The campaign is ended, the transition is concluded, the challenge awaits,” said Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii’s seventh elected Governor, minutes after taking the oath of office at Oahu’s Iolani Palace along with Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz.
Abercrombie’s remarks hit on familiar themes: education, the economy, energy independence. But we’ve heard plenty of speeches. Now, almost exactly nine months after the former Congressman launched his gubernatorial bid on Maui at the Kahana Beach canoe hale, the business of governing begins.
And begin it did: less than 24 hours after grabbing the reins, Gov. Abercrombie released more than $90 million from the state’s hurricane relief and “rainy day” funds to end teacher furloughs and pay for public service programs like Healthy Start, Kupuna Care and the state’s low-income QUEST health care plan. “This Administration is getting to work right away, taking actions that reflect our values and priorities,” Abercrombie said in a statement.
Those values and priorities are backed by supermajorities in both the state House and Senate, so Abercrombie should be able to execute his agenda with little resistance for at least the next two years. Some see a golden opportunity; others see a recipe for disaster. Now we all get to see how it plays out.
Charter Schools Plus GOP Darling: A Good Equation?
Hawaii Charter Schools Network (HCSN)—which works with the state’s various charter schools, including two on Maui—says it “does not engage in political activities and does not endorse the views of any political candidates or affiliated parties.” Curious, then, that the organization chose as its new executive director Lynn Finnegan, a rising star in the state GOP who served as House minority leader and ran for Lieutenant Governor on the Republican ticket with Duke Aiona.
Then again—in an ironic twist—Finnegan only got the job because her predecessor, Alapaki Nahale-a, was tapped by Gov. Abercrombie to head up the state Department of Hawaiian Homelands, so clearly HCSN has no problem with political insiders.
Finnegan—whose daughter attends a charter school—has called increasing the number of charters statewide, “an important step forward in our work for real education reform.” She’s also staked out some controversial positions: in 2009 she voted against a bill requiring state-funded sex ed programs to provide “age appropriate, medically accurate” information about contraception and disease prevention in addition to abstinence, and in July she penned an op ed in The Maui News arguing that same-sex civil unions would “compromise [the] covenant of traditional marriage.”
Makes you wonder what exactly Finnegan meant last week when she told Hawaii News Now that she wants to provide “choices for parents.”
Remembering Pearl Harbor
This week marked the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and brought the usual array of ceremonies, dedications and proclamations. But we can’t think of anyone better than Sen. Dan Inouye—who witnessed the bombing as a 17-year-old kid and ultimately lost his arm in the war that followed—to memorialize the occasion:
“On the morning of December 7, 1941, I was preparing to attend church with my family when the trajectory of my life was forever changed by Imperial Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor. I was in my bedroom of my family’s home in Moilili listening to the radio when the announcer broke in to frantically report that the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor. I ran outside with my father and remember clearly the drone of the airplane engines overhead. We looked up to see the blazing red suns on each wing and we knew that as Japanese Americans, our lives would never be the same. The events of the morning of December 7 began an arduous period of my life, one that taught me to be brave, to persevere and how to deal with the staggering loss of friends killed in combat. As we mark that tragic morning, let us honor the thousands who lost their lives by dedicating our actions to ensuring that we leave this world a peaceful place.”