Archive for August 2014

5 thoughts about Hawaii elections

August 26, 2014

Hawaii Votes

I voted in Hawaii’s primary election. It would have been easier to vote by mail, but I like the experience of going to my neighborhood polling place. I like seeing all the other people who took the time to vote. I like the chance to talk to my 7-year old son about democracy and elections.

I’d like to share some of my thoughts on Hawaii elections:

1. Let’s have nonpartisan elections. I understand that this is a primary election, and the goal is to select the best candidate to represent a political party. But I don’t identify with a political party and sometimes the best candidates, in my opinion, do not belong to the same party. On a related note, the major news and radio could do a better job informing voters about all candidates, not just major party candidates.

I was so proud that my father voted for the first time. He wanted to support the candidate representing his district. However, he couldn’t vote for that candidate, because he was registered in a different political party.

2. Vote by Internet. The Office of Elections is working on vote by mail elections, but there could be problems with mail delivery, incorrect ballots that would have to be returned, and missing signatures on the envelopes. Instead, we could vote by Internet, just like we already do for neighborhood board elections. Like electronic machines, there would be step-by-step guides for selecting candidates and voting on issues. Voters without computers or Internet access could go a public library to vote.

By the way, I support ways to get more people to go to the library. Libraries, not shopping malls, are our best community centers – places for meetings, workshops, concerts, and lectures, as well as books and reading.

3. Resign to run candidates. Elected representatives should have to resign from their current positions to run for another elected office. It doesn’t seem fair to their constituents to campaign for another job, fail to get it, and then go back to work as usual. At most other jobs, job hunting is done covertly; but that’s not possible with elected representatives. How does losing an election affect their job performance or enthusiasm?

4. We need more information about Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) candidates. OHA should have mailed voters a candidate brochure, informing us about the candidates and what their responsibilities would be. They could have also used the mailer to tell voters what OHA has accomplished for Native Hawaiians – and Hawaii in general.

5. Should OHA representatives be appointed? I didn’t vote for OHA trustees, because I didn’t know anything about them. I know that I have a responsibility to find out about the candidates, and I didn’t do my homework. Maybe we need more knowledgeable people to choose OHA trustees, or at least a “candidate search” process that can help voters make good decisions.

Did you vote in Hawaii’s primary election? How would you improve the election process, and encourage more people to vote?

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Hawaii’s path to a constitutional republic

August 19, 2014

Hawaii Statehood Flags

Statehood was an exciting time for many people in Hawaii. It was something lobbied for, voted on, and celebrated. Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole introduced the first Hawaii Statehood Act in 1919, and 94% of Hawaii voters supported statehood 40 years later. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Hawaii’s statehood proclamation on August 21, 1959.

But today, 55 years later, statehood has become a controversial issue.

I don’t intend to debate the legality or illegality of the monarchy’s overthrow, the formation of the Republic of Hawaii, or annexation by the United States (without a public vote).

I’m not a Hawaiian history scholar or legal expert, but I want to put forward the idea that Hawaii was already influenced by the United States Constitution and heading towards a constitutional republic.

In 1810, Kamehameha I established a monarchy, the Kingdom of Hawaii, after uniting the islands through war and treaty. He vowed to protect ordinary people from war by declaring Kānāwai Māmalahoe, the Law of the Splintered Paddle: “Let every elderly person, woman and child lie by the roadside in safety.” It was a revolutionary idea.

In 1839, Kamehameha III enacted the first Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Ke Kumukānāwai o ka Makahiki 1839, which acknowledged the rights of the people. “These are some of the rights which [God] has given alike to every man and every chief, life, limb, liberty, the labor of his hands and productions of his minds.”

A year later, Kamehameha III enacted the second Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Ke Kumukānāwai o ka Makahiki 1840, which affirmed the rights of the people and organized the government. It established a constitutional monarchy – “The prerogatives of the King are as follows: He is the sovereign of all the people and all the chiefs. The kingdom is his.” It established the government, with a Premier of the Kingdom and four governors, with representation by an appointed House of Nobles and an elected representative body.

The Kingdom of Hawaii made several Constitution revisions over the years. Queen Liliuokalani’s draft constitution of January 14, 1893 attempted to restore power to the monarchy that had been eroded – “To the Queen belongs the executive power. All laws that have passed the Legislative Assembly, shall require Her Majesty’s signature in order to their validity” – which may have led directly to the overthrow of the monarchy.

From a society ruled by warring ali’i, Hawaii became a kingdom that guaranteed rights and protections for everyone, and gave people a voice in how the Kingdom was run. Today we are part of the United States; citizens elect our leaders and there are peaceful transitions of power.

I am proud to live in a country and time when men and women can be successful because of their abilities and hard work, and not solely because of their birth. We long for an idealized past, but we need to look to the future. The United States has made many mistakes as a nation, but we keep trying to do better.

Walk safe and be street smart

August 12, 2014

Walk Wise Hawaii

We prepare for hurricane season, but we sometimes to forget to prepare for something as simple as walking across the street. Hawaii has declared August as Pedestrian Safety Month to make our streets safer and help save lives.

