Sunday, April 19, 2015         

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The first time my granddaughter Sloane played guitar in public was at a recital a few months after she began taking lessons at 7, grouped with nine other students to strum Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars songs.
You seldom get a second chance to make a first impression, but Gov. David Ige may have found a way with his inspired appointment of respected conservationist Suzanne Case to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources after he was forced to withdraw development lobbyist Carleton Ching.
Gov. David Ige had the right instinct when he doubted an extension of Oahu's rail excise tax was needed this year, and hopefully he'll hold firm as the Legislature waffles.
For David Ige to recover from his doomed appointment of Castle & Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources, he needs only to recommit to memory his central campaign promise: "Do the right thing the right way."
The Hindu American Foundation of Washington, D.C., commented in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Thursday that it's been a difficult month for Hindu Americans, citing the battering of a strolling grandfather by an Alabama cop, the vandalizing of two Hindu temples near Seattle and the rude snub by an Idaho legislator when a Hindu chaplain prayed.
Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's repeated bashing of President Barack Obama for referring to the Islamic State as terrorist rather than radically Islamic is becoming silly.
The ill will Gov. David Ige generated by naming Castle and Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources is compounded by his adamant refusal to explain his rationale for turning over state lands — our precious jewels — to a guy known for making bling.
When my daughter was a baby in the early 1970s, we'd visit the Honolulu Zoo most Sunday mornings so my wife could sleep in after a long week of nighttime breast feedings.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation can blame their own doublespeak for hostile public and legislative reaction to pleas for bonds and more taxes to cover rail cost overruns.
Gov. David Ige campaigned for office on his mentor George Ariyoshi's old mantra of "quiet but effective."
The University of Hawaii's lack of urgency in putting its athletic house in order is confounding.
City officials have been so misleading for so long in spinning the construction costs, timetable and operating expenses for the $5.26 billion rail system that few believe what they say anymore.
It's time to start closing out 2014, so I offer 10 favorite news quotes that nicely framed the year: From former Gov. Neil Abercrombie: "We're back, we're on track, we're in the black." It turned out that he forgot the most important part: "I'm getting sacked."
Since Florida-based NextEra Energy announced it will buy Hawaiian Electric for $4.3 billion, many public officials have hoped the new owner will better HEI's dismal record on reducing fossil fuels and cutting rates.
Gov. David Ige, who made a campaign promise to do the right things in the right way for Hawaii's future, hit many of the right notes as he set the tone in his inaugural speech.
However the general election turns out, it'll represent the most significant youth movement in Hawaii's highest offices since the early days of statehood.
Fellow Democrats who gave Gov. Neil Abercrombie an abrupt heave-ho in their August primary have mostly laid off of him since his humiliating defeat, not wanting to kick a guy while he's down.
I was in Kailua town with my 10-year-old granddaughter, Nakaylee, when we came upon a hen with a half-dozen fluffy yellow chicks in tow. "The babies are so cute," Kaylee squealed. "I want to catch one and take it home for a pet."
After David Ige's surprise announcement that he would challenge Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary, a backyard pundit whose patience with the bombastic Abercrombie had worn thin emailed me, "It's about time we had another George Ariyoshi, a local boy with brains and respect."
My expressions of approval that this year's election will bring a younger generation of political leaders to power in Hawaii has drawn ire from some fellow senior citizens.
The 2014 governor's election, which could shape public policy in Hawaii for the next eight years, has devolved into a shabby battle of guilt by association between the two major-party candidates.
In baseball, it's three strikes and you're out. In local politics, it's three strikes and you get to circle the bases to re-election unopposed. For Rep. Romy Cachola, the first strike was when he was accused of amassing votes for his 2012 election to the House by "helping" elderly voters in his nursing home-rich Kalihi district with their mail-in ballots.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell's road crews recently came to Enchanted Lake to repave the miles of roads and side streets in our sprawling Kailua subdivision.
A rule of good management is to never let anybody get comfortable in a bad situation. That's why the City Council was right to rein in the homeless overrunning Waikiki by giving police tools to clear the sidewalks and control urinating and defecating in public spaces.
