Roundtable unbusinesslike on HB 444

We’re always hearing that government should be run more like a business.

Well, if the Hawai’i Business Roundtable’s bungled lobbying on civil unions is an example of the ideal, spare us from that.

The Rountable, a normally respected group representing Hawai’i’s biggest companies, came late to the game in urging Gov. Linda Lingle to veto HB 444 based on an array of technical concerns that seemed less than compelling.

Worse, the recommendation was made by the group’s 10-member executive committee with questions raised about whether all members of the committee were on board and the extent to which the Roundtable’s 44 members were polled.

You’d think experienced business executives would know better than to play fast and loose on so emotional an issue.

Gay rights groups that support HB 444 struck back by threatening a consumer boycott of Roundtable members, and not surprisingly, individual companies started backtracking from the Roundtable’s position.

Today, the Human Rights Campaign announced that Roundtable members Time Warner Cable Inc., Aon Corp., Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., and Marriott International Inc. were backing HB 444.

We’re left to scratch our heads about what the Roundtable leadership was thinking by so haphazardly injecting the organization into the controversy. These are heavy hitters who don’t exactly need to issue a press release to get the governor’s ear.

All in all, not very businesslike.

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34 Comments on “Roundtable unbusinesslike on HB 444”

  1. Kolea Says:

    Thanks, Dave. I strongly agree. I think the top leaders of the Roundtable gave in to a temptation to use their position with the organization in order to advance their personal, non-business agenda.

    I have been a steady, consistent, even loyal customer to several of the businesses who are members of the Roundtable, including City Mill and Foodland. There apparent support for the letter leaves me feeling conflicted about continuing to support these businesses when in both cases, there are easy alternatives available to me.

    I actually LIKE these businesses, but I now feel they have heartless and prejudiced managers calling the shots. And maybe my personal relationships with the friendly employees has tricked me into thinking the businesses themselves have heart.

    It is a foolish BUSINESS decision for the Roundtable to take such an action and risk alienating a portion of their members customer base. They should have kept their mouths shut.

    Please forgive my (semi-) rant.

    warm regards

  2. Kolea Says:

    And in response to your closing comment, these leaders do indeed have the ability to talk directly with the Governor. The press release was clearly, IMO, coordinated with people in her office to create a climate of respectability for her pending veto. Otherwise, they would just picked up the phone.

    If the “business leaders’ are calling for a veto, it makes it safer for her to do exactly that. I expect she will also follow their suggestion and “set up a commission to study the matter” as a sign she is “sincerely” OPEN to the idea.

    This is so crude, so obvious, it saddens me.

  3. charles Says:

    Look who runs the BR and it’s clear where this came from.

  4. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    I tried to copy and paste the full membership list from their website to this post, but I was not able to do so.

    Charles: Please be more specific with respect to your statement. Whom do you feel is driving the VETO message?

    David – I agree that this was a mighty stupid act which will not do anything positive.

    Kolea: Why didn’t Da Gov let Aiona claim the glory by letting him veto it while she’s on the road?

    Trouble is that with two of the three candidates for Gov and the two leading candidates for Lt. Gov in both parties all opposing the concept, it doesn’t bode well for those of us who’ve been involved with these issues for nearly 20 years now.

  5. zzzzzing Says:

    Well, first you have the Roundtable guys coming out against it. Then you have 5 ‘big businesses’ including Time-Warner- coming out for it. Depending upon how you feel about the subject, both are ‘unbusinesslike’ – right?

  6. zzzzzing Says:

    Can’t edit can we… ah well… ok, never mind!

    (continued)

    The sword cuts both ways. Supporters of the veto will support the businesses who have publically taken a stand; supporters of the bill will boycott them. Big deal. It’s just how things work in the real world.

    If the gblt participants and supporters end up boycotting the businesses for supporting a veto, I’m thinking it’s a good time to switch to Hawaiian Telcom DSL.

  7. Michael Says:

    Supporters of HB444 how sad when it happens, nothing else to talk about after. lingle will do nothing and the bill has already passed.

  8. hipoli Says:

    Mitch.

  9. charles Says:

    @hipoli, for starters.

