For Sunday, December 5, 2010
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 5, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 3:05 a.m. HST, Dec 5, 2010
Gov. Linda Lingle's most humanitarian acts caused shelters to be built that give the homeless safe havens for them and their children, resources to improve their lives, and the opportunity to transition into low-cost housing.
Her legacy includes innovation, particularly with the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programs in the schools that invite students to participate in extracurricular learning. Participants learn teamwork in building robots using STEM skills. These students take part in robotics competitions locally and nationally, and have returned as champions.
The designation of the Papahanaumokuakea National Monument may be Lingle's greatest environmental achievement. In 2005, she established a marine refuge in the waters surrounding the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. In 2006, thanks to her direct efforts, then-President George W. Bush signed a proclamation designating it as a national monument. This year, it was given World Heritage Status by the United Nations.
Gov. Lingle's legacy includes many more high points. But her primary legacy is how much she cares for the people of Hawaii and these islands. Mahalo, governor.
Robotics teams state- wide have a lot to be thankful for because of Gov. Lingle. When she first began her robotics efforts, there were a few teams in Hawaii mostly struggling to survive. Competitions, usually on the mainland, were accessible only to a few teams that could invest long hours in both building competitive robots and in perpetual fundraising and travel planning.
When we graduate from college and come home to make a life, this is when Gov. Lingle's true legacy will come to fruition.
Unfortunately, the Lingle legacy has been deeply tarnished by her disgraceful veto of civil unions for families of our island state. There are many Lingle accomplishments which we could celebrate but after her veto of House Bill 444, her motives and agenda fall under a huge cloud of suspicion. After all, when faced with this decision she chose her personal political career over respect for ALL of our families.
History has already judged Linda Lingle. Compounding our shame and embarrassment of her decision, the rest of the free world has made rapid advancements in equality for gay and lesbian citizens. Under better leaders, Hawaii will eventually catch up. Until then, Lingle owes our fractured ohana the courtesy to stay away for a long time so we may heal.
Despite negative comments about Gov. Linda Lingle's tenure, she has been on the side of families who care about protecting marriage as being between one man and one woman. One of her greatest accomplishment is vetoing House Bill 444 that would have eventually legitimized same-sex marriage in Hawaii.
Lingle has been blamed for the state budget shortfall. Why? When there was a surplus at the end of the year, she proposed a rebate back to the tax-burdened people in this state, only to have the Democrat-controlled Legislature veto that proposal. However, the Democrats voted themselves a whopping 36 percent pay raise for part-time work at a time of the budget crisis. She took a lot of heat for protecting the Hurricane Fund that would benefit residents in this state and constantly rejecting attempts to raise the general excise tax to save state government jobs and prevent furloughs.
The Lingle-Aiona administration was not kind to historic preservation.
The staff at the Historic Preservation Division of DLNR was dismantled during the first term and never fully replaced. The record-keeping at the heart of its mission was abandoned. Treatment of the volunteer island burial councils was often painfully disdainful. The Oahu Council was misled on the burial situation at Ward Villages and the administration's decision to treat coffin burials in Kawaiahao cemetery as inadvertent discoveries was outrageous.
The Lingle-Aiona administration ignored the local historic preservation community's concerns, even when those concerns were seconded by national organizations. Fortunately, the National Park Service, which funds about half of the program, has sent staff to Hawaii in an effort to keep the program from losing its federal funding.
The Lingle-Aiona administration's legacy of irresponsible stewardship has left the state's historic preservation program in a shambles. The new administration has its work cut out for it but can expect help from the historic preservation community, which is eager to put the program back on its feet.
I am sure that many letters will mention the Superferry and the teachers' furloughs as the two major lowlights of the Lingle administration -- along with her vetoing an important piece of equal-rights legislation. But I will always remember her for the propaganda message she put at the bottom of every state worker's paycheck a few years ago -- before our country's economic meltdown.
In essence she told us that if we were going to get the modest raises being discussed, we (the HGEA union members) would be taking away services from the most needy of our community; we would be causing the poor more pain and suffering that they certainly didn't deserve. She hoped we would understand her position (and implicitly agree with her). Is this an example of sheer arrogance and hubris, or what? Or was she kidding us? Was this a joke? If it was, it was pretty funny. If it wasn't, I think it was certainly outrageous.
No matter what else Gov. Lingle has accomplished, her handling of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has been above and beyond anything anyone could have expected. Mahalo, Linda. You did a lot for the homestead folks. More than any governor, elected or appointed, has done.
Linda Lingle started out as an innovator and a welcome change to the Cayetano regime. However, in the last couple of years she became a cold-hearted disappointment who threw all the state and county employees under the bus in the last year by forcing furloughs, layoffs and pay cuts while she continued enjoying the luxuries of a free home, free car and free trips around the world.
I say: Good riddance!
Linda Lingle led Hawaii through a huge economic crisis. She tried to keep the budget balanced with little or no support from unions or the state Legislature. She made some hard and unpopular decisions. Without those decisions, this state would have been in dire straights like California, Nevada and the federal government. Unfortunately, we will never know how things would be without those tough decisions. It will be easier now for the new administration because of her decisions and the economic upturn in tourism.
Good job, Linda Lingle.
