This was the week where Gov. Neil Abercrombie had to begin to show his cards.

The image that stuck with me came from an article by our lead reporter at the Capitol, Chad Blair, about the State of the State speech.

“The juxtaposition of a governor calling for sacrifice even from the most needy while groups fighting to help them sat in the audience was jarring,” Chad wrote.

“What was even more stunning was when Neil Abercrombie sprinted up to the Rotunda after his address to speak directly to the PHOCUSED folks, people ranging in age from keiki to kupuna.”

PHOCUSED stands for Protecting Hawaii’s Ohana Children Under Served Elderly and Disabled, the very people Abercrombie spoke of with compassion on the campaign trail.

Whether intentional on his part or not, I was struck by the difference between Abercrombie’s approach to the people at the Capitol and that of former Gov. Linda Lingle, who imposed furloughs on the schools but refused to meet with parents and students who occupied her office in an effort to end them.

Perhaps Lingle didn’t want to give in to pressure, but her unwillingness to let down her guard made her look smaller. Abercrombie reaching out to those his policies might hurt made him look bigger.

His action was an encouraging sign that we might have a governor who’ll be able to speak difficult truths even to those who support him, those to whom he may feel the closest bond.

Could Abercrombie do in Hawaii what Nixon did with China? As a liberal with impeccable bona fides as a pro-worker, pro-little guy politician, will he tell government employees straight that the state has gone too far in providing benefits and compensation it cannot afford? Only a hardliner like Nixon could have opened the door to China. Perhaps it will be Abercrombie’s contribution to open the door to a change in how government runs in Hawaii.

Twenty-one days vacation, 21 sick days and 13 paid holidays the first year on the job. A pension and health system that are broken. The list goes on. The public worker deserves respect and support, but not promises that are beyond the means of the state’s taxpayers.

Many of you got to know the value of Civil Beat during the election campaign. I hope you saw this week with the return of our Fact Checks and our probing coverage of the Legislature and state issues, that there are many more reasons to follow the news on this service.

Among the stories you wouldn’t have found anywhere else this week:

We’ll keep at it. I hope you’ll share what you find on our service with others you think might be interested.

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