Monthly Archives: October 2012

See my column at Civil Beat: “Organized labor has different faces”

Stop by and check out my Hawaii Monitor column for this week, which tries to give shape to my uneasiness over the Carpenters Union/Pacific Resource Partnership campaign against Ben Cayetano.

The PRP ad campaign comes across as a form of digital bullying aimed at intimidating voters rather than educating them, spreading misplaced fears rather an understanding of issues.

It has had all the subtlety of a group of brawny men in pro-development T-shirts bused in to pack a public hearing and shout down opponents, unfortunately not an unknown event in island politics.

And that’s where I see a problem.

If you subscribe to Civil Beat, please join the discussion there. If not, you’re welcome to add your comments below.

Common Cause Hawaii executive director to step down

Nikki Love, who has steered the reemergence of Common Cause as a significant player in the local political scene, has announced she will be leaving the job by the end of the year.

Love said, in an email:

I will be stepping down from the position of Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaii by the end of the year.

As you know, I love this work and I care deeply about Common Cause issues, but I’ve decided I’m ready for a change. It has been an amazing 5 years since we first re-launched CCHI in 2007. Thank you so much for ALL your great support over these years! Your support has helped revitalize CCHI from a completely dormant chapter to a very busy one at the legislature, in the media, and in the community.

I plan to continue to be very active with CCHI as a volunteer, board member, or another role. As you know, there are so few of us working on these critical democracy issues, so I look forward to continuing to serve the cause in whatever way I can.

Nikki has done a tremendous job. Her departure means Common Cause is now looking for her replacement.

Here’s the job description:

POSITION AVAILABLE: Executive Director, Hawaii

REPORTS TO: Vice President, State Operations; Regional Director, State Operations

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS: Develop and implement grassroots organizing strategies to build support for the Common Cause agenda. Develop and execute lobbying strategies to generate pressure on federal, state, and local elected officials and other decision-makers. Work to build and participate in effective and diverse coalitions. Raise money to fund Common Cause programs using a variety of strategies.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Communicate with the public and members across the state, through the media, social media, direct mail, and other means. Coordinate activities and expand membership in the state by attracting new and diverse constituencies to the organization. Build and participate in effective, diverse political coalitions. Develop and execute lobbying strategies focusing on federal, state and local elected officials and other decision-makers. Produce timely, high quality policy research. Work with the state board and increase its capacity. Raise money to fund programs, using strategies including outreach to members, foundations, and major donors, and organizing fundraising events. Manage the operations of the Common Cause state organization, including recruitment, training and supervision of staff, volunteers and interns. Serve as liaison to the national office in Washington, DC, as well as work with regional staff and other state offices.

QUALIFICATIONS: Demonstrated leadership and organizing ability; Demonstrated success with fundraising; Excellent written and oral communications skills; Familiarity with Hawaii political landscape and the state legislative process; Commitment to the public interest; Demonstrated ability to work independently in a deadline driven environment with competing priorities; Demonstrated ability to work effectively with diverse communities and to build alliance among diverse stakeholders; Strong interpersonal skills; Skill in public speaking; Willingness to travel; Working knowledge of web content management systems and social media tools including Facebook and Twitter; Knowledge of desktop publishing, volunteer management, database management, and financial management desirable; Commitment to the values and issues of Common Cause.

TO APPLY: Please submit resume, cover letter and salary requirements to Director of Human Resources at and include EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – HAWAII in the subject line; or fax to 202.355.7546. No phone calls please. Applicants are encouraged to respond as soon as possible. Minorities are encouraged to apply.

It’s a great opportunity for someone who wants to make a difference.

How to dig into a candidate’s contributors

Now that the last batch of pre-election disclosure reports have been filed, there’s more digging to be done.

Kirk Caldwell’s campaign raised $602,598.50 since the August primary election. Here’s a snapshot of those who gave $3,000 or more during this period. I’m starting there because this seems to be where the money is.

