Poinography!

January 10, 2009

Poinography September 2006 archive

Filed under: — Doug @ 2:07 pm

Poinography!

9/30/2006

Do Lingle, Aiona, et al support Thielen’s position on Iraq?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:21 am
I have given some more thought to the position statement Cynthia Thielen has promulgated about the Iraq War. Since Thielen is on the ballot for U.S. Senate only after being chosen by Governor Lingle and the rest of the Hawaii Republican Party Executive Committee instead of after winning a primary election, what does it say about the GOP leadership if Thielen was their pick and she wants Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to be fired? Is this another “Harbin moment” for the GOP, where we will find out that this revelation comes as a surprise to them, or will the Party leaders echo Thielen’s comments and continue to support her? I have a hunch that Senator Slom and Representative Meyer (i.e. the two other holders of “safe” Republican seats who were not selected to replace Jerry Coffee) would not endorse Thielen’s opinion…

I left a comment earlier today on Thielen’s blog asking if the Party leadership understood her Iraq War position before they selected her, but my comment is still in the moderation queue. We shall see if it is approved, and if it is answered.

Comments (6)
Candidates come to HSC to challenge primary results

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 10:21 am
A few reports today about the requests filed before the Hawaii Supreme Court to contest the primary election results. The most substantive article is in the Advertiser, while the SB and KGMB also mention it.

The part I found most interesting, and certainly this is a “only in Hawaii” occurrence, is that one of the challenges to the Kauai Mayoral contest is said to have cited the “Aloha Spirit” law as a basis for her challenge. Unfortunately, that law is written with language so (necessarily) squishy that I’m not sure how the Court will deal with it, and furthermore it is written using permissive language (that officials “may contemplate” it) instead of prescriptive language (“shall contemplate”). An odd collision of Polynesian and Western thought is highlighted, so I’m curious to see how it plays out.

Another interesting challenge is from a non-partisan candidate for Governor who wants to be on the November ballot.

One was by nonpartisan gubernatorial candidate, Daniel Cunningham, who received 90 votes, the most of the three nonpartisan candidates. Under Hawai’i law, the nonpartisan winner doesn’t advance to the general election unless the candidate receives 10 percent of the vote for that race or at least as many votes as the lowest partisan candidate. Cunningham said nonpartisans should be treated like party candidates, and he should be on the general election ballot.

That sounds like a fair complaint to me (especially considering that the Libertarian who received just 202 votes will be on the November ballot—why not throw a nonpartisan with 90 votes on there, too?). I am not a lawyer, but the case history of that law seems to doom any chance that Cunningham will prevail.

Comments (0)
9/29/2006

Cynthia Thielen on the Iraq War

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 2:00 pm
I noticed that Cynthia Thielen now has a position statement about the Iraq War on her campaign website. Her Iraq statement is not a ringing endorsement of the national GOP talking points (indeed, it calls for Rumsfeld to resign), but neither is it a call for a specific withdrawal date. I wonder how it will play to the local GOP base (whose votes are few compared to the “centrist” voters she needs to woo in order to have any hope of mounting a strong challenge). I also wonder how it plays to the (potential) deep-pocketed mainland donors.

I’m beginning to wonder if any part of her campaign will throw a bone to those constituencies, or if Thielen will stick to issues and statements that blur the differences between her and Akaka (or, rather, that blur the differences between her and Ed Case…).

Comments (3)
Confusion on campaign finance

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 2:00 pm
Another poorly-drafted law has been revealed in this Advertiser story where it mentions a defeated House candidate who raised most of his campaign funds from non-Hawaii donors. The law is pretty clearly written:

Limit on contributions from nonresident individuals and persons. Contributions from any individual or any person as defined in section 11-191, except for a member of the candidate’s immediate family, who is not a resident of the State at the time the contributions are made, including a noncandidate committee organized under the laws of another state and whose participants are not residents of the State, shall not exceed twenty per cent of the total contributions received by a candidate or candidate’s committee for each reporting period.

The candidate acknowledged that he raised over half of his money from out-of-state donors, but no single out-of-state donor gave more than 20% of his total fundraising. Common sense would suggest that the lawmakers wanted to limit the net total of out-of-state contributions to 20% of the total contributions. However, none of the legislative history ever made it clear that the net total, and not the donation made by each individual out-of-state contributor, was the target of the bill. (The limit first appeared in HB 1747 SD1 and it’s Standing Committee Report, then appeared again in the law and the accompanying Conference Committee Report)

The Campaign Spending Commission is not enforcing either interpretation of the law at this time, and the story is further complicated by a recent Supreme Court ruling that set aside a similar (but not identical) law in Vermont. The Hawaii Attorney General opines that the Hawaii law is constitutional, but he does not clearly enunciate which interpretation of the law should be enforced by the CSC. The “plain English” interpretation would remove the limitation that Governor Lingle (the AG’s boss) had been (and here I am assuming) complying with and would allow much more out-of-state money to flow into the Lingle campaign account. If the Lingle campaign were to exceed the (allegedly) “intended” interpretation, it would be pretty hard for Democrats to challenge her on the grounds that the law is unclear. What a pickle. Heh.

Comments (0)
Not much known about impact of technology tax credits – except that they are costing the State millions

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 2:00 pm
Both the Advertiser and the SB have stories about the Department of Taxation official who spoke to high tech indusrty leaders yesterday. (here and here) The Advertiser says that some report may be forthcoming next week, but for now the SB summarizes the issue quite well:

Despite the robust amount of public money that has been given up under the program so far, there has been relatively little information made public on the program’s economic benefits. For example, the state has never produced information quantifying the number of jobs produced. And Kawafuchi could not immediately say how many companies had benefited from the program.

This has left the industry without information that might rebut critics and allow the public and Legislature make informed decisions concerning the program.

Ann Chung, vice president of the Hawaii Science & Technology Council, said the industry recognizes the need for some kind of economic analysis. Chung said the council is considering commissioning a study. However, Chung would not say whether the industry would support legislation mandating that the state produce an annual study.

Regardless, Chung said it was important to note that $184.5 million was invested in qualified high tech and performing arts ventures between 2001 and 2004. It is safe to assume, Chung said, that that money has been pumped into the local economy through payroll and other business expenses.

If it is “safe to assume” those funds are helping the local economy, then an annual study would definitely help Chung and her colleagues to reassure some of the more skeptical critics. Consider me among those skeptics. For the study to have maximum credibility, however, it should not be commissioned by the HSTC.

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Lingle and Iwase on Native Hawaiian recognition

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 2:00 pm
The Advertiser reports from a Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement event where Governor candidates Lingle and Iwase made remarks about Native Hawaiian recognition.

Lingle said if she is re-elected, she wants to be more involved in the strategy behind moving the federal recognition bill if the Hawai’i congressional delegation proposes it again next year.

“I am concerned about these legal challenges,” Lingle said of claims that Hawaiian programs are based on race and are unconstitutional. “We do need to continue to fight for federal recognition.”

Iwase told Hawaiians that the bill would advance if Democrats controlled Congress. He said Lingle failed to keep the Bush administration neutral and blamed a U.S. Department of Justice letter describing the bill as unconstitutional for a procedural defeat in the U.S. Senate in June.

“I’m going to know, if the president of the United States, if I call him my friend, and if I campaign for him, I’m going to know if he’s going to submarine me, so that we can take action before that happens,” Iwase said, referring to Lingle’s ties to President Bush. “That did not happen here. That’s what killed this bill.”

The Governor does not address Iwase’s comment directly, instead she went on to say:

Lingle had been working to keep the Bush administration at least neutral on the legislation and had been in discussions with Senate and House Republicans to reduce opposition. The state Office of Hawaiian Affairs also hired a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm to help.

Lingle said it was the congressional delegation that came up with the legislative strategy. The bill failed to reach the Senate floor in June when Akaka was four votes short on a procedural motion.

“I think that the people at OHA would tell you that the matter would never have come to a vote without our help in the United States Senate,” Lingle said after the luncheon.

For whatever reason, there article has no follow-up with OHA to enquire if they would acknowledge Lingle’s version of events that led to the Akaka Bill’s cloture vote failure.

In other news, Lingle and Iwase already have a few joint appearances scheduled (I will not call them “debates” until I know more about the exact format).

Lingle agreed yesterday to appear in a one-hour debate with Iwase next Friday that will be shown on the four commercial television networks. The governor also said she would do a joint appearance with Iwase at a Big Island forum with the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters and the Kona Outdoor Circle.

Next Friday?! Wow. That televised event is probably not as close to Election Day as Iwase would prefer, and the early announcement neatly defuses the “she won’t debate me” rhetoric.

Comments (1)
Not just sailing, it’s ecosailing

Filed under:
Sailing
— Doug @ 1:53 pm
If you are a sailor (and/or a treehugger), then check out the Advertiser story about the group from Hawaii that just competed in the International 14 World Championship in Long Beach, California. These guys are all friends and competitors of mine who packed up their gear, left me and a few other boats behind in Kaneohe, and had a blast competing for a week up there. Eventually I will make it to Worlds… sigh.

Anyway, it’s a cool article with a few photos and a brief bio of our Hawaii I-14 fleet legend, Andy Bates. These boats are great fun, but they are not easy to sail; they are usually the domain of young adrenaline junkies. Nevertheless, at age 57, Bates has been racing 14s for longer than I have been alive. I must add that Bates’ boat is usually finishing in front of mine, too, haha.

Way to go, lads! Now get those boats back here and onto our racecourse again.

Comments (0)
9/27/2006

Rescue ranger

Filed under:
General
Science
— Doug @ 4:57 pm
I’m leaving on an unexpected mission to attempt to recover a piece of science equipment that has stopped communicating with our computers on shore. This will mean no posts on Thursday for sure, but maybe I’ll be back on Friday.

Just like last time, I will have no internet access while at sea, so all comments will pile up in the queue until I return to approve them.

Comments (0)
How blue was your precinct on Saturday?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:54 am
The Advertiser has a story today that discusses some of the specifics of the Akaka vs. Case contest. It also includes a helpful map of the state with Representative districts color-coded for each candidate. The story is based on the election results (PDF) that can be found at the Office of Elections website.

The district-by-district analysis of the primary gives both political parties a map of potential battlegrounds in future elections. Growing neighborhoods in Puna on the Big Island, Kihei on Maui, and Waikele, ‘Ewa and Makakilo on O’ahu were divided in the primary. Neighborhoods in Salt Lake, ‘Aiea and Mililani, which have favored Democrats in the past, were also close and may be swing districts.

State House Vice Speaker K. Mark Takai, D-34th (Pearl City, Newtown, Royal Summit), said Case likely won over many young middle-class families that Democrats want to keep.

“Ed is a Democrat and I think he appeals to that demographic,” he said.

Gov. Linda Lingle, speaking on Monday after the Republican Party picked moderate Windward state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-50th (Kailua, Mokapu), to face Akaka in November, believes party identification has become less important to voters.

“The fact is the majority of people in our state don’t belong to either political party,” Lingle said. “They’re independents.”

I would suspect that Governor Lingle’s observation is probably true in every state, if you were to base that determination strictly upon paid party membership rolls. Still, candidates in Hawaii who actually register as non-partisan “independents” never win. Almost all of the candidates recognize the need to have one of the two big brand names Party labels behind their names in order to be taken seriously by the voters (not to mention to be noticed by the media). Since taking on a Party label means so much (and yet so little at the same time), it’s no surprise that political moderates avoid addressing the disappearing differences or explaining why they chose one Party label over the other.

An all-but-endorsement editorial about Thielen at the SB raises the “moderate” flag, too, and off-handedly demonstrates my thesis in the process.

META: Hey, can anyone explain to me how to interpret the ASCII files at the Office of Elections website (detailed version here and summary here)? It looks like a bunch of jibberish, but those sequences of numbers must mean something.

Comments (2)
So sorry, Sam and Colleen

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:52 am
The Advertiser editors offer some interesting comments about the selection of Thielen to replace Coffee on the GOP ballot for U.S. Senate.

If the GOP had been further along in its efforts to build a larger presence in Hawai’i, there might have been an up-and-comer the party could have offered up, someone willing to give up their own re-election to vie with veteran Democrat Daniel Akaka for his U.S. Senate job. This would have been the opportunity to give someone with long-range career goals a chance to gain the exposure of a statewide, high-profile race.

But those Republicans with secure political posts do not want to give up a safe seat, and who can blame them? The GOP is struggling to hold its numbers at the state Capitol, and, at the same time, build its ranks. Giving up a seat on any level is a luxury the party simply cannot afford.

Given these difficult circumstances, it’s logical that longtime state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-50th (Kailua, Mokapu), would be seen as capable to fill the role. Thielen, well established and popular in her Windward district, has a solid centrist platform that fits nicely beneath the governor’s moderate Republican umbrella.

Besides, she’s running unopposed in the general election, so her state House seat is safe.

That’s a partially sound analysis (isn’t Thielen a Republican willing to give up a safe seat?), but left unsaid is that Senator Slom and Representative Meyer are in the same “safe” political position as Thielen. Clearly, those two neoconservatives would not find themselves welcome under the “moderate Republican umbrella.” Since the Governor and the Hawaii Republican Party leaders, and not the Hawaii voters, were allowed to make the choice—Thielen it is.

