Mark down Jan. 4 as the date when the state House Democrats, in coalition with House Republicans, put Rep. Sylvia Luke in charge of the House Finance Committee.
Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui came to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's administration by way of the state Constitution, not a desire to join the team or the wish of the voters.
After the death of Hawaii's senior Sen. Daniel K. Inouye in December, the conventional Washington, D.C., wisdom had his Senate seat flowing smoothly to his U.S. House protégé, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
This is the state Legislature's last week of the regular 2013 session. There was a modest changing of the guard among legislative leaders. Both the House and Senate have new leaders in charge, Rep. Joe Souki and Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, although the general direction of both chambers continued with little change.
What will it take to win Hawaii Congressional District 1?
This is one strange district. The urban Honolulu district runs from Hawaii Kai to Kapolei and touches both Democratic and Republican strongholds.
The campaign by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz will define next year's political season and perhaps the Hawaii Democratic Party.
The state Legislature must know some three-legged folks, because since last week, the other shoe has fallen three times. First, the public school teachers happily ratified a new contract that will give them a series of 3 percent pay raises, estimated to cost $300 million more over the life of the contract.
Finding the definition of a compromise is easy; figuring out how to reach a compromise is not. The case in point is the University of Hawaii at Hilo's College of Pharmacy. It needs money and so does most of the rest of the university system.
It is spring and there has been a sighting of Linda Lingle. The 59-year-old, two-time Maui mayor and two-term Hawaii governor was the featured speaker at the state Republican Lincoln Day dinner this week.
It has been a slow climb up, but Gov. Neil Abercrombie is starting to show just why dislodging a sitting Hawaii governor is so tough. Before looking at his positives, examine Abercrombie's challenges.
The 2013 Legislature opened with interesting possibilities. The cooks were taste-testing some interesting recipes. This was going to be the duck confit, not steak and potatoes, session.
In March, Hawaii lost one of its best biographers, Lawrence Fuchs, who died at age 86 at his home in Canton, Mass.
Conventional wisdom for the 2013 version of the state Legislature is that we are entering fat city. The economy is turning and things are only going to get better.
Sometimes the big change is who is not in the room. In the case of Hawaii, the state's political vulnerability is only emphasized by the absence of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.
Part of legislating in a democracy is that with the trial, sometimes there is the error. The 2013 Legislature opened with a promise, not to do something, but a vow to undo the unpopular Public Land Development Corp.
April is tax month, so it is a good time to look at the intersection of state politics and state taxes. Presented with budget deficits upon coming to Washington Place, much of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's first three years in office has been defined by his attempts to raise taxes and fees.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie heads into the most critical time of this legislative session with the big question unresolved: How much will public worker pay raises cost?
When first released, the report from the Republican National Committee’s “Growth and Opportunity Report” (http://growthopp.gop.com/default.aspx) was called everything from “soul-bearing” to a “GOP autopsy report.”
Nothing comes easily to the Hawaii State Teachers Association, so teachers should cheer that they are on the way to a new contract.
The spring for big decisions has arrived. Next year is an election year. With a bit of restlessness in Hawaii's congressional delegation, 2014 could be a year that reshapes Hawaii's political landscape.
Hawaii is likely to have this discussion only once. The conversation is how to get and where to put a library for a president of the United States.
Blanket claims about culture in Hawaii, except for the most banal, rarely end well. We are a complicated place.
Taking your old wine, liquor and other glass bottles to the recycling center does two things: It removes the glass from the waste stream and it causes the city to lose money.
You already know the answer to this question: What state had the lowest statewide voter turnout in 2012? Hint: It was the same state as in 2008. If you said "Hawaii," you win.
For Hawaii's two U.S. House members, March brings in a new time of planning and decision. Both Rep. Colleen Hana-busa, representing urban Honolulu, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, representing the neighbor islands and Leeward and Windward Oahu, must soon decide what they want from the 2014 elections.
The salvo of reports detailing the state of Hawaii's unrelenting happiness continues. Just last week, the Gallup Poll weighed in, proclaiming 2012 to be the fourth year in a row with us listed No. 1 in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index.
Since taking office in 2010, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has been consistent in his fears that the money the state owes to state pension holders will cause a calamity.
You may be paying more for the salaries of Hawaii's executive class next year because the state salaries are expected to increase.
Question: Which lasted longer: the 100-year war between France and England, or the seemingly interminable war of words between the administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the Hawaii State Teachers Association?
As the federal government today readies its first day of its fiscal Armageddon, some are still suggesting ways to dodge the worst parts, meaning hurting local workers at Pearl Harbor.
