Archive for July 2010

flASHback alert

July 24, 2010

Today’s flASHback column in the Star-Advertiser: “Candidates are off and running into squabbles.”

The LG balancing act

July 23, 2010

Most of the discussion here on the lieutenant governor’s race has been filtered through the lens of HB 444, which I doubt is how the majority of the electorate looks at it.

People tend to judge candidates for the No. 2 job based on which they like or don’t like on a broader range of issues — or which best balances the ticket with their preferred candidate for governor.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on the second part of that equation. Which tickets would work or not work on the basis of balance?

If Mufi Hannemann is the Democratic nominee, would the ticket work best if he was paired with a fellow moderate and social conservative like Norman Sakamoto or Robert Bunda, or would a liberal like Gary Hooser, Brian Schatz, Lyla Berg or Jon Riki Karamatsu make more sense? Could a pairing of outspoken opposites like Hannemann and Hooser possibly not clash?

If Neil Abercrombie is the nominee, could the Democrats sell a liberal-liberal pairing with someone like Hooser, Berg or Schatz? Could polar opposites like Abercrombie and Sakamoto possibly present a credible picture of harmony?

Are any of the Democratic LG hopefuls all-weather candidates who would pair well with either of the candidates for governor?

On the Republican side, Adrienne King is solid with the tea party group that already likes gubernatorial frontrunner James “Duke” Aiona, while Lynn Finnegan is seen as a Linda Lingle-type moderate.

How much of a difference does ticket balance make in the GOP’s chances of pulling an upset?

No need to delay mayoral election

July 21, 2010

The City Council has scheduled a meeting Thursday to decide whether to call a special mayoral election to replace Mufi Hannemann in the Sept. 18 primary election or wait until the general election Nov. 2, but there really shouldn’t be much to decide.

The last time there was a similar vacancy in 1994, the special election was held in the primary and it worked fine.

There’s no good reason to leave the city in limbo under interim leadership while sucking more campaign donations out of the economy for an extra month and a half by waiting for the general election.

As in 1994, when Managing Director Jeremy Harris won, this year’s major candidates — Kirk Caldwell, Peter Carlisle, Donovan Dela Cruz, Panos Prevedouros and Rod Tam — are known quantities to voters.

They’ve already been campaigning for months in anticipation of Hannemann’s resignation to run for governor and have plenty of time before Sept. 18 to drive their points home.

Let’s get on with it and not delay in putting somebody permanently at the helm to deal with the pressing issues facing our city.


Fans of Doug White will be happy to hear he’s relaunching his Poinography blog after a year’s absence.

Mrs. Heftel to Djou: No thanks

July 21, 2010

U.S. Rep. Charles Djou has gotten a “return to sender” on his proposal to name the Makiki Post Office after one of his predecessors, the late U.S. Rep. Cec Heftel.

Heftel’s widow, Rebecca Glass Heftel, objected to the idea in a sharply worded letter to Djou:

News of your initiative to name the Makiki Post Office building after my late husband, Congressman Cecil Heftel, came as a complete surprise, inasmuch as you have never communicated with me.

It would seem to be common courtesy to consult a widow on issues pertaining to her husband, and since you have chosen not to do so, I must ask you to refrain from any additional efforts in this matter.

Mrs. Heftel is said to be puzzled as to why Djou chose the Makiki Post Office, located under H-1 at Pensacola and Lunalilo, as the late congressman had no particular ties to the area; he lived mostly in Kahala and along Kalanianaole Highway in East O’ahu.

She also feels her Democratic husband and the Republican Djou are polar opposites politically and doesn’t care for any suggestion of an affinity between the two.

In a story in the Star-Advertiser Sunday, Djou said he chose Makiki because some of Heftel’s family still live in the area and that Heftel lived in the neighborhood while serving in Congress.

He said there’s a tradition of naming post offices after former members of Congress, and that the resolution is usually offered by a successor in the same district.

For instance, Djou said former U.S. Rep. Ed Case introduced a resolution to rename the Paia, Maui, post office after Patsy Mink, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka introduced the measure naming the Kapalama post office for Republican Hiram Fong.

