Poinography!

January 10, 2009

Poinography October 2006 archive

Filed under: — Doug @ 2:10 pm

Poinography!

10/31/2006

Desperately seeking “Mr. Legislature”

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:58 am
There are a so many articles today profiling various races that I suggest that you simply look at any of the local papers today and you’ll probably find at least one from each source. I’m not going to try to comment on all of them!

I will briefly comment on this Maui News story about the 10th House District, however, because it allows me to follow up on an earlier snarky post about Angus McKelvey. Plus, it has this great quote:

“I?m not saying I?m Mr. Legislature or anything, but I have worked in the system, and I know it,” McKelvey said.

Which begs the question: who is Mr. (or Ms.) Legislature? Sound off now, please, Dear Readers!

Seriously, though, in the earlier post I did not know very much about McKelvey and there was some question raised regarding his status as a Democrat. That Maui Time Weekly column from April seemed to imply that he is running as a “Democrat” only because a prominent Republican was already running for the seat (and, apparently to further that insinuation, revealed that McKelvey’s mother had served as a campaign manager for another Republican). Or maybe the point was that if that Republican and McKelvey had won in the primary (in fact, a different Republican won) there would be no “real” Democrat on the ticket. I dunno.

Anyway, after reading about McKelvey’s lege experience in general terms via the Maui News today, I found some more detail in an interview with McKelvey at the Hawaii Political Watch blog, where McKelvey explains that he worked for State Senators Chang, McCartney, and Solomon in the 1990s. Those are Democrats, of course. [For a change, I’ll spare you another dissertation about what party membership means…]

META: There does not seem to be any Republicans among those interviewed at HEW. Is that by design?

UPDATE: There are a two Republican interviews that I overlooked: Tracy Okubo and Norm Robert.

Comments (5)
Rail option favored

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 9:57 am
As expected, the Hannemann administration has submitted an Alternatives Analysis document (PDF, 127 pages) to the Honolulu City Council that recommends the “fixed guideway” alternative. The Advertiser has two stories about it (here and here) and the SB has an article, too.

The biggest political implication from the report is that the costs seem likely to exceed the amount of revenue the GET surcharge will provide. In response, the Mayor made some vague comments about public-private partnership, but he does not explain just how that would work. At this point nobody (not the Mayor, not the Council, not the Lege, and not the Governor) is talking about authorizing another GET surcharge. The other political football is the question of the length of the route, which obviously impacts the construction and engineering costs—not to mention the efficacy (and the public’s opinion) of the system.

Given the complexity of the issue and the political risks involved, I don’t have much expectation that this mass transit debate will proceed very far past the “locally preferred alternative” phase—if it even makes it that far. If the federal government is paying any attention, then I suspect they will have some serious questions as to the commitment of Honolul to getting it done correctly. Why would they direct limited federal money to a truncated system with a limited source of funding if other cities are more aggressive and enthusiastic? Honolulu’s only hope is that every other suitor is equally stymied.

Comments (2)
10/30/2006

Influence of Lingle’s ‘attitudinal change’ disputed

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:34 am
Borreca has a story today that strongly challenges Governor Lingle’s assertion that her administration has led a revival of Hawaii’s economy. The piece does not quote even one source that agrees with Lingle’s assessment. For example:

Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization and a UH economics professor, says that Hawaii’s economy reflects national and international decisions, not local government.

Neither Lingle nor Cayetano before her can take credit for the Hawaii economy, Bonham says.

“The external factors – such as strength of the U.S. economy, declining interest rates, offshore investment in Hawaii real estate and of course, tourism and military – are simply too large and move in their own direction,” Bonham said.

“Lingle-Aiona cannot be totally justified in claiming credit for the robust economy. What exactly has government done that spurred construction of residential housing, primarily on the neighbor islands, the surge in U.S. visitors and the growing military presence?” Bonham asks.

Lingle says her administration forced an “attitudinal change” in state government and that is helping the business climate.

“There is a new respect and admiration for business,” she said. “We have created an open-door policy and the Department of Labor has created a more collaborative policy.

“For instance, you see that workers’ comp insurance rates are coming down. That is because, instead of OSHA being punitive, businesses are coming in to be prepared for their safety plans,” Lingle said.

Wha? The example Lingle cites is outside of her control (OSHA is a federal agency, is it not?).

Her administration, Lingle says, cut fees and assessment, saving business $21 million in three years while new employment programs helped welfare recipients get jobs.

$21 million is, compared to the multi-billion dollar size of the Hawaii economy, not going to have any significant effect. Even though it is good news, it’s also quite a stretch to pin the strength of our economy on recently-employed former welfare recipients.

[Lingle] claims personal income grew 8 percent; the gross state product expanded 4.8 percent; 60,000 new jobs were created; nearly 7.5 million tourists came here last year; and Hawaii’s bond ratings are all up.

Again, that’s great, but what did the Governor do to influence those outcomes? (To be fair, any legislator who tries to take credit for macro-economic performance is on equally-shaky ground.)

The Iwase campaign has to be hoping that the voters consider this article very carefully… and wishing that they had enough campaign money to help spread the word.

Comments (2)
Who are the Hawaii milbloggers?

Filed under:
General
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:31 am
An interesting AP story appears in the Advertiser today that describes how the military monitors troops who maintain blogs while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and even those who blog here at home.

I’m glad they ran the story, but it seems pretty obvious that they missed an opportunity to add a local angle. The Advertiser had a blog (of sorts) from Representative Tamayo while she was deployed, and I have a link in my blogroll to a Hawaii-based submariner who blogs, but surely there must be other blogs from Hawaii-based soldiers or Marines currently deployed. It would have been very cool if the Advertiser could have dug up a few well-written examples and provided links. Especially since the AP article even suggests where anyone could conduct such a search.

Oh well.

Comments (0)
ConAm radio debate airs tonight

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 8:31 am
I am glad that I noticed this item in the SB today:

Confused by all those amendments to the state Constitution?

Hawaii Public Radio is sponsoring a one-hour live debate on the three of the five amendments tonight from 7 to 8.

The debate will focus on Question One, regarding the appointment of University of Hawaii regents, Question Three, on the mandatory retirement age for judges, and Question Four, which defines continuous sexual assault crimes against minors.

Panelists include Mark Bennett, attorney general; Peter Carlisle, city prosecutor; Susan Arnett, deputy public defender; Jon Van Dyke, UH law professor; Frank Boas, UH Foundation; and Kitty Lagareta, chairwoman of the Board of Regents.

The debate will also be featured on the HPR Web site, www.hawaiipublicradio.org, and will be hosted by Chad Blair, public radio political reporter.

I’m consistently impressed with Blair’s work. It’s a shame that they take his reports down after only one week online. What’s up with that? I can understand why HPR might not be able to archive the non-local shows (i.e. shows from NPR, PRI, WBEZ, etc) due to copyright restrictions or what have you, but Blair’s show is produced by HPR. Weird.

Comments (1)
No ‘Mardi Gras of the Pacific’ this year?

Filed under:
General
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:31 am
This is not about politics, but I spent yesterday afternoon gathering things for my Halloween costume, so I am in the mood to point out this letter to the Maui News editor:

It has been reported that the Halloween celebration in Lahaina for 2006 has been changed and that the event is now to be primarily, if not totally, for the keiki. It is no longer to be billed as the ?Mardi Gras of the Pacific,? any risque costumes are uninvited and the majority of the bands that were scheduled to play were also uninvited to participate. We are told that this occurred because of a few complaints about the ?adult? aspects of the event and, perhaps, because Lahaina is a historic site.

This really sucks, if it is true. I hope that the letter overstates the case (an earlier letter only mentions that some samba dancers won’t be there this year), and I don’t think the hardcore revelers known to attend are going to throttle back if/because the billing is changed. I’ve never been to Lahaina for Halloween, but it’s on my “some day” list.

Comments (1)
10/29/2006

Tilting at taggers

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 10:25 am
The Advertiser has a story and a column today on the topic of graffiti. The column is interesting insofar as Platte admits to trying to stir up outrage without motivating more graffiti, which is an impossible task.

One of my key concerns was how to get readers as riled up as I was over this problem. I know that taggers crave publicity, and if we were to place numerous photos of graffiti in the paper or online, we’d be showcasing their work and encouraging more of the same. On the other hand, you can’t work up much outrage over something you can’t see. The more you are inundated with the offensive images, the more you are likely to respond.

…and the larger the public response, the more likely it becomes that graffiti will proliferate. I think the motivation of any individual tagger is at least as much the reaction as the vandalism. Nevertheless, Mr. Platte encourages readers to get involved:

As we continue to shine a spotlight on the problem, we hope you might help with your ideas, your story suggestions and perhaps your time as volunteers to help make Hawai’i a little more beautiful. I’m anxious to hear from you. Visit honoluluadvertiser.com and click on the “Community Conversation” headline under the “Graffiti” feature.

As I write this, there is only one response posted. Meanwhile, in the article we find a few suggestions from politicians about how to respond to graffiti. First, education:

Rep. Rida Cabanilla said she’d like to see graffiti addressed in classrooms. Graffiti-related education could include student discussion of penalties and environmental impact, Cabanilla said.

“They need to know what’s [sic] the consequences.”

One unmentioned consequence to this plan is that suddenly educators will be telling the taggers’ peers just how awful they are. To a rebellious person, this is not a bad thing and only adds to the allure of the act.

Next, graffiti parks and spray paint regulation:

Cabanilla suggested identification be required when purchasing spray paint, and the establishment of a graffiti park. The ID requirement could also limit the number of cans sold to individuals, and parents could be required to purchase paint for underage children, she said.

The park would serve as a place where the state could set up a canvas for people to express themselves. Noting that a park project has reportedly reduced problems in Canada, she said, “at least it’s contained in one place.”

Restricting the sale of spray paint appears to me as the most logical way to make it more difficult for taggers to function, but the graffiti park idea is dubious. First, where would the parks be? Taggers want their work to be seen and often prefer to work in their own community, so you can’t expect them to be satisfied by some secluded wall that is not easily visible (and accessible) to both the intended audience and to the tagger. On the other hand, if the government cedes higher-profile surfaces to the taggers, then what would really have been accomplished?

Finally, Councilmember Djou has a few enforcement suggestions:

City Councilman Charles Djou proposed a similar project, but also suggested stepping up enforcement efforts with mobile cameras and a graffiti bounty for individuals who identify painters or their work.

Djou said the city expects to soon obtain a test camera. He said the bounty would be similar to what’s done with CrimeStoppers, but it would not require an arrest and conviction for the tipster to collect money. The purpose of the bounty would be to build a portfolio about offenders and their vandalism, he said.

Mobile cameras? Well, that might catch a few (of the more clumsy) taggers in the act, but it would not be logistically easy, nor cheap, nor very efficient. A bounty for simply reporting graffiti could be a nice form of income for taggers looking for money to buy more paint. Heh.

Anecdote time: Last month as I was paying a speeding violation I noticed that on the walls next to many of the cashier windows there was graffiti, i.e. inside the Kaneohe Courthouse itself. This despite the fact that there was a uniformed security guard in the area and surveillance cameras. Unarguably anti-social behavior, but that took some fair amount of courage to pull off.

Taggers, much like prostitutes, will not go quietly into the night, because graffiti serves to fulfill an ineradicable urge found in every urban setting through history. Yawn.

Comments (0)
A new House Speaker?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:25 am
Among a burst of election-related articles in a special SB insert today, I will focus on this piece about the Legislature. The whole section is worth a look, though.

But whether [Speaker] Say, who successfully withstood a leadership challenge two years ago, keeps the top spot in the House could depend on who wins several contested House races, since a number of his supporters are retiring from office and Republicans could pick up a seat or two.

Now that’s interesting, we have heard about these leadership woes earlier, but let’s think specifically about the House for a moment. It’s reckless, for sure, to presume that all the incumbents are going to win, but it’s safer than crossing the Pali Highway during morning rush hour. With that in mind:

These Democrats are leaving for sure: Representatives Arakaki, Hale, Harbin (sic), Kanoho, Kawakami, Schatz, and Tanaka.

For all intents and purposes, the House leadership is selected by the Democratic caucus (the Resolution is then unanimously rubber-stamped on the floor opening day), so we can infer that Speaker Say had the support of at least 22 of the 41 Democrats in 2005/6. There is no public record of how the deliberation and voting inside the caucus room proceeds (much less of the byzantine person-to-person lobbying that precedes it), but I’m pretty confident that five of those seven Democrats above were strong supporters of Speaker Say (Schatz and Harbin, I’m assuming, were “less strong”). My hunch is that the 2005 leadership challenge fell short by a larger margin than 22:19, which would give Say a bigger cushion in 2007.

However, I don’t know if the Democrats campaigning to replace those five “loyal” Democrats would or would not support Say. Do you? Furthermore, the seats held by Schatz, Tanaka, Hale and Harbin are likely to be close races. If Republicans were to win all of those seats, and loyalties to Say remain otherwise the same, then Say would need only 19 of the 37 Democrats. But what if Halford’s and/or Stonebraker’s districts go to the Democrat column? It’s hard to know exactly what would be Say’s “magic number.”

