Daily Archives: January 23, 2009

Friday…Inauguration folo, thoughts on the managing director’s job, new legislators, stuff in our food, and Friday Felines

Here are a couple of Obama items not to be missed.

First, there’s a group calling itself Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys with their performance of “No one as Irish as Barack O’Bama“. This is a video that definitely makes the cut.

And a friend in New Zealand sent along this link to an incredible collection of inauguration photographs.

A friend and I were talking yesterday morning about things political. She was commenting on the amount of time Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann spends in political pursuits as he looks ahead to future options.

I started to say that it really doesn’t matter that the mayor has limited time to actually attend to running the city because Honolulu has a managing director whose job is to be the professional administrator who minds the store while the boss is out being a naturally political creature.

But then I realized that we’ve gone off track again with the appointment of Kirk Caldwell as managing director.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Caldwell and thought that he did a good job as House Majority Leader. As an elected official, he’s thoughtful and wants to do the right thing. But he’s not a professional manager and nonpolitical administrator, which is really what the city’s managing director is supposed to be.

Look at what Hannemann said about his selection of Caldwell:

“I have worked closely with Kirk Caldwell over the past several years, especially on those issues that were of concern to his constituents in Manoa, McCully, Moiliili, Makiki and Palolo,” said Hannemann, in a statement. “Kirk was an outstanding legislator who made a difference. He has a passion for public service, and was instrumental in helping to lead the charge with me for the passage last month of the rail transit charter amendment. I can think of no one better to be our City’s next Managing Director.”

He’s praising Caldwell as a politician and advocate, with nary a word about the nitty gritty of administration.

The City Charter isn’t quite as explicit as it should be in describing the required background to serve as managing director in an era where municipal management is a set of concrete skills taught in universities across the country. But here’s what the charter calls for–five years of “training and experience” in city management.

Honolulu City Charter, Section 6-101. Managing Director —
1. There shall be a managing director who shall be appointed and may be removed by the mayor. The managing director shall be the principal management aide of the mayor. The managing director shall have had at least five years of such training and experience, either in public service or private business, as shall qualify the managing director to perform the executive duties of the managing director’s office.

As I understand it, the managing director position was created to separate actual city administration from the politics of the mayor’s position.

But I’m afraid this is another position which was created to provide the management a city the size of Honolulu needs, but which instead has been turned into a new and primarily political position, meaning that real administrative tasks get dumped on those down the line.

Meanwhile, across the street at the state capitol, Lingle administration officials are being challenged by a couple of new legislative faces who really know their stuff.

During a hearing of the House Finance Committee yesterday, House communiciations director Georgette Deemer called attention to “high level questioning between Rep. Keith-Agaran (former DLNR dir) and Dir. Thielen on DLNR budget and issues….”

Gil Keith-Agaran, who was just appointed to the House by Gov. Lingle, is an attorney who served in Thielen’s position during a previous administration and knows where the underlying issues are. Just appointed last week, he’s certainly hitting the ground running.

You may remember seeing Keith-Agaran among my photos taken at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last summer. Here’s one taken as the final night’s program at Invesco Field wound up. There are several others.

I would say the same thing about newly elected Manoa Rep. Isaac Choy, who chaired the Tax Review Commission (2005-2007) which recommended an overhaul of the Act 221 high tech tax credits, among other changes.

Now Choy, as a member of the Finance Committee and vice-chair of Economic Revitalization, Business, & Military Affairs, has been able to ask extremely sharp and pointed questions as Act 221 is again under review.

It’s refreshing to watch professionals who really know their stuff able to fill positions where they can immediately put their knowledge and experience to work. The public is certainly going to benefit.

The Advertiser, following up on reporting done by KITV, has a story on non-food quality salt being used in island food products. Fair enough. But how about the allowable levels of insect parts and other contaminants? Allowable? According to the FDA, the answer is yes.

If fewer than 10 percent of your asparagus spears “are infested with 6 or more attached asparagus beetle eggs and/or sacs”, then they’re okay for eating, according to FDA guidelines.

Myself? I’d rather have a bit of that industrial salt in my laulau.

[text]And for this Feline Friday, just a touch of gray. At some point in our history of cats, we noticed a lack of “gray energy”. That has subsequently been rectified. Now six of our nine cats are shades of gray. Click on this photo for more. [Oops–I initially had the wrong link, now corrected!]