The Sunshine Blog: The Spotlight Has Been Turned Off But Ige Gets The Last Word - 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, our takes and other stuff you should know about public information, government accountability and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

News blues: The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” program is going dark, ending its three-year run.

Co-hosts Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies broke the news to viewers of what turned out to be the final show on Monday. Kalei Tsuji also shared a few more details on Facebook this week.

No reason given but The Sunshine Blog has to wonder if the online interview show is the victim of other cutbacks that are currently underway at the newspaper. It’s been reported that the paper is offering buyouts to journalists and that at least four have taken them.

“While the sun may be setting on Spotlight, we’re excited to start a brand new project … Details coming soon,” Kalei Tsuji says in the social media post.

Kalei Tsuji and de Nies have been interviewing newsmakers “from the comfort of our living rooms” every Monday, Wednesday and Friday almost since the start of the pandemic when the show began as a way to bring much-needed Covid-19 information to people who were staying home as requested. A trademark of the program was giving citizens the opportunity to ask questions of their own of political and civic leaders.

Perhaps fittingly, the last guest on Monday’s final show was also the first guest on the show — former Gov. David Ige. He was on the show nearly every Monday as the state’s Covid response played out.

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Highlights from the former gov’s final “Spotlight” interview:

He’s been focusing on getting healthy since he left office in December. He’s running three times a week, more than 16 miles. And the already diminutive Ige says he’s lost 35 pounds in six months.

Ige says he doesn’t miss being in the political spotlight. “Definitely I am enjoying the fact I didn’t have to worry about case counts every morning when I got up. And I didn’t have to worry about Hurricane Calvin.”

He was “a little disappointed that education got shortchanged this session.”

“The Legislature didn’t fund public schools and the University of Hawaii,” he said. “Education was always the No. 1 priority (when he was governor) but I guess times have changed.”

Ige was a little more outspoken about the decline of the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the state’s schizophrenic efforts to deal with Hawaii’s top industry.

“I thought the Legislature was out of bounds and misdirected when they tried to take it apart,” he said, adding that “to not have an organization to lead our most important industry is absolutely absurd.”

The final interview for “Spotlight Hawaii.” A slimmer, trimmer former Gov. David Ige, left, speaks with Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies. (Screenshot/2023)

Ige is currently the vice chair of the board of directors of the Western Governor’s Foundation and will soon ascend to the chairmanship. The group is running a leadership institute for young leaders from throughout the country.

The former governor is also setting up the Ige Family Charitable Foundation to continue work on education and sustainability issues.

What’s the biggest thing he misses about being governor? “For eight years I didn’t have to worry about parking.”

Shining stars: New Morning Consult polls suggest Hawaii has some of the most popular politicians in the nation. The results are in the latest quarterly survey of each state’s registered voters.

Gov. Josh Green comes in as the country’s third most popular governor. His 64% approval rating puts him in a tie for that spot with Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and Andy Beshear of Kentucky.

Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat from Wisconsin, is the most disliked governor, with a 44% disapproval rating, according to the poll.

(Screenshot/Morning Consult/July 2023)

In the U.S. Senate, Hawaii’s Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono rank No. 2 and No. 3. Schatz has a 65% approval rating in his home state and Hirono a 63% approval rating, according to the survey which was conducted between April 1 and June 30.

The most popular senator in America is John Barrasso of Wyoming with a 70% approval rating. The least popular is the Republican Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. About 3 in 5 Kentucky voters expressed their disapproval of McConnell.

(Screenshot/Morning Consult/July 2023)

Yes they can: Three Hawaii residents have been selected to participate in the Obama Foundation’s new Leaders USA program. Founded by the Hawaii-born U.S. president, the program is described as a “values-driven leadership curriculum” focused on making democratic institutions stronger.

The three are:

  • Whitney Aragaki, a teacher with the Hawaii Department of Education who was the 2022 State Teacher of the Year. 
  • Ashley Mariko Johnson, founder of Mohala Eyewear, a brand that helps to sends girls to school by donating to Room to Read.
  • Scott Nishimoto, executive director of Ceeds of Peace, a nonprofit with a mission to raise “peace building” leaders.

Nishimoto is not to be confused with state Rep. Scott Nishimoto, but he is the brother of Ben Nishimoto, Civil Beat’s VP of operations and philanthropy.

The inaugural cohort of United States “Obama Leaders” numbers 100 people from over 40 states, territories and tribal nations. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with Barack Obama, leadership coaches and subject matter experts.

(Obama Foundation/2023)

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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)

Congrats to Scott, Whitney, & Ashley on their selection!

Pamusubi · 1 month ago

Shaka to all the top Hawaii leaders named from Hawaii.

kealoha1938 · 1 month ago

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