While many politicians get all “aw, shucks” when talking about their legacy and say it’ll take care of itself, Gov. Linda Lingle obviously takes this stuff very seriously.
I drew a bit of blood in a way I hadn’t intended when I said in my column today about her appointment of Katherine Leonard as chief justice of the state Supreme Court: “After eight years of getting nowhere with the Democratic Legislature on her policy initiatives, the Judiciary is Lingle’s only clear legacy.”
Her senior communications adviser Lenny Klompus responded with a lengthy letter to the editor to the Star-Advertiser outlining his view — and presumably hers — of Lingle’s broader legacy.
I’ve been gathering string for a more thorough review of the Lingle legacy as her term nears an end, and it’s handy to have a clear statement on how the administration sees it.
Toward that end, I’d be interested to know what the folks who post here think will be remembered most about the Lingle years. I don’t know if the Star-Advertiser will publish Klompus’ letter — I hope they do — but I’ll paste it here in hope of getting your thoughts. (Note: From the discussion below, I posted here a copy of Lingle’s 2002 campaign promises, “A New Beginning for Hawai’i,” for those who care to compare the lists.)
Governor Lingle’s Legacy Anything but Narrow
In David Shapiro’s July 28 column, he implies that Governor Linda Lingle’s legacy will be narrowly defined by her judicial appointments. While Shapiro correctly points out that the Governor has appointed 3 of the 5 Supreme Court Justices, pending Judge Katherine Leonard’s confirmation as Chief Justice, 5 of the 6 judges on the Intermediate Court of Appeals and more than half of the Circuit Court judges, he is vastly overlooking the Governor’s many other accomplishments of her nearly 8 year service.
Specifically, the Governor has:
-Led the effort in the state’s transition to a secure, clean energy future. By establishing the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), in partnership with the federal government, the Governor has not only begun the huge strides to reduce Hawai’i’s dependence on oil, but has also laid the groundwork to continue the transition to energy security long beyond her Administration;
-Initiated and oversaw the modernization of our state’s transportation systems, including harbors, highways and airports;
-Revamped state animal quarantine regulation laws to lessen the burden on pets and pet owners;
-Awarded more leases to Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries over the past seven years than in the trust’s previous 80-year history;
-Transformed the state’s procurement process to ensure openness and transparency;
-Brought the issue of chronic homelessness to light and creatively addressed the challenge, including working with community partners and neighbor island mayors to build and open seven homeless shelters and transitional housing projects on O‘ahu and two on Kaua‘i;
-Expanded Hawai‘i’s role in the Asia-Pacific region through new international partnerships, especially with China, creating new opportunities for Hawai‘i businesses and students;
-Dramatically cut and streamlined fees and assessments for businesses and created an online portal of information and access for consumers and businesses;
-Reduced the number of children in foster care by 50 percent, while achieving one of the lowest child re-abuse rates in the nation;
-Protected and ensured the long-term state-federal-community management of Hawai‘i’s pristine Papahanaumokuakea; and
-Reinvigorated public education through a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) with hands-on learning applications like robotics.
This listing of projects ushered in and overseen by the Lingle-Aiona Administration is merely a snapshot of what Governor Lingle and her team have been able to accomplish during their time in office. As she moves into her final months in office, we will certainly see the list continue to grow.
Finally, despite Shapiro’s claim that the Governor spent “eight years of getting nowhere with the Democratic Legislature on her policy initiatives,” the fact is, the Governor’s achievements at the legislative level are impressive, given the immense political roadblocks by the majority party.
Approximately 42 percent of all bills introduced by the Administration and bills that were closely related (or in some cases identical copycat bills) to the Administration’s were passed by the Legislature, including 48% this past session.
Considering that the House Majority was able to get only 50 percent of its legislative packages passed between 2003 and 2009, and the Senate Majority was only able to squeeze out a 45 percent success rate with its packages between 2006 and 2009, the success rate of the Governor’s legislative initiatives demonstrates the merit and caliber of her Administration’s proposals.
It’s interesting to note that in the 2010 legislative session – in the midst of the most severe economic crisis facing our state – the House and Senate Majority didn’t even bother to submit legislative packages, so their success rate is zero percent.
The Governor’s accomplishments – at the administrative and legislative levels – will have long-term beneficial impacts on Hawai‘i’s future, ensuring Governor Lingle’s legacy will be remembered far beyond her significant appointments to the Judiciary.
Senior Advisor — Communications
Office of the Governor