January 10, 2009

Poinography July 2007 archive

Filed under: — Doug @ 2:23 pm



Can somebody explain OHA’s “Plan B” idea to me?

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:10 pm
The Advertiser editorial today is another endorsement of the Native Hawaiian Recognition legislation (Akaka Bill), in spite of the likely veto should Congress pass some form of the bill. However, the editorial closes with this:

Meanwhile, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs ? custodians of what assets the state has designated for Native Hawaiian benefits ? is contemplating a “Plan B” strategy, as it should.

The question is: Will that strategy really make trust funds for Hawaiian programs safer than they are today?

OHA attorneys are reviewing a proposal to create a nonprofit limited liability company (LLC) in which to transfer some of the assets, an idea being pursued by OHA trustee Oswald “Oz” Stender. Stender said this might offer some protection for Hawaiian funds that in theory could be challenged legally and withdrawn.

Of course, OHA has prevailed in such challenges so far, which suggests there is another motive. Stender said it is this: An LLC would be able to pursue real estate and other investments more in the manner of a business, with a measure of privacy that the state’s sunshine law wouldn’t allow.

Hmmm. I wrote about another alternative plan last summer, but this LLC scheme sounds somewhat different. Maybe. Details were sketchy last year, too.

Has there been any recent reporting on this topic that I simply missed? Google hasn’t been much of a helper on this question.

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Borreca continues his ConCon cheerleading

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 6:36 pm
This is from Sunday, but Borreca’s latest column is another of his attempts to rally behind the onece-per-decade possibility of a Constitutional Convention.

The idea of publicly funded elections has been toyed with for eight years. Kory Payne, the community organizer for Voter Owned Hawaii, says his group will be back again for another push in the 2008 Legislature.

But if Payne and the groups that supported the idea of taking special interest money out of Hawaii’s elections pushed for a ConCon and then ran members as delegates, there would be less of an argument that their view was being stiffed by special interests.

Well, if you’ve been reading this blog a while, then you’d know that I am among those that support publicly funded elections. However, I don’t believe that supporters could (irony alert) raise enough money to run successful campaigns to elect a majority at a ConCon in favor of public funding. Indeed, I think it would be more likely that the victorious ConCon candidates would be dominated by those funded via the usual cadre of political donors (i.e. corporate officers of government contractors, party activists of all stripes, and political action committees). Few of those donors could be expected to favor publicly-funded elections, as they are understandably (if cynically) content with the status quo whereby they have disporportionate influence.

In short, the powers-that-be are more likely to prevail and to further entrench their power. The usurpers listed by Borreca (i.e. the publicly financed election supporters, unions seeking binding arbitration, and “quixotic liberals” who want universal healthcare) are facing a stacked deck (difficult to elect a majority of ConCon delegates and even more difficult to have any of their agenda ratified). In my opinion, in this milieu piecemeal Constitutional Amendments on those topics are the way to go—even though a convention would provide the grist for some fascinating blogging…

The long road is better than a shortcut that possibly leads to a permanent dead end.

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Good sailing, but am I ever tired!

Filed under: Sailing — Doug @ 7:23 pm
It’s windy out there, folks. Friday went very well for us, and today we were middle-of-the-pack. Two more races on Sunday, so I believe we are still in the hunt.

After the racing tomorrow there is a dinner and prize-giving, so I may not have any new post activity unless I can knock something out before going to the boat.

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Bureau of Conveyances employees accepted gifts – records go online

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 6:36 pm
Kudos to the West Hawaii Today for this article that includes a link to the records subpoenaed by the Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee on the Bureau of Conveyances. Among these records (PDFs are here and here) is the information that was “tainted” by Mr. Lui’s “biased” investigation for the Ethics Commission.

The article takes a stab at excerpting some of the material. There is a great deal of stuff to plow through, but I don’t have enough time tonight…

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Busy weekend of sailing ahead

Filed under: Sailing — Doug @ 9:33 pm
I will try, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll have time to read and write on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I will be competing in the Waikiki Offshores regatta, and doing a bit of hanging around Transpac row, too. Lucky me!

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Maui News bids farewell to veteran staffer

Filed under: HI Media, Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 6:45 pm
When I recall the words “Liz Janes-Brown reporting from Maui,” I think of Hawaii Public Radio news, but according to this obituary in the Maui News Liz was a very big fixture in Maui media and cultural life. The obituary is a very fitting tribute to Janes-Brown, and reading it makes me feel good to have heard so many of her radio reports and to have read at least some of her reporting.

Reporters of her generation are no longer young, but it’s still always something of a shock to hear of the death of a prominent voice.

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YouTube campaign messages – coming soon in Hawaii races?

Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 6:59 pm
The SB has an interesting story that quotes several local politicos who think that YouTube may become a factor in Hawaii elections. This follows a CNN debate of the candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination for President. I don’t watch television, but I would watch YouTube if local versions of that type of campaign event were to be posted there.

The ease in posting videos on the Internet can also be an new tool in political races, says Neal Milner, University of Hawaii political scientist and ombudsman.

Supporters with video cameras in mainland campaigns have followed opponents to record any public slips in their speeches or appearances, and the same thing is likely to happen here.

“Gossip that used to be spread furtively and anonymously will now be spread publicly and systematically,” Milner said. “Gaffes and opposition truth squads will become more visible.

“Unpaid campaign workers can now get credibility by making a video instead of simply passing out literature and waving signs.”

Schatz warned that sort of campaigning could hurt because it would make candidates more cautious, rewarding the “mistake-free campaign.”

“You don’t want a leader who is just someone who doesn’t make a verbal gaffe. … Some of our greatest governors were not skilled orators,” Schatz said.

Those looking for rich veins of verbal gaffes to mine could simply record Olelo’s coverage of legislative floor sessions. Often the media are not present to capture the gaffes (or are present but don’t consider them newsworthy), and seeing the occasional oratorical clown show on video (or live, of course) is the only way to understand just how odd some of the comments made on the floor can be. Too bad the Olelo camera goes silent whenever there is a recess for a parliamentary spat, that’s when all the fireworks happen. Oh, to be in the gallery with a shotgun-style microphone and a camera not controlled by the disinterested Olelo staff… heh.

Anyway, leaving that fantasy aside, candidate forum questions from the general public may or may not be more interesting than from a traditional moderated debate, but I think it’s an experiment worth trying. If for no other reason, then because the novelty alone would attract a slightly larger audience than normal.

