Not A Normal Year

In a normal year I’d say there isn’t a chance in hell of any candidate in our August 8 mayoral primary getting the votes needed to be mayor-elect without having to go into the general election in November.

In a normal year I’d give the edge to Colleen Hanabusa because of her high name recognition as former State Senate president and congresswoman, second place to Keith Amemiya because of his community athletics work and very productive fund raising. Third to Kym Pine because she’s a hell-raiser in the City Council but not seen as a bring-us-together candidate.

But Hanabusa has been getting busted over her and her husband’s connections to people who deal in political influence. Amemiya’s major contributors (Ian Lind, July 7) look like a friendship with those wanting more development and more tourism. Might those turn off voters this not-normal year?

Before Civil Beat exposed Rick Blangiardi’s involvement in a fraudulent real estate loan caper (he was a so-called “straw buyer” for a fee), I might have given near-equal odds for a 1st or 2nd place finish as new blood and a successful businessman. But the caper, while not making him a criminal, made him seem terribly dumb. I was offered money to be a “straw man” partner for a Honolulu condo project in the late 70s but my sniffer told me this smelled bad and I declined. Blangiardi obviously had put his sniffer on inactive mode.

This is a year when people are really p.o’d about the cost and 2026 completion date of the transit train, those windmills in Kahuku, the Sherwood Forest project in Waimanalo, the unending homeless camps in Honolulu, and the financial disturbance of the coronavirus.

It’s the kind of election year when voters could go against normal and give a shot at the job to someone like Laie community activist Choon James just for the hell of it. They are unlikely to be moved by Mufi Hannemann’s attempted revival because he’s the father of the train project that will put us billions in the hole without even considering future operating costs. So I tend to write him off.

(There’s also that complication that Hanabusa and Hannemann have lost recent races for office and that’s normally a gong of doom.)

Maybe people want a hell-raiser and will stampede to Pine after all. It’s not a normal year.

Then there’s the all-mail-in voting and whether sitting around with others at home and mulling over who to bless will make for a different result than when people dashed into a precinct and marked a ballot in private.

There are so many candidates this year. Would the popular minister Bud Stonebraker perhaps draw a chunk of votes from the Kahala-to-Hawaii Kai people? Might the gadfly John Carroll score some followers this time because he’s a known Republican while Hanabusa and Hannemann are known party-faithful Democrats?

If I had political ambitions like those running I’d not want to be mayor this year. All those budgetary problems caused by the virus would be falling into my lap. Who needs that in addition to the normal year issues of garbage collection and road repair? You can’t create money out of thin air like the Hindu magical ash vibhooti.

My guess this year is that maybe 35-40 percent of the primary votes will favor the top candidate. Maybe 20 for #2, 15% for #3 and 4, and a single digit scattering for others.

But that would be normal and this is not a normal year.

Hawaii New Now (KGMB)  will grill the candidates at 9  p.m.

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Speaking of not normal, CBS has fired one of its biggest money makers, Hawaii Five-O, MacGyver, and Magnum executive producer Peter Lenkov for creating a “toxic workplace” on his popular shows for employees.

I’ve felt the man’s intemperate temper. I once wrote that Alex O’Loughlin  should have considered expanding his acting on something more difficult than the Hawaii police show. Lenkov went bonkers. Called me to complain. Threatened to have me fired by MidWeek, said MidWeek would get no more access to the show filming, and that he’d sue over me using a CBS Studio photo with my column — which was totally permissible. On he went with a long rant like you used to see in old Hollywood studio films in which the producer makes life miserable for others.

I guess this qualifies for the oft-misused word “ironic” — the guy who dispensed toxicity gets a taste of it himself.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Vietnam War, Iraq #1 in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. Married to Denby Fawcett, one daughter. Brett Jones.

11 replies on “Not A Normal Year”

  1. Choon James is appealing to me for Mayor particularly since she has Natalie Iwasa’s support. Both are long time critical observers of the functions of Honolulu City Council and Mayors office. Also, Mufi’s rail has been a disaster from the get- go. Stopping it is in Honolulu’s best interest before it tears up down town. Please tell me who wants to live next to a rail? What good could have been done with those wasted billions?

    1. It is interesting to see Mufi and Choon both candidates are LDS (Mormons) , just wondering will Choon get the help from the Church, Sandra Sagisi another LDS is backing Mufi, if I only had a choice I would choose Choon because she is not taking money from the special interest.

    2. I hate rail to the hundredth power. That said, I see career politicians running and vesting in a city pension, then switching over to a state office and certainly in the case of Abercrombie, even a federal salary for life with cadillac health care for life for him and his spouse. Can we talk about a bill for term limits and can we make voters akamai on the three pensions goal.

  2. It sure would be a hoot if Choon James were actually elected, but about five minutes later it would become apparent to all but the most stubbornly daffy that angry myopic criticism over a soured real estate deal has absolutely nothing to do with running a city.
    Most of the others are also totally unqualified. And nobody is going to get anywhere near 40 percent in the primary, not from this vote-splitting barrel of monkeys.

    1. As I’ve written before, running a city is mostly about garbage collection, road repair, and pacifying people who have to wait in line for a driver’s test. Next is wrestling a budget thru the city council. I know Choon James and like her, but she’d have there shock of her life if she were elected and discovered what the job actually entails.

  3. Still in shock–the daily numbers of new Covid cases are rising so much. Is the governor going to prevent tourists from adding to these numbers? Long way to my point. Which one of these mayoral candidates would, potentially do the RIGHT thing if in Gov Ige’s shoes? I was working in the medical field when HIV was a frightening new
    problem. It was unreal then how much false data was being passed around by even the media and government leaders. Our next mayor/governor needs to appreciate their own short cummings and rely on expert medical advice. For, Ige does not listen enough to Lt. Gov Green & Trump does not listen to Dr. Fauci.
    Bob, you are a respected journalist. A la Perry and Price, maybe you should tell the readers who to vote for. Don’t laugh because some people did just this, especially with all the numerous law changes, amendments (?).

    1. The last thing I would ever dream of is telling people who to vote for. Columnists and commentators already may have too much influence on American politics. Fox News “personalties” fire up The Base. I prefer to lay out some facts and personal knowledge about events and people, and then let voters pick whomever appeals to them. Alas, facts don’t always matter. It’s often all about money to make your name better known than your opponent’s.

  4. OK Bob, don’t get all huhu! Mine was not a frivolous comment. I really am worried about who to vote for. I voted For Lingle when I shouldn’t have. I voted AGAINST Fasi when I shouldn’t have. He could be a bully, but in hindsight some of his ideas, accomplished, would have been good for the state. For this election it becomes a process of elimination. I don’t like who the unions are backing; but then I lean towards Blangiardi, having watched him from the beginnings of his career. Then your info about bad dealings.

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