A welcome youth movement for LG

I think lieutenant governor is a do-nothing job that should either be given some real responsibilities or abolished.

But as long as we have to fill the position, I like that both parties are putting up some of their best young talent in the general election — Brian Schatz, 37, for the Democrats and Lynn Finnegan, 39, for the Republicans.

I suggested only half-facetiously in a recent column that if we’re going to leave an LG sitting around for eight years waiting for a promotion, we may as well go with someone young enough to have some prime years left when the time comes.

Schatz and Finnegan are unquestionably among the best and brightest of their political generation.

Schatz proved an akamai legislator after being elected at a young age and went on to run a nonprofit, organize the early Barack Obama campaign in Hawai‘i and serve a term as Democratic Party chairman. He ran a masterful campaign to soundly defeat five veteran lawmakers in the primary election.

Finnegan, as leader of the Republican minority in the House, ably provided an articulate voice for the shrinking opposition party and managed to make herself a player on issues such as charter schools.

Both have enough quality experience to make a contribution now if Neil Abercrombie or James “Duke” Aiona has the good sense to use their No. 2, and they’re quite capable of growing into contenders for the top job down the road.

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16 Comments on “A welcome youth movement for LG”

  1. Kolea Says:

    I agree it is useful to have a youthful LG. And I can understand why you’d want to say nice things about both candidates. I agree Lynn Finnegan is bright, articulate and a pleasant personality. But I gotta wonder whether it is correct to give her points for her service as Minority Leader.

    As you say, the Minority faction in the House is shrinking. She cannot be held responsible for the total implosion of the GOP House, but neither did she help turn it around. Can you, as a knowledgeable observer of Hawaii politics, make an argument that she was able to win compromises or otherwise use her position to help shape useful legislation?

    I admit I am not in a position to judge her effectiveness. But on the face of it, I think her leadership of a tiny, ineffective group in the House is pretty weak “accomplishment” on a resume. Even for the office of LG.

    I’ll be watching to see if her supporters can provide a reasonable argument to the contrary.

    (Don’t get me wrong. I think she is a strong CANDIDATE, but that’s largely a marketing thing. Not because of anything she has yet accomplished during her political career.)

  2. JJ Kahala Says:

    this is a little bit over the top. Schatz was an ambitious young legislator, thatʻs sure. I donʻt remember much effectiveness. In his major trial as party chair, he sat on his hands during the civil unions saga.
    Itʻs also extremely generous to describe his campaign as “masterful” : the guy went in with the best name recognition thanks to his chairmanship and coasted to victory with the help of huge spending.

    Got not huge beef with the guy, but heʻs a dyed in the wool democratic insider at this point.

  3. Richard Gozinya Says:

    Sheeesh…I got underwear that’s older than these kids. But,know what? I think it’s a good idea to have relative whippersnappers in these “training positions”.

  4. ppcc Says:

    JJ Kahala:

    I met Schatz when he was first elected to office and had high hopes he would not be the “same old, same old”. Never read Cayetano’s memoir but viewed passages of his book and one of his quotes (paraphrasing only cause to lazy to look it up in one of Shapiro’s previous threads) was that the young legislatures learned fast “to go along in order to get along”, fits Schatz perfectly. It is clear that legislatures under influence by special interest crafted Act 221 to be a tax shelter pure and simple under the guise of helping along “high technology”. Names of companies and the amount of money refunded kept super secret from the public AND various gov’t entities should have set off clear warning bells to anyone. Schatz as some chairman that determined the fate of Act 221 early on championed Act 221 to “keep it going” even though many warned it was way to generous with completely insufficient protections against abuse and fraud. I cannot believe he is that ignorant to know that Act 221 was mostly a tax shelter for the connected few like Robin Campiano of AIG insurance, etc.

  5. Nikki Heat Says:

    I think Lynn F. was highly entertaining the past two sessions– partly because she likes to talk her way through her thought process. For instance, her decision to finally vote in favor of taking money from the Hurricane trust fund to get rid of school furlough fridays had her moving back and forth– announcing opposition then support with reservations. I think it was Mark Takai who got up and said what everyone (except apparently Kym Pine) knew– taking the hurricane money was the only solution before the legislature and a vote against the bill (for whatever excuse you might want to state: i.e., because you thought it should be a loan, or should be taken from some other source, etc.) was a big statement that you preferred to continue furlough fridays than support the solution in front of you. Lynn ended up voting for the bill. Kym Pine, on the other hand, was the only vote against ending furlough fridays.

  6. hipoli Says:

    So, ppcc, in the eight years that this admin both benefited and then didnt benefit from Act 221, what exactly did this admin do, again, in eight long years, to tighten up the provisions of Act 221. As I recall, all the way back in 2003-2005ish, early Lingle years, good budget years really, the Department of Taxation was supposed to develop admin rules which would ‘tighten’ Act221. Did they? You do know thats how it works, dont you? Write a broad law & the departments, the ‘content experts; are responsible for tightening it through admin rules. So, did the Department of Taxation do just that? What exactly did the executive department do or not do to implement and enforce Act221, please? Or rather did they not want to screw with the exact law that was filling the coffers back then?

    Bottom line is that when Schatz was part of leadership then, as House Whip, Act221 was too new to know exactly where the kinks were or werent. In the time that has since passed, the Executive Branch knew full-well where the pukas were – and didnt do much about it.

    Until, of course, it became a problem.

