Archive for January, 2009

Star lineup praise Caldwell

January 28th, 2009
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A list of notable politicians and community leaders praised Kirk Caldwell today as he begins the confirmation process by the City Council for the city’s No. 2 spot as managing director.

Caldwell will face a less friendlier crowd, the City Council, during committee meetings next month with some members likely to question his relationship with the mayor and his political ambitions.

Here are some who turned up  and what they had to say this afternoon at the City Council chambers in Honolulu Hale:

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Green and Cheap

January 26th, 2009
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Gov. Linda Lingle’s annual State of the State speech is usually a time to show off her administration and flood the public with glossy brochures. In past years she has sent out full-color, spiral bound booklets with details of her initiatives and plans.

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But this year, with the budget deficit mounting, Lingle dropped the high gloss. Instead reporters were handed a card with the web address of her speech: www.hawaii.gov/gov.

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Taking a page from President Barack Obama’s successful campaign utilizing text messages, Lingle flooded the local news media cell phones with text message updates. One television reporter complained to Lingle that reporters were getting charged for all the text messages. It was a complaint that Lingle easily knocked out of the ball park, telling the reporter that the news media complains when they don’t get enough information and is now complaining that they have too much information.

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One last thought

January 26th, 2009
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Here’s a story from Rosemarie Bernardo that did not make it into the print editions of the newspaper last week. Simply sharing a few more thoughts from Hawaii people who witnessed history.

WASHINGTON >> A new chapter for the nation began as President Obama dove headlong into his first 100 days in office, signing various executive orders within his first few days as commander-in-chief, a sign of more positive changes to come.

Many from Hawaii, still overwhelmed with excitement after witnessing a historic moment, are looking forward to the days ahead, optimistic that he will do all he can to better the country.

“I really believe in him and that he can turn our country around,” said Wendy Kusunoki, 25, of St. Louis Heights, who endured crushing crowds and standing in line for three hours in 20-degree temperatures to witness Obama’s presidential inauguration at the U.S. Capitol last week. “It’s a defining moment, not only to be the first African-American, he’s from Hawaii.

“It’s just amazing … somebody from Hawaii is in the White House.”

Others, such as Dr. Laurie Tom, took an almost 4 1/2 hour arduous journey to reach the Capitol. A half dozen Metro trains packed with people passed Tom as she attempted to leave Arlington, Va. She resorted to catching a train elsewhere and trekked for miles. She wound up reaching her seat in a ticketed area by the Capitol about 10 minutes before the ceremony began.

“It was tense and stressful,” she said recalling how she was filled with doubt of whether she would reach the Capitol in time.

She pressed on, determined to be there.

“I’m just really grateful that I was there,” she added. “This is something that I will never forget in my lifetime.”

Many isle residents shared Tom’s sentiment, while his inauguration was preceded by festivities that included a star-studded opening ceremony at the National Mall as well as balls and galas, Obama reminded people in his inaugural speech that struggles are ahead and that everybody needs to work together toward a better nation.

While elated, some remain in disbelief that their best efforts in Obama’s presidential campaign ended with success.

“About every 20 minutes I feel like we have to pinch ourselves and to remember how far we’ve all come from the draft Obama effort to the Hawaii caucuses, at the convention, the election and through to the swearing-in,” said Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Brian Schatz. “Hawaii played a really important role both in shaping the president’s view and values and also in helping him to win.”

Many attributed Obama’s even-keeled manner to his years reared in Hawaii, a multicultural society where he was born and raised. The president also spent several years in Indonesia as a child before returning to Hawaii to attend Punahou School, which many say helped him become aware of the hardships people face in other countries where freedom is limited and people’s lives are dictated by the government.

His ethnic makeup, an African-American father from Kenya and a Caucasian mother from Kansas, help shaped his views of the world at an early age. His political career sprouted in Chicago where he met his wife, Michelle, and started a family, daughters Malia and Sasha, who also played an integral role in shaping his world view.

All elements, supporters in Hawaii and abroad say, cultivated Obama toward his pathway to the presidency and to make effective changes for the nation.

Inaugural images

January 22nd, 2009
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Speech

There is such a thing as being too close when witnessing history, as you can see in the image above and in the video below.

Our assigned seat for Tuesday’s swearing-in of President Obama was in Section Two, Row Two, Seat 49, right in front of the podium, so the view of the speakers was obscured by a rail and the lectern.

It still was a pretty cool experience. Our seat was a few rows in front of Beyonce, Jay-Z and P. Diddy, but they probably had a better, unobstructed view.

Here is a video featuring some images from the day — the crowded Metro station, the throngs of bundled up people and the view from the Capitol steps — set to the first two minutes of Obama’s inauguration speech.

Yes, we did!

^^Click the image to watch the video.

Having a ball – Part II

January 19th, 2009
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Some sights and sounds from the Hawaii for Obama Inaugural Gala held Sunday night at the Hay Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Andy Winer, Hawaii for Obama campaign coordinator, addresses guests before Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi join Hawaii musician John Cruz on the mike …

Having a ball

January 19th, 2009
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Everyone traded in their parkas and down jackets for tuxedos and evening gowns Sunday night as party people made the rounds to the first set of inaugural balls.

Weather cooperated, too, as snow flurries that were forecast for the evening never came. Temperatures were fairly mild — in the 20s and 30s anyway — considering the mercury had dipped into the teens the past few days.

The Star-Bulletin crew headed to a pair of Hawaii-themed events: the Hawaii for Obama Inaugural Gala at the Hay Adams Hotel; and the Aloha Inaugural Ball at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

Among those spotted at the Hay Adams bash was a host of Hawaii politicos: U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Democratic Party Chairman Brian Schatz, Obama Hawaii Campaign Coordinator Andy Winer, organizer A.J. Halagao, former U.S. Rep. Ed Case and probably a ton more that showed up after we left.

