The Sunshine Blog: Reading Material, The City Council Gets An Earful, Fundraising Faves - Honolulu Civil Beat

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The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Short takes, outtakes, observations and other stuff you should know about public information, government accountability and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

Red all about it: We’ve been meaning to follow up on the question Rep. Gene Ward raised a few months ago about why the Chinese propaganda newspaper China Daily was being delivered to House members.

Noting that the English-language publication is “owned and produced by the Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing,” Ward wanted to know why China Daily was showing up at the Capitol and who might be paying for its distribution.

Ward observed that a stack of China Daily papers was being delivered in the mail and also available near the Sergeant-At-Arms’ office. He complained to Speaker Scott Saiki.

The stack has disappeared from outside the Sergeant-At-Arms’ office but it turns out it is still being delivered to 12 reps. House officials wouldn’t say who the 12 reps are that get copies of China Daily, but they definitely do not include Ward.

A screenshot from the online edition of China Daily, June 6, 2023.

“To me, this paper does not belong being distributed in Hawaii, given what China is up to these days,” Ward tells The Blog.

It turns out that China Daily is distributed by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which has distributed China Daily, headquartered in Beijing but with a branch office in New York City and printed locally, for several years.

We’re curious what those House members find interesting in the China Daily. Actually, we’re wondering if anyone even reads it. Please enlighten us.

  • A Special Commentary Project

You’ve got mail: The eyebrow-raising 64% pay raises proposed by the Honolulu Salary Commission for City Council members have generated quite a bit of public angst.

By Tuesday, the day before Wednesday’s council meeting addressing the budget where pay raises would have to be included, 345 citizens sent in written testimony opposing the raises.

In support? 4

More people waited hours … and hours … to testify at the meeting on the raises and another proposal to ban outside employment by council members. You can read that story elsewhere in today’s Civil Beat because, thankfully, reporters Ben Angarone and Kirstin Downey did persevere.

But for those who want a quick read of what people have to say, here’s a sampling from the written testimony.

First, the “nay” sayers:

Betty Char for the Citizens Caucus: “Citizens in Honolulu are struggling and yet the Council is brazenly pushing for a 64% raise. They knew the salary when they ran for office. If they didn’t like it, they shouldn’t have ran.”

Alan Poh: “There is no way these elected officials deserve a pay raise for their menial work. Especially in these times where real workers have to hold two jobs because of the financial chaos these people have caused in this once proud city.”

Augie Tulba was one of two Council members to come out against the proposed raises before Wednesday’s meeting. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

Buddy Vidal: “For councilmembers who support this bill, imagine a child who steals from a cookie jar and feels no guilt when eating the cookie. Then imagine the cookie being taxpayer monies.”

Lora Wong-Santiago: “This is a form of bullying and must be stopped.”

Carolina Carreira: “Just when I think Hawaii politicians can’t get any more self-serving and tone-deaf to the needs of their constituents, here I am surprised yet again. Why 64%? Why not 100%? Might as well make it 200% since we you’re already deep in the weeds of outrageous numbers.”

Ron Mata: “I have been a voter for many, many years. Never before have I heard of any elected official receiving such a ridiculous pay raise of 64%.”

Dylan Armstrong: “Our elite get away with too much. But the public’s not dumb. At times it’s very much awake to government. It is right now.”

Patti Choy: “Listen to Augie. He has his finger on the pulse of the community and as voters, we will not accept this pay raise. Augie for the next mayor or governor!”

And a “yea” sayer:

Eric Chang: “I want a Councilmember that is fully engaged on my behalf and is not beholden to another employer or other interests. I want a Councilmember who doesn’t have to seek other income, leaving them vulnerable to those seeking to influence legislation through political donations and other compensation.”

Where the money is: Campaign fundraising season is upon us and there are a number of bars, restaurants, clubs and other event spaces in town that are very glad to see it.

Your Sunshine Bloggers are following the tracks of our elected officials as they beat feet to various venues where grateful special interests can shower them with donations.

In years past, when fundraisers were allowed during session, a favorite spot to rake in the dough was the Chinese restaurant Mandalay on Alakea Street, just a short stroll from the Capitol. It has since closed.

But other favorite spots, as set forth in fundraising notices, (ethics prohibit The Blog from actually going to a fundraiser) survive.

The Pacific Club is a popular spot to hold political fundraisers. (Denby Fawcett/Civil Beat/2017)

Reps. Scot Matayoshi, Lisa Kitagawa, Scott Nishimoto and David Tarnas were set to do Wednesday at Encore Saloon on North Hotel Street.

Reps. Greggor Ilagan, Linda Ichiyama, Troy Hashimoto, Jackson Samaya, Gregg Takayama, Richard Onishi and Kyle Yamashita did much the same on May 25 at Legend Seafood Restaurant on Beretania Street.

Certain officials tend to prefer certain joints. Gov. Josh Green, for one, likes to go upscale: A November fundraiser was held at Merriman’s Honolulu on Auahi Street while one in late October was at the Pacific Club on Queen Emma Street — a favorite haunt of the governor and for many power figures around town.

Venues can benefit, too. That Oct. 25 shindig at the Pacific Club cost Green $574 for valet service and $3,769 for catering.

The next round of campaign finance reports, by the way, are due July 31. The Sunshine Blog can’t wait!

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Latest Comments (0)

China Daily is purely a propaganda rag for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and anyone that can't see through that needs their head examined. can be a source of information as well with a business section, culture section, sports and even food section that can, at times, give unique insight into what's popular or not in China and various trends. Do with it what you will. Much like no one should purely get their news from one partisan source here in the US, reading the China Daily will not brainwash one towards communism or make one a spy for the CCP. Hopefully.

WhatMeWorry · 3 months ago

We just need to get money out of politics. That said, public funding of elections never made it through the legislature. We need a concon so we can implement a referendum process.

Richard_Bidleman · 3 months ago

Regarding council pay raises.How many bills has Augie Tulba sponsored in the years he’s been a councilman? Exactly how engaged is he in this job? How much time does he spend out of state at his other job? That’s the type of questions that should be asked. There’s reasons Tulba and Tupola don’t want the raise and full time status. They don’t want to spend more time on the job than what minimally is required.

Who_Dis · 3 months ago

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