Smoke & Mirrors

esperoMost successful politicians understand the media cycle well enough to know how to use it to their advantage – take Will Espero for example. Espero has a well-documented history showing his disdain and lack of trust in law enforcement. Any news story that attempts to cast him as someone who supports law enforcement should be met with grave skepticism.

It also makes for a great teachable moment.

Many people-of-faith that are fairly new to lawmaking are often overwhelmed by the amount of information and how to make sense of it. To the casual observer, the story available at Hawaii News Now casts Espero as an altruistic do-gooder who thinks laws should be strictly enforced for public safety. This is in stark contrast to his abysmal record of support for law enforcement, Espero:

  • annually submits and pushes legislation toward the full legalization of marijuana,
  • believes that possession and use of less than one ounce of marijuana (even by a minor) should not be a crime,
  • would like to prohibit schools from collecting and reporting of data on marijuana use and possession in schools by minors, and
  • wants law enforcement to wear body cameras because he does not trust that they are capable of doing the right thing. [1]

Why, all of a sudden, would someone with as much contempt and disdain for laws and their enforcement suddenly believe a ban on fireworks should be strictly enforced? One could only assume that the social, health and economic impacts of marijuana far outweigh the nuisance and minor amount of damage that illegal fireworks pose.

The plethora of illegal fireworks in West Oahu has created an opportunity for Espero to try to win back the favor of his constituency. Voters are more likely to remember that he introduced legislation to better enforce a fireworks ban on Oahu than the laundry list of actions and wishes that he uses to erode public safety.

When it comes to law enforcement, Will Espero stands for Will Espero.  He stands for whatever will get him reelected.  As someone who manages to find an office to run for every two years (rather than the standard four year terms of a normal state senator), this trait is necessary for survival.

We should be exceptionally wary of stories that paint politicians in a glowing light. They are rarely a coincidence – especially because this story was introduced on a Friday or a Tuesday. [2]  Both days are traditionally slow news days that leave media outlets hungry for any story to fill thirty- or sixty-minutes of evening news. News outlets benefit with material to fill their newscasts, and politicians benefit from good public relations.

In an era of Facebook and Twitter, the shameless self-promotion of elected officials (both good and bad) has never been easier. If it was not for Espero’s well-documented record against law enforcement and public safety, it would be easy to fall for the smoke and mirrors of this news story. The proof, however, is in the pudding – look at your elected official’s entire record when you evaluate them, and hold them accountable.

It is an election year after all…

[1] Most of these bullet points have been previously documented in our legislation tracker and in many “Call to Arms”. Regarding body cameras, look to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser here.

[2] For today’s other Slow Newsday Story, see this little tidbit about Mark Takai who wants to wear aloha shirts to Congress on Fridays.  Not even the venerable Senators Inouye or Akaka requested this privilege.  In an era where our servicemen and women die for their country on a daily basis, I am certain that there is something more newsworthy than this.