Actress Kelly Hu and Lisa Ling, television journalist and former co-anchor of The View, also showed up.
Media were asked to limit their time at the ball to an hour. We honored the request, but not before snapping a few pics. Check back tomorrow for a video of last night’s events.

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^^ Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner John Cruz entertains the crowd inside the tented rooftop terrace at the Hay Adams Hotel.

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^^ Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Brian Schatz meets with guests.

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^^ Beneath the tent (with heaters blowing to make it feel like midday on the Ewa Plain).

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^^ U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, left, speaks with Waimanalo resident Charslene Kanoa.

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^^ U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka, left, poses with John Cruz.

More to come from Tuesday’s inaugural balls, including the Obama Home States Ball for Illinois and Hawaii, that is expected to be attended by POTUS himself.

Fish out of water

January 18th, 2009
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A guest post by Star-Bulletin reporter Rosemarie Bernardo, who is in Washington, D.C., to cover Tuesday’s inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama:

Spoiled by the year-round sunny weather of Hawaii, a journey my friend, Grace, and I spent yesterday was in search of more warm clothes as we prepare to stand in the frigid temperatures of D.C. to report on inauguration festivities for President-elect Barack Obama.

Fashion was thrown out the door for someone born and raised in Leeward and Central Oahu when faced with the artic coldfront sweeping through the East Coast with temperatures dropping to the teens and single digits. As anyone born and raised in Hawaii would attest, 70 degrees is cold. Here, 40 degrees is considered an improvement from the biting weather. Wha?

My friend and I entered Patagonia, a winter gear chain store in Georgetown, as other customers flocked to the store feverishly rifling through the racks of coats and and shelves of thermal wear, grabbing the thickest socks available.

Though I already had packed two wool jackets, a salesperson here advised me that a down jacket was necessary to withstand chilly temperatures. With a lack of thick jackets in the women’s department, my friend and I ventured into the men’s section where I found a small emerald-green colored thick jacket providing much insulation. Success.

With my new jacket hung in the closet to be worn outdoors in the days ahead, warmth remains a priority even indoors.

Despite the radiator running in the living room of my friend’s apartment, I’m wearing three layers of shirts, three layers of pants, a thermal type of headband wrapped over my ears, a knitted hat and hooded sweater.

The highest level of heat generated from the radiator can’t get warm enough for this islander.

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^^ The islander in full winter regalia.

The day after

January 17th, 2009
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If anyone in Washington is expecting a let down after Tuesday’s inauguration, fear not!

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono plans to keep the aloha rolling with an informal gathering at her congressional office on Wednesday.

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The Aloha Open House is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon in Hirono’s office, Room 1524 of the Longworth House Office Building.

By the numbers

January 16th, 2009
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Sorry, no photos today. The 14-degree temperature made even a visit to the ATM feel like Guantanamo-style torture on the exposed fingers.

So today you get a look at a few facts and figures behind the inauguration, compliments of the Presidential Inaugural Committee and The Hill.

432: Number of Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) staff.

1,382: Applications received by the PIC from groups requesting to march in the inaugural parade.

10: Jumbo screens that will be provided by the PIC along the National Mall to broadcast Tuesday’s events.

120,000: Number of passengers Metro trains plan to carry per hour on Inauguration Day.

76: Years since Mickey Rooney. who will be riding atop the Spirit of Lincoln Highway fire truck in this year’s parade, participated in his first inaugural parade.

13,000: Participants marching in the inaugural parade.

14: Number of consecutive inaugurals that Charlie Brotman has acted as the parade announcer, including this year’s event.

11: Number of presidents Brotman has announced for.

53: Number of inauguration ceremonies, including this year’s event, held in Washington, D.C.

16: Number of inaugurations held on Jan. 20 (the official date was changed from March 3 in 1933).

8,430: Words in the inaugural address of William Henry Harrison in 1841 (the longest).

133: Words in George Washington’s second inaugural address in 1793 (the shortest).

6: The number of times Inauguration Day has fallen on a Sunday.

7: Degrees at the coldest Inauguration Day on record, Jan. 20, 1985, Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration.

55: Degrees at the warmest Inauguration Day on record, Jan. 20, 1981, Reagan’s first inauguration.

4 1/2: Hours for the longest inaugural parade, for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957.

1: Number of elephants in Eisenhower’s parade.

Entertaining POTUS

January 15th, 2009
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As if an entertainment lineup that included Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Usher Raymond IV, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, will.i.am and Stevie Wonder wasn’t enough.

That’s just for Sunday’s opening ceremony.

Today the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced the latest list of confirmed entertainers for next week’s galas.

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It’ll be Common and Jack Johnson performing at the Home States Ball for Illinois and Hawaii. The renaissance rapper and homegrown guitar hero will join the Don Cagen Orchestra in entertaining the crowd that’s to include Hawaii’s four county mayors. It’s also among the 10 official balls that Barack Obama and Joe Biden are set to hit after taking their oaths of office.

Click here for a complete list of entertainers for the 10 inaugural balls sanctioned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

>>> <<<

Meanwhile, the Star-Bulletin’s Inaugural Bureau is on the ground running in the nation’s capital. We’ll be here through Tuesday’s big day to bring you complete coverage in words, pictures and online multimedia.

Today’s photo selection comes from the “What Did You Expect?” file …

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^^ The Inaugural Store at Reagan National Airport (I assume there are stores at Dulles and BWI, as well).

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^^ Mugs, calendars, pens and post cards.

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^^ T-shirts, posters and bobble-head dolls (naturally).

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^^ A shout out to the other side of the aisle.