  10. hipoli Says:

    http://www.hibusinessroundtable.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/doc030110mematwo.pdf

    here’s the link to the members, with the executive committee members. I zero in on Mitch because I know his religious background and historical opposition to same-sex-anything.

    I dont know the religious affiliations of the other members, but I welcome the englightenment.

  11. Kolea Says:

    My understanding is that Mitch D’Olier and Don Horner led the charge on this. Both are very active politically and both are strong social conservatives. If theu continue to use their position at the Business Roundtable in this way, they will destroy the credibility of the organization.

  12. hipoli Says:

    So, Kaneohe Ranch and 1st Hawaiian?

    Kaneohe Ranch is hard to boycott, isnt it? They are the landlords for 90% of Kailua. Who’s Mitch’s boss?

    1st Hawaiian Banks new motto? ‘We Say Veto’.

    What are these two men thinking? Why did the other members go along?

  13. hipoli Says:

    Its the Castle and Cooke guy, isnt it, Charles? Its still the Mormon church behind it all, just like in the 90s.

  14. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    Last weekend SA ran an commentary by Rabbi Kransjansky on the topic of civil unions (SOURCE. I would like to re-post my comments here, as I hope we can end this unnecessary discrimination.

    Aloha Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky ~
    I’m not Jewish and believe not in your religion nor the Torah. Yet I support your right to worship as you please.

    Likewise, I am not gay. Yet I support the quest of gay people to live as they believe is right for them. Nobody on this planet actually knows what GOD wants for us. This is the paradox of faith. If we did hold this truth, there would not be competing stories about GOD. Frankly, none of us even know if GOD exists. Most of us choose to believe – due solely to our faith.

    Since we live in a world without a confirmation of truth – whether yours or mine – it is incumbent on us to be tolerant of the behavior of others. Please stop pretending you have knowledge superior to me or others. You don’t. We are all equally blind.

    CNN [6.7.10: Kids of lesbians have fewer behavioral problems, study suggests] reported on a nearly 25-year study that concluded keiki raised in lesbian households were psychologically well-adjusted and had fewer behavior problem than their peers. The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

    All of us have a great deal to learn about ourselves and our world. Let’s end the deception that we have TRUTH and respect each other’s right to pursue happiness in this confusing and complex world. This is the true meaning of spirituality … accepting rather than preaching.

    A*L*O*H*A

  15. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Kolea:

    Mitch is the CEO of Kaneohe Ranch and chairs both its board of directors as well as the Castle Foundation which receives its income from KR.

    Boycotting Kailua businesses is not a viable way to get the message across to Mitch; however, a massive picket/sign-holding event at Castle Junction would certainly get his attention since his office is right there.

    Let’s organize this. A couple of hundred people out there will really grab a headline or two.

    Mitch is on my speed-dial. Once upon a time, he told me that I was the only person besides his wife whom he lets speak as frankly as I did to him. I plan to call him this afternoon.

    If there’s any interest here, I’ll report back.

  16. Shaloha Says:

    Obviously everyone in this forum supports the idea of a deconstruction of a nuclear family to the point where it looses any meaning. Gay marrige is just a part of the campaign by the Democrat party to attack the institution of marriage along side with Welfare, which supplants the necessity for family formation, promotion of promiscuity in Public Schools and in the media etc, etc.

    Business Roundtable does not represent business community: FHB is a fully owned subsidiary of the DNC (W. Dodd used to run DNC campaigns out of his office); monopolies (Matson/A&B) and the assortment of entities fully dependent on the power of government to maintain their profitability and nail them out when they fail miserably (see AIG/GM etc).

    Since the Democrats control all levers of power and are hell bent on demolishing what left of the traditional morality and the marriage, it is only logical that the Roundtable will come out to support Gay marriage to the detriment of every family and child in Hawaii.

    Scott, please stay away from Anti Semitic remarks and attacks on the Jews and Israel. I know Rabbi Krasnijanski; he represents very traditional and conventional believes shared by millions of Christians and Jews.

    Why is it always neccessary for the Democrats to inject Anti Semitic overtones into every debate?