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Rough conditions delay Superferry visit to Maui

Filed under: HI State Politics, Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 7:34 pm
Far be it from me to question the decision of any mariner who decides not to go to sea due to the weather conditions, but this Maui News story doesn’t exactly match the rhetoric we heard early on from the Superferry folks whenever they were asked about the ability of their vessels to operate reliably in the sometimes treacherous channels between the Hawaiian islands…

A Superferry announcement said initially that the 340-foot Alakai would arrive [in Kahului] Saturday, but the certification trip was delayed because of rough ocean conditions resulting from the proximity of Tropical Depression Cosme. There were small-craft advisories posted for channels around Maui County on Saturday.

Um, small craft advisories are not uncommon… Sometimes such advisories remain in effect for days at a time in our State. So, how often can we expect the Superferry be delayed by the weather and/or sea state? More- or less-often than air travel? I dunno.

Their website paints a rather more optimistic view:

One of the most important features is the ferry?s catamaran design ? inspired by Polynesian double-hulled canoes ? which enables family-friendly, high-speed transport over Hawai?i’s open ocean waters. Modern catamarans have revolutionized high-speed sea transport along European shores, linking Great Britain to Ireland and joining isolated communities along the Norwegian coast, and our ships will accomplish the same here.

We shall see.

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Editors’ acquittal of Djou based on mangled quote

Filed under: Honolulu Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 5:55 pm
My Friday post about Councilmember Djou’s apparent breach of confidentiality was, at first, not that big of a deal to me. Today, however, I see a SB editorial defending Djou that I need to respond to. Not because I think a lot rides on the outcome of Councilmember Tam’s complaint, but because it seems the SB has subtly manipulated a [seemingly] direct quote in order to give the impression that the law conforms to their argument.

From the editorial:

Tam contends that Djou violated a conflict-of-interest clause of the ethics code that members not “disclose confidential information gained by reason of such person’s office or position to use such information for the personal gain or benefit of anyone.” He said Djou benefited by having his name published in the newspaper.

That is ludicrous. “Personal gain or benefit” in the ethics code means financial or other gain in the private sector, such as using it to gain city contracts for family members. For example, if Marshall, a former TV news reporter, still had that job and reported such executive goings-on to viewers, she would be in violation. Djou did not violate the ethics code.

When, as I linked to yesterday, the City Ethics Code actually says:

No elected or appointed officer or employee shall … disclose confidential information gained by reason of such person’s office or position or use such information for the personal gain or benefit of anyone. …

They inserted the word “to” and deleted the word “or.” So what? Well, think about it. The ethics code says if Action A or Action B, then you have violated the ethics code. Action A in Djou’s case is pretty cut and dried; Djou disclosed information obtained in executive session. Action B, “personal gain or benefit” may or may not have happened, but that is irrelevant in determing if Djou violated the ethics code. An action fulfilling either component of the code would suffice, and Djou obviously committed one part.

The SB editors do not make any attempt to deny Djou disclosed information obtained in executive session, instead because the editors have amended mis-transcribed (?!) the ethics code to require both disclosure and a personal gain from the disclosure. I am not a lawyer, but I know that it’s the law on the books, not some version of the law that makes an editorial argument ring true, that matters in the end.

The SB editors blew it, and it looks as if the sophistry could even have been intentional.

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Hawaii law to protect reporters studied

Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 5:53 pm
According to this Advertiser story, next year we are likely to see a few attempts at legislation to give some sort of protection to reporters who use confidential sources.

“I think the core issue is who is included in the definition of journalist and how far it goes into blogging,” said state Sen. Les Ihara, Jr., D-9th (Kapahulu, Kaimuki, Palolo), who said he will be discussing a shield law with the Society of Professional Journalists Hawai’i chapter and the Honolulu Community Media Council. “Where do you draw the line?”

State Rep. Gene Ward, R-17th (Kalama Valley, Queen’s Gate, Hawai’i Kai), who plans to meet with media attorney Jeff Portnoy about a shield law this month, said he was motivated by the Zimmerman subpoena. “That was the traffic accident that said to me, we have to put a stoplight there,” he said.

State Rep. Tommy Waters, D-51st (Lanikai, Waimanalo), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he is interested in drafting a shield law and considers it is a First Amendment issue.

“We’re talking about freedom of speech,” Waters said. “I side with the Constitution.”

State House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell, D-24th (Manoa), state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, D-21st (Nanakuli, Makaha) and state Sen. Brian Taniguchi, D-10th (Manoa, McCully), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, said they are open to a shield law. State Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Kahala, Hawai’i Kai), is also drafting a version.

Hmmm. Is the Slom-Zimmerman relationship enough to constitute a conflict of interest? Heh.

Anyway, moving beyond the still-theoretical bill, there is also discussion of if/how the media can participate in the legislative debate (and/or report on the debate) without breaking ethical norms against overt political advocacy.

Active lobbying for a shield law by the news media, either through newspaper editorial pages or advocacy groups like the SPJ, could present the appearance of a conflict or the perception the media would be beholden to lawmakers for giving reporters special privileges.

“Whenever you go to a Legislature for a favor, you can pretty well expect that the next time they want to do something and you say they shouldn’t be involved, they’ll point to the shield law,” Portnoy said.

Many veteran journalists believe reporters who cover politics or the Legislature should not lobby, but that the news media should be aggressive about protecting First Amendment rights.

“Newspaper editorials have historically championed open government and a free reporting environment,” said David Shapiro, a former managing editor of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin who writes an opinion column and blog for The Advertiser. “Promoting the public’s right to know is one of our primary obligations under the First Amendment protections we enjoy, and I don’t see a conflict of interest.

“If we believe in our calling, it would be irresponsible not to speak out for the freedom to do our jobs without government intimidation.”

Kim Fassler of the Advertiser has a post on that thorny aspect of the question on her personal blog.

Rather than wade into the “definition of a reporter” fray, I intend to submit testimony in support of protection for bloggers who conduct original newsgathering, and, of course, I’ll be covering the legislation here on this blog. So I’ll have a conflict, guaranteed. I won’t be losing any sleep over ethics, though. Heck, I’ll even serve as a ghostwriter/conduit for reporters who would like to testify but are forbidden by their editors! Seriously.

All that is missing from this discussion is the Governor’s views on providing a journalist/blogger shield (perhaps her opinion would arrive via the Attorney General), the reaction from the leaders of the Bar Association, and from the County governments and Prosecuting Attorneys. If the Hawaii media are collectively hamstrung by ethical fretting and decide that they won’t cover/testify on the legislation, then you can rest assured that those folks will dominate the debate.

