If you were listening to Rick Hamada's show this morning on KHVH, you already know what he announced: The ball is now ENTIRELY in the Hawaii GOP's court. If there's going to be any rally or demonstrable opposition this summer against the rail tax increases sought by Democrats (and RINO's) during their special session of the legislature, then the GOP needs to step up and take the reins of leadership to make this happen.
With overwhelming backing of Democrats for higher taxes and the rail project -- including unanimous support by all nine Democrats on the Honolulu City Council including turncoat Pine-Ryglowski, the Democrat mayor Kirk Caldwell, Governors Abercrombie and Ige, and the vast majority of the Democrat-controlled State House and State Senate -- "the people" certainly won't be receiving any help from the party in power in restoring fiscal sanity. That leaves only the prospect of a Republican uprising.
Nonpartisan conservative Hamada lamented the partisan divide underpinning the rail tax fight and the recent interest by Republicans in joining Hamada to hold a rally against higher rail taxes. This seemed to bother Hamada who made it clear this morning that it's not HIS job to get Republicans elected; putting that burden entirly on new state GOP chair Shirlene Ostrov, whom Hamada appeared to challenge in leading a fight against the coming tax hikes and leveraging that fight to help GOP candidates unseat Democrat incumbents.
On Hamada's show this past Tuesday, self-described political neophyte Ostrov was grilled by Hamada and asked if she would support his proposed rally against the tax hikes. Her evasiveness was on full display. Yet there was really only one purpose and one subject for this interview: With a special session of the state legislature scheduled six weeks from now, does the Hawaii GOP oppose the rail project and related tax hikes -AND- will the party actually do anything about it?
Ostrov chose to answer with (her word) "nuance" that the state party "doesn't oppose the special session" of the legislature called explicitly to increase taxes for the first 20 miles of the 34-mile rail project; instead desiring only "accountability" for rail such as supporting the audit of rail construction recently canceled by HART. This really weak statement probably explains why the Hawaii GOP has been completely silent since the Democrats announced the special legislative session later this summer.
Now, as HIRA has repeatedly revealed, Ostrov is under tremendous pressure from her RINO party officer cohorts like Pat Saiki and Miriam Hellreich as well as pressure from RINO candidates like Bob McDermott to ignore the party's official positions on rail and taxes. That's why she deliberately misstated the Hawaii GOP's clear-cut, unequivocal positions against higher taxes and against the rail project on Hamada's show -- to accomodate pro-tax, pro-rail, pro-big government RINO's. That's why Democrats are pleased the Hawaii GOP will continue standing down in the arena of issues in order to focus on diverting 100% of donor funds to administrative overhead. That's why Democrats are thrilled that not a penny of GOP donor funds are expended on messaging, lobbying, campaigning, or serious political activity of any kind.
You know, the real low point of Ostrov's interview Tuesday with Hamada was when she kept saying that the issues of rail and taxes are "not partisan issues". Well, sure they are. Since WHEN aren't wasteful spending and higher taxes partisan issues?!? Ostrov's job is to create a political climate in which Democrats lose and Republicans win which requires drawing lines in the sand. It doesn't get more partisan than that. She's not the chairwoman of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters or the nonpartisan Grassroot Institute. She's the head of the Republican Party. Taxes and rail are extremely partisan issues which divide the parties. Today, Democrats completely OWN the rail disaster and the excessive taxes and spending. But RINO's like Ostrov keep refusing to assign blame to Democrats because she is too busy placating RINO's Saiki and Hellreich while helping RINO's like Bob McDermott to jump onboard the Mufi-Kirk Train to Highertaxville.
While Hamada expressed on several occasions this week that the Democrats would surely still get their tax increase despite whatever opposition gets mustered, he believed it was important to take a visible stand to show that many (or even most) people on Oahu do NOT support the rail scam. Well, Democrats have taken THEIR stand. We all know where they stand. And RINO's stand right alongside Democrats. So, the BIG remaining question is: WHERE DO REPUBLICANS STAND??
Rick Hamada kicked the can from KHVH's broadcast studio in Iwilei over to the sidewalk right in front of the Hawaii GOP's overpriced headquarters on Kapiolani Blvd., saying clearly that if the GOP accepts the challenge of fighting the rail tax then he will inform his listeners about any such GOP rally. So, it's up to the collection of RINO's and political neophytes who now occupy the leadership positions at the Hawaii Republican Party. Will Republicans avoid engaging Democrats over the issues of the day; opting instead to straddle diametrically opposed positions inside the world's smallest and ever-shrinking and ever-irrelevant 'big tent'? Or will voters be given a choice and be educated about that choice far enough in advance of the election that enough folks hear the difference?
Yes, the ball is in Ostrov's court. She promised to be a full-time chair who'd bring in the big money and put the GOP on the map once she got elected; once Fritz Rohlfing was gone, and once it became clear that Andria Tupola would not get the job instead. Well, Ostrov got her wish. Now she and her team need to step up or be remembered for do-nothingness while Democrats faced zero opposition. Either the State Legislature will hear from the State GOP or it won't. Stay tuned for the outcome while the clock ticks unforgivably closer to the special session and the 2018 election.
Member, Hawaii Republican Party (HRP)
President, Hawaii Republican Assembly (HIRA)
Chairman, HIRA Action SuperPAC