Meet

November 18th, 2010
By

State House Speaker Calvin Say and state Rep. Sylvia Luke met privately today in speaker’s fourth-floor offices as House leadership remains unsettled more than two weeks after the general election.

Say, (D-St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Wilhelmina Rise), has been speaker since 1999. Luke, (D-Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl) , has been the leader of a dissident faction for the past several years.

Sources say the meeting produced no breakthroughs.

Say has locked down 24 votes to remain speaker, two votes short of the majority of 51 House members necessary. Luke has 16 votes. Three lawmakers — Rep. Roy Takumi, Rep. Jessica Wooley and Rep. Cindy Evans — have yet to commit.

Several lawmakers have described the situation as a stalemate, but Say and his allies have told supporters to be patient even if leadership is not resolved for several weeks. Say and his allies believe speaker still has the upper hand, so the situation may more accurately be described as a holding pattern than a stalemate.

The House Democrats’ uncertain leadership has yet to have much of a practical impact, other than keeping newly elected lawmakers from getting assigned offices. Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie has met with Senate Democrats, who reorganized earlier this month, but will not likely speak with House Democrats as a group until leadership is settled.

19 Responses to “Meet”

  1. ohiaforest3400:

    Although in recent years the House has re/organized soon after the election, in earlier times it was not unheard of for leadership to be resolved only on the eve of session. I doubt it will go on that long but the current holding pattern is neither unprecedented nor cause for immediate concern.

    What IS cause for concern is what the dissident faction will do if it actually wrests control of the House from the current leadership. The only obvious thing they currently have in common is opposition to the present regime but that will provide no basis to govern if that regime is deposed. As Newt Gingrich showed following thew mid-term elections in 1994 — and as the John Boehner crowd will surely show beginning in 2011 — backbench sniping and frontside leadership are two very different things.

    That will become quickly apparent here if, for example, Cindy Evans realizes her reported aim of becoming Majority Leader or if Jessica Wooley becomes chair of Judiciary. Evans is a superficial dilettante who will be easily outmaneuvered by her own caucus. Wooley, who relied heavily on Clayton Hee to win her reelection, is unable to make a decision about anything and will be easily manipulated by Hee, her Judiciay committee counterpart in the Senate. An uncontrolled caucus and a Judiciary chair serving the Senate’s needs, instead of doing the heavy lifting of killing bills for House leadership, would be an unmitigated disaster.

    Say what you will about Calvin, but almost anything is better than the mosh-pit of clueless egos of which the ABC (Anybody But Calvin) crowd is comprised.


  2. ohiaforest3400:

    I should have said “mostly comprised” at the end of #1. There are some solid people in that group; it’s just that to get to 26, they have to lay down with some really flea-riddled dogs.


  3. charles:

    ohia, are you saying that the 24 on Say’s side are the cream of the crop?


  4. hipoli:

    Who is being talked about for Judiciary chair under Speaker? Under Luke?

    The very concerning notion of lining up Wooley to be Hee’s counter-part should be enough for both groups to grab their big boys and girls hats and figure this out already.


  5. Teddy Freddy:

    What is with all the drama? Calvin will win because he will offer at the end of the day something juicy: a chairmanship or perhaps a title, or maybe as little as a better office and parking space, and one of the dissidents who is tired of being left in the hinterland or who is just greedy will jump ship. The dissidents don’t know how to do it. What they are too good to make the offers that need to be made to close the deal? They take too long and allow Say to peel off the weaker members on the edges. Sylvia should step aside and allow another compromise candidate to take the helm. After all, what leadership has she actually shown during the past 10 years or so? If the House wants true change then make Takumi Speaker.


  6. Voice Ofreason:

    ohiaforest3400 had some really good points. But what about the third holdout named in the article — Rep. Roy Takumi? What’s his fence-riding game?

    He has been the Chair of the House Education Committee for many years under Speaker Say. While not the most loyal of supporters (he actually is a pretty outspoken critic of leadership and has sided with the dissidents on many occasions), he always seems to stop short of crossing the line in order to keep control of his beloved fiefdom over our public schools.

    But does he have higher ambitions? After all, he and his buddy to east, Rep. K. Mark Takai, have been very busy this past election helping numerous new candidates win contested primary and general elections to get into the House. Does Takumi want to be Speaker?

