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Welcome to Capitol Watch. There’s a new governor, new leadership at the Legislature and other government branches, and Civil Beat is reporting on all of it.
3:09 p.m. Career Changes
Allicyn Hikida Tasaka, an executive with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, will be director of operations in the Abercrombie administration.
Erin Kealoha, communications director for the Hawaii Republican Party, is leaving to work at the State Capitol as office manager for just-elected Rep. Aaron Johanson.
And Gary Safarik, a former Big Island Councilman, says that he wants Russell Kokubun‘s state Senate seat, since Kokubun has been nominated as the governor’s ag director. The name of Big Island farmer Richard Ha — someone Neil Abercrombie has often spoken highly of — has been mentioned as a possible replacement, too.
1:14 p.m. Freshmen Reps Get Oriented
New House Reps. Linda Ichiyama, Ty Cullen, Daynette Morikawa and Mark Hashem took advantage of a House Majority Media Workshop.
Political news reporters (print and radio) and political bloggers who cover the Legislature walked them through the ropes of engaging with the media (e.g., what “off the record” really means) and tips on how to use social media from Melissa Chang and L.P. “Neenz” Faleafine (e.g., remember that anything posted on Twitter and Facebook is pubic record).
Also on hand was sophomore Rep. Chris Lee, who so much enjoyed a similar session in 2008 that he came back for more. House media queen Georgette Deemer organized the first media workshop in 2006.
11:46 a.m. Sanction North Korea!
Hundreds of people from the Korean community in Hawaii are holding a loud rally in the Capitol Rotunda to protest the recent North Korean attack on South Korea.
Speakers are calling for UN and U.S. sanctions against the Communist regime.
The Rotunda, a public sphere, is the frequent location for protests and rallies. It has the added advantage of serving as an echo chamber, carrying sounds into offices and conference rooms.
10:12 a.m. Remembering Pearl Harbor
The governor has requested all state and county agencies, interested organizations, groups and individuals to fly the flags of the United States and the State of Hawaii at half staff today in remembrance of the December 7, 1941, attack.
(Neil Abercrombie participated in this morning’s commemoration at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center.)
Meanwhile, Dan Inouye recalled where he was 69 years ago: “I was preparing to attend church with my family when the trajectory of my life was forever changed by Imperial Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor…We looked up to see the blazing red suns on each wing and we knew that as Japanese Americans, our lives would never be the same.”
Finally, Mufi Hannemann tweeted this today: “Woke up this morning to the sun framing Pearl Harbor. Remembering the countless acts of bravery which happened there 69 years ago today.”
8:52 a.m. Governor-Dot-Gov
Neil Abercrombie‘s official website is plugged in to the 21st century. Links to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Upstream, YouTube and RSS feeds are featured right at the top of the site. It’s easy to sign up for e-mail alerts, and the latest press releases are there for all to see.
Abercrombie and Brian Schatz take their confirmation show on the road with a trip to Molokai tomorrow, Lanai on Thursday and stops on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island over the weekend and into next week.
No Tourism Liaison for Abercrombie?
As the new governor rounds out his Cabinet choices and starts working on the biennium budget, the administration has said nothing about hiring a tourism liaison, as Linda Lingle did eight years ago.
“She felt that because tourism was such a large part of our economy that tourism should be represented at the Cabinet level,” Marsha Wienert told Civil Beat as she left office. “[But] it is not a permanent cabinet position. A statute was not created to immortalize the liaison position as a cabinet member.”
During Wienert’s term, the state experienced its peak tourism boom (2005-2007), saw the industry collapse with the global recession (2008-2009) and then gradually enter into a prolonged recovery period (2010). Wienert participated in all Hawaii Tourism Authority meetings and weighed in on HVCB marketing decisions — until the Legislature took away her ex-officio status last year.
Tracking Stimulus Funds at UH
The Legislative Federal Economic Stimulus Program Oversight Commission — breathe! — convenes at 10 a.m. in the Capitol’s Conference Room 211.
The agenda calls for examining how the federal money has been used for the University of Hawaii System.
Public testimony is welcome.
Catch up on our previous coverage: