Why Can’t #1 Pick #2 In Hawaii?

I wasn’t around back then to know exactly how this happened, but Hawaii’s writers of the state constitution decided we should elect lieutenant governor nominees to run in the general election with their party’s governor nominee. And they should always be of the same party.

They probably thought that was more democratic than the U.S. Constitution model, which allows each presidential nominee to pick a running mater.

Hawaii Constitution, Article V, Section 2:

There shall be a lieutenant governor who shall have the same qualifications as the governor. The lieutenant governor shall be elected at the same time, for the same term and in the same manner as the governor; provided that the votes cast in the general election for the nominee for governor shall be deemed cast for the nominee for lieutenant governor of the same political party.

45 of the 50 states have an office of lieutenant governor. In two of those 45, the speaker of the upper house of the legislature also serves in that capacity.

In 26 states, the governor and lieutenant governor must come from the same political party. In the other states, they are elected separately and  may be of different parties.

Tennessee and West Virginia  give the title of lieutenant governor to their senate presidents. The states that do not have a lieutenant governor position at all are Maine, Arizona, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Oregon.

I’d have preferred to have our governor candidates pick running mates — people they are comfortable with on major policy matters and with compatible personalities.

Our system works okay part of the time, and part of the time not okay.

Our  first statehood election paired Gov. Bill Quinn with Lt.Gov.  Jimmy Kealoha, who clashed with the boss from Day 1 and made it clear he could hardly wait to run against Quinn. He did, but lost. (He’d against lose in ’66 in a run for a U.S. House seat.)


Gov. Bill Quinn                     Lt. Gov. Jimmy Kealoha

Next, we had Jack Burns as governor and he was saddled with a man he just could not stand, Tom Gill. I interviewed Burns plane side when he returned from a trip the night of our election of a lieutenant governor. I told him it was Gill. Burns replied “Oh, Jesus, not him!” Burns had wanted Kenneth Brown. The next four years were hell. Then Gill ran against Burns and lost.

Gill and Burns  making nice for the cameras.

When Republican Linda Lingle  won the top job, her picked-by-the-voters mate was Duke Aiona. There was no dislike there as in the Quinn and Burns cases, but Lingle was a very progressive Republican and Aiona was not. Aiona would later run for governor against a Democrat and lose.

My pitch for a “picked” lieutenant governor doesn’t draw huzzahs from all quarters. Pennsylvania played with the idea and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quickly shot it down, editorializing that:

“If a gubernatorial candidate wants to have some say about a running mate, he or she should line up behind a candidate for lieutenant governor in the primary, giving voters an early look at the chemistry between them. Diminishing the voters’ voice in the electoral process is a misguided idea.”

I say that our system is a “forced political marriage” which sometimes disrupts state government. We’ve just weathered that little dust up between Gov. Ige and Lt. Gov. Green over Covid-19 policies and this news release from the Health Department made me smile:

Update from Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, State Healthcare Liaison for COVID-19: Lt. Gov. Green continues to work with Governor David Ige, General Kenneth Hara and the healthcare community to evaluate Hawai‘i’s healthcare capacity and prepare for any possible surge in COVID-19 cases and individuals needing hospitalization.



Will It Survive This Life-Threatener?

My MidWeek arrived and (no pun intended) it was paper thin.

The plethora of ad inserts was missing. So were the columns by paid writers. Me, Dan Boylan, Jade Moon, Michelle Malkin and Pat Buchanan among them. I was called almost a week ago and told that all of us paid contributors were forthwith suspended due to financial issues.

You now get Lanai with his guests’ island recipes, former TV exec John Fink urging you to Think About It, a woman who fronts for Ben Franklin stores ads, and Ron Nagasawa is back in print. He used to be called publisher but that’s been changed to Director of Content.

Nothing was written about why we paid columnists were gone. We simply vanished overnight. You had to guess. Strange, but MidWeek can sometimes be a strange place. It’s mainly an ad carrier, not a newspaper. It needs a hefty-majority-plus of its total space to contain editorial material in order to qualify to be delivered by ordinary mail.

I’d been writing for it for 32 years. Most subjects passed muster, unless they cast less than a favorable light on an advertiser or prospective advertiser. I had columns killed about the fat PR program at the UH and the fat salaries paid to some CEOs and consultants or professional fund-raising firms hired by our non-profit organizations. Both, it turned out, had lucrative deals going with MidWeek.

None of my political columns were ever touched. And Dan Boylan was allowed a wide berth, too, with his Mostly Politics.

I don’t know that MidWeek can make it if this lockdown continues into June. The owner, the Star-Advertiser, has subscribers for the daily paper to bring in some revenue and a fairly sophisticated web site. MidWeek is free by mail and its only revenue is from ads. The ads are drying up. It’s website is primitive.

If there are no good columns to read and few grocery ads, why would people bother looking at it? It’s a “shopper” and most shops are closed for the duration.

It’s not a “news” paper and so it’s not essential for us. It’s more of a revenue source in good times for Oahu Publications.