Given the fact that she had to deal with a Legislature and unions heavily influenced by the Democratic Party and their liberal beliefs, Gov. Lingle did very well. In the teacher furloughs situation, she resisted until politically forced to release the Hurricane Relief Fund. For social and human services she initiated adjustments to balance their budget (I understand the new governor-elect has already stated that he will release monies from the Rainy Day Fund to them).
For the city's mass transit project she ordered an audit to analyze its financial feasibility. (In the face of the just-released report the new governor-elect stated that it is the city's responsibility to weigh the merits and finances of the project. Does he really believe that should the city fail to meet its financial objectives that the state will not be affected?)
Do the Democrats have any idea on how to replenish the Hurricane Relief and Rainy Day funds in these recessionary times? I just hope that the wind doesn't blow and the rains don't come.
On a scale of 10 to 0, 10 being great performance and zero being unacceptable, I would rate Ms. Lingle as Hawaii's leader a 2. What hurts the most is the Superferry, no help to Aloha Airlines, her veto of the civil unions bill and lastly, not helping the rapid transit get going.
Aloha, Ms. Lingle.
Just days ago as I saw the unveiling of Gov. Linda Lingle's portrait at Washington Place. I couldn't help but feel a sense of admiration and pride at the thought that someday a little girl will take the tour, see that painting and know in her heart that she, too, could be elected governor of Hawaii one day.
For many years, the many paintings of past governors that decorated the executive chambers have all been men. Now a woman will be among them.
It wasn't more than 50 years ago that women were finding it difficult to break into professions and roles largely populated by men. For women who wanted to serve in positions of private or public leadership, the chances of attaining that goal were few and far between. Linda Lingle is a woman who throughout her entire life has shattered one glass ceiling after another, overcome unusual challenges and proven that persistence makes a difference. At age 37, she was already the youngest mayor of Maui and the first woman to hold that office, though during her campaign many said it would be impossible to win.
When Lingle took office as Hawaii's governor in 2002, she was not only the first woman to be governor of Hawaii, but also the first Jewish woman. She came into office at a time of severe economic disturbance as the shock waves of 9/11 were still being felt: unemployment was up, consumer confidence was low and revenues were depressed. It was a hard time for everyone, but it's worth noting that Lingle's administration saw a budget surplus. Later, during the global economic meltdown triggered by the subprime mortgage crisis, Lingle made tough calls when it came to dealing with declining revenues and stopped the state from going into default. Rather than leveraging the taxpayer's future savings, she bit the bullet and triaged the bleeding budget.
As someone who has served alongside Lingle, the greatest thing about her is not the secrets that you have to keep but the truths you love to tell: she is an incredible woman, a principled leader and someone who I will miss in the days to come.
Like anyone else, historians will tell us that Lingle had her share of mistakes as well as her triumphs. We may not all agree with her decisions, but we can all agree that she stood for what she believed in and stood for all of us. Gov. Lingle, you were one gutsy woman.
I remember that Gov. Lingle:
» Inherited a slow-growing party with more than 20 GOP legislators. Left fewer than 10.
» Inherited a fully funded retirement system (2000). Left one $8+ billion underfunded.
» Ignited rail by soliciting Democrats to re-try both previously defeated 0.25-percent GET increases with a promise not to veto them (despite being told by GOP lawmakers they could sustain a veto). Left throwing sand in the works.
» Gave the northwestern half of Hawaii to the federal government, for delivery to the U.N., in return for a hug from Laura Bush (a perfect platform for wind, solar, tidal energy production, and infinitely renewable fishing, recreation, tourism resource). Left Hawaii's children uncompensated for their loss.
» Gifted Democrat legislators with a $750 million spending spree, i.e., created a "surplus" budget that footnoted almost $750 million in "unfunded approved school maintenance." Left a budget that requires furloughing government employees.
» Cut library funding $20 million and restored $20 million to OHA that funded lobbying for the Akaka Bill to partition Hawaii into taxable people, and tax-exempt people. Left with hundreds of taxpayer millions squandered on that goal.
» Entered declaring a "vibrant and expanding" economy. Left lamenting an economy in disarray.
The students at Sacred Hearts Academy will fondly and respectfully remember Gov. Linda Lingle's tenure in office for her enthusiastic and unwavering support of the FIRST Robotics program as well as her gracious hosting of the Annual International Women's Leadership Conferences.
The Robotics program has been a tremendous avenue for expanding STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in Hawaii's schools and preparing students for challenging and exciting careers in the twenty first century.
Building robots and engaging in Lego Robotics enable students to developed leadership, communication, public relations and technical skills, time management and teamwork - all life skills that every employer is seeking in young employees, regardless of profession.
Gov. Lingle's focus on celebrating remarkable women leaders from around the world by hosting the International Women's Leadership Conference provided a lasting impression and created a source of inspiration and connection for our young girls to emulate these outstanding role models and help build a better future.
What I will remember about Gov. Lingle is her grace under fire when she had to face the people of Kauai during the Superferry fiasco. All the booing and hate made me realize that I wouldn't want that job. I rode the Superferry and enjoyed it.
On a personal note, my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past March and Gov. Lingle sent messages of congratulations and a certificate, which sits proudly in their house. That gesture was very touching to my parents.
Great job, and good luck!