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”Sixty-Day Session, Marked by Democrat Majority Who Stonewalled Reforms, Ends Tonight”

The 60-day legislative session, which began Jan. 15, 2003, is officially over tonight at midnight. This was the first session for Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, and was marked by Democrats who chose to stonewall her reforms, without offering any real reforms themselves.

As Rep. Bud Stonebraker, R-Hawaii Kai, says, it was as if the Democrats had a different dictionary. They used the same words to describe changes popular with the public and promised by the newly elected governor, such as decentralizing education, restoring trust in government, and strengthening the economy. But their actions — translated into the legislation they actually passed or tried to pass — did not come close to fulfilling this rhetoric.

For example, strengthening the economy to the Democrat leadership meant imposing the highest ever tax increase on Hawaii’s people and imposing even more taxes, fees, mandates and regulations on business. This when Hawaii already ranks last in the nation in terms of friendly business climates, according to numerous national surveys and studies.

Decentralizing education to the Democrat majority meant adding more bureaucracy, which will take millions more to fund, by adding 15 school complexes, 15 superintendents, support staff and salaries. Rather than granting the governor’s request to let the “people decide” on whether and how the schools should be decentralized.

Restoring trust in government to any in the Democrat leadership meant creating more loopholes and benefits for themselves in the state campaign spending law — legislation that was so poorly written and dangerous that the campaign spending commissioner planned to ask the governor to veto it. Fortunately, after tremendous pressure by some in the press and at the Campaign Spending Commission, House Democrats recommitted the bill in the final hours of the session.

Though Rep. Scott Saiki, D-McCully, pledged in his opening day speech as majority leader that the Democrats “get it” and know what the public wants changed, he and other Democrats did not keep faith with the people they are supposed to represent. They did not make the honest changes and difficult choices required so the people of Hawaii can be lifted from the government stranglehold, that brings upon its residents tremendous poverty.

”Some Legislative Chairs Get Kudos for Fairness, Organization”

On the final day of the 60-day legislative session, Senate Judiciary Chair Colleen Hanabusa, D-Waianae, and Senate Ways and Means Chair Brian Taniguchi, D-Manoa, deserve acknowledgment for their courtesy toward those testifying, fairness in making sure everyone is allowed to testify, and humor throughout the process. Many people have commented on their outstanding attitude and skill as chairs.

Other Democrat chairs who deserve to be recognized for their promptness and organization in committee include Sen. Donna Kim, D-Kalihi and Sen. Cal Kawamoto, D-Waipahu.

In the House, Rep. Dennis Arakaki, D-Kalihi, is credited with being one of the most polite chairs. Other House Chairs that should be recognized for fairness and efficiency include K. Mark Takai, D-Pearl City; Ken Ito, D-Kaneohe; Helene Hale, D-Big Island; and Ken Hiraki, D-Iwalei.

Roy Takumi, D-Waipahu, chair of education, was the chair who was most often described as the rudest to his fellow legislators on his committee and to those who testified before his committee.

””Good Government Committee” Anything But Good – Group Seeks to Undermine City, State Investigation into the Campaign, Administration of Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris”

A letter has been circulating in the engineering and construction community, announcing the formation of a new committee — the “Good Government Committee.” Ironically, the committee seems to be made up of people who are not for “good” government, in the traditional sense of the word meaning “honest, accountable” government, rather of those who believe “good” in fact means good for them.

This is not the same Good Government Caucus formed by a group of lawmakers earlier in the 2003 State Legislative Session.

In reality, it is a group of engineers and architects who have been awarded government contracts by the city, and may be under investigation by the state Campaign Spending Commission or city prosecutor for illegal campaign contributions to Harris in a “pay to play” system.

The unsigned letter, which has no contact information, asks those in the architects and engineers community to unite and lobby against the city prosecutor’s budget by calling council members to ask that the office’s funding be cut, and to help oust Honolulu City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle in the next election by finding an opponent who could beat him.

Bob Watada, executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, referred to in this letter as one of the negative forces for A-Es to contend with, says the anonymity and hostility behind this “vigilante group” reminds him of the way the Klu Klux Klan used to go after its targets.

He says it is interesting the letter remains “unsigned” and that the people behind this “good government coalition” also are not named.

“Who ever this is, they are afraid to stand up,” Watada says.

