January 15th, 2011

State House Speaker Calvin Say has rejected state Rep. Sylvia Luke’s request that dissidents receive the chairmanship of the House Finance Committee, sources say, but he has slightly retooled his offer.

The Palolo Democrat would give dissidents two leadership posts — Majority Floor Leader and another unspecified post — and five committee chairmanships other than Finance, sources say. One dissident, state Rep. Cindy Evans, served as Majority Floor Leader last session.

On Thursday, Luke had asked for two leadership posts — Vice Speaker and Majority Leader — and seven to eight committee chairmanships, including Finance.

Say and Luke, who are negotiating privately toward a potential end to the leadership fight, were not available to comment. Sources familiar with the talks provided the information.

18 Responses to “No FIN”

  1. ohiaforest3400:

    This looks like the best offer, yet. Since Speaker’s offers continue to improve, albeit marginally, I can see the dissidents holding out until Tuesday, just to see if they can get a little bit more. With DKI pronouncing as “disgraceful” any organization with the Republicans and Speaker himself having said he wants to avoid that, the dissidents have to know that Speaker will keep the negotiations open until, or almost until, the vote is taken after session opens Wednesday.

    However, we may yet see the dissidents overplay their hand and blow it altogether; at least some of them are known for that. Perhaps the dissidents will break up over just how hard — and how long — to push. One outcome is that a portion of them will act as moderators — like the 12 or 13 centrists in the US Senate a few years ago — and break the logjam by telling Speaker he’ll have their votes if he honors this offer (or any sweetened one made before Wednesday).

    The trick is to use the leverage before you lose it and more than a few of the dissidents have shown themselves to be inept in that regard.

  2. Kolea:


    I suspect you are somewhat closer to the action than I am. You are CERTAINLY better informed and smarter. If the 5 committees are important, the offer might be worth taking. If not, then not.

    If the alternate pick approach is used, I would still hold out for more. Demand 8, back off to seven. Certainly don’t give in for fewer than 6.

    Different segments of the public are undoubtedly viewing this differently. I think it reflects (somewhat) badly upon the Democrats as a whole, but I think it can also be interpreted as showing both camps are serious about trying to push forward with solutions to the problems we are facing and therefore want more authority to bring change.

    And, as I have said, given the lack of fortitude demonstrated by the national Democrats, I am placing a higher value on “toughness” than I normally would. And the leadership of BOTH Democratic camps are looking pretty “tough” to me right now.

    If they can reach a compromise before Opening, I think both sides can hold their heads up. After that, what becomes more important is the quality of the proposals–and the quality of the debate–once the session formally begins.

    Thanks for your insights. They have proved valuable to my understanding. This blog is about the only place we have been able to track the negotiations with any detail. Partly it is DePledge sniffing around, and partly it is the contributions from folks like you, Charles and others. Mahalo.

  3. charles:

    @ohia, from what I’ve read, Say offered two leadership and four chairs initially. He has moved to two leadership and five chairs but in both cases, he will choose the positions and the members so the dissidents don’t have any choice in that.

    If Say had the 26 and needed to placate the remaining 16 which while no longer the block would still be a significant number, I can see this offer as a reasonable one.

    But that’s not the case. Say has 25 votes and without at least one other Democrat coming over (which hasn’t happened for over two months), he won’t get to 26 anytime soon.

    From the outside looking in, it seems to me that if none of the dissidents broke ranks when the offer was four chairs, why would they break when it’s five?

  4. Hmmm:

    The cast time DKI involved himself in House organization he precipitated a disaster for then Rep. Takamine.

    Takamine was asked by Inouye to hold out for a fair organization and was stripped of his Finance Committee Chairmanship…

    Takamine then quit the house… Moved to Senate…

  5. Kandi:

    Calvin Say’s side, “the guys”, have held on to power ruthlessly, killed or mucked up any effort to promote real change (including equality), and affirmatively excluded the women. Look at Cal’s line up — no girls allowed. The appointed chairs and leadership positions under Calvin certainly have nothing to do with merit. Can’t someone say it like it is? The guys who are in it for themselves on Calvin’s side should be ashamed, every one of them. If Calvin wins, the people of the state will pay for it, and justice and equality will have to wait. Ohiaforest, everyone knows who you are, and I’m sad for you. Love, Kandi.

  6. Earl of Sandwich:


    Last time, Say’s leadership lineup included Cindy Evans as the Majority Floor Leader, a number of women committee chairs, and Marilyn Lee as the #2 on the powerful Finance Committee. Other women in the House are either vice-chairs, and/or FIN members (who can’t be chairs), or freshmen. Sorry, the “boys club” thing is just tired, old, and a retread that only the deluded or disaffected parade out.

