Archive for January, 2012

One vote

January 31st, 2012

Republicans have filed challenges to the party’s election of Ted Liu, an ally of former Gov. Linda Lingle, as national committeeman.

Liu, the former director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism under Lingle, beat Willes Lee, a former state party chairman, by a single vote in the Jan. 21 election at party headquarters.

The challengers claim that the party improperly allowed votes by proxy and email, tipping the election to Liu, who won 31 to 30.

“As mentioned, the challenges are presented because we believe in fair and honest elections, not one that is cheated or stolen to win,” one Republican said in an email. “It’s about the entire Republican Party having a voice for the `everyday people’ and not just about one person controlling every single aspect of the party.”

David Chang, the state’s GOP chairman, said the challenges are being reviewed in consultation with Terry Thomason, the party’s rules chief.

“We’re taking them seriously,” Chang said.

`Big Mo’

January 30th, 2012

Former congressman Ed Case issued a fundraising appeal on Monday touting the results of a new poll that shows him in a close race with U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

The automated telephone poll, by Civil Beat and the Merriman River Group, had Case up on Hirono 41 percent to 39 percent. The margin of error was 2.7 percentage points. The poll was taken among 1,358 likely voters on Jan. 18 and Jan. 19.

Case, who trails Hirono in fundraising and endorsements, titled his appeal “The Big Mo”:

What it all means is that as voters think through the choice between me and Mazie, about who can really do the job for us in the Senate over the next generation, we are gaining support and momentum. All of the DC/mainland special interest/PAC money and endorsements flooding her campaign are not changing that.

Betsy Lin, Hirono’s campaign manager, noted that Merriman River Group has polled for Case.

It’s troubling Civil Beat’s automated poll is conducted by the very same pollster who also conducts polls directly for Ed Case’s Senate campaign, despite the obvious conflict of interest this poses. Our own polling of actual likely Democratic primary voters shows Ed Case losing to Mazie Hirono by eighteen points — and given Mazie’s record in opposing George W. Bush’s Iraq War and opposing Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, this isn’t a surprise.

*Update: On Tuesday, it was former Gov. Linda Lingle’s campaign that was critical of the poll, which showed the Republican trailing both Case and Hirono in hypothetical general election match-ups.

From retired Maj. Gen. Robert G.F. Lee, Lingle’s campaign manager:

The survey released today by Civil Beat does not line up with our own polling and appears to be slanted to the Democrat candidates. Even the Democrat Senate Congressional Committee (DSCC) has publicly dismissed the methodology of the automatic phone survey, calling it ‘troubling.’ With Gov. Lingle entering the U.S. Senate race just 113 days ago, the outpouring of support she has received statewide has been overwhelming. We know this is going to be a long, challenging race. Gov. Lingle will remain focused on working hard every day to earn the votes of the people of Hawaii by putting ‘people first’ and ensuring this election stays focused on the key issues that families in our state are faced with every day.


January 30th, 2012

Tony Gill, an attorney representing the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, argues in a brief before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board that Gov. Neil Abercrombie has the authority under the state’s collective bargaining law to unilaterally implement a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant without a new contract with teachers.

A provision in the law makes collective bargaining inoperative if it jeopardizes federal money.

§89-20 Chapter inoperative, when. (a) If any provision of this chapter jeopardizes the receipt by the State or any county of any federal grant-in-aid or other federal allotment of money, the provision shall, insofar as the fund is jeopardized, be deemed to be inoperative.

Gill, who does not lack in confidence or humor, also manages to include some media criticism in his brief.

In addition to the legal concerns of interest to the parties, there are matters of public perception at stake. UHPA considers that the newspapers have been trafficking in misinformation on certain points. The political and editorial spin of recent date constructs a scenario in which the HSTA is frustrating the State’s ability to receive $75 M. This is rubbish.

Neither the State (nor any literate journalists) should blame HSTA for failing to negotiate a contract that solves RTTT compliance issues, because 89-20 renders any strictures of Chapter 89 inoperative to the extent they jeopardize federal funds. The State can solve compliance issues unilaterally. Being fully empowered, the State is thus solely responsible, and solely to blame, if there is a failure of compliance with RTTT that leads to loss of funds.


January 27th, 2012

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has asked the Legislature for a handful of emergency appropriations — several requests that were left on the negotiating table after the breakdown over tax policy at the end of last session.

Here are the requests:

*$1.7 million for the voting systems contract for this year’s elections.

*Money for legal claims against the state.

*$2.7 million for security at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit last November.

*$11.8 million for shortfalls in Quest, the state’s version of Medicaid.

*$70,100 to pay two law firms that challenged the state’s policy on Medicaid and Pacific migrants.


January 27th, 2012

The state Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee advanced a bill on Friday that would exempt members of task forces chosen by lawmakers or the governor from the state ethics code.

The bill arose from skirmishes between Leslie Kondo, the executive director of the state Ethics Commission, and lawmakers over the commission’s interpretation that members of a mortgage foreclosure task force are state employees and should not also be paid by private interests to lobby the Legislature on task force business.

Lawmakers have argued that they often rely on expert advice from task forces. Kondo had suggested that lawmakers exempt task force members from the ethics code.

Paper and plastic

January 26th, 2012

Jon Kaneshiro, a senior at Iolani School, had an experience Thursday that most high school students wouldn’t even dream of: a bill he drafted received a hearing before the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee.

As an intern in state House Speaker Calvin Say’s office, Kaneshiro said he was originally supposed to be a legislative aide, but his interests prompted him to draft HB 1828 —which proposes charging a fee for one-time use plastic bags at grocery stores and retail outlets — and Say submitted it.