As a result, it could be close. Left out of all of this, however, is the question of who would challenge Say. Here again, I have no idea. Do you? Would it be a former (or newly elected) dissident, or a member of the Say regime seeking even more power than Say had previously allocated to him/her?

Comments (7)
10/28/2006

God lowers gasoline prices in time for election

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:40 am
The Advertiser has brief blurb about the falling gasoline prices nationwide, noting that Hawaii still has a higher gap between our prices and mainland prices than we did during the years before the price cap law. However, I also refer you to this letter to the Maui News editors, that offers another angle:

I would like to thank God, President George Bush, Gov. Linda Lingle and Mayor Alan Arakawa for the wonderful reduction of gas prices in the past month.

I went to fill up my wife?s vehicle on Oct. 20 at Maui Oil Co. and gas was only $3.10 per gallon ? a savings of 50 cents a gallon since early August.

I have a great job. I can pay my bills on time; it just doesn?t get any better. God is good, and you can rest assured, Gov. Lingle and Mayor Arakawa, you have my vote and my support.

Som Bilotti

Kihei

Subtle, isn’t (s)he? Now, if the Governor had directed the PUC to spend the $700,000 they have lying around to provide consumers some gasoline pricing transparency, then we could tell just how much thanks we owe to God, the President, the Governor, and the Mayor. Heh.

Everything is relative—I suspect we’re still being screwed.

Bilotti doesn’t elaborate how politcal or divine(?) intervention lowered gasoline prices, but use your imagination to deduce which of the two mechanisms is the less plausible. Refiners are no friend of Randall Iwase, and it’s not unreasonable to speculate (especially without any transparency to dispel it) that refiners might be willing to give up a few weeks of extremely heavy price gouging in exchange for “only” heavy gouging; doing so in the hope that voters don’t have this issue fresh in their mind as they fill out their ballots.

Comments (1)
Court halts all Stryker activities, whatever that means

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:39 am
Both Honolulu dailies report that the Army faces a temporary injunction on its Stryker brigade construction, training and activities in Hawaii. The Advertiser piece is here and the SB story is here. The Advertiser also has a letter to the editor from the Earthjustic attorney, David Henkin, here) Both articles quote the latest injunction and the legal argumnets of both sides, but I have not found those documents online (I’m assuming that this is the right place to look, at least for the ruling?).

Now the matter reverts to Judge Ezra here in Hawaii, who will consider exactly what Stryker activity may or may not proceed. My hunch is that Judge Ezra will expedite this, because I’m inferring that nothing will happen until he decides what may proceed. However, given their stance between the October 5 decision and yesterday, I predict the Army might take the opposite tack and presume that everything not prohibited is permitted.

Comments (1)
10/27/2006

Communcation Committee off to a coy start

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 8:26 am
Doug Carlson’s latest post at the CHORE blog laments the fact that the Comprehensive Communications Review Committee is meeting without any public participation and without any media coverage. The Committee was quickly formed in response to the civil defense communication issues exposed by the earthquake and widespread power failure. Unfortunately, one could say that the communication strategy of the Review Committee is less than comprehensive. Heh.

Senior media personnel apparently attended Tuesday?s meeting, yet we?ve found no reporting about it. Was no news made in the meeting? That?s hard to imagine in light of the issues presumably being discussed. Do ground rules prohibit coverage? Again, that seems incomprehensible.

You have to wonder why something as important as this committee?s after-earthquake assessment is being conducted behind closed doors, with no discernable reporting to the public about what?s happening inside.

First, I’d suggest that Carlson review the Sunshine Law. This Committee was created by the Governor and provides an advisory function to the State. If Carlson, or anyone else, would like to attend these meetings, then I see no legal basis that could allow the public to be excluded. Furthermore, there should be advance public notice of the meetings and their agenda, public comment should be acepted, and minutes should be (and should have been) taken. Perhaps the Governor’s office has minutes of the meeting available for public review? Otherwise, next stop is at the OIP for help, I reckon.

Now, moving on to why the media are not covering it. In general, editors prefer to edit the news, not to make the news. This particular issue, however, obviously throws a spanner into that machine since it would require exactly that sort of meta-reporting. Furthermore, there is a risk of the media being unable to objectively report the story once they become an intimate part of it (recall the “embedded” war correspondents). A strange form of willing co-optation could be at play, although I’m sure the members of the Committee would rather describe it in more paternalistic terms.

UPDATE: On October 28, Ian Lind blogs that this committee may not fall under the Sunshine Law, but concedes that the legality and the propriety of not complying are two separate issues.

At the very least, the media participants come away looking like hypocrites, since they are the very people most often touting the need for Sunshine.

Comments (2)
What’s an editorial writer to do?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 8:26 am
I had a chuckle reading this post from Mike Hu’s blog. Hu is a Republican candidate for House District 21 and the post is a response (of sorts) to what appears to be a routine query from Vicky Viotti of the Advertiser editorial page.

Typical of Hu’s posting style, it’s a lengthy, earnest and, quite frankly, odd brain dump. Also true to his usual modus operandi, Hu provides the only comments to his own blog post—including another of his disdainful appraisals of traditional media. Viotti is sure to appreciate that, haha.

I wonder what Viotti will make of it. More to the point, what do the voters of the district think of Hu? If a candidate showed up in front of my door talking like this I would probably react with a lot of polite nodding and grinning in the hopes that he or she would leave. (But, alas, no candidate has ever came to my door…) If you browse around his blog you get the impression that he is confident that his approach can’t fail. The GOP district 21 Chair even writes that Hu may be the “clearest thinker”(?!) in any race. Well, time will tell.

Oh, and since Hu decided to include a link to his presence at Free Republic, an editorial writer (and the voters of his district) might also review Hu’s years of writings there. In addition to his scorn of the mass media, Mr. Hu doesn’t have much aloha for unionism.

Last, Viotti also might have a look at Hu’s “humorous” comment about her colleague, which was made here. Classy, yeah?

Comments (2)
Governor says prepaying Kukui Gardens mortgage would be illegal

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:26 am
The SB has a story about Governor Lingle’s visit to the Kukui Gardens affordable housing complex where she reassured the residents that the State will fight any attempt to remove the property from HUD oversight (which could end the affordable rents). A press release has a bit more detail than the story:

By its own regulations, HUD cannot accept an offer to prepay the mortgage unless certain criteria are met. Under the National Housing Act (12 U.S.C. ?1715z-15), ?the Secretary shall not accept an offer to prepay the mortgage?unless the Secretary has determined that such project is no longer meeting a need for rental housing for lower income families in the area.?

Because the Kukui Gardens development does meet such a need for rental housing for low-income families in the central Honolulu area, the State believes it would be illegal for HUD to allow the prepayment.

?I urge Kukui Gardens Corporation to honor the terms of its regulatory agreement through the bargained for and accepted termination date, and to not seek prepayment, or if it already has, to withdraw such a request for prepayment,? the Governor said in the letter. ?I respectfully urge HUD to reject prepayment both because allowing prepayment would be illegal and because allowing prepayment would represent bad public policy.?

Kukui Gardens was built with financing from the Federal Housing Authority in 1970. Under the terms of the loan, the project must be kept affordable for the life of the mortgage, with oversight by HUD.

Slightly confusing matters, the SB has this:

As of last week, Lingle said a formal request to prepay the mortgage had not been filed with HUD by Kukui Gardens Corp.

HUD is expected to make a decision on the prepayment issue sometime after December.

Why HUD would already be “expected” to make a decision without a formal request having already been filed is hard to figure. Even without a formal request for prepayment, this event and the press release could be seen as not-so-subtle attempts to pre-empt one. Beyond that, the visit also made for a good campaign event…

Comments (1)
10/26/2006

How to steal an election

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:56 am
I will be going to sea again on November 7, so I went to vote yesterday at the Windward Mall polling place. I used the optically scanned ballot, and the whole process took only 5 minutes (with zero time spent standing in line). I almost tried the touchscreen system, but the numerous reports I’ve been reading about (to choose one of many) how to steal an election by hacking the vote have dimmed my weak faith in the integrity of the system. Just yesterday the Legislative Reference Bureau blog had a post that referred to this (PDF) Electionline state-by-state summary of election processes, and it shows much cause for concern.

Hawaii seems to be better positioned than many other states. The touchscreen system used in Hawaii creates a paper audit trail, and the law specifies that the paper ballots (along with the paper optically scanned ballots) are the definitive records used in any recount. The Office of Elections administrative rules (PDF) also appear to be robust, still, after the (occasionally esoteric and technical) studies that I’ve been reading lately, I can’t help but wonder if some devious (or inept) programmer could compromise the integrity of our system using (or facilitating) an unanticipated exploit. Paranoia? We’ll see…

Expanding to the national level, my confidence in the integrity of the election is much less than at the local level. The Electionline report shows that almost one-third of all U.S. states use DRE (direct recording electronic) voting machines without any paper audit trail, which could become a big deal in a year when the control of Congress is being hard-fought by both major parties. Will the results be legit? Nobody can say for sure.

Comments (1)
Kahului harbor may need an EIS after all, as Maui judge weighs media accounts

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:52 am
Citing several newspaper articles, a Maui judge may reconsider his previous decision that set aside a challenge to the environmental review and allowed the Hawaii DOT to proceed with changes at Kahului Harbor to accomodate the Superferry. The Maui News has a story about the latest development:

Waving a copy of the Aug. 22 edition of The Maui News, [Judge August] asked [Deputy Attorney General] Wynhoff about a map that showed how the Harbors Division plans to help Young Brothers continue to move less-than-containerload (LCL) shipments through Pier 2. The map showed changes to accommodate Superferry traffic that would touch Kaahumanu Avenue at two places. [I was unable to find that map at Maui News or the DOT, but the story is here.]

August said he was ?confused? because documents submitted to him did not show any changes to the ?footprint? of the harbor. In particular, the documents submitted to the court don?t show changes likely to create secondary impacts on traffic on ?a main artery.?

The news article appeared to tell a different story, he said.

Also, The Maui News quoted Barry Fukunaga, state deputy transportation director for harbors, as saying the changes were part of a 2030 harbor master plan. August said he had been told about a 2025 plan but not about any 2030 plan.

?It sure smells of (segmentation) to the court,? the judge said.

Segmentation is not allowed in the environmental review process. It refers to breaking up a big project into small bites to get them through the review process by claiming the effects of each segment would be small.

——–

The news story, he said, seemed to show that the state was acquiring new property from Alexander & Baldwin (the Old Kahului Store and the Kahului Railroad building) and planning ?development? beyond the boundary of the harbor.

Wynhoff said he did not know of any development, although he acknowledged that use of public money to buy land would be a ?trigger? for an environmental review.

He said, however, that as far as he knew, those plans were part of the 2030 master plan, for which a review process is to get under way this month.

He said the segmentation issue was not involved because there always will be more changes ahead at the harbor.

August said he had accepted that contention before, but if the news story was accurate ?it significantly changes the court?s evaluation in terms of how removed, if you will, the harbor?s changes are from this claim that it will affect traffic.?

August has set December 7 as the date to discuss this matter and has asked that DOT Director Fukunaga be present at the hearing. This is a small (but potentially large) victory for the Superferry opponents, obviously, and it seems as if the aggressive reporting on the issue by the Maui News was a key to it all.

Comments (0)
10/25/2006

Stryker ruling expected by next Tuesday

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:26 am
Earthjustice attorney David Henkin has asked for an injunction from the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the Army from any further Stryker activities in Hawaii. The Advertiser had a story yesterday, and the SB has an article today. These accounts refer to comments from General Brown of the 2nd Brigade, the Hawaii Army Weekly archive is a javascript concoction without any direct links to stories, but General Brown’s comments are repeated in his letter to the SB editors.

I am not a lawyer, but it seems like the Army interpretation of the ruling (PDF) is that, in remanding the case to the Honolulu district court, the Army was not required to halt Stryker activitiies while a supplemental EIS is pending. However, as far as I know, projects that have not satisfactorily completed the EIS process are not allowed to begin/proceed—i.e. it should not require an explicit injunction to halt activity that has yet to be authorized. Does NEPA have any exceptions spelled out to account for the General’s arguments?

Not providing full training for these soldiers before sending them into combat would be irresponsible and criminal. Separating them from their families for many months to train at an area outside Hawaii and then deploying them for a year in combat would be cruel. Halting the construction of world-class training facilities that will raise combat training standards for all Army soldiers in Hawaii, to include the Hawaii Army National Guard and Army Reserve, would be wasteful of taxpayer dollars and endanger many jobs.

The Army’s new Stryker Brigade Combat Teams have proven to be highly effective in the global war on terror and provide our soldiers greatly improved combat capability and protection. We will continue our efforts to provide the very best equipment and training to our soldiers and sustain America’s Army ready to confront any threat to our country.

We are a nation at war.

So long as the training could be conducted elsewhere, his “cruelty,” military “effectiveness,” and economic impact arguments would not seem to carry much (NEPA) water. Actually, even if the training could only be conducted in Hawaii I’m not sure the NEPA allows for it to go forward before the EIS is complete.

