the population of Kauai, if a hurricane were to destroy vast swaths of homes? Would an ensuing re-build on Oahu result in a similar boom in housing prices and price current residents out of the market? I try not to obsess over it, but it’s not a question of if Oahu will be hit by a hurricane, but when.

Comments (1)
8/3/2006

Questions for Congressional candidates from the Poinography readers

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:08 am
Okay, here are the questions as posed by the readers after I have organized them (somewhat) thematically:

1. Candidates often spend much time talking about the need to use alternative sources of energy, but little time on how they will accomplish this. I think that?s one of the reasons we are still so dependent on oil. Having said that, and knowing that we need to ween ourselves off of oil as our primary source of energy, how can/will you promote the use of alternative sources of energy?

2. Would you support raising taxes on petroleum to stimulate conservation and alternatives?

3. Each of the islands is struggling with solid waste disposal issues. What have you done in the past and what do you propose for the future to address this problem?

4. The Jones act puts a heavy tax on every Hawaii consumer. Do you oppose or support putting Hawaii in the same situation as the Virgin islands, i.e. exempt from the Jones Act?

5. What do you intend to do if you are not elected?

6. Should a Congressional canidate have to live in the district they are running to represent? Should this also apply to state races?

7. Have you ever been to Pahoa?

8. Hawaii imports most of it?s food yet most of our ag subsidies are targeted toward the dying sugar industry. Is it time to start dropping sugar/ethanol import duties and instead stimulate food crop production?

9. What are your thoughts on the Agriculture District issues arising from the Hokulia decision?

10. If you could change only one decision that the federal government has made in the past four years, what would it be and why?

11. What is the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else running for this seat?

12. Most of you have been in politics for at least 10 years. Our education system has underperformed consistently over that time. Why? What have you done and, (if appropriate) who has thwarted what you proposed, to get our educational system at least up to the average?

13. What will you do at the federal level to improve Hawaii?s public education system, apart from pushing for more federal funding or railing against No Child Left Behind?

14. Who was the most influential teacher in your life?

15. How can the federal government help protect our aquafiers and other freshwater resources?

16. What are your thoughts on the Akaka Bill and Hawaiian Sovereignty?

17. What do you feel is the most important challenge facing Hawaii, and what would you do in Congress to meet that challenge?

18. What are your thoughts on Iraq?

19. Do you advocate revisions to the Workforce Investment Act? If so, what are they? If not, why not?

20. How would you address the affordable housing crisis in Hawaii?

21. A light/heavy rail-based transportation system for Honolulu is being proposed as the favored recipient of federal transportation dollars to our state. How will you insure an equitible distribution of Federal transportation funds throughout our distict?

22. How would you address our traffic crisis in Hawaii?

23. Although we all try to keep in our comfort zone and minimize risk or degree of damage. Do you agree that if someone hasn?t made mistakes then they are not likely to be productive?

24. What are your thoughts on the fiber-optic project being built by Sandwich Isles Communications using taxpayer funds?

25. Please step up to the plate and list three (3) mistakes you have made in your political career:

25a. Where did you go wrong?
25b. What, if anything, did you learn?
25c. How you would tackle a similar issue in the future?
Any HI-02 candidate from either party is free to submit a response for me to post, and for the readers and me to critique. I only ask of the candidates that choose to participate that they not omit any questions. Missing or evasive answers will be duly noted. I also reserve the right to edit the layout of your response, but I won’t alter your content.

I’ve got a life to live (and, as candidates, you should have a campaign to run), so try to respond before Sunday, August 6, 2006.

Readers, if there is a candidate you really want to hear from, I leave it to you to encourage them to participate.

Comments (1)
Advertiser removes Stryker silhouette from its property

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 7:07 am
I’m somewhat surpised to see the Advertiser acknowledge that the Stryker placard has been pried off of their property. I had been wondering if they would remove it with or without comment.

Police showed up at The Advertiser building yesterday after a call about the cutouts from an Advertiser reporter on Friday.

“Before police can do anything, we need to do an assessment of what it is,” said police spokesman Capt. Frank Fujii. “I wanted to come out and see for myself and then call the beat officer if it was appropriate.”

