Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
On September 21, 2007, Hawaii will become the first state in the country to annually celebrate its own Peace Day. In honor of that day, which is celebrated throughout the world as the United Nations International Day of Peace, people of all ages from around the state are invited to submit an artistic expression of what "peace" means to them. The art work will be displayed at the State Capitol and award winners will be announced at a special ceremony.
I introduced the Peace Day bill on behalf of youth members of the Hawaii Buddhist Association. I was impressed that these young people cared enough about peace in the world to stick with it through the legislative process. We all need to start thinking more about how we, as individuals, can create peace. They say that life imitates art, and if that's the case, let's begin with our personal expressions of peace through art.
Here's how to submit expressions of peace:
Format: For this first year, art work format will be limited to 2-dimensional art such as paintings, drawing, prints or posters; and literary submissions 500 words or less, such as stories, essays and poetry.
Eligibility: Everyone! People of all ages are encouraged to participate.
Deadline: September 1, 2007
Information required: Please include your name, age, mailing address and telephone number. If desired, you may also include a brief bio and explanation of the piece submitted.
Mail to: Dr. Jeannie Lum, Matsunaga Institute for Peace, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Saunders Hall #723, 2424 Maile Way, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822.
Or drop off in person to: Office of Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, State Capitol, Room 427.
Friday, July 27, 2007
The two memorials are made of polished black granite arranged in a serpentine wall, about 6 ft. high and nearly 100 ft. long. The wall contains individual squares on which are engraved the names of veterans who died during each war. The names are listed chronologically by year.
The memorials are graced by two poems:
Long ago, far off,
Grieve not for lost youth.
Graved in memory and stone
we dwell in your dreams.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Rep. Joe Bertram is not on the task force, but participated in the meeting. His viewpoint in support of the Wailea 670 project, also known as Honua'ula appeared in the Maui News on 7/22. The project has come under attack from groups such as Maui Tomorrow and Save Makena. Maui has the highest median price for a single family home of any county in the state. He warns that while many people oppose development, they may not be aware of the consequences. Bertram writes, "Stopping development actually pushes home prices even higher and widens the gap between haves and have-nots. Instead of simply opposing development, it would be more constructive to ask ourselves: 'What kind of development does Maui need?'"
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Rep. Blake Oshiro provided the task force with informational material, including the results of a survey on public disclosure by The Center for Public Integrity, Investigative Journalism in the Public Interest. Conducted in 1999, and updated in April 2006, the 43-question survey was designed to determine whether legislators stand to gain personally from actions taken in office. Hawaii ranked as the 2nd best legislature with a grade of "A". The state of Washington ranked #1.
In the Governors Disclosure rankings, released on July 19th, Hawaii also ranked #2 behind Washington. However, Washington was the only state to receive an "A", and Hawaii received a "B".
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
"The state Department of Budget and Finance told the Department of Education that it would not release $110 million out of $235 million appropriated by lawmakers from the general fund in the past two legislative sessions. The restrictions could delay construction work for at least eight months in about 55 of 96 public schools that are first in line for repairs." Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7/22.
"They ignore the fact that with the state collecting $150 million more in revenues in fiscal 2007 than 2006, there is ample money to keep state services at the same level, if not increase them." Ted Liu, DBEDT Director, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7/22.
"On July 1, 2007, departments will receive their respective budget allocations for the first quarter only. Full-year allocations are targeted to be available by September 15, 2007....Please be alerted that budget restrictions may be imposed in September should the current revenue condition continue." Governor Linda Lingle, Exec. Memorandum No. 07-01, 6/27.
Friday, July 20, 2007
This interactive mural is located on the ewa or west side of the chamber level at the State Capitol. I have walked past this mural a hundred times, always drawn to its vibrant color and strong design, but never knew its story until today.
The mural was created by a group of young artists at a downtown poetry slam. The event was organized by Progress Hawaii which, according to the information card, engages young citizens in the political process through creative, dynamic and sometimes unusual means. Progress Hawaii registered the young voters and educated them about legislation that affects their lives. The mural is an expression of their concerns and their pledge to participate in Hawaii's political process. The interactive mural was coordinated by Hawaii artist Solomon Enos. There is no date on the card, and the websites listed are no longer active. Is Progress Hawaii still around? Getting more young people engaged and politically active is an important cause.
Georgette Deemer - House communications director
The bill gives authority to the Governor, the state Director of Transportation, the 4 county Mayors and the county Directors of Transportation, to designate an area as a "traffic emergency zone". This is defined as an area that is accessible by only one state highway, and the public health and safety would be endangered by the closure of the highway due to a traffic accident, natural disaster, or other emergency. The bill allows the state or county to designate the old cane haul roads as a temporary state highway and indemnifies the owner of the cane haul road from liability. The cane haul roads were once an important transportation system for Hawaii at a time when our state's economy was driven by agriculture. They now have the potential to be an important part of the state's emergency traffic plan.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Photo: Tom tells a Honolulu woman that she is owed $17,000 from the unclaimed property program.
