Elections 2012
Illustration by Emily Metcalf
Elections 2012
Illustration by Emily Metcalf

BY TED HONG – I understand that the truth gets stretched in every campaign season, but the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly’s recent lies and misrepresentations about former Gov. Linda Lingle just “broke the camel’s back.”

UHPA is telling its members and voters that once elected Gov. Lingle will abandon her “People First” record and vote as a strict conservative. UHPA doesn’t give or have any proof, but just as mainland campaigns are doing, it simply flat out lies.

Gov. Lingle has a strong record of putting people first instead of politics. As a council member in Maui County, as Maui County’s mayor and then as a two (2) term Governor, she has always supported people over politics, even going against her own political party.

The best example is the Akaka bill.

Gov. Lingle has made the passage of this bill a priority throughout her career. She spent a great deal of time personally lobbying Congress and the former administration. She sent former Attorney General Mark Bennett to D.C., a number of times to discuss the legal merits of the Bill. Conservatives in her own party have opposed the passage of this bill, but time and again, she has always pushed for this Bill to be passed. She has done more to pass this bill than anyone else, except for Senator Daniel Akaka himself.

Let’s talk about the University. The University of Hawaii means a great deal to my family. My parents and my siblings are all graduates. Attending the UH was so important to me I became involved with the Student Senate and Campus Center Board. I would not have the opportunities I have today without my undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Hawaii.

As Governor, she negotiated an unprecedented six (6) year contract with UHPA, in which the union agreed to take a pay cut in the second year of the contract and received historic pay increases in the last three (3) years. She also restored the UHPA membership’s medical benefits so they would be on par with other public sector labor unions. Instead of forcing the UHPA membership to strike (twice) and punish them with lesser medical benefits as in the Cayetano/Hirono administration, she always sought to do the right thing and treat them with dignity and respect. Gov. Lingle’s commitment to the students and faculty at University is clear.

For years many Big Island legislators have been taking credit for something they had little to do with at UH-Hilo and Gov. Lingle has let them toot their own horns without correcting the record. After years of remaining silent, it’s time voters knew the truth.

For years, UH-Hilo had been neglected by the UH System, the Cayetano/Hirono administration and Legislature. The College of Hawaiian Language had long outgrown its meager building and had faculty literally stacked on top of each other sharing office space. The Chemistry Lab was a hazard, with plastic rain gutters leading to rubbish cans to direct the water that leaked into the lab when it rained. Waiakea High School across the street had better facilities. It was a wonder why OHSA, HIOSH and EPA had not closed the lab down after years of neglect and complaints. Finally, a student athlete, Emily Hutchinson, told administrators, Regents and Gov. Lingle that she had to use a cinder block as part of her weight training program and that a new facility was long overdue.

In the first few months of her administration, she toured the UH-Hilo campus. She personally met with the faculty of the College of Hawaiian Language and witnessed the world class, cutting edge work they were doing out of a couple of small rooms. She walked through the Chemistry Lab and saw the abysmal conditions that endangered faculty, students and staff. She talked to Emily Hutchinson and saw the athletic facilities. She was appalled by the neglect and could not understand how those conditions would have been allowed to get so bad.

At that point, she made it her priority to move the new building for the College of Hawaiian Language, the Science and Technology Building and the Student Life Center to the top of the list for funding. Over the many years Big Island Legislators always put those projects on their wish list, only to have the prior administrations overlook them. For years, the UH Systems administration put those projects in the lower half of projects for funding.

Gov. Lingle, working with the UH Administration and the Regents, got all three (3) projects funded and on-track. The results of her commitment to the people are obvious.

Since that time, many Big Island Legislators, and former Legislators have crowed about how they were responsible for getting those critical projects done. Many have taken credit for her work, many have profited in terms of their careers. I followed Gov. Lingle’s lead and just let them exaggerate without saying anything. The only recognition and acknowledgment from UH-Hilo for her commitment, was knowing that she did the right thing for the right reasons.

It appears that the tactic her opponents are going to take this Summer and Fall, is to out and out lie about her record and her values. I have tried to stay in the background this election cycle, having a business to run and a family to take care of, but I refuse to remain silent any longer when campaigns rely on lies to further their goal.

As a voter, I want campaigns to talk about real issues. What their plan is for the economy, Social Security and helping those who need help. I don’t want to hear lies, mistruths and misrepresentations from union bosses, political parties or PACS. Myself and people like me, will continue to stand up for the truth. And the plain and simple truth is that Gov. Lingle has always put People First, not politics or political parties.

Ted H. S. Hong is an Attorney in Hilo who served as on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents and was appointed by Gov. Lingle as her chief negotiator.

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