Battle Before the Battle: Hirono vs. Lingle

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, D-HI, seems to believe she will win the contentious Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate this fall and take on former Gov. Linda Lingle in the general election.

Lingle, who left office in 2010, has not declared whether or not she is running and said it depends on community support and fundraising.

But that is not stopping Hirono, who still needs to win the contested primary, from criticizing Lingle’s record on energy independence and education reform as well as her relationship with President Barack Obama.

But Lingle, via her former chief of staff, Barry Fukunaga, is already engaging Hirono in battle.

In an editorial this week in Hawaii Reporter, Fukunaga writes: “Hirono’s deliberate distortion of Governor Lingle’s record is particularly reprehensible given the Representative’s lack of any record of achievement or vision for Hawaii or America’s future in these two key areas. … Perhaps it is because she just doesn’t have much to show for so many years in public office. Her “Johnny come lately” focus on jobs and the economy belies a record of little in the way of tangible achievements. Whatever the match-up may be in the U.S. Senate race, I hope voters will look at the facts, not at the rhetoric generated by candidates with few achievements of their own.”

Fukunaga goes on to defend Lingle’s record in education and energy and detail her relationship with the President.

Scramble for Congress

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, D-HI, in announcing her candidacy for U.S. Senate, set off a flurry of interest from Hawaii’s most well known politicians who are considering vying for her seat.

While there is speculation that former Democratic Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former GOP Congressman Charles Djou will run for this seat, Council Member Tusli Gabbard this week was the first candidate to make her intentions officials.

Gabbard, who has been on the council since the 2010 election, has served in the Hawaii State House and worked for two years for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.  She also is in the Hawaii National Guard and served two tours in the middle east.

Hannemann was popular as mayor, but he angered many voters during the 2010 gubernatorial primary when he challenged Neil Abercrombie for the seat by using political tactics that many people in his own party felt were racist and dirty.

Should Hannemann enter the race, he could lose to Gabbard, who is a viable candidate with a varied background in city, state and federal politics and from a well known family. She also showed her loyalty to the Democratic Party by working for Akaka in Washington D.C. and that will be well received by local Democrats who adore Akaka.

Hawaii-Born General Returns to the Islands

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, who was born on the island of Kauai, is back in Hawaii.

The former U.S. Army four-star General and 34th Chief of Staff of the Army, is in Waikiki to kick off the National Veterans Golden Age Games.

The event is a senior adaptive rehabilitation program. “It is the only national multi-event sports and recreational competition program designed to improve the quality of life for Veterans 55 and over, including those Veterans with a wide range of abilities and disabilities.  It is one of the most progressive and adaptive rehabilitative senior sports programs in the world, offering 14 different sports and recreational activities,” said Drew Brookie, VA Deputy Press Secretary.

Shinseki is the perfect person to kick off the event, not only because of his position, but because of an injury he suffered in battle. A veteran of combat in Vietnam, Shinseki has an injured foot.

He has been suggested by U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, D-HI, as a possible candidate for Hawaii’s U.S. Senate, however Shinseki keeps turning down the idea saying he is pleased to work for President Obama.

Kitchen Back in Business

Remember all those recall notices that the Hawaii Department of Health issued earlier this year for First Commercial Kitchen? Several vendors who had their local sauces and dressings mixed at this facility had their products recalled and removed from store shelves by the DOH without notice – even though there was no indication that there was anything wrong with the products.

The DOH said they closed First Commercial Kitchen LLC on January 24, 2011 “when its permit to operate was suspended after product samples showed evidence of being improperly manufactured, and the company was unable to provide any records to show that safe food processing was performed.”

DOH said its inspections “identified a number of permit violations related to improper physical production plant design and maintenance, inadequate manufacturing processes, lack of product testing, and failure to meet documentation requirements” … and that to “protect public health, and ensure the safety of food products manufactured and sold in Hawaii, the DOH issued a cease and desist order and recalled numerous First Commercial Kitchen products.”

Many small businesses were affected by the product recall. And to make matters worse, not only were their products pulled but they had to pay for their own product testing to show that their sauces and dressings were safe – even though there was no complaint about them in the first place.

On May 12, 2011, the Hawaii State Department of Health reinstated First Commercial Kitchen LLC’s license, saying “all products manufactured by First Commercial Kitchen after May 10, 2011 are considered safe and fit to consume.”

There are some sauces still not in the clear:

  • Barb’s Favorite Recipes Brand
  • Barb’s Local Style Black Bean Sauce
  • Barb’s Kal-Bi SauceMom’s Recipe Sauce
  • Pacific Poultry Huli-Huli Sauce (manufactured prior to May 10, 2011) The recently manufactured, safe, non-recalled product can be easily identified by making sure that the pull date is “BEST BY APRIL 2012” or later.”

The DOH said: “As with any food establishment operating in Hawaii, all food safety rules and regulations must be adhered to by the owners to provide the residents and visitors of Hawaii safe and wholesome food.  Inadequate control measures during the manufacture and packaging of food products can lead to the potential for bacteria growth which can cause food poisoning.”

But many small vendors impacted by the DOH’s action feel the government did not treat them fairly or allow them adequate time or resources to prove their products safe before they were pulled from the shelves and many of them are still suffering financially as a result.

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