Mayor Choon? Mayor Marissa? Mayor Bob?

April 1st is for foolishness. Like me foolishly thinking after some celebratory retirement-from-TV drinks in 1994 that I could run for mayor. I envisioned Vote Bob signs on every lawn!

But back then, voters demanded some political experience before a person tackled City Hall, 8,500 employees and a $2 billion operating budget.

Not now. Political neophytes Choon James, Rick Blangiardi, Keith Amemiya, John McLeod and Marissa Kerns are on the ballot (she says she’s also running for governor in ’22,  and she ran on the GOP ticket for lieutenant governor in the last election.)

My momentary foolish run-for-mayor thought (at the old Byron II Steak House’s bar) ignored how terrible I would have been at the job.

I had issues with the late mayor Frank Fasi, but he gave us TheBus, the grass around City Hall, Satellite City Halls, and our farmers’ markets without asking for the City Council’s okay. Voters elected him six times.

 Eileen Anderson was very different and in her one term mainly listened to what people wanted or didn’t want. She accomplished zilch, and was quickly shown the door by impatient voters.

What we need from our current mayor (and this governor) is some flamboyant inspiration. Like New Yorkers got from Fiorello La Guardia from 1934 to 1945.

He rode the city fire trucks, personally raided city speakeasies, took entire orphanages to baseball games, and when the New York newspapers went on strike, he got on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids.

One night in January of 1935, mayor La Guardia turned up at a night court he didn’t like for its harsh sentences against poor people. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. 

We’ve had too much diddling over Ala Moana Park, Sherwood Forest in Waimanalo, a refuse landfill and of course when the train will start and how much it will cost to operate.

(On the governor side, it’s the inability to get a permitted telescope built because some people are blocking the public road to the site.)

Most of us worry mainly about property taxes, job opportunities and the homeless. Now we have this economically-devastating virus attack.

All demanding exceptional, inspirational leaders.

Especially inspirational. Voters will be the judges of that.

Here are some interesting historical facts:

No mayor ever went directly to the presidency, and only three ex-mayors became president: Johnson, Cleveland and Coolidge. Maybe it’s because of something Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1800: “I view cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man.”

Sam Yorty and John Lindsay – mayors of Los Angeles and New York – failed to gain any traction in a 1972 presidential primary. Rudy Giuliani of New York, proclaimed as “America’s Mayor” in the wake of 9/11, entered the 2008 GOP presidential primary as the polling front runner but finished third in his first primary (Florida), and dropped out. Baltimore mayor Martin O’Malley tried in 2016 but never polled above five percent.

Former D.C. mayor Anthony Williams claims this was their main obstruction: “Cities were dangerous and broke. Cities were poorly governed and corrupt. None of this added up to a recipe for a mayor’s broader political success.”

This year, it was adiós to Mayor Pete of South Bend. His city’s violent crime had surged 70% compared to about 10% Indiana-wide. The high school graduation rate declined to 77% — about 11 points lower than statewide.

Next Bob Jones Report: Why no Honolulu mayor ever makes it to Hawaii governor.

Investing In The Time Of The Virus

I’d been handling investment of my family’s 401(k) monies for more than 40 years — very successfully, I can add — but early this year I moved everything under professional portfolio management at Fidelity Investments.

Why? Because for most of those 40 years, moving the invested money into the right mix of stocks and bonds was mainly about keeping up with company earnings, dividends, changes in management and whether some stock was flying too high for its own good.

It involved some discipline but was doable and my wife and I and our daughter did very well.

Then something changed. There was more than just earnings per share or the retirement of a brilliant CEO. Suddenly, market moves were happening on the basis of some political event here or overseas, and maybe whether Chairman Kim fired a new test missile, or didn’t. Or what the Japanese central bank decided to do about interest rates.

Those were things people in New York and Washington knew about well before me in the middle of the Pacific ocean. They were in a stock/bond or out while I was still asleep.

So I decided I needed Fidelity’s experts. Their headquarters is in Boston, but that’s close enough to Washington and on the same time clock.

But like everyone else now with the virus disruption, our portfolios are taking a hit. It’s scary, especially when you’re old and will need the money.

A close friend I’d advised periodically over the years about investing called to ask if she should think about selling. I said no, because you’ll lock in losses that right now are just on paper and probably miss the moment to buy when the market recovers.

Then I had a second thought. It might be tax advantageous to take a big loss if you will also have some big income gain this year and want to offset it with a deduction.

And maybe the market won’t recover!

Other than that, it seems that “steady as she goes, mate” is the best course. If we can’t get this virus under control by fall, however, we’re in the deep doodoo! It will make the tumble so far seem like small stuff.

So at some time it does become incumbent on oldsters like me to consider selling some of what’s left and tucking it under the mattress. If you’re very old, you’re unlikely to live long enough to have that cash eaten up by inflation.

And the economy may even be far too weak to have inflation.

Now I’m going off someplace quiet and think about this.

Why Hawaii Won’t Vote GOP

It’s no secret that I am anti-Trump, and if I were in  government employ I’d be one of those “Deep State” people dragging his feet when told to carry out patents;y ridiculous directives. No, on second thought I’d  quit. I have this underlying sense-of-duty that if you work for the federal government you also work for the President in charge of the government and have a duty to carry out his mandates. Unless the order’s certifiably illegal, you do it.

I have a daughter who is a foreign service officer in the State Department (Hanoi, Kabul, Nepal, Kosovo, Fiji, Australia) and I would expect her to carry out the orders of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even if she finds them poorly designed. She can always quit and take her objections public. She works to make sure our USAID money if well and non-discriminatorily spent regardless who’s in the White House.