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Congrats to iLind.net for 1,000,000th visitor

Filed under: HI Media — Doug @ 7:29 pm
Nothing that I’m interested in wrtiing about today, but I would like to offer my congratulations to Ian Lind for his hit counter reaching 7-digits. Wow.

From his proud post:

If you go by the counter on this page, you?ll see that it?s inching towards 1,000,000 and should hit that mark later today.

I take this as my ?official? counter, since it?s been in place since 1999. But it only counts visits to these main pages and not the entire site, which rambles, to put it politely.

Ramble on, sir!

…maybe I need cats to get some cat blogging started in order to serve that volume of pages, haha. Nah. I’m quite happy with Perl.

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Councilmembers clash over confidentiality/grandstanding

Filed under: Honolulu Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 8:23 pm
Both Honolulu dailies report (Advertiser and Star-Bulletin) on Councilmember Tam’s complaint to the State Ethics Commission regarding Councilmember Djou’s disclosure of information from a closed session of the Council this past April. Council Chair Marshall introduced a resolution that would allow transgressions such as what Djou did to be punished by barring the leaker from Executive Sessions. So far, Marshall’s resolution has been deferred twice, so perhaps Tam just ran out of patience and went to the Ethics Commission instead.

UPDATE: Thanks to an alert reader who pointed out that this complaint is to the City Ethics Commission, not to the State Ethics Commission. I have revised the link below. The points I make still hold, so far as I can tell.

At the time of Djou’s disclosure, the city was preparing to enter a federal court agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require the sewer work. Djou outlined the deal in an on-the-record interview.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann and some other officials and council members were clearly displeased that the information appeared in the next day’s newspaper, but the story did not derail the agreement.

Tam said disclosing information from private “executive session” briefings “creates a bad environment to work in, and sooner or later, no one trusts each other.”

He outlined his concerns in a letter to the Ethics Commission dated July 16. A copy of the letter was faxed anonymously to The Advertiser Wednesday.

Djou, an attorney, said he is confident the commission will exonerate him, since there is no council rule or policy that clearly prohibits a member from disclosing information from executive sessions.


Chuck Totto, executive director of the city Ethics Commission, said he received the letter and initiated an investigation that could take six to 12 months.

Totto said this case is complex and could take longer to investigate because his office does not receive many complaints regarding confidential information He will investigate whether Djou violated any attorney-client privileges and define what “personal gain” means under the City Charter.

Tam said councilmembers understand that discussions during executive session are confidential and are not disclosed to the public unless members agree to do so.

“It was at the city’s best interest that it would be a closed meeting,” Tam said yesterday. “Charles Djou talked to the press for political purposes. Everyone knows that Charles Djou just wants to have his name in the paper.”

It kinda makes me wonder what would have happened had Djou’s interview with the Advertiser been conducted off-the-record. I presume the newspaper would have protected their source, but how would the Council and Mayor have reacted? Anyway, if Tam is correct about Djou’s vanity, and I think he is, then it’s unlikely that Djou would ever speak to the media anonymously. haha

I think Totto is digging deeper than is really necessary. Djou admits to disclosing the information. The question of if there was any “personal gain” is interesting, but not necessary to establish that the law was broken (the language of the ordinance is”or” rather than “and”). Likewise, Djou’s comments that there was no “damage” from his disclosure is irrelevant, not to mention impossible to “prove.” i.e. There is no way to know how the negotiations with the federal government might have proceeded had the article not been published, so it’s impossible to “prove” that there would have been a different (better or worse) outcome.

If I recall correctly, Djou is an officer in the Army Reserve. As such, Djou more than likely holds a security clearance of some kind. I wonder what the security manager at his unit would say about Djou’s seeming propensity to unilaterally “reclassify” information entrusted to his confidence…

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Dueling op-eds: Senate Majority Leader vs. House Minority Leader

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 8:28 pm
Ready? Fight!

Senator Hooser ran this piece in the Garden Island News recently, and today I noticed Representative Finnegan has written an op-ed in the Advertiser. Both columns were written to defend the veto override votes during the recent special session. It’s interesting to read them back-to-back.


A close look at the legislation we passed into law over the governor?s objections shows that each initiative addresses important and specific policy objectives. While the governor persisted in describing the measures as being somehow ?flawed,? that was disingenuous. While one can legitimately claim that the initiatives may have contained components that the governor did not agree with?and she is entitled to disagree?the correct characterization would be one of a difference of opinion on policy. But such is the nature of ?spin.?

One clear example of this difference of opinion is the governor?s attempt to veto the Pedestrian Safety Bill, SB1191. Her stated objection was the source of funding. We in the legislature had made a conscious policy decision that the state should pay for this critical project out of the highway fund, as there is a direct nexus between building highways and the safety of pedestrians at highway intersections. We preferred to protect general fund balances, to insure adequate support for worthy programs in education, human services and in other important areas. Contrary to the spin from the Executive Chambers, no matching federal highway funds will be lost or delayed by this action.


The governor and the Department of Transportation repeatedly warned the Legislature to not allocate money for projects using the state Highway Fund. The Legislature’s previous raids of this fund, combined with the administration’s effort to catch up on decades of maintenance and improvements, were ignored. Recent emergency repair work from floods and earthquakes has taken its toll on the fund. The governor requested $72 million be infused into the fund this session to meet the needs of current highway projects. This request was denied by the Legislature.

It was explained by the House Democrats that a variety of “mini” tax increases would put money back into the fund. However, the $1 surcharge on rental cars adds no new money in the highway account. Two of the vetoed bills, the pedestrian safety bill and the Maui traffic control center bill, take $3.4 million out of the Highway Fund, an account already short of money. With a federal match, the $3.4 million would become approximately $15 million. However, these bills jeopardize the match, and no one wins.

Clearly, there is a stark difference in interpretation regarding the matching funds. If the Republicans can explain exactly which federal matching funds will be lost, then they should make that case. Otherwise, following the Republican logic, there should never be any money expended from the Highway Fund, even for highways, unless it is part of a federal matching fund project.

Finnegan, again:

Upon reviewing the explanations for the vetoes and realizing that the Legislature needed to do a better job with these bills, the House Republicans’ goal was to prevent as many bad bills as possible from an override. The work of the House and Senate Republicans paid off, and 16 bills did not make it to the floor; in effect, sustaining the veto of the governor.

House Republicans made a difference during this special session.


