PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

October 26, 2006

facts?

Filed under: HI Politics — rachel @ 10:17 pm

I am watching the 10pm news right now… there was a spot about a mailing that HGEA sent out comparing Iwase to Lingle. The “story” was about how the “facts” on this particular mail-out are in question. The coverage showed an HGEA rep saying that the union wants its members to make an informed decision, then it showed Lt Gov Aiona claiming that all the comparisons were based on falsities. I kept waiting for the “journalists” to tell me which side was telling the truth. Isn’t that what they are there for? To cut through the spin and let us know which side actually has the facts on their side? I thought I was about to finally hear what was false in the brochure… Apparently HGEA claims that Lingle refused to fund their arbitration agreement and then granted herself an 18% raise… no comment about what Lingle’s raise will be, just that it won’t kick in until Dec. Did I hear this correctly? The news did not confirm or deny that the fact in question was false. Which way is it??? Surely it is not too hard to find out.

I am not a huge fan of Iwase, but it would be nice if the media would help us work out where candidates stand and who is being truthful rather than air their bad laundry without sorting it out.

October 25, 2006

Della Au Bellati endorsement?

When I got home from work today, on my answering machine I found a ringing endorsement of Della in the unmistakable voice of Sen. Daniel Inouye, although the beginning of the message in which he probably identified himself was missing.

We are trying to decide whom to endorse this week, so I told Della that it would help if we could hear from her on a few critical issues. We have a 5-part platform that we call our “S.H.I.P.S.” platform, and my questions to her were based on this platform.

[Bob]
“S”: Stop the War!
While State legislators can’t vote directly on the war, there are issues that do come up. Would you support legislation calling for the return of the Hawaii National Guard posted overseas to Hawaii, and the resistance to any future deployments of our Hawaii National Guard outside the state?

[Della]
ABSOLUTELY!!!!! We have so many potential needs here in Hawaii, but my understanding is that our National Guard participation is among the highest in the nation.

[Bob]”H”: Health Care for All.
In recent years, there has been some legislation in Hawaii in support of comprehensive, affordable health care for everyone. Do you support such legislation?

[Della]
AGAIN…YES!

[Bob]
“I”: Impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney
It is already public knowledge that Vice President Cheney was involved in the “outing” of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, and a number of books have been written outlining the legal grounds for impeachment of President Bush.
While impeachment per se is, of course, the prerogative of the U.S. House, there is a historic method, based on the “Thomas Jefferson Handbook,” for state legislators to demand that the U.S. House initiate impeachment proceedings. Would you support such an action by the Hawaii Legislature?

[Della]
I would need to think a little bit more about this, but I certainly think this administration has a lot to answer for, not just to Americans but to the world.

[Bob]
“P”: Public Funding of Elections
I recall that you have signed the “Clean Elections” pledge and
favor public funding of elections. Do I understand this correctly?

[Della]
Yes – I would like to explore ways that we can make Voter Owned Elections more sustainable.

[Bob]
What do you mean by “sustainable?”

[Della]
The fear/criticism with publicly funded elections is the mechanism where publicly funded candidates get matching funds to their non-publicly funded candidates which can run up the bill to an unknown amount. We, collectively, need to think of mechanisms and maybe marketing strategies to get around these criticisms. We need to find a funding source (maybe unclaimed property?) that can provide revenue source. And maybe part of the solution is outside of the legislative realm, we need to find brave politicians, like Harry Kim and his $10 donation acceptance, who are wiiling to go with public funding (providing that the public funds will allow them to run a competitive campaign) and show others that with hard work it is possible.

[Bob]
“S”: Sustainable environment
Hawaii has some very special ecological concerns for a sustainable environment. What is your position on these issues?

[Della]
We need to protect our environment, not just in the present but for future needs. Clearly, we need to ensure any development we engage in is sustainable and does not endanger our natural resources.
=========================[End of interview]

I think Della has run a really good campaign. She has some of the qualities of a good politician, in the best sense of the word: She’s a good listener, and can remember names, faces and concerns. Her positions on our platform indicate to me that she is worthy of our endorsement.