I had a conversation with U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz when U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was still deciding whether to run against him or Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Schatz guessed Hanabusa would run against him to try to fulfill Inouye's wish that she succeed him.
City transit officials are tiresome in their dishonest attempts to blame citizen lawsuits for massive cost overruns that are shredding their promise to build Oahu's $5.26 billion rail line on time and on budget.
University of Hawaii President David Lassner's decision to fire Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple barely a month after his own appointment has raised the frustration of UH critics to a fever pitch.
Back in the 1990s when the Internet's impact on news began to be felt, media critic Jon Katz accused newspapers of what he called "raging old-fartism."
It was looking like a really bad day. I had a meeting in town with the Howard Hughes Corp., but my car's back end was shimmying like a twerking Miley Cyrus.
Former Gov. Ben Cayetano is using the attention he's getting as a victim of negative campaigning by Pacific Resource Partnership to fuel his own negative campaign against U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.
Hawaii's summer doldrums are starting to look a lot like an election as we "flASHback" on the month's news that amused and confused:
Hawaii's 2014 election has drawn refreshing competition at the top of the ballot, with most action set in motion by the death of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.
Few news stories induce a gasp in nearly every paragraph, but last Sunday's account of the groundbreaking for the Howard Hughes Corp.'s 36-story Waiea luxury condominium at Ward Center was such a story.
The chaos created in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs by CEO Kamana'opono Crabbe has squashed what little credibility existed for the Native Hawaiian Roll, Kana'iolowalu.
Each week seems to bring a new example in Hawaii of civil public discourse being hijacked by self-righteous dogmatists waving placards with trite slogans. It was at the University of Hawaii this time, where retired Lt. Gen. Frank Wiercinski was picketed, booed and hissed.
And the quote of the month … from Foster Botanical Garden's Scot Mitamura on the corpse flower's stink: "It takes so much energy to produce the scent. The scent comes out in pulses and it also heats up."Kind of like the closing days of the Legislature.
The bungled rollout of Obamacare is a lesson on why so many people are leery of expanding government: It does big projects poorly and then runs from accountability.
Attempts by gay rights activists and atheists to unseat Don Horner from the Board of Education because he's a volunteer Bible teacher with New Hope Diamond Head are an outrageous display of religious bigotry.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie was on Hawaii island last month touting his planned overhaul of Hawaii's prisons to 26 corrections officer recruits hired to reopen the Kulani Correctional Facility in July.
There's something mystical about the healing power of wonton soup. I've been coming off a miserable stomach bug that landed me in the emergency room in a state of dehydration.
One of the sorriest times in recent city history was when former Mayor Mufi Hannemann abruptly threw the homeless out of Ala Moana Park during one of our worst rains ever so they wouldn't blight a festival he planned at the park.
If the Legislature doesn't restrain the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which governs Kakaako, some buildings could exceed the existing 400-foot height limit by 250 feet and stand as close as 80 feet apart.
Republican James “Duke” Aiona thinks voters have “buyer’s remorse” after the recent Hawaii Poll showed him leading Gov. Neil Abercrombie in a rematch of the 2010 election that Aiona lost by 17 percentage points.
An article on the University of Hawaii from May 24, 1958, in the Saturday Evening Post provides thought-provoking contrasts between then and now.
When Kirk Caldwell was elected mayor of Honolulu, I listed actions I thought he needed to take if he was to keep his campaign promise to "build rail better."
"Judge Sam King: A Memoir" is a welcome final visit with one of modern Hawaii's greatest minds and finest sons. A proud part-Hawaiian, King's life was long in years -- 94 -- and distinction.
The Legislature opened its 2014 session by honoring previous generations of lawmakers, and here's hoping the elders imparted some tutelage about when legislating was less of a public display of personal ego.
Inexplicably, some public officials are offended by my writings, so we'll start the new year by burying the hatchet and making a fresh start.
The state is poised to offer President Barack Obama a piece of Hawaii's choicest oceanfront land in Kakaako for either his presidential library or, more likely, a think tank or conference center where he could hang out part time after he leaves office.
