Posted tagged ‘Politics’

Politics and judges; Hanabusa’s housing

March 22, 2011

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.


Monkey business gets a new look

February 11, 2011

The Atomic Monkey is back.

The website by former city IT employee and ad man Keith Rollman made news during last year’s governor’s race when the Mufi Hannemann campaign had to disown it for its over-the-top ridicule of Neil Abercrombie and ask Rollman to take it down.

Now he’s relaunched it as a general-interest humor blog covering local and national topics — and his recent items on the toy gun ban, the hoary bat resolution and the City Council’s attempt to censure Rush Limbaugh were pretty funny.

Rollman has technical and artistic talents and he puts together a slick package of original cartoons, funny pictures and Onion-like sendoffs combined with links to canned material from The Onion and

If he keeps it light and spreads out the barbs, it’ll find a following among those who like their political commentary pointed.

With God on our side (or not)

January 13, 2011

I didn’t intend my post the other day about the Big Island Senate appointment to focus on religion.

I truly thought the county Democrats did a good job of making their nominations in an open and accessible manner and wanted to draw attention to it. That’s why I put the rather mild comment about the interviews being held at a hongwanji at the end.

That said, I thought some of the responses proved my point, which was that many church-and-state concerns expressed lately in Hawai‘i seem targeted specifically at Christianity rather than generally at religion in public life.

Several who commented on my post tried to justify this bias by drawing distinctions between the practices of Christianity and Buddhism. I don’t recall any fine print in the Constitution to the effect that religions can be treated differently under the law according to what faiths the cool kids favor.

Religion is an intensely personal and sensitive issue to people of all faiths (or lack thereof) and we need to be rigorously even-handed in addressing it.

In the wake of the Arizona tragedy, many of us have asked those who engage in inflammatory talk about guns and violence to please think about the consequences.

Insulting a person’s religion has the same potential to inflame, and we must be equally careful to choose our words with the consequences in mind.

Welcome openness in Big Isle Senate picks

January 11, 2011

Give Big Island Democrats credit for transparency in the process to replace Sen. Russell Kokubun, who represented Hilo, Puna and Ka‘u before resigning to join the Abercrombie administration as agriculture director.

The party released the names of eight candidates who asked to be considered: state Rep. Faye Hanohano, former County Council Chairman Gary Safarik, health food store owner Russell Ruderman, Navy intelligence administrator Anthony Marzi, Abercrombie’s East Hawai‘i  campaign coordinator Gilbert Kahele, Ka’u doctor Richard Creagan, natural foods manager Susan “Marie” Sanford and attorney Beverly Jean “Jeannie” Withington.

Then over the weekend, the candidates were questioned in a speed-dating format by more than 40 representatives from the district’s 16 Democratic precincts, who voted to send the names of Ruderman, Marzi and Kahele to Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Under state law, the governor must choose a replacement from the three nominees provided by the party. He has 30 days to act, but is expected to pick sooner with the start of the Legislature looming.

Credit also goes to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald for its diligent coverage of the appointment process — not only for Kokubun, but also the earlier appointment of Malama Solomon to replace Sen. Dwight Takamine after he, too, resigned to join the Abercrombie administration. Their latest story is here.

I wish the O‘ahu Democratic Party was as open and the island media as attentive in providing information about the replacement of Sen. Colleen Hanabusa by Rep. Maile Shimabukuro and the current process to replace Shimabukuro.

Update: Abercrombie’s office announced this afternoon that he’s appointing Kahele, 68, to the Senate seat.


I had to chuckle at a note in the Trib story that the Democrats’ weekend selection event was held at the Puna Hongwanji Mission.

I have absolutely no personal objections; it’s so Big Island and part of the island’s political charm. But I couldn’t help but imagine how the party’s increasingly vocal separation-of-church-and-state crowd would scream bloody murder if Republicans held such an event at a Hope Chapel.

It points up again how efforts of some Democrats to obliterate religion from public life blatantly targets Christianity over other faiths — a bias that will ultimately come back to bite the Democrats.

Let’s lower our voices for Christina

January 10, 2011

Christina Taylor Green

The most heartbreaking image for me in the shooting attack that seriously wounded Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others is this photo the family circulated of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, the youngest of the six who were killed.

This child who was born on 9/11 loved her country and cherished our peaceful political traditions so much that she recently got herself elected to the student council and went to Giffords’ event to meet her congresswoman and get some pointers.

Now she’s gone because of an act of political violence as senseless as the one on the day she was born.

Nobody knows at this point what motivated the suspect, but as an attack on a political target, it’s forcing a long-overdue national reflection on the increasingly hateful nature of the politics by which divergent groups of Americans relate to one another.

The question is whether it’ll be productive soul-searching that brings changes in some of the extreme things we say and do or just a continuation of the poisonous posturing on a new front.

If what happened to this beautiful little girl, a good congresswoman and the others doesn’t serve as a wake-up call that we’ve cranked up the hate way too far, it’s hard to be optimistic that anything ever will.

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