Politics and judges; Hanabusa’s housing

When I did a Google search to find out more about Joseph L. Wildman, appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to be a Maui Circuit Court judge, the first two items of interest were that Wildman came out of the law firm of Rep. Gil-Keith Agaran, the House Judiciary chairman, and donated $1,610 to Abercrombie’s campaign for governor.

Does anybody detect the scent of politics?

That’s the problem with Abercrombie’s decision to keep secret the names of candidates provided him by the Judicial Selection Commission, abandoning the transparency practiced by the two previous governors from different parties and the last two chief justices, who all made the lists public when appointing judges.

It naturally breeds suspicion when the governor appoints a campaign donor or somebody with other obvious political connections and the public can’t see how the candidate’s legal credentials compare with those passed over.

Hopefully, the legal qualifications of Wildman and other appointees will be fully vetted by the Senate in the confirmation process, but without the lists of finalists, we still won’t be able to judge either the quality of the candidates put forth by the selection commission or the credibility of the governor’s choices.

Abercrombie contends that throwing out transparency to give lawyers who apply a level of privacy that even the Hawai‘i Supreme Court said wasn’t necessary will result in higher quality applicants.

But we’ll never be able to tell whether the applicants are better, of course, because the selection commission’s lists of top applicants that we were previously able to see and evaluate are now secret.

***

Several people have asked recently whether U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa kept her promise to move into the 1st Congressional District she represents after the November election.

I put the question to the congresswoman’s spokesperson, Ashley Nagaoka, and got this response:

She has found several places in downtown Honolulu and will be deciding on one very soon. Her current home (a Ko Olina condo) will also be going on the market soon.

Sounds like reasonable progress, given the state of the local housing market and that Hanabusa has been in Washington most of the time since the election.

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11 Comments on “Politics and judges; Hanabusa’s housing”

  1. Jim Loomis Says:

    Neil made an absolutely terrific choice in Joe Wildman, who is a smart, honest, hard-working attorney. And it isn’t “politics”, it’s friendship. They have known each other for years … Joe was on Neil’s staff at the Legislature.

  2. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Ditto Jim Loomis’s comments. I’ve known Joe for decades and actually worked on a campaign project with him back in 1986 when Neil ran for the US House.

    Besides, Honolulu is the smallest town in the whole wide world. I can walk into a roon not knowing a single person there and find a connection with all of the folks with no greater than two degrees of separation. ( guarantee that you cam also walk into a room and find someone who’s related to your best friend in high school.

    One of the weirdest connections I’ve ever made was at the Capitol’s second floor railing last year after a hearing. A woman came up to me who’d been there for another bill introduced herself and said that her husband is the business manager for the place where we take our car to be repaired. She recognized my (real) name because she helps him out with the clerical stuff like filing invoices and ordering parts.

    Everyone in Hawai`i can provide similar tales so I am not overly-whelmed by the $$$ connection. Why shouldn’t someone with the money donate to a campaign? It’s not like he wrote the check in mid-December after the election.

  3. David Shapiro Says:

    Jim, I give you points for candor and appreciate the information, but knowing that he’s handing out judgeships to friends only makes it more important that we know who the other choices were and how the friend’s legal credentials stack up against theirs.

  4. Kolea Says:

    Re Hanabusa’s house:

    If any of the rest of us were making this decision, we would wait until after the re-districting which is going to take place early next year. Because the Second Cd has grown faster than the First, the boundary line is almost certainly going to be moved westward. The odds that Hanabusa could hold ontop her present house and reside in the First CD approach certainty. And without the redistricting requiring any “smoke-filled room” shenanigans. That is simply the most logical redistricting choice.

    So in addition to Dave’s remarks about the real estate market, I think Hanabusa would be prudent to hold on to her house UNLESS she can get a decent price for it and UNLESS living nearer to Town is preferable anyways.

  5. David Says:

    Handing out jobs to friends is known as “cronyism” and is Not A Good Thing! But, of course, that’s how politics is done in Hawaii, just like it was among the old southern Democratic Party … Mufi’s protoge handing out rail development contracts to friends and campaign contributors is just more of the same.

  6. Michael Says:

    I know the same word as “Pull”.

  7. David Shapiro Says:

    I see that Anthony Takitani, the other partner in the Agaran law firm, was just appointed to the reapportionment commission by Shan Tsutsui. They’re on quite a roll.

  8. Michael Says:

    Anthony Takitani was part of Governor Abercrombies campaign. He used “push”. Legal advise give to Governor Abercrombie.

  9. el guapo Says:

    What is more important, transparency or accountability? If I had to choose just one, I’ll take accountability every day. Better to have someone who will make a decision and take the responsibility for it as opposed to a former governor who would try to deflect the blame about her foolish decisions.

  10. David Shapiro Says:

    el guapo, transparency and accountability go hand in hand.


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