Welcome to Gov Watch! Governor-Elect Neil Abercrombie is clearly eager to get to work and so are we. The transition is underway and Civil Beat is reporting from the inside.
4:59 p.m. No New Day today
Not much new on the Abercrombie-Schatz administration transition website NewDayHawaii.org.
As of late Monday afternoon, the most recent press release was posted over three days ago (“Abercrombie Fills Top Two Positions in Governor’s Office”).
A Transition link, however, identifies the following priorities: organize offices of governor and lieutenant governor, assemble cabinet and other executive branch, gather information from Lingle administration “for a smooth and secure transition,” develop an initial governing plan and plan inaugural events.
2:28 p.m. Transition space!
The Abercrombie-Schatz team has been told by the Lingle administration that transition space has been identified. But it’s not at the State Capitol, and it’s not yet ready for the incoming administration to move in.
That’s because the space, located in the Leiopapa a Kamehameha Building at the corner of Beretania and Richards streets — just Ewa of the Capitol and across the street from Washington Place — is still being prepared. An Abercrombie spokeswoman told Civil Beat that state workers are busy installing Internet connections and phone lines in the transition office.
2:01 p.m. The post campaign
The election is over but campaign work continues. A half-dozen or so volunteers (including civil unions activist Michael Golojuch) update mailing databases, roll up Abercrombie banners and stack up political signs for people named Colleen, Brian and Dan — those signs may be used again two, four and six years from now, respectively.
The volunteers’ reward: satisfaction, yes, but also ice water, juice, chili and hot dogs.
To help pass the time, the TV blasts MSNBC, where the talk is about George W’s new book, Obama dancing in Mumbai, and gloating by Jim DeMint. “Let’s play hardball!”
1:15 p.m. Young at heart
Chuck Freedman, campaign chairman for Brian Schatz, won’t be taking a job in the new administration — though he’s well qualified. His background includes a five-year stint as communications manager for Gov. John D.Waihee III and helping run the Barack Obama campaign in Hawaii in 2008.
“I’m 64 — there’s other things I want to do,” says Freedman, who was also formerly a spokesman for Hawaiian Electric. “Government work is hard work, if you do it right.”
Thus far the Abercrombie team is shaping up on the youthful side: Schatz (38), chief of staff Amy Asselbaye (40) and deputy chief of staff Andrew Aoki (41). Transition director Bill Kaneko, an attorney with Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, is 49.
Their boss, of course, is 72. “He’s got a lot of energy,” observes Freedman.
12:42 a.m. A mahalo tour
Neil Abercrombie was on Maui Friday and in Hilo and Kona over the weekend, meeting with and thanking supporters. He plans a trip to Kauai tonight as well, but for now he is holding internal meetings and has nothing public planned.
The top priority is finding qualified applicants for tough jobs. For many, the pay (in the low six figures for department heads, for example) may be a turnoff. Even if they hold a desire for public service, media scrutiny and dealing with entrenched bureaucracies and an inquiring Legislature come with the job.
11:47 a.m. Top Democrats huddle with governor-elect
Hawaii Democratic Party Executive Director Debi Hartmann and Party Chairman Dante Carpenter are meeting with Neil Abercrombie.
Carpenter says the discussion will center on how the party can help the new administration as it takes over — “how we can help out and work together.”
He adds that he loves seeing the local media trying to analyze how the election was won — i.e., turnout, district-by-district analyses, talk on the street. Hartmann says she’s just happy to live in a district where her party prevailed, as compared with what happened with Democrat losses on the mainland.
10:56 a.m. No air-conditioning.
The AC at Neil Abercrombie’s Ward Warehouse campaign headquarters went on the fritz just before the general election, so the large meeting room here is moderately warm. One can almost smell the baked potatoes and horseradish sauce that once permeated this former Stuart Anderson’s steakhouse.
Spokeswoman Laurie Au says the transition team still doesn’t know when office space will open at the State Capitol, but the hope is it will be before the Monday, Nov. 15, deadline for applications for jobs in the incoming administration.
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