Saturday, February 21, 2009


Hawaii legislators create their own self-stimulus program

by Larry Geller

If you are under voting age in Hawaii or are easily offended, please do not read further. Some may consider what is going on at the Legislature to be obscene.

Y’know, people worked really hard to get the pilot program going on the Big Island that sets up county clean elections (publicly funded elections). Last session it became law, and advocates were really excited. Yes! Hawaii was about to join the company of other states and municipalities that already had or were moving towards clean elections.

Getting corporate money out of politics is “the reform that makes other reforms possible.”

Well, with the economy in a tailspin, some legislators may be quaking with fear that the clean elections idea may spread (and it should, of course). They’re afraid that they’ll lose the love of their corporate buddies. They say they need these corporations’ money to have stronger elections (no kidding, see previous article). The Big Island pilot project, which could of course be successful, could really hurt their game. So they have decided to take a wider stance on campaign contributions.

Since they're lawmakers, they've introduced some bills designed to give themselves endless pleasure. Public be damned, they insist on self-gratification first. Strong words? These bills benefit only legislators and their cozy relationships with lobbyists and big corporations. They hope for an orgy of corporate money by passing these bills. The one mentioned in the previous article started with a $25,000 cap, but in a moment of “legislators gone wild” they blew off all limits. Anything goes, if that bill becomes law.

Getting in bed with corporations isn’t what we elect those folks for, you know.

We’ve previously mentioned HB539, the bill that the House Judiciary committee hopes will attract the corporate love. There are three more bad bills. They are fiendishly designed to prevent the Big Island clean elections pilot project from interfering with their game.

HB345 undoes the good work of tens of thousands of Hawaii citizens who finally got the clean elections pilot going on the Big Island. It would hide the project under the bed until 2014. This way they won’t have to deal with the success that is expected and which could threaten to spread good government up to the state level. Can’t let that happen.

HB216, introduced by Speaker Calvin Say himself, repeals equalizing fund provisions. Its companion in the Senate, SB94, does the same and was introduced by none other than Senate President Hanabusa. It’s pretty clear that Hawaii’s legislative leadership is out to destroy clean elections. Which leaves… what kind of elections? Yes, you got it.

Please get involved. There are good talking points and forms to take action on the Voter Owned Election site here. Help stop these bad bills. Let’s get our wayward lawmakers back on the honorable path.

Let’s also hold legislators accountable for their votes on these bills. Since all these bills benefit only the legislators themselves, I think it’s fair to list up who is voting for themselves and who is voting for their constituents. That’s about what it comes down to. I counted each “yes with reservations” as “yes.” That’s what it is for most purposes.

So here, in easy-to-read table form, are the votes so far. Check back later for the names of others who vote for themselves against you, in committee or on the floor.

As Anonymous commenter noted below, I didn’t explain my chart. Sorry, I had it clear in my head but should have explained. So I’ll do that now.

In the chart below I use a smiley face to indicate votes against this legislation (“no” votes on any of the related bills). I use the moneybags to indicate votes for any of the bills (“yes” or “yes with reservations”). Since I consider a vote against these bills to be positive, the score reflects a +1 for legislators voting against, and a –1 for votes for the bills.

I hope that’s at least clear, and I’ll think of how to better present the chart as this plays out.  Again, thanks to Anonymous.

  HB539 HB345 HB216 SB94 Score
Rep. Belatti Smile Lust     0
Rep. Cabanilla Lust Lust     -2
Rep. Herkes Lust       -1
Rep. Ito Lust Lust     -2
Rep. Karamatsu Lust Lust     -2
Rep. Luke Lust Smile     0
Rep. Marumoto Smile Lust     0
Rep. Mizuno Lust Lust     -2
Rep. Morita Lust       -1
Rep. B. Oshiro Lust Lust     -2
Rep. Souki Lust Lust     -2
Rep. Thielen Smile Smile     +2
Rep. Tsuji Lust Lust     -2
Rep. Wakai Lust       -1


I really donʻt understand your chart as illustrated.
What do the moticons designate?
It is difficult to determine whoʻs voting for what and is a minus for or against?

You're right. I should have explained it. I'll go back and do that.

I think it was self-explanatory Larry. You have smiling faces for doing the right thing and happy faces enamored by money bags doing the wrong thing.

There is something about targeting the problem as "corporate" money as the problem. I think the problem is the injecting market forces and economic inequality into the process of selecting political candidates.

Corporations are one of the myriad forms where groups of individuals come together to engage in business. By naming the problem as "corporate" money, it inadequately identifies the problem and reifies in some ways the concept as corporation-as-person. The corporation hasn't got money, it holds it for the benefit of its shareholders.

The real problem is injecting market forces and economic inequality into a political system founded on political equality of "one person one vote."

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