Bob Schacht

my picks

Filed under: HI Politics — rachel @ 4:46 pm

Alright here are my thoughts about the races we are voting on for “priority help.” I am still researching each of these myself and will add more info as I come across it. Please feel free to jump into the discussion with thoughts of your own — for or against any of these.

Hirono, Mazie U.S. House, 2nd CD: This one is pretty much a no-brainer for me. While not always super-inspiring, Mazie has progressive credentials and I think she has a lot of potential to do good in this seat. I would vote to endorse if I could, but I live in the 1st CD.

Tokuda, Jill – Senate Dist 24 (Windward Oahu): This is the seat being vacated by Bob Hogue so that he can run for US Congress. Since there is no incumbent, the seat is arguably up for grabs. An Advertiser piece on this race points out that Both Tokuda and her republican opponent are quite young (30 & 26 respectively). To me, that means that whichever of them is elected will likely have some fresh ideas, but will also be largely subject to influence by their party leadership. After a quick google search, she seems to have decent qualifications and falls on the “right” (i.e. my) side of the issues in areas that I could find. I am leaning toward voting for endorsement.

Yamamoto, George – Dist 19: I don’t know much about George Yamamoto, but the fact that he is running against Mike Gabbard is HUGE to me. In case you don’t remember, Mike Gabbard led the “save traditional marriage” fight. This seat is also being vacated, so there is no incumbent. I lean toward voting for endorsement simply because of who he is running against.

McKelvey, Angus – House Dist 10 (West Maui): don’t know much… will add more as I learn…

Abe, Mike – House Dist 19 (Kaimuki): Running against incumbent Barbara Marumoto means that it is an uphill battle for Mike. I have interacted with Mike on several occasions. He is a good guy and I think he would do well for the district and be a good progressive ally. I will vote to endorse.

Belatti, Della Au – House Dist 25 (Makiki): Seems to be very promising. Leaning toward voting for endorsement… will add more as I learn.

Moepono, Sesnita – House Dist 27(Liliha-Kapalama): I have heard good things about her. Will look up more.

Rhoads, Karl – House Dist 28 (Downtown): Heard good things about him too… will look up more.

Sugimura, Jane – House Dist 32 (Aiea)

Har, Sharon – House Dist 40 (Kapolei)

Iwamoto, Kim Coco – BOE: Have met her a few times. Like her. Think she will be a great, fresh voice for the BOE. Will vote to endorse.

Knudsen, Karen – BOE: Decent member on the board… much better than some of the other options. Will likely vote for her in the election in order to keep others, like Lingle-appointed Darwin Ching (if only he believed in his namesake!), out.

I will add more thoughts to this as I gather more information about each of these races.

October 24, 2006

proposed constitutional amendments

Filed under: HI Politics — frosty @ 1:44 pm

i’ve just finished reading through the proposed changes to the state constitution.  for some reason, i thought there were more.  oh well.

while understanding the language of the proposed changes was simpler than expected it to be, i’m still left scratching my head a bit.  they may seem like simple yes or no questions to some, but i think making changes to the state constitution is a big deal, not to be taken lightly, so i will be pondering these proposals for a while.  i thought i would take this opportunity to give some of my thoughts on each of the four and, i hope, have a chance to hear what others might think.

constitutional question no. 1

“shall the governor be required to select board of regents candidates from a pool of qualified candidates screened and proposed by a candidate advisory council for the board of regents of the university of hawaii as provided by law?”

to be honest, i’m not sure i care one way or another.  i can’t think if a reason why it would make much difference?  the way i understand it, the only difference the proposed change would make is that the governor would be required to choose from a list of candidates approved by the advisory council.  the senate would still have advice and consent authority.  maybe i don’t understand well enough how the system works now to see how this would really affect things.  pros?  cons?  anyone?