    What an uproar that would cause — an officer with the AFL-CIO (Takumi is communications director) running the House of Representatives. Remember what happened when Speaker Henry Peters became Trustee for the Bishop Estate? Voters felt that that was too much power to give to Kamehameha Schools. But what if that power was given to the unions, especially when HGEA, HSTA, UPW, and the rest of the public sector workers’ contracts are up for renewal?

    Ohia’s points are well taken, but the “clueless mosh-pit” seems like a minor speed bump compared to the freeway closing pileup that Speaker Takumi would cause.


  7. ohiaforest3400:

    Charles, no ringing endorsement of all of Speaker Say’s group, by any means. That’s why I said “Say what you will about Calvin” (pun intended), I was giving only faint praise to his group by comparing them to the, um, alternative.

    Hipoli, haven’t heard of a JUD chair candidate under Luke but none of the alternatives are terribly appealing, even if more so than Wooley. Then again, Jon Riki didn’t exactly set a high bar for the position.

    Teddy & Voice, have heard of three alternate candidates for Speaker: Marcus Oshiro (everyone’s heard that and no one seems too happy about it; shoots, some are absolutely appalled), Takumi, and Blake Oshiro. Takumi — despite his glaring blind spot for organized labor — is easily one of the most thoughtful people in House and has relatively low political ego, the exact opposite of many/most, especially MOshiro. Blake is very bright, has almost no political ego, and, with thismpast election showing that the red/white shirt crowd has, like, zero political pull, might actually get the support of members who were afraid to support civil unions.

    But this all so much “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” speculation until the dilly-dallying “oh, this discussion is a healthy thing” crowd (and you know who, in particular to whom I refer) have to grow some and pick sides.

    I’ve never been into fantasy football, baseball, etc. but fantasy politics? Too delicious to resist!


  8. ohiaforest3400:

    Charles, I intend no ringing endorsement of all or even most of Speaker Say’s group, by any means. That’s why I said “Say what you will about Calvin” (pun intended); I was giving only faint praise to his group by a damning comparison to the, um, alternative.

    Hipoli, I haven’t heard of a JUD chair candidate under Luke but none of the alternatives are terribly appealing, even if more so than Wooley. Then again, Jon Riki didn’t exactly set a high bar for the position.

    Teddy & Voice, I have heard of three alternate candidates for Speaker: Marcus Oshiro (everyone’s heard that and no one seems too happy about it; shoots, some are absolutely appalled), Takumi, and Blake Oshiro. Takumi — despite his glaring blind spot for organized labor — is easily one of the most thoughtful people in House and has relatively low political ego, the exact opposite of many/most, especially MOshiro. Blake is very bright, has less than no political ego, and, with this past election showing that the red/white shirt crowd has, like, zero political pull, might actually get the support of members who were afraid to support civil unions.

    But this is all just so much “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” speculation until the dilly-dallying “oh, this discussion is a healthy thing” crowd (and you know who, in particular, to whom I refer) have to grow some and pick sides.

    I’ve never been into fantasy football, baseball, etc. but fantasy politics? Too delicious to resist!


  9. charles:

    Voice Ofreason, I know Takumi sponsored the appointed BOE bill that was vehemently opposed by HSTA and by HGEA. Are you saying this shows he’s a puppet of the unions?


  10. Nikki Heat:

    Teddy, Voice & Ohia:
    How do you rate the chance some of Speaker Say’s inner core of loyalists arise as a more acceptable front for the present leadership– Jimmy Tokioka, Pono Chong or Kyle Yamashita as the alternative offered up? Too close? People too jealous of Pono’s budget prowess and youthful arrogance (a la Mark Takai in the Luke group), or Kyle’s CIP authority, or Jimmy’s inside knowledge and close ties to the hotel industry? The Oshiros or the Takumi don’t seem to be the alternative that people are clamoring to get behind (I don’t disagree with Ohia about Takumi’s missing political ego and Blake’s intelligence but whether or not civil unions hurt people during re-election, people had to work harder, and spend more money than if the issue had not re-arisen at the end of last session– even folks who voted against the bill didn’t stave off the annoyance of competition (ask prickly Ryan Yamane, or the aforementioned K. Mark Takai). Even if most GOP candidates proved to be just token sacrifices left to fend for themselves by Duke & Lynn & “the smirking before the cameras GOP powers that be” there may be push back inside the caucus room on a “Blake Oshiro civil unions all the time speakership” as much as giving Randy Perreira the keys to the kingdom with his AFL-CIO employee Roy Takumi handling the gavel).
    And how come no women, other than Luke, mentioned as the alternative to the old boys? Are there no other women stepping up to be speaker?