The city prosecutor and deputy prosecutor in charge of the investigation into the campaign and administration of Harris declined to comment on the letter.

There are typos and misspellings in this Good Government letter reprinted below, which have been left in the letter to maintain the flavor of the authors and message.

”'(Issue 1, Citizens for Good Government) Dear A & E Professional,”’

”’Welcome to the inaugural newsletter of this newly formed committee. This newsletter is to unite the architect and engineer community with issues that are common to us all. If we take action, we can have more political clout than before. It is time that others besides the government unions have political clout.”’

”’The first issue already is at hand. It appears to this Committee that the Prosecutors office is attempting to make political points by putting many of our fellow A-E’s in the news. Has his office been harassing your family, friends and businesses with subpoenas? Perhaps the prosecutor has aspirations of being re-elected again at the expense of the A-E’s/ Maybe he thinks that being in the news at our expense will help his political goals.”’

”’A-E’s are upright citizens and need not put up with such political behavior of this politician. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the hammer to fall on each one of us, one by one, it is time we take action to protect ourselves. It is time we took the offense, instead of only acting in defense when he takes his shot at us one by one.”’

”’ACTION ITEM”’

”’Please call your City Councilperson and Gary Okino, the Chair. Let him/her know your concerns about the dire City fiscal conditions and how the City should not waste its precious resources by supporting the Prosecutor’s office which has now become political. Inform him that you vote. Request that the Council NOT restore the $1,000,000 budget cut to that office. Ask that the funding to his office be cut further to show that taxpayers will not tolerate his actions for political gain. Believe us when we say that each phone call and letter does make a difference, especially since they want your vote.”’

”’FUTURE ACTION ITEM”’

”’We will remind you when it is time for his re-election that we do not have to put up with this nonsense. We will remind you of the thousands of dollars you spent to defend yourselves. We will remind you of the embarrassment he heaped on our relatives, friends and businesses. Then we will actively promote an election opponent of Peter Carlyle.”’

”’Helpful Tip: Has the Campaign Spending Commission been knocking at your door? Did you thin that if you cooperate and receive your fines, your troubles would be over? WRONG! The Prosecutor can now come after you for criminal matters. And now the Prosecutor’s job is made a lot easier with the evidence the Campaign Spending Commission has collected against you and might (be) turned over to the Prosecutor. Stay tuned.”’

”City Budget Hearing Goes Long Into the Night, Budget Chair Voices Frustration at Dealing with Mayor’s Phantom Budget”

The Honolulu City Council met last night to hear public testimony on fiscal and budget proposals pushed forward in several city bills by Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris. The mayor is asking the Council to pass his operating and CIP budgets, which are supported through his proposal to substantially increase property taxes and fees for virtually every city service.

See “City Council Debates Substantial Property Tax Increase, Numerous Fee Hikes Proposed by Mayor Jeremy Harris”

The hearing began at City Hall at 4 p.m. and went long into the night and early morning hours as dozens of people poured in from all parts of the island to testify — many pleading with the council not to cut funding of their pet projects and neighborhood board functions. Others however testified that they are opposed to the many fee increases the mayor is proposing.

Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi, after hearing from many opposed to tax and fee increases, and many who want their projects and funding restored or maintained, lashed out at the mayor for burdening the council with what she called a “phantom budget.”

She told testifiers and fellow council members the mayor is using projected revenue to balance the budget, rather than real dollars, because he is counting on new and increased fees and a substantial tax increase to fund his budget. She said she was frustrated in attempting to alter the mayor’s budget because it is so reliant on the fee and tax increases, some that will be voted down. Kobayashi asked the bill be passed on the second reading and be referred back to her budget committee so she can work out the conflicts and determine what the real budget figures are that she is dealing with.

City Council Chair Gary Okino sided with Kobayashi saying there are many proposals in the budget that council members do not like and encouraged his fellow members to support Kobayashi. The budget committee agreed and voted 8 to 1 to grant Kobayashi’s request. The only no vote came from City Council Chair Charles Djou, who said he could not vote for the budget because it increased government bureaucracy and spending so substantially, at five times the rate of inflation.

Djou, however, supported Kobayashi in other ways, including pointing out that the mayor is pushing hard to get his way, going to the media to chide council members — particularly those who have challenged him — to rally the public against proposed cuts of his budget. Harris attacked both Djou and Kobayashi personally. However Djou stood by Kobayashi for her “courage” and efforts to pass a responsible budget.

