Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 8 Primary Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Mike Parrish, nonpartisan candidate for state House District 19, which includes Waialae, Kahala, Diamond Head, Kaimuki and Kapahulu.
1. Hawaii has been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps the biggest impact is to the economy and the tourism industry, which has been Hawaii’s biggest economic driver. Do you think state leaders have handled the response to the virus effectively, including the approach to testing and health care as well as the stay-at-home orders that have caused serious economic harm? What would you have done differently?
Thanks to Civil Beat for offering this opportunity, and each of you for reading these ideas. I’m not a politician. I’m a concerned parent and grandparent. We are unmoored from our constitutional foundations, particularly the most basic principle that undergirds our civil society. All political power in this state is inherent in the people and the responsibility for the exercise thereof rests with the people. All government is founded on this authority.
We have relinquished our authority, largely through apathy, mostly at the ballot box, where we’ve made our marks next to the same individuals while simultaneously complaining about their irresponsible decisions. Mindful of this, I exchanged ideas with many individuals during my quest for nomination. These are shared ideas. Please take heart, it’s clear that we are in this together.
Now, the executive responded disproportionately given information widely available to all of us. Our legislators were absent. Their emergency management act dismissed checks and balances, and our liberty along with them.
Let’s fix this. Limit the duration of gubernatorial proclamations to 72 hours. Before expiration, the Legislature shall meet, in a public forum, debate, vote individually whether to extend/amend the proclamation, and do so at weekly intervals. Accountability.
2. The state budget is facing record shortfalls. How would you balance the budget? What would you cut? What would you protect?
I can’t balance the budget. Only the people, the electorate, can. Only individuals willing to watch our government. Individuals who insist on transparency. Individuals who rely upon original sources of information, and make informed decisions. Individuals who discuss government with other individuals; not to complain, but to assess, then act accordingly.
We need to take back our liberty. We need to take hold of our government, and bend it to our will. If we do that, we can cut taxes, then cut some more. We can cut regulations, then cut some more. We can cut government micromanagement of our lives, then cut some more.
These measures are at our fingertips in August and November. Unlike my opponents I am not tethered to any party platform, or plank. When I take my oath I will pledge fidelity to the will of the people, and our constitutions. Not to a party, and not to any special interest group. I intend to protect the people from government run amok.
3. What do you think should be done to diversify the economy? What would you do as an elected official to make that happen?
Our economy is only as diverse as our ideas. Our ideas can be diverse only if we think for ourselves. We can think for ourselves only when we think as individuals. Individual investors and innovators invest and innovate in order to reap the rewards of their labor. Presently their capital is captive to abundant, unconscionable, irrational rules and regulations. Held captive by government micromanagement of individuals and their investments.
Our government is not a friend to business, unless that business is a friend to those in government. We are responsible for creating this environment because we are the government. It’s up to us to throw off the shackles. Let’s start by stopping incentives for one at the expense of another. Incentives should be for all, universal.
Whenever those in government pick and choose it brings division among and between individuals. Individuals should stand against those in government who pick and choose. We should pick and chose those elected to government by deciding what’s best for our children. Our legacy should be liberty for children beginning with diversity of thought. Sameness is not diversity. Sameness of thought is the opposite of diversity. Sameness must go if we are to succeed.
4. Are you satisfied with the current plans to pay for the state’s unfunded liabilities? If not, how would you propose to meet pension and health obligations for public workers? Would you support reductions in benefits including in pension contributions for public employees in light of virus-related budget shortfalls?
There is no plan. There’s deflection when there should be open acknowledgement that unfunded liabilities have saddled our children with insurmountable debt. Most government projections and models are false. There is no simple math. No adding and subtracting. There is new math; shuffling around numbers and shuffling numbers around. These numbers bear no relationship to reality.
I encourage individuals to research this dangerous situation. It’s publicly available information. We need fixes soon because the economic ramifications our children will suffer are staggering. This is a direct consequence of politicians negotiating with the same groups that endorsed their candidacies. All government is the people’s government. Union negotiations should be on the people’s behalf, not against the people.