  11. Haleiwa Harry:

    Looks like Wooley and Evans have picked a side. Nikki, you may want to reconsider Tokioka’s name. You have to be in the House to be a speaker candidate.


  12. Teddy Freddy:

    Good points Nikki. It makes sense for someone from Says group to be put forward if the stalemate continues. While Tokioka, Pono and Kyle seem likely suspects to be put forward – I don’t think so. Tokioka has other plans for a high paid position in the visitor industry or so the rumor mill goes. Pono too authoritarian and Kyle, nope don’t think so. My vote would be for Blake and Roy but their credentials/baggage perhaps too heavy for this session. Other women? Now that is a good question. Morita perhaps? She seems to fall in the same category as Takumi and Blake. Smart, minimal ego, tough and strong. Maybe? My money is still on Calvin. This thing has gone on too long and he will close the deal while the others dither.


  13. Voice Ofreason:

    How ironic this situation has become. Calvin Say became Speaker of the House many years ago as a compromise candidate. The dissidents (many of whom are the same today) rebelled against Speaker Joe Souki’s heavy-handed style of punishing those who did not toe the line. Calvin’s approach of turning the other cheek and giving everyone an opportunity to participate has been consistent throughout his tenure as Speaker. Today, he is now criticized as being weak for taking that same approach.

    When history looks back at Calvin Say, people will see him for what he truly is — a statesman. He has been Speaker longer than anyone. He has provided stability to the State during its most troubled times — two recessions, a Republican Governor, numerous leadership changes in the Senate. He has had to withstand personal attacks and leadership challenges while always looking out for what is fair and what is responsible (just ask the business community). Given the uncertainty today of a new administration and a new Senate leadership team, the State needs the stability Speaker Say will continue to provide.

    But then again, maybe what the House truly needs is a history lesson. Maybe the House needs to bring back a Speaker Joe or better yet, Speaker Peters to kick some serious behind. Maybe then some of the spoiled, selfish dissidents will appreciate the leadership of a true gentleman — Speaker Calvin K.Y. Say.


  14. ohiaforest3400:

    Nikki, I’m not sure where you come down in all of this. Who do you support? I still think Blake would be a great choice and can’t disagree more with your description of his potential speakership as “civil unions all the time.” Though he has supported the issue for some time, perhaps for obvious reasons, he has hardly pushed it or made it his cause celebre. As JUD Vice-Chair he stood back and remained silent when Tommy Waters would not or could not bring it to a vote in committee. When the motion for indefinite postponement was made and passed last year, he said not a word, before, during or after. Methinks you make a facile equation betwen his orientation and his political platform, something which is unsupported by the evidence and that does a grave disservice to him, personally and professionally.

    That being said, what women leaders would you suggest? My thoughts on Evans and Wooley have been made more than clear here. Awana? Carroll? Neither is the sharpest tool in the shed. Della? She marginalized herself before she even got in the game by dramatically painting herself as victim like, what, six weeks into her first term? Cabanilla? Clueless pariah. Hanohano? Past her prime, which was more plodding than prime. Har? Princess bee-otch, ’nuff said. Marilyn Lee? Sometimes lacks focus, inflexible, and gets a little cranky. Not to mention, hardly a mandate by the voters this past election. Mina? Intriguing choice. Good values. Hard worker. But a loner. Doesn’t communicate or play well with others, including her own staff. Maile? Smart, down-to-earth, no pretenses. But maybe too nice, too egalitarian, almost disdains ambition. The rest are freshman or Republicans. Who then?

