TODAY'S BIG QUESTION:
ARE MEMBERS OF THE
HONOLULU CITY COUNCIL
First of all, the Hawaii Republican Assembly (HIRA) sends a very special "Mahalo" to veteran Hawaii Republican
who recently complimented HIRA by telling a lot of people that our work is "
". Secondly, a sincere mahalo to
all of you
who agreed with us that the inactive Hawaii Republican Party (HRP) has been hijacked by liberals, has been wasting your money for months, years and longer, and is the main reason unopposed Democrats have been corrupting Hawaii for 6 decades. The resulting county and state governments we now have to endure is not the one you deserve. That's why you are all absolutely correct to withhold donations to HRP and to donate directly to worthy candidates instead.
Now, turning our attention to Hawaii's public officials, a lot of people are talking about corruption in government lately. Without question, corruption of any kind is strongly condemned by HIRA and real Republicans in Hawaii. But according to Gallup's latest national survey, the public demands action. A whopping 75% -- that's 3 in 4 Americans -- see public corruption as being 'widespread'. Widespread!!
Here in Hawaii, many eyes are on the Honolulu City Council as folks reluctantly start to conclude that the nine members of our council are for sale to the highest bidder.
Sure, Hawaii politicians (especially the majority Democrats), have long practiced what's known as "pay to play". Heck, it's a way of life for them. It costs money to run campaigns and win elections and then to keep getting re-elected over and over. It's expensive. So where does the money come from?
A recently completed investigative study by the Friends of Makakilo -- a group which has long opposed the rail project and the massive Hoopili residential development project which spreads from Kapolei to Ewa Beach -- determined that it might very well be true that our city council members
for sale. As news reports over the years reveal, these politicians consistently ensured that the heavy rail project and Hoopili project get the political support needed to move forward. But now we know that their campaigns have been well compensated for their votes; VERY well compensated in fact by those
who would directly benefit financially
from these two projects.
As you can see from this breakdown (below) of campaign contributions to these city politicians, many hundreds of thousands of dollars were donated by special interests related to the multi-billion dollar Hoopili development and the multi-billion dollar rail project. But it's even worse than that. The overwhelming majority of money in the campaign bank accounts of these city council members came solely from Hoopili and rail. That's right. Not unlike how public employee unions buy and sell politicians down at the State Capitol, the Hoopili and Rail racketeers appear to have been the sugar-daddies to willing puppets over at Honolulu Hale . . . and, by the way, this was clearly evident in the run-up to the rail vote. Many people predicted this, HIRA included.
Here's The Friends of Makakilo breakdown
on City Council campaign contributions:
Former Republican turned 'nonpartisan' Kym Pine scooped up 72% of all campaign donations from just these two sources. Same goes for Ikaika Anderson and everyone's favorite drunk driving politician Ron Menor. Not much less was deposited into the bank accounts of the campaigns for the rest of the Honolulu City Council; from newbie Brandon Elefante to old timer Ann Kobayashi. Council Chair Ernie Martin took in a staggering $268,017 from the rail and Hoopili gang, which shows you why a race for mayor between Martin and incumbent Kirk Caldwell could best be described as a public auction rather than an election.
It should be noted that the authors of this shocking study confessed that even more donations associated with these two interest groups might have switched hands between 2012 and 2014, but --
due to weak campaign spending laws
-- not every donation analyzed for the study provided sufficient clues to the relationships between individual donors and these two lobbying powerhouses (i.e. "it was not always possible to identify a spouse, relative, or employee of a principal donor" when examining each contribution).
The City's Ethics Commission has been asked to review this matter, since it would be abominable to let legalized bribery become the legally accepted norm here in the Aloha State. We'll see how far out on a limb the government's official watchdogs go in order to keep the politicians out of trouble, out of jail, and/or at least out of the newspaper. Or they might do their job and lower the hammer.
We all know how expensive the rail project is turning out to be. We all know about the money flowing from taxpayers to what seems like every well-connected construction union, contractor, engineer, architect, equipment rental company, cement and steel supplier, and so on. But most are in the dark about the Hoopili development. So here's a little background so you can understand why the stakes are so high for the guys carrying suitcases full of cash down to city hall . . . powerful guys, incidentally, who do NOT believe ours is a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
The Hoopili project is gigantic. Billions are at stake. Do your own math and multiply the average price of a new house these days by the nearly 12,000 homes planned. You'll see that we're talking about a project with as many dollar signs as rail. Hoopili will fill in ALL of the wide open space and farmlands (miles of it) in between Ewa Beach and Kapolei -- with enough brand new commuters each and every day to bring the already congested H-1 to a standstill during morning and afternoon rush hour.
