Friday…Superferry gifts, campaign law doesn’t get Lingle signature, assessing McCain’s claim, and some Friday Felines

I awoke this morning to the flashing clock that told me the power had been out. Luckily, power had already been restored. More of life in Kaaawa.

This in from the Hawaii Newspaper Guild:

At noon Friday, union workers at The Honolulu Advertiser will rally in support of 54 co-workers who were notified that they will be laid off.

The rally will take place on the sidewalk in front of The Honolulu Advertiser, 605 Kapiolani Blvd, at the corner of South St.

Superferry watchers might be interested in my Honolulu Weekly column this week, which takes a peek at some of the gifts that exchanged hands at the State Capitol this past year.

On January 14, Gov. Linda Lingle and House Speaker Calvin Say each received replicas of the first Hawai’i Superferry vessel from John F. Lehman, the company’s chairman and its largest investor. The model ships, valued at $500 by Lingle and $200 by Say, were presented less than three months after Lingle called the Legislature back into an extraordinary special session that swept aside a Supreme Court decision in order to allow Hawai’i Superferry to begin interisland service.

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa was given a framed photo of the Superferry, valued at $50, back in November, just a week after the bill had been signed into law.

The State Ethics Code (Chapter 84 Hawai’i Revised Statutes) prohibits legislators or other state employees from soliciting, accepting or receiving any gift “under circumstances in which it can reasonably be inferred that the gift is intended to influence the legislator or employee in the performance” of their official duties “or is intended as a reward for any official action” on their part.

The law also requires public disclosure of any gifts from a single source, which, singly or in aggregate, are worth more than $200.

The recipients all properly reported the Superferry’s gifts to the ethics commission. But were they “intended as a reward” for successful passage of the bill that launched the ferry into service, and therefore prohibited?

Unfortunately, that ended up being a largely rhetorical question. Gifts are an area that still give the State Ethics Commission a headache, and many issues remain unresolved.

Last week’s Weekly column expanded my assessment of the Supreme Court’s recent campaign spending case on Hawaii’s new campaign spending law which, incidentally, became law last week without the governor’s signature.

Have you noticed that John McCain’s camaign themes include the catchy claim, “I know how to win wars.

I wonder where he was supposed to learn that and what evidence there might be to support the claim?

Like Bush, McCain brags about being a poor student, making his “I was fifth from the bottom in my class” a routine part of his folksy pitch.

In any case, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that McCain’s military record just doesn’t seem to indicate that he was in any position to have proved his “I know how to win wars” claim.

News from Denver is that, sure enough, the transit stop closest to the Pepsi Center, where the Democratic National Convention will be held, is going to be closed during convention week. Delegates and others will have to walk from the next stop if they use transit, although there will be regular buses running between the delegate hotels and the Pepsi Center that should bypass this hangup.

Mr. Romeo

This is Mr. Romeo surveying his domain. We notice that the cats are spending more time on the floor during this hot weather, taking advantage of the old “hot air rises” observaton.

In any case, click on Romeo’s photo for more Friday Felines.

9 responses to “Friday…Superferry gifts, campaign law doesn’t get Lingle signature, assessing McCain’s claim, and some Friday Felines

  1. i wonder if they just accepted those gifts to be polite and then stuck them in a closet somewhere.

    ‘oh, a superferry replica… what the hell am i supposed to do with this?’

  2. I hardly think a superferry replica is going to sway anyone one way or another.

    I read your Weekly column and it is illuminating and points out several challenges.

    One is how does each gift receive a value? It’s left up to the receipient to determine the value to report it. So someone could value it at$150 (thereby not requiring reporting since it’s under $200) and another could value it at $250 which would trigger reporting.

    Sort of reminds one of “The Price is Right.”

    Also, to adopt, say, Minnesota’s standard would mean accepting zilch from anyone. This would include lei, coffee mugs, pencils, etc.

    Might be a tad difficult to refuse a lei in Hawaii, don’t you think?

  3. Out of 53 legislators reporting (there are 76 but I’m assuming those that did not report did not have any gifts aggregating over $200), the following legislators went beyond what the law requires and reported every gift so you can see every pen, manapua, cookie and calendar they got:

    House: Carroll, Evans, Finnegan, McElvey, Morita, M. Oshiro, Takumi, Theilen and Ward.

    Senate: Hanabusa, Hemmings, and Nishihara.

    The list for Say goes on for 17 pages, for Hanabusa, it’s 23 pages, and for Theilen it’s a page and a half.

    The difficulty of calculating value can be seen by how some valued the infamous junket to Manila paid for by Hawaiian Airlines. For example, Manahan valued it at $3238.53, Kim at $2250.53 and Menor at $2549. Given the brouhaha over the trip, you would think Hawaiian Airlines would have sent a letter to each legislator laying out the value of the entire trip.

  4. I believe that Hawaiian Airlines did give a letter to each legislator spelling out the cost of the trip. I saw several that had been filed with the gift reports.

  5. Then it would make disparate reporting amounts all the more puzzling, no?

  6. Perhaps Linda can use the Superferry model to play “Unified Command” in the bathtub.

    Seriously though, I still don’t see it Ian and neither Bopp nor you make it clear why you conflate raising the amount allowed to be contributed by private sources (which is what was ruled unconstitutional) and the public finding provided to a candidate who receives no private contributions.

    The two are very different especially when you look at what the trigger for unconstitutionality was: giving an unfair advantage- i.e. one not given across the board. Nothing in the public financing system restricts the privately financed candidate or advantages the publicly financed. candidate. The privately funded one can opt for public funding in an equal manner and the public financing increases no matter where they privately funded person got their money.

    Where is the nexus between the two cases? Where is the relevance of the SCOTUS ruling to any form of 100% public financing?

    The only question is whether it is legal to base the amount a publicly financed candidate gets on the amount a non-publicly funded candidate raises. I have read the SCOTUS decision and can’t find that addressed. It doesn’t address public financing at all. As far as I can see the constitutionality of full public financing determined in Buckley v Vallejo stands.

  7. Check this picture out. I don’t know if it is the same one, but this one looks like it’s worth more than $200.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/macprohawaii/2192140219/in/set-72157600807807224/

  8. Follow-up. I think either Linda or Calvin’s staff should track down Mel http://macprohawaii.blogspot.com/
    and give him their model, since neither one valued it too highly. Mel took a lot of PR pictures for them; he earned it.

    Aloha, Brad

  9. Is it that hard to simply say “Thank you, but no!”? Someone should start the trend, maybe it will become the predominate ethic. One can hope.

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