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Denver memories

August 30th, 2008

There are times when you are so much in the middle of something that it’s hard to tell how it looks to observers - at the legislature, the first three days of the Convention - sometimes there’s a disconnect between the live and in person experience and how it looks and feels on TV.

Thursday night, there was not any question in anyone’s mind about the power and magnitude of that speech, and the fact that it would reverberate across the country.

To say our delegation was elated is an understatement. Mufi yelled out “Punahou!” at one point, when he saw a picture of Barack with his high school hoops team. Chuck Freedman was alternately dancing, hugging, crying, and giving great interviews. Mazie and Neil were misty-eyed for the better part of the night - while delegates Lynn Waihee, Donna Hoshide, Kate Stanley, Lono Lyman, Jennifer Tsuji and others were literally having the time of their lives.

I feel very fortunate to be a witness to history.


Dancing in the Aisles

August 29th, 2008

That was the most powerful and most effective political speech that I’ve ever heard. Our delegation was dancing, hugging, crying, high-fiving, and generally celebrating. One moment that I’m not sure got covered, which was hilarious: When Stevie Wonder was on stage, singing Signed Sealed Delivered, the folks in the CBS news tent, including Bob Schieffer and the rest of the staff, were dancing the whole time. Is that allowed?

Waihee on the move

August 29th, 2008

Wednesday: After Senator Clinton wrapped up the nomination by moving that a unanimous ballot be cast in favor of Senator Barack Obama, Executive Director Fo Kong Kee escorted former Governor John Waihee across the convention floor, through the Secret Service, and through several hundred people, and put a lei on Sen. Clinton. It was a great moment.

Steel on Steel

August 27th, 2008

We are staying in a Denver suburb, so many of us take the rail back and forth daily. The Denver system is steel on steel, and so many of us, on both sides of the rail debate, were curious to not only ride the system but listen to it to figure out whether it would be unacceptably noisy for Oahu. It wasn’t very loud at all.

“That’s Hawaii!”

August 27th, 2008

An Associated Press writer was visiting each state delegation on the convention floor, asking what their favorite and least favorite state was. Each state named their own as a favorite, while the least favorites tended towards regional rivalries. He first asked Andy Winer the question, and Andy refused to provide a least favorite state. The reporter was totally incredulous. Andy said “That’s Hawaii.” The reporter then asked several other members of the delegation, and all individually refused to play the “least favorite” game. When the reporter came to me and asked why we couldn’t come up with a least favorite state, I just told him that’s not how we do it in Hawaii.

Hopes for unity

August 27th, 2008

One of my hopes for the convention was that by the end that it would be difficult to remember who originally supported Sen. Clinton and who originally supported Sen. Obama. Clinton’s speech last night was dynamite, and went a long way towards erasing any doubt that our convention, and the Hawaii delegation, was united.

Road Trip

August 27th, 2008

Today the Delegation is going to Cherry Creek State Park

to participate in a service project with a number of other states, including Texas. More than twenty of us will be going, and I think many members of the delegation are happy to spend a little time outside.

Today will be marked by two things from a Hawaii perspective

August 26th, 2008

Today will be marked by two things from a Hawaii perspective.

First, this will be an official and explicit recognition of native Hawaiians in the Democratic Platform for the first time. Originally, we had hoped simply to add native Hawaiians to a list of native Americans, but we’ve now got our own paragraph in the platform. It makes specific reference to the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act, the Apology Resolution, native gathering rights and cultural practices. Sen. Akaka, my executive director Flo Kong Kee, and platform committee member Lono Lyman have been working on this for months.

Second, Senator Clinton is speaking.

So far, Maya Soetoro Ng, Michelle Obama, and Senator Ted Kennedy have been the highlights. I expect Senator Clinton to give a rousing endorsement of Barack Obama and put to rest any remaining doubt about party unity. The feeling that I get from interacting from delegates from across the nation is that the “disunity” theme is mostly being ginned up by the national media.

A little story about Maya

August 26th, 2008

It was a sunny weekday late afternoon, and I took my four year old son Tyler to Kaimana Beach to swim and practice boogie boarding. By coincidence, I ran into Maya, her husband Konrad, and her daughter Suhaila. Suhaila and Tyler were thrilled to see each other, and they immediately went swimming with Konrad and I watching and keeping them afloat.

Maya was relaxing on the beach watching us. She saw my Blackberry in my bag, and she picked it up, scrolled through the names in the phone, and called people she knew to thank them for helping her brother in the Hawaii Caucuses. Needless to say, the people receiving these calls were surprised and thrilled to hear from her.

That’s Maya. Gracious, thankful, playful, and kind.

Convention’s opening day

August 25th, 2008

Today is especially exciting because our friend Maya Soetoro-Ng will be speaking at the convention floor. It wasn’t long ago that she was teacher at both the college and high school levels with no experience at all making political remarks. Maya’s been able to take time off to campaign, and has become a real asset as a surrogate for her brother. Her participating in the convention proceedings is something that gives it more of a Hawaii flavor, and we’re all looking forward to it.

This morning, we heard from a nonprofit called Denver’s Road Home, which has employed some innovative new practices in fighting homelessness. Since homelessness is such an enormous challenge in our home state, and Denver touts their results, we were looking forward to hearing how their programs work, and determine whether either the Mayor of Honolulu or the Senate President will be able to take some of these insights and put them to good use in Hawaii.

Brian Schatz

Hawaii Democratic Party chairman