Archive for June, 2012

Contempt

June 28th, 2012
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Although both of Hawaii’s Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives derided Thursday’s vote to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress as a political stunt, they split on how to demonstrate their objection to the process.

Holder became the first sitting Cabinet member held in contempt of Congress. The rebuke was pushed by Republicans seeking more information on a bungled gun-tracking operation known as “Operation Fast and Furious.”

The vote was 255-67, with more than 100 Democrats boycotting.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono chose to stay on the floor to vote against the resolution, while her colleague, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa joined the House members who walked off the chamber floor in proest.

Said Hirono:

“Today, House Republicans staged a contemptuously-partisan vote on holding the Attorney General in contempt of Congress. This shameful vote was a blatant political ploy by Washington Republicans who say their number one goal for 2012 is to defeat President Obama, and I voted against it. The American people deserve better. Congress should be sharply focused on the everyday challenges facing Hawaii’s families, not wasting time and energy on this political shibai.”

Hanabusa called the House action “unfortunate,” adding:

“The leadership of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee has repeatedly turned away efforts to reach a reasonable accommodation on the issue and the investigation identified no evidence that the Attorney General or senior Department officials were aware of ‘gunwalking’ in Fast and Furious. By ignoring the facts and rebuffing the Justice Department’s efforts to reasonably provide the committee with the information it needs to reach a fair decision, the committee has forced the department to devote resources to this blatantly political stunt, instead of the department’s real mission of protecting American lives.”

Republicans cited Holder’s refusal to hand over — without any preconditions — documents that could explain why the Obama administration initially denied that a risky “gun-walking” investigative tactic was used in Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed hundreds of guns to be smuggled from Arizona to Mexico.

The vote on a criminal contempt resolution sent the matter to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who is under Holder.

A separate vote on civil contempt passed 258-95. It will allow the House to go to court in an effort to force Holder to turn over the documents.

In past cases, courts have been reluctant to settle disputes between the executive and legislative branches of government.


The Associated Press contributed to this post.

Contender

June 27th, 2012
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The National Republican Congressional Committee, a group that seeks to help GOP candidates get elected to Congress, has ranked former congressman Charles Djou as a “Contender” candidate as he tries to reclaim the U.S. House seat he held for seven months in 2010.

Contender is the third tier of the group’s “Young Guns” program, which recruits and identifies strong candidates for open-seat and challenger races.

Djou is expected to win his GOP primary for the 1st Congressional District, representing urban Oahu, and then face U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in November. It would be a rematch of 2010, when Djou was the incumbent after winning a special election to fill the seat vacated when Neil Abercrmobie stepped down to run for governor.

In a news release issued Wednesday, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said:

“We are looking forward to working with Charles Djou, who has already proven himself by meeting rigorous benchmarks in the ‘Young Guns’ program that will position his campaign for victory. Charles Djou’s dedication and experience positions him to advocate for pro-growth policies and fight the failed Democrat status quo in Washington. This will stand in stark contrast to the Democrats’ record of spending, borrowing and taxing that Hawaii families know has failed.”

The NRCC’s Young Guns program encourages candidates who have proven their ability to meet crucial campaign benchmarks to develop their campaigns further in order to achieve victory on Election Day, the NRCC said in a news release. In achieving Contender status, Djou has met the third set of these organizational and fundraising benchmarks.

Post-primary planning

June 26th, 2012
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Former congressman Ed Case chided U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono on Tuesday for not committing to a debate that is scheduled after their Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in August.

Case, in an email to supporters, said both he and former Gov. Linda Lingle, the leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, have agreed to appear at a debate before the Maui Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 15, four days after the Aug. 11 primary. The invitation was extended to primary winners.

Case has complained that Hirono only agreed to five joint appearances before the primary. Four have already been held.

From Case:

Real debates highlight records, beliefs, agendas and values. There are major differences between Linda and me that voters deserve to consider. With growing our economy, helping our small businesses and maintaining and creating good jobs our number one priority, the Maui Chamber’s debate is a great one to start with.

But real debates aren’t just about substance, they’re about leadership. I’m ready to fight for our future, all of our futures. It’s not going to be easy, and these debates with Linda will be about who can get the job done, over the next generation.

