Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Democracy delayed (short rant)

by Larry Geller

At least I’m sitting here at home with the TV on, watching tonight’s testimony. I’m waiting to see what happens with the campaign spending bill. It could be some time before it comes up. This is not hard to do.

I have no testimony to give tonight, so I can stay home. The warm air blowing by from the kitchen is flavored by the broiling eels, so all is well with the world. I’m not going to give up an entire afternoon and night hanging out at the Legislature tonight, as I did Friday and Monday. I’m going to enjoy those eels instead.

Just after 7 p.m., a few minutes ago, the House Finance Committee started Agenda 6, scheduled for 3 p.m. Watching the Olelo video, I’m guessing that most if not all of the folks waiting in the room to testify are those who will be paid to do so, that is, they are corporate or government folks rather than individuals losing yet another night of their own lives.

It can be argued, I suppose, that by holding hearings after working hours, up till midnight and even after, gives people who would otherwise be unable to leave work to offer testimony a chance to do so. In practice, though, I don’t see them there. I’m not there. I really resent showing up early only to stay late.

Last night the Finance Committee recessed at one point until 9 p.m. But guess what—their audience came back just before 9, but they did not start until approximately 10:30. Hawaii time? Unfair. Unfair.

In the end, by holding these late-night hearings, the ability of ordinary people to present oral testimony to the committee is curtailed.

Update: It’s 11 p.m.  The chairs have been asking people to summarize their testimony for some time. HB1552 is being heard, and members of the Kahana community are giving testimony. It’s a critical bill for them, related to long-term leases for their homes within a state park. They are speaking well, but it’s apparent that everyone is tired. They’ve probably been hanging around outside or somewhere for hours and hours and hours. This is a totally unfair process.

At about 11:15 a fisheries bill came up. The testifier said he was really tired and couldn’t summarize and just read what he had.


del.icio.us Tags: , ,


It has only been in the Depression era and since the legislatures have routinely opened their proceedings to the public. Their job is to pass laws that they believe are in the best interest of their districts -- not to listen to citizens in their districts, or entertain us. While Sunshine has helped to eliminate corruption, it has come at a cost. Spectacle-legislating -- where a disproportionate number of legislators are borderline personalities that thrive on selling their integrity short for friends in wealthy places who give them money for their campaigns -- is the outcome of naive and philosophically reactionary attempts to make politics "pure".

Thanks for your comment. I've thought that the C-Span broadcasts of federal proceedings have turned Congress into a bit of a spectacle. But ok, at least we can get a first-hand experience of these folks. The personality issue is unfortunate. Sure, a legislator or congressperson could be a very good lawyer or even a statesperson but not have that great TV presence. As to selling their decisions, that's a longer story, not for here.

Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

<< Home


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older