It will be interesting to see if the Ninth Circuit will grant the injunction and then if the Army appeals to the Supreme Court. If an injunction does come down, then perhaps the Army will turn to the “Unitary Executive” and thereby simply ignore the injunction instead of appealing to SCOTUS. Through its hundreds of “signing statements” the Bush administration already routinely ignores the expressed will of Congress, so it’s not that big of a stretch to envision them ignoring the Court in this matter.

Comments (1)
10/24/2006

Too tired

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 5:35 pm
I spent the day unloading the ship, retrieving Perl from the dogsitter, grocery shopping, blah blah blah. I’m just not in the mood to write a post. Lucky you.

Comments (0)
10/23/2006

Green eggs and Hogue

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:02 am
The Advertiser has an article today that focuses on the foreign policy differences between Republican Bob Hogue and Democrat Mazie Hirono. The introduction is a classic:

When it comes to the war in Iraq, 2nd Congressional District candidate Mazie Hirono draws a clear distinction between herself and her Republican opponent, Bob Hogue.

“He clearly supports the president, and I don’t,” she said.

To Hogue, though, that assessment is too simplistic.

“I’m not the president,” he said. “I’m Bob Hogue.”

Heh. In case you did not notice, Hogue’s tautological retort is even more simplistic than Hirono’s.

I was surprised to see that this article characterizes Hogue and Hirono as “agreeing on an issue” regarding North Korea. Just a few days ago I remember seeing an article (in the SB, I think) about North Korea that had Hirono and Abercrombie (and Hough, too, if I recall correctly) differing from Hogue insofar as Hogue was opposed to the United States holding direct talks with North Korea. I should link to that earlier article, but I’m just too busy today and the internet connection is too slow. Sorry.

By the way, do check out Ian Lind’s excellent post for October 23 about the emergency power generation upgrade for Honolulu International Airport. What a piece of work.

Comments (2)
10/22/2006

Coffee comments on his withdrawal

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:58 am
The SB has a letter to the editor from the withdrawn Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Jerry Coffee. In the letter he endorses his annointed replacement, Cynthia Thielen, but does so without falling behind every policy position she takes.

Parts of the letter do not quite pass the smell test, in my opinion:

At my direction, the Hawaii Republican Party immediately called a press conference announcing the suspension of my campaign. Upon my return to Hawaii, thinking that I was now out of the election, I ignored stacks of mail, and most phone messages in order to facilitate my recovery. By the time I opened the letter from the director of elections directing me to submit my written notice of withdrawal along with a confirming letter from my physician, obtaining that letter from Texas, then personally delivering the documents to the Office of Elections before the Sept. 1 deadline, the primary ballots already had been printed and included my name.

I was insistent that no one be misled about my intentions to not run in the general election and, by posting notices at each polling place, the director of elections made that clear.

Like most voters, I was unaware that should I somehow win the primary, in spite of my clear intention to skip the general, state election law allowed the Republican Party to appoint my successor. The governor and the party chose to do so, but I was not a party to that strategy, and, personally, I have reservations about the fairness of that law.

Nevertheless, Cynthia Thielen, the party’s choice – and based upon her years of legislative experience, the people’s choice – has my utmost support.

I believe Coffee when he says that he was focusing on his recovery and was essentially incommunicado. Still, I think Coffee goes overboard when he conflates Thielen’s strong support in one Hawaii House district into what he calls the “people’s choice” in a statewide race.

In the bigger picture, however, I do not believe that no staff member of Coffee’s campaign could have been contacted by the Hawaii Republican Party to expedite the necessary formal withdrawal procedure. Nor do I believe that the leadership of the Hawaii Republican Party shared Coffee’s ignorance of the ramifications of leaving his name on the ballot.

After all the bird-dogging I have been doing, I should note, too, that Coffee writes positively about Thielen’s stance regarding “unqualified success in Iraq and national security.” The stance wherein Thielen suggests the removal of the Secretary of Defense.

I’m still waiting to hear if those who chose Thielen (i.e. the Governor and the Hawaii Republican Party executive committee) knew about Thielen’s apostate opinion on Rumsfeld before they selected her, and I’m still waiting to see if they are willing to publicly comment on that position (either to support’s Thielen’s view or distance themselves from her on that issue).

Comments (0)
10/21/2006

HECCCPO

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:43 am
The pickings were slim today, but I did find this editorial in the SB that says some things similar to what I wrote about the islandwide power outage. The editors conclude:

The public needs further explanation as to why those might b the only options HECO had and why a system can’t be designed to keep at least some power flowing.

The company said the lengthy Oahu blackout was due to the system’s large size and complexity. That’s why its affiliate on Maui, which uses smaller generator units, was able to get back on line more quickly after an islandwide outage there. If smaller is quicker, HECO might consider reducing its system to more manageable and independent units.

Without expertise, it is difficult to assess HECO’s performance. There might be valid reasons why the power grid needs to be interconnected, including cost, existing infrastructure and use of long-standing technology.

HECO is seeking approval of another generating plant and transmission line it says is needed to meet increased demand. Though the proposal is a separate issue, its cost – estimated at $137 million – must be weighed. The Public Utilities Commission and HECO’s customers should be asking whether such a big investment in a plant is worthwhile if reliability is similar to existing ones.

In other words, can HECO do better?

Again, I’m not an expert in electrical grids, but the concept seems to hinge on interconnectivity. Indeed, during normal operation it is (probably) what allows the system to deal with an unevenly dispersed and varying load. Without the interconnectivity the customers of each hypothetical “independent” generating plant could be subject to more frequent outages, especially if (like most infrastructure) the customer is in an area where development has outpaced the capability of the “local” generating plant.

If the existing interconnectivity that results in the continuous reallocation of power from the strong to the needy rubs you the wrong way, well, you might consider the fact that interconnected power grids are built on a premise you may recognize. “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”

With that in mind, one could re-phrase the closing question of the editorial: “What is to be done?”

Okay, enough political science geekery for today. Heh.

The “rugged individualist” conservatives should be all over alternative energy and its alluring possibility of going completely off the “Socialist” electrical power distribution grid, haha.

Comments (4)
10/20/2006

Web viewers get first look at Hirono v. Hogue

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 11:37 am
With this slow internet connection (and without an hour to devote to watching it) I did not even bother trying to find the streaming video of the debate yesterday between Mazie Hirono and Bob Hogue. I’m assuming it’s available for download, if someone wants to leave that link for me, I’d be grateful. The Advertiser has an article about it, and later today the taped version will be played over the air.

As this article suggests, there’s a significant difference between the candidates, so I don’t think there are many voters who will have trouble in deciding how to cast their ballot. That said, as a voter from the district I’d still like to watch the debate when I get home just to see what other topics were included and how the candidates handled themselves.

Now, on to the “bigger” question that I know some of my readers like to focus on: which candidate was less robotic and who had the better hair?

Comments (3)
10/19/2006

Nibbles from Thielen

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:45 am
I may be getting close to some sort of a response regarding Thielen’s views on Iraq and the Hawaii GOP. See comments from her son, David, which are here and here.

Comments (9)
Your headline here

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 11:38 am
Randy Iwase takes a swing at the Lingle administration’s earthquake response, with some help from Congressman Abercrombie (via George Lakoff). From an Advertiser article:

“It’s not a political issue,” [Iwase] said. “We’re here today to point out what’s not going to be pointed out by the administration. … What we’re talking about is, do you feel safe?”

Abercrombie gave a similar explanation: “Earthquakes are no respecters of Republicans or Democrats. Either the government is doing its job or it isn’t. Either you approve of what the government does or you don’t, and that’s a decision that has to be made.”

“Respecters?” I hear echoes of “The Decider,” haha.

Sorry, but this just smacks of desperation. I did not feel “unsafe” on Sunday, I felt “inconvenienced.” These two gentlemen are as guilty of fanning the “be afraid” fire as the GOP is when it comes to the War on Terror. It’s pathetic.

Also pathetic is learning in the SB that Iwase’s running mate, Malama Solomon, has aired television ads featuring Honolulu Advertiser articles that feature an “edited” headline.

The television ads show a montage of Advertiser front pages with three headlines that say, “Iraq War See No End in Sight,” “No Child Left Behind Leaves Many Behind” and “Hawaii’s housing highest in nation.”

The actual headline that was replaced on the Oct. 11 edition of the paper said, “Isle oil companies still scrutiny-free.”

The Iwase-Solomon campaign did not change the story accompanying the headline, but did substitute phony headlines.

Uh, I’d like to compare the two, but I can’t. What were the original headlines and what are the “edited” versions? The October 11 headline from the Advertiser does not seem to match any of the three headlines used in the commercial.

Comments (5)
10/18/2006

Off to sea again

Filed under:
General
Science
Sailing
— Doug @ 6:48 am
Leaving for sea again today, which means a slow connection to the internet and much less time to write for the next week. I’ll do my best, but your comments may sit in the queue longer than normal before I get a chance to approve them. Have patience.

Comments (1)
10/17/2006

Power down, guns up

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:31 am
Both Honolulu dailies have heavy coverage of the scrutiny being applied to HECO due to a half-day power outage on Oahu which was caused by a 12% loss of generating capacity after the earthquake. Fueling the criticism is the fact that HECO says that in shutting off the electricity islandwide an automated self-protection system functioned as designed. Officials also said that if the system had not shut down then the remaining generators could have been damaged.

Maybe the facts will show otherwise, but for now I think this is a case of people (and, of course, politicians) lashing out about something that is always going to be a huge inconvenience. I don’t claim to know how a power grid works (suffice it to say that they are extremely complex), so I was willing to wait for hours to allow them to make sure that the power grid was brought back up in a fully funcitonal condition. In this particular case it may be a good thing that HECO has typically been unresponsive to public opinion, because otherwise HECO may be tempted to change their system so that it will not protect itself the next time a few generators are knocked offline. Hopefully we will avoid a case of “fighting the last war” mentality.

Perhaps the thinly-veiled (and even open) scorn of HECO is indicative of something larger. I didn’t mention this yesterday, but it was striking how quickly my community teetered toward unrest once the power outage carried over into the hours of darkness. Sunset on Sunday was a little after 6 p.m. and by 7 p.m. I was regularly hearing sporadic gunfire (and fireworks, natch) in the Kaneohe area. Most people after a civil defense emergency adhere closely to the “we’re in this together” script, but some people are evidently living so close to the margin that a prolonged power failure seems to call for more drastic measures. …or maybe they just were so bored and frustrated without electricity that they resorted to gunplay?

It’s an ugly warning of sorts. Oahu has not had a direct hit from a large hurricane or tsunami in a long time. Based on Sunday, an event that people had no reason to believe would not be resolved within a day, my hunch is that there will be significant looting and unrest if something truly catastrophic that presented no prospect of a quick recovery were to hit Oahu.

Comments (9)
10/16/2006

Rich with links

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:49 am
This blog earned a mention and a link in this Advertiser story on Sunday—and then an earthquake promptly knocked the whole state offline. So much for attracting many new readers, haha. (Yes, I realize that I’m being obnoxious in noting this.)

As for the article itself, Burris seems to think that online campaigning is as big an advancement as targeted direct mail or biographical campaign films. I’m skeptical. Thankfully, the internet is still a place where the user must proactively seek out information. The emails from Ed Case and Linda Lingle that Burris mentions were a novelty this year, but they were only sent to the media and to people who asked to receive them. So far, Hawaii candidates using the internet seem mostly limited to preaching to the choir. A few candidates managed to rattle their cup for donations at the national-level partisan blogs, but I doubt it will make or break any of the campaigns.

For that matter, I don’t think direct mail or campaign films are really that effective, either. Or maybe that’s just my hoping that they are not. Heh.

Slightly off-topic, but since Burris mentioned Cynthia Thielen’s website I had a look (Thielen’s ersatz blog has been dormant for some time, and still has not approved or answered my comment). On her website there is a mp3 radio spot where she gets a plug from her granddaughter. Just today, I heard a radio ad featuring a retired Democrat singing Thielen’s praises. The interesting thing was that neither ad mentions that Thielen is a Republican, and in the second ad the supporter even mentions that he has voted as a Democrat for a few decades. Pretty slick, no?

Not slick enough, I reckon.

Comments (7)
Aiona suggests we test teachers for drugs

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:48 am
The Advertiser has an editorial today about the Lt. Governor’s response to the recent arrest of a high school special education teacher on charges of distributing methamphetamine.

Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona has been vocal about supporting drug testing for teachers. Currently, there is no DOE policy that requires regular testing, except in “special cases.”

Public safety officials, Aiona points out, are required to undergo drug testing. Teachers should be required to do the same.

“They’re with them six to eight hours a day. They’re surrogate parents to our children. They should they be held to the same standards.”

Huh? Who is “they?” What “same standard;” the standard for parents (i.e. no drug testing) or the standard for public safety officials?

