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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Gabbard’s new chief of staff

February 25th, 2015 · 12 Comments

Did you catch the news about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s new chief of staff, Kainoa Penaroza, who comes to the job with zero Washington experience and painfully thin political experience as a local campaign volunteer (CivilBeat.com, “Eyebrow Raiser: Tulsi Gabbard’s New Chief of Staff Baffles Political Insiders“)?

Employment History
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) (Feb. 2015-)
Chief of Staff

Tag Aloha Co. (2013-Feb. 2015)
Owner

NoniConnection Inc. (2009-Dec. 2014)
Sales Manager
Ecoceptional Inc. (2012-2013)
Broker

Tulsi for Hawaii (2011)
Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo (Tulsi Gabbard)
Volunteer Coordinator

There’s not much in terms of politics to be found along his social media trail (Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

His predecessor, Jessica E. Vanden Berg, was paid about $4,600 per month, according to Congressional records. Penaroza’s salary was not announced.

Compare to the resume of Rep. Mark Takai’s chief of staff, Rod Tanonaka.

Employment History
Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI) (Jan. 2015-)
Chief of Staff

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) (Dec. 2011-Dec. 2014)
Chief of Staff

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) (Jan. 2011-Dec. 2011)
District Director

Hawaii Senate
Colleen Wakako Hanabusa (Colleen)
Aide, Office of Sen. President Colleen Hanabusa

Hawaii Senate
Senior Clerk, Senate Ways and Means Committee

Hawaii State Teachers Association

→ 12 CommentsTags: Politics

Two informative items about the Carleton Ching nomination

February 25th, 2015 · 5 Comments

Progressive activist Bart Dame has posted a couple of very interesting items this week about the nomination of Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources. They are worth sharing.

First, he posted a graphic distributed by the Building Industry Association attacking the State Historic Preservation Division of DLNR. Until his nomination, Ching served on the board of the BIA.

Here is a logo the Building Industry Alliance sent out to its members and circulated to the public at trade shows.

Now, a member of the Board of the BIA, Carleton Ching, is seeking to become Chair of DLNR and to be put in charge of the State Historic Preservation Division.

You see why folks think he may be a bad choice for the job?

Distributed by BIA

And then he provided this thoughtful perspective on the political dynamics at work. I’m sharing this long post with his permission.

There is a lot of “inside baseball” stuff going on in the Senate which complicates understanding the reaction of the body. Two Senate leaders visited the Fifth floor to ask the Governor to withdraw the nomination. It is my understanding the Governor intends to stand by the nominee, an admirable attitude, since it was the Governor’s people who had sought out Ching in the first place.

While I can respect the Governor’s loyalty, he needs people around him to help him overcome those personal feelings and do what is best for both the state and his ability to function as Governor. Unfortunately, it was the people around him, his closest advisers, who apparently chose Ching in the first place. So the problems with the Ige administration appear to be much deeper than the Ching nomination.

Some senators may feel “they ought to be deferential to the governor” in his appointments. But they cannot so easily abdicate their responsibilities when a nominee lacks the qualifications for the job as Ching obviously does. Their “advise and consent” responsibility obliges them to protect the public interests when the Governor makes a serious mistake. For the good of the state, but also for the good of the Governor.

Many of the Senators have been laying low, dodging and weaving on the nomination. It is understandable most of them would wait until the hearing and the committee’s recommendation before committing to either support or opposition to the nomination. But there are also other, unseemly considerations which appear to be distorting the process. The administration has been offering financing for Capital Improvement Projects in the home districts in exchange for votes.

In addition, factional considerations have been at work as well, distorting the process. Senator Green is aligned with the “Chess Club” faction, the faction to which Ige belonged when he was their colleague. Despite their personal friendship with Ige, it is the senators aligned with the Chess Club who appear to be most concerned about the nomination, both as policy and for the damage it may do to the Ige administration.

The leaders of other factions, sensing the ill-ease of the Chess Club members, and not caring one way or the other about the Ching nomination, seem to be taking a “wait and see” approach, reluctant to help Ige, their Chess Club colleagues or to align with the environmentalists and cultural practitioners opposed to the Ching nomination. Who can offer them what? Do the constituents in their district really care about this to the point they have to act? Or will it all blow over?

