From Washington Place to Washington, D.C., we’re watchin’ and reportin’.

4:30 p.m. Kaauwai: Hirono ‘Out of Touch’

Hawaii Republican Party Chair Jonah Kaauwai issued the following statement in reaction to you-know-what:

“Rep. Hirono has spent eight years as Lieutenant Governor and five years in the U.S. House building a lackluster record and now she believes she deserves a promotion. If you ask 10 people, even her constituents, what Mazie Hirono has done as our US Congresswoman, not one can name a single accomplishment. She has never found it important or respectful enough to live in the Congressional district she represents and now makes her announcement for the Senate from Washington DC. Her lack of substantive legislative action and out of touch
attitude is not the kind of quality, responsible leadership Hawaii deserves.”

4:22 p.m. Johanson An ‘Emerging Leader’

State Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson has been selected to attend the Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Virginia this year.

According to a press release, about 50 state legislators from 39 states will participate in the program, sponsored by the State Legislative Leaders Foundation and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

3:40 p.m. Hawaii Eligible for Homeland Security Grants

Dan Akaka and Dan Inouye say that Hawaii is eligible to receive more than $13.5 million in grants distributed by Homeland Security for the federal fiscal year of 2011.

Unfortunately, both said in a press release, it is several million dollars less than the state received last year.

“The recent tsunami scare reminds us how important it is to support state homeland security capabilities,” said Akaka. “With the APEC conference just months away, we need to be prepared.”

The feds limited the number of cities eligible for Urban Area Security Initiative grant funding this year, and under a new formula Honolulu did not qualify and will not receive any UASI funding in FY 2011. But the state remains eligible to receive funding from other grant programs.

2:32 p.m. GOP Yawns Over Hirono Bid

The Hawaii Republican Party tweeted this response to the latest political news:

“If you are having a hard time falling asleep, just watch this video of Mazie Hirono announcing that she is running…”

@gophawaii has 629 followers.

1:22 p.m. Hanabusa Still Weighing Senate Run

Here is Colleen Hanabusa‘s statement following Mazie Hirono‘s annoucement:

“I appreciate that Mazie called me beforehand to tell me the news — and I wish her well. I am definitely considering a Senate run, but I am still evaluating all my options. I will make my decision when I feel it’s appropriate.”

And here’s what Dan Inouye‘s office had to say:

“The Senator will remain neutral until the primary election is finished.”

11:42 a.m. UPDATE: GOP Filibuster Blocks Liu Nom

Despite support from Democrats including Dan Inouye and Dan Akaka, a Republican filibuster prevented Obama-nominee Goodwin Liu from being appointed to the 9th Circuit Court, according to news reports:

In a 52-43 faceoff, Democrats fell far short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. Though they can try again later, Republicans show no sign of relenting against a man they cast as a liberal activist.

“He became one of the stars of the left-wing liberal universe,” declared Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. “I’m really concerned about this nomination.”

11:35 a.m. Hirono ‘Inspired’ to Run

Here is Mazie Hirono‘s statement on her candidacy for the U.S. Senate:

Two months ago, we learned that Senator Daniel Akaka will be retiring from the U.S. Senate at the end of his term next year, after more than three decades of distinguished public service. I know you join me in thanking Senator Akaka for everything he has done for the people of Hawaii and wishing him and his wife, Millie, the very best.

Since then, I’ve heard from so many people across our great state — and longtime supporters like you — encouraging me to run for his open seat.

Thoughts and well-wishes have come from every island: I’m humbled and inspired by the support I’ve received from Hawaii families.

So inspired that today, I am announcing my candidacy for United States Senate. We’ve fought some tough fights together in Congress. And, together, we’ll keep fighting for Hawaii in the U.S. Senate.

I wanted to make sure you, as one of my supporters, heard the big news first. Now, I hope you’ll help spread the word far and wide as we kick off my campaign today.

You can start by sharing my announcement on Facebook and forwarding this email to your friends and family, encouraging them to join our campaign at

While I’m the candidate in this race, this will always be your campaign. I’ve never sought public office just to hear the sound of my own voice. I’m running for Senate so that my voice can continue to be your voice.

We’ll win this race the way we’ve won in the past — by making this campaign by, of, and for the people of Hawaii, not the insiders and special interests.

I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail — and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your strong support.


Mazie Hirono

11:05 a.m. Mazie Hirono Running for U.S. Senate

Read all about it here.

10:01 a.m. Neighbor Island Gov’t News

The Garden Island reports that a last-minute amendment to the county’s budget would have increased real property taxes for hotels and resorts, but the Kauai County Council‘s Committee of the Whole “voted to keep the status quo”:

“We have the lowest tax rates in the hotel and resort category of any island by far,” Councilman Tim Bynum said yesterday during a special committee meeting at Council Chambers in Nawiliwili.