constitutional question no. 2

“shall the constitution be amended to provide for a salary commission to review and recommend salaries for justices, judges, state legislators, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the administrative director of the state, state department heads or executive officers of the executive departments, and the deputies or assistants to department heads of the executive departments, excluding the superintendent of education and the president of the university of hawaii?”

once again, it seems to me that the only change here is that all the current salary commissions would be combined into one.  some questions readily come to mind.  would all the members of the new commission have the expertise and experience to suggest salaries across a range of public professions?  would various members of the current committees be pooled into the new singular commission?  how would this commission be formed; by appointment from the governor?  lastly, i’m not sure what i think about the provision saying the legislature would have to accept or reject the entire salary proposal in bulk.

constitutional question no. 3

“shall the mandatory retirement age of seventy for all state court justices and judges be repealed?”

this seems like a no brainer to me.  seventy isn’t what it used to be and if there are justices that reach that age, but still want to sit on the bench, i don’t think the law should require their removal.

constitutional question no. 4

“shall the constitution of the state of hawaii be amended to provide that in continuous sexual assault crimes against minors younger than fourteen years of age, the legislature may define:
(1) what behavior constitutes a continuing course of conduct; and
(2) what constitutes the jury unanimity that is required for a conviction?”

i suspect this will be (is?) a hot button issue and of the four, i tend to feel this is the most complicated.  while i don’t think anyone would argue that the continued sexual assault of a minor isn’t a horrible thing, i think question no. 4 puts us on a slippery slope.  of course its despicable, but i’m not sure how i feel about making is easier to convict them.  the system is in place for a reason and while sexual predators may be criminals (is there an argument that they are ‘sick’ or ‘mentally ill’ and should get treatment rather than a prison sentence?), i get very nervous about the idea of making it easier for the state to prosecute anyone.  then there’s the fact that the hawaii supreme court has already ruled on this issue, not once, but twice.  while i don’t know that i automatically default to the state supreme court position, but i was already skeptical before i read the bit about the hawaii supreme court decisions.  this is an issue that i think requires more discussion and while i think don’t think the other three questions are of supreme importance, i’m a bit concerned that i haven’t heard anything about this question in the media.  is anyone else concerned about this question?  or am i just paranoid?

Constitutional Question No. 5

“Shall the State be authorized to issue special purpose revenue bonds and use the proceeds from the bonds to assist agricultural enterprises serving important agricultural lands?”

wouldn’t be nice to see the state support something other than the real estate and movie industries?  i have to admit that i don’t really understand the whole bond process, but it seems to me that any assistance the state can give to the agricultural industry here would be a good thing.  my only concern, however, is those who would benefit the most would be agrabusiness in hawaii, rather than small and local farmers.  but i don’t know that that would be anything new, however.  my instincts tell me this would be a good thing, but i’ve been known to be wrong in the past.

so, there they are, hopefully others will have more insightful comments than i.

October 23, 2006

Last push to Nov 7

Filed under: HI Politics — rachel @ 10:31 pm

At our last general membership meeting, in addition to re-asserting our endorsement of Daniel Akaka for U.S. Senate, we discussed a few key races where our support may help progressive candidates get elected to office. While other candidates are quite worthy of our endorsement, the consensus of the group was that it might be more effective to focus our efforts on particularly “close” races rather than highlighting all candidates that might support our mission.

Just over 2 weeks ago we sent out an email announcing our intent to hold a special vote amongst our membership for whether or not to endorse the candidates below. As I understand it, most of the candidates that questionaires were sent to have not replied… so we will have to go on whatever other information we can gather.

If you have a piece of information about any of these races that you would like to share… feel free to add a comment.

Potential Priority Help Candidates:

State Senate:

State House:

Board of Education:

U.S. House, 2nd CD: [Note – only residents of the 2nd CD will be able to vote for this one.]

