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

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.

“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?

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?


“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?

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.

“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?

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

What do you mean by “sustainable?”

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.

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

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

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.

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