Political Tittle-tattle: News and Entertainment from Hawaii's Political Arena – Feb. 5, 2003-The 'Bagdad' Caucus Votes Against U.S. Military and the President; Senate Bill Being Heard Today Ups the Ante to $24,000 Per Contributor; Investigation Closing in Around Harris Backers; Felix Investigative Committee to Hold Press Conference Today; Construction May Mean No More Wedding Blues

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”The ‘Bagdad’ Caucus Votes Against U.S. Military and the President”


Not having enough to do with local issues and problems, the Democratic majority in the Hawaii state House of Representatives embarked on an aggressive debate yesterday attacking in one fell swoop the United States, the American Military and the president and commander in chief.

The 34 Democrats present and voting came out solidly for Saddam Hussein and in opposition to American foreign policy. There was an attempt by Republicans to at least delay the debate on the resolution for 24 hours until Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered his detailed analysis and updated intelligence information regarding Iraq.

But the House Democrats, who earlier bashed Gov. Linda Lingle, rushed to judgment against Pres. George W. Bush, no matter that they have not put as much passion and commitment into addressing Hawaii’s fiscal crisis, educational rehabilitation, the need to improve the economy or to restore confidence in government.

Along strictly partisan lines by a vote of 34 to 14 with three Representatives absent, the Democrats passed their resolution, thus joining hands with Hawaii’s all Democrat congressional delegation that also has staked out a clear position in opposition to Bush and America’s active duty Military personnel.

Fast forward to the year 2175 and Democrats in the Hawaii House and in U.S. Congress are still waiting for the socialist and communist countries to back America at the United Nations and for the inspectors to find more weapons. Meanwhile major cities across America have been leveled.

”Fight Over Decentralization of School System, Offering Choice to Parents, Taxpayers, Builds Before Legislature, Board of Education”

The debate in the state Legislature is heating up over whether to back Gov. Linda Lingle’s plan for decentralizing of Hawaii’s statewide single school district into seven, so neighbor island families, parents and taxpayers can have more input into the bureaucratic system. The Lingle administration and Republican lawmakers have advanced several bills proposing a constitutional amendment on the 2004 General election ballot to allow the voters to choose whether they would like to have the opportunity for decentralized locally accountable elected school boards.

Meanwhile the Board of Education is planning to meet tomorrow evening (Thursday) at 7 p.m. to consider proposals for the same educational decentralization plan. No surprise, the majority of members have made up their minds in opposition to the plan, as proposed by Gov. Linda Lingle and others supporting choice in education for parents and taxpayers.

Some of the Board members already made their positions clear at a House hearing last week, including Board Member Laura Thielen who is the only one of 13 to publicly support Lingle’s plan.

(Actually all of the Board of Education members should all recuse themselves from voting in their own meeting because they are voting on their own positions).

The naysayers in the Board of Education are being supported by Department of Education bureaucrats, the Hawaii State Teachers Association union, many Democrats in the Legislature and other special interest groups who do not want to give parents, taxpayers or teachers input into meaningful reorganization.

House Education Chair Roy Takumi puts on a game face saying he is willing to study the proposal, but says now is not the time. He says decentralization should be debated next year since the amendment would not go on the general election ballot until next year’s 2004 General Election. He is not telling the public the legislative process dictates that if the constitutional amendment is proposed by the Legislature and voted on in two successive legislative sessions, the bill requires only a simple majority in both houses in order to pass and be placed on the ballot. If action is taken in just one session, a two-thirds majority is needed for the measure to appear on the ballot.

Meanwhile, Senate Education Chair Norman Sakamoto, D-Waipahu, who last year single-handedly blocked education decentralization efforts, is not even hearing the measures at the present time.

Supporters of Lingle’s plan are asking the public to attend the Board of Education meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Queen Liliokalani Building and to fax or email their thoughts on educational reform to the Board of Education and to the education chairs in the House and Senate. The Board of Education can be faxed at 586-3433 or go to its Web site at https://lilinote.k12.hi.us/STATE/BOE/HomePage.nsf?OpenDatabase and Education Chair in the House Roy Takumi can be faxed at 586-6501 or called at 586-6170; and Education Chair Sakamoto in the Senate can be faxed at 586-6725 or called at 586-8585.

KHVH Radio Talk Show Host Rick Hamada thinks the issue is of such great importance that he will broadcast live from the Capitol Rotunda tomorrow at 7 a.m. and has invited all legislators to state their position regarding educational reform and the direction the Board of Education should take.

”Senate Bill Being Heard Today Ups the Ante to $24,000 Per Contributor”

Senate Bill 468, being heard today in the Judiciary and Government Affairs committee at 9 am in conference room 229, will raise the contribution limit for state Senators from $4,000 per contributor to $24,000 per contributor.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, a D-Waianae, the chair of the Judiciary committee, and co-signed by Sen. Cal Kawamoto, D-Waipahu, chair of the Government Transportation committee.

At first glance, the bill looks harmless and has enough technicalities and legalese to be confusing. But look closer and the bill allows individuals to make a standard $4,000 contribution, an additional $10,000 contribution if campaigns are “coordinated” meaning two candidates work together and still another $10,000 to a political party that can be designated back to candidates. That adds up to a whopping $24,000 per person per candidate per election cycle.

The state Campaign Spending Commission executive director will be testifying against the bill, saying it does not help bring about reform in the campaign spending laws.

”Investigation Closing in Around Harris Backers”

While some Democrat state Legislators are trying to get more money into their campaigns, supporters of Honolulu Jeremy Harris continue to admit their guilt in a money laundering scheme that helped contribute more than $1 million to the mayor’s political campaign from 1996 to 2001.

While more than 100 contractors and businesses are under investigation, and 40 have settled or are in the process of settling complaints by the state Campaign Spending Commission, some extreme cases are being prosecuted by Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Randy Lee.

Lee was in court again yesterday with two executives of a local engineering company, SSFM, the first of several contractors likely to be prosecuted criminally for their role in padding the mayor’s campaign with illegal campaign contributions. They both pled no contest to money laundering charges, following in the footsteps of company head Mike Matsumoto, who last week Thursday pled no contest to the same charges.

”Felix investigative Committee to Hold Press Conference Today”

The Joint Senate-House Felix Investigative Committee will announce a major settlement agreement that was entered into by the Department of the Attorney General and a private service provider today at 11 a.m. in the state Capitol Rotunda.

Co-chairs Sen. Colleen Hanabusa and Rep. Scott Saiki will present information regarding progress on the ongoing fraud investigation involving more than $1.5 billion in state and federal Felix special education funds.

State Auditor Marion Higa also is expected to participate in the press conference.

”Construction May Mean No More Wedding Blues”

Former Honolulu City Council Member John Henry Felix, who left office in Dec. 2002 due to term limits preventing him from again seeking a Council seat, appeared in the HawaiiReporter.com Watchlist Tracking System for a building permit he applied for at 5253 Kalanianaole Highway, Honolulu, Hawaii 96821.

The plans call for turning two-single family dwellings into one, adding a library and renovating a kitchen into a wet bar.

It seems Felix made the decision to merge his two homes to try and stop the dispute over whether he can operate a wedding business there. Neighbors filed complaints with the city around two years ago saying Felix’s wedding business is illegal because he is using one of the homes on the property but does not live in that home.

The city originally sided with the neighbors fining Felix $100 a day for holding the wedding ceremonies — and at one time owed the city more than $65,500. However, Felix told reporters he receives between $300 and $500 for each ceremony, minimizing the financial drain of the fines.

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

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