Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Speaker Say's conflict of interest is not with his vote

by Larry Geller

Today's Advertiser story Say brings up son's Superferry employment adds one more layer to the problems with a special legislative session to exempt the Superferry from protective environmental regulations.

State House Speaker Calvin Say's son was one of the 249 Hawaii Superferry workers furloughed last week, and Say said he would ask his colleagues whether he has a conflict of interest before voting on any Superferry legislation in a possible special session.

The article stopped short of exploring the extent of Say's entanglement with the ferry company. Not only was his son employed by the company, Say himself was the recipient of the largest share of Superferry handouts in the Legislature.

If Superferry legislation comes before the House in special session — or in the next regular session — the speaker said he would step down from presiding over the House and ask the vice speaker whether he has a conflict.

The conflict already exists because Say has been pushing for a special session.

If Say calls a special session after the revelation that his son was (and would again be) a Superferry employee and after accepting campaign contributions from the company, it doesn't matter whether he presides or votes. He'll have repaid the company's investment in him.

Wouldn't it have been refreshing if Say (and others) had refused money coming from the Superferry company? But they didn't.



Right on, Larry.


Calvin Say has a family with diverse interests: wife Cora Kotake is affiliated with Robert Awana's Waste Management; son has job with Superferry. How does he manage to establish good boundaries between his legislative life and his personal life? Early on in his life, Mr. Say was the idealist Democrat; but as he accumulated wealth and power, his ideals were tempered. This special session will evince the degree to which his ideals have been tempered. Wealth and power tend to corrupt.

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