Archive for March, 2010

O-Bobble Head Dolls

March 30th, 2010


Democrats and Republicans may not agree on much these days, but there appears to be one thing that both parties can get behind.

Well, we have no actual poll numbers, but according to the makers of the President Barack Obama Aloha Bobble Head doll (pictured), the product appears to have bipartisan support.

From a news release:

Whether visitors are from red states or blue, the Aloha Obama Bobble Heads are getting positive feedback as the only Hawaiian gift that causes even the most cynical to smile.

The products are sold primarily online by Kailua-based, but also can be found at many ABC Stores in Honolulu.

In addition to the bobble head dolls, the company also sells a variety of dashboard figurines, including Obama giving the shaka and Obama carrying a surf board.

No word on whether they plan to make one of Obama signing H.R. 3200.

Emergency Request

March 25th, 2010

^^Gov. Linda Lingle testified last week before the Senate Ways and Means Committee (Star-Bulletin photo by Dennis Oda).

Gov. Linda Lingle is asking the Legislature to approve an emergency funding request for $40 million, to help the Department of Human Services make its April payment to the state’s Medicaid providers.

Lingle and Human Services Director Lillian Koller last week testified before the Senate Ways and Means Committee that the department was running short on funds and was going to have trouble making the payment.

The Governor’s Message sent to the Legislature yesterday indicates the department won’t be able to make its April payment to Medicaid providers, which would in turn draw down $80 million in federal matching funds. Lingle is asking the Legislature to advance the money from the department’s budget for the next fiscal year.

The state expects it will be able to delay the May and June payments until after the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, just as it did last year.

House Speaker Calvin Says says Lingle is simply shifting money around, with no proposal to make up for the emergency funds she is requesting.

The Legislature already is chasing a $1.28 billion shortfall in the fiscal biennium.

More on this in tomorrow’s Star-Bulletin.

Health Care Reaction

March 22nd, 2010

^^President Barack Obama, with Vice Preisdent Joseph Biden at his side, makes a statement to the nation Sunday night following the final vote in the House of Representatives for comprehensive health care legislation, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

— — —

We don’t have room in the paper to print ALL of the reaction from local political types on the landmark health care reform bill passed in Congress on Sunday night.

Thus, here are some of the comments for perusal. We start with Gov. Linda Lingle at the top, the rest follow in alphabetical order.

Gov. Linda Lingle

“The $1.2 trillion government takeover of health care will cost Hawai‘i residents, conservatively, an estimated $300 million over five years in added costs to our Medicaid programs, which are already hemorrhaging red ink.  This legislation will impose new taxes totaling $569.2 billion that will burden Americans for generations to come.  It will also raise premiums, necessitate the rationing of health care, impede economic growth and job creation as well as require cuts to Medicare.”

For the governor’s complete statement, go HERE.


Toss up

March 18th, 2010


Is Republican Charles Djou making inroads in solidly Democratic Hawaii?

The question will be answered on May 22, when voters decide the special election to fill Neil Abercrombie‘s seat, but one outside observer thinks the GOP City Councilman may have a shot against the two prominent Democrats in the winner-take-all format.

The Cook Political Report, an independent Washington-based election analysis group, today changed its rating of the Hawaii congressional race to “Toss up”, Democratic, from “Lean” Democratic.

Ratings include “Likely,” meaning the race is not competitive; “Lean,” competitive but one party has an advantage; and “Toss-up,” very competitive.

In January, the Report had pegged the race as “Lean” Democratic.

Djou’s prominent Democrat opponents are former Congressman Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.

According to the Cook Political Report:

As we noted in last week’s Hawaii rundown, the unique winner-take-all rules of the all-mail special election race to fill the seat of gubernatorial candidate Rep. Neil Abercrombie (HI-01) create a low hurdle for Republican Honolulu Councilman Charles Djou to clear in a race against two Democrats. Now, there is genuine concern among Democrats that while Djou is up on air with appealing intro ads that don’t mention his party affiliation, neither state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa nor former Rep. Ed Case are running great campaigns. Case may enjoy an early lead, but he also has the least money. Furthermore, Democratic Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka will do all they can to ensure Hanabusa overtakes Case, their longstanding rival.

