Tribune-Herald announces endorsements


The Tribune-Herald makes the following recommendations and endorsements for the Nov. 6 general election (originally published on Sunday, Oct. 21).

STATE CONSTITUTION AMENDMENTS

Question: “Shall the State be authorized to issue special purpose revenue bonds and use the proceeds from the bonds to assist dam and reservoir owners to make their facilities compliant with current safety standards?”

This proposal stems from the failure six years ago of private dams on Kauai, resulting in the deaths of six people. The state hopes this amendment will make it easier for owners of dams and reservoirs to receive financing necessary to keep them safe, but we believe this is broad overreaction to the problem. There are better and cheaper ways to compel owners to comply.

The Tribune-Herald recommends a “No” vote.

Question: “Shall the chief justice of the state Supreme Court appoint judges who have retired upon attaining the age of seventy years as emeritus judges, permitting the appointed judges to serve as temporary judges in courts no higher than the court level they reached prior to retirement and for terms not to exceed three months per each appointment?”

There’s no compelling reason to prevent judges who are past the retirement age from returning as temporary judges.

The Tribune-Herald recommends a “Yes” vote.

COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENTS

Ballot Question No. 1: Records and Meetings Open to the Public

Out of the six proposed changes to the County Charter, this is the most harmless and non-political. In a nutshell, a “Yes” vote will remove current language governing notices of public meetings and adopt language in the Hawaii Revised Statutes. It simply makes this section of the Charter more consistent with state law.

The Tribune-Herald recommends a “Yes” vote.

Ballot Question No. 2: Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund

This proposal would double the amount of money that would be set aside for the county’s “open space” fund.

We opposed establishment of this fund when it was first proposed — and we still do. Mandating that 2 percent of real property tax revenue go to this fund is too restrictive. It impedes the ability of administrators to manage the budget, especially in tough times when the money might be needed for other things. The county cannot afford this spending mandate.

The Tribune-Herald recommends a “No” vote.

Ballot Question No. 3: Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Maintenance Fund

For some of the same reasons we stated under Question No. 2, we also oppose this proposal. It would set aside additional taxpayer money — another 0.25 percent of property tax revenue — to create a fund just to maintain lands acquired using the “open space” fund. It is too restrictive, and also gives the County Council too much freedom to award grants to special interests.

The Tribune-Herald recommends a “No” vote.

Ballot Question No. 4: Establishing Special Funds

“Shall the Hawaii County Charter be amended to allow the County Council to create special funds without first obtaining the recommendation of the Mayor?”

This proposal would give the council and mayor equal power over creating special funds necessary for various fiscal operations. It is a reasonable change that doesn’t unduly restrict the mayor’s power.

The Tribune-Herald recommends a “Yes” vote.

Ballot Question No. 5: Eligibility for Redistricting Commissioners to be Candidates for County Council

We strongly favor this proposal, which would prohibit those who serve on the county’s next Redistricting Commission — the panel responsible for redrawing political boundaries — from becoming a candidate for the subsequent County Council. It’s a bad idea to allow those who create the districts to immediately turn around and run for office.

The Tribune-Herald recommends a “Yes” vote.

Ballot Question No. 6: Establishing a Game Management Advisory Commission

Should the county establish a Game Management Advisory Commission “that would advise county, state and federal agencies on matters related to the preservation of subsistence hunting and fishing, protection of traditional and cultural gathering rights, and the taking and conservation of aquatic life and wildlife?”

Our editorial board was divided on this issue. In theory, we like the idea of having a panel looking out for the interests of those who fish, hunt and gather — all of which are important to life on the Big Island.

On the other hand, do we really need yet another taxpayer-funded commission — one that would have zero power to make government agencies act in accordance with its recommendations?

You decide.

U.S. SENATOR

The decision about which candidate should fill this Senate seat — being vacated by longtime Sen. Daniel Akaka — is not to be taken lightly. It is one of the most powerful positions in Hawaii, and it requires a serious, battle-tested candidate. That candidate is former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican.

Rep. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat, has attempted to portray Lingle as a rubber-stamp for the GOP’s national agenda. We don’t buy it. During her eight years in office, Lingle demonstrated her ability to work with both sides of the aisle. She is a moderate who will do what’s right for Hawaii.

The Tribune-Herald endorses Lingle.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE — District 2

In an upset, Tusi Gabbard beat Mufi Hannemann in the Democratic primary. She was able to do so because her message resonated with voters tired of the same old faces.

While we sometimes wonder if she truly has distanced herself from the socially conservative views of her father, state Sen. Mike Gabbard, we’ve been impressed by her energy and intelligence. She deserves a chance to show Hawaii what she can do.

The Tribune-Herald endorses Gabbard.

STATE SENATOR — District 2

The Tribune-Herald endorses Democrat Russell E. Ruderman.

STATE SENATOR — District 3

The Tribune-Herald endorses Democrat Josh Green.

STATE SENATOR — District 4

The Tribune-Herald endorses Democrat Malama Solomon.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE — District 3

The Tribune-Herald endorses Republican Marlene Hapai.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE — District 5

No endorsement.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE — District 6

No endorsement.

COUNTY OF HAWAII MAYOR

In 2008, we narrowly endorsed Billy Kenoi for mayor. We have to admit some buyer’s remorse.

Kenoi has been a disappointment on many levels. He raised tax rates during the economic downturn, spent money on ill-advised projects, cut an expensive side deal with labor, and sometimes has misrepresented to the public how his administration has spent our money. He also has a history of failing to respond to requests from the news media — an important point of distinction for this newspaper.

Perhaps most disappointing, however, is how fiercely political Kenoi appears to be. We get the impression that every single word, shaka and decision is 100 percent of the time motivated by politics. His aggressive fund-raising efforts also underscore this point.

Kenoi has accepted an obscene amount of campaign donations — nearly $500,000, about half of which came from interests outside Hawaii County. You cannot tell us that pile of money doesn’t come without a lot of strings attached. We shudder to think what will happen when all those off-island donors come to collect their favors.

Harry Kim made some lousy decisions as mayor, and he certainly spent too much of our tax money during his two terms in office. But we always believed his intentions were good and that he was looking out for the interests of the people. He was not beholden to outsiders, and, of course, the media could always get him on the phone to comment about public business.

So while Kenoi will win the war of T-shirts, signs and sign-wavers — and certainly the fund-raising battle — we believe Kim has the edge in the areas that matter most: honesty, integrity and experience.

In the end, though, this decision comes down to a simple question: Whom do you trust?

The Tribune-Herald endorses Kim.

PROSECUTING ATTORNEY

Our editorial board was divided on this seat. We believe both Lincoln Ashida and Mitch Roth are qualified to do the job.

Ashida has an edge in experience and is clearly the “status quo” choice. We think Roth would be more willing to change — at least in small ways — how the prosecutor’s office functions.

Bottom line: Choose Ashida if you’re happy with the way the prosecutor’s office currently operates. Choose Roth if you’re hoping for a shift in priorities.

COUNCILMEMBER — District 1

The Tribune-Herald endorses Valerie Poindexter.

COUNCILMEMBER — District 4

The Tribune-Herald endorses Greggor Ilagan.

COUNCILMEMBER — District 6

The Tribune-Herald endorses Brenda Ford.

COUNCILMEMBER — District 9

No endorsement.

 

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