Mrs. Heftel copied her letter to Hawai’i’s senior U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who is expected to be sure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is made aware of it. Don’t expect to buy stamps anytime soon at the Cecil L. Heftel Post Office Building.

Meantime, a day after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ripped Djou for trying to raise funds off of a little attention he’s gotten from the national media, his Democratic opponent Colleen Hanabusa is in Washington trying to do the same thing.

In a communication to supporters, she said she’s met with the Huffington Post and is trying to line up interviews with other media to counter Djou’s views on the Jones Act and other issues.

All tied to a solicitation for donations, of course.

Update: Word is that Djou’s office had contacted the Heftel children regarding his resolution and received their approval for naming the Makiki Post Office after their father and their thanks for the honor.

Mrs. Heftel issued a further statement to the effect that a wife knows her husband’s wishes best, but these appear to be family issues that need to be resolved there.

Mr. Djou conquers Washington

July 20, 2010

I received a release trumpeting a national leader of historic importance.

“Few members of Congress, let alone a freshman, have had as much impact on the national policies of our country,” it declared.

Who was this legislative wonder?  Sam Rayburn? Henry Clay? Millicent Fenwick? Tip O’Neill? Shirley Chisolm? “Fighting Bob” La Follette?

No, it was our own Charles K. Djou, according to the latest fundraising pitch in his campaign against Colleen Hanabusa to keep the seat he won in the special election to fill out Neil Abercrombie’s term.

“Despite having served for less than two months, Hawaii Congressman Charles K. Djou is influencing national policy in Washington,” said the solicitation from Team Djou. “He has rapidly become one of the most active and outspoken representatives in the U.S. today.”

All based on getting mentioned a few times in national publications.

Not to be unkind, but after working in Washington for eight years, I can think of few creatures lower on the national political food chain than a fill-in freshman congressman from the minority party representing one of the nation’s least populous states. Well, maybe the reporter assigned to cover such a congressman.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already using the over-the-top claims as Exhibit A in a release entitled “Just Two Months In And Djou’s Already Gone Washington.” If Djou wants to be taken seriously in Washington or Honolulu, he needs to keep his copy writer on this side of reality.

In the meantime, he’s got me humming the Mary Tyler Moore theme song … Who can turn the world on with his smile?

UH sports fee wakes up students

July 18, 2010

Having grown up in the golden age of college protests, I’ve found the current student body at the University of Hawai’i to be a pretty apathetic bunch.

When protesters got national attention for taking over an administration building at Manoa a few years ago, I was on campus to speak to a class and the first 10 or so students I asked for their impressions of the protest said, “What protest?”

Apparently, it takes a raid on their wallets to get their attention; many are up in arms over the decision by the Board of Regents to stick them with a $50-per-semester fee to raise $2 million to support UH athletics.

UH sports have always been more of a community thing than a student thing, with students attending games at one of the lowest rates among the nation’s universities.

That their $50 gets them free seats in unsold nosebleed sections for games they have no interest in attending seems to be only adding insult to injury.

The money won’t go to pay coaches’ salaries, but nevertheless, it doesn’t escape their attention that a sub-.500 football coach gets more than $1 million, and we’re paying two basketball coaches next season because the last one was fired with time left on his contract for a poor record.

The depth of anger over the athletic fee among some students was reflected in an e-mail I received from one of the leaders of the opposition, who said students plan to protest by using their free admission to attend nationally televised UH football games and cheer loudly for the opposing team.

“The irony of alienating students with an undemocratic major fee, and then
handing them tickets and even free transportation to an event with major
media attention is easy to grasp, I think,” the student said.

The eyebrow-raiser is the vitriol in the suggested cheer, a rewording of the UH fight song:

Let’s go, to-day’s Visitors! Smash up the Green and White!
Break their bones and faces. Crush them with all your might.
Right! Right! Right!
Snap their fragile ankles. Infect them with disease
Then when the team is, completely cream-ed; Repeal the unfair fees!

As one of my favorite sportscasters Dick Enberg says, “Oh, my.”

flASHback alert

July 17, 2010

Today’s “flASHback” column in the Star-Advertiser: “Hannemann and Manahan make good-sounding ticket”

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