    And your calling out ohia is what’s sad. Most of the regular posters on Derrick’s blog are well informed and civil. I’ll take their opinions (whether I agree with them or not) any day. They wouldn’t have to make a point by sarcastically signing off with feigned “love.”

  7. DD:

    I think Kandi’s point isn’t that there aren’t women involved – it’s that they aren’t trusted with any real responsibility by Rep. Say and “the guys” as she puts it.

    Cindy Evans as Majority Floor Leader seemed to have been purposely kept out of the loop (presumably part of why she doesn’t want Rep. Say as Speaker any more) Rep. Lee on the Finance Committee – let’s not joke around here. Whether it’s Finance Committee Vice Chair or any committee Vice Chair, they are essentially powerless compared to the Chair. This is true especially in the Finance Committee, where Rep. Say calls all the shots and Chair Oshiro is just along for the ride.

    It seems by and large that the only women that have Chair positions – Rep. Hanohano, Rep. Morita, Rep. Carrol, and Rep. Cabanilla – have had to battle Rep. Say to accomplish anything productive, (and now are all dissidents) or in Rep. Cabanilla’s case – let’s not go there.

    I have to agree that the “old boys” moniker is truer than ever. Just look at who Rep. Say’s core people are: Jerry Chang, Bob Herkes, Clift Tsuji, Ken Ito… It’s much more apparent since the dissident group is generally so much younger by comparison.

    If Rep. Say is willing to go to any extreme to hold onto his power, they might as well let him knowing that he will have to retire two years down the road, and they will be in prime position to takeover.

  8. Karl Barth:


    There’s some truth in the comments you’ve made– Speaker Say has given women committees and titles but there is a perception that the inner circle remains a boy’s club. As far as I can tell from observation, the Speaker’s core group is decidedly male but now-dissident Cindy Evans did have the Count the Colored Sheets on the Floor job, dissident Mina Morita continued to have the Environment & Energy portfolio no one else wanted, dissident Mele Carroll got Hawaiian Affairs (a tough assignment), Rida Cabanilla with Housing (with Pono Chong acting as interference as Vice Chair), former prison guard Faye Hanohano got to screw around with Public Safety, and a smattering of other women got vice-chairs (Karen Awana at Transportation under Speaker Joe, Marilyn Lee at FIN, Sharon Har at Water Land under Ken Ito, Jessica Wooley at Agriculture under Clift Tsuji).

    As I see the current Say majority of the Democrats, five women are with his group of twenty-five (20%) while the seventeen dissidents include eight– Luke (clearly one of their leaders), Evans, Wooley, Morita, Hanohano, Au-Belatti, Morikawa, Carroll (as well as former Rep Maile Shimabukuro):

    Da Boys Club: Calvin Say, Isaac Choy, Marcus Oshiro, Ken Ito, Clift Tsuji, Jerry Chang, Kyle Yamashita, Pono Chong, Jimmy Tokioka

    Close to Da Boys Club: Mark Hashem, Bob Herkes

    Too Late the Heroes: Ryan Yamane, Marilyn Lee, Henry Aquino, Joey Manahan, Ty Cullen

    Filipino Caucus: Rida Cabanilla, John Mizuno

    Souki All-Stars: Joe Souki, Angus McKelvey

    Toll Roaders: Sharon Har, Karen Awana,

    Left-Wingers Who Can Count: Karl Rhoads, Blake Oshiro

    After Further Review: Linda Ichiyama

  9. ohiaforest3400:

    Kolea, thanx for the kind words but I doubt I am smarter, better informed, or even closer to the action. I CERTAINLY am not as thoughtful or as diplomatic, two things on which I continue to work and for which I am thankful to have you as an example.

    Charles, my sense from a variety of political and other negoitations I have witnessed over the years is that, as a deadline is approached, what appears to be a minor change (5 chairs, up from 4) can be a deciding factor when it would have had no effect at all 3 or 4 weeks ago. Stated as a theorem, it would go something like “The effect of a small change is inversely proportional to the length of time in which it can be effected.” If there is a subgroup in the dissidents who count reaching 26+ as the overarching goal and can guarantee that the best offer to the dissidents as a group is honored if even a small portion of it (4-5 of them) joins Speaker’s ranks, the approaching “stroke of midnight” might be enuf to end it.