The "Unclaimed Property Project" uses data from the state's unclaimed property program.
Here's some information on how to check to see if you are owed money:
Go to http://www.repbrower.org/ and click on the Unclaimed Property link.
Enter your name to fill out an on-line claim form. If you see that money is owed to you, contact the Unclaimed Property Program in one of the following ways:
- Call 586-1589 on Oahu, 974-4000 on Hawaii, 274-3141 on Kauai, or 984-2400 on Maui.
- Email your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Visit or write to #1 Capitol District Building, 250 S. Hotel Street, Room 304, Honolulu, HI 96813.
If you need help, or if you want to let him know how your claim went, email Rep. Tom Brower at email@example.com or call him at 398-5653.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Are our current policies and prevention efforts on drug trafficking, drug abuse and prohibition working? The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Tommy Waters, will hold an informational briefing on the root cause of crime in Hawaii. ACLU Hawaii, Community Alliance on Prisons, and the Drug Policy forum of Hawaii are co-hosts.
When: Tuesday, July 17th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Where: State Capitol, Room 325
Judge Steven Alm - 1st Circuit Judge, Honolulu. Judge Alm is the chair of the Intermediate Sanctions Policy Council and Founder of H.O.P.E.
Judge James P. Gray - California Superior Court Judge. Judge Gray is the author of "Why our drug laws have failed and what we can do about it".
Eric E. Sterling - President, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. Mr. Sterling is the liaison to the American Bar Association's Committee on Substance Abuse.
Did you know? Hawaii's incarceration rates are on the rise. We export more than half of our prisoners to private U.S. prisons. Hawaii's female prison population is at almost 2X the national average. Hawaii is the largest customer of Corrections Corporation of America at $50 million a year.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Public Service Announcement or Campaigning?
Back in June, Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona announced his intention to run for Governor in 2008 and has since held a number of fundraisers statewide. At the same time, he is the principal spokesperson in a series of tax payer funded “Start Living Healthy” commercials, aka public service announcements, which are receiving a great amount of print and air time on broadcast and cable. The state should enlist great role models such as Tadd Fujikawa, Colt Brennan or Clarissa Moore to promote healthy living, for the Lieutenant Governor is campaigning and should step down from this role.
One of the first bills to pass the Legislature this session was HB389, which Governor Lingle signed into law as Act 54 on May 1st. The law now states that candidates for public office are prohibited from appearing in public service announcements from the time they file their nomination papers until the time they are no longer a candidate. Certainly, the L.G. would not like to contradict his previous press release of February 1, 2006 wherein he believed it would “not be appropriate” to appear in any public service announcement since he was running for office. Again, he may not be in violation, technically, but as a former judge and as someone who aspires to be Governor, I'm sure he would want to be sensitive to the spirit of the law and not stoop to a technical loop hole. While the L.G. has not filed papers, he is obviously and visibly in campaign mode. I would like to remind all potential candidates of this new addition to campaign law."
Saturday, July 14, 2007
The requirement is modeled after federal legislation, co-sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn and Barack Obama, which instructs the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to provide online information on federal grants and contract disbursements. Hawaii became the 5th state last week to open up state accounting records, joining Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Texas. The NTU had one recommendation for change. Given that the federal legislation dollar level is $25,000, they suggested that Hawaii may want to consider lowering the threshold next year.
Friday, July 13, 2007
The art he selected for his office reflects his appreciation for fine craftsmanship using natural materials, such as this series of ceramic and reed sculptures, each standing 8 to 10 inches tall. De Silva was born and raised in Hawaii but studied art at Waseda University in Tokyo.
This unusual leather sculpture never fails to draw attention. Standing only about a foot tall, the piece looks like wood, but is flexible to the touch.
By Rep. John Mizuno
That was the subject discussed on July 7th, as the panel weighed in on a proposed national healthcare system as well as Hawaii's consideration of Universal Health Care.
Congressman Abercrombie supports his colleagues US Reps John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich, authors of HR676 - The United States National Health Insurance Act. The bill creates a publicly financed health care system that ensures that all Americans have access to the highest quality and most cost effective health care service regardless of their income or health status. Dr. Gise confirmed that this would provide health care for everyone in our state, especially those in rural areas, including mental health care.