Comments (0)
Media goad Governor into scolding Office of Elections

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 9:52 am
The SB has a story about the primary election process that seems to be a case of the media tail wagging the “news” dog.

The performance of the state Office of Elections is getting progressively worse and could make residents lose faith in the integrity of the system, Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday.

And she can’t understand why a state such as California with 15 million voters is capable of announcing election results by 11 p.m. while Hawaii elections officials, who deal with much smaller numbers, wait until the next day to give the final tallies.

“I have observed several statewide elections now fairly close up and I think they have gotten worse with each succeeding election,” Lingle said in response to questions during a news conference yesterday.

“This is a very bad sign – it makes people lose confidence in the integrity of the voting system,” Lingle said.

——–

Elections officials have previously said that they were unable to fill all the positions for precinct workers and other elections officials needed to run the elections this year.

Some precinct chairs had only a hour of training and were put on the job with just one or two days’ notice, officials had said.

Lingle, however, rejected the claims of a worker shortage.

“What I am more interested in is what steps they (elections office) took to go out and get people. … Did they go to the Rotary Clubs and other organizations? Did they approach teachers and ask if they would be willing? Did they go to the university professors union and the police union and other labor unions? What sort of outreach did they do?” Lingle asked.

“Sure it is a challenge, but you have two years, so there shouldn’t be this last-minute scrambling going on. And if this is an ongoing problem, the Legislature needs to investigate why this occurs,” Lingle said.

My first reaction: is it really such a big deal if the counting takes a day? It makes for some awkward moments in rented ballrooms around the state where campaigns are trying to hold victory parties, for sure, but the candidates don’t take office until the next year anyway. I can go to sleep just fine without knowing who has won. It makes news editors blanch, so what? (they dust off the same old pundits to do their thing “live” on election nights, and then there is no “money shot,” haha) Let them publish the results in the typically-skinny Monday editions, if need be. Almost 60% of the registered voters don’t vote, which means probably 80% of the overall population didn’t vote. Of those who vote, I believe (hope?) they would value accuracy and fairness more than speed.

But, since the Governor mentioned California, it turns out that California has a much higher unemployment rate (4.9% in August, while Hawaii is under 3%), which suggests to me that, all other things being equal, it would be easier to recruit poll workers there. Lingle asks if the Office of Elections approached UHPA and SHOPO (two unions that have endorsed her campaign, as it happens…), as well as HSTA, other unions, and the Rotary Clubs to look for workers. Fair enough, but I’d like to know if the GOP provided their maximum share of precinct officials before the Governor gets too fired up scolding the OoE (on behalf of the media).

Comments (0)
Hogue has RNC and NRCC support – but how much?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:51 am
Borreca has an interesing piece in the SB today that includes comments from the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee in support of Bob Hogue’s campaign for Congress. For whatever reason, there were no comments provided (solicited?) in this article from the comparable Democratic organizations, so it’s unclear if those groups are being equally proactive on behalf of Mazie Hirono. Instead, the article has reaction from Hawaii Democrats.

It took the Republican National Committee just three hours to get involved in the race.

An e-mail time-stamped 4:33 a.m. Hawaii time [that is 10:33 am in Washington, D.C.] Sunday – about three hours after the release of the third printout showed Hogue with a 199-vote lead over primary challenger Quentin Kawananakoa – already was quoting RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman’s support for Hogue’s candidacy. Hogue’s final margin of victory was 186 votes.

Yesterday, the National Republican Congressional Committee issued a news release [although I can’t seem to find it there] calling Hirono a “big government peacenik,” and criticizing comments she made during the primary campaign calling for the establishment of a federal Department of Peace.

“Open-seat races, by their very nature, present pickup opportunities,” NRCC spokesman Alex Burgos said in a phone interview. “On the Republican side, you have an experienced legislator who’s well-known in the community … versus a fringe Democrat who would make even Howard Dean cringe.”

Although he would not say how much money the committee might commit to Hawaii, Burgos acknowledged that the group has bought ads and supplied resources for candidates in other states.

Did you notice the ridiculous attempt by Burgos to pull some sort of caricatured Howard Dean puppet strings? It shouldn’t be hard for Mazie’s campaign to have Mr. Dean respond to that… Heh.

My hunch is that Hogue may end up with more campaign money (when you combine both hard and soft funds) from outside of Hawaii than from within Hawaii. Especially if you include “uncoordinated” 527 spending on his behalf. Actually, the same may be true of Hirono.

Comments (0)
9/26/2006

Thielen was asked on Friday?!

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:15 am
According to a comment at dKos from Cynthia Thielen’s son, David, it is likely that the GOP had approached her as late as Friday. In other words, the GOP met with her before the election on Saturday, yet the GOP did not tell the voters that a vote for Coffee on Saturday was a vote for Thielen to be on the ballot in November.

After talking to her on Friday, Thielen’s son then got to work creating a website and blog for her from Colorado (where the secret was less likely to slip out). It’s all still so new that the blog has only one post and the website does not have any position papers.

The Hawaii media are all over the announcement, of course, but still have very little about how the selection was made. The skimpy Pacific Business News story has this embarrassing (for the reporter) paragraph:

Thielen, an environmental lawyer who opposed the H-3 freeway and worked to stop the bombing of Kahoolawe, is a nine-term representative from Kailua and assistant minority floor leader. Since the state legislature is in recess, Theilen [sic!] can campaign without quitting as a state legislator.

The Lege being in recess has nothing to do with wbetber Thielen would need to resign to run. The fact that she had already won re-election (she was unopposed) as of Saturday is what allows her to run, i.e. she would not be allowed to appear on the November ballot for two races. D’oh.

The Advertiser story has this:

The Hawai’i Republican Party’s executive committee voted unanimously to pick Thielen in a meeting yesterday. The GOP had three days under state law to choose a replacement for Coffee, who won the Republican primary on Saturday over five others even though he had withdrawn in August because of health reasons.

They voted just yesterday. Right… I don’t doubt that a formal vote happened yesterday, but I [still] do not believe that Lingle would have made an appeal to support Coffee without already having a good idea of who would replace him.

Meanwhile, the SB article has this explanation:

Because she had no opposition, Thielen was elected outright in Saturday’s primary for her Kailua-Kaneohe district and is able to run for the U.S. Senate. If she wins that race, Gov. Lingle will pick a new state representative to fill her vacancy. If she does not win, she returns to the House seat.

State GOP Chairman Sam Aiona said the GOP executive committee had discussed a replacement over a period of four days and unanimously selected Thielen.

That seems to support the timeline we can infer from Thielen’s son, i.e. Friday. Again, a decision made early enough that the GOP could have announced their intentions before the primary.

Both Honolulu dailies point out Thielen’s pro-environment, pro-Hawaiian, anti-fossil fuel, and pro-choice politics. Thielen was evasive when questioned about President Bush, the Iraq War, and other hot-button “partisan” issues. Akaka’s campaign has already dismissed Thielen’s request for a debate, because Thielen had not been selected by the voters.

Not surprisingly, the Hawaii Reporter has a post that is barely lukewarm about Thielen:

Though she receives moderate grades for her business advocacy, Thielen is not rated as a strong advocate for the free market or the small business community, in comparison with some of the more moderate and conservative Republicans who serve with her in the House and Senate.

On a national scale, like many Democrats in the U.S. Senate, she opposes drilling in the artic and is critical of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka for supporting the measure.

It won’t be long before someone at that blog laces on the RINO gloves, I reckon. Thielen’s non-democratic selection by Lingle and the Hawaii Republican Party leaders could become a GOP mirror image of the Case-Akaka “fight for the soul of the Party” event… Oh, fun.

Comments (2)
Gasoline price “influences” not so influential

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:13 am
Another SB article today from B.J. Reyes about the price of gasoline after the suspension of the price cap law.

Oil industry officials in Hawaii note that prices – while still higher than the national average – have, in fact, retreated and that the lag time is simply a result of market forces that cause Hawaii prices to more slowly match mainland trends.

Those officials also have cited higher costs for ethanol blending as contributing to higher gas costs and the limited capacity of the state’s two refineries. Analysts have noted that the refineries, which are fairly old, can process only light, sweet crude oil, which is among the more expensive grades of crude because of its low sulfur content. Newer facilities have the capability to refine cheaper, higher-sulfur crudes.

Melissa Pavlicek, a representative for the Western States Petroleum Association in Hawaii, said, “There could be any number of influences that could be influencing those prices. The more important statistic to be looking at is the trend.”

While the nationwide average has fallen by 50 cents in the past month, Hawaii’s average has dropped about 24 cents.

Okay, now let’s parse that explanation for a moment.

“… The lag time is simply a result of market forces that cause Hawaii prices to more slowly match mainland trends.”

Gee, thanks, we had not noticed. And which market forces are those? Price gouging, or something more benign?

“Those officials also have cited higher costs for ethanol blending as contributing to higher gas costs and the limited capacity of the state’s two refineries.“

The cost of blending ethanol and the capacity of the refineries do not vary depending upon the price of crude. How would the (fixed) cost of blending and the (fixed) refinery capacity become factors in explaining the quick-to-rise, slow-to-fall gasoline prices?

“Analysts have noted that the refineries, which are fairly old, can process only light, sweet crude oil, which is among the more expensive grades of crude because of its low sulfur content. Newer facilities have the capability to refine cheaper, higher-sulfur crudes.“

Okay, this one at least has a hint of plausibility. Does the price for light, sweet crude oil move closely in sync with Hawaii gas prices? Maybe so, and that’s worth checking. However, if the price of the light, sweet crude moves in sync with the cheaper, higher-sulfur crudes, then we need to keep pressing Pavlicek’s “analysts” to come up with an explanation consumers can believe for why Hawaii prices are slow to fall.

This is not rocket science, so this constant obfuscation is frustrating. All that is necessary is for the industry to simply tell the consumers what are the variables, i.e. the factors that actually vary, that drive the determination of gasoline prices. One of those variables is the profit margin for the refiners, another is the price of crude oil; there could be other factors with less variability. Once the refiners reveal what goes into the pricing decision the industry would not need to disclose the specific values of these variables (which are closely held). If the price of crude goes down and gasoline prices do not go down at a corresponding pace, then consumers could ask if the profit margin (or some other variable) has increased. Again, there would be no need to disclose the specific increases, just tell us which variable makes up the difference.

Or, the Governor and the PUC could get their act together and implement the industry transparency, which is probably going to end up being just as vague as what I’ve described…

Comments (5)
9/25/2006

Case fades away quickly

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 12:34 pm
The SB has a fascinating article about Ed Case, discussing his defeat on Saturday and his future. As usual, Case is quite blunt and doesn’t parse words.

[Case] refuted speculation that he might switch parties and run for office again as a Republican. “That’s not an option at all,” Case said.

He is comfortable with being a Democrat, he said, but “that doesn’t mean I’m going to blindly follow the Democratic Party of Hawaii.”

Saturday night at his headquarters, Case promised to support Akaka and the Hawaii delegation. But that support does not mean he will formally endorse either Akaka or former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, who won the party’s nomination to replace him in his 2nd District congressional seat.

“I’m just not going to get into the endorsements at all,” Case said. “From my perspective the campaign is over. My voters have always been independent.

“It’s not that I’m going to do or not do anything. It’s just that from my perspective it’s time to just step away and take a break from it.”

———-

Case leaves for Washington today with no regrets about challenging Akaka and the Democratic Party establishment in Hawaii.

“It was right to give the voters that choice. There’s nothing whatsoever I would take back about my decision,” he said.

Case said his belief is that the party needs to move more to the center. Many of the labor unions who have influence in the party have campaigned against him.

“Is there a god somewhere that says who is and isn’t a Democrat? That’s the entire problem with the party. You’re supposed to pass a 100 percent litmus test,” Case said. “I believe the Democratic Party of Hawaii needs to be inclusive, needs to be broader.”

More broad? If Bev Harbin was accepted as a member in good standing, then the Democratic Party can hardly be called exclusive. In the past Harbin lobbied against the so-called “litmus test” organized labor interests. Nevertheless, as Harbin’s dues check was not returned for insufficient funds, she was welcomed to the fold.

As I have said here many times in the past, the meaning of membership in either of the two major parties in Hawaii is incredibly dilute. Party labels are not much more than (powerful) memes or brand names. Despite his lamentations implying something more dire, Case has not been ejected from the Democratic Party per se (not even after his public support of Lieberman against a fellow Democrat), but rather his Party (and anyone else who wanted to vote on the Democratic ballot…) rejected Case in favor of Akaka.

Case remains a member of the Democratic Party, whatever that means.

Comments (4)
That’s it?!

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:33 pm
Yesterday I wrote that I’d be looking today to see what the media have found out about the process to select a Republican to replace Jerry Coffee in the race against Dan Akaka for U.S. Senate. After one day, there is not much to go on.

First, from an Advertiser story:

Gov. Linda Lingle and state GOP chairman Sam Aiona said yesterday they had not decided on a replacement for Jerry Coffee, the former Navy pilot who won the Republican primary for Senate despite the fact he had withdrawn for health reasons in August. The party has until tomorrow to name a replacement to challenge Akaka in the November election.

“It’s a big challenge, obviously, for someone to have only forty-five days in order to run a race,” Lingle said, adding that the candidate might make an issue of how much campaign money Akaka has raised from national political action committees.