Remember what a confused mess the state made of the elections last year? Remember how critics called for a better way to run elections? That new way is now just about to slip below the legislative surface and drown.
As it turns out, the much-despised PLDC, the Public Land Development Corp., is not as disliked as you might imagine.
In just one day this week, this newspaper reported that 125 BAE System workers at Schofield Barracks would be furloughed for 30 days.
The fight to belong in the club, to win that first public office, is so all-consuming that for politicians, the idea of giving it up may just be impossible.
Next Saturday at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, there will be a special forum to discuss the life
of our U.
To get attention, woo supporters or bestow honors, lawmakers like to name their handiwork after someone famous or newsworthy.
Hawaii's budget problems seem to appear almost binary to 45-year-old Sylvia Luke, the new chairwoman of the House Finance Committee.
Fred Rohlfing, first elected to the Legislature when Hawaii became a state in 1959, was back at the Capitol last Wednesday.
Along with the admonition to not step on Superman's cape, there is a general warning to curb your impulse to run against an incumbent Democratic governor in Hawaii.
The one thing we all know — or at least the one thing we have been told — is that hard work and extra effort are what's needed if you want to reap extra benefits.
It is obvious that the death of U.S. Daniel K. Inouye changes the Hawaii congressional delegation, but the unity he brought to the group and the disunity resulting from his departure are more subtle, though still major.
News item: "Proposals in the House and Senate would extend to same-sex couples the right to marry and receive all the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of marriage as opposite-sex couples."
Almost every day there is a rumble along the San Andreas Fault zone. With California's major population and businesses along the earthquake area, it is not surprising that the San Andreas Fault is the most studied seismic area in the world.
As legislative proposals go, Gov. Neil Abercrombie's third State of the State speech had plenty of meat.
At 41, Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui finally looks old enough not to get carded at the Ale House in Kahului, but not by much.
The governor shall, at the beginning of each session, and may, at other times, give to the Legislature information concerning the affairs of the State and recommend such measures as the governor shall deem expedient."
This post-Christmas and New Year season is the time for dieting, so you can understand Gov. Neil Abercrombie's reluctance to eat more, but his New Year starts with the Democratic governor forced to eat a lot of his words from 2012.
Initial indications are that by the time this 27th legislative session ends, you will be wishing for the return of machine politics.
Much like the boy who when presented with a pile of manure gleefully exclaims, "Great, there must be a pony in here somewhere," I'm excited about this coming legislative session. This could be the year much is resolved.
Lobbyists and state bureaucrats are joining Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s fight to preserve the Public Land Development Corp. at the same time that citizen groups are lining up in opposition.
In one of his first speeches since losing last year's campaign for mayor, former Gov. Ben Cayetano this week warned, "I may ruffle some feathers, but I will say it anyway."
Rarely do political leaders describe their caucuses or meetings as "slugfests," but then, Maui Democrat Rep. Joe Souki is turning out to be anything but ordinary.
For those of us in Hawaii, mark this year 1 A.D. — the start of the first year After Dan.
This is, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, the Year of the Snake; the Hawaii political calendar has 2013 as the year of the new faces.
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s life gave meaning to the title “The Greatest Generation.”
Sometime this week, Michigan could become the 24th state to adopt the so-called “right to work” laws that in 23 other states stop workers from having to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
It was the sort of audacious bluster that easily flows from Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
When we hold an election, who shows up? Honolulu pollster Rebecca Ward, president of Ward Research, recently asked Hawaii residents if they had the chance to vote in the November election.
The good news is that the just-concluded Hawaii Tax Review Commission blinked on the issue of raising the general excise tax.
Almost exactly one year ago, folks at the Hawai‘i Convention Center were sweeping up after the largely successful 2011 APEC meeting.
Little Hawaii may not have space launches and hurricanes like Florida, but coconut for coconut, I am sure we can match the Sunshine State for dysfunctional voting.
Chances are you are not spending much time mulling over home rule. Whether or not you remembered the milk, figured out how to get the kids to do their homework, and whether Aunt Edith needs surgery probably are all more in your mind.
Numbers don’t always tell the story.
All the evidence needed to show that our elections must improve could be found in Hawaii's 2012 primary and general elections.
Here are two views of how we are doing: first a warning and then something more cheering. When Hawaii Sen. Daniel K. Inouye writes back to Hawaii, it is usually good news. Most of his notes back home are about how more federal money is coming our way.
Move over baby boomers, there's a new generation in town.
Do you want a vegetarian butcher or a Quaker arms dealer?
