Short (Legislative) Memory

A recent column by the Richard Borreca of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser [1] provided food for thought for the coming week, particularly in a quote of a “veteran legislator”:

“The David I know is process-oriented and doesn’t necessarily pull the trigger right away,” the veteran legislator said.

While no one (including myself) would characterize Ige as being trigger-happy, the governor-elect had no problem pulling the trigger on funding more than $40-million for a conservation easement to Turtle Bay. While the Legislature met in conference committees, the funding was sealed with a wink and a nod between House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke and Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige.

This arrangement never received public testimony. There was no scrutiny or oversight regarding the wisdom of this transaction. The questions that are normally (and should be) asked when taxpayer dollars are used were never uttered.

For the price of $40-million, imagine:

  • How many hot meals could be provided for needy school children?
  • How many affordable units could this finance so that our children and their families can live in the islands of their youth that they are being priced out of?
  • How many scholarships could be provided to our best and brightest students to attend the University of Hawaii rather than being shipped off to the mainland only to never come back?
  • How many more Dept. of Agriculture inspectors could be funded to protect against invasive species?

Both Luke and Ige were rewarded for their sloppy workmanship and trigger-happy spending with an embarassingly unbalanced budget. When the dust cleared, Abercrombie, Luke and Ige were pointing fingers at everyone else but themselves. The losers in all of this were not Abercrombie, Luke or Ige, but the people of Hawaii who were stuck with the bill.

I am not sure who this ‘veteran legislator’ is that Richard Borreca consulted. While the quote is factually correct, it is disingenuous once historical insight is applied. While “one bad apple does not spoil the bunch”, it is rather difficult to ignore the stench. If the highly-credible and well-informed columnist is interested in an informed source, I would suggest that he look elsewhere in the future.

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[1] “Ige’s leadership style about to be tested in a new setting”, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Nov. 25, 2014

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