Trying to pursue Aiona’s logic, the parents, who spend 16 to 18 hours a day with the children, should obviously be drug tested before the teachers, right? Let’s face it, there would be far more parents than teachers (or cops) testing positive for methamphetamine use. If parents have “nothing to hide” they should be okay with routine drug testing. The Fourth Amendment is so 18th Century, after all. Or perhaps Aiona meant to imply that the (drug-tested) public safety officials should spend six to eight hours (or more!) a day as surrogate parents, too.

No, it’s pretty clear that teachers are merely the latest gag reflex scapegoat for the LG’s quixotic War on Drugs. As ever, the HSTA is a favorite punching bag and the go-to whipping boy for whatever ails “the children.” It would have been fascinating if this story had broke before thier endorsement for Iwase was made… it will also be interesting to see if/how candidates in down-ticket races sound off on this proposal.

Comments (3)
The other race for Congress

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:48 am
On Sunday the SB ran a profile of the Congressional District 1 contest between Democrat Neil Abercrombie and Republican Richard Hough. The article notes that both men are critical of the GOP, with Abercrombie to the left of Hough, of course.

Hough knows he will lose.

If [Democrats take control of the House], Abercrombie, a member of the Committee on Armed Services and the ranking Democrat on the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, would be in line to become chairman.

“If all the stars line up and that happens, it’s actually going to be good for the country, he said, noting that hearings likely would be conducted on the country’s involvement in Iraq. “The president will not be able to run roughshod over anybody anymore.

“There’s going to be an honest discussion – at least as far as this potential chairman is concerned – because that’s what I intend to do.”

Representative Abercrombie and Senator Inouye have been very persistent (and successful) in fighting for large amounts of military spending to head for Hawaii, so I have my doubts about how agressive that “discussion” would be if Abercrombie were leading it. Naturally, unless the Senate were to change to Democratic control, too, Abercrombie could grandstand in the House and then quietly agree to higher spending during conference committee meetings with the Senate.

Any so-called “peace dividend” would probably be a net economic loss for Hawaii, and I question the extent to which the Hawaii Congressional delegation would be willing to pay up.

Comments (0)
10/15/2006

WOW!

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 7:12 am
Well, that was by far the biggest earthquake I’ve ever felt! Good morning to all of us living in a geologically active zone.

Whew.

UPDATE: A few minutes after I got this post online, all of Oahu lost electrical power. I did not get power restored for 16 hours. A drizzly day of reading and a very early bedtime.

META: If there is a political aftermath, I may write about it, but, unless that happens, “earthquake” is not going to get a lot of play on this blog. Since I didn’t get a chance to write on Sunday, and pretty much everything today is about the earthquake, I’ll use Monday to catch up.

Comments (6)
10/14/2006

A losing day for election challengers of all flavors

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:48 am
House Speaker Calvin Say meets the residency requirements to run as a candidate in Palolo, the Oahu Registration Board ruled yesterday. The Advertiser has a story here and the SB has a piece here. It’s hardly a resounding victory, as the ruling is described as critical of the law and administrative rules:

The board found that although rules for determining residency “are not as clear or straightforward as they could be,” there was no evidence that Say intended to give up the Palolo home, the only one for which he claims a property-tax exemption.

META: Is that ruling online anywhere? I looked around the Office of Elections without any luck.

Moving to the Hawaii Supreme Court, where the SB reports on a few contested election challenges that were rejected by the Court this week. I mentioned these cases earlier, but at the time I did not know these details:

The justices found in separate rulings Wednesday that the allegations raised by candidate Rex Saunders in the District 23 race and nonpartisan gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cunningham would not have changed the outcome of the primary election results in their respective races.

The justices also noted that the relief the candidates sought is not provided for by state law. The only remedy provided by law for primary election irregularities is for the high court to decide which candidate was nominated or elected.

In the House District 23 race, Tom Brower garnered 1,262 votes to Saunders’ 540 votes. Louis Erteschik collected 456 votes.

Saunders had argued that Hawaii’s primary election law violated his federal constitutional rights and allowed Republican Party members to vote for his opponent.

In earlier reporting the basis of Saunders’ challenge was not made clear. I don’t know how serious Saunders is about pursuing this, but since he is claiming his federal constitutional rights were violated then (in my non-lawyer estimation) the next logical step would be for Saunders to appeal to the federal courts. As I wrote (here and here) a few weeks before the primary election, recent Supreme Court rulings might give Saunders a decent chance of prevailing.

Cunningham was among three nonpartisan gubernatorial candidates who did not receive the minimum votes required by law for nonpartisan candidates in the primary election to advance to the general election.

He argued that voters and nonpartisan candidates were “misled” into believing that nonpartisan candidates would advance to the general election because of the designation of the nonpartisan ballot as a “nonpartisan party ballot.”

The case history was totally against Cunningham, but his challenge illustrates the faulty logic behind the way our primary elections are conducted. If we are allowed to vote on any (but only one) party ballot without having to be a member of the party, what purpose does that advance? Presumably (and here I think someone would do well to research the legislative and administrative rule history) the purpose is to favor candidates that make appeals designed to cross party lines and thereby “moderate” the choices in the general election. If that is the purpose, then what is the rationale for eliminating the most popular of the truly non-partisan candidates simply because he or she does not meet an arbitrary vote threshold?

Comments (2)
10/13/2006

Bloggers speak on Hawaii Public Radio

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 8:59 am
I had a reception and fete to attend after work yesterday (in observance of the “small matter” of my boss being elected into the National Academy of Sciences this year, heh), so I missed the Town Square show (MP3) with Beth-Ann Kozlovich and bloggers Ian Lind, Larry Geller, Jerry Burris, and David Shapiro. Larry had suggested that I participate, but I had to decline.

For whatever reason, there was only a single listener that called in (the local blog godfather, Ryan Ozawa), which was too bad. The show delved a lot into the meta issues of how often to make posts, how much “spin” to apply, how to attract and retain readers, et cetera. I don’t talk with other bloggers (neither online nor face-to-face) about those issues, but maybe I should start.

My one critique about the show yesterday is that it could have been way more lively with Malia Zimmerman in the conversation. To ignore the influence of the lodestar of the Hawaii right-wing blogs might have made for more “civil” conversation on genteel HPR, but maybe there would have been a few more callers had the show been less of a back-slapping crowd of center-left and “MSM” panelists. Oh well, it’s not as if Lind and Geller are getting an hour of airtime on Rick Hamada’s show…

I don’t think my blog has or is likely to ever have as many readers as Lind, Burris and Shapiro (although the Advertiser blogs don’t have hit counters, so who can tell?), but that’s really not why I do this anyway. Which begs the question, why DO I do it? The minutiae of politics are fascinating to me and I think writing about them is fun. If people reading my blog begin (or continue) to share my affinity for the topic, or learn something from what I write, or teach me something new, then it’s worthwhile. But that’s from my end. Why do you read it?

Comments (10)
Say defends his residency

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:58 am
The SB seems to have the only local story about Representative Say’s hearing before the Oahu Board of Registration yesterday, where he faced a challenge of his residency in the House district he represents. The story doesn’t have very much that wasn’t known before, but it does note that a written ruling on the matter is expected today.

It would have been good for someone to clarify what a ruling against Say might mean. The complainant’s wife is Say’s (doomed) Republican opponent. If Say were found to not be a resident of the district, then what? It’s too late to remove a candidate from the ballot. Would it be sufficient for Say to establish a more overt presence in Palolo? Would the Governor choose a replacement Democrat if Say were disqualified but his place on the ballot still “won?” (i.e. the Coffee scenario redux)

I dunno, and maybe the media believe it is too early to write about those scenarios, but due to the fact that Say is the House Speaker it seems to merit some discussion, doncha agree?

Comments (3)
Mayor Kim and hoteliers suggest taxing cruise ships like hotels

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:54 am
The Hawaii County dailies have a story about how much revenue could result if cruise ships were taxed like hotels (i.e. subject to the transient accomodation tax) and if docking fees were on par with non-Hawaii ports. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald story is here and the same article in the West Hawaii Today is here. As you probably recall, this concept was last brought up as part of the Senator Kanno ethics complaint, where Kanno and other legislators sought an inquiry into this topic to allegedly “punish” Norwegian Cruise Lines for how it dismissed an employee. Now, without all that distracting baggage, perhaps the subject will get more substantive debate. …but I doubt it.

Should cruise ships also be paying that tax?

“Absolutely,” says Mayor Harry Kim. “Tell me what’s the difference between staying in a hotel or staying on a cruise ship outside the hotel.”

Many hoteliers would agree with Kim, says Murray Towill, president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association.

But the association is waiting for more information before taking a stand on the issue.

“We don’t know if they’re paying their share or not,” Towill said. “There are certainly members who believe they should be paying the transient accommodation tax.”

Hotel occupancy rates seem to be holding their own despite the influx of cruise ships. But Towill said the rate itself could be misleading because there are other factors at work. For one thing, he said, the market for rooms has tightened, with many hotel rooms being converted to condos and timeshares. Also, he said, the economy has been particularly robust lately, leading to recent occupancy rates that may be higher than average.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has just started a study on the impact of the cruise business on the state, hoping to finally put a dollar figure on it to see if the hoteliers have a point.

But President and CEO Rex Johnson said the $300,000 that’s been budgeted for the analysis won’t be enough for a study that he thinks will cost closer to $1.5 million. He’s hoping the Legislature will give the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation money to join the study.

“The cruise ships have done a study that says they are paying their fair share,” Johnson said. “But the hoteliers didn’t really feel that the study the cruise ships did answered all their questions. We’re trying to do a study from the state of Hawaii perspective that will be very comprehensive.”

Somewhat left unsaid in the story is the fact that the Legislature and Governor Lingle, not the Hawaii County Council and Mayor Kim, would need to implement this change. Kim supports the idea, but it’s unclear where the rest of the political players and, for that matter, challenging candidates (from those various arenas) stand.

Comments (0)
10/12/2006

Speaker’s residency challenged again

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:11 am
Hmmm, this could become interesting. A post at Hawaii Reporter says that House Speaker Calvin Say will face the Oahu Board of Registration today (uh, right now, actually). In September the City Clerk ruled that Say resides in the Palolo district he represents. A Republican has challenged the Clerk’s ruling, leading to the hearing today.

A while ago there was a Bob Jones column in Midweek where Jones took Representative Say to task for stretching the residency law to its limits. The hearing today may decide if the limits were actually broken.

Two of the three members of the Board (Kee and Muraoka) were nominated by Governor Lingle, the third member (Carter) was nominated by Governor Cayetano. If the Board finds him ineligible to register in his Palolo district, then, according to the Board website, Say could appeal the ruling to the Intermediate Appelate Court.

If the facts are as alleged, the hearing today could go badly for Say.

Comments (2)
Strykers keep rolling along, despite ruling

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:10 am
The answer to the “will the Stryker brigade stop training to complete a supplemental EIS?” question is: No, according to the Advertiser:

Army training with its 19-ton Stryker vehicles is going forward ? at least for now ? despite a federal appeals court decision last week that the Army violated environmental law in planning for the arrival of the fast-strike unit.

“Training continues as we continue to evaluate our options in regard to the decision by the 9th Circuit Court (of Appeals),” said Stretch Rodney, a spokesman for U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter.

The legal friction is part of the continuing clash of cultures that exists in Hawai’i between its sizable military and strategic location in the Pacific, and those who oppose the military.

David Henkin, an Earthjustice attorney representing three Hawaiian groups in their suit against the Army, said if negotiations between the groups and the Army fail to produce an agreement soon, he will seek a temporary restraining order or equivalent to halt all Stryker training and work.

“I’ve been talking with the Army,” Henkin said. The attorney said he could not reveal what was discussed, but said it could be “not long” before a stoppage is sought.

Henkin and the Army disagree over whether the service can continue with the project based on an earlier court agreement. Henkin said the Army shouldn’t continue, while the Army believes it can, he said.

———-

The Army can seek a rehearing either from the three-member panel or a 15-judge appeals court panel and has 45 days from last week’s decision to do so, Henkin said. The Army also has 90 days to decide if it wants to seek review before the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.

Wha?

I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the default position for the Army after the ruling last week should have been “stop,” and the remedy to continue during the interim should have been for the Army to seek a suspension/stay from the Court. What’s the point of ordering a supplemental EIS if the “proposed” action to be studied is allowed to proceed before the EIS process is completed?!

Comments (0)
ABG

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:10 am
The Advertiser has another election profile article today (and an editorial endorsement) to describe the Senate District 19 race to fill another open seat (after the retirement of Senator Kanno). The contest features Democrat George Yamamoto, a former police officer, facing Republican Mike Gabbard, an anti-homosexual zealot.

The Advertiser endorses Yamamoto, saying:

Gabbard said his “views have not changed” since his strong anti-gay positions established during his fight against same-sex marriage from 1990-1998.

And if the issue is revived as a state’s rights matter, he would be a solid wall against same-sex marriage. In addition, Gabbard says he doesn’t oppose prayer in public schools, so long as they are “student-led.” Such positions may potentially make Gabbard a more polarizing figure than a unifying one.

I’ll be hugely disappointed if Gabbard were to win. I still wish that Kanno would have faced down the Ethics Commission and ran for re-election.

