The Problem With ‘Clean’ Elections

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - March 14, 2007
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Clean election sign-wavers on Pali Highway
Clean election sign-wavers on Pali Highway

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, and incurring the wrath of the most reformist of MidWeek readers.

There’s been some (not much) Legislature sympathy for publicly funded state elections, promulgated by Voter Owned Hawaii, formerly called Clean Elections. “Clean” was scrubbed because local politicians who run on contributions squealed “what - you’re saying we’re dirty?”

It would be nice to have law-makers not even marginally beholden to fat cats. We limit contributions to candidates but not to organizations who can run ads unauthorized (ha, ha!) by a candidate. We cannot force a candidate to use only public money. That must be voluntary.

It’s the public money part that puts me off. Do you realize how huge a hit it would be on the state treasury to finance all those candidates? And why should I contribute my income and excise taxes to finance candidates I want defeated?


If a candidate can easily raise $1 million in the private sector, do you think he’s going to settle for paltry public funds? Sure, the opponent can embarrass him as a fat cat tool, but a million in TV and newspaper ads will carry the day. We could finance the under-dog up to the amount that million-dollar candidate spends but from which programs would that public money be diverted?

I’m sure not going to pay more tax to finance every Tom, Dick and Henrietta who signs up and raises the required minimum dollars to qualify. Check the figures before you let good intentions carry you away.

 

three star

The confirmation hearing for Glenn Kim to the Hawaii Circuit Court brought up a question from me that I have not heard satisfactorily answered.

I don’t know Kim. I do know he’s been a deputy city prosecutor, and 35 of his colleagues testified in his behalf. I’d expect that. That office understandably wants one of its own of the prosecutorial bent on the bench.


Here’s my question: Kim only got a “qualified” rating from the Hawaii State Bar Association despite his Ph.D. from Harvard, graduating No. 1 in his class at the UH Law School and a bronze star for combat duty in Vietnam. Not “highly qualified.” Odd, huh? The Bar Association won’t say why this mediocre rating.

I’m sure there are many “highly qualified” candidates out there. Why pick anyone who’s not?

 

three star

Garret Hashimoto of the Hawaii Christian Coalition asks “when will people of faith who value traditional family values begin to take a greater interest in the legislative process?”

I don’t know about all people of faith, but the Honolulu Catholic Diocese sure did. The State House deferred indefinitely (killed without a vote) that bill for civil union - less than same-sex marriage but with most of the same rights.

Bill promoter William Woods e-mailed me this after the hearing:

“While the committee was taking testimony, chairman Tommy Waters was absent for a long time. His absence coincided with that of Father Marc Alexander, vicar-general of the Hawaii Catholic Church. Routinely, one member of the committee member after another left the room until only four members remained. The vicar-general returned to the room, the chairman and the absent members of the committee returned. Waters announced that the matter would be deferred indefinitely - meaning no vote would be taken.”

Lawmakers can now tell civil union proponents “I didn’t vote against it” and the opponents that “I didn’t vote for it.”

 

three star

You see where some members of our Legislature spend their (and our) time? Taking testimony on a meaningless resolution in support of the bail bondsman and bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman.

What a total waste of time it was. Even if this committee resolution passes the House and Senate, it won’t amount to a hill of refried beans with the Mexican court.


Chapman is charged with deprivation of liberty for spiriting a wanted American out of Mexico. Heck, even the FBI or U.S. Marshals would have to get Mexico’s OK to grab someone there and haul him back to America. That’s called extradition. Chapman’s problem needs to be resolved in Mexico, not in our Legislature.

This is another one of those rather shameful examples of politicians getting off track by rubbing up against celebrity - albeit the celebrity in this case could turn out to be a criminal in the eyes of another country’s law.

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