Across Hawaii, there will be pedestrian-related events and campaigns. You may have already seen posters about pedestrian safety, drawn by Kama’aina Kids participants, on McDonalds’ trayliners. You may have already seen decals of famous red footprints at local elementary schools. You may have already signed the Kupuna Pledge Card or the MomsInHawaii Pedestrian Pledge Card to commit to being a good pedestrian.

Here are 7 tips for pedestrian safety:

* Cross the street only at the corner or at a crosswalk. While crossing, keep to the right of the crosswalk.

* When crossing at a lighted intersection, be sure to use the pedestrian signal button and wait for the walk light indicator.

* Be sure to look left-right-left before crossing and continue to look while crossing. Always walk across the street, never run.

* Walk on the sidewalk if there is one; if there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the roadway facing traffic.

* Wear bright or light colored clothing when out walking or jogging. Wear retro-reflective materials at night.

* Watch for cars backing out of driveways; drivers don’t always see you.

* Stand on the side of the road while waiting for the bus. Always stand at least 10 feet away from where the bus will stop.

The most important reminder for pedestrians: make eye contact with drivers if you are walking in front of stopped cars. I like to waive or at least not my head (if I’m carrying things) to show that I’m aware of them. It always bothers me when pedestrians cross the street without turning their head to check for traffic, because they don’t seem to take responsibility for their safety.

And here’s a caution to bicyclists who use the sidewalks: for drivers, bicyclists on the sidewalks are a wild card. I often have a hard time judging how fast they are pedaling. Sometimes, bicyclists seem to appear out of an empty sidewalk. At intersections, I’m not sure whether they will keep going straight or, because of the placement of sidewalk ramps, make a turn in front of me. So please pedal vigilantly and watch for turning and reversing cars.

Today and everyday, walk safe and be street smart!

Three questions for political candidates

August 5, 2014

Election - 3 Questions

The Hawaii primary election is just days away on August 9. Taxpayers, residents, reporters, and moderators are asking a lot of questions. Instead of coming up with a comprehensive list of questions, I’ve distilled all my questions down to just three. They are simple and straight-forward, but not easy.

 

Here are the three questions I would like to ask our political candidates and elected board members:

 

1. If elected, what three things do you plan to accomplish?

The three goals tell me candidates’ priorities and values. I’m looking for people who are entering politics as a public service – not as a career.

 

2. What specific actions will you take to accomplish those goals?

Their action plans tell me how much thought candidates have put into their objectives –to be good stewards of our money and resources. I’m looking for people who will spend taxpayer money as if it were coming out of their own bank accounts.

 

3. Why are you the better candidate to realize those goals?

Their reasons for being elected tell me their background, job qualifications, and skills. I’m looking for people with work experience outside a nonprofit or university — especially small business owners who know how hard it is to start a business and meet payroll.

 

What questions would you like to ask the candidates? How would you answer these questions? The Hawaii primary election is days away. How will you vote?

“Hawaii – A State of Being” by Abraham Kawai’i

August 2, 2014

Hawaii: A State of Being

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.” Abraham Kawai’i.

“Hawaii – A State of Being: Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Hawaii” (2007) is a beautiful coffee table book of color photographs of Hawaii and Hawaiian kahuna principles of living by Abraham Kawai’i, a Hawaiian kahuna and founder of Na Pua ‘Olohe0, with words by Ho’okahi Ho’oulu Kawai’i and photography by Heather Titus and others.

Here are some of the photographs and words that made me pause and reflect:

* The sun in a purple sky is reflected on the ocean below and a calm inlet. “As the moon reflects the sunlight, the mind reflects the soul.” Ho’okahi Ho’oulu Kawai’i.

* A surfer is returning to shore, and nearby are three shadows that puzzled me: are they rocks? people lying down in the shallow water? peals with their heads uplifted? “I am that which I seek.” Abraham Kawai’i.

* This mysterious photograph of Pu’ukohala Heiau captured my attention: a dozen curving trunk-like grasses are bending toward a simple wooden pole structure. Are they trees, paths through the grasses, or illusions? “To see expanses is to be in motion. To be in motion changes consciousness.” Abraham Kawai’i.

* An unnamed waterfall. We see the falling water and how the water is smoothing the rocks and nurturing the plants; we don’t see the water’s source or the pool where the water collects, but we have faith that they are there. “Each moment is a living prayer.” Abraham Kawai’i.

* A stunning photo of a calm beach, orange-lavender clouds radiating from the horizon, and two birds in flight. “Lean into that which you resist and your horizon will expand.” Abraham Kawai’i.

* At first glance, the land is barren and the pools of water seem stagnant. But these still ponds are ancient salt ponds on Kauai where Hawaiian sea salt is collected. “Nothing is taken away. All is given to those who see.” Ho’okahi Ho’oulu Kawai’i.

* Three young girls from Halau Hula Pua Ali’i are waiting to perform, one fixing her hair, one talking, and one smiling. “The fewer the expectations – the freer you are to be.”

“Reach for it and it moves away. Relax… breathe… it comes to you.” Abraham Kawai’i.