What you may have witnessed from the outside looking in is that the override session was a partisan activity on both Republican and Democrat sides. The real story is that there was more “working together” with some Democrats than the actual votes reflected. The more I understand ? but don’t accept ? why partisanship is prevalent in government, the more I realize why a strong two-party and balanced Legislature is important for the people of Hawai’i and that Republicans make a difference.

Yeah, about like insects “make a difference” in stopping the windshields of large trucks. i.e. The trucks stop for internal reasons or breakdowns, not from the insects splattered on the windshield. Heh.

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Another inmate injured; PSD response is muted

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 6:51 pm
Today the Advertiser has another disturbing story that suggests that a previous incident at a mainland prison housing Hawaii inmates was not a fluke. The guard responsible for the previous incident was fired, after an investigation found that he was “compromised” by a prison gang. Twice now the cell doors of rival inmates have been simultaneously opened with the predictable result of violent attacks and serious injuries; meanwhile, another inmate is quoted saying that several other times the doors have been opened without warning that resulted in less serious violence.

Is firing the dirty officer all that can be done? If the officer was truly working with a prison gang, then it seems to me that makes him an accessory to the assaults and should trigger some sort of criminal charges—not a simple dismissal. A pretty good case could be made for a civil rights violation, too, I reckon (would that be against Hawaii or CCA? I dunno.). What consequences may the state impose on the private prison operator when apalling incidents like this occur? It’s not as if Hawaii could credibly threaten to take away the business, because there is pretty much no other alternative readily available.

The Department of Public Safety response is lackluster. They simply report that CCA officers were disciplined and that’s about it. Is it going to take a murder to draw sufficient attention to resolve this problem?!

UPDATE 7/22:
The interim Director of DPS responds with something approaching the appropriate amount of outrage in a follow-up report today. An editorial, too.

Hawai’i Department of Public Safety interim director Clayton Frank said CCA did not tell Hawai’i prison authorities about some of the incidents until Wednesday night, after The Advertiser published complaints from inmates about repeated cases where doors opened unexpectedly and improperly, leaving protective custody prisoners vulnerable to attacks by prison gangs.


Frank said CCA overall has done a “tremendous” job managing Hawai’i inmates, and incidents will happen in prison. However, Frank said he wants the problems with the doors solved.

“This is one incident too many, and to me the line has pretty much been drawn here that I want to see some results over there, I don’t want to see our people getting injured because of staff not doing what they’re supposed to do or…glitches in their control stations,” he said.

“I have an obligation to these inmates, and these incidents, I read the response and it’s not totally acceptable to me,” he said. “The thing that I want to make sure is, when we ask for things, tell us, and if we’re not satisfied, I think we have an obligation to seek assistance elsewhere.”

Maybe I’m mis-recalling this, but doesn’t the Department allegedly have a contract compliance officer whose task is to keep a good eye on the inmates on the mainland and to make sure CCA is providing an acceptable level of service? If so, that person has some ’splainin to do.

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Maui Council salaries likely to become even higher (and still highest)

Filed under: Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 7:04 pm
This is actually a AP story from Monday’s SB and Sunday’s Advertiser, but it is worth a look. Previously I wrote about Council salaries here. The Salary Commission is still stymied by the decision 4 months later… maybe they are too busy with other work? Oh, wait, that’s right, they have no other task. haha.

Commission members have proposed increasing the pay to as high as $70,000, but deferred action Friday until its Aug. 10 meeting.

The commission believes the current salaries are putting a strain on the members. The county chairman is currently paid $57,500 annually, with councilmembers earning $52,500.

In comparison, Honolulu City Council members received a 5 percent increase on July 1 that boosted their pay to $49,245 from $46,900 with the chairman now earning $55,020.

The Maui commission wants to increase the pay scale based on the workload and the need to attract qualified councilmembers in the future.

“We’re all looking for who is going to be there in the future and how are we going to get them to run,” commissioner Jason Williams said. “All I want to do is make sure that our County Council understands that we know that they need a cost-of-living adjustment.”

I still believe that there are plenty of qualified individuals earning less than $52,500 who could run for seats on the Council and, simultaneously, that qualified people making more than $52,500 per year should be able to survive a few years of lower pay in the name of community service. What do I know, though? Grrr.

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Looking for new election technology, but not too new

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 8:19 pm
Hawaii is going to award a new contract for elections hardware and software, according to this SB article, when an upcoming request for proposals is complete. Last year I wrote a post on the voting machine topic, and this article hits the same themes:

Hawaii law calls for voting machines to include a paper printout, but Seligson said the machines print on flimsy thermal paper that is difficult to handle if a manual recount is ordered.

The optical scanner system’s ballots are easier to recount, but large numbers of ballots must be printed in several languages.

To further complicate the voting machine selection, Seligson said, Congress is working on legislation that would require electronic voting machines with some sort of plain paper printers.

Seligson said there have been concerns about electronic systems because computer viruses or malicious software could change election results.

Quidilla said the state is looking for systems that can be leased instead of purchased so that Hawaii will not be stuck with obsolete equipment if the requirements or technology changes.

“It is a huge undertaking. We have a three-month time frame for the RFP (request for proposals), and then we want to acquire the system this year,” Quidilla said.

The system, he said, should be one that speeds up the reporting of election results and is easily understandable by both voters and precinct workers, who must set up the equipment.

“Reliability is also going to be a big thing, and finally, finding a vendor with a track record of supporting their accounts. … It has been a challenge for other vendors,” Quidilla said.

Uh, what about price? If a vendor offers to do all of this on the cheap does procurement law insist that bid win the contract? After all, speed and ease of understanding is going to be pretty hard to guarantee/describe in a bid. We won’t know if the election workers can efficiently handle a system until an actual election is held, and even then it would take multiple elections to rank the systems according to speed and understandability. Furthermore, if a bid arrives with a promising, but brand new, concept, then it will obviously have no track record—does that take such a bid completely out of the running? For example, how about a system that uses the touch screen only to print a ballot in the appropriate language which is then filled in by hand and optically scanned? (with the handicapped using a system with the thermal paper as in 2006) That would save all of the wasted ballot printing, but still give the very credible paper trail in the event of a manual recount.

I’m not very optimistic about this turning out well.

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Sounds familiar..

Filed under: General — Doug @ 8:19 pm
A little snark for the Lege workers: it’s not only Hawaii where you’ll find that the staff are buffet line assasins.

The pay is modest, but if you keep your ear to the ground you can eat pretty well during session.

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Busy, busy, busy

Filed under: General — Doug @ 6:43 pm
Sorry, I never found time to even read the news today, much less enough time to write anything.

On the upside, I did score a cool bike from craigslist, which is always fun.

