Waiting For Lingle To Do Something

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - February 13, 2008
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I voted for Linda Lingle - twice. The first time because I felt she brought a better intellect and style to the office of governor than Mazie Hirono. The second time because her Democratic opponent was a political nobody put up just so that side of the ballot would not be blank.

That said, she’s been a great disappointment as a governor, and a failure at using her bully pulpit to change our inertia.

You might blame her chief policy adviser, Linda Smith, and her chief communications adviser, Lenny Klompus. But I blame Lingle. After all, she’s the brains and she’s the experienced communicator.

The common grumble about her has been that she hasn’t spent time schmoozing the legislators and looking for ways to enlist support for her proposals. She looked at her GOP victory more as a challenge to the 40-year-old Democratic control of state government than a trigger to get things moving.

What’s she given us? Most of her ideas have been weak or regurgitations. She’s mainly been the photo-op queen. Her early snuggle up to George Bush and the Iraq visit complete with armored vest at a Baghdad factory are items she’d probably have us forget.

The no-environmental-assessment decision for the Superferry was an embarrassment. Especially for her, because her former transportation chief Barry Fukunaga swears that “no meetings regarding this or any matter relating to specific issues surrounding the development of the operating agreement, facility and systems improvements and other technical details were held with the governor.” And her then chief of staff Bob Awana says he wasn’t involved. If that’s true, Lingle was totally out of the loop on a big one.

She rightfully took a body blow from state Rep. Kirk Caldwell as the Darth Vader in the non-spending of state funds for badly needed pedestrian crossing-safety measures. Klompus cried foul in a letter to the media, but he - and she - fouled out with the AARP on that one.

Somewhere she went off the tracks. This year she sought to get back on, but left most of us scratching our heads over that toss-out about buying up the whole Kuilima/Turtle Bay property.

Yeah, right, just when we have massive infrastructure problems, slowing tourism and maybe $40 million less revenue than was anticipated for the coming fiscal year!

You’ve got to lay some groundwork before you spring a $500 million surprise like that on people. I agree with political blogger Ian Lind on this one. He wrote that “we had another episode in which an unformed idea is dumped raw and undeveloped onto a public stage as sort of a challenge to others to step up and make it into something.”

The Hawaii-as-renewable-energy-model proposal is pretty exciting, although that’s mainly the feds using us because we have the abundance of sunshine and wind.

No, when Lingle is gone very few will remember that she was here - the Democrat-turned-moderate-Republican who blew the teachers’ contract over drug testing, school governance reform, highway maintenance and relations with the Legislature.

A great disappointment.

By 2010 we’ll have a plethora of strong gubernatorial candidates. Probably most electrifying for the political atmosphere will be current U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

I’d always hoped Harry Kim of the Big Island would run. But his health won’t permit that. I suppose Charles Djou could run for the House this year and then for governor in 2010. He’s an idea man.

Well, that’s all meaningless dreaming. We’ve still got the better part of three years of Lingle ahead of us.

Not a period of great expectations.

three star

House Bill 466 would make St. Francis Hospital (a Catholic healthcare system owned by Hawaii Medical Centers) give morning-after contraceptive pills to rape victims.

I know that’s a theological dilemma for Catholics because the pills do cause an abortion if the woman has been impregnated. Lawmakers seem disinclined to allow St. Francis a religious exemption.

That strikes me as proper. Hospitals are emergency treatment centers for all. When ER beds are full, ambulances go wherever there’s room.

Rape victims, Catholic or not, should not be denied contraceptive treatment because they’ve landed in a hospital that won’t provide it.


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