The state Supreme Court has handed former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann the last thing he needs as he plots a political resurrection — a stinging reminder to voters of what they don't like about him.
Newsmakers say the darndest things, and it's time to review my favorite quotes from 2013:
For my mother-in-law, Veronica Ibera, there was never a wrong time to sing. She had a piano in her living room that she taught herself to play and a lovely voice, with which she'd break into song in the car, at the market, while keeping a careful eye on her grandchildren in the park.
Retired political science professor Neal Milner and I were discussing his new book, "The Gift of Underpants," about his experiences growing up Jewish in Milwaukee and living his adult life as a Jew in Hawaii.
U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright saved the local Democratic Party from itself by throwing out its ill-advised lawsuit seeking to close Hawaii's open primary elections. The party sued to exclude from its primary those who won't publicly identify themselves as Democrats.
Tenari Ma’afala is a big man, both in physical stature and in importance as the head of the Hawaii police union, State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers. When he testified before the Legislature that “you would have to kill me” to enforce a gay-marriage law, clearly he expected his words to carry big weight with lawmakers and the public.
After early speculation that the Legislature's special session to legalize same-sex marriage could be wrapped up in as few as five days, democracy is proving to be not so tidy — and that's a good thing.
We had a government that was closed, a governor who was absent and a state website that was hamajang as we "flASHback" on the month's news that amused and confused:
If you stick around long enough, all history eventually repeats. So it is that the current pitched battles on Kauai and Hawaii island over genetically modified crops have the oldie-but-moldy feel of the fight on the Big Island in the mid-1970s over fluoridating the water supply.
For all of its bumbling and inefficiency, give our government credit for the one thing itexcels at: taking care of its own.
Several months ago, before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, I was chatting with a 9-year-old about her diverse circle of friends.
Forays by Native Hawaiians into art criticism are taking a troubling turn toward cultural Talibanism. First, Rep. Faye Hanohano banned state-owned art by haoles, Japs and Pakes from her Capitol office.
President Barack Obama should rethink a military strike against Syria over nerve gas attacks if he can't even get support from his birth state's congressional Democrats.
Today is the 50th anniversary of perhaps our greatest triumph of participatory democracy: the 1963 March on Washington to demand civil rights for blacks.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie's surprising 50,000-vote victory in 2010 over the better-funded and heavily endorsed Mufi Hannemann boiled down to a simple political dynamic.
After 45 years of witnessing impurities of every imaginable kind in local politics, the recent fixation in both major parties on ideological purity is mystifying.
Afew people took issue with an item in my Sunday "flASHback" column that described Gov. Neil Abercrombie's issuance of an emergency decree a day before Tropical Storm Flossie didn't arrive as a case of "premature evacuation."
Michael Golojuch Jr., chairman of the Demo­cratic Party's gay caucus, brazenly declared himself the "new sheriff in town" after he initiated sanctions against 11 Demo­cratic legislators who proposed a constitutional amendment on traditional marriage.
After being slow to embrace the idea, it's nice to see the Department of Education showing enthusiasm for putting a tablet or laptop computer in the hands of every public school student.
Among the annoying contrivances of modern political campaigning are the endless email blasts from candidates begging for expressions of support and monetary donations.
You'd think Honolulu suffered a financial calamity judging from the panic at City Hall after arbiters awarded unionized police officers pay raises totaling 16.8 percent over four years.
When the Hawaii Legislature and governor decided two years ago to allow gay couples to enter into civil unions, critics derided it as "marriage by another name," and that's pretty much what it was.
State Sen. Sam Slom has been called the loneliest man in American politics as the only Republican surrounded by 24 Demo­crats in the Hawaii Senate.
As NASA studies how to achieve President Barack Obama's call for a manned mission to Mars by the 2030s, Hawaii has a couple of significant pieces of the action.
Hawaii governors live and die by the health of our economy, and its robust condition ahead of the 2014 election is the main reason Gov. Neil Abercrombie is flying high despite low approval ratings throughout his first term.