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State tax revenue under forecast; don’t spook the herd!

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 10:40 am
This is becoming a regularly recurring topic for me, an so I’ll point out that today the Advertiser has a story about the fiscal year 2006-2007 tax revenue figures which were under the forecasted amount.

Although Say said he expects budget restrictions to take place because of lower revenue, state Budget and Finance Director Georgina Kawamura said that is not the case, at least in the first quarter.

“There’s not going to be a shortfall,” she said. “If you’re a member of the general public, nothing will change for you.”

Nevertheless, with the economic slowdown, the administration has warned departments that they will only receive their first quarter’s budget allocations this month and will have to justify future spending.

“We’re in a cautious mood,” Kawamura said.


But Ted Liu, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, said the state is in good shape, with continuous job growth, low unemployment and increased personal spending. “We have the type of economy many states would like to have,” he said. “Based on numbers, based on performance, we have a very healthy economy.”


Liu said talking about a slowdown in the economy was dangerous. “Economists recognize that there is a psychology of an economy,” he said. “If you start jawboning people down by saying the economy is in the tubes, that has the potential of creating a type of behavior that is self-fulfilling, and we should be careful about that.”

Heh. Yeah, well there’s no denying that talk of an economic slowdown is politically dangerous for those who sell themselves as the saviors of the economy, but economists are (allegedly) hard-headed objectivists above the partisan fray.

That said, what might this mean for taxes next year? Were the below-forecast tax revenues sufficient to put the general fund balance in excess of the requisite amount to force a refund or credit? I don’t understand the exact nature of the relationship between revenues and general fund balance well enough to know if 3.4% gowth in revenue is enough to trigger the constitutional provision.

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Akaka bill foes pack the bench of advisory commission

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 10:40 am
The Honolulu dailies report on new appointees to the Hawaii State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that are likely to reverse the previous committee’s support of the Akaka Bill. (Advertiser story here and SB story here.) In a nutshell, the Commission itself came out against the Akaka Bill last time, but the previous state advisory committee was a thorn in their side—coming out in support of the bill. So, following that embarrassment, the Commission’s regional director (whomever that is, probably a Bush appointee) and Staff Director (again, whoever he or she is) followed the process to choose new committee members that could be expected to fall in line with the Commission against the recognition legislation. Now, the Commissioners have approved the two directors’ recommended members at a recent meeting (apparently with a single Commission vote on the whole slate?).

The commission voted on 14 new members to the 17-member advisory committee, including Michael Lilly, a former state attorney general, and Amy Agbayani, a former chairwoman of the Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission. The vote was 6-2 in favor of the new members.

The commission, dominated by Republicans and independents, also chose some of the most visible opponents of federal recognition.

The selections include H. William Burgess, an attorney and activist with Aloha for All, which has fought federal recognition and Hawaiian-only government programs; Paul Sullivan, an attorney who has written against federal recognition; James Kuroiwa, a Republican labor and business-relations activist who joined a lawsuit against government funding for Hawaiian-only programs; Rubellite Johnson, a Hawaiian language scholar who opposes the Akaka bill; and Tom MacDonald, a retired investment executive who is on the board of scholars of the Grassroot Institute of Hawai’i, a libertarian public-policy group that has philosophically and financially led the Akaka bill opposition.

I think it’s worth repeating what I was wondering previously: if any of the new committee members still have lawsuits pending that could be influenced by the status of the Akaka Bill , then would those members still be allowed to vote when the committee considers its position on the Akaka Bill? Aloha for All, according to its website, still is awaiting a decision on a case at the Ninth Circuit and, I would assume, intends to appeal to SCOTUS should they lose. Grassroot [sic] Institute of Hawaii is, so far as I know, still seeking plaintiffs with/for Mr. Rosen to challenge Kamehameha Schools’ admissions policy in a lawsuit that could be filed at any time.

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The new same-old, same-old

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:26 pm
A rather bizarre column from Jerry Burris of the Advertiser today making the following lament:

Locally, there is increasing evidence that a similar scorched-earth policy is taking hold between our Republican governor, Linda Lingle, and the Democrats who run the state Legislature. There is a growing sense of a testy, if not acrimonious, relationship between the two branches of government that does not look to get much better any time soon.


At one level, political competition can be good. But it can also be destructive if it becomes the point of the game.

In Washington, a quartet of grand old men of politics, former Sens. Howard Baker, George Mitchell, Tom Daschle and Bob Dole, have formed a new group called the “Bipartisan Policy Center.” The goal of the group is to find common ground between the parties on major policy challenges. The idea is that you do not give up your core beliefs, but rather that you work to pursue those beliefs in cooperation with others.

Is there room for this kind of approach in Hawai’i, or are we headed toward partisan deadlock?

Partisan deadlock? Now that is alarmist. A “deadlock” would be if nothing could be done due to partisanship. (e.g. The 1995 federal government shutdown was the result of a true partisan deadlock.) The Lege and the Governor have their disagreements, but neither side wins every battle and, a veto skirmish over a few dozen mostly manini pieces of legislation notwithstanding, the work of governing Hawaii goes forward.

Could there be less partisanship? Of course. But it’s much easier for retired warhorses from opposing parties to form a (toothless) policy center than it would be for sitting politicians from opposing parties hoping to remain in office. For those who truly want more nonpartisan consensus and other flavors of political centrism, I suggest they look to a multi-party parliamentary form of government. That’s not how we roll in America, though.

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Mollway complies with subpoena; Lui resigns

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 8:37 pm
The Advertiser has an excellent story about the subpoenaed records of a former Ethics Commission probe of the Bureau of Conveyances (the SB has a weaker piece that only describes the records in general terms). Last week the Ethics Commission seemed to be defying the subpoena of the records by a legislative special committee.

However, it seems that now that the “biased” investigator who gathered the Ethics Commission evidence has resigned from his lead role with the legislative committee staff (where he was briefly employed after his EC gig), Mr. Mollway and some of the (Republican) legislators on the committee are still trying to discredit the evidence—even the interview tapes made of BOC staff, though it is hard to fathom how the staff and the investigator were somehow all part of a conspiracy of bias.

The allegations sound pretty bad, and given the well-known history of dysfunction at the Bureau I am inclined to belive them. Of course, in the larger political picture this is all but a proxy rematch for the Peter Young confirmation fight. Any problems with Bureau will be used to justify his failed confirmation, so the Republicans will fight mightily to find nothing wrong. Why Mollway has taken a pseudo-Republican hard-line stance is a bit harder for me to discern.