Were Djou to shoot the gap and win – possibly with as little as 35 to 40 percent of the vote – he would be the underdog to hold this seat for the GOP in the more normal November election. But the winner-take-all special election has the makings of a genuinely competitive three-way race, and President Obama’s 70 percent share of the vote here – this is his native seat – belies this district’s willingness to vote for the right kind of Republican. Hawaii voters will mail in ballots between April 30th and May 22nd, and this seat joins the May 18th special election in PA-12 in the Toss Up column.

While some pundits have tried to peg Djou as the next Scott Brown, Democratic strategists are keeping a close watch on Hawaii to try and make sure that doesn’t happen.

“This is a Democratic district and we’ll work to make sure it stays as such,” said Andy Stone, western regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The DCCC has been keeping a close eye on the race (just take a look at the press release section of its Web site and search “Djou”).

“Charles Djou may be avoiding identifying himself as a Republican in his TV ad,” Stone added, “but given his close association with Washington Republicans, who came to Hawaii to visit him, and his record of supporting corporate special interests over the needs of families in Hawaii, it’s clear where Djou stands.”

A total of 14 candidates met the deadline to file the required paperwork to run in the special election. The complete list from the Office of Elections is HERE.


March 15th, 2010

**UPDATED below

House Speaker Calvin Say is asking the Attorney General’s office to look into a “misrepresentation and misuse” of the name of the state House of Representatives.

The dispute stems from a group created earlier this year on the social networking site Facebook.


The group purports to be an information site for the House of Representatives, including entries from the journal, a calendar and a directory (complete with photos) of all the members. Most of the information appears to have come from publicly available material already posted on the state Capitol Web site. But cries of “fake” went out last month soon after its discovery.

Georgette Deemer, the House communications director, tweeted (read from bottom up):


Assistant communications director, Thelma Dreyer, sounded a similar call:


Both Deemer and Dreyer administer the Web site/blog for the House Majority, and also are the resident tweeters for the chamber’s Democrats. Neither claimed ownership of the Facebook group.

“I wonder if they are aware that he doesn’t represent the House?” Deemer said of the page’s author.

The Facebook group page lists as its sole administrator Ramon K. Madden, a GOP candidate for the 10th District House seat (Olowalu-Kapalua) held by Rep. Angus McKelvey.

When reached by phone, Madden said he started the group to answer questions from friends and associates about what he was doing and why he was running for office.

“A lot of people have no idea what’s going on in the state House and people asked me, ‘What does it do? Why are you doing this?’” Madden said. “I looked on Facebook and I could not find a good representation for the state House on Facebook.

“I set that up to show people what’s going on over there and why they should be concerned.”

Madden said he hoped to foster debate and commentary by state representatives and the public on important issues, but the idea has not panned out (although the group boasts more than 180 followers). Madden has started several discussion threads, but has not generated much feedback.

But House Speaker Calvin Say, in a March 12-dated letter to Attorney General Mark Bennett, says Madden is not an employee of the House and has no authority to post such material, adding that he is a self-described candidate for the District 10 House seat.

Say states:

“I would like to request that your office look into this matter, advise the House of Representatives on how to proceed in resolving the issue, and contact Mr. Madden on his improper use of the House’s name if appropriate.”

Deemer said she contacted Facebook administrators about the page misrepresenting the House, but received no response. She said no one in the House communications office had contacted Madden.

Madden confirmed that he has not had any contact with anyone about removing the page.

“My mission is to create a dialogue,” he said. “If anyone had a problem with it they could contact me.”

He added, “It seems like kind of a non-issue, since I’m the only one blogging on it.”

UPDATE, March 19, 2010: The administrator of the Facebook group has noted that the group is “Unauthorized” and added the disclaimer: “This group is not authorized by the State House.”

