Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Would Abercrombie throw his staff under the bus on the way to the casino?

by Larry Geller

David Shapiro’s column in today’s Star-Advertiser deserves to be widely read. He gets awfully close to a theory of why Governor Abercrombie’s younger, more in-tune key staff members have been sent home to their families and replaced with establishment types—who are linked to the push for organized gambling in Hawaii.

It’s been hard to explain why the sudden sweep of “New Day” youth out of the 5th floor office makes sense. Could it be because Abercrombie is preparing for a push for legalized gambling? The vice has been popular with some state legislators but never advanced because former Governor Linda Lingle, who opposed gambling, would have vetoed any bill that got to her desk.

Hawaii has a strong coalition against legalized gambling which includes people of all ages, religious organizations, and many social service and advocacy groups. Abercrombie’s young staff would know and understand this. So perhaps they needed to go.

Unfortunately, the Star-Advertiser has removed itself from Internet search engines, and Shapiro’s column is locked behind a paywall. So the best I can do is snip a bit, which doesn’t give the flavor of his insight and thoughtful development.

He begins:

If Gov. Neil Abercrombie ever comes through on his promised New Day in Hawaii, you'll probably have to experience it from a blackjack table.

[Star-Advertiser, Gamble on Abercrombie has failed to pay off so far, 10/12/2011]

I can only snip a bit, so here goes:

The replacements so far -- chief of staff Bruce Coppa and communications director James Boersema -- are bedrocks of the status quo, with deep ties to the powerful business, labor and political interests that are used to the state government working for them.

Lobbyist John Radcliffe, one of the governor's closest political friends, has long represented gambling interests. State Sen. Malama Solomon of Hawaii island, Abercrombie's appointee to a vacant seat, has devoted herself to passing a gambling bill.

Abercrombie himself has been fanning interest in the idea lately, and now he's appointed Boersema, a retired public relations executive who was most recently prominent for promoting a Waikiki casino.

I don’t know if David would go as far as I have in theorizing that Abercrombie wanted to create a more gambling-friendly inner circle as he prepares for the upcoming legislative session.

The theory will be tested as we watch to see if the Governor actually tries to balance the state’s 2012 budget by proposing to sacrifice the state’s values.

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Sorry Larry, but I don't see a connection between Abercrombie's staff leaving and gambling. Doesn't mean there is none but no one have presented any evidence to back up that claim.

There's enough in David's column to suggest the possibility. It's probably a long shot, but who knows. I carefully avoided saying "I wouldn't bet on it but...".

Abercrombie is really interested in taxing senior citizens not gambling. That's why he has said tax pensions or have gambling. Abercrombie knows the anti-gambling lobby is stronger than the senior citizen lobby and that the legislature will pass pension taxation rather than have gambling. Thus, Neil fulfills his promise earlier this year to get AARP and the senior citizens who did not support him. He is Mr. Vindictive.

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