Hawaii And Gerrymandering

GOP Lacks Broad Appeal (March 9, 2018)

Gene Ward has a point that it looks like the Republicans might be underrepresented in the redistricting in 2020 (“Democracy Soon to Be Gutted by Gerrymandering”). I find it curious that he wants to blame it on the Democrats instead of taking personal responsibility for this phenomenon.

Republicans will be underrepresented because they don’t have any ideas that appeal to the voters  We gave them a chance with Linda Lingle and she ran the state government into the ground. 

I wonder if Mr. Ward is trying to use his influence in other states where Republicans have shut out Democrats? North Carolina? Pennsylvania? Wisconsin? All states where Republicans are severely overrepresented and the Republicans don’t seem too eager to draw fairer maps.

Rep Gene Ward asks questions during joint Ways and Means and Finance committees. Capitol Auditorium 5 jan 2017
Readers took exception to Rep. Gene Ward’s views on gerrymandering. The Republican is seen during a recent joint hearing between the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means Committees. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

I favor the California approach where there are an equal number from each party on the redistricting commission and they’re given clear instructions on the method for drawing districts — geographic integrity, etc.

So, failing a total change in how we redistrict, the only solution for the poor put upon Republicans is to come up with ideas that have broader appeal and win some races.  One hint would be to stay away from the “moral” issues. Our state has proven over and over and over that we don’t want to be told how to live our lives.

— Craig Rasmussen, Waikiki

Try Recruiting Real Candidates (March 9, 2018)

For the better part of his lengthy tenure in the Hawaii State House of Representatives, Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai) has been regularly blowing smoke up people’s kiesters in a quarter century-long display of relentless right-wing partisanship, and his op-ed in Civil Beat is no exception.

I mean, really, Rep. Ward — you’re blaming your party’s problems on gerrymandering? Sorry, but that’s just BS, especially since in each election cycle of late, the Republicans regularly fail to field any candidates at all in up to 40 percent of all state legislative races. Nor are Hawaii Democrats somehow at fault because GOP ideologues successfully purged two of their own House Minority Leaders, Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson and Rep. Beth Fukumoto, from their party’s already thin and dwindling ranks.

Now, I freely admit my own bias given my position as a local Democratic Party official, but that said — c’mon, man! Hawaii Republicans need to take personal responsibility for their party’s present all-but-moribund state, and realize that they’re never going to win races in those legislative districts in which they’re not even bothering to compete, regardless of however those district boundaries are drawn.

So, try again, Gene — only this time, why don’t you recruit some actual candidates for a change?

— Donald R. Koelper, Chair, Region 1 (East Honolulu), Oahu County Committee, Democratic Party of Hawaii

Shooting Goats

Objective, Thorough Reporting (March 10, 2018)

Katie Boon’s coverage of the goat hunting was a breath of fresh air with respect to objective and thorough reporting (“Goat Hunters Say State’s Aerial Shooting Threatens A Traditional Food Source”).

In these times of hyper-biased reporting, it’s great to see a journalist present a truly objective piece explaining each side of the controversy.  

— Mario Dispenza, Catonsville, Maryland

Taxes And Harry Kim

Reform The Hotel Tax Split (March 9, 2018)

Absent the good, the bad and the ugly of Big Island living can be summed up in taxes. Mayor Harry Kim and other island governors, like the state, must operate within a balanced budget, unlike the deficit-driven federal government (“Jason Armstrong: Big Island Mayor Can’t Seem To Stop Raising Taxes”).

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reported last year that Hawaii government’s share of combined state and local government expenditures is 79.8 percent, proportionally, the highest spending state in the nation. 

Hawaii’s sales tax (general excise tax), a tax on everything (including medicine and food) ranks the third-highest state in the nation.  

Hawaii Island has seen its fair share of infrastructure stresses from recent spikes in population and visitor growth: more tourists, more direct flights, greater seating capacity. Hawaii Island’s primary revenue source is the transient accommodations tax on visitors, followed by GET, both almost entirely sucked up by Oahu. 

Gone is the historic fair-share split revenue commitments between the outer islands and the state government.  

Hawaii Island’s state representatives and senators are helpless to reform the TAT in the face of Oahu’s political majority and spending priorities. Reform of the TAT revenue split or a revolution led by outer island governments squeezed between expenses and unfair revenue sharing is long overdue.

— Bill Bugbee, Kailua Kona

Palace Intrigue

Martin Is A Fine Man (March 10, 2018)

So great to see a possible City Council shakeup with Ernie Martin as Chairman! (“Palace Intrigue: Ernie Martin Tries To Return As City Council Chairman.”)

He is a fine man with only good intentions for the city and also for the state. I have two bumper stickers on my old Toyota, Cayetano, and Ernie Martin.

— Kent Davis, Kailua

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