Overrun by Politicians
June is busting out all over – especially politically – and last night Ruth Chris Steakhouse at Restaurant Row seemed to be ground zero.
Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann was there with state Senate President Shan Tsutsui and political advisors. They met to help him decide the annual question as to which of the many political races he should throw himself into next.
Hannemann was appointed as the Hawai’i Hotel & Lodging Association president on January 1, 2011, but already is considering going back into politics – possibly as a candidate for U.S. House, District 2, which will be an open seat in 2012, thanks to the announcement of Congresswoman Mazie Hirono who plans to challenge former Congressman Ed Case for the open U.S. Senate seat.
This after Hannemann left the mayor’s office two years early to run for Hawaii governor, but he lost in the 2010 primary to former Hawaii Congressman Neil Abercrombie. Hannenmann apparently needed advice and the aroma of choice steaks to help decide what to do next, since many candidates seeking higher political office are starting to announce their plans to run.
Hannemann and Tsutsui weren’t the only politicians seeking a higher grade of steak and interesting company. Former Gov. Linda Lingle, who may be a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012, was there with a small group of supporters including House Minority Leader Gene Ward and Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom.
They gathered at Lingle’s invitation to meet 33- year-old Ohio State Treasure and U.S. Senate GOP candidate Josh Mandel. Mandel, a former U.S. Marine who completed two tours in the Middle East and served on the city council in Cleveland and in the state legislature for two terms, has been described as a “young powerhouse” on the rise by the Washington Post. His would likely take on Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, one of the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate.
Mandel met Lingle at a Las Vegas political event several months ago and she was so impressed with him, she offered to help his candidacy gain support. He was only in Hawaii briefly, picked up at the airport by Lingle in her new Nissan Leaf at around 6 p.m., escorted to the Honolulu restaurant and driven back in time to catch an 8:50 p.m. flight.
Lingle may run for U.S. Senate herself, but she won’t likely make an announcement until August.
Not present at Ruth Chris, but certainly on the minds of many is the possible future decision of Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa of District 1. Hanabusa, who was just elected to the House in 2010 with the help of U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, will be meeting with volunteers next week tuesday to discuss various issues. It is likely that her supporters, who want her to run for U.S. Senate against Case and Hirono, will make their case.
Hawaii State Ethics Commission to Lawmakers: No to VIP Event
The state Ethics Commission has become more publicly active since attorney Les Kondo took over in recent months. He’s told lawmakers on several occasions this past legislative session that he suggests they return gifts and tickets they received from various lobbying groups and turn down VIP invitations. The issue spurred debate over Senate legislation that would have dictated financial limits on gifts. Some lawmakers wanted the limit as low as $25 and others apparently wanted no limit.
Now, the State Ethics Commission is writing to Senate President Shan Tsutsui suggesting that lawmakers turn down tickets from Relativity Media to attend a Thursday, June 16, VIP reception to celebrate the Maui Film Festival. “Based on our understanding of this event, including the cost and purpose of this reception, we believe that the gifts section of the state ethics code prohibits legislators from accepting the invitation from Relativity Media,” Kondo wrote May 31, 2011.
Relativity Media is one of two companies lobbying the Hawaii legislature for a higher percentage of state film credits in exchange for the companies building two “green” film studios on Maui and Oahu and filming more television and motion pictures in the islands. The credit legislation died in the final hours of the legislative session that ended May 5.
This is the second event that Relativity Media planned for lawmakers. Another VIP Valentines Day event on Oahu included celebrities pushing for the tax credit.
Peter Carlisle: Arrogant or Confident?
Several residents concerned over the city’s plan to build a $5.3 billion, 20-mile rail system on Oahu were angered over Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle’s comments to reporters about a lawsuit filed recently to stop the project.
Yesterday, when Carlisle announced that the city spent $24,000 to conduct a public poll on popularity for the project that is supposedly already underway, he was questioned as to whether the rail project would be delayed by the lawsuit.
Carlisle said: “No but I’m told I should because it’s interesting. I think the word given to me was entertaining as well but I wasn’t in the mood to be entertained by a lawsuit.”
Former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano, who is one of several prominent plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the federal government and some city officials seeking to get the city to redo its Environmental Impact Statement study, was a supporter of Carlisle in the last election. But he has expressed frustration over Carlisle’s blind passion for the rail project and said he won’t endorse Carlisle in future campaigns.
As to Carlisle, who is an attorney, admitting he did not read the lawsuit filed weeks ago, Cayetano said in an email to Hawaii Reporter: “Too bad, he might have learned a few things about this rail project that he should be concerned about. If he believes so much in the project why did he have to spend $24,000 in taxpayer’s money to reassure himself? Many things have changed but instead of looking into them he chose to stick his head in the sand. Sad.”
University of Hawaii Professor of Engineering Panos Prevedorous, who ran against Carlisle in the mayor’s election, is one of the project’s most vocal opponents.
He said “I have little doubt that the City will be required to do a Supplementary EIS. The city’s process clearly rejected a host of valuable transportation alternatives when nobody was paying attention (2006.) For example, at that time Hannemann told the Architects that there will be plenty time for their feedback. Then by the 2008 elections he told them that it’s all a done deal. Light rail, tunnels, HOT lanes are all out the door. The only choise is between a five billion dollar rail and do-nothing. This is exactly what the environmental process is not supposed to do.”