Boy, talk about shooting yourself in the foot and then saying in a surprised voice “ouch that really hurt!”

That’s Gov. Linda Lingle and the school furlough mess-up.

I’ve watched and/or covered every Hawaii governor from Jack Burns on, and I can say without even a touch of partisanship creeping in that this one hasn’t done any major policy moves that will be positively remembered, while the school furloughs will go down in history, in national news archives, and likely will sink whatever momentum was going for Duke Aiona to have a shot at being governor next year.

It’s almost as bad at then-Lt. Gov. George Ariyoshi’s infamous Kohala Task Force in which all but a couple of the start-up businesses to replace Castle & Cooke’s sugar plantation took the state money and hired their relatives or quickly said bye-bye. We had short memories on that one, didn’t we?

The teacher furloughs didn’t fly and you have to wonder what kind of advise Lingle was getting from senior policy lady Linda Smith and communications director Lenny Klompus. Officials in high places are supposed to think these things out. They’re not supposed to be Rod Tams.

My suspicion is that the primary reason for Lingle’s quick backpedal as she returned from Asia was that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan had heavily hinted that the furloughs and shortened classroom time made it unlikely that Hawaii would be favorably considered for the coming Race To The Top millions for reformative education projects. Duncan no doubt was being goaded on by U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who is a candidate for governor. But that was scary stuff from Washington.

Lingle’s people were bravely saying our application for funds should be considered on merit. And yes, it probably should be. But you know damn well all it takes is a fierce scowl from Duncan and our application goes in the trash can

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