Monday, November 21, 2005

The SB had an understated editorial about the proposal to split up Waimea Valley that reiterates the premise of one of my favorite recent books - Priceless, by Ackerman and Heinzerling. We can't put a dollar value on everything and if the political community wants to sustain what's left of the public's confidence then we need to start thinking about places like Waimea Valley as natural resources that have to be preserved. Perhaps the recently passed Legacy Lands bill that was touted by the environmental and business communities alike could be tapped for the first time?
Mr. Burris's comments on the Kakaako development proposal should be the start of more thoughtful discourse on the future of an important section of downtown Honolulu.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Presidential hopefuls a la 2008 - already!

Go Bill Richardson!
Rewriting history? On Veteran's Day it seems insulting that the President of the United States of America believes that 'Democrats' and 'liberals' are trying to rewrite history and undermind the efforts in Iraq. Questioning our government's actions and reactions to events is part of any citizen's democratic right and privelage.
Ira Rohter's critque of the Hawaii Democratic party puts pressure on the party leadership to get organized for next year's gubernatorial race.

Any party in power has to accept such constructive criticism - however, Rohter's pointing to GOP 'stars' like Reps Ching and Finnegan also points out the underlying weaknesses of Hawaii's Republican party. Although managing to hold their seats through the last couple of elections, neither has legislative might or political vision. In other words, Lingle holds her own without much help from Republicans in the House or Senate.

Rohter is correct in laying down the truth about a lack of movement to correct and improve Hawaii's education system too. Public education is a beast all its own. Fixing it is something that every state struggles with. Hawaii's commitment to alternatives, like certain charter schools, shows some success however. There's more being done to improve our public schools then meets the eye; of course more should and can be done.

One of the realms that Dems do succeed in however is the environment - and the new blood in the House is certainly showing their might when it comes to public policy to protect the natural resources of the state. In 2005 great success was seen in protecting open space through the Legacy Lands Act. We also saw the strengthening of the bottle bill, protecting marine environments through managed areas, enforcing historic preservation, etc.

Dems have not put forth a candidate to challenge Lingle for 2006 but, there's plenty of candidates who are progressive leaders that could challenge her and win. Hawaii has a broad Democratic base from which to pull a candidate. Already several able individuals have cast their names out - Harry Kim, Tony Gill, Colleen Hanabusa, etc.

2006 will challenge the Dems, however Lingle has had as rough a year as her buddy George W. Bush and her weaknesses should be taken into consideration. She cast herself as a mainland GOP rank and file during the last presidential election and she's shown weakness with regard to taking a position on the gas-cap law, appointing members to vacated House seats, and has done little to change anything in the realms of education and affordable housing. She's also strapped with the baggage of Lt. Gov. Aiona who has clearly shown he does not understand the separation between church and state, has not done much to lead on Hawaii's ICE epidemic, and who's biggest news of 2005 is his prohibition stance on alcohol at Aloha Stadium. Fizzle, fizzle, fizzle.