We are live blogging the inauguration of Neil Abercrombie as Hawaii’s next governor. Get the latest here.

If you were at Iolani Palace and would like to share your own photos and videos for our slideshow and blog, please send them to dan@civilbeat.com.

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View a slideshow of the inauguration

2:00 p.m. First Action

In his first official announcement as governor in the executive chambers at the Capitol, and with Brian Schatz at his side, Neil Abercrombie released $67 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund to restore 17 instructional days for the current school year. Nearly $24 million from the Rainy Day Fund was released for community programs.

12:52 p.m. Back To Work

There are another 15 minutes or so of inauguration events to go — including one more performance by the 111th Army Band — but Civil Beat is ready to call it a day for this live blog.

A celebration now follows on the Capitol lawn, with food, fun and more good music.

And now, Governor Abercrombie must go to work.

He’s already got his first press conference set for 1:30 in Executive Chambers at the Capitol.

12:27 p.m. The Scene After Speeches

As the governor wrapped up his inaugural address, protesters continued to shout, including this line: “Abercrombie is a terrorist.”

Some in the crowd are heading for the exits as music and hula continues to be performed from the bandstand.

Too bad: They’ll miss the LDS Tongan Choir singing the “Hallelujah” chorus from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

But most of the audience and VIPs are sticking around.

12:20 Conch Shells Sound After Speech

“I have said this election was not about me. The other person that I turn to often in these moments in meditation is the Dalai Lama. And his meditation for today said if you can help others with sincere motivations and sincere concern, this will bring you more than good fortune — more friends, more smiles, more success. If you forget others and forget their rights and neglect others, ultimately you will be very lonely.

That I think is the great message of aloha. The great message of lokahi. The great message of the foundation of Hawaii nei by its Polynesian ancestors.

We’re island people. We understand the necessity of working together, of pulling together. We understand perhaps better than others what nature has provided for us. We understand that we must work together as island people in order to bring the full measure of what paradise has promised to us. We need to bring what Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in prison, facing death: a sense of civic courage. The necessity of drawing on the best each of us has, working with each other, to see to it that we live up to the legacy of Hawaii nei”

At the end of the speech, the blowing of conch shells could be heard.

Abecrombie quoted as inspirations Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and martyr who was executed by the Hitler regime just before the end of World War II; the Dalai Lama; and Francis Perkins, U.S. Secretary of Labor under FDR and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet.

12:15 p.m. Abercrombie On Message

“The sun rose this morning bringing a new day. What becomes of this day is in the hands of all of us. On this day, as Brian indicated, we begin our work, creating sustainable economics, investing in our people, building strong communities. Yes, our first job is to accelerate the economic recovery, restoration of good jobs, create good jobs, capitalize on new opportunities. Work smarter, work in partnerships to optimize our results.

Yes, we’ll face challenges, but we’ll not let these become excuses. Instead our driving message will be make it happen and make it happen by working together.”

12:10 p.m. A Grateful Abercrombie Takes Stage

The governor silences the crowd with an emotional beginning, saying that yesterday his mother (who died in Florida in 2004) was finally laid to rest in Hawaii.

“All of us are grateful for our mothers and fathers. I have had the good fortune in my life to be blessed by the presence of three of them.

My mother Vera June, was laid to her final rest yesterday as we were able to gather for the first time in many years all of our family in one place.

On this occasion, of this inauguration, our family from across the country was able to gather at my mother’s beloved Hilton lagoon, where for many years she lived in Waikiki.

She came to all of the fundraisers, went to all of the events, and wanted to be laid to rest finally in Hawaii nei.”

After talking about his mother, he shouts out to his mother in law, Ellen Caraway, and his hanai mother (adopted), Aunty Aggie, and his hanai brother, Kamaki.

Before going on message, the new governor touched on a Biblical theme.

“Since ancient times, sorrowfulness of the heart, resignation, has been one of the deadly sins.

Psalm 100 Verse 2 says ‘Serve the Lord with gladness.’ This is what our life has been given to us for. Joy belongs to the living. It does not deny the stress we are subject to but joy opens closed doors. It is joy that overcomes anxiety and need.”

12:04 p.m. Schatz Says Election is Over

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz takes podium and thanks his wife and family. He goes on to say it’s time for problem solving. “Government needs to do less dictating and more listening.”

Talking about the national political scene, he says:

“Blame is in abundance and collective responsibilty is in short supply. Hawaii must not succumb to this.

We must resist it, reverse it and come to work together.

That means that everybody who cares about Hawaii — Republicans, Democrats, independents, people who voted for us, and maybe especially people who didn’t need to hear this: The election is over and the time to solve problems is now.”

12:00 p.m. We Have a New Governor

Neil Abercrombie is sworn in by Associate Justice James E. Duffy. He’s the state’s seventh governor.

The 19-gun salute has birds chirping, flapping and flying quickly away from palace grounds.