Current ERS/EUTF members should vest under the current plan(s). As soon as possible, new members should put in more time to vest. Government employees should be paid substantially more. In exchange, members should choose health and pension benefits managed by the unions themselves. Every individual union member can then choose what best suits their needs. Union health and pension plans offer members greater flexibility, and simultaneously release taxpayers from exorbitant unfunded liabilities. Put the burden where it should be, not on the people
5. The state’s virus response effort has exposed deep rifts within the top levels of government, including between the Legislature and Gov. David Ige. He will be in office two more years, so what would you do to ensure public confidence in Hawaii’s government officials and top executives?
There are hardly rifts between the Legislature and David Ige. There is little disagreement about anything. We know this because the Legislature took no action to limit his tyrannical proclamations. We know this because they are one party.
The people cannot be confident with the motives and rationale of elected officials without hearing truths and open debate. There is no accountability without truth and debate. There will be none until the electorate demands it. Government is ours, and government instruments are obligated to transparency. We are responsible for this opaqueness because we reflexively mark ballots without understanding, precisely, each candidate’s policy positions. We simply take their word and assume they further our agenda.
In fact they further a party agenda. Every candidate tethered to a political party pledges allegiance to every plank of that party platform, no exceptions. If any say otherwise that’s a lie. Why not then run as a non-partisan? Because party affiliation provides political resources that fund campaigns. I encourage every individual to become informed by scrutinizing the planks and platform of the party to which each candidate belongs. It’s public information. Your vote gets you the party platform. Not some, but all of it.
6. Recent deaths of citizens at the hands of police are igniting protests and calls for reform across the country, primarily aimed at preventing discrimination against people of color. How important do you see this as an issue for Hawaii? What should be done to improve policing and police accountability throughout the state? Do you support police reform efforts such as mandatory disclosure of misconduct records by police agencies and adequate funding for law enforcement oversight boards that have been established in recent years?
This is not a Hawaii issue. I’m not aware of any race-based civil rights violation here. Maybe it happened and I missed it. I’m confident that smart attorneys — we have many — would sue and win. Word would spread and reform would follow through self restraint in order to avoid dire consequences including prison.
Improving police accountability requires an investment of more people, money and equipment. We have too few law enforcement officers given our population. At any given time roughly one-third of them are on duty. Daily, they encounter dozens of individuals for myriad reasons. Sometimes it’s dangerous, and many times unpredictable and stressful.
Police reform can mean different things, including knee-jerk reactions to non-issues. Let’s turn away from the national news and concern ourselves with our home. Check original source information. It’s all over the place.
If I’m wrong I’d like to know, maybe then I’d become a strong advocate for reform other than reform that makes their difficult job more difficult, dangerous and stressful. Public knowledge of employment records is unwarranted. The only caveats are when there is an individual civil rights violation, and/or in conjunction with defense against a criminal charge. That’s it.
7. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
Elections are initiative processes. Legislators are supposed to legislate. We are free to vote for individuals we expect will further our interests. If they don’t then throw them out of office.
Initiatives dispose of legislative and executive accountability, and pit individuals against each other. It’s as close to pure democracy as we can get. Great for the simple majority, and perilous for the simple minority.
Initiatives are little more than expedient means to address hot button, emotional issues. Their ramifications can be disastrous, particularly for the simple minority. No initiative can be left to a simple majority, ever. There should always be a higher threshold, otherwise we will have mob rule. Mob rule is not good for the smaller mob, and it can be horrific for individuals.
Many of the Western states are in turmoil because their governments act with impunity, without regard for substantial minorities. We should not follow their methods simply because our politicians can’t get it done. If anything, their failed initiatives should give us pause and cause self reflection rather than envy and adoration. The absurdity of government control of marriage aside, consider mob rule over that institution. It’s not difficult to imagine those consequences.