    Sctt’s views are based in the Marxist theory and he should feel free to express them but he has no right to elevate his Marxism over traditional faith in raising his arguments. Moral relativism of the Democrat party is in conflict with traditional Christian and Jewish doctrine and incongruent with our Constitution and the American experience so it is not surprising that Scott will disagree with the Rabbi.

    It is improper to question Rabbi’s basic believes since Scott does not share his faith.

  17. Kolea Says:

    Cap/Up wrote:

    “Kolea: Why didn’t Da Gov let Aiona claim the glory by letting him veto it while she’s on the road?”

    I think this little question is quite significant and helps explain the BR letter.

    Last year, as th CU bill was advancing through the Legislature (until it got stalled by Hanabusa in the Senate), CU advocates started anticipating the next steps down the path. The possibility Lingle would purposely go on a trip in order to avoid having to decide on the bill arose and was taken seriously.

    A lot of gay activists regard this matter as a personal challenge for the Governor’s integrity. For some, that causes them to anticipate she will allow the bill to become law. For others, it just reinforces their view she lacks integrity and, when finally forced to give a “thumbs up” (or down) on the bill, she will run for the doorway to escape having to take a clear stand.

    So the rumor circulated that she was going to do exactly that, fly away on one of her many junkets and allow Aiona the political benefit of vetoing the bill and allow her to avoid the dreaded choice. As this understanding started to become the conventional wisdom, Lingle felt a need to assure people she would NOT take that route. In so committing, she boxed herself in. So even if it once again makes sense for her to allow Aiona to veto the bill while she is “out of the room,” she has pledged not to do that.

    Yet her political future depends upon NOT alienating the newly aroused religious right/T-bagger movement which has become a MAJOR force in both the local and national GOP. Whether she runs for the Senate in 2012 (likely) or whether she is to try her luck (and fortune) as a talking head on the rightwing media circuit (circus), she cannot sign the bill nor can she let it pass without her signature.

    The safest “solution” for her is to veto the bill, pretending it is because of technical flaws (the effective date) or procedural problems (how it was passed by the House on the last day) or maybe the inclusion of opposite sex couples and the impact this might have on benefits.

    So the Business Roundtable, undoubtedly in coordination with some of Lingle’s top aides, released this high-profile letter, urging her to veto the bill for exactly these reasons. The letter is to provide her cover, which is why they did this “unbusinesslike”, “haphazard” action which is currently making other members of the BR uncomfortable.

    This strategy is PROBABLY the least damaging for her, unless the lesbian activists who worked hard for her election on the basis of the “no veto” promise she gave them back in 2002 now find the integrity to step up to the plate and denounce her in “no uncertain terms.”

  18. Ross Says:

    It is entirely speculative to claim that Lingle will veto the bill. There are many legitimate political reasons for her to let it become law. The only person who truly knows what Lingle will do is Lingle.

    Regarding a commission, Hawaii already had an official commission in 1995. It’s primary recommendation was to legalize full marriage for same-sex couples. Secondary recommendation was a comprehensive domestic partnership law (HB444).

    Not only was there already a commission in Hawaii, there have been numerous others all over the country. There is absolutely no point in establishing another one except as a stall tactic.

    To read the 1995 Report from the Hawaii Commission on Sexual Orientation and the law, click below;

    http://hawaii.gov/lrb/rpts95/sol/soldoc.html

  19. Ross Says:

    @Shaloha – I am Jewish and agree that often we do see anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content among the positions of many people on the left. That said, I have not seen it in Scott’s comments, so I am confused by your posting.

    @ Scott and Shaloha- For the record, Rabbi Krasinjansky happens to represent a minority viewpoint among Jews. The Jewish community is the most pro-gay/equality religious group in the USA. 3 of the 4 major denominations of Judaism in the USA permit full marriage for same-sex couples. Even Israel has a stronger national record on LGBT civil rights than the USA.

    @Scott – Dont forget Rabbi Peter Schakman’s op-ed which was the complete opposite of Krasinjansky and fully supportive of HB444

  20. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    @ Ross: thank you for your balanced and informed comments. Much appreciated!

