The Sunshine Blog: Court Order, Senate Intrigue, Congressional Outrage - Honolulu Civil Beat

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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, John Hill and Richard Wiens.

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

Justice will be served: Hawaii could have two brand new Supreme Court justices by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year. That’s the deadline for the state Senate to hear and confirm the nominations from Gov. Josh Green.

“It is a topic of some internal debate at this point about how we’re going to handle that,” Karl Rhoads, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tells The Blog. “But we’re going to do our job in the end.”

Hawaii State Supreme Court Building. Aliiolani Hale.
Gov. Josh Green is expected to appoint two new Hawaii State Supreme Court justices this month. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021)

Green has until Oct. 27 to make his appointments, which is 30 days from Sept. 27, the date the Judicial Selection Commission sent to the governor the names of six nominees to replace former Associate Justices Michael Wilson and Paula Nakayama.

Green could also make his picks earlier, of course, which would trigger the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting earlier.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald turns 70, the mandatory retirement age, in 2025, which means Green will probably name a third justice.

Big shoes: Who will fill the puka in the Hawaii State Senate when Gil Keith-Agaran steps down on Halloween? And what will his replacement mean for the Senate?

The Democratic Party on Maui is expected to submit three candidates to Gov. Josh Green, who has 60 days from Oct. 31 to select a new senator.

Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran. (Hawaii State Senate)

But it’s a temporary gig, as the District 5 seat (Wailuku, Kahului, Waihee, Waikapu Mauka and Waiehu) will be on the ballot next year instead of 2026 in order to fill the remainder of Keith-Agaran’s four-year term. He ran unopposed last year.

Possible replacements could be House Reps. Justin Woodson and Troy Hashimoto, whose districts overlap with Keith-Agaran’s. But appointing a House member opens a puka in the House.

Green may well want an ally in the Senate, but so will other powerful people — party members, unions, PACs, other senators.

Keith-Agaran’s departure also leaves an opening on Donovan Dela Cruz’s Senate Ways and Means Committee, where Keith-Agaran is vice chair and handles the doling out of CIP money. And it only takes 13 members in the 25-member Senate to select a Senate president.

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz. (Hawaii State Senate)

Keith-Agaran decided to resign in late August amid public criticism about his role as a private attorney representing clients in lawsuits against Maui County, the state, Hawaiian Electric and numerous private landowners in connection with the Maui wildfires.

Mini-Mazie: U.S. Rep. Jill Tokuda sent out a campaign email last week stating, “I’m done with the politeness. It’s time to fight back.”

Tokuda, who is in her first term representing Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, shared the headline on a Sept. 14 story in The Hill: “Greene interrupts Democrat accusing GOP of hypocrisy on abortion.”

That would be Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who interrupted the Democratic congresswoman by saying “It’s murdering babies. It’s murdering the unborn.”

Tokuda in her campaign pitch declared, “Sign our petition and send a deafening message to Rep. Greene and her GOP colleagues: We will NOT be silenced, and we will NOT let you distort the truth. Abortion is healthcare, whether you like it or not.”

Not long after the JT-MTG dustup, Tokuda “clapped back” at an unidentified House colleague’s suggestion that the Maui wildfires “were caused by the state’s investments in renewable energy,” as Spectrum News 1 reported.

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Party pooper: Still no word on whether the Democratic Party of Hawaii will see a new state chair soon, but there is buzz that momentum is building for the ouster of incumbent Dennis Jung.

Prominent Democrats have already called for Jung to resign because of manini party fundraising and questionable management decisions.

The party is scheduled to hold a fundraiser at the Nuuanu home of Larry Smith, a former treasurer, Friday evening.

Read this next:

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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, John Hill and Richard Wiens.

Latest Comments (0)

MTG is right. Putting the nice sterile "healthcare" label on it doesn't change the brutal nature of the act itself.

NoComment · 1 month ago

Interesting that 'powerful people' are so few, so party/incumbent/union related, and....where's accountability for these few? What about the rest of the people in this democracy? Or have we become a DINO (d in name only)?

Haleiwa_Dad · 1 month ago

I think Representative Elle Cochran would make an excellent appointment to the state senate from Maui.

Frank_DeGiacomo · 1 month ago

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