Ironically, the project's approval was justified by developers, special interest lobbyists and politicians who asserted that the rail station near a part of Hoopili's homes would encourage ridership and reduce traffic congestion. This is flat-out LYING! Conveniently located bus stops and express buses running into downtown Honolulu have failed to lure many area residents out of their cars. How then can this heavy rail public works boondoggle help reduce traffic? Neither common sense nor the City's own pessimistic studies even matter, because once when these paid mouthpieces spread their propaganda over and over through the willing local news media to an unsuspecting public often enough, you end up with a situation in which the truth won't hit home until hardworking taxpayers get hit with their much higher property tax bill (to pay for rail operations) and get slammed with even worse traffic as Hoopili is fully occupied by commuters competing for the same lanes on H-1.
But it takes big, big money to overcome objections about overdevelopment, disappearing farmlands, traffic congestion and so on. And this story is all about big, big money.
Another significant wrinkle to this saga comes from Civil Beat which revealed recently that these same city council members are no longer required by law to keep records of all the gifts they receive during their time in office. Unlike the governor and state legislators who must keep and publish on a website a record of all gifts received, those lucky, slippery members of the City Council and the mayor exempted themselves from such requirement. "The city used to have that requirement, but in 2002 the law was changed," city ethics chief Chuck Totto said. "There is no legal requirement that any city official maintain the records of gifts that they receive, which is different from the state." The requirement to disclose gifts was removed from the ethics code at that time, based on the assumption that no one would self-report a violation, Totto said. The lack of mandatory gift reporting creates a significant blind spot, since it makes it nearly impossible to track who might be trying to influence the city's top officials.
Long before these new revelations, the Honolulu City Council has been tarnished by scandal. Say "Rod Tam" and you think "let's go out to eat and pay for it with campaign contributions". Say "Romy Cachola" and you'll think about his unlawful acceptance of pricey gifts and, more so, you'll recall that he's the one who named names about his colleagues who did the same thing and took 'conflict of interest' to new heights. That's why the council is having to re-vote so many votes on matters concerning the rail project. They were bought off by the rail consortium when they previously voted. So, now that we have even more evidence just how bought off they are, we're going to let them vote again.
So why is this important? Simple. This is what you get with one-party rule. This is what happens when the Democrats are unchecked in power for six decades while the minority Hawaii Republican Party (HRP) completely ignores what happens and does nothing to provide accountability, let alone doing nothing to exploit the corruption issue to get more Republicans elected. Instead, HRP breeds party infighting and wastes its time, money and energy defending itself against Republican members who want their party to kick these Democrats to the curb and fix all the messes they've made since Statehood. That simply isn't happening.
We will never overcome the corrupt Democrat Machine by sitting quietly on the sidelines and being completely neutral on all issues, large and small, facing Hawaii. So until HRP is ready to provide strong, sustained, principled leadership for Republicans in Hawaii, the Hawaii Republican Assembly (HIRA) will do our best to lead the way. Democrats in Hawaii took power from Republicans in a single election six decades ago. They made a case that the ruling Republicans were out of touch and corrupt. Now, the shoe is on the other foot, but party leaders at HRP headquarters act like they don't even know it. The Democrats have taken corruption to new heights and have never been more out of touch than they are now.
Our 'nonpartisan' city council (which is pretty much comprised entirely of Democrats) is a living microcosm of everything that is wrong in Hawaii politics, and Democrats will never clean up their house. Only a determined Republican political majority in Hawaii elected on a mandate of reforms can provide any hope in the islands.
The case couldn't be clearer. It just needs to get made. Voters are waiting for the day when Republicans in Hawaii offer a bold and compelling choice rather than an echo of what they already get from Democrats. With nearly one year since the 2014 election, there's not much time to start making that case before 2016. Republicans need to stand up and be counted. The silence of HRP is deafening and in the face of this evil it is evil itself. HIRA has been doing the work of HRP. Stand up against the corrupt Democrats by joining HIRA. Join today and change Hawaii tomorrow.
With the GOP silent and neutral, no wonder these politicians on the Honolulu City Council, at the State Legislature, and representing us in Congress are all so darn happy!
So, if you're interested in belonging to a Republican organization in Hawaii which always speaks out for conservative solutions and against liberal idiocy, then consider becoming a member of the Hawaii Republican Assembly (HIRA).
Visit HIRA at www.HawaiiRepublicanAssembly.com -- the official home of the Hawaii Republican Action SuperPAC for the 50th State (doing the state party's job of educating the public since 2009).