    @Shaloha: You claim I am anti-Semitic and call me a Marxist simply because I do not subscribe to a particular set of religious beliefs. This is typical of the degradation of political discourse coming from the extreme right in this country.

    As I wrote in my response to Rabbi Krasnjansky, I support his right to believe as he chooses. Thus, I do not harbor hatred or emnity toward people of the Jewish faith. I stated that I do not claim to have truth. Others should not claim truth either in matters of faith – in my humble opinion.

    To be clear I do not adhere to Jewish, Christian or Muslim tenets. Yet I find admirable teachings in all three of these major world religions. I have a spirituality that fits my life. This is the beauty of faith.

    As for calling me Marxist, you’re a silly goose! Why don’t you add socialist, communist, and long-haired, liberal tree-hugger since you prefer name calling to discussing issues of policy.

    This is one reason I dislike the use of pen-names and anonymous blogging. I believe you posted previously under another handle – and, apparently your only interest is to add negativity to our discussions.

    A*L*O*H*A

  21. zzzzzing Says:

    @Shaloha

    Obviously, you didn’t read my post…

  22. Alan R. Spector Says:

    @Scott – I agree with you. People should use their real names. The anonymous names in these forums often brings out the most vile comments from people. Things are tame here in Volcanic Ash, but some of the postings in the Star Advertiser after articles are just awful. Would people really say this stuff if they didn’t have an alias to hide behind?

  23. Alan R. Spector Says:

    @kolea. If this was a coordinated plan between HBR and Lingle’s office, they really did a poor job of it. The letter was sent far enough in advance that they gave our side sufficient time to respond effectively. We’ve been able to demonstrate that the HBR letter is not credible as company after company is coming out and disavowing the letter. If anything, the HBR did us a favor. We got lots of free earned media this week that kept the issue alive, enabled our community groups to unite together towards a shared goal, and provided an opportunity for many businesses to pledge their support for equality.

  24. charles Says:

    @hipoli, no, it’s not the Mormon Church calling the shots with the HBR. It’s a few key people on the executive committee but, clearly, they overreached and are now seeing the blowback.

    You have noticed that since the initial salvo, the HBR has retreated and headed for the hills.

    Unfortunately, the effect has been a denigration of HBR’s reputation and credibility.

  25. Alan R. Spector Says:

    Sadly, despite numerous HBR members disavowing the letter and publicly stating that they were never consulted, the HBR Executive Committee is sticking by it’s veto recommendation. It’s reputation and credibility is now denigrated as said by the previous poster. Plus, the HBR was provided with a detailed memo from legal experts that addressed all of it’s concerns and ensuring that HB444 could be easily implemented. Clearly HBR’s actions are politically motivated and not based on sound legal or economic judgement.

  26. WooWoo Says:

    Kolea-

    Just one quibble with one of your posts. I think that the tea party movement in Hawaii is not a credible factor in Lingle’s decision making. The three people that meet at MacMouse do not make any discernible difference in Hawaii electoral politics.

    Lingle, at this point in time, has no need to defend her right flank. She has never been the darling of the local religious right, and I have great difficulty forseeing any legitimate republican figure actively disparaging Lingle directly if she allows HB444 to become law. They will say, “The real problem is in the legislature. While I wish Gov. Lingle would have vetoed the bill, she is not the problem.”

    What political figure has the most claim to Hawaii’s religious right today? Aiona? Win or lose this fall, can you foresee Aiona doing anything besides throwing his full support to Lingle in a potential 2012 senate run?

    I’m not saying that she won’t veto. If you put a gun to my head, I would say that its 60-40 in favor of veto. I’m just saying appeasing the religious right is not a primary consideration for her.

  27. Kolea Says:

    WooWoo,

    Thanks for your feedback. Quibble away. I understand you are viewing Lingle from within the Republican networks, whereas I am viewing things from outside. Perhaps you have a more nuanced way of differentiating tendencies with the GOP orbit. Perhaps my usage of “t-baggers” includes groupings you would not include. What I used to call “movement conservatives,” I now lump in with the all-inclusive term, t-baggers. So, for me, Sam Slom and his network, are t-baggers, as is Andrew Walden. So it is bigger, in my usage, than the MacMouseketeers. You say Charles Djou is more moderate than some of us accuse him of being. But in my book, his “no new taxes” pledge is a T-bagger mantra abd panders to the same “Know-Nothing” spirit which motivates that movement.