Comments (1)
10/11/2006

$700,000 to pay for it, and PUC still has not provided transparency

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:36 am
After all the talk of “$1 for gasoline pricing transparency,” I was thrilled by this Advertiser by Sean Hao where he reports (as I once suspected) that there is some left-over money at the PUC could be used to fund the gathering and reporting of gasoline pricing information. How much money? $700,000. Wow.

Under the new Petroleum Industry Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Program, the state is supposed to collect and publish every six months oil company crude oil costs and sources, refinery operating expenses, marketing and distribution expenses and corporate overhead expenses.

According to the new law, the state will “require true transparency by the oil industry to increase competition and provide the public and elected officials with the necessary monitoring capability to discourage the industry from using price maintenance schemes or other anti-competitive practices that artificially raise consumer prices.”

———-

The national average price for regular has fallen 40 cents a gallon during the past month, versus a 26-cents-a-gallon drop in the Honolulu price, according to AAA. If the gap between Honolulu’s price for self-serve regular and the national average were to return to the historical figure of 36 cents, the average pump price on O’ahu today would be about $2.63 a gallon.

The oil company disclosures under the new law might help explain the price gap.

Department of Economic Development Director Ted Liu and Public Utilities Commission Chairman Carlito Caliboso have blamed the Legislature for the delay in implementing the new disclosure law, saying it only appropriated $1 to implement it. While it is true the Legislature only appropriated $1 in new money for the program, the PUC has $700,000 available from a previous oil industry program that’s being replaced with the new law, according to the commission.

Way to go, Mr. Hao!

Local oil industry officials have said they are willing to cooperate with the new law but are concerned about keeping their information confidential. The oil companies are waiting for the state to publish the forms for companies to fill out and to determine what information will be made public.

The disclosure program isn’t expected to start until the end of the year at the earliest.

——–

“It takes time to build up a new program ? to hire the people and a contractor and all that,” explained Lisa Kikuta, spokeswoman for the Public Utilities Commission, which was charged with collecting the information.

Waiting for the State to publish the forms?!

How about this? Publish a form for the oil companies to fill out so the State may receive the data while the “contractor and all that” is being worked out by the PUC. If the form needs to be amended at a later date, so be it. Heck, I would design a form and donate my services to the PUC. Let’s get these data, folks.

Comments (0)
Baptiste will not face run-off

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:36 am
The Hawai Supreme Court has affirmed the re-election of Kauai Mayor Brian Baptiste. The Garden Island News has a story, as do the Honolulu daiies (SB and Advertiser).

No mention in these articles if the “Aloha Spirit” claim raised by one of the candidates contesting the eleciton result was considered by the HSC. Darn, I was curious about that.

The state high court ruled yesterday that candidates John R. Hoff and Janee M. Taylor could not show that actual errors or mistakes occurred that would have changed the outcome of the election.

The justices ruled in both cases that the remedy Hoff and Taylor sought was not provided for under state law.

The only remedy for primary election irregularities as provided under the law is to have the court decide which candidate was elected.

So, is a recount “remedy” only available to candidates from… who? the County Clerk? Having to “show” the Supreme Court that actual errors or mistakes could have changed the outcome would seem to be a pretty high hurdle to clear without a recount, audit, or investigation—to put it mildly. However, since electronic voting machines have recently (and repeatedly) been shown to be subject to malicious (and undectable) hacking, the playing field for contested elections might change if someone were to use such findings to “show” how it is quite possible to change the outcome of an election. That link refers to a specific type of electronic voting machine that Hawaii may not be using, but at the very least it should be enough to raise questions about just how reliable our system is.

Comments (0)
Who will become my Senator?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:35 am
The Advertiser profiles my Senate district (24th) contest today, where Democrat Jill Tokuda faces Republican Keoki Leong. I wasn’t aware that both candidates are so young, nor did I know that my district has a median age of 33.

In my neck of the district Leong seems to be slightly winning the “banner war,” whatever that means. Neither of these candidates have been to my door canvassing, no direct mail yet either. I had expected this would be a vigorously fought battle for an open Senate seat. ??

Pang mentions that this contest has implications for the Senate leadership turmoil. To that end, Tokuda gives no indication if she supports Senator Bunda, while Leong has endorsements from (departing) Senator Hogue and Senator Hemmings.

UPDATE October 29: Somebody from Tokuda’s campaign just left a doorhanger while I was out walking Perl (in the rain). That’s a first for any candidate in the 13 years at this address! I’m bummed them I missed them (her?).

Comments (3)
Kaua’i seniors – will work for tax break

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:35 am
A man on Kauai is asking the County to study the concept of seniors (but why limit it to seniors?) being offered a chance to work off their property tax bill at minimum wage, according to this Advertiser story. The policy has been in place in several Massachusetts communities for a while. I’m not sure what to make of it.

Comments (1)
10/10/2006

Billionaire envisions low-rent Kahala homes

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 9:02 am
Is that headline a joke?! I can’t decide if the Advertiser article has taken the bait of some form of media hoax or if it is a legitimate story. Paging Joey Skaggs?

In a nutshell, a wealthy investor from Japan (with a checkered history in local real estate dealings and who has been buying numerous pieces of property in Kahala) has announced that he intends to offer some of his Kahala Avenue mansions to Native Hawaiian tenants in exchange for extremely low rents. He wants to use some of the other properties as museums. All this as part of his effort to revitalize Kahala Avenue which he says “has no sense of community.”

Some may view Kawamoto’s plan as a genuine attempt to give back to Hawai’i residents, or a tycoon’s eccentric idea. But the billionaire said he is sincere.

“If I wanted to rent to ordinary people, I could do it right away,” he said. “It’s not interesting if I rent it out to rich people. I think what I’m doing is right.”

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Kawamoto sees his idea as a way to fulfill his long-expressed desire to provide affordable housing in Hawai’i and give him a more favorable legacy than the one he’s developed since he bought roughly 160 O’ahu homes with “pocket change” in the late 1980s. But the plan may face serious challenges.

Cynthia Thomas, an attorney and project manager for the Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i’s fair housing enforcement program, said requiring that renters be Native Hawaiian would almost certainly violate federal and state housing discrimination laws.

“It’s a great intent, but he might be hung up on the law,” she said. “It would be similar to a white owner only wanting to rent to whites.”

Hmmm. What would happen if he were to partner with (or donate the properties to) OHA to facilitate his scheme? Perhaps he could offer the property to the State, easing the need for the Lingle administration to skulk around looking for transitional housing for the hundreds of people living on the beaches?

Creating museums and cheap rental housing on Kahala Avenue also could run into opposition from one of the island’s most exclusive communities of wealthy and powerful homeowners.

Kawamoto said he expects objections from neighbors concerned about museums and cheap rentals degrading their property values, but he said they can move if they are unhappy. “They are rich people,” he said. “They could go anywhere.”

Oooh, I can hardly wait to hear those neighbors try to couch their concerns in non-elitist terms. But on what grounds could they complain about cheap rentals? A landlord may charge whatever rent he chooses. Any museum(s), on the other hand, would probably require a zoning change.

This can’t be for real.

Comments (6)
It’s all good – here’s a signature to “prove” it

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:02 am
The SB reports that attorneys for Kauai County have responded to the challenged mayoral election results (I did a post about the challenge earlier) and, not surprisingly, their brief urges the court to dismiss the challengers’ claims.

The article does not mention if the County responded to the “Aloha Spirit”-based complaint. However, I would take issue with this:

The county also argued that the two challengers were not “directly interested” and do not have standing to challenge the election anyway.

Hoff, who finished third, and Taylor, who finished filth, would not be involved in the runoff if the Supreme Court decided to rule against the county. They are, in effect, simple voters, and by law, need 30 people to support the challenge.

Hoff and Taylor were candidates for mayor. Have a look at the relevant law:

?11-172 Contests for cause; generally. With respect to any election, any candidate, or qualified political party directly interested, or any thirty voters of any election district, may file a complaint in the supreme court. The complaint shall set forth any cause or causes, such as but not limited to, provable fraud, overages, or underages, that could cause a difference in the election results. The complaint shall also set forth any reasons for reversing, correcting, or changing the decisions of the precinct officials or the officials at a counting center in an election using the electronic voting system. A copy of the complaint shall be delivered to the chief election officer or the clerk in the case of county elections.

I am not a lawyer, but I don’t see how the Court could interpret that to mean only the (potential) runoff election candidates may contest the result. The law clearly says, “any candidate.” The “directly interested” requirement is only explicitly applied to a qualified political party that wished to contest the election, not to a candidate. It would seem to me that a statute, like this one, aiming to define who has standing must be construed to grant the widest possible access to the Court, not the narrowest.

As for the County referring to an affadavit from the County Clerk, well… I don’t know anything that leads me to question the results, but, with all due respect, once a complaint has been filed it’s going to take more than a routine affadavit for me to consider the matter to have been fairly reviewed. There were affadavits in Florida during the 2000 election, too, if you recall…

Depending upon how the days are counted, a hearing on this matter before the Hawaii Supreme Court should be held very soon (today?).

Comments (0)
Can Democrats hold the line?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:00 am
Not a particularly interesting article, but the chart that is part of this Advertiser story is worth a look. After interviewing “more than a dozen lawmakers and party strategists,” the chart handicaps the legislative races that, in their view, are worth watching closely.

I also note this paragraph:

With no presidential race and no magnetic statewide race, voter turnout may fall below the 67 percent of 2004 and could drop lower than the 57 percent in 2002. Lower turnout generally favors incumbents. This year, however, it could also help Republican state House and Senate candidates in open seats or swing districts if Lingle draws out more Republicans and independents and many Democrats stay home.

That’s a possibility, but it seems to be based on an assumption that voters (especially Republicans and independents) will feel a need to turn out and support the heavily-favored, seemingly-nonthreatened Lingle. I don’t know if that is a valid assumption.

Comments (0)
10/9/2006

$10M re-directed from “public” housing to “transitional” housing

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:10 am
Today an Advertiser story bungles (understandably, as you’ll see) a description of a “misworded” piece of legislation. More egg on the face of the Lege, unfortunately.

As currently worded, the law states the $10 million should go to repair “existing federal and state buildings for transitional and emergency shelters.”

[House Housing Committee Chair Representative] Kahikina said the wording is causing some confusion.

“When the money was appropriated, there were some concerns on the wording. We saw there was a typo error,” said Kahikina, adding the apparent mistake was noticed only after the session was completed. “It’s part of the casualties of legislation.”

Kahikina said he was not sure when the wording of the appropriation was changed or who changed it.

Oh boy! Bear with me as I wonk out, but here is what I found: The language that Representative Kahikina refers to in the article, i.e. an appropriation to pay for repairs to federal and state public housing was in HB 2176 HD1 and HD2 (section 9 of both bills). Then the House Bill crossed over to the Senate.

The so-called “misworded” language in the law that makes an appropriation to repair existing federal and state buildings for transitional and emergency shelters was originally part of SB 2958 (section 8 of SD1 and section 15 of SD2). When HB 2176 HD2 crossed over, the Senate inserted its own language into the House Bill, producing HB 2176 SD1 (section 19) and HB 2176 SD2 (section 3). (The SD2 does make a subtle change, though, in that it does not specifically limit the appropriation to “federal and state buildings.”)

Thus, in amending the House Bill the Senate deleted the House language to repair public housing without comment. Furthermore, when the Senate Housing Committee reported out the SD1 they noted:

Your Committee has also made technical, nonsubstantive amendments consistent with S.B. No. 2999, S.D. 1, and S.B. No. 2958, S.D. 1 and S.D. 2, for consistency, clarity, form, and style.

Bzzzt, wrong answer. The Committee made a substantive amendment to the HD2, i.e. deletion of the appropriation for maintenance of public housing, and that amendment was neither listed in the Committee Report nor “consistent with” the Senate bills referred to therein. The Senate language is not “misworded” per se, the Senate language simply (and intentionally) addresses a different subject.

This deletion almost had to be noted in the comparison sheets prepared for Kahikina by the House staff for use at the Conference Committee meetings. Thus, either it was a exceptionally poorly-drafted comparison sheet that failed to note the difference, or Representative Kahikina and Senator Menor overlooked the matter during Conference.

The only defense I can think of is that everyone involved in reviewing the amendments made by the Senate equated “transitional housing” with “public housing.” D’oh!

Comments (2)
10/8/2006

Scouting for possible Lege power struggles

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:09 am
The latest Borreca column in the SB does not focus on the Iwase-Lingle debate as I had expected, instead he reminds us of the possible leadership changes at the Legislature. Previously his colleague had written about the implications of the primary victories of Les Ihara, Jr. and Shan Tsutsui (who do not openly support Robert Bunda for Senate President), and today Borreca hints (but doesn’t name names) that there could be more of this kind of intrigue.

Today both House Speaker Calvin Say and Senate President Robert Bunda appear to be in charge, but this is the time of the year for mischief-making.

Two years ago, for instance, a group of young and hoping-to-be upwardly mobile House Democrats started helping new candidates. The idea was to make nice with the new kids and get them to vote out the Old Guard.

