Archive for October, 2008

Certified

October 31st, 2008
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 Obama on HalloweenAP Photo

Whenever we in the media write a story about Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and his Hawaii roots, we are inundated with e-mails and calls from a certain segment of the population that insists the Illinois senator is not a U.S. citizen. The claim has been debunked.

Some have gone so far as to challenge Obama’s citizenship in court.

Today, an Ohio judge dismissed a lawsuit trying to strike Obama from the Buckeye State’s ballot on the grounds that unless the state could confirm his birthplace he should be removed.

And while it won’t mollify the conspiracy theorists, state Health Director Chiyome Fukino issued a statement today certifying that Obama’s birth certificate is, in fact, genuine.

The complete text of Fukino’s statement:

“There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama’s official birth certificate.  State law (Hawaii Revised Statutes §338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record.

“Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawaii, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.

“No state official, including Governor Linda Lingle, has ever instructed that this vital record be handled in a manner different from any other vital record in the possession of the State of Hawaii.”

I have no doubt this will lead some to question Fukino’s credentials.

Happy Halloween everyone!

(Blogger’s note: To save you conspiracy theorists the trouble, don’t bother e-mailing me your alleged “proof” of Obama’s foreign birth. Any such message simply will be filed with those that claim Bristol Palin is actually Trig’s mother.)

Dela Cruz’s new workout

October 30th, 2008
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Earlier this week, Honolulu City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz took a break from running City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi’s campaign for mayor to work out — on a stand up paddle skateboard.

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I had no idea what a stand up paddle skateboard was, but it looks like it could become the new workout craze.

It’s similar to another popular workout, stand up paddleboarding on the water, another one of Dela Cruz’s hobbies. You get on a skateboard and carry a paddle that has two wheels on the bottom, which you use to push off on the ground.

It’s not easy as it seems (I can verify that), and it works out your core, just like stand up paddling. And it’s a lot cheaper than paddleboarding, which can cost easily more than $1,000. Dela Cruz, who dropped 60 pounds in two years, bought his skateboard and paddle at the Bike Factory in Kakaako.

Circus in town?

October 30th, 2008
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No, the Legislature doesn’t convene until January!

Circus in town

Despite the tent-like structure in the Capitol Rotunda, the circus is not in town, at least not at 415 S. Beretania St. (Try Blaisdell.)

The tent is covering restoration work on the “Aquarius” mosaic on the grounds of the Rotunda.
According to the House Democrats’ blog, the work will include installation of a new plumbing and drainage system beneath the artwork and new tiles for the mosaic itself.

The work was created by Hawaii artist Tadashi Sato and shows the changing colors and patterns of Hawaii’s seas.

Aquarius
^^ “Aquarius” by Tadashi Sato

Unique format for final debate

October 28th, 2008
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Mayor Mufi Hannemann and his challenger City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi clashed tonight in their most contentious debate. The format allowed for more back-and-forth between the two candidates, but some portions of the debate added little to the discussion and sometimes took the focus away from the issues.

Probably the most bizarre segment of the night was the “Lightning Round,” where KGMB9 News anchor Keahi Tucker asked the candidates quick questions and expected short answers.

“Constitutional Convention, yes or no?” Tucker asked both. A confident “no” from both candidates without explanation.

“You were a Republican before switching the Democratic Party,” Tucker said to Kobayashi. “Rank Gov. Linda Lingle: A, B, C, D, or F.”

“I think an ‘A,’” Kobayashi responded. On Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a “C.” Hannemann, who has clahsed with Lingle, gave Lingle a “passing grade, a B.”

But then there were some strange ones, like “What’s your favorite Web site, not including your own?” and to Hannemann, “Do you fly first class because you’re so tall?” (Hannemann likes Google; Kobayashi likes food sites, though couldn’t name one, and travel sites. And sometimes Hannemann flies on coach, sometimes first class.)

The final debate, which also featured the Big Island and Kauai county mayoral candidates, was held at the Hawaii Theatre in front of a live audience. It was hosted by KGMB9 News and The Honolulu Advertiser, and sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Tonight’s debate also included updates from KGMB9 reporter Howard Dicus and Honolulu Advertiser deputy local news editor Fernando Pizarro, who were monitoring Twitter feeds and e-mailed questions. They picked the viewer questions to ask the candidates.