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Philippines trip mysteries stay under wraps — for now

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:20 pm
The Honolulu dailies both report that a guilty plea was entered by Mr. Patkar on a single charge of attempted extortion (Advertiser and Star-Bulletin). Four related charges were dropped in the plea deal. The emails that led to the extortion remain sealed.

Meanwhile, in the Hawaii Reporter there is a post with a bit more juice:

Sources say Mae contacted by Awana to set up local female escorts for married men traveling to the Philippines who were major sponsors or donors to the governor. Awana made two trips on the governor?s behalf, once in 2005 and 2006.

Awana also reportedly was in a relationship with one of Mae?s friends ? a woman whose name has not been revealed. Earlier media reports said Mae was the woman who the married Awana was allegedly in a relationship with, but since, law enforcement sources confirm it was actually Mae?s friend who was reportedly involved with Awana, and Mae who was the contact for the escort arrangements.

Patkar, his friends tell Hawaii Reporter, was in a relationship ? at least by email ? with the woman who Awana was reportedly involved with. Her name will remain under seal as will the names of the two prominent Hawaii men who were copied on Awana?s email to Mae requesting escorts for them.

No more information is likely to be made public in this case because the court records have been sealed, the emails remain confidential, Patkar has been silenced via a court mandated ?gag? order, and Awana resigned as chief of staff for the governor on June 29, 2007, after the blackmail attempt, and likely reasons behind it, became public in Hawaii.

The dailies report that Patkar is cooperating with a continuing federal investigation of Awana and/or other defendants. This “ongoing investigation” (as I commented earlier at iLind.net) is now likely to provide the Governor an excuse/defense to avoid talking about the subject. Or will it?

Take a look at this definition of “travel services” from the Hawaii Revised Statutes:

“Travel services” includes transportation by air, sea, or rail; related ground transportation; hotel accommodations; or package tours, whether offered on a wholesale or retail basis.

As I see it, the State arranged to provide “travel services” for the contributor/travelers on those Philippine junkets. Next, look at this piece of handiwork from my past legislative toiling :

Promoting travel for prostitution. (1) A person commits the offense of promoting travel for prostitution if the person knowingly sells or offers to sell travel services that include or facilitate travel for the purpose of engaging in what would be prostitution if occurring in the State.
(2) “Travel services” has the same meaning as [above].

(3) Promoting travel for prostitution is a class C felony.

In my opinion, Patkar’s friends are describing what sounds like that type of illegal behavior. Whoever was talking to Zimmerman should take whatever information they have to the State authorities. Actually, if the State (or, more likely Honolulu) prosecutors had reason to believe the Patkar/Awana/Mae emails could provide evidence of a state crime, then would the federal courts unseal the emails for that investigation? I dunno.

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Hawaii County Council tweaks their web presence

Filed under: Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 8:16 pm
It’s not even close to the extremely thorough Docushare system used by Honolulu, but the Hawaii County dailies share a story (Hawaii Tribune-Herald [featuring a broken link] and West Hawaii Today) about a new method to find Hawaii County agenda and actions taken for the full Council and for the Committees. So far as I can tell, there is no place online to find the full text of all the Hawaii County legislation (although they have a page of “frequently requested” legislation, which is a meager/paternalistic substitute).

Every legislative body should strive for a system like Honolulu’s Docushare—where every piece of legislation and every piece of written testimony is online. Even correspondence to and from the Council is available. Truly impressive.

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Higa is in – details later

Filed under: Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 8:15 pm
With the news that Stacy Higa intends to run for Hawaii County Mayor in 2008, there is a rapidly growing crowd of candidates for the job. Hunter Bishop tipped us to the story in the Hawaii County newspapers yesterday (when my webhost was crawling). Those stories are here and West Hawaii Today – Local >here.

Mr. Higa has few fans among the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reader comments, and does not go into any details regarding his campaign which he intends to “officially” announce in August.

Bishop comments:

Higa’s is largely an ego-driven campaign fueled by friends and family able to look past his actual ability to get elected.

Bishop is obviously much better positioned to comment on it, and he makes a lot of other interesting observations on the race and Higa’s announcement, too, so I recommend his post highly.

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Webhost problems yesterday

Filed under: General — Doug @ 4:41 am
What a streak I’m having. First my laptop loses its mind (and it’s sound capability), then my ISP “upgrade” goes slowly, and now my webhost is having technical difficulties. Please hang in there, everyone.

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TransPac start approaches

Filed under: Sailing — Doug @ 10:05 am
I’m bummed that I’m not competing this year, but the SB has part one of a two-part article about the 2007 race online here [also available in PDF form, for whatever reason].

UPDATE: Part 2 is here.

I have a friend who will be crewing on Cheetah, and I have been talking via amateur radio to Cirrus as she made her way from Kaneohe to Long Beach for the start (see also their blog). But, when they are not talking about the go-fast sleds, I suspect all the local media will fixate on the documentary film being made about the Morning Light program and on the youngest-ever crew of On the Edge of Destiny, with Hawaii crew on both boats. I’m also going to be following local sailing fanatic/bazillionaire Philippe Kahn in the doublehand class aboard Pegasus OP-50.

TransPac and Pacific Cup are truly awesome events. Good luck to all the competitors.

UPDATE: A nice story about the Captain of Cirrus from the SB Tuesday.

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Board of Education comes around on rulemaking Sunshine

Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 10:05 am
Kudos to the SB for seeking guidance from the Office of Information Practices regarding the Board of Education rulemaking process. A new story puts to rest the strange claims made by some members of the Board that discussing the proposed new school security rules (including, among other things, searching lockers for contraband without obtaining warrants) should be debated in Executive Session.

The Board will hear from a Deputy Attorney General in Executive Session, but will discuss the draft rules during public session tomorrow. Hopefully, the OIP letter will be online shortly.

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Who petitioned for Deputy Palo’s green card? When?

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 11:03 am
Since nobody else is following up on my speculation about the unusual hiring of a Philippine Army officer to serve as a member of Lingle’s executive protection unit, I’ll make a start of it myself. Keep in mind that I have never went through the immigration process before, since I was born in America and I’ve never hired a foreigner to work in the U.S.

As you may recall, Awana told Richard Borreca:

“Before we left [the Philippines], I made an offhand comment that if he ever wanted to move to the U.S. and work for us, we would consider him in the governor’s executive protection unit.”

Later, Awana said Palo told him he wanted to move to the United States.

“The next thing I know, he tells me he has a green card and would like to apply for a job,” Awana said.

