The Sunshine Blog: No Total Recall, The Owl And The Hedgehog, And Social Media Tips - Honolulu Civil Beat

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.

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

Recalling the recall: The group of agitated citizens behind the Honolulu 7 Recall effort may need to re-brand that to the Honolulu 3 Recall.

It turns out that the Honolulu City Charter prohibits filing a recall petition against a council member in the first year of their term.

To quote from the charter: “No recall petition shall be filed against an elected officer within the first or the last year of the officer’s term,” states Section 12-103.

The first terms for newly elected council members Val Okimoto, Matt Weyer and Tyler Dos Santos-Tam didn’t begin until Jan. 3. That was also the date that newly reelected Council Chair Tommy Waters began his second term.

There are time restrictions on when Honolulu City Council members can be recalled, but that’s not stopping an Augie Tulba fan from moving forward on a plan. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

Whoops. Four down.

That leaves Esther Kiaaina, Calvin Say and Radiant Cordero as legal targets of a recall effort this year.

And for those three, recall petitions would have to be filed by early next January at the latest, because their current terms are scheduled to end in January 2025.

In all cases, the actual collecting of petition signatures would have to occur on tight timelines, because the signatures must be dated within 60 days of when the overall petition is filed with the city clerk.

The charter’s requirements aren’t stopping the recall campaign’s founder, Jack James.

He told The Sunshine Blog on Wednesday that he is well aware of the charter’s wording but that isn’t stopping the effort to get the recall campaign rolling.

“July is a work month for us,” James said, adding he didn’t want to talk about the timing of the overall effort at this early juncture.

A successful recall petition would require a whole lot of signatures.

Recall supporters would have to collect signatures from registered voters in each of the affected council districts, netting at least 10% of the number of registered voters in that district at its last election.

  • A Special Commentary Project

That would amount to thousands of signatures in each district. For Waters’ Hawaii Kai district alone, about 8,000 signatures would be needed.

To recap: James and really quite a few other people judging from the volume of comments and social media posts are angry over council members allowing themselves a whopping 64% pay raise recommended by the Honolulu Salary Commission. While council members didn’t actually vote to give themselves raises, they didn’t do anything to stop it either and the raises took effect last week.

Augie Tulba and Andria Tupola are the only two council members who are not targeted by the recall effort. They tried to get Waters to hold a vote on measures opposing the raises — he refused — and they are the only two who voted against the overall legislative budget bill last month.

James is a local political consultant and was a paid campaign adviser to Augie Tulba during his successful 2020 City Council race.

TMI perhaps?: So there we were interviewing Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke for a Civil Beat Editorial Board Q&A when the talk turned to … spirit animals.

Yes, yes, yes, we asked her all about her recent budget brouhaha and her plans for vastly increasing preschool throughout the state and even her efforts to improve internet accessibility in rural areas. You can read all about it on Sunday.

When the gregarious Luke started explaining how well she gets along with Gov. Josh Green she noted that the two share a “cryptic sense of humor.” And they joke around a lot.

Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke: “Owl hunts Hamster.” You kind of had to be there for that one. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

“Both he and I are a little bit of a nerd,” she said. “So we’re always talking about, like, Dungeons and Dragons or Star Wars or some kind of thing. And he’s asking me, like, what’s your spirit animal.”

Of course, your Sunshine Bloggers just had to ask.

“So what’s your spirit animal?”

“So mine is owl,” Luke told us.

And the governor’s spirit animal?

“He said it’s the hamster,” Luke said. “And then he thought about it and he said, ‘Owl hunts Hamster.'”

All very cryptic indeed. The Blog did a little research and found many sites that explain that spirit animals are like divine pilots that guide you on your journey through life.

The owl, not surprisingly, is associated with wisdom, insight and independence.

Sadly, The Blog could not find hamster listed as an official spirit animal. Even on the site that lists 102 spirit animals.

But, just then, Luke’s aide texted The Blog to say it wasn’t hamster, it was hedgehog. The governor’s spirit animal is a hedgehog.

OMG. This is why we edit those Q&As. Heavily.

And just in case you’re wondering, the hedgehog is associated with protection, intuition and strength and fortitude.

Somehow, it all seems appropriate.

Say what?: Speaking of the governor, check out the editor’s note on this press release touting more bills he signed this week:


The Sunshine Blog has no comment beyond stating that’s a new one on us.

Ethical do’s and don’ts: The Hawaii State Ethics Commission has posted a quick guide on things state officials should watch out for when they’re on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

“Social media provides a convenient and useful way of communicating with constituents and other
members of the public,” the commission explains. “The rise of social media may also create unique questions under the Ethics Code.”

Here’s a few tips:


Read this next:

Jonathan Okamura: Where Have All The Portuguese Gone?

Local reporting when you need it most

Support timely, accurate, independent journalism.

Honolulu Civil Beat is a nonprofit organization, and your donation helps us produce local reporting that serves all of Hawaii.


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)

No recall in 2023 for these. And if that gives these council members warm & fuzzy feelings of security, that's perfectly fine.But in the meantime, preliminary groundwork to contact eligible voters can start taking place. Then when the earliest date for signatures to be collected arrives, proponents for recall will get a jump start towards obtaining the necessary number of sigs to trigger the recall.The day of reckoning will eventually come.

KalihiValleyHermit · 2 months ago

The guy running the recall effort is also the guy that manages Augies campaign?? Talk about alienating yourself from your colleagues. I can’t imagine many people wanting to work with him and his office after seeing that.

NoCanHando · 2 months ago

Join the conversation


IDEAS is the place you'll find essays, analysis and opinion on every aspect of life and public affairs in Hawaii. We want to showcase smart ideas about the future of Hawaii, from the state's sharpest thinkers, to stretch our collective thinking about a problem or an issue. Email to submit an idea.


You're officially signed up for our daily newsletter, the Morning Beat. A confirmation email will arrive shortly.

In the meantime, we have other newsletters that you might enjoy. Check the boxes for emails you'd like to receive.

  • What's this? Be the first to hear about important news stories with these occasional emails.
  • What's this? You'll hear from us whenever Civil Beat publishes a major project or investigation.
  • What's this? Get our latest environmental news on a monthly basis, including updates on Nathan Eagle's 'Hawaii 2040' series.
  • What's this? Get occasional emails highlighting essays, analysis and opinion from IDEAS, Civil Beat's commentary section.

Inbox overcrowded? Don't worry, you can unsubscribe
or update your preferences at any time.