From Jerry Burris column:

The other big “X” factor going into the general is Akaka’s general election campaign. To date, most people were saying this is a race that was all but decided in the primary.

But by a twist of fate (encouraged not so subtly by Lingle), that changes. The winner of the Republican senatorial primary was motivational speaker Jerry Coffee, who has formally withdrawn due to health reasons.

That means the Republican Party must decide, by tomorrow, who will take his place. This gives the local GOP a fine chance to put in place a candidate who will surely trouble the Akaka camp, which was expecting a general election cakewalk.

By the time this is published, the smoke-free back rooms of the local Republican Party may have chosen a substitute. The focus will be on the candidate who can best make trouble for Akaka.

Contenders include Honolulu Councilman Charles Djou, Quentin Kawananakoa, who has plenty of money and political momentum after his close race for Congress against Bob Hogue, City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle, rising star Micah Kane, now running the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and others.

Conspiracy theorists love the idea that Lingle herself might take on the job, but imagine the chaos that would create.

After 40 years in the wilderness, Republicans finally control Washington Place and all the patronage and influence that represents. GOP old-timers would be upset, to say the least, if Lingle gave up that advantage for a Senate run.

Also, a post at Burris’ blog comes close to that I’m thinking, but then stops short (p.s. be sure to notice the comment that modestly proposes another “Dan” to fill Coffee’s shoes).

Meanwhile, at the SB, the lead story has this:

Republican Gov. Linda Lingle said only that it would be difficult for someone to start a campaign that ends in a Nov. 7 election.

“We have only 45 days to mount a race. It is going to be very difficult, but on balance they will be coming out fresh, while Sen. Akaka and his team will be coming off a very difficult primary,” Lingle said.

None of these reports asked Lingle or Aiona to comment on the obvious parallels to the charges of “insiderism” historically and contemporaneously leveled against Democratic leaders who are said to run “the machine.” Nor has any explanation been sought for why the GOP did not reveal the name of a replacement as Lingle made their public appeal before the primary for voters to support Coffee’s withdrawnn candidacy.

Incidentally, in thinking back to Saturday I don’t remember seeing anything prominently posted at my polling place to inform voters that Jerry Coffee had withdrawn from the race. Did you see anything like that where you voted (or as part of your absentee ballot materials)? If that notice was commonly omitted statewide, then what would that mean for the results of the Republican primary?

UPDATE: Early responses suggest that there were signs inside the actual polling booths or a notice posted by the list of registered voters outside the polls (at a few precincts, at least). I can’t say if I remember either circumstance or not at my precinct. If they were at my precinct I suspect I would have assumed them to be yet another explanation of how to not spoil a ballot and not a specific warning about a certain candidate having withdrawn. I can’t say I was looking for any warning. Why would I (or any other absent-minded voter)? So, chalk another one up for “Doug was wrong.”

Comments (3)
Hirono v. Hogue race begins

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:33 pm
The Advefrtiser has a useful description of the first day of the Bob Hogue vs. Mazie Hirono race for Congress. description. The piece describes the initial messages and financial condition of each candidate, and begins to put the race into a national context. The SB article is much more superficial, in my opinion, but it’s still worth reading.

Hirono said she will stress her opposition to the war on Iraq as well as her record.

“I’m going to stress to the voters that Bob Hogue is a very nice guy but that he’s tied to the Bush administration very closely and that means supporting the policies that are taking our country down the wrong path,” she said.

——————

Hirono says a large part of her strategy will be to highlight Hogue’s support of the Bush administration on issues such as the war in Iraq, privatization of Social Security and tax cuts for the wealthy.

“He may be a nice guy, but he’s representing a party and a president that’s not very nice to the working men and women of this state and this country,” Hirono said. “We’re going to make that really clear to the voters.”

——————

Democratic Party chairman Mike McCartney said the results of the primary showed Isle voters are looking for experienced leadership, something that will help separate her from Hogue.

Voters are looking for “people who are tried and true and have been tested, and Mazie has been tested,” McCartney said.

GOP chairman Sam Aiona Jr., however, questioned Hirono’s qualifications. “I would compare Bob Hogue’s and Mazie Hirono’s records,” Aiona said. “Bob Hogue will do a lot more for this state than Mazie Hirono has done or ever will do.”

More importantly, he said, “we need balance in our congressional delegation.”

Hogue said he will continue to run a positive campaign and was vague when asked if he would distance himself from his previous support for Bush.

“I believe in the great things that our country is doing right now, the great opportunities that are out there,” Hogue said. “On an issue-by issue basis, I’ll take a look at things. I just believe we are just going through an incredible time in our country right now and I remain tremendously optimistic.”

Uh, what is their to be optimistic about?! Seriously, I am eager to hear Hogue explain his optimism and to hear both campaigns compare the accomplishments of the candidates. As a Republican in the Hawaii Senate there can’t be much for Hogue to hang his hat on, with the exception of his many no-votes on topics that are near and dear to the base of both parties. Even if the recent rumblings about Hirono taking too much credit for things that happened on her watch were true (and I’m not convinced that those critics are correct), Hirono will easily be able to demonstrate more political successes than Hogue. Furthermore, the more RNC money that flows in for Hogue, the more that the Hirono campaign can tie him to the Republicans already in D.C. That association won’t help Hogue among Hawaii voters.

I also had chuckle that the article has Aiona characterizing the “balanced delegation” argument as being “more important” than anything in particular about his candidate, Hogue. Any port in a storm. Heh.

Comments (0)
Your vote DOES matter – on Kauai at least

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 12:33 pm
A thorny little contested election result is sprouting in Kauai after the incumbent Mayor received an amount of votes just two more than the amount needed to avoid a November runoff—unless the clerk counts the blank and spoiled ballots. Ordinarily these things are spelled out legislatively, but apparently Kauai County has never clarified what happens in this situation. Read all about it at the Garden Island News, the SB, and the Advertiser.

I smell lawyers!

Comments (0)
No closure yet in Arctic divers’ deaths

Filed under:
General
Science
— Doug @ 12:33 pm
Non-politics “science dork” post follows:

Mahalo to the Advertiser for carrying this AP story that checks in on the unresolved question of what caused the deaths of two USCG divers.

Hill, the ship’s marine science officer and a native of St. Augustine, Fla., was an experienced civilian diver before she joined the Coast Guard about four years ago. Her shipmates described her as a fun-loving officer who, during a trip to the North Pole last year, posed on the ice in a bikini by a red and white striped pole.

Duque, whose responsibilities included keeping the Healy’s decks in order, operating machinery and driving launch boats, was from Miami. Colleagues said he was exceedingly professional and inspired others to take their jobs seriously.

A bit surprised that they mentioned it, but I was there when that bikini photo was taken. I’ve even seen the photo online, but I won’t link to it out of respect. At the time it seemed like a very clever stunt and everyone had a good laugh with Jessica. It was bitterly cold that day!

Still no official explanation. Wow, it’s such a sad story.

Comments (0)
9/24/2006

Primary election results 2006

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:35 am
The complete and official results from every race statewide are here.

Akaka defeats Case, voters choose an unknown to face Akaka: Advertiser, SB.

Former Vietnam prisoner of war Jerry Coffee was leading in the Republican primary for Senate even though he had withdrawn because of health reasons in August. Coffee’s name remained on the ballot and Gov. Linda Lingle and other GOP leaders urged Republican voters to vote for him because if he wins the party would have until Tuesday to pick a replacement for the November election.

The Democratic primary was among the most intriguing political campaigns in modern Hawai’i, a test of whether traditional Democrats who have controlled the Islands since statehood still dominate or whether voters had drifted more to the center. Incumbents who have served a full term in Congress have been untouchable since statehood, so Case’s decision to give up his safe 2nd Congressional District seat was both surprising and in bold defiance of Inouye and the state’s party establishment.

It will be interesting to watch Case “fully support” Akaka in the general election after repeatedly calling him ineffective and too old. It will also be interesting to see if anyone in the media will challenge the GOP to explain to the voters why they did not immediately name Mr. Beatty (who was runner-up to Coffee) to run against Akaka. David Shapiro wrote on his blog last night that Charles Djou seems to have declined the role (before it was even offered to him). Hopefully all the local media will be conducting a full-court press on this story today and Monday.

2nd Congressional District: Hirono wins for the Democrats, Hogue for the GOP. Advertiser, and two stories from SB here and here.

Despite the prestige of the seat and the caliber of the candidates, the campaign generated little buzz as the Democrats ran collegial campaigns that made it difficult for any clear front-runner to emerge.

Throughout the campaign, observers speculated that the candidate with the greatest name recognition would win by a slim margin, a prediction that came true as the results rolled in.

I think it’s fair to characterize the Republican side of that race the same way, actually. Hirono will have no trouble defeating Hogue in November; Hogue is no Linda Lingle.

Governor and Lieutenant Governor: Iwase/Solomon defeats Aila/Henkin in the Democratic primary by a huge margin, while Lingle/Aiona crush all Republican challengers. Advertiser, SB.

Iwase said he was “very pleased” with the results, which he attributed to the hard work of his “grass-roots” campaign.

He acknowledged that he’s an underdog against Lingle. But he said Burns also was considered an underdog before he defeated Quinn.

“We feel very energized by the results thus far, and we’re going to keep campaigning,” he said.

Aila was at his home at Lualualei Homestead Road with about 200 supporters who grew quiet when the first results were announced.

He said he’ll support Iwase in the general election and thinks the Democratic candidate can win.

“I think Randy can beat Lingle if the Democratic Party comes together,” he said. “I think I could beat Lingle if the Democratic Party comes together.”

Lingle last night thanked supporters at her campaign headquarters on Kapi’olani Boulevard.

“If you want to go back to the way things were years ago, you vote for our opponent. If you want to keep Hawai’i moving forward, you would vote Lingle-Aiona.”

Who needs $6M to speak to that message? Iwase also was quick to borrow an Ed Case strategy:

“We’d like a debate on each of the islands, and we want the debate to be free-wheeling, not scripted,” Iwase proposed.

Right. The Lingle campaign will get back to you about that debate challenge “soon,” Mr. Iwase…

Moving on to down-ticket races: The SB has a story about Les Ihara and Shan Tsutsui fending off challengers and what their victories might mean for the leadership of the Hawaii Senate. It also mentions the defeat of Representative Kameo Tanaka, while Representative Stevens who was appointed by the Governor defeated a challenger to stay on the GOP ballot.

…and my friend Karl Rhoads beat Representative Bev Harbin like a drum! Congratulations, and good luck against Wong in November.

There are no doubt other interesting stories lost among this initial review, but for me the story of the next few days is:

Who takes Coffee’s spot, and how is he or she selected?

Comments (6)
Endorsements not a perfect system

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:27 am
When I read the headline of this column by Advertiser Editor Mark Platte, it led me to think that he would be responding to the criticism directed to his paper for not endorsing any Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial primary. Instead, Platte was only explaining the decision to retract an endorsement for a young BOE candidate with a checkered history.

Darn. It’s especially ironic that his column today concludes:

We do extensive review of the backgrounds of major candidates and the DeRego situation probably requires us to develop a new system to scrutinize some of the lesser-known candidates.

Who gets included in that process and who gets left out is the larger question.

No kidding.

I’d still like to read an explanation of why the Advertiser editorial board did not find it part of their “duty” to endorse any of the Democrats seeking the nomination to face Lingle for Governor. But it really does not matter at this point, of course.

Comments (0)
9/23/2006

Off to the polling place

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 8:13 am
I’m a traditionalist, so I actually enjoy going to a poll in my neighborhood where I will patiently stand in line talking story until it’s my turn to fill in bubbles and play with a piece of controversial technology. Plus, who doesn’t love those patriotic little curtains?! Tres chic!

Seriously. Get out there, too, if you bothered to register and still haven’t spoiled your ballot voted absentee already.

…unless you’re going to vote for an idiot. In which case, I will remind you to be sure to vote on Monday.

Comments (0)
Republicans have differing views on Bush administration

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:02 am
I know, it’s darn near too late to matter, but Edwin Tanji of the Maui News has an article today that does an excellent job of describing the significant philosophical differences between the two Republican candidates for the 2nd Congressional District. So what? Well, remember that one of these two will still be on the ballot in November.

[Actually, maybe they both will, since the “loser” has a chance to be selected by the Hawaii GOP to replace Jerry Coffee in the Senate race. Heh.]

Other than their debate in Kailua (where the reporting highlighted their differences over Native Hawaiian recognition) and a few candidate profiles, the Hogue and Kawananakoa campaigns have seen very little coverage so far; I’ve not seen anything that points out as many salient differences between the two as this article does.

In a nutshell, Hogue is a faithful fan of the President and the GOP-controlled Congress. Kawananakoa is hoping for a return to old-school fiscal conservatism and even talks of a more isolationist foreign policy. That’s a clear difference! Maybe this was made clear in television advertising (that I don’t see), but I doubt it. I haven’t received any direct mail campaign material from Hogue, and I don’t recall whatever I got from Kawananakoa.

Take a look at the article.

Comments (0)
9/22/2006

New driver ID will be a security and privacy failure

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:30 am
The Advertiser has another story today about the local costs of implementing the Real ID Act of 2005. I posted about this topic previously, here and here. The Advertiser story is based upon a new report (PDF) released by three governmental associations. Neither the report nor the Advertiser article has any discussion of the privacy implications of this new system, which is essentially a national ID card. Instead the latest news focuses on the logistical costs and challenges. I am (still) upset with this law, but rather than try to summarize my concerns I’ll direct you to this cogent critique from Bruce Shneier.