I look forward to many real debates with Linda throughout the general. I’m sure she, like me, will accept all reasonable opportunities to reach voters including statewide televised debates on our main stations.

Carolyn Tanaka, a spokeswoman for the Hirono campaign, wondered what Case and Lingle would have to debate.

Ed Case and Mazie have appeared in four primary debates already including one before the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. Linda Lingle was invited and she did not show up. Her GOP primary opponent, John Carroll participated. To date Linda Lingle has refused to appear in any debates with former State Senator John Carroll.

If this event were to take place, there is little for Ed Case and Linda Lingle to debate given how much they agree from raising the retirement age for Social Security to supporting President Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq , to Ed Case’s opposition to President Obama’s Jobs Act and Linda Lingle’s continued silence against existing proposals to create jobs here in Hawaii and across the country. It would not be much of a debate — more like a family reunion.

*Update: Carroll, Lingle’s primary opponent, also had a chuckle over Case’s missive.

Did the primary end and Mazie and I have lost?

I must have overslept!

Ante

June 26th, 2012
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A group that seeks to elect Iraq and Af­ghani­stan war veterans to Congress has committed an additional $100,000 to television ads supporting Tulsi Gabbard in the race for the 2nd Congressional District.

The latest round of ads by VoteVets.org was scheduled to begin Tuesday and run for two week during morning and evening hours on local broadcast networks.
VoteVets.org said it plans to run the same commercial it ran in May, when the group committed $75,000 for a week of air time.

The ads are classified as an independent expenditure, which are not coordinated with a campaign, but can focus on issues that benefit a candidate.

Gabbard is in the Demo­cratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District representing rural Oahu and the neighbor islands. Others in the primary include former Hono­lulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, former Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chief Advocate Esther Kia­aina, Hilo attorney Bob Marx, Hono­lulu attorney Rafael Del Castillo and Miles Shiratori of Kaneohe. The Republican primary field includes small-business consultant Matthew DiGeronimo and activist Kawika Crowley of Hilo.

As in May, the money was expended by the VoteVets.org Action Fund, the nonprofit advocacy arm of the veterans group, which was founded in 2006.


Gabbard, a former state representative who is in her first term on the Hono­lulu City Council, is a captain in the Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and to Kuwait in 2008.

Evolution

June 22nd, 2012
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The Equality Hawaii Action Fund, a nonpartisan political action committee, on Friday announced its endorsements for the state’s congressional primaries.

The PAC chose candidates based on their support of five federal issues:
>> The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
>> The repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
>> Equal rights for same-sex military spouses (following the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell).
>> Equal immigration rights for binational same-sex families (Uniting American Families Act).
>> The Safe Schools Improvement Act.

In some races, the group chose more than one candidate.

Among the notable selections was that of Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District.

Gabbard, whose father Sen. Mike Gabbard was a strong opponent of the civil unions bill passed last year, was once similarly opposed to the concept. She has since changed her stance and now supports civil unions as the only legal status for all couples.

In backing Tulsi Gabbard, EHAF applauded her “evolution” on the issue:

“We applaud Gabbard’s evolution on issues of equality in our state – this is an evolution that many have had over the past decade, and one which many will continue to have in the months and years to come. We believe in Gabbard’s commitment to our community, and to helping heal and move our state forward on issues of marriage equality.”

The complete list of endorsements:

1st Congressional District (urban Oahu):
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa

2nd Congressional District (rural Oahu, neighbor islands):
Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard
Former Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chief Advocate Esther Kia’aina

U.S. Senate:
U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono
Former Congressman Ed Case

Ships

June 21st, 2012
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Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro was probably the most notable figure in the state’s criminal justice system not to attend Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s bill signing ceremony on justice reform at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

Kaneshiro had been a critic of the legislation. But his spokesman, Dave Koga, had a much simpler explanation for why Kaneshiro was not in attendance. “Keith did not attend the signing because he was not invited,” he said in an email.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, an Abercrombie spokeswoman, said Kaneshiro was sent an invitation via email last Thursday. She provided a copy as proof.

Shown the copy, Koga indicated that Kaneshiro’s email is slightly different than the one on the invitation from the governor’s office.

“He knew of the signing day,” he said. “But he never received an invitation.”