    While I can’t say Calvin is the best choice going forward, I can say that he has done a remarkable job managing a huge caucus over the past decade plus. He has given younger members chances to grow into leadership and they have either blown it (Jon Riki) or stabbed him in the back (K. Mark and Saiki). In doing so, he has shown his willingness to take risks, to make leadership more diverse at his own peril. He has done the same by introducing legislation proposing some very hard choices both for business (suspension/repeal of tax credits) and public workers (benefit curtailment). And he showed leadership by doing that, taking “the hit” for putting those issues on the table, sparing his chairs and members. Again, say what you will about at least Pono and Kyle (if not also Tokioka), they’re getting the job done based on their competencies, not on their public pretense/delusion of being powerbrokers. Seriously, like Bob Nakasone, most people don’t have clue who Kyle is (unless it’s for his perfect hair). And, OK, Pono is a little erect but he went St. Louis, ‘kay? If Calvin has a weakness, it is in letting the foxes rule the hen house: the highest paid person in the legislature, House Clerk Pat Mau, is Queen of the Capitol and runs EVERYTHING, imperiously; Sgt at Arms Kevin Kuroda is arbitrary and capricous and also grossly overpaid; the now departed head of HMSO alienated most members and ran the place into the ground, and the best employees out the door. Calvin is patient and tolerant beyond measure; perhaps a Zen Master is not the best House Speaker.


  15. james_808:

    Charles,

    it shows he wants to be re-elected seeing that oh I dunno the public wanted an appointed board…oh the 3 former governors came out in support of it…oh um every gubernatorial candidate supported it…Remember that HSTA endorsed Abercrombie even though he supported the appointed board.

    you pick and choose your battles….when it come down to it the elected board is NOTHING ISSUE in the eyes of the Unions compared to the line one would have to draw over VEBA, furloughs, raising the GET, or EUTF etc…..


  16. james_808:

    Voice of Reason,

    Couldn’t agree with you more about Say. He is obviously the superior choice.

    Luke and her dissident group went as far to join with HGEA to hand pick candidates to run in various contested and uncontested seats across the State. You will see Luke, Saiki, hmm can’t remember who else sign waving in the primary for Democrats who are going up against other democrats because they promised to support Luke’s faction.

    Luke raises a bunch of money for these candidates (Say does the same) but its very obvious she has it out for him.

    Ladies and gentlemen how crazy an idea is this…HGEA is upset with Say for not raising GET so they naturally go along with Luke and her group who would be OK with raising it. Its a match made in hell.

    Get Say in…he is our best shot for a balanced approach between labor and business.


  17. Nikki Heat:

    Ohia:
    If it’s not apparent, I frankly like either of the Oshiros– Blake or Marcus, and I actually like Pono’s intellect, confidence and passion (and Kyle’s hair, steadfastness and loyalty). If Jimmy is hanging around then he’d be another good choice as practical if not as progressive as Pono or Kyle. If the apprentices are ready to take on more responsibility — having borne the burden of handling a large, unwieldy majority caucus for several terms now — perhaps Speaker Say can do a lot by handing one of them the gavel and taking on the role of consigliere. He’s worked hard– longest serving Speaker in the history of statehood — and deserves to get out of the line of fire from all the critics of the State House (within and without).
    Thank you for your review of the women of the House. Other than Mina and Maile (and Sylvia without her appendages?) the bench in your view isn’t very deep there. . . .


  18. charles:

    james, you do realize that the appointed BOE bill was introduced and passed well before the three former governors supported it, the gubernatorial candidates supported it, etc. You mean, Takumi checked with all these people including Aiona before introducing the bill?

    Interesting.

    And, as far as, the appointed BOE bill being “nothing,” well, if so, why did HSTA/HGEA spend a whole lot of money trying to defeat it?


  19. ohiaforest3400:

    If I understand you correctly, Nikki, you’re saying that the faction of which Say is currently head should organize around another of its newer/younger, up and coming members, with him staying on as Speaker Emeriitus, a la “Speaker Joe”? If so, I think that’s the best compromise proposal I’ve heard, yet, in my not so humble, probnably not very well informed, and utterly irrelevant opinion. (Hey, this is a blog, right?)

    As for the potential women leaders in the House, I think you summarized my review pretty well (“shallow bench”). Or at least I don’t see you arguing with any of it . . . .


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