The only good news in the report is that it will be impossible for the states to implement the system on time and a few states are (wisely, in my opinion) planning to issue “non-conforming” ID cards.

Comments (0)
9/21/2006

Hogue called a waffler by Kawananakoa

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:27 am
The SB has an account of an event in Kailua yesterday where Bob Hogue and Quentin Kawananakoa sparred with each other in their contest for the Republican nomination to run for U.S. House. Hogue, who is trying to run as a “good guy,” again had to deal directly with some agressive campaigning from Kawananakoa. This time, unlike the “stop writing your sports column” boondoggle, it has merit.

Their stance on native Hawaiian sovereignty came in response to a question from the audience on how they would address the issue, with the Akaka Bill now off the table.

“I can tell you that I do support native Hawaiian programs … we need to protect that with federal recognition,” Hogue said. “I’ve said all along, if there’s a change in government, like the vague way that the Akaka Bill was written, that we should have an entire plebiscite (vote) and have everyone get an opportunity to vote on it.”

Kawananakoa, in the campaign mailer and at the forum, criticized Hogue for “waffling,” adding that he believes the senator has been influenced by “very conservative” groups that oppose Hawaiian sovereignty.

Regarding a resolution in the state Legislature voicing support for the Akaka Bill, Kawananakoa noted that Hogue had voted in support.

“Now he’s changed his story,” Kawananakoa said. “He wants the same story that they (Akaka Bill opponents) believe – that we have a plebiscite of the whole entire state.

“I’m concerned with someone who has flip-flopped for support.”

This is pretty shrewd on Kawananakoa’s part. Hogue is trying to have it both ways by saying he supports the programs for Native Hawaiians, but the only way to protect the programs is via some sort of recognition legislation that Hogue wants to be approved in a Statewide plebiscite. Thus, Hogue’s “support” of the programs means nothing if the plebiscite fails. Lost in all of that is that the Akaka Bill would have (eventually) required Hawaii Constitutional Amendment(s) which would require voter approval. The key difference being, of course, that any plebiscite would immediately present a question on an abstract (and easy to mis-characterize) concept, whereas the ConAm voting would be held after fleshing out most of the details—a fleshing-out process that may (or may not) defuse the arguments of those opposed to recognition (and programs) for Native Hawaiians.

Comments (0)
Advertiser taken to task – for NOT endorsing any Gov challenger

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:25 am
I stumbled across an interesting exchange at the Ko`olau News where the KN editors take Mark Platte of the Advertiser to task for not making an endorsement in the Democratic Party primary contests for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

After Platte had intoned about the Advertiser’s “duty” to make endorsements (however dubious the rationale behind those choices may be), it sure seems to me like the criticism was well-deserved. Endorsing candidates for down-ticket primary races while skipping the Governor race is, to put it mildly, a curious editorial decision. The Woods seem to overplay their hand, however, when they suggest in their (rejected) op-ed that perhaps the Advertiser is not making any Democratic primary endorsement because neither Aila or Iwase is likely to buy a lot of advertising space (since neither candidate has very much money).

I don’t know exactly when these KN posts went online, but I don’t expect to see the Advertiser make an endorsement on this race in the Friday or Saturday edition—nor do expect Platte to offer any further response to the Koolau News. Heh.

Comments (0)
Fuel for clean elections

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:24 am
An excellent op-ed from Ira Rohter appears in the SB today. Rohter deftly links the suspension of the gasoline price cap law to petroleum industry campaign donations (and profits) and offers it as an object lesson demonstrating the need for full public funding of elections.

Unfortunately, there is a massive editorial error in the concluding paragraph:

If Hawaii voters want to gain control, increase their access to Legislators, and reduce the influence of lobbyists and the special interests who give sizable donations to office holders, they must pass voter-owned elections in this coming session. Only then will we end up being ripped off by well-heeled special interests.

Ooof! Make that last sentence, “Only then will we end up being ripped off by well-heeled special interests.”

Comments (0)
9/20/2006

The waiting game

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:37 am
A good deal of banality ensues, but the introduction to David Shapiro’s column in todays Advertiser is spot on.

Hawai’i Democrats entered 2006 so disorganized and uncertain of their talent that they were unable to field a “name” candidate to challenge Republican Gov. Linda Lingle’s re-election.

But the Democrats will likely have a diverse group to choose from when the governorship next comes up in four years ? and possibly another U.S. Senate seat, as well.

The turnabout is mostly the result of the shakeup in the party caused by Rep. Ed Case’s decision to give up his seat in the 2nd Congressional District to challenge Sen. Daniel Akaka in Saturday’s Democratic primary.

Indeed. For all of the real and professed dismay at Case’s challenge of Akaka, Case’s decision provided a big boost to the political stock of all the candidates vying to fill his empty seat at Congress. If Case should win, then whoever wins his old seat will be indebted to him big time. Not that Case should expect much in the way of gratitude.

For all of their rhetoric about why each candidate wants to serve in D.C., I don’t recall any of these candidates for HI-2 having ever challenged an incumbent member of Congress. (Except for Kawananakoa, who ran a quixotic race against Abercrombie, but then withdrew before election day.) True, dozens of Democrats challenged Case in the 2002 and 2003 Special Elections after Mink died, but none of the ten Democrats now clamoring for the seat chose to challenge Ed Case for the seat in 2004.

This year many of the Akaka supporters describe Case as a crypto-Republican. Explicitly and implicitly, many of the ten candidates are also positioning themselves as anti-Case. Ironically, this pretty much confirms what Ed Case is constantly describing as the Hawaii Democratic Party “wait your turn” philosophy: No matter what an incumbent does, incumbents are not challenged. If that philosophy is discarded, it can only be good for Democrats in the long run.

Comments (1)
37% is good enough?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:36 am
Normally I do not draw any attention to campaign endorsements, but this post at Hawaii Reporter announcing the UH faculty union endorsement of Governor Lingle is an exception. I work on campus most of the year, but I am not a member of this (or, indeed, any) union.

?My Administration has worked hard to give the University and its faculty the resources and autonomy they need to provide our students with a first-class education,? said Gov. Lingle. ?I told UHPA four years ago that I wanted to increase funding to the University by $100 million per year, and now, I am happy to say the University?s operating budget is now $150 million more than it was four years ago. In addition, we have assisted the University in obtaining millions of dollars in federal grants to construct new state-of-the-art facilities and invest in cutting-edge research programs.?

Four years at $100 million per year should have been $400 million, yet she actually delivered $150 million. Is that correct? Did the Governor propose $100 million per year only to have the legislature reduce the amount, or did Lingle not even propose what she promised? I’d be checking on that if I were a UHPA member.

Further, the endorsement also fails to mention the heavily back-loaded salary raises included in the collective bargaining contract reached with the Lingle administration. There was a fair amount of discussion at the time if Lingle could legitimately agree to raises that would mostly kick in after her term was completed (the agreement covers 2003 to 2009!)—so an endorsement of extending her tenure (pun intended) helps to keep her where she can be held accountable for delivering what was negotiated. Well, to the extent that a term-limited second-term governor can be held accountable, that is…

Comments (1)
9/19/2006

Hawaii Congressional staff salaries

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:46 am
I’d sure like to see a Hawaii Legislature version of this website that lists what members of Hawaii’s delegation to Congress are paying their staff. Keep in mind as you browse that most of the data are reported as quarterly (House) or semi-annual (Senate) totals, so you’d need to divide or multiply to get a monthly salary or an annual compensation.

Not that I’m planning to run off to D.C. (and wear a coat and tie, yuck!), but it’s kinda frustrating that even the low-ranking staff at Congress are paid more than experienced Committee Clerks at the Hawaii Lege… Heck, Abercrombie has a “part-time worker” who made $35K in three months!

Comments (0)
Kauai Courts are videotaped and available to public?

Filed under:
HI Media
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:45 am
Okay, I’ll admit I was initially drawn to this Garden Island News article by the lap-dancing headline, but I’m linking to it because of this:

The video was supposed to air on Ho?ike Channel 52 yesterday through Thursday, but Kaua?i resident Ed Coll, who obtained the tape, pulled it after considering the implications it would have for the [defendant’s] family.

——–

The video footage was shot by court surveillance and is a matter of public record, Coll said.

Huh. Does that mean that every case on Kauai is available to the public on video? Wow. Is that a Kauai-only policy?

Furthermore, if the video footage is a matter of public record, then what is to stop somebody else from “obtaining” the tape for broadcast on Channel 52? I’ve always found it very instructive when I serve on jury duty. If more people routinely saw how our Hawaii judicial system operates (instead of considering the task to be a burden and/or to be only for suckers), that would be a good thing. Playing video of such high-profile cases would probably be what it takes for a substantial audience to be drawn in, and in the process they could not help but learn a little, too.

Comments (2)
Mixed accounts of UH response to Mayor’s rail idea

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 8:44 am
I mentioned earlier that Mayor Hannemann would be going to campus to explain his intention to shorten the rail transit route, and I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised that 150-odd (150 odd?) people actually showed up. I am also a bit surprised that Ka Leo may not have covered the event and that nobody asked (or, at worst, nobody reported) what it will cost the City to add UH to the rail transit route at a later time.

According to a SB article, the event on the UH-Manoa campus went poorly for the Mayor. The Advertiser piece puts a much more positive spin on it. Interesting.

Hannemann said he wanted to hear from those who attended the meeting. He said he had yet to receive a letter, call or e-mail from someone who lives in the UH-Manoa community.

Meaning what, exactly? That he would not have changed his mind if he had taken a few calls and emails?

Comments (0)
Endorsed by Bev Harbin?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:44 am
I missed the original article while I was at sea, but there is a letter to the SB editors today from a BOE candidate who alleges that he has been unfairly smeared after anonymous parties contacted the media.

During this time, several of my Internet accounts were usurped from my control, including a myspace blog, xanga blog and several e-mail accounts. Nearly every one of these accounts was subsequently used to malign my character. My xanga and myspace accounts were rewritten to allege harassment against former friends. Computer-altered images in which my head was placed on someone else’s body were posted in an attempt to support allegations that was a sexual abuser and compulsive liar. I have attempted on numerous occasions to have the sites removed, but have received no response to my appeals.

Hmnmm. Let me guess: he used the same password on every account he held and probably wrote it on a Post-it that he kept attached to his monitor. Way to go, genius.

As sordid as it sounds, it is still not enough for me to get very excited about the BOE elections, sorry. Yet, I feel so bummed that his anonymous enemies did not include this blog in the fun… Heh.

Comments (0)
Advertiser website now requires registration

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 8:42 am
What’s more, it seems that we readers have to enter gender, birth year, and zip code information every time we visit—even if you have cookies enabled. Is that extra humbug because I did not sign up for their email spams announcements?

UPDATE September 20: Today it seems to be back to the way it was. ??

Comments (1)
9/18/2006

I’m home. I’m busy. I’m tired.

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 1:40 pm
I will post tomorrow. It took me about an hour to plow through all the spam comments to approve the ten or so “real” comments. I still need to go grocery shopping, wait for my friend with a car to finish work, and then ferry Perl, my luggage, and my motorcycle back to Kaneohe. Yeah, it’s great not having a weekend…

There were some endorsements made while I was away. Perfect, because I prefer not to comment about “horse race” stuff anyway.

Comments (0)
9/14/2006

To sea again; this time with no internet access

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 6:13 am
We are going to sea on the older ship this time and she does not have the satellite internet connection. So, as much as I bicker about the slow speed access we have on the usual ship, everything is relative.

Until I get back all reader comments will go into the queue and I won’t be able to approve them (and delete the flood of spams, ugh) until Monday. There will probably be no posts until Tuesday, because Monday will be a very busy day with unloading the ship, retrieving Perl from the pet sitter, other miscellaneous hassles—and fatigue.

Comments (1)
9/13/2006

Lingle pleads for kingmaker (queenmaker?) authority

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:41 am
Another almost-but-not-quite story today about the Governor’s support of the withdrawn Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Jerry Coffee. This time it’s from the Advertiser. Governor Lingle voted yesterday and announced that she had voted for Coffee.

Lingle also urged Republicans who are thinking about crossing over to vote in the Democratic primary contest for Senate between U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and U.S. Rep. Ed Case to stick with the GOP. The Akaka-Case winner will face the Republican nominee in November.

“I think in order to have a strong two-party system, it’s important to vote in your party’s primary,” Lingle said. “A two-party system benefits everyone. Even if you don’t belong to any party, having a good balance in government really is something important to our state.”

Lingle and Sam Aiona, the party’s chairman, have said it is too early to talk about possible replacements for Coffee, but clearly they have been working through the possibilities. The GOP would have three days after the primary to select a replacement.

So, to clarify what the Governor is saying, it’s important to vote in your party primary. Not to select the candidate to represent your Party, but to defer to the Party Machine ™ to select the candidate to represent your Party. Nevermind the fact that The Machine won’t reveal exactly who that candidate will be…

Jerry Burris adds a column where concludes:

But at this point, the drama seems more focused on keeping Republican voters “at home” than it does on developing a complicated and some might even say devious plot to get a hand-picked candidate into the Senate race.

