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.

3:39 p.m. Support for Akaka Bill from Departments of Justice, Interior

Attorney General Eric Holder and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar co-wrote a letter to U.S. Senate leadership expressing their support for the Akaka Bill.

The letter reads: “Once the Native Hawaiian government is created and its leaders elected, the United States would officially recognize the new governing entity and work with it on a government-to-government basis, just as the United States works with federally recognized Indian tribes in other States.”

In a statement to the press, Sen. Dan Akaka reiterated he believes “a path towards federal recognition is long overdue.”

3:00 p.m. Abercrombie Will Release List of Donors’ Names, But Won’t Say When

KITV reports that Gov. Neil Abercrombie is the first Hawaii governor to agree to disclose his list of inaugural donors. But the decision was not automatic, and came after the new governor was criticized by groups like Common Cause Hawaii, whose leaders argued that keeping donors’ names secret raised concerns about people buying political influence. Donors paid $2,500 – $10,000 to attend an inaugural ball last night.

Team Abercrombie won’t say when the list will be released.

It’s a slight contrast to the approach by President Barack Obama, whose inauguration committee in 2008 unveiled a searchable database of donors to his inauguration. Abercrombie likes to follow the president’s lead. The new governor showed off their relationship by having Obama appear in a campaign ad for him, and he likened his New Day Hawaii website to the site Team Obama created shortly after he won the presidency.

Ultimately, Abercrombie is opting for transparency, too, but it appears to have taken him a bit longer to come around.

1:26 p.m. Akaka Sponsors Bill to Repeal DADT

Sen. Daniel Akaka is cosponsoring a stand-alone bill to repeat Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a day after the U.S. Senate blocked an attempt to repeal the policy as part of the 2011 Defense Authorization Act.

“Repealing this policy in Congress will result in a more orderly implementation than if it is overturned by the courts,” Akaka wrote in a statement. “I urge my colleagues to support this sensible repeal.”

Other co-sponsors include senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and Mark Udall (D-Colorado).

Gov. Schatz?

Some lawmakers are asking each other half-seriously whether Brian Schatz is actually governor and not Neil Abercrombie.

That’s because Abercrombie did not recite word for word the oath of office, which is as follows:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Hawaii, and that I will faithfully discharge my duties as …………………… to best of my ability.”

Abercrombie, following Justice Jim Duffy’s lead, said this:

“I Neil Abercrombie do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of Hawaii and that I will faithfully discharge my duties as governor of the state of Hawaii to the best of my ability.”

Duffy said Constitution of Hawaii and not Constitution of the State of Hawaii. Abercrombie repeated what Duffy said.

Manini, maybe. But Duffy administered the oath correctly to Schatz.

Recall as well that Barack Obama and John Roberts held a do-over the next day after Roberts botched the presidential oath and Obama followed suit.

Flag Flap

Given all the attention on Iolani Palace this week, some wondered why the U.S. flag does not fly above the Hawaii state flag on top of the palace, as required by federal law.

Zita Cup Choy, a docent educator at the palace, says it’s because Friends of Iolani Palace restored the palace to what it was like between 1882 and 1893, when it was occupied by Hawaiian royalty. It was decided that only the Hawaiian flag could be flown so as to be true to the time period.

The flag — the only state flag to feature the Union Jack of the United Kingdom — was used by the kingdom, protectorate, republic and territory of Hawaii, too.
Other historic sites that fly flags appropriate to their time include Mauna Ala (The Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu), Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, Fort King George State Historic Site in Georgia and Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.

Of note: The U.S. flag did fly above the palace for 30 days following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — a controversial action.

Neil and Peter: Friends of the Natatorium

Buoyed by its understanding that Peter Carlisle and Neil Abercrombie both support restoration of the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial, the nonprofit Friends of the Natatorium is urging supporters to write, call or e-mail the mayor and governor.

“Congratulations again on your election,” the message might read. “I really hope the two of you will get together and take action on restoring and reopening the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial. It’s been more than 30 years! It’s the right thing to do, for our citizens, for our veterans, and for the memory of our war dead. Let’s get it done. And let’s go swimming there sometime soon!”

A task force appointed while Mufi Hannemann was mayor determined that it would be too expensive to restore the crumbling structure.

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