Archive for May, 2011

Tulsi goes

May 26th, 2011

As reported, Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard today announced her plans to run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono. Hirono is running to replace U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka, who plans to retire when his terms ends next year.

Gabbard’s video announcement:

In an email message to supporters, sent today, Gabbard adds:

I want you to know that I will continue working hard and serving you on the City Council, and if you choose to send me to Congress, I will continue serving you, just in a different capacity.  I feel I will be of even greater service to you in Congress, given my experience, especially with issues such as the environment, our economy, and the war.

With what’s currently happening in the Middle East, in our country, and most importantly here in Hawai’i, we need an experienced and strong leader in Washington who can make the tough decisions.  Having deployed twice to the Middle East, served 2 years in the US Senate with Senator Akaka, assisting him with issues such as energy independence, homeland security, the environment, and veteran affairs, being elected as a State legislator and City Councilmember, as well as my work with my environmental non-profit, I am well-equipped to take on these challenges, and am confident that I will serve you well.


May 25th, 2011

State Sen. Clayton Hee, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, has amended his annual financial disclosure report with the state Ethics Commission, acknowledging that he made a mistake by not fully describing his finances in his initial report.

“I made a mistake. I take full responsibility for it. As soon as I was notified of it, I corrected it immediately,” the senator said in an email. “It was human error, and I’m a human being. I apologize for my error.”

Ian Lind, a blogger and former legislative staffer and newspaper reporter, posted an item about Hee (D, Kahuku-Kaneohe) on his blog on Saturday after noticing a difference between the senator’s report and the disclosure filed by the senator’s wife, Lynne Waters, the associate vice president for external affairs and university relations at the University of Hawaii.

Leslie Kondo, the executive director of the state Ethics Commission, said it would be up to the commission whether Hee would face any type of sanction.

“If there’s going to be punishment doled out, it will be by the commission. That’s all I can say. I don’t know what the commission’s inclination is,” he said.

Outside the lines

May 24th, 2011

Hawaii voters have been forgiving of members of Congress who live outside the districts they represent, a vestige, most likely, of the days when the islands had only one district. Both U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, live outside their districts.

Many Republicans — and, in the case of Hirono, Kauai Democrats — have tried to make residency a political issue, but it has not had much of an influence on voters.

The upcoming race to replace Hirono in the 2nd Congressional District, which covers rural Oahu and the Neighbor Islands, will likely draw candidates from outside the 2nd District. Hirono is running for the U.S. Senate to replace U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

Residency, however, appears to be more of a factor on the Mainland, where allegations of carpet-bagging can sting.

The New York Times reported that residency had become an issue in a special election for Congress in upstate New York. The Democrat, Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, lives in a village just outside the district and could not vote for herself.

It is the closing ritual of campaigns: a candidate emerging from behind a polling booth curtain and giving the thumbs-up sign to photographers as they snap away. But there will be no such moment Tuesday for Kathy Hochul, the Democratic candidate in a nationally watched election in a Congressional district in western New York.

“She can’t vote,’’ Fabien Levy, spokesman for Ms. Hochul, explained.

But it turns out upstate New York voters were more interested in issues such as Medicare. Hochul scored a surprise victory today in the conservative district.

Two months ago, the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, was considered an all-but-certain loser in the race against Jane Corwin. But Ms. Hochul seized on her Republican rival’s embrace of the proposal from Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, to overhaul Medicare, and she never let up.

Voters, who turned out in strikingly large numbers for a special election, said they trusted Ms. Hochul, the county clerk of Erie County, to protect Medicare.

Game theory

May 23rd, 2011

Bart Dame, a progressive activist who serves on the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s state central committee, recommends a clever way to help understand reapportionment.

The folks at the University of Southern California’s game innovation lab came up with an online redistricting game. The game allows participants to see exactly how redrawing political boundaries after each census can influence elections.

The Redistricting Game is designed to educate, engage, and empower citizens around the issue of political redistricting. Currently, the political system in most states allows the state legislators themselves to draw the lines. This system is subject to a wide range of abuses and manipulations that encourage incumbents to draw districts which protect their seats rather than risk an open contest.

By exploring how the system works, as well as how open it is to abuse, The Redistricting Game allows players to experience the realities of one of the most important (yet least understood) aspects of our political system. The game provides a basic introduction to the redistricting system, allows players to explore the ways in which abuses can undermine the system, and provides info about reform initiatives – including a playable version of the Tanner Reform bill to demonstrate the ways that the system might be made more consistent with tenets of good governance. Beyond playing the game, the web site for The Redistricting Game provides a wealth of information about redistricting in every state as well as providing hands-on opportunities for civic engagement and political action.