It would make sense that Lingle would like to see Republicans stay within their own party. That decreases the number of people who might “cross over” and end up voting for the more moderate Case against the liberal Akaka.

Why should Lingle care? She might want to run for the U.S. Senate herself one day, when her gubernatorial days are over.

A relatively youthful and relatively moderate Case, in the early years of his Senate career, would make a tougher opponent than an aging and far more liberal Akaka in the twilight of his senatorial days.

True, but that would also imply that the Republicans will have no intention of putting forth a candidate for U.S. Senate (to replace Coffee) who could have a chance to win in 2006. In that case, any of the other Republican long-shots already on the ballot would be suitably weak, no?

Kiss the ring.

Comments (6)
Developer trying to “re-pay” Kauai for amending law

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:40 am
I don’t know much of the backstory to this Garden Island News story about a Kauai Board of Ethics probe, but it sure sounds unethical to me. Basically, a developer wants to pay the County $93,350 as “reimbursement” for drafting a law that would, surprise, surprise, allow for development to proceed according to the developer’s wishes.

What I found especially odd is this:

Brian Jorao, an attorney with the firm McCorriston, Miller, Mukai MacKinnon, told the Board of Ethics yesterday in a conference call that it is not unusual for a developer to pay the municipality for the cost of preparing legislation, citing California as a state where that is commonplace.

Wha? “It is not unusual?!” Is he speaking of California there, or does Jorao mean to say that this happens regularly in Kauai County and/or Statewide? I suggest that this is a topic ripe for a follow-up investigation. That type of arrangement is taking the concept of “user fee” much too far, in my opinion.

Comments (0)
Mayor to discuss withholding rail transit from students

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 7:33 am
The student newspaper Ka Leo reports that Mayor Hannemann will speak on campus next week regarding his intention to shorten the proposed rail transit route to exclude service to UH-Manoa. If it’s like most campus events, few will attend (although it’s somewhat more understandable since any student currently at the campus now should graduate before any rail system is operating).

Perhaps some enterprising Ka Leo reporter will see fit to ask the Mayor (and the consultants) to estimate what it would cost in the future to add UH-Manoa to the rail route.

Comments (0)
9/12/2006

Op-ed raises the “i” word

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:55 am
A provocative op-ed in the SB today that suggests our candidates for Congress should disclose where they stand on the subject of impeachment for President Bush. The writer, Richard Tillotson (a local advertising executive), is in support of impeachment. Although Tillotson does not deny that impeachment would be hugely disruptive and divisive, he argues that the alternative is worse.

His suggested inquiry comes too late for the statewide televised events (or at least I don’t think there are any more planned…), but perhaps Chad Blair could lob this topic out in front of the candidates for their discussion on Thursday?

Of course, if any of the candidates for Congress who read my blog would like to respond in this (somewhat obscure) venue then I urge them to leave a comment!

Comments (8)
Still too soon for transparency on gasoline pricing

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:36 am
Both Honolulu dailies point out that Hawaii is the only market in the U.S. where average gasoline prices remain over $3 per gallon. The Advertiser article is here, and the SB piece is here. The SB also provides a useful table showing the price comparison over the last few months without the (suspended) gasoline price caps and the prices the old cap would have set.

Oil industry officials contend that the higher price and slower fluctuation in Hawaii’s prices are a result of market forces and the state’s unique island economy.

“One of the biggest challenges for us is the isolation in the middle of the Pacific, in a small market, means we pay a pretty hefty premium to import ethanol, as well as crude oil, into the island,” said Chevron spokesman Albert Chee. “It’s a smaller quantity and transportation costs are high.

“I’m not saying this explains all of it, but clearly I believe it is a factor.”

A factor. Duh. How big of a factor is transportation in explaining this widening difference in prices compared to, say, Chevron’s profit margin in Hawaii vs. the other Chevron markets? Have shipping costs been suddenly and steadily increasing over the last few months? Are there any data to support this “explanation?”

Regular readers know that I would not be finished with this post before I mention the lack of transparency. Again.

The state Public Utilities Commission is continuing to track wholesale and retail prices in Hawai’i. And if Hawai’i’s retail prices continue to fail to keep pace with the nation, the commission will be looking to identify the root causes of the discrepancy, said Lisa Kikuta, chief researcher with the commission.

But it’s too early to say just what is happening with Hawai’i’s gasoline market, she said.

“The prices have just started to go down. We really don’t know … how long-term this is going to be. And it’s hard to draw a conclusion, I think, from just this short period of time that’s transpired since the decline,” she said.

The transparency provisions of the amended gasoline price cap law do not require the PUC to “draw a conclusion,” the PUC is only directed to collect the pricing data, to “analyze” the data, and to make it public. Consumers can draw their own conclusions, thank you. Grrrr.

Comments (1)
Iwase is keen to fight Lingle; if only the people knew

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:36 am
The Advertiser has a long profile of Randy Iwase who is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor. The article has a lot of space devoted to his political background, and the information is enlightening for me since Iwase was visibly active in local politics for only the first few years of my tenure as a staffer.

However, his history is not interesting enough to convince an undecided voter to set aside the “stalking horse” label. Only at the very end of the piece do they talk about the issues he wants to pursue as governor, and that is tempered by the mixed reactions to his prior legsilative actions. Iwase comes across much better on his campaign website, naturally, but (for whatever reason) the Advertiser article did not include a link as they usually do for the other candidates being profiled.

If Iwase can’t find (or afford) a way to get that message out to a wider audience, then his is a sinking ship.

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Kawananakoa takes friendly fire from NRCC

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:36 am
Be still your beating heart, DC!

Today it is Republican candidate for Congress Quentin Kawananakoa who is profiled by the Advertiser. The article spends a lot of time describing his wealth, lineage, and cocaine bust, but there is some mention of his message on the issues, too.

Kawananakoa said tax cuts and privatization of government operations are among his top priorities, but that he also is keenly interested in such issues as alternative energy production.

One of his ideas is to seek $500 million in federal money to build a major ocean thermal energy conversion plant. That could make Hawai’i a world leader in energy self-sufficiency with clean, innovative technology, he said.

Such a government-funded project would not necessarily conflict with his preference for privatization, or undermine existing private energy producers, he insisted. Tax credits and other incentives could also help the private sector modernize public utilities, he said.

Kawananakoa said he strongly favors federal recognition of Native Hawaiians but does not believe the recognition bill authored by Democratic U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka will ever be passed. Recognition would stand a better chance if Hawai’i’s congressional delegation included a Republican, he said.

Governor Lingle has done nothing to validate that theory of “we need a Hawaii Republican to get federal recognition,” and, what’s more, the U.S. House (where QK is running) was in support, it was the Senate where the recognition bill died.

I’ll also note this section of the article:

Kawananakoa’s views, background, good looks and resources have caught the attention of some Washington, D.C., Republicans.

“Quentin Kawananakoa is someone who we believe is flying below the radar right now but has a chance to really make a big push for this seat,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Alex Burgos.

The group works across the nation on behalf of Republicans running for Congress but does not typically endorse candidates in primary races. It’s clear that the committee favors Kawananakoa in this race, however.

“To begin with, it’s the resources he brings to this race,” Burgos said of Kawananakoa’s appeal. “He’s a former elected official, and it’s certainly an interesting personal tale, the fact that he is (an) heir to the Hawai’i throne as well.”

Kawananakoa is also “a very telegenic candidate, and someone who, as he is communicating his message to Hawai’i voters, comes across very well in terms of TV. He’s a very articulate spokesman for Hawai’i values.”

Kawananakoa’s demonstrated ability to raise lots of campaign cash and draw on his own money also has been noted.

“Anytime a candidate has personal wealth he or she can delve into, it’s certainly another advantage that they bring to their campaign,” Burgos said.

With the exception of the too-squishy reference to “Hawaii values,” none of that is false, but it is not often that you hear a candidate publicly praised in such nakedly shallow terms. To summarize Burgos: “He’s good looking, rhetorically slick, and rich—and that’s why we are watching him.” Sheesh. That’s what you tell the most cynical donors, it’s not what you tell the media, you clown.

Comments (1)
9/11/2006

Hogue aspires to be more than just a feel-good profiler of prep athletes

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:56 pm
My Senator, Bob Hogue, has his turn in the Advertiser candidate profile machine today. The main point of the article is to describe his “positive” campaign for Congress. Yawn.

The political power of Hawai’i’s Republicans has been sharply limited in a Legislature long dominated by Democrats, so it’s not easy to weigh Hogue’s tangible accomplishments [sic!] there. But he and other Republicans have not been shy about making their voices heard.

“When we have good ideas, they get gobbled up,” Hogue said. “But we speak for the average person out there, and when legislation would move forward that might be headed in the wrong direction, or might not be the best idea, we can stand up and make that point, and I think that’s one of the things we do very effectively.”

Claiming his good ideas are stolen, speaking up when the Republican talking points demand it, and voting for the opposition on literally scores of Senate votes (i.e. voting on the losing side) suggests a very curious metric of “effectiveness.” The small Republican Senate Caucus has been very disciplined in their opposition when they choose to exercise it, and Hogue’s reliable vote as a member therein detracts from his “positive” campaign message and puts the lie to his talk of moving Congress away from “partisan rancor.” Whatever. Hogue won’t win.

At least I won’t be receiving any more of his laughably partisan “constituent surveys.” Losing should also give him more time to focus on improving his formulaic MidWeek columns, too. Can you tell I have not been impressed with my Senator? haha.

Comments (2)
Aila unashamed of his civil disobedience

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:56 pm
In addition to continue to describe each of the candidates for Congress, today the Advertiser has a profile of WIlliam Aila, Jr., a Democrat seeking the nomination to run against Governor Lingle. In case you’ve forgotten, the funding disparity between the two major parties in the Governor race this year is huge!

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who had an intimidating $3.3 million on hand at the end of June to finance her re-election bid. Aila had less than $6,800, and Iwase had less than $17,000.

It is obvious that Aila’s strategy (though he is unarguably making a virtue out of necessity) is to stress his connection to the average voter and his underdog status. If Lingle were to actually jump into the U.S. Senate contest as Coffee’s replacement, then I think Aila would have a chance to win. However, if Lingle stays at the head of the Republican ticket, Aila is doomed to lose.

Unlike many primary contests where the candidates hardly mention each other, Aila also goes directly (if vaguely) after his opponent, Randy Iwase.

Aila draws a sharp contrast between himself and Iwase. Aila said Iwase is benefiting from higher name recognition in the polls, but said analysis of Iwase’s record will raise concerns, particularly among Native Hawaiians and environmentalists. To those groups “his record is cause for concern,” Aila said.

“He’s very intellectual, very polished. Again, I’m a country boy, I’m going to use short words, common sense applications. I have a greater feel for what the average common person in Hawai’i is experiencing, the apprehensions, the worries. We face it ourselves.”

I can’t say I’ve encountered a lot of buzz about Aila in the offline world, but I’ve heard zero buzz about Iwase.

Comments (0)
Appeal to Bishop to stop sale of Kukui Gardens failed

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:55 pm
The SB has a piece today based upon a letter “obtained by the Star Bulletin” (pretty clear from what source…) from the one member of the Kukui Gardens Board of Directors (Wallace Ching) to Bishop Clarence Silva. Ching asked Silva to stop the sale, but Silva essentially did not intervent because he feels the sale will not necessarily harm the availability of affordable housing for the tenants.

Thinking back to an earlier post, I was especially struck by this paragraph today:

A spokesman for Kukui Gardens Corp., the nonprofit that built and operates the complex, said “none of the money from the sale of Kukui Gardens is earmarked for St. Francis or Chaminade or Saint Louis. Everyone will have to go through an application process that will be open to a wide spectrum of charities in the community.”

That paragraph directly contradicts what the SB wrote months earlier:

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.

Hmmm, which is it, then? The Marianists and St. Francis have to apply (and apply to whom, to the same Board that they dominate?) to get the money from any sale of Kukui Gardens, or those two groups will automatically get the money? Further confusing the issue, later in todays article there is mention of a HUD requirement (although one that is possible for HUD to waive) that the money from any sale be put into an affordable housing trust.

The bigger questions are when will HUD respond to the Board’s request to pre-pay the financing that presently ensures that the units remain affordable until 2011, and when will Ching’s conflict of interest lawsuit against the Board be heard? Those might present a chicken-and-egg problem, where HUD hopes to defer until the lawsuit is resolved, and the court goes slowly to see if HUD disapproves of the sale and makes the lawsuit moot. What a mess.

Comments (1)
Congress candidates encouraged to respond to attack each others ideas

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:55 pm
The SB has a story about the format of the upcoming radio event featuring all of the candidats for the Second Congressional District. I am pleased that, much like the unusual “speed dating” appearances throughout the state, Chad Blair of Hawaii Public Radio will be trying something novel:

Candidates will be asked a broad question and have 90 seconds to respond. After all 12 have spoken, each will have one minute to respond to anything that was said previously.

That format will be followed until each candidate has answered three questions – one about international issues, one about a national issue and one on a local issue.

“We’re giving them an open-ended question which they can direct in any way they want,” Blair said. “Recognizing that the average listener doesn’t want to hear 12 responses about Iraq … we’re hoping to have some diversity.”

