Posted tagged ‘James “Duke” Aiona’

Some candidates for governor we can like

July 13, 2010

Surprise, they’re the three leading contenders we already have — James “Duke” Aiona, Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie.

So says David Thielen (son of Cynthia, brother of Laura), a Hawaii ex-pat now living in Colorado who did interviews with the three candidates for the Huffington Post that are interesting reading and listening.

Distance often has the advantage of perspective, and the perspective Thielen brings is that he finds a lot to like about all three candidates. We here in Hawaii who are bombarded by the daily give and take often see only things to dislike.

I found it telling that people with loyalties to the different campaigns suggested  I check out these interviews. They all thought their guys came across well, and they mostly did.

Thielen can be a little wide-eyed, but if you don’t like his summaries of the interviews, he provides links to the recordings so you can listen to the candidates for yourself.

All in all, a good way to get an early take on the substance of these men who seek to guide our future — and to start raising the political discourse to a higher level.

It’s my birthday and I’ll politic if I want to

June 29, 2010

We’ve had dueling gubernatorial birthday bashes this week with Neil Abercrombie celebrating his 72nd with supporters at the Bishop Museum last night and James “Duke” Aiona marking his 55th tonight at Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch and Crab.

I haven’t heard what Mufi Hannemann plans when he turns 56 on July 16, but I wouldn’t put it past the mayor to surreptitiously troll for votes at both of his opponents’ events, as in 2004 when he showed up for both the Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney rallies to hit up Democrats and Republicans alike for support.

Call me old and grouchy, but I get uneasy about the self-glorification of one’s arrival on this Earth as if you’re George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. or the Son of God.

But it’s a time-honored political tradition pioneered locally by the late Mayor Frank F. Fasi, who actually did put himself in the class of some of those icons. Fasi held his first gatherings at the old Hilton Dome for the then-astronomical ticket price of $100.

I don’t know how to end this except in song with the ultimate political birthday tribute — and to wish a good one to Neil, Duke, Mufi all. May they live long and not prosper too much at our expense.

The governor’s race moves to Pittsburgh (Can we keep it there?)

June 16, 2010

I’m finding it hard to get too bothered by the flap over Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s side trip to Pittsburgh for a campaign event while in Washington on city business.

The Piitsburgh event, first reported by KHON-TV, was sponsored by a rail consultant and billed as a fundraiser for Hannemann’s campaign for governor, with donations of $500 to $5,000 suggested. Several Pittsburgh Steelers attended.

Both the mayor’s office and his campaign office initially said they weren’t aware of the side trip and his public schedule was unclear on what he was doing and when. Questions were raised about whether required notifications were filed with the Campaign Spending Commission.

Hannemann tried to put the controversy to rest by saying he viewed the event as a “meet and greet” and wouldn’t accept any of the donations. He told KHON:

“With respect to event in Pittsburgh, in my view although it was a fundraiser, I saw it more of a meet-and-greet, to be able to touch base with folks who have known me since college, and with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of my favorite teams. No donations collected that evening, and I’m not coming back to Honolulu with contributions, nor will I accept any contributions from that fundraiser.”

But the rival campaigns of Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona weren’t going to let him off that easy.


“The people deserve answers to many questions including: Was the trip to D.C. necessary or was it designed just to get to Pittsburgh while piggybacking on official city business? Why was there no proper notice to the Campaign Spending Commission? Why was the wrong date listed in the fundraiser’s filing? Why did an official city release say the mayor was meeting in D.C. when he was actually campaigning in Pittsburgh?”

GOP Chairman Jonah Ka’auwai:

“The Honolulu Mayor has used taxpayer dollars to advocate for the reckless rail transit project, he raked in more than $200,000 from donors linked to government contractors in the last six months of 2009, and now he’s raising big money from consultants seeking rail contracts. While he’s whacking the rail transit piñata for all the goodies he can get, he’s raising property taxes and increasing fees on just about every other service the city provides.”