I'm fortunate to come from a family that has been relatively long-lived. My mom lived well into her 80s, as did three of my four grandparents and all of the uncles and aunts I've been closest to.
The big headline from Tannya Joaquin's fine Hawaii News Now interview with retiring University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood was about state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim's inquiry on her son's UH law school application.
It's always welcome news when local officials manage to solve a problem, and University of Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay appears to have done so on the weighty matter of naming UH sports teams.
This week marked 21⁄2 years since I started my granddaughters Sloane and Nakaylee in music classes with Ilisa Peralta at Island Guitar.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa said she's running against U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz for the late Daniel Ino­uye's old seat to give voters a say in the matter.
Young candidates hope to start a generational change in Hawaii politics in next year's election, but it could as likely turninto a last stand by old-guard Demo­crats that cements our political status quo for another decade.
If you think Democrats have a lock on Hawaii political power now, see what happens if the party succeeds in limiting who can run for office as a Demo­crat and who can vote in Demo­cratic primaries.
My first thought after hearing of the Boston Marathon bombings was about a fear that’s been on my mind a lot lately: What kind of world are we leaving our grandchildren?
Few things illustrate the changes in our society during my lifetime better than the two breakout stars, a generation apart, from Walt Disney's "The Mickey Mouse Club."
It's good to see Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City Council moving to take real responsibility for Oahu's increasingly vexing homelessness problem.
A grudge by some legislators against the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts may still be on even after state Rep. Faye Hano­hano's apology for her racially abusive threats to SFCA staff for placing works by non-Native Hawaiian artists in her office.
Whatever the 2013 Legislature accomplishes on policy, the thing for which it'll most be remembered is Hawaii island Rep. Faye Hano­­hano's racial tirade over artwork by non-Native Hawaiians placed by the state in her office.
House dissidents who toppled former Speaker Calvin Say in favor of Joe Souki were criticized here and elsewhere for not articulating a policy agenda that elevated the coup above a power grab.
It was encouraging to see Mayor Kirk Caldwell take ownership of Oahu's rutted roads by promising to fix them and setting a deadline.
The Public Land Development Corp. sneaked into town like the proverbial thief in the night, and, sadly, it appears to be going out the same way — if it's going out at all.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie's proposal to conduct future Hawaii elections by mail remains alive in the Legislature with Senate Bill 854, which would start a planning process that could lead to all-mail voting in 2016.
A Facebook friend described a recent 4,000-mile driving trip on the mainland and reached the conclusion of many from Hawaii after such travels: "It suddenly occurred to me with shocking clarity that not once did we encounter more potholes anywhere on the mainland than I bounced over on the Pali today."
It's time for Hawaii to end our 20-year battle over same-sex marriage and join the tide of history that is moving the United States toward marriage equality.
Honolulu taxpayers should cheer Mayor Kirk Caldwell's attempt to recover a 10 percent surcharge the state is skimming from the excise tax Oahu residents pay to finance the $5.26 billion rail project.
It's showtime for the band of former dissidents in the state House of Representatives who are finally taking the reins of power after years of battling outgoing Speaker Calvin Say for control of the House.
Of all the stories I read about U.S. Sen. Daniel Ino­uye's passing, most intriguing was one that appeared on the DCist website under the headline "Late Sen. Daniel Ino­uye Was the Biggest Punk in Congress."
The adage that you can't take it with you applies to political power as well as material wealth.
Whatever Gov. Neil Abercrombie decides onU.S. Sen. Daniel Ino­uye's wish to have U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa succeed him, it's vital to getthe governor's appointee sworn in before the new Congress convenes Jan. 3.
Some of the most sobering information to come out of the Connecticut massacre was the extent to which the psychopath who gunned down 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School was armed.
Age has brought me appreciation for the tremendous spiritual power of a simple burning candle. My mom died five years ago, and for the first time I lit the Yahr­zeit that memorializes the anniversary of a loved one's passing.
Hawaii elections have been exercises in ineptitude since the Legislature decided in 1995 that it was a bad idea for voting to be supervised by a partisan elected official and took the job away from the lieutenant governor.

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