Making the Rounds

March 11th, 2010

djouPhoto by @AlexPappasDC

While some of his fellow City Council members were in Washington, D.C., this week for the legislative conference of the National Association of Counties, congressional candidate Charles Djou was making the rounds on the political circuit.

The Honolulu City Councilman showed up in the (web) pages of The Daily Caller — conservative pundit Tucker Carlson‘s counter to The Huffington Post — discussing everything from foreign policy to who he should have asked to the prom during his days at Punahou.

Two articles posted from March 10:
Hawaii congressional candidate Djou warns against ‘the nutcase in Pyongyang’
Hawaii congressional candidate Djou waves signs at 4 a.m. every morning

Although he was in Washington to raise money and meet with national Republican Party leaders, the first article notes that Djou was quick to say he does “not covet, and I do not seek national support.” Though he said he’s happy to get whatever help he can get, most of the money he has raised — 94 percent of it — has come from inside Hawaii.

And regarding that senior prom date?

Djou went to Punahou, where President Barack Obama and his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, both graduated. Djou, class of 1988, happened to be there at the same time as the president’s younger sibling.

As noted in the second Daily Caller article: “Had I known her older brother would be president, I would’ve asked her out to prom,” he said with a laugh.

Djou is running for the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Neil Abercrombie, who resigned to concentrate full-time on his run for governor. He is the only Republican in the race.

Democratic challengers include former U.S. Rep. Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.

The mail-in special election for the seat is to be decided May 22.

Update, March 12 (10:30 a.m.):

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is closely following the race and hoping to avoid another Scott Brown-style upset in Obama’s home state, didn’t miss its chance to take a shot at Djou.

From a news release, Andy Stone, the DCCC’s western regional press secretary:

“Djou should come clean with Hawaiians about what he did in D.C. – and his mutual agreement with national Republicans on an agenda that’s for corporate specials interests and against the needs of Hawaii’s families.”

When contacted via e-mail earlier this week by the Star-Bulletin about what he was doing in Washington, Djou replied: “Meetings.”

Mayor’s Math

March 4th, 2010

Mufi_KojimaPhoto by Craig Kojima

When he unveiled his budget for fiscal year 2011 this week, Mayor Mufi Hannemann proposed a property tax rate increase on property owners that do not live in their properties. The new tax class was approved by the City Council last year.

Hannemann contends that on average, those non-homeowners would face a tax increase of 25 to 49 cents a month.

Some readers have questioned how he came up with those figures.

His math goes as follows:

The current fiscal year 2010 tax rate for all residential properties is $3.42 per $1,000 of valuation. The mayor’s proposed tax for so-called non-homeowners is $3.72 per $1,000 of value. The rate for owner-occupants would remain at $3.42.

For his example, the mayor calculated the taxes on a single-family home worth $600,000.

At $3.42/$1,000, the annual real property tax on that $600,000 home for this year is $2,052 or $171.00 per month.

According to the mayor’s office, property values are down 7.8 percent, so for taxing purposes, that same $600,000 single-family home would be worth $553,200 in fiscal year 2011.

So for a non-homeowner of that $553,200 property, the FY2011 property tax at the proposed rate of $3.72/$1,000 is $2,058, or $171.49 per month, an increase of 49 cents per month over the previous year’s tax rate.

Performing the same calculations on an example condo worth $300,000: the FY2010 property tax comes out to $85.50 per month. For FY2011, that same property would be valued at 276,600, with the non-homeowner property taxes coming out to $85.75 per month; a 25-cent increase.

Liberal groups target Akaka with ad campaign

March 4th, 2010

The Associated Press in Washington reports that Hawaii’s Sen. Dan Akaka is subject of a new lobbying campaign.
Three liberal groups are starting an online and e-mail campaign designed to pressure U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii into joining an effort to revive the public health insurance option in whatever health care reform bill wins passage.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America and Credo Action announced the effort Thursday.

Under the public option, the federal government would establish a health insurance plan that would be available for people who couldn’t obtain private insurance.

It has been considered politically dead. But 35 senators, including U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, have signed a letter supporting the option’s inclusion in a final health reform bill.

The groups want Akaka to sign the letter, too.