In Government Affairs

By David Shapiro; Honolulu Advertiser; August 28, 2016

It’s the last Sunday in August and time to “flASHback” on the month’s news that amused and confused:

>> Hawaii had record low turnout in the primary election when only 34.7 percent of registered voters cast ballots. If it goes any lower, we can vote by a show of hands.

>> Some 1,600 absentee ballots weren’t counted because they were mailed too late. At least some people put effort into not voting.

>> Gov. David Ige said the Democratic political machine is a myth, and that the party wins elections because of the quality of its candidates. The man has an uncanny ability to keep a straight face.

>> Hawaii island voters pulled 76-year-old former Mayor Harry Kim out of retirement to restore trust after the Billy Kenoi scandals. If only every island had a Yoda to save the day.

>> Mayor Kirk Caldwell came from behind in the polls to finish ahead of challenger Charles Djou, but Djou was optimistic about their general election runoff. He’s like the kid digging up a pile of horse manure hoping to find a pony.

>> Caldwell compared Oahu’s rail disaster to a flesh-eating virus and declared, “I want to recover with all my limbs.” Here’s hoping he gets a better doctor than the one trying to recover his ethics.

>> The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation sent CEO Dan Grabauskas packing with a $282,250 severance package. Hawaii makes an art form of overpaying for underachievement.

>> The Caldwell administration deployed concrete planters and crime-scene barriers in a cat-and-mouse game to keep a homeless couple off an Atkinson Drive traffic island. It’s a classic battle of half-wits.

>> The City Charter Commission approved a measure for the November ballot asking voters to ease term limits for elected officials. The working title is: “An amendment to give Ernie Martin a job until he has another chance to run for mayor.”

>> A judge issued a restraining order after the state sued itself over a $60 million sweetheart deal the Legislature gave Maui hospital workers. One state attorney assured the court, “I’m not schizophrenic.” Opposing counsel said, “That makes four of us.”

>> In high-priced Hawaii, $100 is really worth only $85.62, according to the Tax Foundation. Except in politics, where every $100 in campaign donations is worth thousands in government contracts.

>> U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard charged her campaign fund $7,939 for high-end hair and makeup stylists to prepare for her frequent TV talk show appearances. This is like a remake of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” starring Lady Gaga.

And the quote of the month … from Waikiki Neighborhood Board member Jeff Merz about the Atkinson Drive homeless couple: “It’s absurd when people are allowed to make a mockery of government.” That’s reserved for folks with titles like “Governor,” “Mayor” and “Senator.”

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