October 18, 2006

public spending

Filed under: 2Healthcare,4Public Financing,HI Politics,SHAPES platform — rachel @ 3:12 pm

As we approach the legislative session, one of the things PDH & friends will be doing is gathering information about bills that we would like to see enacted. Two that come immediately to my mind are relating to Universal Single-Payer Healthcare and Comprehensive Public Financing of Elections. Last year there were bills dealing with both issues — one was killed at the very beginning of the session and the other made it all the way through only to be vetoed by Lingle. Will either have a chance this year? Both issues will require significant amounts of public funds, yet in the long run would likely save taxpayers’ money. This type of long-term investment is not easy for politicians focused on the time-scale of an election cycle. Will the representatives that we elect on Nov 7 have the leadership it will take? Will we keep the pressure on them to give them backbone?

Single-Payer Universal Healthcare
The bill relating to Universal Healthcare changed various times in many ways as it worked its way through the system. The end result was a bill (SB2133) that would establish a “Universal Hawaii Health Authority” which “shall develop a comprehensive health plan… for all individuals in the state.” Many viewed the bill as having problems, but a good start toward a true single-payer system and much better than nothing. SB2133 passed its final reading in both the house and senate, was forwarded onto the Governor who vetoed it. See measure history here. Learn more about a single-payer system at the Physicians for a National Health Program site and see a summary of arguments for and against at wikipedia.

Comprehensive Public Financing of Elections
The bill relating to comprehensive public funding of elections has a long history. It has been introduced to the legislature in various forms for the past seven (?) years or so. Each time it has failed, but at different times in the process. Two years ago the bill seemed very close to passing and was “tabled” at the very end (status). Last year the bill (SB3223) was killed at the very beginning of the session. The group largely responsible for lobbying and gaining community support for this bill, now called Voter Own Elections, responded by “educating” the public about where certain legislators received their campaign money from. This seemed to have mixed results, angering some legislators and even some supporters, while still gaining more visibility for the topic. One of the big questions has always been, “can this type of legislation be passed in a state that does not allow for citizen led propositions?” “Clean elections” have been enacted by proposition in Maine, Arizona, Connecticut as well as other municipalities and is up for a vote in California this year. In each of those states legislation can be passed by the general public, whereas in Hawaii we must rely on our elected officials. That works well for most issues, but in this case many of the incumbents see no reason to change the system since it is working fine for them. Can constituent pressure be enough to get them to try something new?

This Friday’s NOW episode is called “Votes for Sale” about public financing of elections… watch it to learn more. See a preview here.

Green Power

Filed under: 6Sustainable Environment — rachel @ 8:32 am

The Advertiser today has a great opinion piece about how the recent power failure after the earthquake should encourage us to move more quickly toward renewable energy sources. They are right. Do we want to invest in photovoltaics (for example) or in another oil-powered generator? Perhaps HECO should add a surcharge to our electric bills that would be earmarked to go directly to further renewable investment. Yeah, people will yell about their bills increasing, but then maybe that will be incentive for them to increase conservation and/or invest in photovoltaics of their own. I would go further and enact legislation that would require any new developments to incorporate solar water heaters and energy efficient arcitecture at a minimum. We should support implementation of deep seawater air conditioning for all of downtown Honolulu.

We need solid leadership to push toward independence of fossil fuels; let’s focus the anger people have toward HECO right now to encourage alternative energies and support for conservation.

October 17, 2006

Disaster plan?

Filed under: HI Politics — rachel @ 12:53 pm

Politicians are making noise about why it took so long to get the power back up (SB, HA). While I don’t have specific knowledge of how the system works, HECO’s explanation for why it took so long makes sense… these systems are complex and you can’t simply turn them on and off like we can with the lights in our homes. For most people on Oahu, the power outage was just an inconvenience. Many of us spent the day outside with friends and family, grilling food and enjoying ourselves. Others didn’t have food/drink on hand and had to wait in long lines to get their BBQ supplies, but it was no big deal since most were picking up beer and charcoal anyway.