Djou, who is outspoken about his opposition to tax increases, says he has asked the mayor to cut his 5.5 percent proposed increase in the city budget by 2 percent, which would allow the mayor to fund his programs and services without a tax increase.

”Governor Promotes Hawaii as a Visitor Destination to National Media on May Day”

In celebration of Lei Day, Gov. Linda Lingle will conduct interactive interviews via satellite with national media to promote Hawaii as a visitor destination and as a place that is open for business.

The live interviews will take place at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and are part of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau’s “May Day is Lei Day” promotion.

Scheduled national news outlets include:

*6:20 to 6:29 a.m. NBC NEWS CHANNEL, Interviewer Mark Barger

*6:30 to 6:38 a.m. WB SYNDICATE, “THE DAILY BUZZ,” Interviewer: Mitch English

*6:38 to 6:46 a.m., KABC-ABC, LOS ANGELES, Interviewer: Edd Adamko

*6:46 to 6:54 a.m. KMAX-UPN, “GOOD DAY SACRAMENTO” (live) Interviewer: Mark S. Allen

*6:54 to 7:02 a.m. “AG DAY” Interviewer: Jim Dugan (Focus on Hawaii’s agriculture)

*7:02 to 7:10 a.m. “FOX NEWS EDGE” Interviewer: Anthony Campanilia

*7:10 to 7:18 a.m. TEXAS CABLE NEWS, DALLAS, Interviewer: Deana Dewberry

* 7:18 to 7:28 a.m. “FOX REPORT,” FOX NEWS CHANNEL, Interviewer: Kim Miller (Focus on ceded lands issue).

*7:30 to 7:39 a.m., REUTERS, Interviewer: Kevin Regan

*7:39 to 7:48 a.m., WFAA/ABC, DALLAS (live) Interviewer: Debbie and Scott

*7:48 to 7:58 a.m., KPNX-NBC, PHOENIX

”Local Cartoonist Wins Big”

At last week’s annual Pai Awards ceremonies, sponsored by the Hawaii Publishers Association, Honolulu Weekly Editorial Cartoonist John Pritchett took first and second place editorial cartoon awards for 2002. Congratulations to Pritchett, who is one of the most talented artists and cartoonists in the state.

See what he won his awards for by linking below.

*”First place:” http://www.pritchettcartoons.com/bomb.htm

*”Second place:” http://www.pritchettcartoons.com/go_fish.htm

”Yummy Memories of A&W Rootbeer Floats, Hamburgers, Good Times”

Many, many people in Kailua used to love to eat at the A&W restaurant located near what was then called Holiday Mart, and at some of the other A&W restaurants around the island. Then they all closed for many years, until one opened up in Moanalua Shopping Center about a year ago.

Now TheoDavies Food Service Group, owners and operators of Hawaii Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants, have acquired the franchise rights to A&W and the Long John Silver’s All American Food restaurants for the Hawaii market from franchisor Yum! Brands, Inc.

Initially, TheoDavies Food Service Group will take over operations of the existing restaurant location in the Moanalua Shopping Center. By year’s end, the company will open its first new dual brand restaurant on Oahu.

The company plans to open additional free-standing restaurants with dining room seating and convenient drive-through service, as well as in-mall restaurants with limited seating, in 2004.

The acquisition is part of the company’s overall multi-branding strategy. The concept offers customers a variety of choices in a one-stop quick service establishment, and has proven successful for the company’s dual branded Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants.

Long John Silver’s and A&W All American Food also will co-exist under one roof offering customers delicious batter-dipped seafood meals and classic “made-to-order” All-American flame-grilled burgers, hot dogs, snacks and the popular A&W root beer and floats.

MMMmmmm. Glad A&W is back.

”’To reach legislators, see: “Representatives at a Glance” and “Senators at a Glance””’

”’Send any tittle or tattle you might have to Malia Zimmerman at mailto:Malia@HawaiiReporter.com Send complaints elsewhere. Compliments and news tips accepted here.”’

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Hawaii Reporter is an award-winning, independent Hawaii-based news and opinion journal founded in 2001 and launched in February 2002. The journal's staff have won a number of top awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including the top investigative news reporting awards, business reporting awards, government reporting awards, and online news reporting awards.