The new kids came in, the Old Guard said, “Get over here, now,” and the Young Turks like Reps. Brian Schatz and Scott Saiki found their mobility anything but upward.

The Senate, which breeds factions faster than the University of Hawaii breeds fruit flies, is more complicated. Bunda might have gotten a little too enthusiastic in his support for primary candidates, who then didn’t win. The problem with backing losers is the Democrats who did win became guaranteed “Anyone but Bunda” votes in any Senate organization scheme.

But with so many competing factions and shifting alliances, Democrats will find it impossible to please all. And to further complicate matters, various combinations of the five Senate Republicans are also possible votes in a new organization plan.

Are there again ambitious incumbent Democrats actively helping new candidates? If so, who is giving, and who is receiving?

Reviewing the results, the potential recipients in House races would be Hanohano, McElvey, Bertram, Tokioka, Sagum, Halagao, Abe, Brower, Bellati, Moepono, Rhoads, Manahan, Mizuno, Sugimura, Har, and Belford. Some are running against strong Republican incumbents, but you can see there is the potential for substantial jockeying if even half of these candidates joined a dissident faction. Keep in mind, too, that the departure of Kanoho and Kawakami make for some plum leadership posts being up for grabs. In the Senate, potential recipients would be only Yamamoto, Tokuda, and Lockwood (facing a strong incumbent).

If you live in one of these districts and see incumbent Democrats (be they part of the existing leadership structure or not) actively helping one of the newcomers, please leave a comment. This could be interesting.

Comments (3)
Local ethanol production – a dry well?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:08 am
A fascinating story by Sean Hao is in the Advertiser today. The piece is about the water supply implications of ramping up local production of crops to produce ethanol. In a nutshell, to make it work at a large scale would require a lot of water—which means that current (and future) water users will almost certainly fight about how to best allocate the resource. Do read it. Hao concludes:

Solving the water issue is key to producing ethanol locally and moving Hawai’i away from its dependence on imported fuel.

How long it could take to decide the issue of water availability is unclear.

The state hosted a biofuels summit Aug. 22 at the Hawai’i Convention Center to coordinate efforts. Entry was by invitation only and environmental groups, such as Life of the Land, were not invited.

Environmental activists ultimately could affect the debate over diverting more water to agriculture.

“If we’re not at the table, it could drag out for years,” said Life of the Land’s Curtis. “If everybody sits down at the table and starts talking, it could happen in maybe five years.”

My only additional comment is that if Hawaii were to pursue this expansion of agriculture for ethanol, as many elected officials regularly say they intend to, then as agriculture expands and less water becomes available there could also be serious impacts on population growth/sprawl—especially on Oahu.

Comments (1)
10/7/2006

Iwase debates Lingle; Lingle defends Bush

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:47 pm
I managed to see the debate last night, but it turns out I could have simply downloaded it today… The Advertiser has a story by Johnny Brannon and a column by Jerry Burris (who was part of the panel asking questions). The SB has a story, and we can assume that Richard Borreca (who was also part of the panel) will have a column about it Sunday.

First, I could hardly believe it when Jerry Burris asked the Governor a question about the Iraq War and her relationship with President Bush. His line of inquiry was very close to what I wrote yesterday, for whatever that’s worth, and that question elicited the information I had been waiting to see: Governor Lingle supports U.S. troops staying until some indefinite date when withdrawal will be “safe,” while Iwase supports setting a timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw. As to how her relationship with President Bush has benefitted the state, Lingle acknowledged how distressing it is for her to console the next of kin of those who die in Iraq and Afghanistan but cited as a benefit of her relationship with the President the new Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument. To be blunt, that Monoument is as inaccessible and intangible to most of us as the ANWR. The voters can decide if those results characterize a relationship worth maintaining…

I was also happy to see the question from Keoki Kerr about “Iwase Democrats” and “Lingle Republicans,” and the question from Richard Borreca about allegiance to Party. Both of those questions were similar to my incessant musing about the meaning of a Party label. Iwase spoke of a big tent and factions within the Democrats, but said that the Hawaii Democratic platform is his guide and listed the core principles that he shares with his Party (albeit by twice awkwardly mentioning Hubert Humphrey’s “moral test”). Lingle spoke of … well, she spoke of how she will never put the GOP first and that she welcomes support from anyone who thinks it is important to have a two-party system of government—even if the second party is an enigma under her leadership. Did Lingle say anything to uphold (or even define) the core values of the GOP? If not, then why is she a not just a member, but the titular leader, of the Republican Party? This was a revealing question.

On a less substantive level, Iwase seemed nervous at a few moments and Lingle seemed, as usual, overly stiff and scripted. Keeping in mind that I almost never watch television, the reporters seemed to be professional and well-prepared (although Mr. Kerr had an annoying smirk every time it was his turn to speak). Kato did not do particularly well as the moderator, and the candidates occasionally became confused as to what was expected of them and when. At one point Kato apologized for poor audio from the Governor’s microphone, but I had not noticed anything amiss. Lingle’s campaign quickly posted commentary about Iwase’s statements on the web, but at this point he has not responded.

UPDATE: Iwase responds here.

Comments (11)
What bang for the technology tax credit buck?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:45 pm
Both Honolulu dailies have stories about the inconclusive research conducted on the technology tax credits which have been in place for about 5 years. The Advertiser story is here and the SB piece is here.

Although [the two researchers] Sakai and Bird showed some data suggesting that Acts 221/215 have been effective in creating new technology jobs, other data that Sakai and Bird found appeared to belie that finding.

For example, Bird pointed to information from the Hawaii Department of Taxation indicating that in 2002, 131 qualified high-tech businesses reported employing 2,209 workers. In 2003, 78 qualified high-tech businesses reported employing 1,980 workers.

Bird said he had inferred that the businesses had filed their reports only in the years in which they had received qualified investments, which would mean that the legislation had spurred the creation of nearly 4,200 new jobs.

However, jobs data provided by the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism show tech employment in the state steadily declining during the same period, from 13,463 in 2001 to 13,104 in 2003.

Bird said several factors could explain this discrepancy. One hypothesis, Bird said, is that companies that already were doing business in Hawaii simply got certified as high-tech businesses and got tax credits, even though they weren’t creating any new jobs. But Bird said the Department of Taxation had not provided enough data to enable the consultants to be certain.

In addition, Bird said the apparent practice of companies reporting jobs data to the tax department only in years in which they received investments meant that analysts could not track the performance of these companies.

Sakai said it was essential to have ongoing data, because many Act 221/215 companies are young firms whose success must be measured over time.

It’s no surprise that the tax credit did not incorporate a way to carefully assess it’s success or failure. Hardly anybody in government seriously devotes much time to measuring outcomes. If outcomes are not measured, then almost any result can be (and usually is) described in a politically expedient fashion.

State data on the level of Hawai’i tech jobs in recent years show a 2.7 percent [~350 jobs] decline to 13,106 jobs between 2001 and 2004. At the same time, data reported by companies benefitting from the credits point to the creation of more than 4,000 jobs within that period.

The report’s authors also cautioned that it will take time for start-up companies to add jobs.

Ann Chung, vice president of government and community affairs for the Hawaii Science & Technology Council, a trade group representing the technology industry, said the state job creation numbers aren’t accurate. The industry reported figures showing jobs are more representative of industry job growth.

“It’s something the whole nation is struggling with is how do you capture that (technology) job data from a Department of Labor standpoint,” she said. “It’s a bigger issue in terms of how things are tracked.”

Evaluating the credits is difficult because identities of the companies benefitting from the credits is confidential and the state does not track the number of jobs created.

Hmmm, what (and how different) are Chung’s job growth figures? That would have been worth asking. Even limiting the research to the State data, there definitely needs to be some thought (and explanation) given to how a decline of 350 jobs can be reconciled with a gain of 4,000 jobs. With the data so far out of sync both figures are cast into doubt.

Comments (0)
10/6/2006

Lingle, Iwase debate tonight

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 9:16 am
Both of the Honolulu dailies have stories about the televised debate this evening. (Advertiser and SB) Also, David Shaprio has a post at his blog where he recounts some collegiate debates where he and Iwase were on opposing teams. Shapiro ends with this little zinger:

Heck, if [Iwase] can hold his own against Les and me, how much trouble can he have with a political powerhouse who’s had 20 years to polish her oratorical skills as a County Council member, mayor and governor?

I am going to try to find a place to watch the debate, but I reckon the 60 minutes is going to go by too quickly. There are 6 journalists on the panel, so I’d be surprised if the candidates get more than two questions from each person. Unless the questions are narrowly focused, it will be too easy to launch into “scripted” responses and rhetoric.

Both articles include similar descriptions of what to expect:

Iwase, a Democrat and former state senator who’s been out of elective office for six years, stepped down as chairman of the state Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board to challenge Lingle.

He is expected to aggressively criticize Lingle’s record and that of Republican President Bush, especially regarding public education, while painting himself as an underdog and champion of the average person.

Lingle said she’s looking forward to tonight’s debate and is preparing by reviewing Iwase’s record and her own achievements, as well as “mistakes that we’ve made that could be jumped on by my opponent.”

Asked how she would handle an attempt to link her with Bush, Lingle said she’ll repeat what she’s said in the past: that the president has done some “great things” for Hawai’i, such as designating the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a national monument.

But she said she is disappointed that Bush did not support the Native Hawaiian recognition bill sponsored by Democratic U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, which she said she believes in “very strongly.”

“Overall, having a relationship has helped our state,” Lingle said of her dealings with Bush.

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands monument, No Child Left Behind, Akaka Bill, blah blah blah. What about the 800 pound gorilla in the “Lingle’s relationship with President Bush” room, the Iraq War? Remember that? We’ve yet to hear from Lingle about her thoughts on how the war should (or should not) proceed. This is unarguably a “local issue” in this state with such a huge military presence!

Shortly after Governor Lingle named Cynthia Thielen to fill the spot on the ballot for U.S. Senate, Thielen came out with a position paper that is (to varying degrees) critical of the Bush administration Iraq policies. Lingle could augment her “centrist” claims (or her RINO-itude, if you prefer) if she were to adopt a similar stance. Is Lingle (also) willing to push Rumsfeld under a bus, or did Thielen blindside her?

The debate could be a real scrap, but I’m not sure if the Governor is going to square off or rope-a-dope tonight.

Comments (4)
Stryker brigade told to go back and consider alternative locations

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:16 am
Perhaps those little metal Stryker silhouettes will take on a memorial meaning, now that the Federal Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled in favor of Native Hawaiian organizations who want the Army to consider basing the unit outside of Hawaii. The Advertiser story about the ruling is here and the SB piece is here. The 81-page decision (PDF) is (mostly) understandable to non-lawyers.

The ruling could place in limbo at least $693 million in 28 construction projects at Schofield Barracks and the Big Island’s Pohakuloa Training Area.

That money does not include what already has been spent in bringing the 328 Stryker combat vehicles to Hawaii and retraining soldiers in the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

The cost of each of the Army’s seven Stryker brigades has been placed at $1.5 billion.

The Army also agreed earlier this year to pay Parker Ranch $31.5 million for 2,400 acres near the Pohakuloa Training Area to accommodate training for the Strykers.

The federal appeals court decision means the Army has to prepare a second EIS. Moreover, it is two years delinquent on an EIS justifying the continued use of Makua Valley as a firing range that was supposed to have been completed in 2004.

The return of Makua has long been advocated by Hawaiian activists, many of whom were parties in the Stryker court appeal and have filed numerous lawsuits to stop all military training there.

The articles leave some doubt as to how the Army intends to proceed, but the decision is pretty clear:

If we were to accede to the Army?s assertion that its statement of purpose and need, including its site-selection, cannot be challenged, the concept of tiered EISs is meaningless. An agency could avoid consideration of reasonable alternatives by making a binding site-specific decision at the programmatic stage without analysis, deferring consideration of site-specific issues to a SEIS. Then at the SEIS stage, the agency simply could point back to the analysis-free decision at the programmatic stage, as the Army has done here, and find that the scope of its site-specific analysis is constrained by the PEIS. The SEIS would merely operate to justify a decision made analysis-free at a previous stage.

The result: the Army never undertakes any analysis of alternatives to Hawaii. What is the cure? We conclude that the practical solution is to remand, requiring the preparation of a supplemental SEIS. There is no magic as to which EIS is the vehicle for site-specific analysis. It would have been perfectly appropriate for the PEIS to forgo any decision as to specific sites, leaving the analysis and recommendations to the SEIS. The Army?s mistake here was to commit to the transformation of the 2nd Brigade in Hawaii without considering alternatives in either the PEIS or the SEIS.

We conclude that this can now be done most appropriately in a supplemental SEIS. As the Army?s pre-SEIS, June 2002 meeting indicates, the failure of Army Headquarters to explain its decision at the programmatic phase requires each separate installation to consider a broader range of alternatives in its SEIS than would otherwise have been required. Therefore, we reverse and remand for supplemental analysis of alternative locations in a supplemental SEIS.