Part of the fallout from Hawaii's Democratic landslide is dealing with the surplus of Democrats pacing the state Capitol halls.
Part of why you have to love Hawaii is the oddball nature of Hawaii politics. This year Hawaii is the congressional outlier, or the part outside the norm.
Part of the hardening of local politics this year has been driven by reaction to political polls. Politicians, political reporters and most voters are always weighing the results of polls, measuring them against their own gut instincts and experiences.
There was no politeness or standing on courtesy for the Associated Press. Six o'clock came and Hawaii voters watched CNN and AP call this election without one vote being officially tallied.
Where will the Super PACS go to celebrate tonight? Will the billionaires be dancing tonight because their hidden millions put their candidate over the top?
Who will you pick and how will you do it?
That is about all that is left of the 2012 election year. While much national and local research shows that most voters' minds are made up, the undecided vote going into the Tuesday General Election is negligible.
A s former Gov. Ben Cayetano is finding out, the problem with running against the establishment is that it makes the establishment your enemy.
Finally, good news: The Department of Education is moving to computers. Well, the move appears to be couched in enough bureaucratic deniability that if the Legislature and the governor dig out on funding, the Department of Education won't look foolish.
As Gov. Neil Abercrombie browsed the state unemployment numbers last week, there was good news: Statewide unemployment has dropped to 5.7 percent in September.
As tough as he likes to appear, it really doesn't take much for Ben Cayetano's emotional core to surface.
Act 55 is the formal title of the red-hot issue of the summer: the state's Public Land Development Corp.
It is time to have that talk. No, not that one. It's time for the City Council to talk to us about the so far unexplained, perhaps unintentional, but still very real and increasing costs of the city's train.
For the first time, Hawaii is going to welcome more than 700,000 potential voters to democracy.
As the University of Hawaii's costly and embarrassing $200,000 misunderstanding continues, the state's leaders soon will have to decide whether the losses are to be ended or endured.
On one level, Hawaii is having an election about what U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye wants.
Dear voter, now is the time to relish the attention paid to you.
The state's Public Land Development Corp. has not developed its administrative rules, it has no public development projects and its singular achievement appears to be uniting half of the state's county councils in urging its repeal.
The race for Honolulu mayor comes into sharper focus as former Gov. Ben Cayetano on Friday switched the argument from opposition to either/or.
Exacerbate: "To make a bad or problematic situation worse."
Use in a sentence: "I am being exacerbated here, I really am," Sen. Donna Mercado Kim said Monday.
In political polling, how you call is becoming just as important who you call. National estimates put cellphone-only households at about one-third of the country. Here in Hawaii, an estimated 35 percent to 50 percent use cellphones exclusively.
If you just wait long enough, everyone will be served up.
The thing about the Internet is that once you are hooked up, it is mostly free.
Next week the top University of Hawaii leaders are scheduled to meet with state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim and members of her investigative committee to explain how UH fumbled away $200,000 for an athletic department fundraising Stevie Wonder concert.
Hawaii appears poised for a new round of foreign investment — this time from China.
The worrisome account of 95-year-old Karen Okada adds new emphasis to Hawaii's long debated, but never acted on, issue of death with dignity.
To its critics, the new Public Land Development Corp. appears set on making all of Hawaii into one gigantic hedge fund. To its supporters, the PLDC is about joining the 21st century, making Hawaii's public land stand and deliver and rid the state of underdeveloped land.
Just in time for the November elections, an important state commission was just handed a new report urging state taxes be raised dramatically.
In Charlotte, N.C., this week, the Hawaii news wasn't that Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was attending his 14th consecutive Democratic National Convention; the new news was that 31-year old Tulsi Gabbard was attending her first.
Messages you don't want to hear: "The doctor called." "There's a crew from ‘60 Minutes' in the front office." And, "Donna Mercado Kim wants you to appear before her committee."
The Hawaii Supreme Court may be on the way to devouring the career of another Hawaii politician. Former Gov. Linda Lingle can argue on a daily basis that she and her administration did nothing wrong because it was the Supreme Court that confused its Superferry ruling, but no one else will believe that.
As the nation's Republicans leave Florida this week, excited and glowing with their presidential nominee, former Gov. Mitt Romney, there must be some who hear worrisome footsteps tramping behind them.
Palolo Democratic Rep. Calvin Say's 13-year leadership of the state House may be challenged by his old rival, Maui Democratic Rep. Joe Souki.
It happens every election season, the debate debate. It must be stuffed next to the Hammurabi Code on the shelf of "Early Political Acts by Civilized Man."