The two areas affected the most on Oahu were the airport and Waikiki.

It wouldn’t make sense for the airport to invest in a huge generator to be able to function as normal without power, but they should have had a better plan in place to function at a minimal level. If a large number of flights needed to be cancelled, why didn’t they set up a hotline to notify travellers so they could plan accordingly? I am sure people would have much preferred one more night in Waikiki rather than sleeping on the floor of the airport. Why encourage people to continue to arrive at the airport where they would be stranded? Makes you think twice about those automated toilets that need electricity to work too. If they had a simple handle, then there wouldn’t be the bathroom crisis that ensued. I hate those things anyway, they often either flush twice or not at all and you are left there wondering if you need to press the button.

In Waikiki, tourists staying in hotels are forced to eat out for just about every meal. It seemed that most hotels did their best to make things easy on people but I wonder why more places with gas grills and ovens weren’t open. We walked by Hard Rock, wondering if they might be open and saw several workers hanging around. They said they were waiting for word from “corporate” as to what to do if the power came back on, but they couldn’t open and cook with gas due to “safety concerns.” My husband commented about how well a huli huli chicken stand would do. The few places that remained open, had huge lines and most went through all of their supplies. It would have been nice to see more places making do with the resources at hand to try to feed as many people as possible.

Here on Oahu, I think it was easy to stay ignorant of how much worse off people were on the Big Island. I talked to my dad in Hamakua first thing in the morning — all the glassware in their house (including wine bottles) was broken, there was a crack in their driveway, and they were left feeling quite freaked out. Even after talking to him, it didn’t really hit me as to how bad it was until I came across a few photos of places I recognize while browsing the news sites the next day.

These photos (found on thehawaiichannel.com) are from Ka‘apahu road just over a mile away from the house I grew up in.
Kaapahu Rd after earthquake Kaapahu Rd after earthquake Kaapahu Rd after earthquake
The left photo (from WestHawaiiToday.com) is at a bridge just Hilo side of Pa‘auilo (where I went to elementary school). The right photos is of end of the road in North Kohala by Pololu Valley lookout.
Paauilo bridge after earthquake Pololu
My sister was at her house in South Kona during the earthquake. Their house was fine and she didn’t think much of it until she went back to work the next day and checked on all the vacation rentals that she manages. Most were fine with minimal damage, but one suffered extensive damage where the rock chimney moved around so much that it opened a hole in the roof!

Kohala Ranch after earthquake Kohala Ranch after earthquake
I think it is suffice to say that we got off easy on Oahu.

October 16, 2006

all shook up

Filed under: General — rachel @ 11:17 am

what a crazy, interesting day it was yesterday!

i was woken by the shaking and rattling, but didn’t bother to go outside. we managed to go online and see the first estimates of location and strength before the power went off. our cat was super freaked out. i talked to my dad on the big island and found out that they had it WAY worse than we did. all the glass in their house was broken, piano walked into the middle of the room, crack in the driveway, roads closed. as we drove to waikiki to attend a memorial service for our paddling coach who died during the molokai crossing 1-yr ago, we noticed a lot of people outside talking to each other and looking dazed. we paddled out to the ocean and spread flowers, then spent much of the day eating and drinking with paddling friends. drove through waikiki and saw all the lines at the abc stores… then went to the little market on mccully and algaroba to buy beer with no line. stopped at a friend’s house for a bbq, then the lights came back on right after dark. all in all, it was a pretty nice day. having no power seemed to force people to go outside and interact with each other. a friend commented that it would be nice to have days without power on a more regular basis!

We are back…

Filed under: General — rachel @ 9:45 am

Sorry about the interruption. I accidentally deleted the blog database (Oct 4th) and had to get my web host to restore it to their last back up (Oct 1st). We lost a couple of posts and comments and were offline for about 2 weeks, but at least we regained our archive. I have learned my lesson and will back up now.

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