September 30th, 2014

Former Gov. Linda Lingle has sent out a fundraising appeal on behalf of former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, saying they worked "side-by-side" for eight years to improve the quality of life in Hawaii.

Some people have told me that Duke is not an "experienced politician." I tell them that's one of his strengths.

Duke Aiona is the only candidate who understands the challenges that everyday people face in Hawaii. David Ige is a career politician who has held elected office for decades. His narrow perspective cannot compare to Duke's varied experiences as a father, judge, Lieutenant Governor, small-business owner, and mentor to youth.

Worse still, David Ige's long record as a legislator shows that he represents the failed policies and empty promises of the Abercrombie Administration. The same failed policies that have led to the high cost of living, one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, and a lack of high-quality jobs.

Lingle left out the fact that Ige, a state senator and the Democratic candidate for governor, is an electrical engineer who has more than three decades in the private sector to match with his legislative career. He and his wife have also raised three children.

Aiona has sought to distance himself from some of the unpopular memories of the Lingle administration, like teacher furloughs and the Hawaii Superferry, in his Republican campaign. He has explained that being Lingle's No. 2 gave him valuable experience in how to run the state, but has insisted that the final word on policy rested with the governor.

Democrats, however, have eagerly sought to tie Aiona to Lingle, who left office after two terms with low job approval ratings and lost badly to U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, in 2012.


September 29th, 2014

The state Ethics Commission announced on Monday that it has fined 21 state employees for accepting free rounds of golf from several firms with business interests with the state.

The state's gifts law prohibits state employees from accepting gifts that could be reasonably inferred to influence official duties or actions. The fair treatment law prohibits employees from using their positions to gain unwarranted benefits.

But the Ethics Commission emphasized that none of the state employees involved had actually misused their positions by favoring any of the firms.

The state employees, who were issued administrative penalties of $250, $500 and $1,500, were not publicly identified. But most work for the state Department of Transportation, the state Department of Accounting and General Services, and the University of Hawaii.

Here are the firms involved:

Ameron Hawaii
Bowers + Kubota Consulting, Inc.
Central Construction, Inc.
Graybar Electric Company, Inc.
Hawaiian Telcom
HDR Engineering, Inc.
Hirata & Associates, Inc.
KAI Hawaii, Inc.
Mitsunaga & Associates, Inc.
Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc.
PBR Hawaii & Associates, Inc.
R. M. Towill Corporation
Ronald N. S. Ho & Associates, Inc.
SSFM International, Inc.


September 29th, 2014

We took a look at Jeff Davis, the Libertarian Party candidate for governor, in the newspaper on Monday.

Minor party candidates usually do not factor into statewide campaigns, but Davis, a solar contractor and talk radio host, has forced his way into the conversation this year.

With three major candidates -- state Sen. David Ige, a Democrat, former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a Republican, and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, an independent -- the winner could prevail with a plurality, and the vote could be close enough that Davis could serve as a spoiler.

This scenario almost played out the last time there were three major candidates for governor -- in 1994 -- and Kioni Dudley ran as a Green Party candidate.

Here was the breakdown in the 1994 race:

Ben Cayetano (D): 134,978/36%
Frank Fasi (B): 113,158/30%
Pat Saiki (R): 107,908/28%
Kioni Dudley (G): 12,969/3.4%

`Not an option'

September 29th, 2014

Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona's campaign for governor has debuted a new television advertisement that urges voters to go in a new political direction if they want to address issues such as the state's high cost of living.

The Aiona campaign said it has invested $100,000 behind the ad.

"Staying on the path we're on now," Aiona says in the spot, "that's just not an option."

Aiona, a Republican, is facing state Sen. David Ige, a Democrat, and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, an independent, in the governor's race.

Watch the new ad here.


September 26th, 2014

For readers who may have missed our story about the governor's debate on PBS Hawaii "Insights" on Thursday night, which only appeared on the newspaper's website, here is another look:

State Sen. David Ige, asked on Thursday evening whether he has the leadership ability and charisma to inspire Hawaii as governor, said his nearly three decades in the Legislature and private sector experience have prepared him.

The unassuming Democrat who stunned Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary also described himself as “the biggest change agent” among the candidates for governor.

“I’m the only one at the table that has been successful in organizing majorities in the House and Senate, working with leadership, balancing the budget -- I fought the pension taxes and other tax increases proposed,” the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and electrical engineer said at a one-hour debate on PBS Hawaii “Insights” moderated by Mahealani Richardson.

Ige said he “cut a billion dollars out of the budget request of the (Abercrombie) administration so that we could have a balanced budget, live within our means, and really focus on right-sizing state government.”

Former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, the Republican, said he is capable of building relationships with the Democratic-controlled state Legislature despite being a member of the minority party.

“It comes down to relationships, and that’s what my whole life has been about,” he said. “If you look at my professional career as a judge, as an attorney, and then of course when I went into private practice, it’s all about relationships. I’m a mediator. I’m an arbitrator.

“I know how to bring people together. I know how facilitate. I know how to manage conflict. And that’s really what it’s all about.”

Ige questioned how Aiona would be collaborative when former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, was often in conflict with the Legislature during her two terms.

Aiona said he learned a lot as lieutenant governor under Lingle during controversies over teacher furloughs and the state’s exemption of harbor improvements for the Hawaii Superferry project. He also praised Lingle’s leadership on the landmark Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.

But Aiona said he did not have the final say on policy decisions. “I had input. I was part of the discussion,” he said. “But ultimately it’s the governor’s decision.”

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, the Hawaii Independent Party candidate, touted his non-partisan leadership of the city and suggested that the two major party candidates only offer the “same old, same old” solutions to the state’s policy challenges.

He rejected the idea that he is an opportunist by running as an independent after losing back-to-back campaigns for governor and Congress as a Democrat.

Hannemann claimed that Ige, a career legislator, lacks chief executive experience. “An executive has a far greater responsibility,” he said.

Jeff Davis, a solar contractor and talk radio host who is the Libertarian Party candidate for governor, called for expanded public financing of elections and term limits for the state House and Senate, which he believes would limit the influence of money in politics.