The forum is being broadcast commercial-free from 7 to 9 p.m. on KHPR 88.1 FM on Oahu, KKUA 90.7 FM on Maui and KANO 91.1 FM on the Big Island.

Too bad I’ll be at sea and outside of radio range… Here’s hoping that Blair adds mp3 recordings of this event to his HPR webpage.

Comments (0)
Offline until PM

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 5:59 am
There will be posts today, but I have to start the week by playing the waiting room game this morning… I had time to read, but not enough time to write.

Comments (1)
9/10/2006

Coffee = Djou?!

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:03 am
Following up on his Wednesday column, today the SB has Borreca’s attempt to clarify what Governor Lingle’s support of withdrawn candidate for U.S. Senate Jerry Coffee means. Borreca either failed to ask for a denial (or even comment) from Lingle on the possibility that she would herself fill that vacancy on the ballot if Coffee were to win the GOP special election, or (hopefully) he asked and she dodged the question.

Instead, we get this:

Lingle said she wants the GOP to be able to pick a new candidate to run against the winner of the Akaka-Case Democratic primary.

Now with the GOP firmly under her control, Lingle will be able to give the nod to a U.S. Senate candidate if she can get Republicans to vote for Coffee.

No one in the GOP is saying who gets the blessing. Lingle doesn’t say and GOP leader Sam Aiona would only recite the party line about picking someone “better than Case or Akaka.”

SO WHO would it be? Councilman Charles Djou is pounding out his campaign commercials with a stern reminder to “Remember the name, Charles Djou.”

Djou, who is running for re-election without opposition, says he hasn’t thought about the Senate or the Coffee vote, but acknowledges that if called upon by his party he would consider it.

If not Djou, the other high-profile Republican not already running is Micah Kane, the Hawaiian Home Lands department director and former chairman of the Hawaii GOP.

“I am very happy with the job I have … running for elected office is not anything I would consider,” Kane said.

If Coffee wins, and the GOP appoints a successor, it would make sense for Lingle to pick someone who would benefit from the statewide exposure that a Senate race would give. And that person would be known to voters in both a 2008 congressional race and a 2010 governor’s contest. And that is why there is always more to the story.

“More to the story,” indeed. This story should have asked Governor Lingle and Republican Party Chair Sam Aiona for an explanation of why this replacement should not be named in advance. Rather than explaining their intentions, Lingle is asking the voters to buy a GOP pig in a poke. No (oh, okay, some) disrespect intended to the Honorable Councilmember Djou, haha.

Presuming their non-answer, Borreca could also follow up this line of questioning with a comparison of this secrecy to the oft-maligned Democratic “Machine.” Whatever happened to “a new beginning?” I don’t believe for a second that Lingle would be promoting this strategy without having thought it through to the end…

I suspect that one reason why the Hawaii Republicans won’t name their replacement in advance of the primary is because they have more than one person in mind. i.e. I suspect that if Case and Coffee win in the primary, then the GOP would name a different replacement for Coffee than they would if Akaka and Coffee were to win.

Comments (2)
Mayors surveyed about development

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:59 am
Kudos to the Advertiser for soliciting a package of op-eds from the four County Mayors on the topic of development. There are submissions from Mayors Kim of Hawaii County, Hannemann of Honolulu County, Baptiste of Kauai County, and Arakawa of Maui County.

Too bad that so much of what they write is banal and doesn’t reflect most of what we actually see taking place… Of course, it’s not fair to pin every criticism of development on the Mayors, since the County Councils periodically, even regularly, change course and/or fight the Mayors. Stepping even further back, the general public tends to have a schizophrenic attitude toward development, too, and the politicians are closely representative of that irrationality.

Comments (2)
9/9/2006

Mufi talks of punting HOT issue to State

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 10:11 am
Both Honolulu dailies have helpful articles about Mayor Hannemann’s plan to trim the ends off of the proposed trnsit route in order to reduce the cost to $3B. The SB piece is here and the Advertiser piece is here. Obviously, this is much more of a (bizarre) political decision than a rational economic decision. The cost of expanding the system later will only increase, so this decision should not be considered a “cost saving” measure.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann says he wants a rail-transit system to cost about $3 billion.

“I am insisting at this point that we build a basic no-frills system, and I want the cost to come in around $3 billion because there are those who are opposed to this project that are trying to make an issue of the cost of this rail system,” he said.

But that will likely mean, he said, that the route will be shorter than the original Kapolei-to-University of Hawaii route.

“I think it’s clear that it’s going to cost more than $3 billion to go from Kapolei to University of Hawaii – that much we know,” he said.

See, “those who are opposed to this project” make an issue of cost—and, as of now, so does the Mayor, except the Mayor’s decision is neither going to quiet the critics nor will it ultimately save any money. Two points for Slater.

Hannemann said the administration could present the Council with two scenarios: one showing members how much $3 billion will buy, the other showing how much it would cost for a system from Kapolei to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The mayor also said that dedicated toll lanes can still be an option, but it will not be “county-driven.”

Supporters of the high-occupancy toll, or HOT, lanes are the primary opponents to a rail system.

“If the state wants to drive that initiative and build it over the freeway and they have the money to do it, be my guest. But it’s not going to be a county-driven initiative,” the mayor said. “So I don’t see that as a replacement for the light-rail system.”

That’s a new twist, and it’s another curious political tack for the Mayor to try. To some extent a rail system is supposed to encourage more dense and “walkable” development along the corridor instead of traditional subdivisions, in contrast, double-decked tollways would encourage the continuation, or even the acceleration, of automobile-based sprawl. Hannemann is ceding Honolulu’s “home rule” on this important topic back to the State, essentially gambling that the State will not act. In the process Cliff Slater’s hui might finally leave Hannemann alone and instead set up shop at the Lege to start all over, perhaps replacing their cheerleader Councilmember Djou with Representative Cabanilla.

Speaking of “will the State Act:”

City Councilman Todd Apo, who represents the Kapolei-Leeward Coast, said the proposed changes don’t shake his support for a transit system and thinks it’s logical for the city to continue refining the options as new information about cost and ridership come in.

“If we’re going to do rail, we’ve got to make sure we do it right,” Apo said.

While Hannemann said he would insist on holding the costs to about $3 billion, including rights-of-way acquisition and rolling stock, others said it’s possible the city could always seek more transit funds from the state Legislature or elsewhere. “Having to find ways to get additional funding may be something we need to do,” Apo said.

State lawmakers contacted yesterday expressed sharply different reactions to the possibility that the city might seek authorization for another tax increase to pay the increasing rail costs.

“As far as I’m concerned, that’s it for now,” said state Rep. Joe Souki, chairman of the House Transportation Committee. “The state has many other needs and it would be premature for them to come in and make a request right away. If they don’t have enough money, they have to figure out what they’re going to do on their own.”

Hannemann yesterday said he has no plans to seek any additional tax hike.

State Sen. Lorraine Inouye, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Government Operations, said that the Legislature might consider raising the tax increase to 1 percent, as was originally proposed two years ago. “If the city feels there won’t be enough money to carry on, they can come in and tell us. I’m sure we would be open to an increase, and there is enough will to get it done,” she said.

I don’t agree with Lorraine Inouye’s assessment that there is enough will for Legislators (and the Governor) to allow the County to increase the GET surcharge, but whatever. She can spar with Souki over that if such a proposal actually comes to pass…

When will the federal government side of the story be told? There are a dozen Congressional candidates trying to differentiate themselves, and this may become one of the rare issues where they show a range of opinions. What about Dan Inouye and Neil Abercrombie? Surely when the decisions are made in Congress as to which transit systems recieve funding few in D.C. are going to be fooled by this “no frills” starter system idea. They will know that the City is going to be returning for more money at a later (and more expensive) time. If this becomes the “locally preferred alternative” it will be hard for Honolulu to argue that we are (and will remain) as committed to mass transit as other areas competing for the federal money. I think the Legislature’s decision to only authorize a 0.5% GET surcharge (instead of 1%) dealt Hannemann a very tough hand, and now this politically-inspired route adjustment is further weakening the chances for rail transit.

Comments (2)
9/8/2006

UH-Manoa and Waikiki cut from a proposed transit route

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 9:25 am
The SB seems to have a scoop in an article that describes Mayor Hannemann’s consideration of a shortened rail system route.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s administration is looking at a shorter rail transit route to reduce a projected $4 billion cost, according to members of the City Council who have been briefed on the proposal.

Originally, the route was proposed to be 23 miles long and run from west of Kapolei town to the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus with a possible spur to Waikiki.

To save money, the start and the end of the route would change. Instead of beginning in Kapolei, the route would possibly start farther east at either the site of the proposed UH-West Oahu campus, which is just east of Kapolei town and along the future North-South Road, or at Leeward Community College.

The shortened route would end at downtown Honolulu, deleting the UH-Manoa and Waikiki ends.

Surely somebody has done traffic studies and can tell how much of the rush hour traffic flow includes traffic in and out of UH-Manoa and Waikiki? Djou would be an even stronger opponent of the system if it does not ultimately offer some benefit to his constituents. Kobayashi is grumbling already about the prospect of no Manoa service. Likewise, shortening the Ewa end of the route would dilute political support for the rail system on the undisputed “traffic wasteland” end of the island.

There are other options before the Council, even though they seem pretty much to already “locally prefer” rail before the vote has even been taken. Assuming that the feds would give the same amount of support, then have we ever been told how much “enhanced bus system” $3B would buy?

Comments (3)
Artifacts moved to Bishop Museum from cave

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:24 am
The SB reports that the Hawaiian artifacts at the heart of the dispute involving Bishop Museum and various Native Hawaiian organziations have been moved from caves (where they had been placed by Hui Malama) to the Bishop Museum. This would seem to resolve one part of the multi-party legal dispute, but it’s really hard to tell what comes next since most of those involved have been ordered by the Court not to talk about it.

Still, there are some interesting quotes:

Now that the artifacts have been returned to the Bishop Museum, native Hawaiian groups with recognized claims to them can decide on their future, said Laakea Suganuma, president of the Royal Hawaiian Academy of Traditional Arts.

“This really puts us back where every claim has an equal right,” he said.

Suganuma said there will be further discussions and consultations about the artifacts to determine their final disposition.

Charles Maxwell, whose group buried the artifacts in a cave in Kawaihae, said the proper place for the artifacts is for them to be buried at the grave sites.

He also believes if the artifacts have been returned to the museum, a court order imposed on Hui Malama official Edward Ayau should be lifted.

Ayau was determined to be in contempt of court for refusing to return the artifacts. “He should be let go. They got what they wanted,” Maxwell said.

——–

… Maxwell, a Hawaiian cultural expert, said if the artifacts have been taken out of the cave, those responsible will have bad luck fall upon them.

“Someone will pay spiritually,” Maxwell said.

I’m confused. Wasn’t Ayau released back in January to take part in mediation? Was Ayau re-imprisoned since then? If so, then I think Maxwell makes a good point. The basis of the contempt of court violation no longer exists now that the artifacts are no longer in the caves under Hui Malama control. The article does not say how the caves containing the artifacts were located, but it almost does not matter with respect to the question of contempt. If Ayau is not released now, then what would it take to trigger his release?

Comments (0)
BOE fires charter schools’ Jim Shon

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:24 am
I was surprised by an Advertiser article that notes the firing of Jim Shon. Shon was the Executive Director of the Charter School office at DOE until yesterday, when the Board of Education voted (in secret) to oust him.

There has been growing contention between Shon and the board, and there were numerous indications over the past months that the board was unhappy with his leadership, including concerns over his lobbying efforts during the recent legislative session to control authorization of new charter schools.

Okay, I don’t follow the BOE, much less the Charter Schools office, very closely, but what exactly were the “numerous indications” of the Board’s unhappiness? Was Shon doing too much for (or against?) the Charter Schools, not enough, or what? I have never had the impression that the BOE is strongly behind Charter Schools, so my hunch is that Shon never fit into their benign neglect “go slow” approach. Anybody out there have some insight to share about this?

Comments (0)
9/7/2006

A vote for Coffee = ??

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:50 am
Borreca has an interesting story in the SB today about crossover voting.

For Case the key is the 1st Congressional District (urban Honolulu), up to the district dividing line in Waipahu and Mililani. The area is key because while the 2nd Congressional District has a contested primary election between former state Rep. Quentin Kawananakoa and state Sen. Bob Hogue, the 1st has few GOP primary races.

There are only two state Senate races and three state House races with Republicans opposing each other in the 1st Congressional District, and the congressional race features political unknowns, Mark Terry and Richard Hough.

So Republican voters do not have strong reasons to vote in the GOP primary in the 1st Congressional District.

Nice work in parsing out the down-ticket contested primaries in CD1. I shoulda thought of that…

“This election is going to be decided in the primary. For all intents and purposes, the winner of the Democratic primary is going to be the next U.S. senator,” Case said.

“For my perspective this is going to be one of the most important decisions voters will make in a decade. … I think the voters, all the voters of Hawaii, should vote in this race and in the Democratic primary,” Case said.

Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, however, says that is not true. She points out that it is possible to encourage voters to cross over, because she got Democrats and independents to vote for her in the 1998 GOP primary election, which drew 159,000 voters. But this year, she is asking Republicans to stay home because she wants them to vote for Senate candidate Jerry Coffee.

Coffee withdrew after having a heart attack and surgery, but his name is still on the ballot. According to state law, if a person who is unable to run wins the primary, the party can pick a replacement.