As the SB article notes, the Army has been very slow to complete the environmental review required for training at Makua. As in “years.” Meanwhile, the dissent defers to the Army’s decision to transform the brigade “in place,” and claims that the majority opinion “misapplied and retooled precedent.” Looks like another Ninth Circuit ruling headed for SCOTUS…

Comments (0)
10/5/2006

Queenmaker Lingle administration excoriates Kingmaker HSTA

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:12 am
Apparently Lenny Klompus, the Governor’s communications director, is blind to the hypocrisy revealed by this post he submitted to the Hawaii Reporter and released to the local media.

We are disappointed that the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) decided to endorse the Democrat [sic] gubernational candidate over Gov. Linda Lingle, without a vote from its members.

The HSTA Board made an independent decision behind closed doors without giving their members an opportunity to voice their preferences.

They cited a lack of time as an excuse to suspend its policy of allowing HSTA members to vote on the endorsement.

This excuse is ridiculous, as they have always known the exact date of the General Election, and the 34 days remaining is certainly enough time to poll their members.

It is indeed an insult and injustice to teachers to strip them of their voice within their own union.

[blink]

How is this any different from the Governor and the GOP executive committee meeting behind closed doors to independently decide that Cynthia Thielen would replace Jerry Coffee on the ballot for U.S. Senate?

There was “certainly enough time” (more than the 34 days available to the HSTA, even) between the Coffee withdrawal and the Primary Election. The GOP could have allowed a vote to select who would replace Coffee. The failure to hold such a vote is an insult and injustice to the voters—and especially so to the members of Hawaii Republican Party.

Heh.

Comments (3)
Ambiguous limit on campaign donors will be enforced

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:12 am
The Advertiser has a new story today that follows up on the confusion about a new campaign spending law with bungled legal language. To refresh your memory, the law says that no single out-of-state donor may contribute more than 20% of all the funds raised by a candidate; but the lawmakers meant to say that the total of all out-of-state donations may comprise no more than 20% of all the funds raised.

Hawai’i’s Campaign Spending Commission will continue to enforce a new state law that limits political donations from out-of-state sources, despite a June U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a Vermont law with similar restrictions, commission director Barbara Wong said.

The state Attorney General’s office advised yesterday in an informal written opinion that the limit should remain enforced because there has been no court ruling regarding Hawai’i’s law, Wong said.

“In a nutshell, they said it should be left to the courts to decide,” she said.

The 2005 law limits out-of-state money to no more than 20 percent of the total in campaign contributions received by a candidate in a single reporting period. [Or does it? The plain language of the law is not nearly this clear.] Such periods range in length from several months to a few weeks, growing shorter as an election day nears.

——–

Both offices declined to release a copy of [the informal written opinion], citing attorney-client privilege.

Critics [include me among them] have characterized the law as poorly written and vague, and some had interpreted the limit as applying only to money from a single donor, rather than a combination of donors.

This statement by Wong clarifies nothing. Without releasing that opinion, candidates and donors have no way of knowing how the Attorney General interprets the law and, thus, no way to know if the CSC intends to enforce this as the law is written or if they will enforce the law as it is commonly (mis-)characterized.

META: Attorney-client privilege?! Please. This secrecy (and the perpetuated ambiguity) serves no legitimate purpose that I can think of.

Anyone prosecuted for having excessive out-of-state donations (so long as no single donor exceeds 20% of the total amount raised) will have a good chance of being acquitted, in my non-lawyer opinion.

It now seems the only way to tell which way the AG/CSC are going is to wait and see if there are charges filed against those candidates who have already admitted that more than 20% of their total contributions came from out-of-state.

Comments (0)
10/4/2006

Who’s getting $28M in film tax breaks?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:32 am
In another “who is claiming the tax credits” story, the Advertiser describes how they were rebuffed in an attempt to find out which taxpayers have been claiming the film and television production tax credit.

Hawai’i Film Commissioner Donne Dawson recently denied an Advertiser request for the information, saying the disclosure might discourage companies from filming in the state or discourage them from sharing accurate information with the state.

“The productions would have a problem with making their information public ? particularly their financial information ? for competitive reasons,” she said.

Movie and TV productions spend about $100 million in Hawai’i annually and create about 3,500 jobs, according to Lawrence Boyd, a labor economist for the University of Hawai’i’s Center for Labor Education and Research.

The decision to keep the identities of companies seeking state film tax breaks confidential was made based on advice from the state Attorney General’s office, said Dawson, but not all lawmakers agreed it was necessary.

I’d like to see the AG’s written opinion on this. If the AG used the same “disclosure might discourage them” reasoning, then I’d sure like to review the legal basis for that . Disclosure might discourage people from doing a lot of things—that’s the whole point of the Sunshine Law!

The production tax credit does not specifically indicate taxpayers who apply for the credit will remain anonymous to the public. However, after skimming through Title 14 of the HRS neither did I find statutory language that removes (or protects) the privacy of taxpayers that have claimed this (or any other) tax credit. According to the directions (PDF) from the Film Office, there is a special N-340 form from DOTAX to be completed by those claiming the credit. I was wondering if there was any privacy information on the form, but I don’t find N-340 online among the rest of the DOTAX forms. As noted in the NSA phone records posts, Hawaii has a Constitutional provision that guarantees privacy. Furthermore, the Sunshine Law provides for certain government records to be withheld from disclosure, including:

(6) Information describing an individual’s finances, income, assets, liabilities, net worth, bank balances, financial history or activities, or creditworthiness;

So, we may not see these data unless the Legislature takes action to amend these policies. I happen to like the fact that my tax records won’t be released, even if it means I can’t see who has been getting these tax credits. However, in reviewing the film office’s directions for claiming the credit I notice that the final requirement is for the production to “Provide end credit to State of Hawaii and Provide DVD copy of production and electronic press kit (if one exists) to Hawaii Film Office.” Is a DVD or a press kit a financial record? I don’t think so. Next time, try asking the State for a copy (or, at least, a list) of all the DVDs and press kits they have received.

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Hogue voted against airport and harbor security; remains a “nice guy”

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:30 am
The SB reports on comments from the Hirono campaign trail that describe Hogue’s opposition to a bill in 2003:

When asked what proactive steps she would take to combat terrorism if elected to Congress, Hirono said she would push for implementing recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission that called for upgrading security at ports nationwide.

She then noted that Hogue, a state senator, voted against the funding to upgrade security at Hawaii harbors in 2003.

“I just thought I’d point that out,” she said.

The proposal, House Bill 1230, Conference Draft 1, would have set aside money from the airport special fund and the harbor special fund to institute security measures throughout the airport and harbor systems. Gov. Linda Lingle used her line-item veto (PDF) power to defeat the measure.

Hogue voted against the bill along with three of his four GOP colleagues, Sens. Fred Hemmings, Sam Slom and Gordon Trimble. Republican Sen. Paul Whalen supported the measure.

“During that time period there were a number of bills that were raiding special funds, and we voted against that,” Hogue said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Hogue is fortunate that the question posed to Hirono spoke only to homeland security, because otherwise she could have pointed out to frustrated Leeward Oahu commuters that the same bill also included millions of dollars for widening Fort Weaver Road and replacing a bridge on Farrington Highway. (Hmmm. Would that have been this bridge?) Hogue opposed (and Lingle zeroed out) those amounts, too.

Hogue declined to comment.

Throughout his campaign, Hogue has characterized himself as an “average person” and stressed a positive campaign that he says is needed to cut through partisan bickering.

Hirono has countered that the constituents of the 2nd Congressional District, a traditionally Democratic area, need more than a “nice guy” as a representative, and has attempted to tie him to unpopular policies of the Bush administration.

“I’m working really hard for the next five weeks to get my message out, and it is a message of contrast between me and Bob Hogue,” she said. “Bob Hogue is a Bush-backing Republican, and people need to know that.”

This particular article paints Hogue as more of a “Lingle-backing Republican,” so we shall see if Hirono has any luck pressing the Bush-backer theme in the coming weeks.

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Second hospital on Maui is disapproved

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:30 am
I’ve been loosely following the debate (without posting about it) about a new hospital on Maui. Until today it had been slowly gaining momentum, with Governor Lingle adding her voice to the supporters recently. Now, however, the Maui News reports a setback for the hospital.

The State Health Planning and Development Agency has disapproved plans to build a second hospital on Maui.

Agency Administrator Dr. David Sakamoto issued a 20-page decision late Monday. It found that while the financial backing for the proposed Malulani Health and Medical Center was solid, the effects of a second hospital would be detrimental to Maui County.

“One large, well-run facility, strategically located, would be the most efficient means of addressing the acute-care needs on Maui,” Sakamoto wrote. “All financial, medical and personnel resources could be focused on one acute-care center. There would be no duplication or dilution of services or staff.”

That decision does not automatically mean the death of the idea, though. The article (and Sakamoto’s report) kicks around the idea of a single facility to serve the whole island, suggesting that the new hospital could supplant Maui Memorial.

Dr. Ron Kwon, president of Malulani, said he was disappointed by SHPDA?s decision. He said he had not studied it thoroughly enough to decide whether a request for reconsideration would be filed.

“I don?t see it as the end of a process. It?s an unwanted result, an obstacle, but we don?t end here,” Kwon said.

Given Sakamoto?s comments about Maui?s need for one well-run hospital, Kwon said Malulani was “ready, willing and able” to build a replacement to Maui Memorial. “And maybe that?s the solution.”

I don’t live on Maui, but from the time I’ve spent there it seems that the traffic congestion will make it difficult for any single hospital to be strategically located for the entire island. Here on Oahu there is The Queen’s Hospital trauma center, located just off the freeway in the heart of urban Honolulu. Still, the location means that North Shore, Windward, and Leeward residents are looking at long travel times for emergency care. The type of “one facility” idea that SPHDA envisions might work if every island had better helicopter medivac capability, but that is a problem statewide.

Compared to building and operating a whole new hospital, perhaps the significant expense of paying for a fleet of helicopters would make more sense.

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10/3/2006

RealID faces a key adversary

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:52 am
A nice article by Bret Yager about the Real ID Act is in the Hawaii County dailies today (West Hawaii Today and Hawaii Tribune-Herald). I posted on this earlier.

State Sen. Lorraine Inouye, D-Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, has been the most vocal opponent of the legislation locally, characterizing it as a thinly-veiled attempt to create a national identification card, a proposal that has raised hackles among civil rights advocates. Inouye blasted what she called an unfunded mandate, saying it violates rights to privacy under the Hawaii Constitution and presents a grievous obstacle to some members of Hawaii’s diverse immigrant population, who may have a hard time coming up with all of the necessary documentation. Plus, it’ll cost up to $11 billion that the states just don’t have.

——–

Inouye said that Hawaii, along with many other states in the aftermath of 9/11, has worked to make its ID system more secure.

“In Hawaii, we feel strongly that the protections we have are constitutional and are sufficient,” said Inouye, who testified against the law at an August meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Tennessee. “They should qualify for entry anywhere.”

She’s worried that workers at state motor vehicles offices won’t have the expertise to verify possibly fraudulent documents from a host of countries and that new licenses will lull people into a false sense of security.

State Sen. Gordon Trimble, R-Downtown Honolulu, said the value of knowing an ID is legitimate outweighs the drawbacks associated with the measure.

“We need to have a system where, when someone looks at an ID, they know it’s valid,” he said. “This legislation appears to be going in that direction.”

Trimble agreed there are going to be headaches and the new system will be hard on some people, but said it should help to reduce the number of fake IDs circulating in Hawaii.

Hmmm. Senator Trimble’s comments actually support Lorraine Inouye’s position.

“We need to have a system where, when someone looks at an ID, they know it’s valid,” he said. “This legislation appears to be going in that direction.”

The law “appears to be going in that direction,” but the destination, i.e. “knowing an ID is valid,” is not going to be reached. The “appearance” of progress is deceiving. Instead, as the system is implemented and forgeries of these new ID cards emerge (and forgeries will occur, no matter how technically difficult the task of forgery becomes) people tasked with routinely reviewing these documents (i.e. low-ranking security staff) will have an understandable tendency to place too much trust in their validity. Indeed, for those with criminal intent, obtaining a forgery of such a trusted form of ID would be well worth the effort and expense. Consider the readily-obtained forged Social Security documents, passports, and birth certificates—the system is only as secure as its weakest link.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of us without criminal intent will need to maintain these official documents safely on hand, stand in longer lines at the DMV, and ultimately risk higher risks of ID theft as these databases are linked together. All in the name of an unquantifiable benefit of “improved security.”

The article does not mention that Senator Lorraine Inouye is the Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and, in that capacity, she will have a key role in determining how the Hawaii DOT implements (or opts out of) the new law.

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Lawsuit hopes to derail Kukui Gardens prepayment plan

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:51 am
The SB has a story that describes a new lawsuit that aims to prevent the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from approving a plan by the owners of Kukui Gardens affordable housing to pre-pay what they owe on the federal financing for the project. Shedding light on an earlier query of mine, though, it turns out that the owners have yet to formally ask HUD to approve a pre-payment.

