MELE CARROLL STILL CAN’T MEET A CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT DEADLINE
You know what’s depressing? Reading the newspaper. And I know, because I write for a newspaper.
I’m serious. In the last week, it seems that every time I open a paper or check my Google News Reader, I read some downer of a story that forces me to ask why we even bother to have laws and constitutions and things.
Case in point is state Representative Mele Carroll (D-East Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kaho‘olawe) and her seemingly complete inability to file a campaign finance report on time. She was busted for five violations last time around, and it cost her $2,608 in fines from the state Campaign Spending Commission (though complex, these reports are not impossible–the rest of Maui’s delegation in the state House of Representatives apparently managed to get their reports in by the deadline and, well, you get the idea).
Anyway, if you thought that would teach her to put campaign reports on the very top of her To Do list, you’d be wrong. On Thursday, July 26, The Maui News ran a story saying Carroll had, yet again, missed the filing deadline. But a mere 24 hours later–surprise! The News has a follow-up article saying Carroll had finally gotten her paperwork completed (and just two weeks late!). Why it took so long for the representative to file her re-election committee’s campaign finance report is difficult to say–Carroll’s explanation in the paper was a jumble of words like “misplaced” and “forgot” and “a friend in Honolulu had my file in her bag.”
Look, Carroll isn’t a bad person. She isn’t even a bad legislator. But clearly, more than $2,000 in fines slapped against her last year didn’t convince Carroll that getting a proper accounting of the money her campaign committee is taking in and dishing out to the commission so they can disseminate it to the public was all that important.
Me? I want nearly everything done by public officials disclosed to the public. This is about as realistic as getting state officials to make clear that zoning designations like “residential” and “light industrial” mean exactly what they say, and prohibit land developers from, say, loading tens of thousands of square feet of commercial retail businesses into land zoned “light industrial.” Or requiring the Obama Administration to explain exactly how the National Security Agency allegedly conducted “unconstitutional” spying on Americans.
We can all dream, right?
DOES ED CASE HAVE ANY ISSUES LEFT?
If I were Ed Case, I’d start to consider ending my electoral political aspirations. He’s a decent guy, sure, and, when he was in the U.S. House of Representatives, as effective as a legislator can be when he or she is from Hawaii. But from the start of his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring Democrat Daniel Akaka, Case has pretty much been the odd guy out at a dance between current Democratic Representative Mazie Hirono (whose 2nd District includes all of Hawaii except Honolulu) and Republican Linda Lingle. Profoundly unpopular with the Hawaii Democratic Party since his upstart attempt to unseat Akaka six years ago, Case was a third choice for the seat the instant he entered the race.
From the beginning, the senate race shaped itself as a rematch between liberal Congresswoman Hirono, the one-time Hawaii lieutenant governor who in 2002 had wanted the state’s top job, and Lingle the conservative woman from Missouri who beat her and then sat in the governor’s office for eight straight years. And that was all long before Hirono started running that “Opposites Attract” television ad.
Seriously, have you seen that thing? It’s just a minute and a half long, but it eviscerates Case’s premier argument against Hirono–that she’s too liberal to represent Hawaii in the Senate. It’s been his best drum to beat, and beat it he has (Hirono is, after all, extremely liberal), but right before his last televised debate with Hirono, her new ad hit the airwaves and smashed Case’s drum to bits.
The ad is very simple. It shows Hirono, clad in a purple jacket, sitting next to 19-term Republican Congressman Don Young of Alaska. Young, who has sat in Congress since Richard Nixon was president, is the second most senior Republican in the U.S. House. Did I mention he’s also a Republican? Anyway, in the ad Young–A REPUBLICAN–sits next to Democrat Hirono and chats about how they struck some bipartisan compromise on some bill that apparently required Hirono “to battle my party leadership to get our amendment passed.” This thing apparently meant so much to Young that he (who, I might have forgotten to say, is a member of the Republican Party) is now endorsing Hirono for the United States Senate.
The content, the timing, the simple, folksy style of the ad–it’s all genius. A week ago, no one outside of Alaska had even heard of Don Young (or Mazie Hirono, for that matter), and now CNN is blogging about them both.
The ad is also great political theater: Young gets in a few (smiling) jabs at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Hirono (also smiling) attempts to keep Young from saying too much. We’re so used to hearing Democratic and Republican politicians hurling ludicrous charges at each other, that the sight of two on opposite sides of the room sitting next to each other, joking and being friendly is genuinely shocking.
Ultimately, of course, I’m not Ed Case, and he wouldn’t be much of a politician if he bowed out of the race at the urging of a lowly alt-weekly editor. But it’s also undeniable that Hirono’s Young endorsement couldn’t come at a worse time for Case.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE…
Just out of curiosity, given all the talk during this political campaign about the economy and such, I checked a few numbers this week. According to the Statewide Homeless Point-in-Time Count for 2011 (the most recent report put out by the Hawaii Department of Human Services), there are 658 unsheltered homeless people living in Maui County. At the same time, RealtyTrac–a website that tracks foreclosures nationwide–reports that there are currently 718 homes in Maui County on the foreclosure list.
See? The system works.