Two questions from viewers were on Hannemann’s proposed rail transit system and potential homeless sleeping in stations and on the future of Waimanalo Gulch Landfill.

But then, as Dicus prefaced it, one from left field. “Would either of you support building a bridge running across Pearl Harbor?”

And, “What would you do about the dilapidated piers of Keehi (Lagoon) Boat Harbor?”

One final observation, KGMB9 anchor Kim Gennaula and reporter Stacy Loe pulled the candidates back on stage to get their thoughts on the night — in front of each other.

Dan Boylan, a political analyst for KGMB9, was asked who the winner of the debate was — also in front of the candidates.

Boylan gave probably the best answer he could without getting glares from the candidates standing near him, declining to declare a clear winner.

“I thought we saw a very spirited debate,” Boylan said. “I think the voters are the winners. They got the opportunity to do some comparison shopping. I wish the candidates agreed to do it in four or five different places. I wish we had a mayoral campaign debate commission like the presidential campaign debate commission.”

New Obama book out now

October 27th, 2008
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There is another book out about Hawaii and Sen. Barack Obama.This one,” Our Friend Barry: Classmates’ Recollections of Barack Obama and Punahou School” was edited by Constance F. Ramos, a classmate of the Hawaii-born presidential candidate.

The collection of essays and remembrances were written by Obama’s Punahou classmates. “They focus on topics such as personal childhood experiences with Barack (Barry) Obama; mixed-race life in Hawaii and lessons in diversity; student life at Punahou; and how Barack Obama’s vision and appeal are rooted in his formative years at Punahou School,” Ramos said in an introduction to the book.

The 102-page book is available in paperback for $11.49 or it can be downloaded for $7.50 through lulu.com. Ramos was a classmate of Obama’s and is now an attorney in San Francisco. Already published is “The Dream Begins: How Hawaii Shaped Barack Obama,” by Jerry Burris and Stu Glauberman.

Inside Obama’s press bus

October 25th, 2008
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On Friday, the last day of Sen. Barack Obama’s brief stay in Hawaii to visit his ailing grandmother, I rode along with his traveling press. (See the Star-Bulletin’s story published today here.)

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^^Our big yellow tour bus at the airport, waiting for Obama’s plane to depart

It’s common practice for the campaign to invite a member of the local press onto the tour bus to file “pool reports” throughout the day, letting other media know the Democratic presidential nominee’s every step. (Star-Bulletin reporter B.J. Reyes and other local media did the same during his weeklong vacation in August.)

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^^Members of the national media, including from Politico and ABCNews, set up a makeshift office in the lobby of Punahou Circle Apartments.

Most of the media traveling in the pool have been with Obama’s campaign for more than a year, and even one who traveled with him since he announced his candidacy nearly two years ago.

The campaign is good to his traveling press, stocking the bus with lots of magazines (from Time, Newsweek and Vanity Fair to Us Weekly and People) and with lots of junk food of chips and Diet Coke. I had stale pita chips and hummus for breakfast. The campaign did add in some local flavor, including canned Aloha Maid tropical orange juice.

Our day started at 6:30 a.m. outside his hotel, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where Obama would usually stay on his annual winter trips to Hawaii. We knew it wouldn’t be an exciting day, and it wasn’t. Most of our time was spent in the lobby of Punahou Circle Apartments, where he grew up with his 85-year-old grandmother, Madelyn Dunham.

The only exciting part of the day occurred shortly after 10 a.m., when his campaign aides told us Obama would be taking a walk along Young Street in his old Makiki neighborhood. Apparently there was some confusion, though, because by the time we reached Young Street, Obama was already two blocks away, forcing about a dozen of us — media and staff — to chase after him. We stopped a respectful distance away, but he still appeared down and slightly unhappy to see us.

Our day ended just after 5 p.m. when Obama and more than 60 other staff and media boarded his private plane to Nevada for more campaigning.

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^^The front of Obama’s private plane.

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^^Members of the traveling media waiting for Obama to board the plane, hoping for a statement that didn’t come.

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^^The back of Obama’s plane, where the press and U.S. Secret Service board.