11:51 a.m. Willie K Touches Military Hearts

Willie’s K’s song praising U.S. troops brings tears to the eyes of the many military personnel on hand at the palace today. “One for the troops, and one for the soldiers…”

Abercrombie first came to the attention of many in Hawaii as a protester of the Vietnam War. He worked hard to build relationships with the armed services while in Congress.

11:49 a.m. Poetry Picks Up Abercrombie’s Message

Slam poet Kealoha throws it down! “We gaze up to the infinite sky … the ocean is our soundtrack!”

He picked up on Abercrombie’s message of change and earned an ear-to-ear grin from Abercrombie. Here’s an excerpt:

“The sky is changing. But change comes easy when it comes sustainably.

The color, it embraces our gazes gently with profound understanding. It is rich with wisdom. An accumulation of light growing in the east, jumping past New York and D.C., past Michigan and California.

Let us harness the warmth of your experiences, engage our imaginations with an image of our potential.

Let us never forget how far we come or where we are going. We align our sights with the horizon.

The poem’s title is “A New Day In Hawaii.”

It’s the first time many have seen the poet not wearing his usual head bandana.

11:34 a.m. Willie K Sings Anthem

Willie K’s singing of the National Anthem has hands on hearts and in salute. Protesters still try to shout out their complaints.

Audience members join in Richard Hoopii‘s rendition of “Hawaii Ponoi.” “To listen and abide,” he reminds the audience of the lyrics.

11:29 a.m. The Mayor is in the House

Mayor Peter Carlisle has arrived, walking briskly toward his seat but stopping to greet people along the way with brief waves and handshakes.

An American Sign Language translator has taken her post on the pavilion, with one minute until the inauguration party starts.


Credit: Keith Rollman
11:28 a.m. Lingle, Aiona Arrive

Polite applause erupts as the soon-to-be former governor and LG walk the red carpet.

Abercrombie is met with huge whoops.

Shouts are heard from King Street, where protesters have gathered.

“This is sacred ground!” they scream.

11:25 a.m. Name-Dropping

The palace grounds are starting to fill up, although it seems well shy of the expected 5,000.

Wanna know who’s here? A sampling:

From media: Ramsay Wharton, out of politics and back on TV, and Donalyn Dela Cruz, out of Bishop Museum and on the job as administration press secretary. Jim Loomis from Maui, Jay Fidell of Oahu. And Pam and Pierre Omidyar, publisher of Civil Beat..

From the state Senate: Brickwood Galuteria, Donna Mercado Kim, Donovan Dela Cruz, Will Espero, Jill Tokuda, Carol Fukunaga and former Sen. Norman Sakamoto.

From the state House: Tom Brower, Sylvia Luke, Scott Saiki, Cynthia Thielen and Kimberly Pine. Former Rep and Lt. Gov. candidate Lyla Berg is here as well

From the Honolulu City Council: Ikaikia Anderson, Tusli Gabbard Tamayo and former member Lee Donohue.

From the BOE: None other than Kim Coco Iwamoto.

11:12 a.m. Abercrombie on Abercrombie

Neil Abercrombie’s brother, Hal Abercrombie, thanked musicians Aaron Mahi and Dennis Kamakahi for sharing their talents. “He’s going to be good,” Hal Abercrombie promised of his brother’s future as governor. “He really cares about the arts. He is going to do good things.”

11:02 a.m. Biodegradable Inauguration

Abercrombie’s communications guy, Josh Levinson, arranged for the Kokua Hawaii Foundation to man the water stations and food tables.

The nonprofit foundation, which supports environmental education in the schools and communities, is giving out drinking cups made of cornstarch and utensils and plates made of bagasse.

“It’s all biodegradable,” says a foundation volunteer, handing out a bumper-sticker that reads “Plastic Free Hawaii.”

Somewhere, Jack Johnson is singing a happy song. (Of course, we don’t know what he’d think about the bumper sticker being made of plastic.)

10:33 a.m. Hawaiian Societies Arrive

With the men wearing black and the ladies in white muumuu, the Royal Order of Kamehameha and other members of Hawaiian societies are walking the red carper and being seated.

Robert Cazimero will shortly perform an oli (chant). Music by Aaron Mahi and Dennis Kamakahi follows.

10:17 a.m. “I’m Here for My Kupuna”

About a half dozen Hawaiian protesters are gathered peacefully by the main entrance to Iolani Palace.

“I’m here for Liliuokalani,” one said.

Another holds up a sign that says “I’m here for my kupuna.”

The group, Hawaiian Kingdom, led by Leon Siu, is protesting the use of the palace grounds for the inauguration of the governor. American troops seized the Hawaiian Kingdom under Queen Liluokalani’s rule in 1893.

Though outgoing Gov. Linda Lingle held her inauguration at the State Capitol rotunda, the majority of Hawaii governors have held their ceremonies at the palace.

Incoming DLNR director and Hawaiian cultural practictioner William Aila stopped to speak with the group.

