President's Corner: The Culture of Self-Dealing by Hawaii’s Officials
by Kelii Akina, Grassroot Institute November 27, 2013
Throughout the past year, Grassroot Institute has spoken out on conflicts of interest by government officials in Hawaii at the local, state and federal levels. Hawaii News Now featured our analysis of a case where a Hawaii resident used his position with the U.S. Navy to funnel a lucrative multi-million dollar contract to a firm that passed funds on to a company which he and his wife own. This week, the news media have revealed that the State Ethics Commission is investigating a Board of Water Supply official for allegedly using his position to funnel millions of dollars in contracts to a company with which his wife is affiliated.
The frequency of conflict of interest judgments and allegations in Hawaii reveals a culture of entitlement for many whose responsibility it is to serve the people. Instead of serving the people, they are self-dealing. University of Hawaii Political Science Professor Colin Moore told Hawaii News Now: "The most concerning thing is this pattern of perhaps inappropriate relationships with contractors and government officials.”
When Professor Moore uses the word "pattern," he is talking about the existence of a culture that tolerates and rewards self-dealing. While government ethics commissions can play a role in investigating cases after the fact, the real need is for the public to get fed-up enough to elect leaders who will confront this culture of entitlement. Grassroot Institute will continue to promote the value of accountable government, working with media sources and educating both the public and government leaders.
Grassroot in China: Week 2
In this week’s Think Tech broadcast, Grassroot President Keli’i Akina and Policy Director Malia Hill join host Jay Fidell for the second week of Dr. Akina’s China trip. With China looking to replicate the success of Hong Kong on the mainland, the conversation naturally turns to the efficacy of top-down capitalism and what the Chinese economic experiment can teach us about liberty, labor, and the free market. Teaching and learning are a consistent theme in this episode, as Dr. Akina explains what we hope to gain from the China trip, what the people he has met have had to say about competition and capitalism, and what we in Hawaii can take away from this trip.Click here to watch the episode. https://gallery.mailchimp.com/f9a371d0547f107d938233d66/images/think_tech_china_2.JPG