“It’s kind of like American Idol, you never expect yourself doing this,” Kaneshiro said following the hearing. “It was a great experience overall and I learned a lot.”

The committee deferred the bill indefinitely because HB 2260, a similar bill that extends the fee to one-time use paper bags and is much more comprehensive in scope, was preferred by those who testified.

Kaneshiro said he wasn’t disappointed by the outcome of his bill, and he even testified in support of HB 2260.

“I didn’t hear about this bill until maybe like a week before, so, once I read it, I liked it a lot,” the law-school hopeful said. “I can see the subtle changes in the way it was written … and it’s not heartbreaking at all. It was a good opportunity to see what people want and see how these kinds of people think.”

Despite overwhelming testimony in favor of HB 2260, Kaneshiro’s bill still made an impression.

Mark Fox, the director of external affairs at the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii of The Nature Conservancy, suggested to the committee that a recycling provision outlined in HB 1828 be rolled into HB 2260. That provision states that if a business operates a plastic bag recycling bin during all business hours, the business can keep 25 percent of the fee charged to cover any costs related to managing the bin.

HB 2260 was also deferred, but not indefinitely. Rep. Denny Coffman, chairman of the committee, said he believes a bill of similar subject matter that will possibly be heard next week will clear up many testifiers’ concerns, and he wants to hear that one first.

– Sarah Zoellick

The artist from Waikiki …

January 25th, 2012

State Rep. Tom Brower, in what is becoming a regular diversion, gave his unique twist Wednesday on the invocation that opens daily House floor sessions.

From the Waikiki Democrat:


Feeling high from the momentum of his fourth place finish at last year’s freshmen talent show, the artist from Waikiki, proving again he is more than a one hit wonder, brings the lyrics and leather, with a new compilation of free-verse poetry, entitled, “Rep. Brower Live: From the 3rd Floor to Your Backdoor.”

The featured composition is about a legislator who feels he cannot always be himself or say the sophisticated things he really wants to. This prose is entitled, “The Order of the Day.”


Birth, death, love, hate,
Friendship, arrogance, respect, deceit:

I get used to the metamorphosis in every way.
Legislators need balance to survive the Order of the Day.

A public reception or private caucus meeting.
What’s really there and if I care, people aren’t always seeing.

Together we work, together we play.
None of us confuse the Order of the Day.

Read my book between the lines; you’ll know the real me better.
Disregard my public persona and talking points on the cover.

While courteous, what I think can be different from what I say.
Behind the scenes I’m on my knees to the Order of the Day.

Nodding yes, but inside disagreeing.
A survival skill, for or against. What’s my role? Is there real meaning?

Voters’ choices aren’t black and white — but sometimes gray
When I am the public servant to the Order of the Day.

A bond to common purpose, a loyalty on the surface.
Leaders, dissenters, republicans, democrats, the corruption from innocence.

A fondness of each other, at times, distrust of one another.

At some point, will God have me pay?
For becoming a political pawn to the Order of the Day


January 24th, 2012

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz dropped by a viewing party for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address that Democrats held on Tuesday at Ward Centers.

Obama for America and the Democratic Party of Hawaii are now sharing space at Abercrombie’s old campaign headquarters — a former steakhouse –  so the governor was on familiar ground.

Abercrombie said the Hawaii-born president has sought to reach out to Republicans during his three years in office, without success.

He’s tried so hard to live aloha for these last three years. And, of course, it’s been utterly and totally and completely rejected. And when you see the toxic atmosphere that has been established in this — I don’t even want to call it a race — in this punching match that is taking place in the Republican primaries right now. You can see it’s not going to work.

And I don’t know what the president’s words will be precisely tonight, but I’m guessing that he’s going to say, “I’ve done everything that is possible …the nation is going to have to choose. We’re going to have to decide whether we are all in this together or whether it’s everyone for themselves, whether this is going to be a war of each against all, or whether or not we’re going to unite behind that `diversity defining us’ message.”

I don’t know, it may be the — really — the first election since Harry Truman in 1948 in which the president is going to have to say that “the Congress simply does not want to govern with me.”

Schatz, who was a leader in the Obama campaign in Hawaii in 2008, told Democrats to expect a fight from Republicans, even in traditionally blue Hawaii.

This is the beginning of a very difficult fight, even locally.

And so I want you to stay engaged, I want you to work with Organizing for America, with the Democratic Party of Hawaii, go and work your communities, because we’re in for the fight of our lives, and it is literally defining the future of the state of Hawaii and defining the future of the United States of America.

10 percent

January 24th, 2012

State Senate Vice President Donna Mercado Kim and several others are unhappy that Citigroup received a slice of the state’s record $1.3 billion bond sale in November given Citigroup’s prior history with state investments.

Citigroup was involved in a $1 billion dispute with the state over controversial investments in student-loan backed auction rate securities.

Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Halawa) said the Abercrombie administration should not have rewarded Citigroup.

Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and Goldman, Sachs & Co. were the co-senior managers and received the largest commissions, while Citigroup had the better share among co-managers that included Barclays Capital, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley.

Kim aired her concerns at an informational briefing Tuesday on the state’s general-obligation bond debt before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “What it looks like is we’re rewarding these guys, when the wound is still open on SLARS,” she said afterward.

Kalbert Young, the state’s budget director, said the state is carrying nearly $7.8 billion in total bonds, including about $4.9 billion in general-obligation bonds.

State of the State 2012

January 23rd, 2012

Prepared text of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s 2012 State of the State address. Abercrombie went “off script” early on, asking for a moment of silence for the recent deaths of two Honolulu Police Department officers and re-introducing past governors. He also introduced Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Ben Villaflor.

Embargoed 2012 State of the State Speech