`I’m not a conedropper, O.K.?’

May 20th, 2011

Many of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s Republican critics have been circulating a video of a frank exchange between the governor and several nurses from Maui Memorial Medical Center after an event at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center this month.

The nurses were the only unit in the Hawaii Government Employees Association to reject a new contract with a 5 percent pay cut, nine extra days off a year with pay, and a 50-50 split in health insurance premiums.

The public-worker nurses believe they are underpaid compared to their counterparts in the private sector. The contract dispute with the state could be headed toward binding arbitration.

Abercrombie asked the nurses why they and other public workers did not come before the state Legislature to support his pension tax, soda tax, and elimination of Medicare Part B reimbursements for retired public workers and their spouses, which he said could have provided more money to pay public workers.

While Abercrombie’s critics have seized on his tax comments, the most revealing part of the video comes at the end, when one of the nurses haughtily explains to the governor that she is no ordinary public worker.

Nurse: I’m not a conedropper, O.K.?

I’m not a conedropper, and I’m not a janitor, and I’m not a clerk. Even though those jobs are important, if that conedropper comes into my ER, I’m going to save their life for 34 percent less than what is out there.

And we’re talking benefits, too. Your benefit package. Your premiums. Your medical …

Abercrombie: Maybe that’s why they didn’t go down to the Legislature and work for you, because maybe the conedroppers and the clerks and so on thought that that’s what you think of them.

And so they didn’t show up for you.

City boundaries

May 20th, 2011

The City Council has named its nominees for the nine members who will redraw the island’s nine Council districts to reflect the changing population.

Under the city and county charter, the Council is required to name its own Reapportionment Commission by July 1. The nine appointed members have until Jan. 2, 2012 to submit a reapportionment plan to the City Clerk.

The nine members shall be selected “by the Presiding Officer of the City Council with the approval of the City Council, with no more than a majority of the members of the commission being from the same political party.”

Resolution 11-162, introduced this week, names the following nine nominees:

• Rodney Funakoshi
• Reynaldo “Rey” Graulty
• C. Mike Kido
• Kerry Komatsubara
• Albi Mateo
• John Monis
• Anel “Tito” Montes
• Nathan Okubo
• Arthur Park

The chairman of the commission is to be elected among the nine members.

The resolution is to be discussed Monday in the Executive Matters & Legal Affairs Committee.

Meanwhile, the state Reapportionment Commission is well under way with it’s work. The next meeting is set for Tuesday, May 24. Agenda is HERE.

Facebook fun

May 19th, 2011

Soon after U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, announced today to her supporters that she would run in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate next year, minority Republicans took to social media to have some fun.

The state GOP Twitter post suggested Hirono is not exactly exciting.

If you are having a hard time falling asleep, just watch this video of Mazie Hirono announcing that she is running…

Dylan Nonaka, the state GOP’s executive director, was even more creative on Facebook.

To all my right wing political friends, if you see the Mazie 4 Hawaii Facebook ad on the right side of you wall, click on it as many times as you can. Her campaign is getting charged for every click so we can start helping her burn her cash now.

In the race

May 19th, 2011

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono announced today her intent to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated in 2012 by U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka.

Her announcement to supporters on her website:

Hirono matches up favorably other potential candidates, as evidenced in the recent Hawaii Poll conducted by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now.

Voting ends Friday

May 18th, 2011

Time is running out to cast your vote in neighborhood board elections — the deadline for voting is 11:59 p.m. Friday night.

For the second-straight election, the city’s Neighborhood Commission has chosen to hold the elections through online and telephone voting.

Officials say the turnout already has exceeded 2009, when 6 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot online. As of Monday, the participation rate was 6.6 percent.

“We are pleased by the increase in the voter turnout rate and are hoping that our public relations efforts in the final week to get out the vote will push participation even higher,” Commission Executive Secretary Tom Heinrich said in a news release.

Election officials estimate the savings from the paper-free voting method at about $85,000.

Access to the Neighborhood Boards election can be found at or by calling toll-free (888) 907-6717.  Voters will need their pass code distributed by mail at the beginning of this month.


May 17th, 2011

For readers who have been following the results of the latest Hawaii Poll for the Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now over the past few days, here are the full tables, which include more demographic information:

May 2011 Hawaii Poll Banner Tables