    Earl, ditto (apologies for use of that Flush Rimbaugh-like term) on the women in leadership comments. iIf, in fact, as Kandi says “The appointed chairs and leadership positions under Calvin certainly have nothing to do with merit,” then at least several women leaders/chairs should not occupy the positions they held the past two years.

    As for Kandi, well, I’m glad someone thinks they know who I am because I sure don’t. In any event, I’m not sure what you’re sad about. As far as I can recall, you’ve never posted here before (under that name, at least) and you have said nothing of substance in response to what I’ve posted here or previously. You could be right, but there’s no way to know.

  10. DD:

    Well it’s Monday now.

    Do the political reporters have the day off? What’s the latest? If this isn’t settled by now I’m guessing we ought to be standing in line to get into the Capitol for the fireworks on Wednesday? Is it going to be broadcast live?

  11. ohiaforest3400:

    DD, check your PEG channels for the broadcast produced by Capitol TV. On Oahu, the House proceedings will be shown at 9:45 a.m. on channel 49. It will also be shown live on the NI, altho’ I’m not familiar with their PEG channel #’s. It should also be streamed live on

  12. Bob McDermott:

    I served with Calvin Say during my time as a Republican member of the House. Although we fought very hard with the majority in the market place of ideas. Calvin was always fair, he allowed us to make our case, then vote. He often took some heat from his own caucus for that fairness.

    I respect Calvin immensely, he is a straight shooter,fair, and open. He also was very kind to me on a personal level. Other than the quest for power, I am unable to understand why the newer members want him out. It puzzles me.

  13. charles:

    @ohia, you may be right but in my experience, negotiations tend to move towards the middle. My hunch is that speaker’s proposal of two leadership and five chairs that his side determines who will be appointed is a non-starter.

    If he had 26 Democrats on his side, any offer would be taken seriously since there is no leverage at that point. But with 25 Democrats (and I’m sure some are queasy about having the Republicans organize the house), the playing field gets leveled somewhat.

    Sitting in the cheap seats, my prediction is that it will end up closer to Luke’s proposal than speaker’s OR the Republicans will make the difference and Luke’s side gets the shaft.

  14. ohiaforest3400:

    Another thought for Kandi’s shallow attempt to play the gender card:

    The highest paid person in the legislature, the House clerk, is a woman. She previously headed up the House Majority Staff office that drafts many of the bills heard by the legislature, staffs House committees, and performs other duties. She was succeeded in that position by a woman who held the post for 15+ years and who, when she recently left, was the second or third highest paid legislative employee. She has been replaced by a woman who has named as her assistant director, yes, another woman.

    All of these women were appointed or retained by . . . . . . Calvin Say so, go cry me a river.

  15. charles:

    @ohia, so you’re equating staff positions with leadership positions?

  16. ohiaforest3400:

    No, Charles, I am saying that, in addition to the leadership positions and committee chairs that women have occupied in the House under Calvin, the leaders of two of three staff agencies — where the actual work (if not the decision-making) gets done — are and have been women, very highly paid (by comparsion) women. It’s part of the total picture that some people seem to want to ignore when making over-generalized statements that refer to the “old boys club.”

    As liberal/left-leaning as I may be, I also don’t want to be measuring either group by the gender distribution amongst their members. Sure, there are un/underqualified men in Speaker’s group chairing committees, but the same could easily be said of some of the women that held leadership/chair positions in the last two years. There are also men in the dissident group who have, in the past, shown themselves to be incapable of exercising or demonstrating leadership. I say merit first then, all other things being equal, gender and other diversity next. If the dissidents just replicate Speaker’s supposed model of putting people in important positions solely because of their gender or loyalty to the group, what has changed? What will they have done to make the House better?

  17. charles:

    @ohia, if both sides say that they want a lineup that reflects the ability and talents of each member and that should be the main determinant in appointing chairs and leadership, then what’s the problem with that?

    I’m not into a quota system where there needs to be five women, seven neighbor islanders, six younger members, two Catholics and a partridge in a pear tree in positions.

    That said, Say has the opportunity to come up with a compromise slate so we’ll see when the dust settles if there is one or will it reflect the usual crush the other side mentality.

    As far as key staff being women; well, staff and legislators are two very different political species. I mean, you could make the argument that Say’s key advisors are all men. But ultimately it’s the elected officials that make decisions, no?

  18. ohiaforest3400:

    Charles, we’re on the same page once we dial down to the details. What I’m sayin’ is that hit and run aphorisms don’t tell the whole story. We should know the outcome in a matter of minutes/hours.

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