Don’t let anyone fool you about the economy — we have some very pressing economic problems, and we haven’t yet addressed them. Actually, the election could not have come at a better time. The economy was central in the election and will be central in the administration to follow. We have lots of work to do.
Neil Abercrombie agrees.
His "I want you" ad in this week’s paper was no less than inspiring. He says he’s looking for exceptional public servants, including Cabinet leaders. They must be dedicated to advancing the New Day in Hawaii agenda, committed to building a sustainable economy, dedicated to creating strong communities, invested in Hawaii’s people and able to work effectively with diverse communities. They also must have excellent work skills and be ready to face the political and the fiscal challenges in Hawaii today.
That’s a great pitch to bring in applicants, and it’s also a great profile for our public officials. Does this interest you? Would you change your life for public service? It’s an ad and attitude we haven’t seen before. It rings resonant, as an open call to "a few good men and women" to help him do the heavy lifting.
The ad shows that Abercrombie recognizes how important it is to populate his administration with our best talent. They will not only run the government, but will help reshape it. From the remarks he made at the ThinkTech-HVCA Agricultural Renaissance program last month, we can expect Abercrombie to provide not only resources, but also subject-matter experts who understand the projects that state agencies will be working on.
Amen. We need to do just that to build new sectors, companies and jobs and diversify into a more resilient economy. These things don’t drop from heaven — we have to provide an enabling environment for them. We have to remove political, bureaucratic and activist distractions that separate our government agencies from their duties to the public. This takes thoughtful, unwavering determination.
Where do we start? With new leaders for the agencies that hold the keys to business development — DLNR, agriculture, transportation, tax, DCCA and DBEDT. These leaders will need to rationalize the rules and advocate for funding, resources and staff sufficient to achieve excellence. They will need to lie awake nights thinking of how they can make their agencies shine. It’s no small task, but this is a New Day and Abercrombie should expect nothing less.
That’s why it’s important that the public and the media give our new governor fair elbow room to find great people and empower those people to reshape these agencies, loosen the constraints of the Lingle years and cultivate a new local confidence and creativity. It’s all doable, with the right kind of leadership.
Think of what a Cabinet like this could achieve. State government could move ahead into a truly diversified economy that would play out way beyond the Abercrombie years. This Cabinet could define the economy of our state for decades to come and signal a new time and place in the world for Hawaii.
The ad asks those interested to apply at newdayhawaii.org. Review of applications will begin tomorrow. If you think you qualify, this could be a great time to do public service for the greater good and be part of the New Day in Hawaii. And filing an application is actually lots easier than running for office.