Archive for August, 2010

Lame duck

August 31st, 2010
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U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the Alaksa Republican who has co-sponsored the Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill, has conceded in the GOP primary for Senate.

Murkowski is needed by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, to muster the 60 votes required to break Republican procedural roadblocks on the bill.

Akaka has said he is still optimistic he can get a Senate vote on the bill this year, before the political composition of the Senate changes in January after the results of the November elections. Murkowski’s term ends in January.

Right side of my mind

August 31st, 2010
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Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie acknowledged today that he misspoke at Monday night’s debate in the Democratic primary for governor when he referred to the nonpartisan Congress.org as a “Republican-front organization.”

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, his opponent, has cited power rankings by Congress.org to question Abercrombie’s effectiveness in the U.S. House.

Ryan Teague Beckwith, of Congress.org, responded with this blog post:

For the record, Congress.org is not —and has never been — a “Republican front organization.” We are a news and information site run by the CQ-Roll Call Group, which also publishes CQ Today and Roll Call. Like those publications, we strive to be neutral and objective.

The rankings were done by Knowlegis, a D.C. area firm that specializes in gathering information about Congress for advocacy groups. Their team looked at bill sponsorship, earmarks and leadership positions as well as more nebulous factors such as “indirect influence” to determine lawmakers’ effectiveness.

After Knowlegis was purchased by the company now known as CQ-Roll Call in late 2008, Congress.org underwent a redesign and the rankings were removed from the site.

Coincidence

August 30th, 2010
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Honolulu City Councilman Romy Cachola, a critic of former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, held a news conference the day before the first televised debate in the Democratic primary for governor calling attention to residents upset with higher tax bills because their properties were reclassified by the city from residential to commercial.

Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, Hannemann’s opponent, raised the issue at the debate and chided the former mayor for not taking responsibility.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, another Hannemann critic, held a news conference on Sunday again highlighting the property reclassification issue. The second televised debate of the primary is tonight.

Will Abercrombie bring up the issue again?

*Update: The former congressman, citing news reports that were partly generated by his allies, launched another critique of Hannemann at tonight’s debate.

*Update II: Kobayashi acknowledges that her family owns an apartment building that was reclassified.

`Be Not Deceived’

August 29th, 2010
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Jonah Kaauwai, the state GOP chairman, has sent a forceful letter appealing to pastors and people of faith not to vote for former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the Democratic primary for governor. Kaauwai says Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, the leading Republican candidate, better represents church values.

Duke will win because the Church has been behind him the entire time operating in the POWER and the AUTHORITY of the NAME OF JESUS! We are the HEAD and not the tail; we are the VICTORS not the victims! If Duke Aiona does not win it will be the burden of the Body of Christ to bear so rather than preparing to have to deal with either Mufi or Neil winning the Church, we should be preparing for Duke to WIN. Neither Mufi Hannemann nor Neil Abercrombie is righteous and a vote for either in the primary or general election is succumbing to fear and advancing unrighteousness!

Bloggers David Shapiro and Ian Lind have noted the religious fervor in Kaauwai’s message, but there is also a basic political strategy at work as well. Many Republicans believe the conservative Aiona has a better chance against former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, a liberal, because the political contrasts are starker than against Hannemann.

Aiona, a Catholic, and Hannemann, a Mormon, can both appeal to the faithful. Aiona would likely have to run even further to the religious right to prevent Hannemann from peeling off Christian votes, possible alienating many of the independents and moderate Democrats Aiona needs to win.

Or, as Kaauwai puts it:

As a former men’s pastor and worship leader for 8 years, I am positioned here in the midst of politics to share the truth and expose the conspirators of a very corrupt system no matter what the cost. Too often, we as the Body of Christ are reacting to crisis like HB444 . We need to fearlessly, like David did Goliath, run towards the unrighteous enemy. Duke Aiona’s Campaign for Governor is the Body of Christ’s opportunity to operate in the AUTHORITY and to be proactive. The Primary Election is the first step to bringing back a righteous leader to the highest office in this State which has not been seen since Queen Lili’uokalani. Over 100 years ago! With more than 400,000 Christians in the State of Hawaii, WE are responsible no matter what the outcome of Duke’s race because we have been given the POWER and the AUTHORITY in the NAME OF JESUS!!!!