Koga said Kaneshiro joked that Pono, a black labrador used in the courthouse dog program, was his representative. Abercrombie nuzzled with the dog at the signing ceremony.

The nod

June 20th, 2012
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Two prominent interest groups — the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the Sierra Club Hawaii chapter — announced endorsements on Wednesday for state House and Senate campaigns.

The state’s largest public-sector labor union sided with several challengers over incumbents and had a few other interesting picks, including dissidents over lawmakers loyal to House Speaker Calvin Say:

*Hawaii County Councilman Donald Ikeda over Sen. Gilbert Kahele in SD1.

*Sen. Brian Taniguchi over Sen. Carol Fukunaga in SD11.

*Former Rep. Alex Sonson over Sen. Clarence Nishihara in SD17.

*Nicole Velasco, who used to work for the state auditor, over Honolulu City Councilman Romy Cachola in HD30.

*Rep. K. Mark Takai over Rep. Heather Giugni in HD33.

*Former Sen. Eloise Tungpalan over former television reporter and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye aide Gregg Takayama in HD34.

*Businessman Hanalei Aipoalani over Rep. Karen Awana in HD43.

*Rep. Jessica Wooley over House Majority Leader Pono Chong in HD48.

The influential environmental group also had some interesting choices:

*Former Sen. Lorraine Inouye over Sen. Malama Solomon in SD4.

*Fukunaga over Taniguchi in SD11.

*Laura Thielen, a director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources under former Gov. Linda Lingle, over Sen. Pohai Ryan in SD25.

*Keiko Bonk, a former Hawaii County Councilwoman and an environmental activist, and Dwight Synan, a real estate broker, over Say in HD20.

*Takai over Giugni in HD33.

*Takayama over Tungpalan in HD34.

*Former Miss Hawaii Lauren Cheape, a Republican, over Jake Bradshaw, who served in the Navy and is active with young Democrats, in HD45.

*Wooley over Chong in HD48.

Buy Lanai?

June 20th, 2012
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State Senate President Shan Tsutsui has suggested to Gov. Neil Abercrombie that the state purchase Lanai.

In a letter on Tuesday, the Maui Democrat said the people of Lanai have “grave concerns” about the potential sale to another private investor. Larry Ellison, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Oracle Corp., wants to buy the island from David Murdock.

From Tsutsui:

Currently, the State invests a great deal of money and resources in the island, including maintaining a public school, public library, state hospital, airport, roads, harbors and various state department offices to provide necessary services to Lanai residents and visitors.

Maui County also provides a myriad of services and support for the island and its residents.

However, Lanai residents are unable to purchase and develop lands that have been and may continue to be held in ownership by a single private individual or entity. The continued private ownership of Lanai may prove detrimental to the people of Lanai and the State, as a private owner is not subject to public, community or government input in making decisions that can and will affect such parties.

Veto bait

June 19th, 2012
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At least three Democrats in the state Senate have urged Gov. Neil Abercrombie to veto a bill that would increase fees and bonding requirements on professional employer organizations.

Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Sen. Carol Fukunaga and Sen. Les Ihara, Jr., have warned the governor in letters that the bill could hurt some of the smaller firms that provide human resources functions for small businesses.

Chun Oakland had voted against the bill on final reading, while Ihara was excused. In an interesting twist, Chun Oakland, Fukunaga and Ihara are all part of the “chess club” leadership faction that includes Sen. Rosalyn Baker, the bill’s sponsor, and had co-sponsored the bill.

From Chun Oakland:

I am in agreement with the local business community and feel that the bond requirements as set forth in this bill for these organizations are unreasonable and will force many local, small businesses to close as they will be unable to meet the financial obligations as required in this bill. This bill will only benefit large Professional Employer Organizations that have large financial reserves that will help them offset the costs of this legislation.

Special session

June 19th, 2012
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The state Senate will return in special session on June 28 and June 29 to review judicial appointments to the state Supreme Court and Maui Circuit Court.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has appointed Circuit Judge Richard Pollack to replace retiring Justice James Duffy, Jr., on the Supreme Court.

The state Judicial Selection Commission has appointed attorney Peter Cahill to the Maui Circuit Court.

The Senate has advise and consent responsibility over judicial nominations.

The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Pollack on June 22 and on Cahill on June 26.