It bothers me that transit donations are figuring so big not only in Hannemann’s campaign, but also in that of his preferred successor as mayor, city Managing Director Kirk Caldwell, and City Council members.

It makes you wonder if the $5.3 billion project is being carried out for the benefit of the taxpaying public or for private interests who stand to make big money off of rail.

But plenty of rail donations are being collected right here in Honolulu, and I don’t see it as a major special concern that the mayor went to Pittsburgh to get some. All of the major candidates have held Mainland fundraisers.

The suggestion that Hannemann used a city trip to Washington mainly to get to a campaign event in Pittsburgh appears rendered moot by the fact that he brought home his long-delayed federal approval of the rail EIS; obviously, the mayor had legitimate city business in Washington.

The Campaign Spending Commission can sort out any questions about event postings and notifications, which seem relatively minor as far as potential violations go.


I have more thoughts on rail and politics in my column in today’s Star-Advertiser, “Mayor uses rail failings as boost to governor bid.”

Will Aiona veto HB 444 (II)?

June 11, 2010

Would somebody kindly look at this press release from Rep. Tom Brower and decipher for me exactly what he wants Aiona to do and what his logic is — if there is any.

Isn’t this the legislator who put out a press release calling the House passage of HB 444 a perversion of the Democratic process after he voted for the bill himself?

CIVIL UNIONS: How is Acting Governor Acting?

I wonder, on some political or personal level, might Lt. Governor Duke Aiona be open to allowing the civil union bill to become law?

During Governor Linda Lingle’s two- week absence, House Bill 444 is in the hands of our state’s leading opponent.

Despite public rhetoric against the bill, Aiona has yet to take the ultimate step to stop it: Veto power.

Article 5, section 04 of the Hawaii State Constitution states that “in the event of the absence of the governor from the State… such powers and duties shall devolve upon the lieutenant governor during such absence or disability.”

Aiona has exercised his veto power on one measure during Lingle’s absence (Senate Bill 2401).

If he does not take advantage of this power and (hypothetically-speaking) the bill becomes law, he cannot say he did “everything” he could to kill the bill. Whether he makes a choice or not, he still has made a decision. He would be just as responsible as the Governor and the other legislators for the bill’s passage.

Making the tough decisions and accepting the consequences of his actions—this is his chance to show he is more than a seat warmer.

As one of the 31 House members who supported civil unions, I encourage Aiona’s support. It would send the message to Hawaii that its top government officials understand the difference between civil unions and traditional marriage, and that we have enough safeguards in our State Constitution to protect the sanctity of marriage.


Tom Brower
State Representative
Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako

Will Aiona veto HB 444?

June 9, 2010

Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona’s veto of a bill suspending technology tax credits has some civil unions advocates sweating that he’ll also veto HB 444 while Gov. Linda Lingle is away in China.

Odds are she’ll veto civil unions herself after she returns, but supporters take a small measure of hope from the fact that she’s never publicly spoken against it and doesn’t share Aiona’s strong religious views against gay unions.

Aiona is acting governor while Lingle is out of state and has the legal right to take whatever action he wishes, but Lingle specifically said he wouldn’t act on HB 444 in her absence and presumably there’s an understanding given the close relationship they’ve had.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona

The veto of SB 2401, the three-year suspenson of technology tax credits, was a good call by the administration and an apt way to help Aiona look gubernatorial as he revs up his campaign to succeed Lingle.

Because of a lack of transparency, there are doubts that the tax credits have produced the number or quality of high-tech jobs promised, and the law creating the credits deserves a thorough review going forward.

But it isn’t kosher to take away tax credits from companies that have already made investments based on the promise that tax credits would be forthcoming. Hawai’i doesn’t need another black eye as a lousy place to do business.

The Legislature could still override Aiona’s veto, but lawmakers should let it be. The $93 million the bill was supposed to save likely would be tied up in litigation, and improving state tax collections seem on track to make up the difference.

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