We Don’t Want You, Just Your Money!

More than 3,500 visitors have come to Hawaii since quarantine began

There’s no question that during this COVID-19 invasion, we in Hawaii would just as soon not have people from other states flying in here — mainly because of low airfares right now, and because we have a relatively low infection and of our relatively low death rate.

That plus the recently-acquired grievance about 10 million tourists helping crowd our beach, parks and roads each year.

We can make it a hassle for them while the virus persists — paperwork on where they’ll stay, 14-day quarantines, temperature checks — but we can’t keep outsiders outside.

The Supreme Court’s been pretty consistent on that, relying on a precedent-setting decision that the 14th Amendment gives us the right to travel, period.

(1) the right to enter one state and leave another, an inherent right with historical support from the Articles of Confederation.

(2) the right to be treated as a welcome visitor rather than a hostile stranger.

(3) the right to be treated equally to native-born citizens.

But here’s a quirk: SCOTUS never gave the power to protect that right to the feds. It rests with the states. So if we kept someone out, the state that someone came from would have to make it an issue. Would they?

We only have that 14-day quarantine for incoming people but it hasn’t worked well because we can’t (or won’t) track every person every day to make sure they’re not out and about. We could do that with ankle bracelets, but is that a privacy violation? Probably, yes.

“The only thing we’re doing is notifying the hotels, and hotel staff check,” state Adjutant General Kenneth Hara told a special legislative committee. 

A British reporter here says he spoke with eight individuals who arrived in Hawaii from four U.S. cities and none have received a call checking on them.

New Zealand doesn’t have a 14th Amendment because it does not have a written constitution. It’s a parliamentary democracy like England. So when this virus struck, it immediately imposed strict border controls and limits on travel and tourism, an industry worth $24 billion a year, until a vaccine is discovered.

And unlike other western nations, which are just trying to suppress the virus, New Zealand has set a goal of completely snuffing it out before reopening the economy.

Australia has clamped down so hard that police will stop and check cars (“where are you going?”, “why four of you in the car?”) or even people out walking. That country wants you in-house, period. And yes, it has a constitution.

I guess for us it’s nice not to have all those tourists on our beaches and trails. But we’re missing their money and all the jobs they create.

That’s been a growing feeling here for a couple years now. How can we keep the tourism money flowing but not the tourists — or at least not so many tourists? How can we welcome rich tourists who spend more, but not on 2nd homes, driving up prices for residents?

The answer to our dilemma is to move away from tourism as the prime revenue source and into something else that’s less damaging to our quality of life.

That would be science and technology.

But the folks who spent $100-$300 million buying a going hotel business ain’t gonna love me for saying that!

 

Lawsuit Names Kumu Hula

Hawaii kumu hula Chinky Mahoe, already under court order to not be alone with the boys in his halau, has just been hit with a sexual abuse lawsuit involving a boy who was in his dance troupe.

In spite of his past criminal conviction for sexual aggression, Mahoe has been welcomed back to the Merrie Monarch Festival and has been a regular presenter, getting heavy applause from the audience.

 Chinky Mahoe

This civil lawsuit filed by attorneys Randall Rosenberg and Charles McKay is based on  the 1998 alleged sexual abuse of a dance student identified only as Plaintiff N.O. It says he was a minor child at the time of the alleged abuse. He was a student and performer in Mahoe’s Halau Kawaili’ula.

This lawsuit apparently stems from Mahoe’s criminal conviction that same year for abusing unnamed boys he mentored.

The lawsuit says in the 1990s it was common for Mahoe to invite students to overnight at his Kailua house. It says the boys had tried on malos for fit, then took them off, except that Mahoe told N.O. to keep his on. It alleges that Mahoe sat next to N.O. and began massaging the boy’s penis. It says the abuse continued and that on a plane trip to California for competition, Mahoe played with N.O.’s penis under a blanket.

In 1998, Mahoe was convicted of sexual abuse of halau students and is currently a registered sex offender but has continued running his halau.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified money damages.

 

Why This Mayor Matters So Much

We’ve tended to elect a Honolulu mayor along the line of the city political power structure and moneyed advertising for half a century, with exception of the populism-period of Frank Fasi and the one-time disaster of Eileen Anderson.

We were most content under Neil Blaisdell because, although a Republican, he was practically a bagman for Democratic council members and Gov. John Burns. They were all on the same team, except for eccentric council member Richard Kageyama and renegade Lt. Gov. Tom Gill.

We haven’t had much comity since then.