The next thing Awana knew, Palo has a green card and wants to apply. Hmmm. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it works like that. In fact, the process is supposed to work in the reverse order—job offer first, then green card.

My first stop in trying to understand the process was at the Immigration through Employment page of the Citizenship and Immigration Services website. It says that to obtain a green card, i.e. permanent resident alien status, for most workers the employer that wants to hire the foreigner needs to file a labor certification request [ETA-750 form (PDF)] and a petition for alien worker [I-140 form (PDF)].

So, who submitted the forms on behalf of Palo? Were the forms filed before or after Patkar was indicted in April of 2006? Who paid the $195 application fee for the I-140? Was the executive protection unit position “clearly open” to any qualified U.S. worker as the signature on the ETA-750 form certified?

I don’t know how long it takes the State Employment Service (would that be DLIR?) to process a ETA-750, but, according to the directions for submitting the I-140, the ETA-750 may only be submitted concurrently (i.e. before it is approved) if the alien is in a “shortage occupation”—whatever that means, or a “Schedule A/Group I or II occupation”—which include physical therapists, nurses, artists, and scientists. Anyway, it appears that there is generally a six- to nine-month wait for processing at the Nebraska Service Center assigned to handle the I-140, which would suggest that either Palo’s case was expedited along the way or that those forms were submitted very promptly after the January 2006 trip, since Palo was hired in April of 2007.

Last, did Palo also command the security team for the trip Lingle (and her delegation, including Awana) took to the Philippines in 2005? According to the Hawaii Reporter that’s when Awana allegedly first met Ms. Mae.

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Website may need some additional housecleaning

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 11:03 am
While looking for veto press releases at the Governor’s website, I had a whim to search for “Awana” (since the Chief of Staff link has been quietly removed from “The Team” portion of the menu bar). Voila, Bob’s smiling mug is still the top item on the search results page, even after he has been dismissed.


…no results were returned for search terms “Jullie Mae” nor “Jovito Palo.”

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Let’s see if Mr. Aiona is like Ms. Harbin…

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:44 pm
Looking through my traffic logs, I noticed a hit from DukeAiona.net. It’s a blog by an anonymous author who supports the LG’s campaign for Governor in 2010(!).


dukeaiona.net is not affiliated with nor authorized by James “Duke” Aiona. This site is meant to be an honest and fair critique of an elected official. The author has decided to blog anonymously as protected under the First Amendment.

Anonymity is not protected by the First Amendment, but I have been known to make a few layman’s errors with interpreting the law so I’ll let that pass.

You may recall what happened to the blogger talking stink about Bev Harbin (see posts here and here); Harbin threatened to sue in order to get the domain name away from that blogger (who was operating a great parody site). The anonymous blogger at dukeaiona.net first suggested that Aiona tap Lingle’s donor base to build political capital, yet, in the next post, scolds the SB for “capitulating to the notion that candidates must raise millions of dollars from special interests to be viable.” Whatever.

Also, filed under “unintentional irony from Google ads” is the link provided to a KGMB story about Aiona’s “eat your vegetables” campaign, which speaks to the need for Aiona to be assigned “hefty projects and issues that will increase his visibility.” Heh.

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Star-Bulletin treads lightly in Lind’s footsteps

Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 9:16 pm
Today is the first editorial in the Honolulu media to move toward holding Governor Lingle under scrutiny regarding Bob Awana’s resignation.

Lingle has declined to answer questions about the cases because of pending investigations. That will no longer be the case in the bribery case if Patkar pleads guilty today in federal court, as expected. At the very least, the governor needs to explain why Awana’s resignation was necessary “immediately” last week but not when, according to Awana, she learned about the allegations more than a year ago.

Hmmm. Do any of the recent accounts make it clear whether Awana took the news of the blackmail attempt to Lingle first, or did Awana go to the FBI first?

Oh, and did you catch this subtle dig on the Advertiser’s ability to be exploited?

Awana responded by planting a front-page article in the Honolulu Advertiser about his cooperation in the case, although not describing the nature of the alleged blackmail.

To which I would add “Awana also responded by planting an article in the Star-Bulletin about a Philippine Army officer hired to head Lingle’s security team after the trip where the alleged events occurred; another odd story with especially odd timing that passed with very little scrutiny.”

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Mollway’s contempt

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 9:59 am
Recently the Honoluu media have been running stories about the Joint House-Senate Committee to investigate the Bureau of Conveyances and the controversial appointment of Hilton Lui to lead the committee’s staff. (A sampling of these are here, here and here) Mr. Lui is described as biased, and the accounts say that he was actively working for BLNR Chair Peter Young’s removal in the past legislative session (whereby Young was, in fact, denied a second confirmation to the post).

Lui certainly sounds biased [but, seriously, what good investigator doesn’t cheer privately when his mark goes down?], yet the stories have passages like these that go by without comment:

Dan Mollway, executive director of the state Ethics Commission, has told the committee he cannot comply with a subpoena to turn over its work on the bureau tomorrow because he believes it was tainted by bias.


Dan Mollway, chairman of the state Ethics Commission, said he confronted Lui about a report that Lui clapped and cheered when the Senate voted against Young. Lui responded that he was just expressing his opinion, Mollway said.

Mollway said he has received eight other complaints against Lui since then. Those included a report that Lui lobbied a senator to vote against Young’s confirmation. As a result of Lui’s bias against Young, Mollway said he will not turn over his report to a special Senate-House committee investigating allegations that bureau employees received gifts, trips to Las Vegas and hotel upgrades from companies using the bureau’s services.

The Ethics Commission paid Lui $14,860 for work performed from February to May, according to Mollway. However, Mollway said he regards Lui’s report to be defective because of his demonstrated bias against Young’s reappointment


The joint Senate-House committee looking into the bureau is scheduled to resume its work tomorrow, with members reviewing subpoenaed documents relating to the investigation.

Those documents were to include a report prepared by Hilton Lui, an independent investigator hired by the Ethics Commission to conduct its probe into the bureau. Lui, a former FBI agent, also was appointed by the legislative committee to serve as its lead investigator.

But Ethics Commission Executive Director Dan Mollway sent a letter to the committee last week saying he cannot turn over Lui’s report and supporting documents because he considers the report “null and void because Mr. Lui was so biased with regard to the investigation.”

Wha? Since when does a subpoena from the Legislature carry so little force? Mr. Mollway can simply refuse to comply with the subpoena and that’s it?! That can’t be the end of it.

