The Sunshine Blog: Recalling The (Some Would Say) Not-So-Magnificent 7 - Honolulu Civil Beat

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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.

Game on: Well, Blog Fans, there appears to be a serious recall effort afoot on Oahu, the result of anger over those 64% pay raises for Honolulu City Council members that went into effect Saturday.

Jack James, a local political consultant and paid campaign adviser to Augie Tulba during his successful 2020 City Council race, has launched the Honolulu 7 Recall, also deemed H7R, if you’re following it on as your Sunshine Bloggers are.

Here’s a Jack James post from Saturday:

“Tomorrow, July 1, 2023 this despicable group of public officials begin taking a salary increase from the public coffers without ever having allowed the taxpayers the right to speak,” James writes. “They never took a vote. They never scheduled a Council meeting to discuss their 64% pay raise – they did it because they could, and without any moral conscience at all.

“The system is broken, and these greedy City Councilmembers have used that system for their own personal gain, financially. Their actions are reprehensible.

“We must, and we will, use our ultimate power as residents of Oahu and American citizens to remove these despots from their leadership positions by RECALLING each one from office. Tomorrow the real work begins.”

Some of that work includes training for people interested in helping. As this social media post lays out:

James and his political posse will have their work cut out for them. As The Blog reported previously, in the City and County of Honolulu, recall supporters would have to collect signatures from registered voters in each of the seven council districts, netting at least 10% of the number of registered voters in that district at its last election.

That will amount to thousands of signatures in each district. For Tommy Waters, the council chair who is at the top of the recall group’s hit list, they’d have to collect about 8,000 sigs alone. We’re thinking they’re going to need upwards of 50,000 spread over the seven council districts. And they need to be from registered voters who reside in the appropriate council district.

Of course, the recall effort doesn’t include Tulba, who represents District 9: Waipahu, Iroquois Point, West Loch, Ewa Villages and parts of Ewa Beach.

Andria Tupola, who represents the West Side’s District 1, has also been spared the wrath of the recallers.

They too will collect an additional 64% in their pay checks even though Tulba and Tupola were outspoken in their opposition to the pay raises, which were set by the Honolulu Salary Commission but could have been rejected if Waters had allowed the issue to go to a vote. Which he did not.

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Instead, Waters argued that he and his colleagues should work full time and he and council member Esther Kiaaina introduced a measure to prohibit outside employment for council members, much the same as applies to the mayor and the governor. But they scrapped that proposal after concerns were raised by Tulba and Tupola, among others, and opted to possibly put the question to voters through a charter amendment on the 2024 ballot.

Tulba, a local comedian who as we all know goes by Augie T, stands to lose significant income from his longtime work in the entertainment industry. In fact, The Blog just saw one of his commercials for the Lucky Owl Rental Car company a week or so ago, playing right after the 6 o’clock news.

Tulba is also wasting no time capitalizing on the angst of Honolulu voters — or in his case, their support for his outspoken rhetoric against the pay raises. He called the press to a campaign kickoff event in Waipahu Saturday to announce he would be seeking a second term. Which would also be his last because there are term limits for the City Council that hold members to two four-year terms.

Hot off the press: Word on the street is that Hawaii News Now investigative reporter Rick Daysog is leaving the TV news business for … what? That part is still a bit of a mystery, according to investigative reporter Ian Lind who broke the news in his blog on Saturday.

Lind says Daysog is telling friends he’s looking forward to a life without the daily deadline pressure that comes in our business. You can read more about Daysog’s career in Lind’s post.

Hook, line, sinker: A bill that would have let the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources issue new ocean recreation commercial permits and renew existing ones will not become law. It would have applied to sightseeing boat tours, surf schools, kayaking companies and scuba diving outfits at harbors and launch ramps statewide.

Dive Boat tourism Stress Relief heads into Kewalo Harbor.
A tour boat heads into Kewalo Harbor. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

But Gov. Josh Green said Friday he’ll veto House Bill 1090, even though he requested it be introduced and DLNR supported its passage. “While the recreation commercial permitting system requires reform, our state needs to take a balanced, concerted approach so that fishermen, hundreds of local jobs, and several businesses across our islands are not adversely impacted by the sudden change in ocean recreation commercial permits,” he said in a press release.

As Civil Beat reported in early June, a number of tour boat operators said they feared passage of HB 1090 would shrink the number of permits and thus harm businesses.

We’re all in this together: The trend of lawmakers raising campaign money in tandem continues. If you happen to be at the Bishop Museum this Thursday around 5 p.m., be sure to say a big “aloha” from The Blog to Reps. Nicole Lowen, Trish La Chica, Nadine Nakamura, Sean Quinlan, Cedric Gates and Justin Woodson, who have suggested these contributions levels per person: $100, $250, $500, $1,000 and $2,000.

Lowen, Nakamura and Woodson are from the Big Island, Kauai and Maui, respectively, but it seems the money is to be found on The Gathering Place.

In other news of the flow of money, House Speaker Scott Saiki is holding a fundraiser of his own on Monday at the Park Lane Ala Moana luxury condominium. It’s in Kakaako, which is part of Saiki’s district.

He’s suggesting you cut him a check for $1,000.

Read this next:

Ben Lowenthal: Why Hawaii Needs Transparency In The Process Of Filling Judicial Vacancies

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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)

With the petitions, you end up with people signing who aren’t voters or aren’t voters in the correct district. So you need to collect like 25 percent more than the minimum. And you have a 60 day window from the first signature to the last. And even then, all you’ve done is trigger a special election where 50 percent plus one of the ballots would have to vote for removal. Then you would have a special election to fill the seat or if within one year of the next scheduled election, the remaining Councilmembers would appoint someone. Note those the special election(s) would cost more than the pay raise did.We really have more pressing issues in this town.

Keala_Kaanui · 3 months ago

I hear Augie T on the radio every morning M-F from 6am to 10am. Then I see him emceeing events a couple nights a week. Further, in his ads for Lucky Owl he states that "Maybe somebody’s elected officials can fix some of these problems," ... This commercial endorsement and conflict runs right up against ethical rules contained in the ethical charter of Honolulu.So I wonder to myself "when does this braddah have time and energy to do any work for the people?" Even if he forgoes the raise he should spend more focus and time on council work. He's been lately given a favorable public opinion because of his no-raise stance but this buggah wants it both ways and he needs to walk the walk and less talk.

HuliOpu · 3 months ago

AUWE. Augie T revealed his plans for re-election Saturday. It has become evident why he vehemently opposed the pay raises, as he has not achieved anything during his term and needed a campaign platform. Fortunately, his constituents are wise enough not to be fooled by such pilau tactics!

KaIwi · 3 months ago

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