City’s bill on rail transit outreach

October 23rd, 2008
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The city has spent $2.6 million for “public involvement” — such as advertising, brochures and community meetings — for its proposed rail transit system over the last three years.

Responding to recent media reports, City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi‘s campaign for mayor sent out a press release today, calling Mayor Mufi Hannemann‘s use of taxpayer dollars on advertising and promotion “irresponsible.”

“Especially since rail is a (City) Charter amendment question, taxpayers’ money should not be used to lobby,” Kobayashi said. “Mufi has been saying it’s a federal mandate, but the federal government says you only have to inform the public, not spend $2.6 million.”

Elisa Yadao, spokeswoman for the city’s rail transit system under city-contracted consulting firm InfraConsult, was quick to note that not all of the expenses were on advertisements and that the total amount was over a span of two years since the project’s inception. Yadao also noted that public outreach is required by the Federal Transit Administration.

The city will hold its last of a series of community informational meetings tonight at Mililani Waena Elementary School. Organizers of anti-rail group, Stop Rail Now, have complained that they didn’t get ample time to present their side at these community meetings.

After tonight’s meeting, the city will go dark on all its outreach and advertising with less than two weeks until Oahu voters vote on a crucial City Charter amendment that will determine the fate of the system.

On the decision to stop running the ads, Yadao said, “Clearly people have been hungry for information. We’re two weeks before the election, we made a decision last week so that we can be abundantly cautious.”

(more…)

Lingle undecided on city’s rail transit

October 21st, 2008
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Gov. Linda Lingle, who earlier supported having the public vote on the city’s $4 billion rail transit system, said yesterday she has not decided if she will vote to approve the project.

With just two weeks left until Oahu voters cast their vote on a proposed City Charter amendment to continue Mayor Mufi Hannemann‘s vision for an elevated 20-mile “steel wheel on steel rail” system, Lingle said she hasn’t been convinced that the city can afford it.

“I still don’t know how I”m going to vote on Election Day,” Lingle said, speaking to reporters in her office for the first time yesterday after her trip to the mainland to campaign for Sen. John McCain. “What’s keeping me on making the final decision is the cost of it and whether or not I believe the people of Hawaii will afford it in the long term and I haven’t been convinced of that.

“That will be the deciding factor for me,” Lingle continued. “Will it be something that we can support or will it be a financial burden for people that already have a high cost of living?”

Hannemann’s opponent, City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, introduced a mass transit plan to relieve traffic with an estimated cost of $2.5 billion. Lingle said she doesn’t know if state transportation officials had yet reviewed the plan.

Gridiron 2008: Predatory Pricing

October 17th, 2008
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Shameless plug!

Gridiron 2007
^^KITV’s Ben. Gutierrez, in stilts as Honolulu’s altitudinous mayor, addresses the masses in last year’s Gridiron show.

If you want to take a break from all the doom and gloom found in the headlines these days, make sure to head out to Diamond Head Theatre next weekend for the annual Gridiron show put on by the Society of Professional Journalists-Hawaii Chapter.

The show itself is a fundraiser for the SPJ’s journalism internship program, but more than that it’s just a raucous romp spoofing the news and newsmakers of the past year (think Rex Johnson’s e-mail foibles, Dan Inouye’s wedding and June Jones’ abrupt departure, to name a few).

Gridiron features the talent of more than 30 members of Hawaii’s media outlets with artistic direction from award-winning members of the island’s performing arts community.

For ticket information, go to Honolulu Box Office.

Shows:

7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 23: Dress rehearsal. ($25 general admission tickets sold at the door)

8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24: Opening

3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25: Matinee (good seats still available)

8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25: Closing

(Yours truly is in the cast and will be taking the week off to concentrate on dance steps and song lyrics rather than political campaigns and gas prices. Look for more blog posts from Richard Borreca and Laurie Au.)

LCC mayoral forum set for Oct. 21

October 17th, 2008
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Good news for those who want to see more of Mayor Mufi Hannemann and City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi together with less than three weeks to go until the election.

The two will attend a mayoral forum at Leeward Community College from 12 to 1:15 p.m. Tuesday that will include a question-and-answer session from the audience.

This will be the second to the last scheduled forum for the two candidates before the Nov. 4 general election.