The $14,860 paid to Mr. Lui was public money, so the work Mr. Lui did is state property. Even if Lui is biased, state property is not subject to the unilateral editorial whim of Mr. Mollway. The report should be handed over as the subpoena requires and the contents of the report should be reviewed by the Comiittee with consideration for the allegations against Lui. Lui’s report can’t simply go down a Orwellian memory hole in defiance of the Legislature without a fight.

The specifics of this case almost don’t matter with respect to the larger issue. If legislative subpoenas may simply be ignored, then we have a problem.

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Ka Leo website is hijacked by a new player in BOP world

Filed under: HI Media — Doug @ 9:59 am
It had been “under construction” for so long that I nearly removed Ka Leo O Hawaii from the list of links, but today I noticed that their page has been crosslinked with this page. There you’ll see a link to Ka Leo (the UH-Manoa student newspaper) described as a “sister publication,” but the link only leads back to Ka Lamakua—another Board of Publications production. Maybe that’s just a webmaster hiccup. Any UH folks care to explain what is going on?

In any case, the new site, Ka Lamakua, seems to be a place where “alt weekly”-style writers could learn their chops, while Ka Leo O Hawaii would groom students for slots in the traditional media machine.

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Vivoleum satirists strike

Filed under: General — Doug @ 9:59 am
There is nothing directly Hawaii-related about this recent Haleakala Times story, but I’m a sucker for well done satirical hoax and this seems like it was a good one by The Yes Men.

Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC) representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen at GO-EXPO, Canada?s largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta on June 15.

The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the major highlight of this year?s conference, which had 20,000 attendees. In it, the ?NPC rep? was expected to deliver the long-awaited conclusions of a study commissioned by U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, who is also the chair of the study.

In the actual speech, the ?NPC rep? announced that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta?s oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could ?keep fuel flowing? by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.

?We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant,? said ?NPC rep Shepard Wolff? (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.

?Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production,? noted ?Exxon rep Florian Osenberg? (Yes Man Mike Bonanno). ?With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left.?

The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit ?commemorative candles? supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an ?Exxon janitor? who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

Hey, it’s renewable energy, even if it is creepy. haha

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Bow to the master

Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 4:51 pm
There’s only one blog you Hawaii politics junkies need to read today, and that blog is iLind.net where Ian asks the Governor the questions that the Honolulu media have only been wanting to ask. Good show, Ian!

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Factor more likely to slow the Superferry than political opposition: economics

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:32 pm
An interesting letter to the Garden Island News about booking a Superferry trip includes the following:

After selecting several different dates (there?s no timetable available on the Web site), I kept receiving no trips available on those dates messages. Eventually, I concluded that the Hawaii Superferry will depart Nawiliwili on Friday afternoon and return on Sunday evenings.

All right, let?s get down to business now; I chose to depart Nawiliwili on Friday, Sept. 14 and return on Sunday, Sept. 16. The next screen shows you your travel time, which they list as three hours from Nawiliwili to Honolulu. Next you get to see how much this trip is going to cost … Warning: prepare yourself for sticker shock.

A Hawaii Superferry adventure for a family of three, including the family van, will set you back $671 (the same amount we spent a few weeks ago for an Air/Room/Travel weekend package to Hilo). Did I mention the discount they?re giving you for using this ?Early Reservation? invitation and using their online reservation service? The price does include fuel surcharges of $93 (each way) for the van, $17 (each way) for adults, $14 (each way) for children, and all other fees and taxes. If you want to continue on to Maui, just add another $300 to the above package price. Guess we?d be wise to pack some blankets, pillows and bologna sandwiches (no money left for a room or meals).

I still hope to do a motorcycle adventure via the Superferry (before it folds), but wow. Play around with the reservation site yourself. Unless you absolutely need to carry an entire carload of gear on your trip, then flying interisland and renting a car is much faster and cheaper… especially if you’re a passenger going between Maui and Kauai (via Oahu), those fares are ridiculous!

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Santiago stuck in the revolving door, or, rather, the escalator

Filed under: Honolulu Politics — Doug @ 5:58 pm
The Advertiser reports that Honolulu Council Chair Barbara Marshall has hired former Represenative Alex Santiago to serve as the Council’s legislative liason. Councilmember Djou has asked (PDF) the Office of Information Practices if the hiring procedure requires a vote by the council and if the decision to hire Santiago was the result of serial communications; both Djou’s questions invoke parts of the Sunshine Law.

Council Chairwoman Barbara Marshall said she chose Alex Santiago for the job because he is experienced and could help the city save money by closely tracking proposals and decisions that affect the city. The job will pay nearly $50,000 per year, she said.

Santiago, 50, represented the North Shore in the state House from 1990 to 2000. He was chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawai’i from 2003 to 2004. More recently, he has been a lobbyist for healthcare and social service industry associations.

Santiago never impressed me in his lobbyist work. More than once, while Santiago was (purportedly) following bills that were also of interest to my boss, Santiago had to be reminded at the last minute that a publicly-noticed hearing was about to begin. He even committed classic rookie mistakes such as writing testimony based upon outdated drafts of legislation. It was as if we were the ones tracking the legislation (i.e. doing his job) instead of Santiago. Nice “work” if you can get it, I reckon…

Marshall wrote in an email to the Councilmembers:

He will begin immediately to track some bills that failed in the last session and to start sniffing out what might affect our County and our taxpayers in the upcoming session. Maui County?s legislative liaison made a persuasive appeal at the last HSAC meeting for other counties to hire people who could provide strength on behalf of the counties in tracking and assessing critical legislation. Alex will be alerting us to issues on which he feels we should take a stand and conversely will follow issues of great concern to Councilmembers. He may be contacting you individually to discuss your own district concerns.

I wouldn’t count on Santiago to “sniff out” very much, nor would I rely on him to follow issues of great concern. I certainly would not pay him tens of thousands of dollars for the level of service I’ve seen him provide.

So, for a change, I agree with Djou.

Dela Cruz said a liaison to the Legislature is not needed, since five of the council’s nine members are former state lawmakers.

That, too.

UPDATE: From the SB today, here is Marshall:

“I do think that it’s very important that the Council be more aware of what needs to be done across the street (at the Legislature) when it needs to be done.”

Marshall said that too many times, the Council hears about issues or bills that passed or did not pass far too late in the process.

She said she was looking for someone who has clients who will not be doing business with the city and that Santiago’s clients are mainly health care-related.

“I needed someone with a good relationship at the Legislature, that’s used to working over there and, more importantly, that’s used to tracking bills,” Marshall said.

Keep looking, would be my advice to Marshall.

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