8. Hawaii’s public records law mandates that public records be made available whenever possible. Gov. David Ige suspended the open government laws under an emergency order during the pandemic. Do you agree or disagree with his action? What would you do to ensure the public has access to open meetings and public records in a timely fashion?
Agree with despotism? No rational individual would. David Ige, the, Legislature and its bureaucrats work for us. This secrecy is an affront to principles underlying our democratic constitutional republic.
Not only do I disagree, I’m appalled. Everyone should be repulsed by this product of one-party rule. That party has kicked us in the gut, and we need to decide whether to continue cowering at their feet or punch back. All political power in this state is inherent in the people and the responsibility for the exercise thereof rests with the people. All government is founded on this authority. It’s time to punch back.
We need to tune out media that fail us. The first amendment enables media to inform about everything in government. Media isn’t informative about government, so we need to inform ourselves. We must assume that the Legislature is hiding for nefarious purposes unless and until we know otherwise.
I would never let this abhorrent behavior go unchallenged. Meanwhile, every individual who is willing should submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests demanding all government records and communications connected with the gubernatorial proclamations. The same goes for all legislative action unfurling behind closed doors. Enough is enough.
9. What should Hawaii be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs? How big of a priority is this for you?
My priority is extinguishing the dumpster fire that is an immediate and imminent threat to our children, our lives and our security. It’s been smoldering for decades and became a conflagration during the past five months. Government run amok.
I’m compelled to address this clear and present danger before concerning myself with a topic that has consumed academia, politics and media for decades. I’m not tethered to any political party platform. I can listen to rational individuals, legitimate concerns, and reasonable proposals without adherence to doctrine or groupthink, unlike my opponents.
I’ll leave this topic thusly: We are ignoring and dismissing an efficient and safe alternative energy source that has undergone exceptional technological advancement over time. I encourage every individual to look to original source information. Not Wikipedia, not a superficial google search, none of the usual suspects that filter information and proffer their product as gospel.
Presently there are more than 95 commercial energy sources that span the country from Florida to Washington to New Hampshire to California. As a matter of fact, at any time there may be a tiny version within 50 miles of millions of us. Sadly it’s become a dirty little phrase: nuclear energy.
10. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
The most pressing issue I saw and heard as I canvassed the district for nomination is our cost of living. Not just dollars and cents. Also, a common misunderstanding about the function of government in a democratic constitutional republic. I met a handful of individuals, most of them kupuna, who understand the intended structure of government, its limits, the importance of checks and balances, and the consequences of apathy.
This knowledge wasn’t plucked from thin air. Its foundations were thoughtful lessons about the hierarchy that is inalienable rights, individual liberty, family, friends, neighbors, communities, districts, counties, state, then country.
Our priorities have reversed course. Now, it’s the globe. Then, country, state, county, so on and so forth, with liberty and inalienable rights a distant afterthought if considered at all. My plan is to win this election, take the ideas of my constituents along with my own to Beretania Street and debate with other serious individuals about all kinds of ideas, not different degrees of the same old ideas. I’m encouraged to see lots of individuals across our state running for the first time as well. With our current politicians, every tick-tock of the clock drowns the trumpet of liberty.
11. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparity. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share One Big Idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative, but be specific.
We already have the best, time-tested, way to do things. That’s laid out in our founding documents and our constitutions. We’re just ignoring them in exchange for expediency, convenience and ideology. We don’t need to reinvent, or reimagine anything.
We’ve simply lost our way. We need to get back to basics. It starts with us and with our children. We need to be better stewards of their lives and ours. While canvassing a particular commonality became evident. There is wide and wild dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs with our educational institutions. A substantial number of individuals with whom I spoke put education at or near the top of the list relative to reformation. There is a good deal of consternation over the curriculum. Direct exposure to and control over the education of each individual child at home has opened many inquiring minds.
My big idea is to inform honestly, and welcome feedback from students, parents and grandparents. The consensus is dissatisfaction with the subject matter hierarchy, and despair over a loss of control. I’d give a platform to individuals who are afraid to speak up, not winks and a nod to those driving the school bus.