Colleen Soranaka, safety loss control manager at The Advertiser, said maintenance employees had planned to remove the item yesterday anyway. “We were told that somebody tripped over it,” she said.

“It’s like any other vandalism. We just take care of it,” Soranaka said. The Advertiser did not file a complaint with police because no one was hurt, she said.

Fujii said the cutout presented a danger to people using the sidewalk. “A person walking barefoot could cut themselves on it or if it was raining someone could slip,” he said.

Wow, a 6-inch placard calls for a Captain of the HPD to investigate?! Well, I suppose. After all, someone could have slipped in the rain or cut his or her bare foot! Obviously, that’s far too dicey of a situation for a common beat officer to evaluate. Heh. No doubt that Captain Fujii is running to and fro across Honolulu trying to deal with all of the uneven sidewalks that could present injury hazards to barefoot pedestrians as well as the numerous glossy metal plates and crosswalk stripes that could cause slips in the rain…

A Stryker cutout around the Kamehameha statue was removed Saturday by a worker for the state Department of Accounting and General Services, said Louise Kim McCoy, communications director for the state Sheriff’s Department.

No one called to complain, McCoy said, but obviously “no one wants to see that on a King Kamehameha statue.”

No one?

It would have presented an interesting situation/quotation had one of the placards been installed at (and promptly removed from) the Hawaii State Art Museum or the Honolulu Academy of the Arts. Maybe next time…

Comments (1)
Group wants a dispersed network of homeless shelters

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 7:07 am
A statement signed by hundreds of Lewward Coast residents asking the Governor to take a broad view of the homeless issue is the subject of an Advertiser story today. The actual letter to the Governor is available in PDF here.

The letter is notable in that it offers up a specific list of potential sites for homeless shelters and makes other concrete recommendations. However, as I wrote earlier, according to the Governor’s emergency proclamation there is little the public can do to stop whatever the government ultimately chooses to do.

Kaulana Park, appointed July 6 by Lingle as her administration’s homeless solutions team leader for Leeward O’ahu, has met with coalition and Neighborhood Board leaders and is aware of concerns and solutions addressed in the coalition’s letter.

Park yesterday said the state, for example, is no longer considering sites near Makaha Marketplace and the Wai’anae Mall for emergency shelters, one of the concerns raised by the coalition. The state is exploring Kalaeloa, one of the coalition’s recommended sites, as a possible location for transitional housing or shelters.

“There’s no silver bullet solutions,” Park said, “meaning the state cannot be the one to solve homelessness. It has to be a collaborative effort between the state, city, private sector, military, nonprofits, faith-based community and residents.

“Our current focus is on the Leeward Coast because that’s the largest concentration of homeless on the island. Kaka’ako is dealing with hundreds, (but) the Leeward Coast is dealing with thousands so the immediate need is there.”

The state, Park said, agrees that homelessness is an islandwide issue, but the Wai’anae Coast community needs to be a big part of short- and long-term solutions.

“If it’s not an us-versus-them issue, as the coalition says, there should be no fear,” Park said. “We need the community to be actively involved in the solutions.”

Park pointed to the community support for the state’s temporary shelter in Kaka’ako as an example.

A not-very-relevant comparison, considering the difference in scale and the lack of any real “community” near the Kakaako shelter.

Park today is scheduled to brief city officials Debbie Kim Morikawa, director of community services, and Jeff Coelho, director of customer services, on state plans for helping the Wai’anae homeless beach population. Morikawa said the city is playing a supportive role and will aggressively seek federal funds to assist the state.

“Our position has been Wai’anae is not the only community that has homeless concerns, it’s in Chinatown, Kailua, Waimanalo and islandwide,” Morikawa said.

Hmmm. The emergency proclamation did not (in my opinion) authorize actions outside of the Leeward Coast area. If Park tried, as the letter writers and Morikawa suggest, to set up shelters all across Oahu then any such shelter outside of the Leeward area would need to follow all of the usual policies and procedures (i.e. presenting the likelihood for delays). The Governor could revise her earlier proclamation or issue another with a bigger “disaster area,” of course.

