Sunday, April 11, 2010
Lingle, ignoring parents, a Republican liability?
by Larry Geller
Republican candidate for governor Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona Jr. says he does not know whether Furlough Fridays will be an issue in the coming election. [Star-Bulletin, Furloughs a wild card, 1/13/2010]
Parent protests, covered in stories appearing across the country, have changed this. While Aiona’s absence from the discussion may affect only his own candidacy, other Republicans counting on Governor Lingle’s coattails for support will have to deal with her potential unpopularity among a large segment of voters—Hawaii parents.
The parent action dominates the Hawaii section of the Advertiser’s Sunday edition with a featured article and a column by Lee Cataluna, perhaps the most-read columnist in the state. Ok, I don’t know how popular the sports writers are, but no question, when Cataluna writes, she gets attention.
There’s also a breaking news post on the Advertiser website pointing to the rally planned for late this afternoon. A Star-Bulletin article is here.
So this news is hardly “disappeared,” it’s everywhere. The “disappeared” part is the governor’s ongoing refusal to meet with the parents. At the core of the protest and of the news coverage is her refusal to meet with the parent representatives.
Most likely, all it would take to get herself out of the spotlight would be to come over, say hello, and chat seriously for awhile about how to end Furlough Fridays. Just emerging from her inner sanctum and engaging the issues might end it. Piece of cake. Oh, speaking of cake, she could bring some pupus, that wouldn’t hurt.
At this point, it would take some seriously meaningful chat to counter her choice to ignore the parent protest movement thus far.
The folks she is denying her hospitality and her attention represent her constituents. They will be voters in coming elections.
The absence heard round the world
Thanks to the the Associated Press story that’s spread around the world, Lingle’s absence has been well documented. Local readers are also aware that she has tied the issue of the furloughs to pressuring the Legislature to further her school reform program. Parents have contended that she is holding the children hostage, and that’s whether they support school reform or not.
The big problems right now remain the loss of instructional days and the Governor’s threat to veto an appropriation that the Legislature may pass to eliminate furloughs in the future.
While the governor insists that she has been a participant in the Furlough Friday negotiations, her continued absence from her own waiting room is indisputable.
Should the Democrat-dominated legislature pass an appropriation which she then vetoes or fails to release, she could be dooming her party to answer for her actions in this year’s elections.
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