Sunday, May 04, 2008


Maybe it will take a ConCon to bring democracy to Hawaii

by Larry Geller

I still haven't convinced myself that a constitutional convention would be a good thing, but if we could use it to bring democracy to these islands, maybe it would be worth it.

Richard Borreca wrote about the attempted palace coup (not the one at Iolani Palace, the one next door at the Capitol) in his column this morning.

It's a good read, very revealing of the annual game the House plays each year trying to unseat its leadership and install a new regime.

A silly game? Perhaps, but think of it this way: imagine Calvin Say as the Dictator of Hawaii. The guy who determines what bills will be heard or not, which laws will be passed, which vetoes will be overridden, who gets money and who does not. He and the Senate President can overrule your vote and my vote. We are nothing in the shadow of their power.

Read Borreca's last paragraph:

But remember in the Hawaii Legislature, when it is time to decide what bill lives, what program is cut or even how much money there is to spend, the last two coming out of the back room are the speaker of the House and the Senate president.

For those of us who spend hours at the Legislature giving testimony, the end-of-session conference committee meetings demonstrate that democracy has yet to take hold here. Indeed, the decisions are made in those back rooms and merely announced at the conference committee meeting.

We need reform very badly. If a bill has sufficient testimony it should be heard. Committee chairs (probably working under orders from their leadership) should not be able to refuse to hear a bill.

Committee members should be required to be present if they are to vote on a bill, no selecting a compliant quorum of members who never heard the testimony and directing them how to vote.

No "secret" amendments should be sprung on the selected quorum that have not been the subject of proper notice and receive testimony.

There's more that could be done, of course, and let's not forget replacing the conference committees entirely with joint meetings, in the open, to work out differences between bills.

Maybe we should have a unicameral legislature. Who needs two versions of each bill anyway? And who needs two dictators in the Legislature?


Aloha Larry,
To Con or Not to Con? That is the conundrum. I'm pretty sure it would be a good thing, even if it's not clear to me how/what the process will unfolds. I'm invested in trying to find out more, even going so far as to check out HawaiiConCon:
Not sure what I'll learn but I hope to find out more. If you know of other informational resources please share for the benefit of your good reader's and myself. Mahalo,.......jimmy t

If there is a con-con legislative reform may be low on most lists as Case’s discussion web site shows. What we really need state initiative and referendum along with petitioning for constitutional changes. That would serve as a check on the lege and exec. branches. That and subjecting the lege to the sunshine law.

A message to all members of

Aloha Kakou,

Lots of wonderful things have been happening on We’re now up to 54 members in just a little over a week since our “soft launch”. Folks are debating ConCon issues and proposing changes more than anyplace else I know of online. Topics like term limits, school vouchers, nuclear energy, and the issue of the ConCon itself have begun. Jump in and join!

I was lucky enough to attend Della Au Bellati and Jay Fidell’s “ConCon 101” event. I wrote a blog post on my experience if you would like to know more. My biggest shock/takeaway was that the 1978 ConCon specifically disqualified legislators from participating as delegates. To my great delight, the previous ConCon was run by normal folks with little prior political experience, just like you and I. This gave me great confidence that yes, we can hold a ConCon.

Speaking of the ’78 ConCon, I would like to extend a special welcome to new member Jim Shon who is our first former ConCon delegate. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say we look forward to Jim sharing his experiences.

Folks, you’re going to hear this from me until you’re probably tired of it, but it’s worth repeating: If you believe that ConCon is important, whether you are for or against, you MUST get involved. And for now this means getting on the site and participating in the discussions. Join a group, post a topic, or reply to existing ones.

Think about the impact that we as a group can potentially have on the future of Hawaii and beyond. While it’s certainly easy to maintain a cynical attitude in today’s political climate, the dream of creating an online electronic democratic process that includes all citizens is too exciting and promising to pass up. In front of us lies the possibility to pass an incredible legacy to our descendants: YOU are part of the group that can spark a change not only in Hawaii, but the entire nation as well. Think about it.

(Is that a big enough vision?)

Peter Kay

Visit at:

The vision is right, and whether or not we want a ConCon, we need to be ready because those who want to further restrict individual rights or increase our prison population, etc., will be ready. Ready and well-funded.

Actually I have a domain which I intended to use at some point to create a discussion, you guys beat me to it and have a better handle on the technology. Probably all I can manage is one of those dull bulletin board systems.

There needs to be a variety of voices and I think a variety of places to hold the discussion.

Glad that there is a website already, and I do expect there will be more.

Thanks Peter.
I joined the ConCon discussion site but don't see anyone discussing legislative and general governance reform... only the hot-button issues that may not even be apprppriate for a consitutional provsion. If that remains the case I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon for a ConCon

Please post that on the No need to leave out a discriminating and critical voice like yours from the discussion.(That's a compliment) Mahalo Larry for pushing it out front. Saw someting from Karen Chun as well. This is how we can influence and build momentum to counter the $ of the status quo defenders. We could count on our hands and feet of all concerned the reasons and needs to review and understand the present situation to advocate for changes(such as the ones you listed). A ConCon maybe one of the vehicles to get us there. We won't know until we find out. I'm optimistically pessimistic on this but willing to find out more. Peace,.........jimmy t

This is so cool. I just snooped around here and was really happy to see folks discussing .

@ AndyParx: The only reason why there's no discussion about legislative reform is BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T STARTED IT! is different. Different because really for the first time, people are being asked TO CREATE ORIGINAL CONTENT instead of reacting to it.

So Larry, E Komo Mai! We need you to be a member!

Andy Parx, E Komo Mai!

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