Your editorial points out David Ige is an engineer. Yep, and I liked that in Ige the candidate. I expected it meant a pragmatic, problem-solving approach to the challenges we face, swayed by reason, after due diligence and consideration. But Ige is also a businessman, who apparently shares the Castle & Cooke, LURF, BIA attitude of Carleton Ching, that natural resources are there to be transformed into a revenue stream. And David Ige is also an honorable man, who feels bound to support Ching after his people talked Ching into putting forth his name.

While I would prefer Ige listen to his senate allies who are advising him to withdraw the nomination, or the calm, rational engineer who can see how destructive this will be for his ability to govern over the next four years, I expect this to unfold like a Greek tragedy, where the virtues and flaws of the protagonist lead, inexorably to a predictable result as the audience watches it unfold, feeling sad but powerless to intervene. I guess those of us commenting here have been assigned the role of the Greek Chorus.

Would this have played out differently if Senator Inouye were still alive, helping steer the ship of state to avoid running into shallow reefs?

→ 5 CommentsTags: environment · Legislature · lobbyists · Politics

Just in time: A new tool to “follow the money” at the legislature

February 24th, 2015 · 3 Comments

The National Institute on Money in State Politics has produced an amazing new tool for tracking campaign contributions that may impact legislative decisions.

They call the database “My Legislature.” It’s available for all 50 states.

You can go directly to the Hawaii data for the 2015 legislative session, start at the beginning and choose a state.

Here’s a description from the group’s blog.

My Legislature is our groundbreaking tool that enables you to analyze how political contributions correlate with actions taken by bill sponsors, legislators, and committee members. Our partner, LegiScan, tracks all legislative bills across the 50 states; Institute researchers identified the members of all 2,400 legislative committees in 2015 legislative sessions throughout the country. My Legislature combines that information to let you see patterns of money flowing into state legislatures.

My Legislature enables you to understand the nexus of campaign finance and the legislative process through three new features:

Look at politicians by state to see which sitting legislators have raised the most money, and which donors are most prolific in spreading contributions throughout the chambers.

See rosters of every state legislative standing committee in the nation, then track which donors and industries contributed the most to their members.

Track the progress of bills in every state via our partnership with LegiScan. Not only can you see exactly what action has been taken on a bill, you can access information about the sponsors, including top donors to those sponsors.

You can begin with a bill, see its sponsors, and then get a list of contributions to the sponsoring legislators.

Same easy process to see what special interest money went to members of the committee hearing a bill, or just check the contributions to the committee chair.

It’s a pretty amazing job of making these data readily accessible in a meaningful form.

Check it out and them come back and share interesting and informative results.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Campaigns · Legislature · Politics · Sunshine

Great resource on Hawaii open meetings and public record laws

February 24th, 2015 · 3 Comments

If you’ve got questions about access to public records and public meetings in Hawaii, look no farther. Here’s your basic, all-in-one source: “OPEN GOVERNMENT GUIDE ???????????????Access to Public Records and Meetings in HAWAII.”

Whether you’ve got questions about how to access government records, or want to know what the law says about your right to attend meetings of public agencies, this is really your go-to source.

This guide was prepared for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in 2011.

It was prepared by put together by Jeff Portnoy, one of the state’s top first amendment lawyers, and Elijah Yip, both of the Cades Schutte law firm.

The document is very thorough, and so it’s very intimidating.

But the table of contents cuts it up into very specific units. So check the contents, find the section that appears to answer the question that you start with, and go for it.

This is definitely one to bookmark for reference when you really need it.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Media · Politics · Sunshine

Another one of “those” mornings

February 23rd, 2015 · 5 Comments

It was another one of those incredible mornings. The colors grew and deepened. Cars stopped so that their drivers could take pictures. On the beach, you just a absorb as much as you can, then watch as the colors fade to gray again. Then resume walking down the beach.

Luckily, I was carrying my “big” camera, a Canon 5D ii full frame with a nice lens. It makes a huge difference in conditions like this. I usually take a much smaller camera when walking. It does okay, but there’s a definite difference.

Another day, another dawn

→ 5 CommentsTags: Kaaawa · Photographs