“There are a lot of Republicans like myself who are going to be voting for Jerry Coffee,” Lingle said.

Hmmm. That’s pretty thin gruel to offer Republicans to stay home: if enough of them vote for Coffee, then the GOP will be able to appoint some other (inevitable General Election loser) candidate to face whichever Democrat wins the primary. Obviously, that scenario also begs the question of who the Hawaii Republican Party would name to take Coffee’s place on the ballot. Would that person be selected by a process internal to the Hawaii GOP; i.e. a “closed” primary?

If the GOP has a candidate they feel is worthy to fill Coffee’s spot, I think they should be naming him or her now so that primary election voters will know what a Coffee “victory” would mean. If the GOP chooses not to name this person in advance, and if the primary election is to truly indicate and respect the collective voice of the voters, then shouldn’t the GOP pledge that if Coffee wins they will name whichever Republican that finishes second to take Coffee’s spot on the General Election ballot?

Comments (3)
Lawsuit papers unsealed

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:49 am
I’ll quickly note the (partial) resolution of the disturbing judicial secrecy issues discussed recently. According to this Advertiser article, the Hawaii Supreme Court ordered the papers to be unsealed yesterday.

[Media attorney] Portnoy said the sealing of the entire court file is “very unusual,” but that he doesn’t know how many other cases are kept secret.

“We have to hope there aren’t very many, and that the issuance of a writ, which is an extraordinary remedy, will make it far less likely that any court is going to permit the sealing of any court pleading, let alone an entire file” without establishing an overriding reason for the secrecy, he said.

That is prospective, but I’m still curious to know how many other court files are already sealed. If we don’t even know if (or how many) files are sealed, then there really is no way to request for the files to be unsealed. It’s not like the courts would comply with a FOIA request for a list of “all sealed files,” or would they?

Comments (0)
Candidate forum is tonight, radio debate on September 14

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 9:49 am
The Advertiser reminds everyone of the candidate forum at the Hawaii Theater tonight. The piece also describes the “good questions” expected from the moderators. We’ll see about that.

Bigger question: Is Ryan Ozawa up to another transcription service?

Near the end of the article I saw a reference to an event closer to an actual debate involving the whole crowd:

All 12 candidates also will be appearing at a live radio debate set for 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 14. It can be heard on KHPR, 88.1 FM on O’ahu. A limited amount of seats are available at the Atherton Performing Arts Studio but arrangements must be made with the station, KHPR political reporter Chad Blair said. Those interested should call 955-8821.

Blair said the event is being billed as a debate because candidates will be allowed to respond to previous speakers’ comments within the given time limits.

I’ve been listening to Blair’s reports on mp3, and they are usually quite good (albeit ephemeral on the HPR website…) so I think that radio show could be a meaningful event. Unfortunately, I’ll be going to sea again next Thursday…

Comments (1)
Hirono’s got name, political game, and a few years of rest

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:46 am
Today it is Mazie Hirono who has her turn in the spotlight for an Advertiser profile. She has an impressive background, yet the article includes this counterpoint:

Her detractors are more likely to talk about things she hasn’t done, rather than criticize her track record.

Whether they like her or not, voters tend to know her name, and Hirono is widely considered the candidate to beat in the 10-candidate Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat, where name recognition is expected to be a major factor.

Hirono, a twice-elected lieutenant governor, is aware of this advantage. “A lot of the people in the 2nd Congressional District have seen my name on the ballot multiple times and have voted for me multiple times,” she said.

Nevertheless, she is making a concerted effort to spread her message to all the voters, by way of TV and radio ads, direct mailers, phone calls and getting out into the communities in person.

Hirono says that during her 14 years in the state House, she moved an agenda to aid working people and families, helping to lower automobile insurance premiums and reform the workers’ compensation system.

“My reputation was I was a real fighter ? some people used to call me the “consumer crusader” ? but I had a reputation for being fair, tough but fair, to the people who came before my committee, including the business community,” she said.

However, the business community gave its support to Republican Gov. Linda Lingle during the 2002 election, when Hirono became the first Democrat in 40 years to lose a race for the top state seat.

Some observers speculate that if she wins the primary election, she could lose this U.S. House seat to a Republican, as well.

The Democratic hold in the 2nd Congressional District is considered tenuous enough for the National Republican Party to include it on the list of those it has a fair chance of turning.

“Some observers speculate?” Sure, a Democrat could lose to a Republican, and the RNC will of course consider an open seat to be a fair chance for victory, but please. I have little doubt that Hirono would tower over (figuratively, definitely not literally, haha) either Hogue or Kawananakoa if she advances to the General Election. I would not say the same about the lesser-known Democrats facing Hirono.

Comments (0)
9/6/2006

Matsunaga has name, drive to sit in Congress

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 6:49 am
I am going to sea again for a half-day of equipment testing, so I don’t have a lot of time for blogging. So, to be quick, there is a profile of Matt Matsunaga (website) and his campaign to win the Democratic Party nomination for the 2nd Congressional District.

Matsunaga is pretty thin on specifics in his comments for this particular article (he was better, if a bit robotic, at the cadidate forum I went to last week), and a few of his former State Sentate colleagues pay him lip service. The article notes that Matsunaga has name recognition (as the son of a former U.S. Senator and as a candidate for Lt. Governor), but the Advertiser profile doesn’t give the readers very much reason to look beyond that factor. It might be enough, but I doubt it.

Meanwhile, in other news from the race for that Congress seat, Thursday night there will be a televised candidate forum from Hawaii Theater (mentioned earlier). The SB has a rather snarky article which is subtly derisive of the fact that voters will see, at most, two minutes of each candidate…

Tomorrow’s event is scheduled to have the 12 candidates fielding questions from a panel of four moderators. The 10 Democrats will be divided up, by random drawing, into one group of four and two groups of three, and the two Republicans will comprise their own group.

The groups will be brought on stage one at a time, with the speaking order to be determined by random draw. The first candidate in each group will be asked a question and have 90 seconds to respond. The candidates then rotate until each one in the group has answered three questions. After all candidates in a group have answered three questions, each will have 30 seconds to address any topic.

Questions will not be provided in advance.

The format is pathetic, but what else can they do, short of making the program several hours long?

“We wanted to sponsor this forum to help voters learn more about the candidates vying for this important seat,” said Kyle Chock, executive director of the Pacific Resource Partnership, which is sponsoring the forum. The partnership was formed in 1987 to promote union carpentry and secure work for its contractors.

Chock said he asked organizers to solicit questions from students who live in the 2nd Congressional District. Students also will make up a large contingent of the theater audience, he said. The event is by invitation only.

“Looking at Hawaii’s dismal voter turnout,” Chock said, “we felt like we needed to do something to engage the next generation of voters to be a part of the process and not be so disconnected from the important decisions that are being made.”

Sorry, but I’m not confident that this event is going to help the next generation (or, for that matter, the present generation) of voters to (re)connect with the voting process. It’s an interesting contrast that the Senate event was sponsored by AARP and gave a voice to older voters, and this House event speaks to the younger people who can’t even vote yet. I’ll be curious to see if the questions skew to “youth” issues tomorrow, and how the candidates will try to redirect those topics to things that people of voting age might care more about.

Any guesses if we’ll see any one-on-one televised debates for the General Election? The consensus view is that these contests will be decided in the primary.

Comments (2)
“Cooperative Conservation” event tomorrow

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 6:48 am
I noticed a Hawaii Reporter post heralding a meeting tomorrow in Honolulu to discuss “cooperative conservation.”

Hmmm. File this in the same category as “compassionate conservatism,” I reckon. The post was supplied by the Save Our Species Alliance, an astroturf industry group that is actually hostile to certain environmental protection laws.

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Jim Connaughton will bring the Bush administration’s “cooperative conservation” listening tour to Honolulu Thursday, Sept. 7, in a public meeting to be held at 9 a.m. in the Neal s. Blaisdell Center’s Pikake Room.

The tour is designed to gather input from local residents regarding efforts they feel would improve conservation efforts and make them friendlier to property owners.

——–

Replacing the current law’s arbitrary critical habitat mandates with provisions that allow more fully for cooperative conservation efforts between federal and local governments and landowners would be a giant step toward improving species’ recovery while respecting property rights.

Color me skeptical. Hopefully the local media will give this event some coverage and will provide a bit of context.

Comments (0)
9/5/2006

Further discussion about our “complicated” voting process

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:44 am
The SB editorializes today about the likelihood of spoiled absentee ballots. It’s a hot topic suddenly, isn’t it?

The mistakes may become more common in this primary election because of two high-profile races on opposite sides. Many Republicans may wish to cast votes in the GOP race in the 2nd Congressional District for either state Sen. Bob Hogue or Quentin Kawananakoa, then in the Democratic Senate contest between incumbent Sen. Dan Akaka and Rep. Ed Case.

The winner in the Akaka-Case primary will not face serious opposition in the November general election. Case, a moderate who appeals to many Republicans, is hoping they will vote purple, but jumping back and forth is disallowed and such a ballot will be tossed into the trash.

Returning to that Supreme Court ruling I linked to yesterday, I still wonder why Hawaii has “open” primary contests.

Proposistion 198 [California’s open primary law] forces [parties] to adulterate their candidate-selection process–a political party’s basic function–by opening it up to persons wholly unaffiliated with the party, who may have different views from the party. Such forced association has the likely outcome–indeed, it is Proposition 198’s intended outcome–of changing the parties’ message. Because there is no heavier burden on a political party’s associational freedom, Proposition 198 is unconstitutional unless it is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.

(b) None of [California’s] seven proffered state interests–producing elected officials who better represent the electorate, expanding candidate debate beyond the scope of partisan concerns, ensuring that disenfranchised persons enjoy the right to an effective vote, promoting fairness, affording voters greater choice, increasing voter participation, and protecting privacy–is a compelling interest justifying California’s intrusion into the parties’ associational rights.

So, why is it (other than the fact that nobody has challenged the law) that Hawaii law allows me to choose any party ballot, without regard for my party membership? For that matter, if party membership is irrelevant and if the Hawaii law is meant to further the same state interests as California proffered, then why are Hawaii voters limited to casting only one party ballot in the primary election? By voting in every contested party primary couldn’t I further all of those state interests even more?

It’s wacky.

Meanwhile, there is an op-ed in the Advertiser today by Jeff Merz about absentee voting. I did a post on the topic recently, but Merz covers some new ground.

The notion behind absentee voting says, “I will vote when it fits into my schedule, regardless of the stage of the campaign, outcome of debates and issues that arise up to election day.”

While many (arguably most) aspects of our life can benefit from efficiencies and expediency, voting is not, and should not, be one of them. An informed vote requires a bit of research and personal use of your mental bandwith, especially in this day of sound bites, wedge politics, spin and slick candidate packaging.

An informed, passionate voter is not put off by the “inefficiency” of the voting process. If absentee voting results in higher voter rolls and a better-informed, passionate average voter, and thus a better government, then I am all for it. If it doesn’t, then I am against it.

And in the absence of any conclusive information to the contrary, I have to believe a smaller number of informed voters is better for democracy than a large number of mostly uninformed voters, because those elected to office will be of higher quality and will perform better for the common good.

Are countries or states where voter turnout is high, any better “governed” or “represented” than those with low voter turnouts? Do those from low voter turnout areas or countries feel more “disenfranchised” or more prone to unresponsive, corrupt politicians? Should voting, be the ultimate virtuous end in itself? If so, why? Finland, Turkey, Iceland and Italy, just to mention a few, all have much higher voter turnout than the United States. Are their governments “better”? Ultimately, is there a correlation between voter turnout and good governance?

Reminds me of a joke: “Remind all of your stupid friends to vote… on the first Wednesday in November!”

The op-ed has the kernel of an interesting Political Science paper, but the unanswered questions are huge. The biggest omission being the lack of a proposed definition for “good governance.” One answer is clear to me, though: should voting “be the ultimate virtuous end in itself?” Absolutely not.

Comments (5)
Schatz wants to take it to next level

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:41 am
The latest Advertiser profile in the on-going series about the candidates for Congress is about Brian Schatz. Schatz reminds me regularly that he reads this blog, so that’s a point in his favor. Heh. (To be fair, Gary Hooser is a regular reader, too, but I don’t know him as well since he works “downstairs.”)

Of all the young legislators I’ve seen, Schatz has been the most impressive in articulating (and advancing) his ideas. Many of the older legislators seem to be going through the motions of legislating, but I get the impression the Schatz is anything but lazy or uninterested. Unlike the other youngsters, however, Schatz is not being earnest just out of youthful zeal or ego. From time to time Schatz gets downright wonky, which may turn off some people, but I find it reassuring. Schatz was cast off into multiple-vice-chairmanship purgatory (which, when the rubber hits the road, is as much a punishment for his staff as for him) after being a part of the failed leadership change. He soldiered on, however. For a man officially not part of leadership, Schatz still manages to get things done.

I can’t abide by the Blackberry, though. I don’t even use a cellular telephone.

Comments (1)
9/4/2006

Here she is

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 3:20 pm

Wait state

Originally uploaded by poinographer.
I’ve decided to call her Perl.

It sounds like a normal name, but it has fun computer geek and nautical subtexts. Sorry for the crappy photos, but they are products of the iSight built-in camera on the MacBook.