Caldwell top donors

You can click on this chart for a few extra details.

Rail-related contractors and unions are well represented on the list of top donors, including the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters PAC, Parsons Brinckerhoff, InfraConsult, and Kiewit.

[**Correction: John Dwyer, who is listed as a contributor of $4,000 to Caldwell, actually did not contribute to his 2012 mayoral campaign. Dwyer, who has actively been backing Caldwell’s opponent, Ben Cayetano, says the campaign made an error in reporting his name. Click here to see my Nov. 2 post concerning Dwyer’s situation.]

The Campaign Spending Commission offers an easy way to get a more detailed look at contributions from these corporate sources.

Go to the Campaign Spending Commisison website, then choose “View Reports –> Candidate Committees“, then keep going by clicking “Candidate Contribution and Expenditure Reports“, and then click on “Special Report” in the menu bar at the top of the page.

You can now search for the candidate of your choice, choose a reporting period, and you’ll be presented with a number of ways to display the data. These include sorting by amount and then by contributor name, and “Sorted by Employer and than by Occupation and than by Contributor Name,” as well as a list of other options, probably all worth exploring.

As an aside…yes, the commission form says “than” instead of “then”, although clearly the latter would be correct in this context. It’s small print, though, so maybe no one notices.

In any case, I selected Caldwell’s most recent report, and then clicked for the “employer-occupation-contributor” sort.

The result can be found here.

Now it’s easy to see that there were at least 9 contributions from people associated with InfraConsult, another 9 from Parsons Brinckerhoff, and so on.

Browse around and let us know what things of note you might find.

And if some of my links here don’t work, please let me know!

Oops! Blooper hits Star-Advertiser front page

There must be ghosts running around in the Star-Advertiser press room on this fine Halloween.

What other explanation could there be for the colossal blooper in the top teaser planted above the fold right smack in the middle of the front page of today’s print edition of the S-A? To be accurate, the header is at least above the fold.

ghosts in the press

The headline has it completely reversed, since it refers to the massively pro-rail Pacific Resource Partnership, now well on its way to spending close to $4 million to defeat Cayetano’s anti-rail campaign.

Did I mention that this was right in the middle of the front page? This gives you a better idea of its placement.


How utterly depressing this must be for the staff who work hard every day to get the news into our hands. I wonder what sort of correction there will be tomorrow?

By the way, the Star-Advertiser is offering free access to its full online edition this week, so don’t be shy about checking it out.

Two alternatives to storm news and election coverage

I just want to suggest a couple of things to check out when you need a break from obsessively following storm news and campaign updates.

The Washington Post has issued an ebook, The Original Watergate Stories. It’s a no-frills book lacking such niceties as a table of contents, but with the original reporting arranged chronologically. It’s interesting to start at the beginning of the Post’s investigation and following it as it lurched ahead, step by step, with all the twists, turns, and deadends along the way.

The book’s problem is that although it promises “the original” stories, it neither promises nor delivers the complete Watergate series. Instead, they’ve selected what are considered the key pieces written throughout the investigation.

As one reviewer wrote on, “The title of this publication is very misleading.”

Anyway, it’s just $4.99 and available from Amazon (where I downloaded a copy), and also from other online retailers.

A second recommendation for the morning–Check out Act 4 of the recent episode of NPR’s “This American Life,” titled “Getting away with it.”

Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of how Oklahoma, against huge odds, came to have the first and best publicly-funded pre-school system in the country, and how one businessman joined the fight because a cardboard box full of evidence convinced him that pre-school was the smartest business decision the state could make.

One of the tricks used to get this bill through the Oklahoma legislature was a lobbyist’s decision to highlight several key provisions likely to appeal to cost-conscious legislators, while failing to mention other more substantive provisions. He relied on the fact that no one reads and digests all these long bills.

In any case, it’s an interesting case study in the legislative process. Well worth the 21 minutes of your time, although I wish there were a transcript available. Perhaps later.