Will the new state Senate stand for something?

I like what I’ve seen so far of the state Senate’s new leadership in the wake of former President Colleen Hanabusa’s departure for Congress.

The two guys most prominently out front — President Shan Tsutsui, 39, of Maui, and Ways and Means Chairman David Ige, 53, of Aiea-Pearl City, are smart, fresh and earnest leaders who have shown good evidence of social conscience.

Both have earned reputations as work horses in the Senate, as opposed to show ponies who hog the spotlight while others do the heavy lifting.

Brickwood Galuteria as majority leader, Les Ihara Jr. as floor leader, Ron Kouchi as caucus leader and Suzanne Chun Oakland and Will Espero as majority whips all are relatively new to leadership. I look forward to seeing what they can do about making the Senate stand for something.

Of course, some longtime power brokers who helped shape the new coalition will still hold a lot of sway behind the scenes — primarily Sens. Donna Mercado Kim and Rosalyn Baker.

Kim relinquished the Ways and Means chair, but she returns as vice president and will chair a new panel, Investigations and Tourism, that enables her to indulge her two passions — playing “gotcha” with the administration, as former Gov. Ben Cayetano put it, and terrorizing tourism marketers.

One of my correspondents who follows the Legislature closely described the mission of the new Kim committee thusly: “I’m going to get you, my pretties, and your little dog, too. Bwhahahaha!!!” Sounds about right.

A committee assignment that raised eyebrows was Sen. Clayton Hee’s return as Judiciary chairman after he wreaked so much havoc in two previous incarnations that he had to be replaced — once by voters and once by leadership. But give Hee credit for resiliency and a knack for gravitating to the right place when the 13 votes are counted.

Stalwarts of the old Hanabusa faction such as Sens. Brian Taniguchi and Dwight Takamine were frozen out. I’m sure Hanabusa will enjoy Washington winters more than she would have liked Siberia.

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11 Comments on “Will the new state Senate stand for something?”

  1. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    There are actually five people all totaled – not including Hanabusa’s not-yet-named replacement – who have been left out besides Brian Taniguchi & Dwight Takamine: Clarence Nishihara, the previous chair of the Tourism Committee, plus Glenn Wakai and Pohai Ryan who have replaced Norman Sakamoto and Fred Hemmings respectively.

    I can understand leaving Pohai out, but Glenn has certainly dealt with a number of critical development issues over the years he’s been in the State House.

    Note that he did not get much in the way of traditional endorsements in his 2010 race.

    Clayton’s committee coverage over the past couple of years – Water, Land, Agriculture & Hawaiian Affairs – has been doled out to three different people: Russell Kokubun (Water & Land), Donovan Dela Cruz (Agriculture & Housing) and Brickwood Galuteria (Hawaiian Affairs).

    However, the bizarro committee assignment has to be the one created for Donna Kim – Investigative Affairs; Tourism. Note there is no “and” or “&” in its title. Why bury important tourism issues in a committee chaired by someone who doesn’t really care about them,

    The fact is that separate committees dealing with housing, tourism, and labor should have been set up.

    However, I do agree with you about David Ige – bright guy. hard-working and easily accessible.

    I do have a minor disagreement with your analysis the people named to the leadership roster; although the Majority Leader position does have some power, the other three positions – Floor Leader Les Ihara, Caucus Leader Ron Kouchi & Whip(s) Suzanne Chun Oakland and Will Espero – do not. Why name someone who has been elected to the Senate for the first time to the Caucus leadership position when there are others who could have been been acknowledged.

    Still, I am looking forward to an interesting 2011 Session.

  2. Michael Says:

    Now we have a Mrs. Smith goes to Washington. Jimmy Stewart, she ain’t.

    “One of my correspondents who follows the Legislature closely described the mission of the new Kim committee thusly: “I’m going to get you, my pretties, and your little dog, too. Bwhahahaha!!!” Sounds about right.”

    We can always throw water on her and watch her melt.

  3. Kolea Says:


    I am more tentative than you about the new Senate leadership. I recognize Shan Tsutsui as bright and hardworking. I also saw he was extemely loyal to Senator Hanabusa in the last Senate. What I do not know is how independent he will be from Senator Kim and what role she will play in setting the agenda.

    For now, I will try to be optimistic and give Tsutsui an opportunity to define his own leadership. But I see many things about the new assignments which raise warning flags.

    Shan, please prove my pessimism wrong!

  4. Much ado Says:

    Based on the press release, Investigations and Tourism appear to be two separate committees, not one.

  5. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Question to other individuals who regularly post on this blog: Do you have to enter your name and contact e-mail every single time? If not, how did you register or in some way get recognized? I remember signing up ages ago and never had any problems; however, now my posts disappear if I forget to “sign in” which I forget to do about half the time.

    MUCH ADO: Checked it out this morning and found that there are indeed two separate committees to be chaired by Donna Mercado Kim. It’s still bizarro.

  6. notstupid556 Says:

    It is disgraceful for you to libel the Wicked Witch of the West by comparing her to Donna Kim, although I can see the similarities:

    “The Wicked Witch had only one eye, but it was as powerful as a telescope, and could see everywhere. She always carried an umbrella with her, and made a point to avoid contact with water. It was said that she was so wicked, the blood in her had dried up many years ago. Long ago, the Wicked Witch conquered the Winkie Country with the help of the Winged Monkeys. She was a tyrannical ruler and made the Winkies her slaves. Once the Great Oz tried to recapture the Winkie Country, but with the help of the Winged Monkeys, she was able to fight him off.”

    But who are the Winged Monkeys and where is Winkie Country? Answers: the Voters and Hawaii. Where is the Wizard?

    Actually, Donna can be a nice person when she isn’t in front of the media!

  7. Carolyn Martinez Golojuch, MSW Says:

    I always keep hope on line and would hope that all Senators will stand for something positive and honorable. I’m always hoping for something out of reach but it’s a new day so they will have enough rope to safeguard our state or hang us all.

  8. Michael Says:

    “But who are the Winged Monkeys and where is Winkie Country? Answers: the Voters and Hawaii. Where is the Wizard?”

    Sorry, not all voters fly.
    Just follow the brick road.
    In the White House or on Air Force One.

  9. Nikki Heat Says:

    So why hasn’t Calvin Say announced his new line-up in the House yet? Shan Tsutsui and the Senate are done. Gene Ward met with the other seven GOP members so Kym Pine is now free to run for council. Calvin just has to fill the Vice-Speakership and Judiciary committee seats. What’s up?

  10. Gargoyle Says:

    Calvin Say may not have the votes to stay on top this time. His boy Bertram lost and Magaoay is gone too. So sad.

    He is probably scrambling to find the votes from among the few newcomers–as are his opponents who are backed by the unions and LGBTQ.

  11. Earl of Sandwich Says:

    Nikki, there’s a lot more to organization than filling in the blanks. The Senate was probably able to do it quickly because all the factions were maneuvering for weeks just in case Hanabusa won her CD1 election.

    Gargoyle, it still amazes me how certain LGBT folks hold open animosity for Say, while totally forgiving the Senate leaders who really messed up the bill’s plan. House passed it first last year, Senate was supposed to send out unamended, but didn’t. Yes, House held it up in the beginning of the year, but passed it out at the end. The logic of pinning it on Say eludes me. But then again, their fire is probably being stoked by his opposition. Also, my understanding is that a number of other leaders in the gay community do not agree with the LGBT caucus’s stance.

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