Comments (1)
Tam faces challenger, too

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 7:06 am
I was wrong yesterday when I characterized Gary Okino as the only incumbent Honolulu Councilmember facing a challenger. I apologize. Today the Advertiser has a piece about the District 6 race where Mike Wilcox is challenging Rod Tam.

Mostly boilerplate stuff from and about both men, with the highlights of the article being Wilcox’s affiliation with the group tring to preserver the Hawaii Raceway Park and Tam’s quixotic legislation (when he was in the Senate) to provide naps and snacks to State workers. However, my first thought when anyone mentions Tam will always be Senator “Goals and Objectives,” since he seemed to be unable to question a testifier without using that turn of phrase at some point in the dialogue.

Again, I hope that the Advertiser continues this type of district-by-district coverage.

Comments (0)
Cyclists beware – intoxicated nude women on tour

Filed under:
General
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:06 am
Forgive me for another of my rare non-political posts, but this West Hawaii Today article reminded me of a recent story from Iowa.

Be careful out there!

Comments (0)
8/2/2006

PDHblog beginning to post Democratic HI-02 candidate survey responses

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:06 pm
The Progressive Democrats of Hawaii blog is posting the responses from the Democratic candidates for the Hawaii Second Congressional District. The questions they asked the candidates are in the PDF found here. It’s almost too much information to deal with, so be patient as you try to read it all.

Seriously, do check it out.

Oh, and if you’re inspired by their questionaire, remember that soon I will be accepting the candidates’ responses to your questions. I think I’ll shut down the questioning this evening sometime so I can post the final list of questions on Thursday. There are some good ones already, but please feel free to add yours!

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Isle lawyers describe ConAm bogeyman

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:06 pm
David Shapiro’s Advertiser column today points out what appears to be an internal struggle among members (lawyers) of the Hawaii State Bar Association. However, I don’t understand what the “potent political firecracker” is.

The Hawaii Bar Association is struggling to defuse a potent political firecracker ? what to do about a controversial proposed constitutional amendment to end mandatory retirement for state judges at age 70.

The Legislature passed a bill this year to put the amendment before voters in the November election.

Local attorneys say representatives from the highest levels of the state Judiciary have made clear that they’d like the Bar Association to support the amendment, possibly with an advertising campaign.

Some lawyers are uncomfortable getting involved because of political ramifications that go beyond the issue of judicial retirement, but they’re reluctant to speak out for fear of crossing the judges who decide their cases.

——–

The Republican Lingle accused Democratic legislators of using the amendment to deny her the chance to make top judicial appointments if she’s re-elected to a second term.

The appointments at stake are pivotal; Chief Judge James Burns of the Intermediate Court of Appeals turns 70 next April and Chief Justice Ronald Moon of the Hawai’i Supreme Court would have to retire in 2010.

The governor who appoints their replacements could shape Hawai’i’s Judiciary for the next 20 years.

To begin with, will the average voter really care what the HSBA thinks? Joke all you want about “too many lawyers” but they are a tiny minority of the voting population. The Bar Association’s opinion (even if advertised) is unlikely to make or break this vote.

Further, exactly who are these “representatives from the highest levels of the state Judiciary” that allegedly are pressuring the HSBA members? Burns denies it was him. Are there numerous judges that would be forced to retire before 2010, or is it only Judge Burns and Chief Justice Moon? If the members went against the pressure and declined to support (or chose to actively oppose) the Constitutional Amendment, then what exactly is the big deal for these lawyers? Burns would be forced out in April 2007. How much retribution could Burns take in that short time? Not much. Chief Justice Moon rules on how many cases per year at the Hawaii Supreme Court? A handful.

Let’s step even further back. Here I will assume that the HSBA has provisions for secret balloting. If every practicing attorney in Hawaii belongs to the Bar, then I fail to understand how a judge would be able to identify (much less be able to punish) those attorneys who opposed the ConAm. What’s a judge going to do when two attorneys are arguing before the court and the judge is upset because he or she faces a forced retirement? The judge would have no way to know how any particular attorney voted, and if the judge wished to inflict punishment it would be impossible with both sides of the case represented by members of the Bar Association.

Comments (0)
One of two possible membership changes at the Honolulu Council

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 1:06 pm
Kudos to the Advertiser for this article that introduces us to the incumbent and the challengers for Honolulu County Council District 8. Okino is the only Councilmember up for re-election who is facing any challengers, so it’s hard to say if this article is the start of a series.