    As for “the religious right,” I think Lingle wants to avoid a fight with them. Yes, partly for her run for Senate in 2012. Why risk a primary battle against a social conservative if she can avoid it? Partly for her marketability as a “talking head” on the Fox News and GOP speechifying circuit. She had been used by the national GOP primarily to re-assure Jewish Republican groups that the party still has room for them, despite the excessive use of Christian right symbolism and rhetoric. But during the Palin-McCain race, she appeared to catch the bug. Sorry, but there ain’t much excitement for a Christie Todd Whitman II on the GOP circuit.

    If she were to allow civil unions to become law in Hawaii, she would needlessly alienate the religious conservatives AND likely provoke renewed speculation on her sexual orientation, which would sink her national career.

    Finally, if she allows HB444 to become law, she undercuts the power of the issue as a rallying, “red meat” cause for the religious right in the 2010 election, which lowers Aiona’s chances for winning AND the chances of the GOP picking up a few House seats currently held by vulnerable Democrats.

    I hope you forgive me if I conflate these various factors into the shorthand term, “wanting to appease the religious right”?

    Thanks again for your civil “quibbling” from across the partisan divide. I learn from my exchanges with you. I REALLY hope the GOP is too dumb to appreciate your intelligent perspective. SO many of them ARE dumb. You, clearly, are not.

    warm regards….

  28. WooWoo Says:

    Kolea-

    Thanks for the kind words. I get more than my fair share of education from reading your posts.

    You say, why risk a primary battle if she can afford it? Well, there is no republican in the state that can give her a primary battle. They can put their name on the ballot, but its just a waste of toner.

    “Finally, if she allows HB444 to become law, she undercuts the power of the issue as a rallying, “red meat” cause for the religious right in the 2010 election, which lowers Aiona’s chances for winning AND the chances of the GOP picking up a few House seats currently held by vulnerable Democrats.”

    This is the part that I think looms largest in her mind. She will be loathe to make a decision that will screw her party really bad.

    But… let’s not discount the possibility of a real surprise maneuver. What if she signs the bill? If you ask me (and nobody asks me because I’m a nobody), the real smart political move for Lingle to make is to sign the bill. She can go back to her original campaign promise and spin it as a “I made the promise 8 years ago. I meant it. I understand if some of my supporters are upset with me about this decision, but my commitment to not stand in the way of this was public and clear all the way back to 2002.” And she would be 100% right in saying that. There could be no accusations of betrayal.

    Now, if she does that and makes that statement, how many votes on the right does she lose versus how many votes she gains on the left against an 88 year old senator in 2012? How many independents does she get because civil unions is not a big issue for them, but keeping promises is?

  29. hipoli Says:

    It’ll be vetoed. I have no doubt about it at all.

    As Kolea so eloquently described, this veto is not about the right thing, this will be about her political future. She cant sign or allow this bill to pass and still think she has a realistic political future in the R party. Also, besides Lenny (and you know what Im thinking here – married or not), think about the social conservatives who surround the Gov.

    Besides, has this admin ever really done the right thing, about anything?

    It’ll be vetoed. I have no doubt about it at all. At all.

    I just wish the D’s had the override votes so this wouldnt be a huge campaign issue for all these candidates out here. Its becoming THE threshold issue for a lot of these races (‘well, are you for or against HB444 because then you will like/dislike this candidate or that”). It sucks. Given the amount of other issues to be discussed and considered (#1 – economy!), I think its unfortunate that this is taking up SO much of the air in the room.

    Heres hoping Im dead wrong…

    Just Do the Right Thing.

  30. charles Says:

    It’ll be on the governor’s potential veto list tomorrow but whether she follows through with an actual veto remains to be seen.

    If there is a veto, there will be no override by the legislature would be my assumption.

    As far as Lingle and the Republican Party, I don’t know how much this issue weighs in. Clearly, the governor has very little, if any, coattails.

    The state Senate has remained at two Repubs and the House went from 19 (the year she ran) to six today. Endangered species have gone down slower than this pace.