The mayor elected this year will have to work for the next two years with Gov. David Ige and would-be-governor Josh Green.  It’s a non-partisan post but of course that’s a joke. The winner will again be a known Democrat. A player for a sometime gubernatorial race.

I’m not much for those with a sudden infusion of importance, so I’d cross out Rick Blagianrdi, the former KGMB general manager who used to do on-air editorials. Those did work well for former station owner Cec Heftel, who went  to Congress. But he had been a delegate to the State Democratic National Convention and a gubernatorial candidate. Blangiardi has no standing in the state or city power structure.

Kymberly Pine sends out emails so often that I’ve consigned her to my Spam box. She’s her best publicist but not, that I’ve noticed, a long-view policy maker. However, we do need to consider a qualified women for mayor. Having had only one, Eileen Anderson, doesn’t speak well for us. Pine and veteran politician Colleen Hanabusa amply represent serious political womanhood this year. One or the other has a serious shot at the job.

Choon James from Laie is very likable, a populist always on the little people’s side, a community activist and no servant to developers. But also has no experience with city budgets and merging the wants of large economic movers and left activists. She also lacks the connection with major players who must be enticed into a forward-looking city plan.

I sense it will be a no-outright-winner primary contest between Pine, former sports coordinator, businessman and non-profit leader Keith Amemiya and  Hanabusa.

Right now, Amemiya seems to lead in the number of campaign signs and James in  the number of Facebook postings and those front page “ears” in the Star-Advertiser. Hanabusa is getting the latest publicity start of any major candidate for that office in modern times.

This will not be one of those years when you can conformably vote because you just like one candidate or the next. We’re damn near broke. We’ll have a transit train nobody might ride. Sewage and garbage-disposal issues that can sink a candidate. Property tax issues in the wake of COVID-19 on top of those transit accommodation issues.

No, voting “nice” or “party” would be really stupid this year of all years.

Somebody else might suddenly break through.  State Sen. Laura Thielen  tops my list because she would bring serious policy intellect, bi-partisan meaningfulness, and accomplished womanhood to City Hall. But she’s shown no interest at all. Charles Djou theoretically could have a last minute change of mind and be a true middle-road candidate. So far, he’s said no dice. Steve Alm has the brains, vision and personality but seems to have set his sight on being City Prosecutor. Panos Prevedouros apparently got the message that he’s not electable and is staying at the UH Engineering school.

And that’s all, folks! (Musical chairs sound up full.)

 

Will There Be “Vote Buying”?

Maybe I’m wrong with my concerns about our new mail-in voting experiment. Maybe everything will go fine and we won’t have a Wisconsin event where many ballots were discovered last week still in a post office — somehow never delivered to the election headquarters.

But to believe that you also have to believe that the train will be up and running on time and on budget, that all the potholes will be fixed in a timely and permanent method, that we’re out of the woods with broken water mains and that nothing could go wrong with our Civil Defense missile alert system.

True, I’m less worried about “vote buying” here than I would be in some other mail-in states which might have a larger immigrant population, people with very low education backgrounds, or the extremely poor who are easy pickings if a little revenue is involved.

But we’re going against the 2005 Federal Election Reform Commission which warned of some serious issues. Its report said:

“Citizens who vote at home, at nursing homes, at the workplace or in church are more susceptible to pressure, overt and subtle, or too intimidation. Vote buying schemes are much more difficult to detect when citizens vote by mail.”

Mail-in voting states in red.

I do nor agree with President Trump’s many claims that there has been lots of mail-in voting fraud in recent years. Some cases, yes. And worrisome because one could have changed the election result. The other did require a whole new election.

Case #1 was in Dallas where they discovered 700 ballots all signed by the same person in a City Council election.

And #2, in North Carolina,where  a Republican operative had applied for and got 1,200 absentee ballots in the names of citizens, had people go to those homes and on pretext and take back the ballots the day they were delivered, filled them in and faked signatures.

Older people in assisted living complexes are particularly susceptible to having a relative say “Oh, I’ll fill that out for you, Auntie.” Ballots can be stolen from mailboxes. Or outright bought from very poor voters who need the money and will nod at the fraud.

Only 11 states allow mail-in voting. France, the Philippines and Norway so far have shied away from it. Italy allows it only for citizens abroad. Malaysia restricts it to teachers, military people and police based abroad.

It’s been called by vocal opponents a throwback to the dark old days of vote buying and fraud.

The idea is great. Many people won’t go vote at a school precinct but will fill out a mail-in ballot.

It’s the execution that troubles me. The mailboxes, the post office, and those who will be inspired to buy or influence the votes of the poor or the aged, infirm and mentally challenged.

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