by Andrew Walden
When Governor Ige suspended State transparency laws with his March 16, 2020 ‘Emergency Order’, perhaps he though he was making government more efficient to fight the pandemic.
He was wrong.
Profit-making opportunities created by the suspension are just too distracting to elected officials.
We reported March 24, 2020, on the Honolulu Council’s priorities in “Corona Towers: Council Hides Behind Quarantine, Gives Development Deal to Convicted Felon.”
Six days later, March 30, 2020, just as DoH released its daily 12:00 announcement of Hawaii Corona cases, we received the following constituent email exchange, forwarded to us by Ikaika Anderson, Chair of the Honolulu County Council.
Anderson apparently thinks he is helping himself by sending this.
Anderson reminds us that UH Manoa taught him that Hawaii revolving door ‘journalism’ exists solely to make people like him look good. It seems that Hawaii journalists are taught not to point out that a convicted felon campaign contributor is benefitting from a development deal which councilmembers promised not to vote on after the Corona crisis hit. Anderson complains that we didn’t interview him for our article, but then demonstrates that he has nothing to add to the lame excuses he provided to the Star-Advertiser—which we quoted.
We hope this might occasion Governor Ige to consider the risks his Emergency Order imputes. In the absence of competitive elections, transparency is the only way to make Hawaii politicians pretend to be quasi-honest.
Here is what Anderson was worrying about just as the Corona count hit 204:
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RE: Corona Towers: Council Hides Behind Quarantine…
Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2020 6:19 PM
To: Anderson, Ikaika
Subject: Is any of this true?
Wow, is this true. Is half of it true? If it is resign tomorrow morning.
If it isn't true come our and prove it, tomorrow morning.
My business is closed, the city is facing an probably catastrophic financial crisis, but you and your cronies on the Council found time and money for this?
Done with you.
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On Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 12:53 PM Anderson, Ikaika <email@example.com> wrote:
Mahalo for your note. I sincerely feel for you, your business and your employees. Please know that my family's place of business is closed up too- you're not alone, and I absolutely understand firsthand the financial pain of our businesses.
That said, no money was spent on passing Resolution 19-224. The resolution was held for sometime in the Council process, and my colleague who represents the City Council district where the project is located, Council Vice Chair Ann Kobayashi, asked me to place the resolution on the March agenda- Vice Chair Kobayashi shared with me that this project will bring jobs to her community and tax dollars to the City. Council Chair Emeritus Ron Menor, who chairs the subject matter committee with jurisdiction over the resolution, also asked me to place the resolution on the March agenda. If not for the requests of my two colleagues, the item would not have been heard this month.
There have been occasions where I have asked my colleagues to defer to me on items of importance to Windward Oahu that they may have otherwise held up (protecting Windward beach parks from commercial activities and placing restrictions on Rapid Transit Division/HART spending are such items that come to mind off the top of my head), and most of the time my colleagues have obliged my requests.
Mahalo for your email, and for at least offering me the opportunity to share with you directly why I placed the aforementioned item on the March City Council agenda. If Hawai’i Free Press were interested in responsible journalism, the organization would have contacted me directly for comment as Hawaii's news media did, and I would have gladly answered HFP as I answered the news media. As one who holds a degree in journalism myself (I earned mine from the University of Hawaii) and had one of Hawaii's best news reporters in the late Barbara Marshall as a mentor, I know real journalism and responsible reporting- HFP is neither, unfortunately. Impossible to respect a supposed news organization as legit when their editor is too lazy to do his own follow up and instead relies on cutting and pasting bits and pieces from Hawaii media, peppering in his own opinions and then trying to pass off the resulting regurgitated mumbo-jumbo as fact; very similar to the National Enquirer. Honestly, I long ago ceased reading HRP on my own accord, and only stumble upon a piece when it's shared with me.
Absolutely willing to talk with you further, [redacted], if you have any further questions. Mahalo nui again for the opportunity to share mana'o.
Councilmember, District 3