Comments (3)
Spoiled absentee ballots likely

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:03 am
It seems no matter how clear the directions might be, many absentee voters who don’t understand and/or do not follow the directions will still spoil their ballot. A shocker, I know, but that’s the gist of this SB article. As we say in the computer geek world, “RTFM.”

Glen Takahashi, city elections administrator, said absentee voters have found their way to the city clerk’s office because they have called requesting replacement ballots. He also emphasizes to read all the directions first.

“I think a lot of people want to get straight to the ballot. They start marking in, and then they look at the instructions and go, ‘Oh, wait a second,’” Takahashi said. “Then they discovered that they voted in every single color, and they realize that they made a mistake.”

Another factor complicating the absentee voter process in the primary is two races with a lot of interest.

I won’t hold my breath to see it, but someone would do well to research and report about why/how it was that Hawaii adopted an open primary election format (instead of having each particular party conduct an internal vote to select its candidate for the general election). This would be especially interesting since the federal courts have recently been ruling against other forms of open primaries as violations of “free association” rights. (Mahalo to reader Steve Laudig for the link to that ruling. See also this 2000 SCOTUS ruling)

Comments (0)
No Lieberamn-like independent option in Hawaii

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:59 am
Quick one: the SB has a brief AP story that rules out the kind of thing I was musing about last week.

If a candidate files as a member of a political party, he may not choose later to switch to an independent, said Rex Quidilla, the state’s voting services coordinator. Nonpartisan candidates must declare their independence at the filing deadline.

“The process doesn’t open up a vacancy to run again,” Quidilla said. “The Lieberman case wouldn’t apply to Hawaii.”

So, come September 23, either Akaka or Case will be tossed out of the “candidate for elected office” universe for at least two years.

Comments (1)
9/3/2006

Now, how to name a dog…

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 3:57 pm
Hooray!

I’ve got a new four-legged co-editor! Less than 2 years old, female, short brownish hair, chihuahua + ?? She seems to be crate trained already, too, which is a big relief.

She was a stray when the HHS picked her up, so now I need to come up with a name less saccharine than the placeholder they assigned, “Twinkle.” Some might say that it’s a sign that I’m not completely secure in my masculinity, but that name won’t do, haha.

Lucky for you folks that I don’t own a digital camera, because that will spare you from the gratuitous pics. The MacBook does have a built-in camera, though, so maybe I will arrange for a crude portrait at some point…

I’m so stoked.

Comments (5)
My thoughts are elsewhere

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 8:08 am
Sorry, no political posts today. Instead, I’m going to spend some time visiting a few dogs that are offered for adoption. There were not many articles that caught my eye today anyway, so, rather than write a few meandering posts while thinking about dogs, I will just give the blog a day off.

I looked at a great little dog last weekend, but she was just too yappy and excitable to pass muster with the landlord. One of the dogs on the card today is described as “shy,” which may or may not mean quiet…

While I’m on the subject, if any of you folks know of a healthy, small (up to 15 pounds fully-grown) female dog who needs a home, please leave me a comment. I’m not looking for a puppy, because housebreaking training will not fit my work schedule. This dog will get plenty of walks and my undivided (bachelor) attention, I can assure you.

Comments (2)
9/2/2006

OHA looks at a new KGMB deal wth Heftel

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 9:19 am
After being shelved in another form, aother variation of the idea that would have OHA purchase KGMB is facing rough sailing, according to this Advertiser article that describes the possible partnership with Cec Heftel.

In early July, the full OHA board rejected a proposal that would have had OHA administrative staff begin studying legal issues involved in OHA buying the station on its own.

Several board members tried to move the proposal through again at a Monday meeting but failed to muster enough votes.

The Heftel partnership would be “sort of a variation on the theme we talked about earlier except that we would be at arm’s length so that there would be no hint of a conflict of interest in terms of OHA owning a TV station,” Carpenter said.

“We would not really own that. We would probably own the real estate under it and maybe look at having a partnership interest, that kind of thing.”

[Trustee] Carpenter said owning the site would give OHA the option of developing the land, which has an assessed value of about $6 million. A private appraisal valued the property at about $10 million.

Huh? Why would Heftel want to partner with OHA if they are interested in developing the land (which, on first hearing, would likey displace the television station)? Well, I suppose the idea would be for another high-rise condominium like those sitting on top of the KHON and KITV studios. Somehow I wouldn’t expect the KGMB project wouldl feature affordable housing, either.

I’m also having trouble seeing how this arrangement would do much beside obfuscate the “free press” concerns that came up in July.

Comments (0)
WAYYY off Broadway

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 9:17 am
The SB tries to describe a bizarre shouting match at a recent Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board meeting. The police were called, the meeting ajurned, and then a follow-on dispute continued … at Zippy’s.

What a clown show!

As per usual, chair Maeda Timson was invovled in this unfortunate event turned farce. A testifier became upset and was called out of order; then a verbal confrontation ensued between the testifier and a members of the audience. Timson adjurned the meeting, and the police dispersed the crowd. But it did not end there. We don’t know what words were said at Zippy’s, but at that point it was no longer the testifier arguing with a member of the audience, it was Timson and the testifier. The police were called again. Sorry, but at that point it became a farce.

Some board members and others who follow the board said clashing personalities, factions on the board and many hot-button issues in the area create clashes.

Neighborhood Commission Executive Secretary Joan Manke said there is a review under way of the Neighborhood Plan, the rules of the neighborhood board system.

“Under the present plan, under ‘order and decorum,’ it says you should avoid abusive language and personalities and these kinds of issues, but it doesn’t have enough teeth to say what will happen if you don’t follow it. There’s no consequence,” Manke said.

Well, this type of reporting (and blogging) is a consequence. Other boards have factions and face hot-button issues yet other boards don’t end up calling the police. (Or do they?)

Comments (8)
9/1/2006

Case rhetorically beats Akaka in a yawner

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 5:08 pm
Courtesy of Ryan Ozawa, late last night there was already a transcript of the Akaka/Case KHET joint appearance. I appreciate the amount of effort that took, but (to be a nitpicker) the transcript could sure use more paragraph breaks to make it easier to read. While I’m praising him, Ryan’s post-debate, post-transcribing analysis at HawaiiThreads is also worth a look. I did not watch the debate; I went sailing yesterday evening instead. (Yet another reason why I prefer being an amateur blogger, haha) Judging solely by the transcript and the print coverage today, it does not seem like I missed very much.

Case’s concluding 3-minute speech, and here I’m assuming that people were still watching and paying attention after an hour of low drama (and I’m also assuming that Case delivered it well), should have been convincing to a truly undecided voter—especially to those undecided voters not formally members of the Democratic Party. Nothing from Akaka really stands out as especially well-argued, in my opinion.

Other than that concluding speech, however, I didn’t find much that would have sent an undecided voter (or a person leaning to Case) running to Akaka, nor much to send that voter running away from Case. The question is: how many truly undecided voters were watching?

Comments (1)
Party, shmarty in District 15 race

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 5:08 pm
Sorry, but I am a bit late to notice this Sunday story from the Garden Island News about the candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination in House District 15 on Kauai (an open seat). Upon his retirement Representative Kanoho (a Democrat) endorsed James Tokioka. Tokioka will face Linda Estes on September 23. The winner will face Ron Agor.

A lifelong Democrat, Estes said she has become increasingly upset with the Bush administration and a Congress dominated by Republican legislators. Their agenda, she says, hurts the working people, the elderly and the poor.

Their record on protecting the environment is equally poor, she said.

That?s why Tokioka?s decision to leave the Democratic Party in favor of the Republican Party nearly floored her, she said.

?So when the Democratic representative of District 15 announced his retirement and endorsed a Republican who had supported Bush but was willing to change his registration to run in the Democratic primary, I was offended,? Estes said. ?I don?t think that you can adopt the values of the Democratic Party simply by changing your registration in order to enhance your chances of being elected.?

?She is about negative campaigning, and I am about positive campaigning,? Tokioka countered.

Tokioka said his political views have changed and evolved, and he joined the Democrats because the party?s goals are in line with his own.

Estes said she wrote letters to The Garden Island about Tokioka?s decision to change parties, calling it a ?good old boy political deal? to enhance his chances at winning the legislative seat.

?The Democratic voters of District 15 would not accept a Republican masquerading as a Democrat as their candidate in the general election,? she said.

[cough]

This theme came up earlier in the week with a few reader comments regarding Case’s endorsement of Lieberman. Political parties have no effective means to judge the motives/ideology of their members, and almost no history of trying to police that arena. With that in mind, when Tokioka says “the party’s goals are in line with his own,” that speaks volumes. Since the meaning of party membership has been so diluted that they are now hardly more than a label or brandname to be self-applied by a person anywhere on the political spectrum, when it comes right down to it the goal of the party is to win the seat, and the goal of Tokioka … is to win the seat. Nice.

Estes is not only person whose outrage compels her to oppose Tokioka . Tokioka’s party switch is also what motivated the Kauai County GOP chair, Ron Agor, to register as the Republican candidate against Tokioka.

If Tokioka wins the primary, then that would make for an intriguing General Election contest, to say the least.

Comments (0)
The latest anti-prostitution futility?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 5:08 pm
After a recent flurry of articles in the Honolulu papers about prostitution Downtown, today there is an Advertiser editorial that suggests a legislative remedy:

If there’s a real desire to crack down on prostitution then it’s time to have serious discussions about strengthening our prostitution laws.

State law pegs prostitution a “petty misdemeanor.” That makes it the most minor of minor offenses where penalties are too-often dismissed as “the cost of doing business.”

Prostitution is far from a “victimless crime,” and often is part of more serious criminal activities. We should consider tougher laws that go after both sides of the transaction, from the pimps and prostitutes, to the johns who patronize them.

As the editorial notes in its introduction, prostitution isn’t going away.

But, if the goal is to reduce prostitution, is there much evidence that tougher laws will work? Earlier in the week some of the articles mentioned “John’s Schools” where, in order to avoid a harsher punishment, first-time offenders are educated/shamed by experts on the topic over the course of a few days in a classroom. Does that show any effect in reducing prostitution? Raising penalties for the prostitutes would definitely be factored into the “costs of business,” but I don’t think it would have any long-term effect. Prices for “dates” would probably increase, maybe a few women would move from walking the streets to escort services or hostess bars, but the higher prices and the undiminished demand would also attract more women to the trade (if you are a believer in the “iron logic” of the free market, that is).

Cynically speaking, the long-term hopes even for simply reducing prostitution are not good, so these responses are probably as good as any other…

Comments (0)
Campaign website mentioned under official letterhead = ethics violation

Filed under:
General
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 5:07 pm
I was tipped by Hunter Bishop who spotted the story (in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and the West Hawaii Today) about Hawaii County Councilmember Gary Safarik being fined for referring people to his campaign website in a mailing sent at government expense. Safarik had to reimburse the cost of the mailing. It was reported to the County Ethics Board by his current and former political opponents, Kaniu Kinimaka-Stocksdale and Norman Olesen.

In an interesting twist to how these stories usually go, it seems that the woman who reported the violation will suffer more political damage than Safarik (who promptly paid, actually overpaid, the County for the postage and acknowledged his violation). That is because these stories gave Safarik two opportunities to remind voters that Kinimaka-Stocksdale was involved in a small 2001 scandal involving the Superintendent of Education. In that situation Kinimaka-Scotsdale was found to have improperly received a $600,000 contract for work that she was found unqualified to provide. Safarik’s violation had him returning $250, since the entire mailing was not sent, in the end the County only billed Safarik for $125. Heh.

Also, to rub salt in Kinimaka-Scotsdale’s wound, the H T-H article actually includes the offending link!

Comments (1)
Another open House seat draws a crowd

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 5:07 pm
The Advertiser has a story that introduces the 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans registered in the race for House Disctrict 11 on Maui. Forgive me, but I really don’t have a lot to say about this article or this contest right now, but I wanted to at least bring it to your attention.

I know that I have a fair number of readers on Maui, so maybe they could leave some comments to provide more insight on this? Please step up.

Comments (1)
The candidate some people remember every time they fuel up

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 5:07 pm
Today the Advertiser profiles Ron Menor, currently a State Senator, but running for Congress among the big crowd of District 2 candidates.

The article presents a rather impressive list of Menor’s legislative accomplishments, but (properly) concludes:

Whether Menor makes it to Congress on the second try could come down to public sentiment on the gasoline caps. In general, consumer groups hailed the gasoline price regulations, which were simultaneously panned by economists and the oil industry.

The debate over whether to suspend the caps ultimately exposed differences within the Democratic Party, with the House in particular pushing to end the program. In one tense hearing, Menor and state Rep. Kirk Caldwell, D-24th (Manoa), who helped lead the charge against the law, faced off for about 40 minutes on the merits of the caps.

Despite their disagreements, Caldwell credited Menor for a sound defense of the caps.

“I think it was one of the high points of my four years in the Legislature,” Caldwell said. “We had a good debate going back and forth. That is what the people who elected us want to see ? a good discussion based on strong arguments.”

With no industry transparency to demonstrate to consumers that the gasoline price cap law is (or is not) worth reinstating, Menor’s chances hang on the pretty thin rope of what each voter’s best guess/opinion is. It essentially doesn’t matter what his “other” campaign themes are, this single issue defines Menor. That’s not enough to win in this crowded field.

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