Monday, February 11, 2008


Governor Lingle chills out democracy in Hawaii

by Larry Geller

If democracy is neglected like so many things are in Hawaii, won't it just rust away and stop working? Or get Lost? Don't we need to take care of it so it continues to function?

I had a very discouraging experience today. I asked a couple of people to testify on some bills coming up Thursday at the state legislature. They basically replied with regard to one of them, "What for? It will never be implemented."

That bill would require that Hawaii participate in the I-SaveRx program (SB2536: "I-SaveRx is a prescription drug reimportation program developed by the state of Illinois that allows Illinois consumers to refill prescriptions for the most common brand-name prescription drugs used to treat chronic illness at affordable prices from pharmacies in Canada and the United Kingdom").

As you may know, Hawaii has not yet negotiated with drug companies for lower rates (rebates) through the Hawaii Rx Plus program. Never mind that the law should have provided seniors, those with disabilities or who have low incomes with badly needed relief from high prescription drug prices since 2004. It still hasn't been implemented. Some of those affected have to choose between paying for food, rent and medicine, but still, the law has not been enforced.

The governor's relationships with drug companies may be just too important to let these go through, maybe.

There's a long list of laws that the governor hasn't implemented. SB2536 should pass (IMHO), but what's to say she'll do anything it requires? Bush has his signing statements, Lingle just ignores or refuses to fund laws she doesn't like.

I'm beginning to detect a chilling effect resulting from this. More and more, I hear, "Why should I come in to testify for this bill, the governor won't do anything anyway" or the like.

Perhaps that chilling effect is intentional. In other words, maybe the hope is that advocates will simply go away.

Won't some clever legislators find a way to fix this? She's laughing at the democratic process while we go back over and over again to give testimony and try to make it work.

There oughta be a law.



Lingle is not the first and certainly not the last. The problem of governors withholding the release of appropriations was perfected by Ariyoshi and Cayetano. This is nothing new. Governors have been using their power to restrict appropriations.

In my mind, it is the Superferry extravaganza that has made people disillusioned more than anything else. On a symbolic level, nothing leaves a bad taste in citizens' mouths than United Fruit Company style political process.

Ho hum, one of the things that should be researched is whether some of these drugs are really improving our health. Expensive patented drugs like Lipitor might be promoted as being good for our health but clinical trials show that it has only a 1% absolute risk reduction benefit. Not worth the cost IMO no matter how hard the drug pushing medical establishment screams. Josephine


I have said it all along, and I will continue to say it: Government and big business bank on the fact that folks will get tired and just give up. But don't give up. It's not hard to find many instances of persistence paying off! The Hawaii Superferry issue created an incredible network of informed people, and we have to use that netowrk to address other important issues.

Sending in testimony typically takes 2-3 minutes. It definitely can't hurt, but if you feel it won't help, still don't give up. Send in testimony for issues that are important to you. Don't make life easier for gov't and big business by giving up.

And when all else fails, remember that you have the power of your vote!


Sorry you're begining to get a taste of what "neighbor islanders" have felt foreeevvvaaa.

For the good all of our letters and emails have done over the years, we figure the guv and legislature must be in cahoots running one of the biggest aviaries businesses in the world.

Since we CAN'T testify in person, we have always depended on you folks on Oahu to do it for us.

They know they will never see us so they don't worry about what we think..this even includes most of our own legislators.

Lets face it, Oahu IS Hawaii, your voice is the ONLY one that counts.
We sure hope you don't give it up..
in the legislature or the governors office.

I do feel ignored. After waiting for hours to testify one day last week, the chair pulled out this amendment they had worked out in secret. At the very end, of course. It totally negated all of our preparation, waiting and careful presentation.

A total waste of our time. It was all pre-arranged. And if you've been reading this blog over the years, you know it's nothing new.

Minus a technological solution, that is, letting Neighbor Islanders testify via video or something, it's probably better for the collective blood pressure that not too many people spend a day, air fare and lost wages, simply to visit Oahu's Legislature and then just be ignored.

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