    So, easy there, ppccc, I wouldnt go here on Act221 so quickly. Point that finger in your own direction and recognize eight years of shoulda-coulda-didnt.

  7. charles Says:

    What, exactly, did both candidates accomplish during their time in the legislature?

  8. Michael Says:

    Both being young they are both as ambitious. LG is just a stepping stone on to higher grounds. If one loses, that person is out of a job. Both are inexperienced to be a co-leader. Just because one has a Degree that does not mean they can lead, at least in my books. It seems Finnegan may want to be a history maker as First Filipina American as Governor. Schatz probably wants to be in Washington DC. one day. Other than this in my opinion, I see nothing else they would be good at.

    I think there should be a pecking order in which to be elected to a position. Starting off with a low profile office then move on and gain experience. Then move higher up to a position of more power. The ultimate goal of any politician it seems is to be President.

    We have lots of positions in Legislature we don’t need. Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. Too many heads who but each other. Always the party and not the people. A Government is The People not those who lead.

  9. Kolea Says:

    I will cut Brian SOME slack for Act 221. It is true that when first drafted, it was “too new to know exactly where the kinks were or werent.”

    BUT, and I hope Hipoli will forgive me, but my advanced age has made me a bit more skeptical than a youngster like her, special interests are ALWAYS seeking to get legislation drafted to give them subsidies at taxpayer expense. Thus it has always been and thus it will forever be. Brian deserves credit for trying to help encourage the growth of high tech in Hawaii. And he has received such credit in the business community, which, in general, views him more favorably than they do most Democrats. But if Brian gets the credit, he also bears some of the responsibility for the defects in Act 221.

    Conservatives have largely abandoned Adam Smith as one of their heroes. Smith was too honest for them, so they like Von Mises or Von Hayek (apparently anything Germanic name makes their hearts beat faster). Smith famously said, whenever he sees to businessmen chatting together in a coffeeshop, he knows they are conspiring against the public interest. (Rough paraphrse).

    Whenever I see an investor lobbying a legislator, I know he is trying to convince the legislator to join the conspiracy against the public interest. Just as some Democrats are so fearful about being accused of being “soft on defense,” they suspend their critical thinking and allow fools like Bush to rush into disastrous wars. So too are some Democrats desperate to find some way to demonstrate they are “business-friendly.” I appreciate their dilemma and that impulse.

    But in my view, it caused them to buy into nonsensical arguments from the investor “community.” They gave away WAY too much while demanding far too little accountability and transparency in return. (200% tax credits? Are you KIDDING?) I have a close friend who worked for one of the “success stories” of Act 221. When he described to me how they sold the tax credits to creditors, it made my jaw drop. The early version of Act 221 was a disastrous giveaway. The best that can be said is that the legislators behind it were wearing “rose-colored glasses” when they should have been wearing the reading glasses of an auditing accountant.

    I expect Brian has learned from the experience and is now better prepared to help stimulate the economy with more balanced incentives.

  10. shaftalley Says:

    Ludwig von Mises(1881-1973) and Frederich August(F.A.) von Hayek(1899-1992) were two of the founders of Austrian school of economics which focused on decentralized market economy.and both had a direct influence on modern day Libertarian movement.Hayek was awarded the Nobel prize in economics in 1974.

  11. hipoli Says:

    Why, Kolea, I never imagined you to be as old fut as perhaps Sir Charles is, but I certainly will always appreciate being referred to as a ‘youngster’. But thanks for the history lesson, my old-fut-friend-#2. 🙂

    I dont disagree about your point on investors lobbying legislators. Its gross. Ive seen it with a couple of less-than-successful endeavors over the years. It kinda reminds me of The Music Man, every time.

    But again, whether Act221 was or wasnt too broadly written wasnt the basis of my rebuttal to @ppccc, rather it was focused on responding to @ppcc’s argument that Brian was responsible. It was the administration’s job to aggressively fill in the pukas, largely through rules, and then ultimately through legislation.

    Shoulda, coulda, didnt.

  12. charles Says:

    hipoli, Brian is asserting he “led” the effort for reforming education in 2004 primarily because he was in leadership.

    As you know, whenever there is significant legislation that passes, the credit (and the blame) rests primarily on the subject matter chairs.

    The heavy lifting on any bill are the innumerable drafts and numerous meetings with stakeholders. I would be surprised if Brian was front and center in these discussions.

  13. charles Says:

    But you do have a point about my age. I never buy green bananas.

  14. hipoli Says:

    Whoa there, Sir Charles. I actually disagree with you on your point that its primarily the subject matter chairs that get the credit. In fact, a good number of bills are driven and led by others. In this case, you have a couple of the subject matter chairs giving Brian his due credit.

    And lucky for you, you got a 70+ year old banana to pick from the bunch instead. That must be comforting for you, ya old fut! 🙂

  15. charles Says:

    hipoli, you’re right. It does depend on the bill or the issue. But if you did a cursory media search of education reform in 2004 and see how many times Brian’s name pops up; well, don’t you think it’s odd that if he was the driver of that effort, he would be quoted at that time?

    Or was there an agreement with the media and others that Brian’s role would be hush-hush?

    Also, comments made by people during a political campaign are not exactly the most dependable. If, for example, people supported Brian, don’t you think that would have an influence in the way they responded to questions?

    Anyway, it’s water under the bridge as far as what this or that candidate did or didn’t do.


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