    So, clearly, whatever Lingle has done over the past eight years hasn’t helped the down ticket races.

  31. WooWoo Says:

    Hipoli-

    “As Kolea so eloquently described, this veto is not about the right thing, this will be about her political future.”

    As I’ve been saying to Kolea, I don’t believe that it is a foregone conclusion that a veto is in the best interests of her political future. I just can’t buy into the idea that the religious right is so powerful in this state that it can intimidate the most successful Hawaii GOP politician of this generation. As I’ve said before, who will challenge Lingle’s right flank in 2012? The GOP can’t even field a candidate in all the house districts.

  32. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    I don’t care if Lingle vetoes the bill. No matter what she does, she loses – and that’s fine with me.

    However, why someone would put this at the top of his or her list as THE reason to support or oppose a candidate is something worth examining.

    Assume a bell-shaped curve here with passionate supporters on the left and rabid NO-NOs on the right. The middle section is the one to address.

    First, it will be necessary to isolate the opponents who believe that passing a civil unions bill will wreak all kinds of social, moral & economic havoc.

    Based upon my academic research as well as my professional experience, facts & statistics do indeed make a big difference to the middle – as long as they address the real issues, not the loudest ones.

    Next, supporters need to illustrate and demonstrate to this large group in the middle that there are a kazillion other issues & concerns which are far more important than fighting these battles over and over and over and over. Short Message: Pass it out and move on to the really important stuff such as _____________ (fill in the blank)

    NOTE: For me, it’s climate change and the impacts on life on earth seven generations from now.

    I know that opponents tried to use this as a strategic tactic for not dealing with the legislation these past two sessions. It didn’t work.

    Somehow we managed to address civil unions and a whole bunch of other really important issues at the same time. Maybe not to the satisfaction of everyone, but we didn’t let it stop the train, either.

    Imagine what we could do if we could focus on critical issues such as prison reform, public education reform, health care reform, environemtnal and renewable energy, food security, sustainable economic development once civil unions have passed.

    Right now, the critical issue is the 2010 elections for governor & lt. governor. Get the wrong Dems on the General Election ticket and it’s going to be more and more battles over the coming years. I cannot imagine Aiona winning so the Democratic candidates are the ones who need to be examined.

    BTW – does Lingle think that vetoing the bill will somehow make her more acceptable to the evangelicals? I bet that if she ran against Mike Gabbard for any office, she’d lose in a heartbeat.

  33. hipoli Says:

    WooWoo- youre missing it. This veto will be about her national political future. Lingle stopped really caring about the local GOP a while ago. She’s got her eye on the big-time Rs – and she cant show up at their door in any future capacity having allowed civil unions to have passed on her watch. Remember the R base – and where their money is. She’s going to need to keep that door open – and civil unions would otherwise be the nails she will avoid.

  34. WooWoo Says:

    Hipoli-

    I continue to disagree with you on this. The republican party is moving more towards its libertarian side than its religious right. In good times, the Republicans need the religious right because the fiscal conservatives aren’t riled up. In challenging economic times, the fiscal conservatives show up and overshadow the religious right. Over the next couple of years, fiscally conservative credentials will trump socially conservative agendas. Look at the recent Djou race. He was very open about saying that don’t ask don’t tell was broken and that he would support its repeal. Yet Djou still got lots of PAC money from Cantor and other GOP bigwigs.

    Lingle also has strong support from the small but still powerful national republican Jewish community. Although they are not as high profile and vocal as the democratic Jewish community, they still carry enough heft to get her where she needs to go. The national GOP can use her to tap into this constituent group.

    I think you are seeing a little too much of what you want to believe in the national GOP, and not enough of what is really there. The extremists always get the headlines, but the pragmatists are in control. What kind of national position could Lingle get? At best, a second-tier cabinet secretary post in a republican administration. As a republican, I am honest enough to say that the odds still favor significantly a second Obama term. He’s gotta lose the seat, nobody will take it from him. There’s still a lot of time left, but he’s still the odds on favorite. So anyway, her best bet is a senate seat in 2012, which means Hawaii voters.


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