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.

What’s A Journalist?

There’s been a running dialogue going this week on Facebook between a contributor named Mike Burke and some other members of the community over the terms “journalist”and “journalism.”

Burke feels that bias has crept into journalism and he puts part of the blame for that on those who are given space for opinions and observations rather than just reporting “he said/she said” or “the President/mayor/police chief said.”

Here’s his complaint: ” Education and experience do not in my mind make a journalist. Honoring journalism fundamentals which demand objectivity and strict avoidance of personal bias separate a true journalist from a mere poser offering personal opinions. I reserve my identification of a professional journalist to those who actually practice journalism, not “my tens cents” opining. For useful opinions, I rely on experts in a particular field. You are not an expert in any subject, as far as I can tell. It’s not all that difficult for readers to tell the difference.”

I’m the first to admit that some crappy reporting has crept into daily journalism. Actually, I should say that some crappy reporting has been around since the time of the Penny Papers in the American Colonies!

Where the “my ten cents opining” is concerned, newspapers and TV often use journalists or others with long experience in politics, military affairs, medicine, etc. to share their thoughts (opinions) on difficult subjects. The key is to make sure the journalist has the background (mine is in 64 years of local, national and international reporting) to have a valid opinion to offer. There are small helpful things: a medical-issues journalist brings more heft to his/her opinion if he/she has a medical degree. I have a law degree.

Most newspapers try to run a variety of opinions. MidWeek was especially consistent on that. You got me and Dan Boylan, but also Michelle Malkin and Pat Buchanan.


So read a variety and then make up your own mind.

I Finally Come Clean!

I suspect most of us have been getting away from even basic good hygiene far too long — until The Virus came along.

We avoided death but not always sickness. Our health was more a factor of chance and providence. Also, we have clean water, fairly clean fresh food, disease-resistant bodies and great health care.

So we’d come to not expect the Spanish Flu (not really theirs any more than is the “China Virus”) or the Black Death plague.

I’m a prime example of careless living because we falsely believe things like the “English Sweat” of 1485, which killed tens of thousands, are behind us.

I have seldom washed my hands unless it’s in the shower. I mean truly washed, not a quick rinse after going doodoo. I didn’t often wash my hands before cooking. And to be honest, I thought it was excessive to do that wash and blow dry in a theater or airport after peeing. My penis is not dirty.

Sometimes I got very sick but wrote it off as a “foreign bug” because I usually got it while traveling.

So in Iceland last year, I got so sick I couldn’t eat or drive. A local doctor said it was a “nose infection” and gave me medicine. Three or four days later I recovered. I now think it was bacterial from touching everything everywhere and never washing my hands.

I got so sick in Colombia that I needed wheelchair assistance at the airports there and here on the way home. Could barely walk. I now suspect no-hand-washing.

Most common are bacterial infections — likely what I had. Certain bacteria are able to survive outside of a host and remain infective for extended periods of time. These organisms may be found anywhere, but when they exist on furniture, door knobs or other things used by many people, transmission is more likely to occur. Consumption of contaminated food is another common mode of transmission of bacterial infection.

“Oh, no, I nevah went wash my hands!”

What really worries me now that we’ve come face-to-face with Covid-19 is secondary bacterial infection after the initial viral infection.

Dr. Jonathan McCullers, professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and chair of the pediatrics infectious disease department, says:

“Major public health agencies are funding studies on viral interactions, and data are starting to trickle out that indicate what clinicians have known for some time: Secondary pneumonia following influenza infection is a big problem.”

Dr. Jonathan McCullers

So I’m washing my hands several times a day and especially after shopping for groceries and handling the stuff I bring home.

Yes, even after peeing! After reading the morning newspaper, and even after typing on the keyboard to send out this column.

Social distancing may be wise and necessary, but I’m now of a mind that long-term avoidance of bad things starts at the lowest level of hygiene — washing the hands.

Josh & Jean: #2s Don’t Always Play Ball by #1s Rules

That Civil Beat story of a dust-up between Gov. David Ige and Lt. Gov. Josh Green reminded me of Jean King’s time in the #2 slot and the frequent hard times between her and Gov. George Ariyoshi.

The main issues are a bit different. King thought the governor made some seriously wrong moves such as the Kohala Task Force and wasn’t sufficiently progressive. Green simply has his own opinions about ways to combat Covid-19 and they haven’t always meshed with the epidemiology advice Ige gets from his top two disease fighters, Dr. Sarah Park and State Health director Bruce Anderson.

But the underlying irritant is the same. Governors don’t like to be publicly second-guessed by their #2s. And the #2s generally are feathering their publicity nest to run for #1.

Added is that #1 and #2 are not the result of an in-house running team like the President and Vice President of the U.S. are. Presidential nominees get to pick a running mate. Hawaii lets the voters pick one and the nominee is stuck with that. Some times it works. Sometimes — not so well.


Jean King was the first female elected to be lieutenant governor and as a very progressive Democrat in a rapidly “progressivizing” Democratic society, she probably saw herself on track to be the next #1.

It was in her blood to speak up for liberalism. She had worked for Harry Bridges of the ILWU, when that union was considered by many in Washington to be one step away from the Communist Party. 

In 1950, King campaigned to be a delegate to Hawaii’s constitutional convention. Her platform included equal rights for women, strong individual and minority group rights, and unsegregated school systems.

She lost, went back to school, then made a political comeback by being elected first to the State House and then to the Senate.

When she got to the LG’s office, she found herself surrounded by heavyweight Democrats who had turned more conservative than they’d been in previous years. Ariyoshi wasn’t making all the waves his campaign had led voters to suspect. King became the outspoken champion of the very liberal elements.

She refuted Ariyoshi on environmental issues and affordable housing. She insisted more be done to help the homelessness. 

So she ran against Ariyoshi in the next primary — and lost by a lot.

Green would not be running against Ige, who will be termed out in ‘22. But party leaders might have someone else in mind and expect Ige to tamp down Green’s public exposure. Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s already an announced candidate. Colleen Hanabusa is always a possible, although she’s told me she’d be done with future politics if she were elected mayor this year.

We’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out.

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