     

My argument (and I’ll be interested to hear feedback from loud-spoken, hard-core Hawaii Trumpists ) is that DT quite often appears to be uneducated in his public remarks, quick to blame others for things that go wrong, flat-out  lies, and outdoes every president in our history in calling other people nasty names or giving them nasty nicknames such as “Pencil Neck.” Do you disagree with that?

I have this deep sense that what he really wants to say is “if you people would just let me run things without having to consult Congress, we’d really get things done!”

I’m not anti-GOP.  I voted first time around for Gov. Linda Lingle (not the second time.) I would not have gone into hibernation had Mitt Romney beaten Barack Obama. I was okay with George Bush until the Iraq war came around. George H.W. until  the “read my lips, no new taxes” quirk. My first presidential vote was for Eisenhower.

But Trump — he plays one group against another. Whites against non-white immigrants. Factory workers against factory investors. He’s unpresidential in his meetings with foreign leaders. He seems to revel in ignoring advisers. Who else in that office has ever publicly said he’s smarter than the generals?

Fake news? Of course not. Most of us in journalism and outside it have an ability to spot falsehoods and disorder within governmental administrations and we who write or broadcast rightfully report those so people know if things are being well run.

Is some news inaccurate. Of course. Mistakes are made, but in most cases I know of they are corrected. And you must learn to separate news from opinion in what you read and see and hear in news media.

My sense is that one reason Hawaii doesn’t have a larger GOP presence is because of GOP history. When the ultras-conservative Pat Robertson movement arose, some of our prominent Republicans switched to Democrat. Then the local party had Willis Lee and Eric Ryan and they alienated more party member. And the   new party chairwoman Sherlene Ostrov, who shares general GOP “rightness” but is not able to bring any significant candidates or any significant number of voters into the party.

People are correct who say the Democrats have spent a lot of money but not done a helluva lot to make this place more affordable, more business friendly. I’d say 100% right and I keep hoping for someone of any party or even a non-partisan to win with a better agenda. I’m tired of the failures!

But the GOP cannot keep putting up the Duke Aionas, John Carrolls, Bob McDermotts and Marissa Kernses. It really needs to support  top-flight and moderate candidates such as Charles Djou, who got little support because he would not fly the GOP flag high enough and quit the GOP and won’t run any more.

It’s basically been the Hawaii story since the start of the 60s.

 

Remember how Hiram Fong (GOP) easily defeated Tom Gill (D) for the Senate? That and Neal Blaisdell and Hebden Porteus and Pat Saiki and Wadsworth Yee. The great years!

A Bush I or Bush II endorsement for a Hawaii GOP candidate was very valuable. A Trump endorsement now? A kiss of death.

Why? Not just Trump policies. We in Hawaii, like most Pacific territories, have expectations of certain behavior and how we speak of others. Trump has violated those.

He’s not welcome in most of our houses.

Needed: Some City Council Tweaking

I recognize that this is no time to be engaged in city government restructuring or anything that drains away money as we battle Covid-19 and salt away funds for operation of the train when/if it comes in.

But we do have a future and there’s no harm in thinking about what it should be.

One of the futuristic discussions should be about proper community representation in the Honolulu City Council.

Most troubling is the much-too-large districts with very differing needs within each one.

Disregarding district population and thinking strictly of Oahu’s total population of 953,200 or so, then each Honolulu City Council (law-making body for all of Oahu) member is legislating for about about 105,910 citizens.

Obviously, those numbers are smaller if you just use population figures in the district. But the laws passed govern us all, not just those in some district.

I pose that just nine districts in the council for all of Oahu is too little and badly distorts where the money will be spent on which projects that may benefit a geographic class of people, i.e, farmers, town professionals, tourism interests.

Look on the map of District 1 with its three major population areas of Hauula-Laie-Kahuku, plus the Haleiwa-Waialua-Pupukea-Sunset Beach section, plus Wahiawa,  and anyone living all the way down to the Waipahu boundary that starts Districts 8 and 9. Can you imagine more varied interests in that huge chunk of land? Its single member is Heidi Tsuneyoshi.

District 9 covers from Ewa Beach all the way west and north to Kaena Point. That means all those military families and all those surfers (plus all the albatrosses out there at Kaena!)

District 3 covers me at Diamond Head, who has little legislative need in common with the Hawaiian Homes Land residents of Waimanalo.

Only Districts 4,5,6 and 7 seems to be geographically based on common needs.

The problem is that the organizers of these districts were paying more attention to population per district than needs for the different lifestyles in those districts. So that stuck very rural Punaluu in with metropolitan Kailua and Kaneohe.

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It would seem that being a City Council member makes for natural ascendency to the Honolulu mayor’s office. But that’s never been an automatic here.

Council member Kymberly Pine certainly hopes it works that way this year but she gets no guarantee.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell didn’t get there that way because when he wanted to move from the State House to the Council,  he had failed to withdraw from the State House ballot in time to be eligible. So he went from House member to interim mayor when Mufi Hannemann resigned, then mayor.

Yes, Hannemann had been a Council member for Aiea and Pearl City.

Jeremy Harris had been a one-term member of the Kauai County Council before going to work for the Fasi administration and then winning the open race for mayor.

Eileen Anderson had been a Council member, as had Frank Fasi. But Neal Blaisdell was not.

Most of us expected a rush of Council members for the open mayor’s seat this year, but the only other interested party, Ron Menor, quickly dropped out.

Council seats definitely have NOT been a route to governor of Hawaii.

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