Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Case v. Akaka

Here's the text of a letter I sent to with a similar copy going to Honolulu Star Bulletin. It was my friends at the Honolulu Advertiser who decided to publish it in a slightly different form.
Here's the link to the online version from the Friday, April 28, 2006 edition:


Aloha Editors:

A local Honolulu columnist pretends he can't believe that TIME's biggest shareholder, Steve Case, had a role in TIME's April 24 story helping Case's first cousin by calling opponent Senator Daniel Akaka one of the 5 worst U.S. senators. I can't believe that there's anything else which explains this "timely" and shockingly subjective decision to include Akaka (one of the most beloved figures in the U.S. Senate) with a crop ofAbramhoff lackeys, immigrant bashers, dullards, and lame ducks like Bunning, Dayton, Allard, and Burns. On the same page that Akaka is branded parochial because he stays focused on the work of powerful Senate money committees, allowing Senior Senator Inouye the limelight, Sen. Kyl of Arizona is lauded for staying hidden in shadows and mastering the art of "subterfuge." And why was Sen. Akaka not given a chance to talk about funding he has provided for military bases (like Maine's Snow) or the bills for oppressed Native Hawaiians that he helped "get passed." Sen. Akaka succeeded in getting Congress and the President to apologize to the Native Hawaiian people for egregious colonial exploitation by the U.S. He has a far better chance of returning a measure of sovereignty to a native Hawaiian "nation within a nation" than Ed Case and his billionaire cousin would ever have ( if they wanted to.) That is the kind of legacy any U.S. Senator can and should be proud of, and which few will ever match.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Constitutional Convention

I was on Union Mall today walking back to Hawaii Pacific University and a tall, distinguished gent with a patrician face that I recognized at once walked past me, his head down. It took a minute to realize that he is someone I've been needing to talk to for months (though I wasn't aware of it). I've been busily promoting the idea of a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) for the Aloha State in 2008, and racking my brain for ideas about the best way to do so. William "Bill" Paty was elected Chairman of the last Con-Con held in Hawaii in 1978. Lehua was a delegate, along with Jeremy Harris (also from Kaua`i) and other luminaries like John Waihee, Carol Fukunaga, and Anthony Chang. One of their singular achievements was the creation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), which the U.S. Supreme Court has put in jeopardy with recent rulings. I walked back quickly and called to Bill as he was cautiously crossing Hotel Street. I'm guessing he's over 80 now. He greeted me cheerily as I came abreast of him on the sidewalk, and after a brief self introduction he recalled me, and we began sharing recollections and news about our families, etc. After answering his queries about Lehua and my father-in-law, I asked what he thought was the reason that it has been nearly 30 years since the last Con-Con. I was not surprised when he gave a quick answer that had the ring of an oft repeated sound bite. When I asked how he would vote when the question appears on the ballot again this fall, he seemed to realize I'd be likely to quote him and expressed careful but tentative reservations about the concept. However, his attitude changed immediatly when I mentioned my pet issue, and posed a pointed query: "Don't you think a Con-Con would be the ideal body to address death with dignity issues? Wouldn't you like to see the voters given the chance to take a position on their right to make decisions on the end of life issues?" He nodded heartily, turned to look at me directly, and responded, "Yes, that is one idea that I would be happy to see a Con-Con address. And maybe you're right--maybe the voters should get to consider issues like that at another Con-Con, instead of being given all these amendments to vote on piecemeal."

I love serendipity. Now I'm giving even greater consideration to the idea of entering some political race this year, just to call attention to the upcoming vote on whether to hold a Con-Con in 2008.

Post Script (Nov. 12, 2006): As subsequent posts to this blog indicate, I did briefly give notice of an intent to enter the race for the seat vacated by Ed Case. It was fun till the July 23rd deadline arrived for actually filing the nomination petitions (only 25 signatures are needed), but at that point I'd figured out that the powers that be had figured out a way to postpone the vote on a Con-Con till 2008. See my latest post (today) for my current thinking on this subject.