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Legislature’s backwash flush with antics on ethics and pay

David Shapiro

We avoided the big tsunami, but Gov. Neil Abercrombie urged residents to stay out of danger zones until he gave "competent authorization" to return.

That could be a bit of a wait, so in the meantime we’ll "flASHback" on the week’s other news that amused and confused, starting with a Legislature that came at us in waves:

» The House mostly ignored Abercrombie’s proposals in drafting its budget, but the governor said it’s just variations on themes and represents "the legislative process at its best." That’s true. They can’t do their worst until they get on the same page.

» House members voted to prohibit public urination and defecation in Waikiki. Don’t you feel special that they left your neighborhood open for business?

» With the Akaka Bill for federal recognition of native Hawaiians stalled in Congress, state senators passed a local version to put Hawaiians on the road to self-government. It pioneers a new political status called Sovereignty Light.

» The House voted to extend a salary freeze on lawmakers for two years. Coming after a 36 percent pay raise, I’d say it’s more of a little chill than a freeze.

» A measure moving through the Legislature would require each county’s liquor commission to define dancing. They should just film Sen. Brickwood Galuteria explaining why his ethics bill allowed more freebies for legislators.

» The House approved a task force to study the feasibility of creating a state bank. Lawmakers hope to attract discerning customers who appreciate expert advice on mismanaging their finances.

» As silly as the idea might seem, Bank of Hawaii and First Hawaiian Bank must be getting nervous. How do you compete with a rival that provides overdraft protection from the Hurricane Relief Fund?

» State Land Director William Aila said he’s still trying to figure out what kind of horse he is after Sen. Clayton Hee attacked him as more of a proud-cut gelding than a stallion. I’ll bet you can guess what part of the horse he thinks Hee is.

» A national search by The New York Times found the happiest man in America right here in Hawaii. It was Mufi Hannemann after U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka announced his retirement.

» While other public workers are being pressed to accept pay cuts to balance the budget, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and Fire Chief Kenneth Silva are asking for raises of up to 22 percent. Who do they think they are, legislators?

And the quote of the week … from Alvin Wong of Manoa, the real happiest man in America: "Have a sense of humor — especially about yourself. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then you’re going to have a hard life." It gets a little easier if you can laugh at others.

David Shapiro can be reached at volcanicash@gmail.com or blog.volcanicash.net.


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