My editors give me a lot of latitude in the stories I write and the way I write them.

In looking at my coverage of state politics and government over the past year, these are the stories I believe demonstrate how valuable that latitude — when I get it right — can be for Civil Beat readers.

At the top of my list is Senior Dems Pushed Gov To Shake Up Staff, a “story behind the story” on why the top aides to Neil Abercrombie left so abruptly before his first year in office was even up.

More than any other story I wrote in 2011, this is the one I received the most thanks for writing. I also know that some members of the administration hated it.

A similar “behind the scenes” approach is reflected in a series of articles I wrote near the end of 2010 on the challenge to state House Speaker Calvin Say‘s leadership.

That challenge reached a climax at the beginning of the 2011 session, when Say unexpectedly received unanimous support to serve another two-year term. Can a House Divided Against Itself Stand? was my story on the outcome.

The stories I wrote that touched the most readers, at least on an emotional level, were No Aloha for Micronesians in Hawaii and Media Said to Fuel Micronesian Stereotypes. I hope in some way Civil Beat’s coverage of our most recent immigrant group helps inform efforts to address the problems of the federal Compact of Free Association.

As with COFA, this story — Abercrombie vs. Hawaii Teachers: What’s at Stake — is not over. The latest and perhaps most significant aspect of that labor dispute emerged only last week, when the federal Department of Education said Hawaii’s $75 million Race to the Top grant is at serious risk.

I love doing personality profiles, and my favorites last year were of two people on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

The profile of KSSK radio’s Michael W. Perry, Perry on the Right, was based on interviews and listening to “Perry and Price” for a week. Clayton Hee, Maverick of the Hawaii Senate was based on interviews and my observations of the state senator’s career.

With Gov. Abercrombie’s desire for prison reform, I did several stories on the state’s incarceration system and proposals to fix it. Inside Halawa: A Reporter’s Notebook is a window into a place that most people will never see in person — and will never want to.

Finally, there are the stories that allowed me to try a little humor. Of course, not everyone finds the same things funny.

I know that several prominent Hawaii Republicans loved Budget 101 With Prof. Abercrombie, while members of the current administration found it to be sophomoric.

And, I’m not 100 percent certain, but I swear that the “U.S. Senior Official” that is the focus of Quality Time at APEC With ‘A U.S. Senior Official’ saw the piece, because I received the strangest look from him the day after it was published.

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