Those filing the suit fear that if the pre-payment is approved then the affordable rents will be threatened. Frankly, I am confused, because several places in the article leave me with the impression that even if HUD approves the pre-payment, there would be a requirement for the rents to remain affordable for the same duration of time as if the pre-payment were not approved. So what gives?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has yet to receive a formal request from Kukui Gardens Corp. to pay off the HUD-backed mortgage on its Kukui Gardens rental housing complex in downtown Honolulu.

But if it does, HUD will ensure that the property will continue as rental housing for low- and moderate-income families through 2011, according to a letter from Beverly Miller, director of HUD’s Office of Asset Management.

———-

The department can approve prepayments as long as the owners of the housing projects enter into use agreements to continue to provide rental housing for low-income families through the date of the original mortgage, under a HUD policy first approved in 2004 and renewed this year.

But that contradicts federal law, which prohibits the HUD secretary from approving prepayments on projects that continue to meet a need for rental housing for low-income families in the area, said Gavin Thornton, attorney for the Kukui Gardens tenants.

So, as I read that, in either situation (pre-payment approved or disapproved) the rents would remain affordable.

Rents will rise under a use agreement, Thornton said. And prepayment will allow Kukui Gardens Corporation to sidestep current requirements to sell its project to a nonprofit corporation and deposit the proceeds into a trust for low-income housing.

There’s (hopefully) a step in Thornton’s argument that is not reported, because if there is not then I don’t see how the rents will rise before 2011 (unless a new owner would not be bound by the use agreement). As for the pre-payment circumventing “current requirements,” I am assuming that those refer to the trust documents discussed previously. Here again, the article doesn’t explain the (legal) basis on which Thornton expects the Court to intervene. Unless HUD regulations require(d) that form of trust documents, then how could HUD (legally) object to a pre-payment that circumvents those documents?

This is an example of a “raises more questions than it answers” story.

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Polling businesses “e-mailly”

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:48 am
The Pacific Business News introduces us to a new adverb in this story about an effort by the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce to conduct prompt web-based polling in the hopes of influencing legislators in 2007. This will be part of a website re-work that goes live on Thursday, according to the press release article.

The site, designed by Spunge Media and created by Empowered Internet Solutions, will also have a feature to make it easier for members to contact public officials e-mailly.

“E-mailly?!” Sheesh.

If this member polling were done well, it has potential. However, I doubt it will be done well. Cynic that I am, I expect the Chamber to use “push polling” techniques and/or to only report poll results that strongly favor the priorities of the Chamber leadership. I’m assuming they are going to limit the polling to members only, and that there will be some way to limiting each member to one response. The bigger problem will be getting a significant number of the members to actually participate when the questions are posed.

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10/2/2006

OHA considers private school tuition assistance plan

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:43 am
The Advertiser seems to have scooped everyone with this article about a proposed half-million dollar OHA plan to help fund private school tuition for Native Hawaiians. It could help (at least) 100 students in its first year.

OHA would give up to $5,000 per student in kindergarten through grade 12 in a school that is a member of the Hawai’i Association of Independent Schools. The program would exclude Kamehameha Schools, which provides aid to its students.

Priority would be given to those from families coming from the low and “gap” income categories. Scholarships would be capped at no more than half of a student’s tuition cost. The proposal was approved last week.

OHA trustee Oswald Stender cited studies showing that more than 60,000 students in the public school system have Hawaiian blood.

“They represent 40 percent of the public school population and yet (Hawaiians as a whole are) only 20 percent of the population,” Stender said. “Where do the other kids go? They go to private schools. Hawaiians cannot afford the tuition.”

In some respects, this looks a lot like a private school voucher program, thus the BOE/DOE (and the HSTA) reaction could be interesting. Many conservatives (including those who are weak- or non-supporters of OHA) are very much in favor of school vouchers, which adds another level of political intrigue to this proposal. Would Hawaii conservatives oppose (and eventually challenge in the Courts) this proposal on the basis of it being another program that non-Hawaiians are not eligible to benefit from, or will they support the voucher-like aspect of this proposal insofar as it establishes a foothold on that front?

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Hirono, Hogue wait on national-party funds

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:42 am
The Advertiser has a follow-up article today on the topic of support from the national-level Parties in the 2nd Congressional District race.

Just hours after the primary election results were announced, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a news release endorsing state Sen. Bob Hogue for the U.S. House seat in the 2nd Congressional District.

The committee has maintained for months that the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ed Case is up for grabs, and while it has never been held by a Republican, the party says this could be the year that changes.

But the question now is whether the committee will back up its news releases endorsing Hogue with cash, something Hogue had trouble coming up with in the primary. He raised almost $71,000, compared with Democrat Mazie Hirono’s almost $650,000.

NRCC spokesman Alex Burgos refused to say whether the committee would help fill Hogue’s campaign coffers.

——–

Hirono, who spent two days last week meeting with Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C., is still waiting to hear whether she will receive financial support from the national Democratic Party, but [her campaign manager] Stauch is optimistic Hirono will be able to demonstrate need.

“We can make a good case,” she said.

While Hawai’i’s primary was held too late for Hirono to be included in an upcoming Emily’s List mailer, she will continue to receive campaign support from the national grass-roots organization, which offered her assistance in the primary.

And like Hogue, Hirono is receiving vocal support from Washington, while waiting to hear whether campaign dollars will follow.

The day after the primary, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued a statement supporting all the Democratic candidates.

“Together we are going to re-elect Congressman Abercrombie and elect former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono as Hawai’i’s next member of Congress,” he said.

Yeah, well talk is cheap. I believe that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats at the national level consider the Hirono-Hogue race to be truly “in play.” It’s still early enough for me to be proven wrong, of course.

Also, I note that Mr. Dean made no mention of “cringing” with respect to the Hirono candidacy…

Comments (1)
Numerous issues raised in Kauai election result challenge

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:42 am
The Garden Island News has more detail today about the challenge of the Kauai Mayoral election results (see also this previous post). In comparison to the candidate who cites the “Aloha Spirit,” the other grounds cited in the challenge are more in line with the Western legal traditions…

Hoff brought up 15 issues to challenge the results, including allegations that the County Attorney?s Office contributed to Baptiste?s campaign.

?That?s a conflict of interest,? Hoff said, of an alleged $1,800 donation.

Baptiste did not return phone calls yesterday to comment.

Hoff also accused the county of having faulty electronic tabulating equipment, inconsistent procedures for absentee and walk-in voters and ballots that were allegedly introduced and counted after the polls had closed.

?Ballots were being introduced after final results were reported ? 794 of them,? Hoff said. ?Where did they come from??

Counting ballots is supposed to be overseen by a member of each political party, Hoff said, a statute he believes wasn?t honored. ?The Democratic party chair was never notified,? he said.

Hoff also is frustrated over several ballots being disqualified because the mayoral spot was left blank or because voters were not informed the ballot had two sides.

County clerk Peter Nakamura announced last week that Baptiste won the election outright.

It was the County Attorney’s office that opined for the County Clerk that the Mayor won re-election in the primary by a single vote, which should have been noted in the article to provide better context. I’m not sure I understand how the County Attorney’s “Office” could have made a contribution, but even if it was a personal donation made by the County Attorney it was not a good idea for the donor to then become involved in resolving the issue.

The reasons Hoff cites in his challenge at least seem worthy of review. I’m a bit surprised that these reasons were not reported earlier, but whatever.

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To the summit on arm power alone

Filed under:
General
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:41 am
Forgive me, this is another non-politics story—this time from the Big Island. I’ve been following the story over the weekend about Sean O’Neill, a mainland visitor climbing from the ocean to the summit of Mauna Kea using his wheelchair. Today the two Hawaii County papers (Hawaii Tribune-Herald and West Hawaii Today) went to press shortly before he completed the trip, but the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that O’Neill made it to the top. Neat! He hopes to attempt a climb of Haleakala before his visit ends in a few days.

Incidentally, I almost posted about this on Saturday because I thought the closing paragraphs of this initial SB account were unnecessarily snide in the way they described how the climber injured himself and came to use a wheelchair. Furthermore, the article implied that his two companions on the climb were going to be helpful to keep him safe from his own personality quirks. That part of the article seemed like a cruel (and gratuitous) cheap shot to me. A different writer is on the by-line of today’s story.

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10/1/2006

Is Lingle distancing herself from the President by proxy?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:49 am
Today I note a few nibbles on the “how Thielen was selected” theme I’ve been writing about.

From a KGMB television story (from Thursday, when I was at sea):

The question is did most people know [a vote for Coffee meant the GOP would name a replacement] when they went to vote?

“I’m not sure most people understood it was empowering the Republican party to make that selection,” said State Democratic Party Chairman Mike McCartney. “Then again, it’s their right and I don’t think we should second-guess the voters.”

“If someone felt the Democratic process was watered down because that’s the way it’s laid out, then change the laws,” said State Republican Party Chairman Sam Aiona.

Gov. Linda Lingle, who publicly revealed she voted for coffee even though he was no longer a candidate, defended the process.

“I think it sets up a very quick process to replace someone when there’s a vacancy on the ballot and I think that’s exactly what occurred in this case,” Lingle said.

The process is adequate the way it is, in my opinion. However, what is being overlooked by Lingle (and McCartney!) is that Coffee announced his withdrawal so far in advance that there was no reason that the GOP could not have explained to the voters who they intended to name as a replacement. The secrecy (or, at best, the delay) regarding Thielen could have been avoided—-and I’ve yet to see anybody ask the Governor to explain the anti-democratic opportunism her action suggests. It’s not as if Mr. Coffee had his heart attack a few days before the Primary. It was weeks before the election.

Meanwhile, an interesting Advertiser article has this:

Thielen, 73, was appointed by the Hawai’i Republican Party to replace Jerry Coffee, a former Navy pilot and motivational speaker who won the Republican primary despite withdrawing because of health reasons after the ballots were printed. The party was looking for someone articulate and credible who could speak to independents but who had nothing to lose politically. Thielen had no opposition this year in state House District 50 (Kailua, Mokapu), and will not have to give up her seat to run.

At the Monday news conference on her appointment, Thielen said she could not say how she would have voted on the war in Iraq because she did not have the same information Congress was given at the time. She said she did not favor an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops but suggested that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should be replaced.

In the interview Friday, and in a position paper posted on her campaign Web site, she clarified her views on the war.

Thielen said she would have supported the initial invasion but believes the United States did not have an adequate post-war strategy. She said President Bush should fire or reassign Rumsfeld and Army Gen. John Abizaid, who commands military operations in Iraq. She said the Iraqi government should either pass a bill requesting that U.S. troops stay or have a referendum on the question.

Thielen said she wants the United States to succeed and Iraq to become an example of a functioning democracy in the Middle East. But she believes without substantial changes to the Bush administration’s policy there is no alternative other than to withdraw troops. “I am unwilling to ask our men and women to give up their lives when our leadership is giving them no chance of success,” she wrote in her position paper.

UPDATE: Thielen (or her son?) has still not approved my comment on her blog asking her about this.

…and how does Governor Lingle respond now that Thielen’s position paper is out there and now being discussed in the media? One of the (two) other Republicans who could have been appointed (because he also has no general election opponent—a fact the article does not note), shares a bit of sour grapes:

State Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Kahala, Hawai’i Kai), said Thielen would do her best against Akaka under the circumstances but asked, more broadly, whether the local party is afraid of standing up for President Bush or conservative beliefs.

“Why would voters want Republicans moving closer to Democrats when they can have the real thing?” Slom asked.

Senator, please refer to the earlier “someone articulate and credible who could speak to independents” criteria. Heh. That’s not you, sir.

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Liu wants gasoline price transparency to suffice

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:48 am
An op-ed in the SB today from DBEDT Director Liu pledges a Lingle administration effort to fund the gasoline pricing “transparency” provisions of the law. I’m happy to see it.

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has consistently pointed out that the regulation of gasoline prices is more harmful than helpful to consumers.

——–

Any gas cap formula that ties Hawaii’s prices to other markets will import the price volatility of those markets to Hawaii. Last week’s military coup in Thailand caused a spike in the Singapore spot prices, which would have led to higher prices in Hawaii under the revised gas cap formula passed by the Legislature.

——–

Additionally, Lingle has championed transparency in the reporting of information by local oil companies. A stringent monitoring program along with a petroleum information system and database creates more accountability in the local oil industry. The Legislature agreed, passing a bill to give the PUC this authority. However, the Legislature provided only $1 to implement this new program.

The PUC will seek this coming year the resources it needs to implement the transparency system. We hope the Legislature will recognize and give the PUC the funds it deserves to inform consumers about competition and profits in the oil industry.

CONFIDENTIAL TO REVISOR OF STATUTES: The online HRS does not reflect the amendments made to the price cap formula by Act 77 of 2005.

I wish Liu would have described the means by which transparency, and the “accountability” created by transparency, would actually lead to a reduction in gasoline prices without some method of “introducing volatility.” I’m much more wonkish than the average consumer, so I am very eager to see transparency in place, but if transparency doesn’t lead to lower prices then I think most consumers won’t be satisfied with simply knowing the extent to which they are being gouged…

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