I can’t say with a straight face that it would be sorely missed.

I can say that I miss writing for it — and for you readers. That’s why I’ve started this blog of issues and opinions — and occasionally some fluff!

Can Oshima Fix What’s Broken?

I’ll borrow here from the old KGMB-TV theme song, with a slight change: “One of the NOT good things about Hawaii” has been its all-eggs-in-three-baskets approach to economic well being, and a stultified political class (Democrats) that resisted change where it interfered with the visions of union leaders.

Quite a mouthful, yeah?

So I momentarily got excited when I got the news release about Gov. Ige appointing Alan Oshima to lead our eventual economic recovery after COVID-19 expires or at least runs into antibody resistance.

Alan Oshima
Alan Oshima

And the governor set out one of Oshima’s tasks as “re-evaluate and restructure Hawaiʻi’s economy to meet the new normal and desired future for Hawaiʻi. Identify and invest in systemic changes in the economy and society which furthers economic diversification, environmental preservation, sustainability and Hawaiʻi’s values and way of life.”

We should hope!

Our economy is tourism and the military and the salaries of our huge body of public employees. The first is subject to disruption by terrorism and viral/bacterial disease such as COVID-19 and Legionnaires Disease. The second can disappear overnight if our soldiers, Marines and Air Force units are called out for an international crisis. The third you don’t touch.

We long ago snubbed the opportunity to have a rocket launching facility at South Point on Hawaii Island. We’ve done our best to run the TMT people out of town. Our technology development is next to zero. A large proportion of our people work for around $10-$12 an hour or tips, and aren’t guaranteed full-time employment with medical coverage.

So resiliency, Alan Oshima’s Part III task, is not us by nature.

The governor says everyone will have input. I expect the biggest input to be, as it always is, from the government employee unions making sure their members get first dibs on the pot of federal recovery money.

Whether Oshima will bother looking at our suffocating regulatory system that stymies small business we don’t know. You tamper with the favorites of the Democratic State Legislature at great risk. That’s where regulation resides.

We can recover to where we were, with time, but where we were is insufficient and dangerously exposed to things beyond our control.

We’re like an amateur investor putting all his money on high-flying stocks and saying “I’ll either be a billionaire or I’ll be broke, and I love the anticipation.”

No, Alan Oshima won’t lead us into the land of milk and honey. That’s a political task, not one of those fixes Oshima could impose when he led Hawaiian Electric.

He’ll quickly be up against those who like the nests they’ve made, not newfangled ones by a guy who’s not even been in the union!

Tell me if I’m wrong.

Will The Virus Kill Trump (Politically)?

(CNN)The chaos and confusion rocking President Donald Trump’s administration on the most tragic day yet of the corona virus pandemic was exceptional even by his own standards.

There are a couple of ways to read the tea leaves of this coming 2020 presidential election.

One is that Trump supporters will overlook any slips he’s made in handling this virus because they intensely dislike the governing style of Democrats, whom they see as taxers and spenders and liberals of the worst sort who want to reshape conservative American values.

The other is that enough independents will sour on his narcissistic style and enough blacks and Hispanics — major casualties of COVID-19 — will blame him, and between the two more than equal the white and lower-educated voters who swear by Trump’s American First policies.

I have a tendency to read a lot into #2 because I’m not a fan of Trump, his attorney general, his secretary of state or his son-in-law-adviser. It’s always dangerous when you let your personal feelings steep in there with those tea leaves.

But then the carrier Teddy Roosevelt misstep might turn around some of the members of our armed services, who tend to vote Republican because that party is seen as more pushy against America’s adversaries. And then there’s the economic carryover from this virus — the ruined businesses, the old people who’ve lost savings, the demise of air and sea travel and tourism. That’s not Trump’s fault but the person sitting on the throne when the devastating earthquake hits always gets the blame.

Trump makes it hard to like or sympathize with him unless you’re a southern redneck, a northern racist, an eastern fascist or a western land privateer.

People tend to like a wartime president, but ours generally win them — although Korea and Vietnam were sort of  draws. Trump may not even get a draw in this war against the invisible enemy. We could potentially lose — badly.

Trump hasn’t made us feel confident about our fighting ability. He waffled on whether to even go to war. He’s pitted scientist against scientist on the issue of weapons — the drug or drugs that might turn the tide of battle. He may be becoming a Woodrow Wilson — charming for fans at the start but a fizzle-out.

Would I write this column differently if I didn’t have such a long-standing antipathy of things Trump? I don’t think so. I liked Obama but wrote flamingly about his inability to govern with strength rather than wishy-wash, his political failings, and how he gave away the farm to certain constituents in order to get the full-of-holes Obamacare passed by Congress. And then there was Syria and Iran and China’s buildup in the South China Sea. His monuments or the entrance to his presidential library should say “He tried hard and meant well, but in the end he failed.”

Trump’s should say “He didn’t try, he was surprised he won, and he spent four years getting even with those who wrote him off as a not so smart, two-bit developer.”

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