10:05 a.m. First Order of Business

Not wasting any time, Neil Abercrombie will holds his first press conference as governor at 1:30 this afternoon — only 90 minutes after he is sworn in.

Abercrombie will announce “his first gubernatorial action,” according to aids.

The location is the Executive Office on the State Capitol’s august fifth floor.

9:29 a.m. A Message from the New Governor

“Aloha Everyone,” Neil Abercrombie writes in the lightly-textured pages of his inauguration program. “This morning the sun rose in paradise, bringing a new day. What becomes of this day is in the hands of we, the people — stewards of our land and water, providers for our families and citizens of our community.

On this day in Hawai‘i, we begin our work on building a sustainable prosperity that can be enjoyed today and for generations to come. We will make investments in the capabilities of our people, and we will build strong communities based on our core values of compassion and unity.

But before we begin this work, let us take a moment to reflect on those who came before us, who overcame nature’s challenges, economic struggle, war and discrimination to provide us with the opportunities we have today.

Their stories give us this revelation: if we are to succeed in our new day, we must make a solemn commitment to one another. We cannot let personal differences overwhelm our pursuit of the common good. We cannot let cynicism and doubt eclipse our focus on what is possible. We must forgive each other for our natural shortcomings. And we must do our best, everyday, to act with aloha in our hearts.

These are challenging times, but together we are a resourceful and resilient people. When we work as one, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. When all paddle together, the shore will surely be reached.

Imua Hawai‘i!

Neil Abercrombie”

9:22 a.m. Precious Bodily Fluids

The King Street entrance to the palace has opened and folks are starting to trickle in.

As promised, there are water dispensers sprinkled around the palace grounds. Less obvious, however, is the location of restrooms.

An enterprising Civil Beat reporter has conducted a thorough investigation and learned this:

Inauguration volunteers and musicians are using a unisex toilet in the palace barracks.
A large white trailer near the barracks and the first aid station, on the mauka-ewa side of the palace, is for the public. It’s clean (so far) and air-conditioned!
There are bathrooms at the Capitol, the Hawaii State Library and Honolulu Hale.
9:16 a.m. Mayors stick together

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho and outgoing Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares have reserved seats together. They’re not top-tier VIPs, at least not by seat placement. The mayors are sitting a row behind outgoing Gov. Linda Lingle, former governors George Ariyoshi, Ben Cayetano and John Waihee. None of these guests appear to have arrived, and likely won’t for some time.

8:51 a.m. Pecking Order

Seating assignments for the VIPs include the following:

To the left of Iolani Bandstand, seats are assigned for (in order) to Linda Lingle, Duke Aiona, George and Jean Ariyoshi, John and Lynne Waihee, Ben and Vicky Cayetano, Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa.

(There appear to be no seats for Dan Inouye and Dan Akaka, as they worked through the weekend in D.C.**)

Next to the governors are seats for Mark Recktenwald, Paula Nakayama, Simeon Acoba and judges Richard Clifton, David Ezra, Samuel King and others.

On the right side of the bandstand are seats for Calvin Say, Shan Tsutsui and Garrett Toguchi.

The front-row seats are for Nancie Caraway‘s mom, Brian Schatz‘s family and longtime friends of Neil Abercrombie like Amy Agbayani.

Not far back are seats for Andrew Aoki, Amy Asselbaye and Bill Kaneko. A second section behind them holds seats for the Cabinet nominees.

8:10 a.m. DMZ Hawaii is organizing a protest march to Iolani Palace. The group, which opposes the military presence in the islands, is scheduled to gather at Kakaako Waterfront Park and then head to the makai corner of King and Richards Street facing the palace and the Coronation Stand where the inauguration festivities are scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m.

Why the protest: “The protesters maintain that having the inauguration on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace, the most recognizable and enduring symbol of the Hawaiian nation, would constitute an act of disrespect and desecration of this historic and sacred site; an affront to the royals and subjects whose nation was summarily stolen from them in 1893; and a senseless act of provocation to the Hawaiian people of today.”

7:45 a.m. The Iolani Palace and State Capitol grounds are already buzzing with activity, as people finalize arrangements for today’s festivities. There are camouflaged guards standing watch over the median between the palace and Capitol, and other security guards making rounds. Big white tents are shading the grass. For now, they’re mostly empty.

No Parking For A New Day

In case you’ve missed the advisories, please be aware that Iolani Palace will be crawling with more than 5,000 people today, including media, security and keiki o ka aina.

Neil Abercrombie‘s team strongly suggests folks park far away and walk, bike or bus to the inauguration. No big umbrellas, please — you’ll block someone’s view.

And bring your own bottle or cup to drink water, which will be available in dispensaries. The idea is to cut down on trash.

Events begin at 9:45 a.m., the swearing in is at noon and a party follows from 1 to 4 p.m. on the Capitol lawn next door.


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