UPDATE: Man, is that wrong. Tam has an opponent, too… I apologize.

Okino and one of his challengers, Dr. Rahman, have pretty unremarkable comments. The other challenger is more contrarian:

Harmeyer said he’s concerned about the district’s rising rents and the way they affect residents.

“I believe in rent control. When people can raise rents as much as they want, they will,” he said. “We need affordable housing very badly, and I believe rent control is extremely important. I also believe people have a right to a good return on their investment, so it should follow a very specific formula.”

Harmeyer said he would also like to lower property taxes for all residents equally, rather than to grant tax breaks categorically. He’d also like to require that antenna towers for mobile phone networks be camouflaged so they’re less visually intrusive.

“We live in a beautiful place, and why would we want to pollute our visual environment with all these cell-phone towers absolutely everywhere?” he said.

Harmeyer said he also believes sex-related businesses should be further regulated so that they cannot be opened near churches or schools.

Hmmm. He believes in rent control in a district that (according to the census data in the sidebar) has a 64% homeownership rate…

Hopefully the Advertiser (and/or other local media) will cover each contested State Senate and House race in a similar manner. Even this type of cursory coverage is better than nothing…

Comments (0)
Case complains of Akaka’s low profile

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:06 pm
Borreca’s SB column today is based upon comments made by Ed Case after a recent speech in Waikiki.

U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka is “reluctant” to speak for himself in his re-election campaign, says his Democratic primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Ed Case.

“He feels he needs the help. He is reluctant to speak for himself and he would rather have others speak for him,” Case told reporters yesterday after a speech at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

——–

Case was asked about a new round of television ads featuring U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye endorsing Akaka and about reports of U.S. Sens. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., endorsing Akaka.

Case said Akaka should speak for himself and not have others handle his campaign. He also repeated his concern that he has been unable to arrange a debate with Akaka.

The obvious (but unstated) response is “Akaka has enough supporters such that he doesn’t need to speak for himself. Where are Ed Case’s supporters?” That said, I don’t watch television and I can’t gauge just how odd these latest campaign ads in support of Akaka may or may not be.

Comments (2)
8/1/2006

Still taking questions…

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:12 am
If you want the candidate Q & A session to amount to much, please take a moment to submit a question. Don’t be shy and don’t think that your question needs to be especially profound/witty/controversial, although that type of question would be great. I know there are many more people who read the blog than those few that have ever left a comment—but, please, throw me a bone, here.

My main point is this: in order for the project to be of any use, you folks you need to participate!

UPDATE: Mahalo to those who have stepped up. Keep your questions coming and remember to read the previous comments so you don’t ask the same thing(s). please.

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Who should employ the attorney to sit in at closed-door Council sessions, Executive branch or Legislative?

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 11:12 am
An interesting little spat has emerged at the Honolulu City Council about attorneys present during closed-door meetings. The SB has a good summary of it today.

The Corporation Counsel’s Office, which is under Mayor Mufi Hannemann, says its lawyers are the Council’s attorneys. But the Council’s research arm, the Office of Council Services, says its attorneys can also serve as Council attorneys.

Some on the Council say they prefer that members of the Corporation Counsel – who are part of the administration – not sit in on their closed-door deliberations.

Deputies with the Corporation Counsel’s Office have traditionally briefed Council members on pending legal cases, given recommendations on how to proceed and then left as the Council debated what to do on a case.

But earlier this year, the corporation counsel began requiring a deputy to sit in on Council deliberations and voting, in order to satisfy requirements of the open-meetings law – better known as the Sunshine Law – that allows a “board” to meet in a closed-door session “to consult with the board’s attorney on questions and issues pertaining to the board’s powers, duties, privileges, immunities and liabilities.”

The Corporation Counsel’s Office believes, however, that only attorneys from that office qualify as “the board’s attorney” under the current law.

Corporation Counsel Carrie Okinaga declined to comment, citing attorney-client privilege, but she indicated that her office’s position could be gleaned from the opinion.