Kaauwai said on Sunday that he expected his letter would be widely circulated. But he said he did not ask for it to be posted on the Hawaii Christian Coalition website, which gave it a larger audience and brought a considerable response.

He said his goal is to get Republicans to pull GOP ballots in the September primary and not cross over to the Democrats in either the primary or the November general election.

“We want Republicans to stay home in this election,” he said.

*Update: Aiona released this statement on Monday:

While faith is a central part of my life, I’m running for governor to serve all the people of Hawaii – regardless of their religion.

The goal of our grassroots campaign is to connect with every citizen in every community of this great state, and chairman Kaauwai’s personal comments are seen by many as divisive.

Our campaign is focused on families, friends and neighbors of all backgrounds, and we’re going to continue to reach out to all the citizens of Hawaii.

444rd

August 28th, 2010
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The Democratic Party of Hawaii’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered caucus has released its primary election endorsements and, not surprisingly, the gay rights activists have targeted several Democratic incumbents who voted against the civil-unions bill that passed the state Legislature last session.

The caucus backed the opponent of one Senate Democrat who voted `no’ — Sen. Mike Gabbard — and six House Democrats who voted `no’ — Rep. Joseph Souki, Rep. Roland Sagum III, Rep. Isaac Choy, Rep. Sharon Har, Rep. Karen Awana and Rep. Ken Ito.

The only other Democratic incumbent on the target list: House Speaker Calvin Say, who voted for civil unions but still managed to upset gay rights activists.

GLBT Caucus Recommendations for Primary Election

Bopped

August 28th, 2010
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James Bopp, Jr., the Terre Haute, Ind., attorney who brought the federal lawsuit against Hawaii’s campaign-finance law, is general counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech. He has been involved in many of the most significant legal challenges to federal and state campaign-finance laws.

Bopp was among the attorneys behind the case that led to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the landmark 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in January which lifted the federal ban on political spending by corporations before elections. The court found that corporations, like individuals, have a constitutional right to engage in political speech.

One curiosity about the Hawaii lawsuit, as a reader points out: A-1 A-lectrician Inc., the company that says it is unable to donate to candidates because of the state’s ban on contributions from government contractors, apparently has donated the maximum $6,000 to former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s campaign for governor.

Truth or dare

August 27th, 2010
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The Hawaii State Teachers Association released a letter Thursday challenging former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s claim that he lost the union’s endorsement by one vote.

Hannemann has made the claim at several public forums, often to counter former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, his opponent in the Democratic primary for governor, when Abercrombie talks about his support among teachers.

Wil Okabe, the president of the teachers union, said Hannemann’s claim is not true. He said the union’s government relations committee overwhelmingly recommended Abercrombie. He said, during the final phase of deliberations, the union’s board of directors “cast a strong vote” for the former congressman.

From Okabe:

The stakes in this year’s gubernatorial race are very high. Election of our next generation of decision makers will impact our future and the future of the children we teach for years to come. That’s why we are asking every member to have a say in the future of education in Hawaii. Please vote!

HSTA letter

`Organized hit’

August 26th, 2010
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Russell Figueiroa, the president of the engineering firm R.M. Towill Corp., has posted a statement on the company’s website denying that he wrote a letter alleging corruption by former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, his former deputy director and confidant Trudi Saito, and Saito’s brother, insurance agent Bruce Matsushita.

Figueiroa called the claims in the letter “outright lies and negative innuendos” and said he reported the apparent forgery to authorities. The letter was initially circulated in the engineering and architectural community and then to members of the Waialae Country Club and others. Matsushita is the club’s president-elect.

