Posted tagged ‘Kirk Caldwell’

Dueling ex-mayors

May 26, 2011

Prominent politicians who lose their jobs can be forlorn figures while waiting for the next election opportunity.

Honolulu’s most recent former mayors, Mufi Hannemann and Kirk Caldwell, have been gamely trying to keep their public personas alive on Twitter since September, when Hannemann lost badly to Neil Abercrombie for governor and Caldwell was edged out for mayor by Peter Carlisle.

They started out posting a lot of dorky stuff like city news bites that really don’t cut it with the cool kids, and there’s still a lot of that.

From @KirkCaldwell recently:

– “Congratulations to Dana L. Nakasato, who received the Outstanding Citizen Award for her work in assisting the Honolulu Police Department.”

– “Good news for voters. The voting deadline for Neighborhood Boards is extended until 11:59 pm.”

– “Congratulations to Curtis T. Maeshiro, Civilian Employee of the Year for the second time in his 30-year career at HPD.”

– “Sorry for the late reminder that today is a City furlough day.”

– “Don’t be alarmed by the sirens. Just a test. If you hear them, everything is working.”

And from @MufiHannemann:

– “The Honolulu Police are asking for the public’s help in locating an escapee from OCCC.”

– “Big Island police searching for missing man”

– “Passing on a useful traffic alert: Onramp to H1 Westbound from University Av will be closed from 9–2pm today for guardrail maintenance work.”

– “The ‘Click it or Ticket’ campaign is kicking off today. Make sure to be safe and buckle your seat belt!”

– “It’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Is your family prepared?”

But they’re both showing signs of branching out a bit, as well. Hannemann is writing more about his gig with the Hawaii Hotel Association and promotes his new radio show playing pop classics, his Midweek column and his personal appearances.

Caldwell, who’s back to practicing law, tried the ultimate in Twitter cool by hosting a Corn Chowder Tweetup at the Mission Houses Museum Cafe. From the picture he posted, it looked like he got a respectable turnout.

Both are weighing their options for 2012, with Hannemann looking at a races for either the U.S. Senate or U.S. House and Caldwell pondering a U.S. House race or a rematch against Carlisle.

It would be fascinating if they ended up going head to head for Congress. Caldwell. a former legislator, was Hannemann’s managing director for two years and succeeded him as acting mayor.

They didn’t end on the best of terms; Hannemann accused Caldwell of dragging down his 2010 campaign and Caldwell thought it was more the other way around.

Don’t make city hall a Ronald McMayor House

September 23, 2010

Peter Carlisle’s tenure as Mayor-elect is certainly off to an interesting start.

He raised a few eyebrows yesterday by naming Douglas Chin, his former first deputy city prosecutor, to be managing director, responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the city.

There are concerns about having two people at the top of city government with no experience in nuts-and-bolts operations, but I believe a chief executive should have latitude in choosing his No. 2 and withhold judgment until there’s more information about Chin and the qualities he brings to the job.

I’m not withholding judgment on the bizarre joint press conference Carlisle and acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell held at Honolulu Hale; I’m totally baffled as to why they called it.

It was supposed to show that there’ll be a smooth transition until Carlisle is sworn in Oct. 8, but before the press conference ended, they argued about where Carlisle’s transition office will be, whether he can start moving his stuff into the mayor’s office before his swearing-in and the disciplining of a secretary who showed him around.

Carlisle could be seen rolling his eyes in the background as Caldwell spoke. Didn’t they talk things over before assembling the media?

In the end, Carlisle turned down Caldwell’s offer of transition office space, saying it “reeked of asbestos.” Instead, he set up camp on folding tables in the city hall courtyard and mugged for the cameras.

Carlisle’s informality and sense of humor are among his most engaging qualities, but this isn’t the time to clown around.

He was rapidly losing voter support in the weeks before the election, barely squeaking by Caldwell in the end. Now he needs to show constituents that he takes the job seriously and is capable of putting together his administration in an organized and professional manner.

Caldwell, Hannemann smarting from Kalihi tax flap

August 24, 2010

Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell is struggling to get on top of the stealth rezonings that have raised the property taxes of 250 O’ahu residents, mostly in Kalihi, by more than 300 percent.

The outcry could affect the Sept. 18 election chances of both Caldwell and former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who handed his former managing director the mayor’s job — and the tax problem — when he resigned to run for governor.

The issue is the surprise reclassification of apartments and homes from residential to commercial and industrial. In one case cited by the Star-Advertiser, a Stanley Street resident saw his bill go up from $2,335 last year to $10,552.

Many of the residents are elderly and some have lived in their homes more than 50 years; with all the confusion and payments already due, they have few options.

It’s disturbing how Caldwell and Hannemann have deflected responsibility for the hardship these people are suffering, saying it was a decision by anonymous tax assessors and not a policy call by the administration.

The last time I looked, the mayor and managing director had oversight authority for city bureaucrats, and either they were asleep at the wheel or chose not to head off this disaster for the homeowners to squeeze out a few more property tax dollars at their expense.

City Council members say they were never notified of the changes by the administration and certainly would have done something to provide relief if they had known.

What the administration is missing with its technocratic tap dancing — and council members and others in the community are seeing clearly with their outrage — is that you just don’t treat people this way.

Affected residents apparently have no recourse this tax year except to ask the city for a “structured tax payment plan” and have only until September 1 to apply for a waiver next year.

Both Caldwell and some council members are floating bills to refund the excess taxes, but homeowners would have to pay now and hope to get their money back later.

That’s just plain chicken, and creative leadership would have found a fair resolution before it became a crisis for these folks.

Carlisle gets SHOPO’ed

July 16, 2010

The police union SHOPO’s endorsement of Kirk Caldwell for mayor is a blow to city Prosecutor Peter Carlise, the assumed frontrunner in the September special election to replace Mufi Hannemann after he resigns to run for governor.

Carlisle’s main asset is his popularity as a law enforcer during his 14 years as prosecutors, and voters will naturally wonder why he didn’t get the nod from police officers.

Also expect some grousing about Carlisle’s management style to start coming out of the prosecutor’s office as soon as he steps down to enter the mayor’s race.

The apparent strategy from the Caldwell side is to keep Carlisle busy defending his record as prosecutor before he can even get started outlining what he’d do as mayor.

Carlisle has been perceived as a good friend to police and it remains to be seen how the endorsement will play with the rank and file, but the union leadership is politically close to Hannemann, who wants his managing director Caldwell to succeed him.

Carlisle’s early advantage is far greater name recognition and familiarity to voters. Caldwell is a former House majority leader, but didn’t leave much of a footprint there. As managing director, he’s mostly been seen grinning in the background at Hannemann appearances.

But he’s piling up endorsements from Hannemann allies and building a big lead in campaign donations to pay for a major media blitz — much of it coming from the same rail vendors and other city contractors who are fueling Hannemann’s campaign for governor.

Caldwell will have two months to build visibility as acting mayor after Hannemann resigns next week, and it doesn’t hurt that his wife, banker Donna Tanoue, is a longtime associate of senior Sen. Daniel Inouye.

City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz and rail opponent Panos Prevedouros are also mounting energetic campaigns for mayor, but it’s uncertain if either has broad enough support to challenge the big two.


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