Questioning Their Authority
For all the battles she fought—with the legislature, with the teachers union, with the media—Gov. Lingle maintained a consistently cozy relationship with the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA). In fact, she spent what seemed like the majority of her final year in office jetting off to China on HTA’s behalf.
Add that to the long list of reasons why Gov. Abercrombie isn’t Lingle. In his first State of the State address this week, Abercrombie put HTA on notice. “The amount we are spending in the name of marketing Hawaii has grown disproportionate to the amount we need to spend on Hawaii’s own infrastructure,” he said. Currently, HTA gets more than $70 million annually; Abercrombie wants to “reallocate” some of that money to fund “environmental protection, improvements to public facilities and advancing culture and the arts.”
(This is nothing new. In a MauiTime interview last June, then-candidate Abercrombie criticized Lingle for allowing HTA to spend hotel tax money without oversight in the name of protecting “marketing secrets.” “Excuse me?” Abercrombie scoffed at the time. “What marketing secrets are known among the Hawaii Tourism Authority that are unknown to the rest of the world?”)
Predictably, tourism officials greeted Abercrombie’s words with hand-wringing and dire warnings. “We could see lost jobs, reduced hours, less private infrastructure reinvestment and ultimately fewer collected taxes to fill state coffers,” Keith Vieira, a marketing rep for Starwood Hotels, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Mufi Hannemann—Abercrombie’s former opponent and currently the head of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association—was more measured in his remarks: “It’s early,” he said. “No one is hitting the panic button.” Perhaps, but at the very least there are some itchy fingers.
Justice Delayed—Or Justice Denied?
“It’s a steep climb anywhere in the country, but in Hawaii it’s particularly steep.” That’s attorney Brook Hart of the Hawaii Innocence Project (HIP), discussing the plight of Alvin Jardine, a Maui resident who spent 20 years behind bars for a crime he says he didn’t commit—and who last week was granted a new trial based on DNA evidence.
In 1992, after two deadlocked juries, Jardine was convicted of rape, assault, kidnapping and burglary. DNA testing was much cruder at the time, and Hart says the prosecution relied mostly on “faulty identification procedures.” Jardine maintained his innocence throughout, even refusing offers to shorten his sentence if he admitted guilt and entered a sex-offender treatment program.
In 2005, the newly formed Innocence Project took on the case. By then most of the evidence had been destroyed, but after years of searching HIP was able to locate a tablecloth that contained samples of “male secretions”—none of which matched Jardine. Based on that finding, 2nd District Judge Joel August vacated Jardine’s conviction. Now the state must decide whether to proceed with yet another trial.
Meanwhile, the 41-year-old Jardine—who was flown to Maui from a private prison in Arizona partly on HIP’s dime—is free on bail. UH professor and HIP director Virginia Hench says Jardine is spending time with his family, “relieved but a little overwhelmed and not ready to be a public figure.”
Jardine is the first person whose conviction HIP has helped overturn; both Hart and Hench credit the efforts of attorney Bill Harrison and a “team of dedicated students.” But Jardine’s story isn’t over. Even if the state drops the charges or he wins acquittal, there’s still the question of those 20 lost years.
Hench says Hawaii is one of the few states that doesn’t guarantee reparations for the wrongly convicted. In fact, she adds, prisoners who are freed after being found innocent are in some respects worse off than those freed on parole—at least parolees have access to public assistance. Jardine can sue, but that means even more legal wrangling and quite possibly stepping into a courtroom. Considering what he’s been through, that’s probably the second-to-last place he wants to be.