The letter was immediately suspicious because of its amateur quality and the fact that Figueiroa’s name was spelled wrong.

From Figueiroa:

This is to inform you that I did not write that letter, and I have never given anyone permission to use my name in connection with outright lies and negative innuendos made about Mufi Hannemann, Bruce Matsushita, Trudi Saito and others.

I can only assume this is a despicable smear campaign being used against Mufi Hannemann and his supporters, timed for the coming elections.

Figueiroa, who supports Hannemann, could not be reached for comment.

William McCorriston, Figueiroa’s attorney, said Figueiroa decided to post the Aug. 20 statement because the letter had been so widely circulated and had the potential to damage his reputation.

“I think politics has reached the lowest of the low when people steal other people’s identity and forge letters and publish lies, all for the purpose of political gain,” he said.

McCorriston said Figueiroa has discussed the matter with the FBI. He said that he is also investigating who was behind the letter. “If we do uncover the culprits there will be hell to pay,” he said.

Tom Simon, a special agent with the FBI, said the FBI does not comment on the existence of an ongoing investigation.

The Hannemann campaign has privately wrestled over how to the handle the letter, but had to address it publicly after Figueiroa posted his statement.

“The state of Hawaii has a history of last-minute smears, and this is no different,” said David Wilson, a spokesman for the Hannemann campaign. “What’s troubling is that based on the large volume of mailings — whoever is doing this mailing, it’s a fraudulent letter because it wasn’t signed by the guy they said signed it — is that it’s organized and funded.

“And that is really a huge disappointment to the Hannemann campaign. I’m not pointing fingers. I’m not naming names. I’m just saying that this is an organized hit.

“Clearly, where this is coming from, they are not the Boy Scouts of America,” he said. “Boy Scouts know better.”

Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, Hannemann’s opponent, released this statement today:

According to news reports, an obviously forged letter that makes accusations against Mufi Hannemann and purports to be from Russell Figueiroa is being distributed to people in Hawaii. This forged letter and any such acts like it are despicable and the perpetrators should be caught and punished. They do nothing but harm to our entire community.

Particularly in this age of instant communications, all citizens have a responsibility to carefully consider what is presented to them. It is important that we not let the juvenile acts of a few people degrade and corrupt our political system. When something such as this letter appears—something so obviously done with malice and distributed in such a cowardly manner—I believe it is best for people to dismiss it and condemn it into oblivion where it belongs.

RF Letter Aug 20 2010

60, 59 …

August 25th, 2010
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U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the potential 60th vote to break Republican procedural roadblocks on a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill, is behind in her primary with absentee ballots still left to be counted.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, is counting on Murkowski, a co-sponsor of the bill, and perhaps three other Republicans to overcome GOP opposition and bring the bill to a vote this year. He needs 60 votes for cloture and wants a cushion in case any of the chamber’s 59 Democrats and independents are absent.

Joe Miller, a Fairbanks attorney backed by the Tea Party Express and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is a conservative unlikely to be supportive of the Akaka bill.

If Murkowski loses the primary, she will be a lame-duck in the Senate before her term ends in January.

Endorsed

August 25th, 2010
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^^Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell and U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye talk to reporters today after a meeting to update federal officials on the city’s rail transit project. 

♦ ♦ ♦

Mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell‘s affection for U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye is no secret.

The acting mayor touts his previous work experience in Washington, D.C., as a member of Inouye’s staff as one of the life experiences that shaped his political future. (He also happened to meet his wife while working for Inouye).

So when asked if he would formally endorse his former staffer, Inouye offered the following:

I’ve tried to stay out of this business. I don’t know why my endorsement means that much, but I like him, no question about that. I’ve known Kirk for a long time and he married a very good friend of mine. First time I met him was in Washington – on my staff. So, if that’s an endorsement, that is. I don’t hire people that don’t meet the mark.

Caldwell is running in the special election for mayor. Other contenders include former Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle, University of Hawaii engineering professor Panos Prevedouros and City Councilman Rod Tam.