During the 2007 session, I introduced HB56 which provides health care for all Hawaii residents through a single payer system. The bill did not pass this session but remains alive in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Should both national and state measures pass in 2008, the state measure would yield to the national system. However, the state system could be implemented in 2 to 3 years, while the federal system would probably take 4 to 5 years.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Now that the override session is over, the legislative process is complete, and we call on the Governor to do what the executive branch is constitutionally mandated to do -- implement the law.
It is our opinion, as well as the opinion of our legal counsel, that the bills the Governor vetoed are not technically or fatally flawed. We did not approach the special session with the mindset that we would override for the sake of overriding to show political muscle. House leadership set specific criteria to determine whether a vetoed bill rose to the level of being overridden, and we discussed each bill thoroughly in our caucuses, as did the Senate. When the House and Senate came together, our two override lists were very similar even though we had discussed the overrides independently. Here are the criteria we used:
- The bill, on third or final reading in each house, should have been passed by at least a two-thirds vote.
- The bill, as much as possible, should not include a general fund appropriation.
- The bill promotes at least one of the following public purposes of major signficance: public safety, public health, and working class protection. Subsequently, in working with the Senate, we added environmental protection/planning and technology to this criteria.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Now a group on Kauai, called Maluia-WCMS (Waimea Canyon Middle School), made up of staff, parents, and concerned community members, have created a blog to document an on-going problem with pesticide spraying. Here is the link to their blog, which contains a You Tube video of the spraying activity. The group claims that the press has given the public safety issue facing Waimea Canyon Middle School minimal attention. They also claim that Syngenta, the company that is spraying pesticides on agricultural lands west of the school, has broken their agreement not to spray before 3:30 p.m., while students, teachers and staff are still on campus. They report that since then there have been a number of complaints of symptoms indicative of pesticide exposure.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Bills that were vetoed and overridden:
HB30 - International trade agreements
HB310 - Broadband task force
HB 718 - Kewalo keiki fishing conservancy
HB1270 - 2050 Sustainability Plan
HB1503 - Dislocated workers
HB1605 - Maui traffic control center
HB1830 - Baby safe haven.
SB932 - Offender re-entry system
SB1066 - Marine containers fee for invasive species
SB1191 - Pedestrian safety
SB1922 - Creative media lease space at Hawaii public television
Related to the override session, Rep. Della Au Belatti has an opinion piece in today's Advertiser on her approach to and consideration of the veto overrides.
Monday, July 9, 2007
Friday, July 6, 2007
Acrylic and enamel on paper
Rep. Clift Tsuji (District 3 - South Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown) had one criteria in selecting art work for his office at the State Capitol--he wanted to showcase artists from The Big Island. His selection includes work by Hiroki Morinoue, Shirley Hasenyager, Seiichi Osada, Clifford Panis, and others. The painting by Wayne Miyamoto is mounted above Rep. Tsuji's desk. The artist statement says: "One of the reasons for the title of this piece is the many layers of paint on the surface, and the subsequent scraping and digging into the paint to uncover the image."
"Home Sweet Hovel" by Jane Fullerton
This is a detail from Jane Fullerton's mixed media piece in Rep. Tsuji's waiting area. It depicts images of plantation life in Keaau, including the old sugar plantation store. "The painting is my emotional response to those lost lifestyles and to the people whose lives left an imprint on Keaau," said Fullerton.
As Majority Leader, I learned of the request, not from the administration, but from the press. That is not the way to reach resolution on anything, let alone legislation on which we disagree. That said, if the Governor felt there was a way to avoid vetoes, I wish she would have approached us even before publishing the potential veto list so that we could have the time required to work on the bills together. For the sake of good legislation that benefits the public, we're all for a "meeting of the minds." Unfortunately, the letter that came down yesterday seemed more show than substance. Knowing that we would have no time to comply, it meant to make us look uncooperative. And, of course, it's always a bit suspicious when the administration calls the media to alert them to exactly when the letter will be delivered to Senator Hanabusa's office, just in case they want to get it on video.
Rep. Kirk Caldwell, Majority Leader
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Monday, July 2, 2007
House of Reps members and staff cheer on Speaker Say with "Cal Can Cook" signs.
Speaker's recipe for "Palolo Pork Chops" is to pan fry them in garlic and oil, topped with fresh sauteed island vegetables. His poached salmon was cooked Chinese style with hot oil, garlic, ginger, shoyu (soy sauce), green onions and Chinese parsley (cilantro).
Speaker Calvin Say celebrates victory with sons Jared and Geoffrey, wife Cora, and friend/assistant chef Wes Yonamine. In addition to the winning entries, Speaker cooked up two additional dishes: "Local Girls Spam"- cubes of spam fried with fresh island vegetables, and "Poor Man's Sardines" - canned sardines sauteed with garlic and onions on a bed of sauteed watercress.