Hotels and resorts on Kauai pay $7.53 per $1,000 of assessed value for their property taxes. On Maui the rate is $9.10, on the Big Island it is $9.85, and on Oahu it is $12.40. Bynum proposed to increase Kauai’s RPT rates for hotels and resorts by 60 cents, which would still keep the island with the state’s lowest tax rates, while bringing in an extra $1.19 million to county coffers.

West Hawaii Today reports that the Hawaii County Council yesterday “slashed the West Hawaii golf subsidy, dipped into the open space and rainy day funds and cut overtime in order to bolster retirees’ future health care while sparing the county bands and Hilo Municipal Golf Course”:

Former Mayor Harry Kim was among the many testifiers coming to council chambers to support the 128-year old Hawaii County Band, whose $285,256 budget survived budget-cutting council members.

“I think this is way beyond monetary. This is about Hawaii,” said Kim. “Look beyond the dollars and cents, and look at what’s important to Hawaii’s people.”

The Maui News reports that county Department of Public Works Director David Goode this week said he hopes to “dust off” a decades-old proposal to entirely rebuild the north end of the busy roadway:

The four-phase project would complete the federally funded reconstruction of South Kihei Road from where it ended about a decade ago near the McDonald’s restaurant. The reconstructed South Kihei Road would run from about Piikea Avenue to the intersection of North Kihei Road and Mokulele Highway, Goode said.

The project is about 1 miles long and would cost millions, he said. It would probably have sidewalks on both sides, new sewer and waterlines and drainage systems that would at least mitigate, if not end, chronic flooding, Goode said.

8:40 a.m. Hawaii GOP Likes Cain for Prez

As in Herman Cain. He’s the former Godfather’s Pizza executive running to head the Republican ticket for U.S. president.

Hawaii Republicans prefer Cain, according to a straw poll taken at the Hawaii GOP convention last weekend in Kauai.

Here’s the full results:

Herman Cain 20.3%
Mitt Romney 13.6%
Newt Gingrich 11.9%
Tim Pawlenty 11.9%
Sarah Palin 11.9%
Michele Bachman 6.8%
Ron Paul 3.4%
Rudy Giuliani 3.4%
Mike Huckabee 3.4%
Donald Trump 3.4%
Buddy Roemer 1.7%
Rick Santorum 1.7%
John R Bolton 1.7%
Mitch Daniels 1.7%
John Walsh (Write-In) 1.7%
Chris Christie (Write-in) 1.7%

9th Circuit Vote ‘Very Tight’

The vote comes this afternoon D.C. time, but things are’s looking great for Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu, President Obama’s “embattled nominee” to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The Washington Post reports that he will face a “very tight” vote before the Senate, Dianne Feinstein predicted:

“I think this is kind of a jump ball,” Feinstein, a Liu backer, told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t think we know.”

Feinstein made the remarks after she and fellow Democratic Sens. Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.), as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), met privately with Liu in a chamber off the Senate floor.

The battle over the Liu nomination has been raging since the previous Congress. Obama nominated Liu last year, but the nomination stalled during the 111th Congress amid opposition from conservatives who objected to what they said were Liu’s controversial writings and speeches, his activist judicial view and his limited experience.

Inouye Worried About Military Cuts

The Hill reports that Dan Inouye has raised concerns concerns about two military programs that have been, saying the cost of those projects before they were terminated stood collectively at $100 billion:

As Washington turns toward fiscally tight times, lawmakers want to avoid spending hundreds of billions on programs like the Future Combat Systems (FCS) project, the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) “and many, many more” that were eventually canceled, Inouye said.

Meeting: Legislative Wrap Up

To recap the 2011 Legislative session and discuss “urgent concerns” such as the deficit, Malama Solomon and Cindy Evans will hold a talk story at 5 p.m. in Waimea School Cafeteria on the Big Island.

“Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised ‘A New Day for Hawaii,’ and toward this end, we moved forward powerful new ideas — such as honoring our native Hawaiian host culture, re-prioritizing critical programs, and shifting gears toward energy and food self sufficiency,” Solomon said in a statement.  

Meeting: Hawaii Tourism Authority

The HTA will meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center.

The agenda includes discussion of marketing, for which the HTA is likely to invoke executive session so that it may conduct business behind closed doors.

Where’s Neil?

Here’s Neil:

• News Conference:Public Education Castle Foundation Grant, Royal Elementary School, 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m.

• Proclamation Presentation: Hawaii Families as Allies, Fifth Floor Executive Office, 2 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

• News Conference: Forestry Partnership, Fifth Floor Executive Office, 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

On Friday:

• District 50 Lions 75th State Convention, Ala Moana Hotel, Friday, 10:45 a.m. to 11 a.m.

On Saturday:

• Hawaii County Democratic Convention, Hualalai Academy in Kailua-Kona, lunchtime.     

• Roosevelt High School commencement speech, Roosevelt High School, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

On Sunday:

• On Sunday, nothing … so far.

Catch up on previous coverage:

About the Author