Diane Hosaka, Office of Council Services director, disagreed, saying her office “is of the opinion that the attorneys with the Office of Council Services also serve as attorneys for the board (i.e., the Council).”

I’m having trouble finding the (actually any) Corporation Counsel opinion online, can someone help me? It looks like the Corporation Counsel may have no web presence beyond an organizational chart… Anyway, I did find a SB editorial from 2004 that explains the situation a bit. Okinaga’s “attorney-client privilege” argument that sounds so frustratingly absurd is because the Corporation Counsel does not answer directly to the people of Honolulu but rather to the County government.

Leaving aside that larger issue of elected versus appointed legal counsel, I believe that these two branches of the government should not share the same lawyer. Obviously, if the two branches are having a political disagreement, no single attorney would be able to fairly and fully serve both sides of the dispute without compromising all semblance of attorney-client privilege. If the Corporation Counsel insists on sitting in during closed-door Council session, then it seems that fairness would provide that the OCS attorney should be allowed to sit in on the Mayor’s cabinet meetings…

Comments (0)
HGEA sits on fence for two major primary races

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:12 am
A brief Advertiser article continues the small flurry of endorsements this week.

The Hawai’i Government Employees Association, the state’s largest labor union, has chosen not to make an endorsement in the Democratic primary for governor between former Mililani state Sen. Randall Iwase and Wai’anae harbormaster William Aila Jr.

——–

The HGEA also has chosen not to endorse in the Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District, where several top Democrats are running to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Case.

Case is challenging U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka in the Democratic primary for Senate. The HGEA has endorsed Akaka.

With none of the Democratic candidates for governor particularly strong, and with such a big field of Democrats contesting the HI-02 seat, this is probably a smart idea. If HGEA had backed a candidate for governor who became the primary loser, there would be a small amount of “face” lost. Choosing among the many HI-02 candidates is even less-likely for them to choose the winner.

The delay of endorsement for governor could also mean that HGEA is going to focus more attention on the Legislature seats, suggesting at least the possibility that HGEA may have already conceded the governor race to Lingle. As for the HI-02 Democrats, I reckon that HGEA has probably endorsed every one of them in their past elections and I’d be surprised if there is much daylight between the candidates’ records on issues that matter to HGEA.

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Find your own lost pet, sez Outdoor Circle

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 11:12 am
Allow me to rant for a moment about this op-ed in the SB from the Outdoor Circle. How the original group (commonly thought of as consisting mostly of women married to powerful men) ever came to be such a political force in Hawaii is not clear, but the bigger mystery is why the powers-that-be continue to kowtow to the group’s militant stance against signage of every sort. Today the column threatens to throw the book at people who openly defy authority and post a notice on a utility pole in search of their lost pet. Nice.

Posting signs, fliers and announcements on utility poles is dangerous for utility line and repair workers. It is a visual blight that litters and degrades our neighborhoods. And it is illegal and subject to serious penalties.

Sure, utility poles seem like convenient places to tack up notices about raves, garage sales, lost pets or upcoming events. The space is free and easily seen by people on foot or in vehicles.

But City Ordinance 29.4.4 to 29.4.8 and Hawaii Revised Statutes 445-114 and 445-121 spell out penalties for individuals who post signs on poles and for organizations sponsoring advertised events or operating businesses being advertised.

Fines for posting signs on poles can be as high as $500 and/or 30 days in jail. Additionally, once perpetrators receive written notice of the violation, they could be subject to additional fines and community service time if they do not remove the signs within 72 hours after the date of the advertised event or after written notification of the violation, whichever comes first.

———

Finally, if you are a sign poster or an event organizer planning to pay others to post signs, beware: You are now on notice! The Outdoor Circle will encourage criminal prosecution of flagrant violators. Don’t become famous for finding yourself in court over putting up an illegal sign.

However if you’re a sign poster and are of the mindset that no good deed should go unpunished, then you might consider making up and posting a separate batch of signs that read, “Does this sign bother you? If so, call the Outdoor Circle at 593-0300 to join an organization where you will meet like-minded people and may purchase a ticket to attend the first annual Outdoor Circle Gripe-a-thon on July 28, 2006.” Then report those signs to the authorities… and encourage criminal prosecution.

End of rant.

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