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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, 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.

Say, Say, Say: When Calvin Say was first elected to public office “Rocky” was the No. 1 film in America, “Silly Love Songs” was the No. 1 song and Jimmy Carter was poised to take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Honolulu City Council member Calvin Say listens to testimony by Acting Liquor commission administrator.
Honolulu City Councilman Calvin Say is still on the job. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

That was November 1976, and Say stayed in the Hawaii House of Representatives until 2020.

The Saint Louis High and UH Manoa graduate served 13 years as speaker during that time and then was elected to the Honolulu City Council for a four-year term to represent Palolo Valley, St. Louis Heights, Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, Ala Moana, Makiki and portions of Kakaako. That makes 47 years in office.

Now 71 years young, Say says he’ll decide whether or not to seek a second and final term on the council next year by the filing deadline come early June. House Rep. Scott Nishimoto (District 23 for Moiliili, McCully) and former Manoa House Rep. Dale Kobayashi are said to be interested in running for the District 5 seat. Which, by the way, now pays $113,000 per year versus $72,348 for a rank-and-file state legislator.

“I’ve not yet made up my mind,” said Say, who asks younger folks to please call him “uncle” these days rather than speaker. “And not grandpa either.”

Wiggle room: The Hawaii State Legislature announced its official 2024 legislative timetable on Thursday, and there’s a couple of noteworthy changes from last year’s calendar.

There is now a “final decking” deadline (April 22) for the budget bill, which will come during the second and final week of conference committee at the Legislature — you know, the nutty period when dozens of bills die quick and largely unexplained deaths. (Read: WAM and FIN.)

Excerpt from the 2024 Hawaii legislative timetable. (Screenshot/2023)

With the new deadline, lawmakers and all the taxpayers that make the state’s $19.2 billion budget possible should have time to read the thing before its voted on, unlike in the 2023 session.

There are also a couple of recess days added during the last weeks of session (meaning days when there are no hearings or floor sessions) so that lawmakers, the media and the people can have sufficient time to read the remaining bills before final votes are cast.

Finally, sine die (the last day of session and Latin for “I like go home already”) is on a Friday. Should make for a hell of a pau hana, no?

Making the grade: A lot of folks across the state have applied for licenses to carry firearms, thanks to a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. And Hawaii sadly still sees shooting incidents regularly, including two fatalities near Pearlridge Center on Oahu on Friday.

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But Hawaii continues to have among the strongest gun laws in the nation, which many experts say is the main reason we have lower gun death rates. The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reported earlier this month that Hawaii earned an A minus in its annual gun law scorecard. California scored best with an A grade and Wyoming worst with an F.

The Giffords center (named after Gabby Giffords, the former U.S. congresswoman who was shot in the head in Arizona in 2011) gives Hawaii props for having universal background checks, gun owner licensing, firearm registration, domestic violence gun laws, waiting periods and child access prevention laws.

“Hawaii also supplied crime guns to other states at the third lowest rate among the states,” the report says. “Hawaii also imported crime guns from other states at the lowest rate in the nation.”

What’s missing in the islands, the center says, is bulk firearm purchase restrictions, ammunition sale regulations, safe storage laws and micro-stamping requirements.

Award-winning audit: After more than two dozen public briefings, testimony from some two dozen subpoenaed witnesses and over 26,000 pages of documents in 2021, Les Kondo is still the Hawaii state auditor and the Agribusiness Development Corp. is still in operation, albeit under new leadership.

Rep. Della Au Belatti Les Kondo
Rep. Della Au Belatti lead the hearings into State Auditor Les Kondo and his office. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019)

At issue was a highly critical report by Kondo and Co. of the ADC as well as the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ special land development fund.

A Hawaii House investigative committee said the so-called “audit of the auditor” demonstrated necessary government oversight. Critics, including some on the committee itself, said it was an unwarranted attack on Kondo and his office.

Here’s another view: The National Legislative Program Evaluation Society’s 2023 awards included Certificate of Impacts for reports that documented public policy impacts. A total of 25 state audits were recognized, including one from Hawaii: the audit of the Agribusiness Development Corp.

The NLPES is affiliated with the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.


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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)

I think a couple of weeks ago I asked the question whatever happened to Les Kondo after this horrid kangaroo court clipped his wings for looking at what he wasn't supposed to look at. Recognition is vindication. Thank you for following up on him. He should run in Della Bellattis district to show the world what we do to hubris and arrogance. Kim Coco Iwamoto should run against Scott Saiki too she came so close.

TheMotherShip · 1 month ago

COME ON!!!! SOMEHOW WE HAVE TO VOTE FOR TERM LIMITS!! We know the elected people will not vote it, SO WE MUST GET IT ON THE BALLOTS.

Jaloo · 2 months ago

I am not in favor of term limits, however, there are too many baby boomers (I'm a boomer) occupying government leadership positions, both elected and appointed, who need to move on and open the positions for a new generations of leaders. Obviously this is not just a Hawaii problem, just look at the ages of the top two contenders for President next year.

mtf1953 · 2 months ago

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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 news@civilbeat.org to submit an idea.

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