by Andrew Walden
They’re back. The Takamine-Schatz duo has reemerged into public view with a campaign advertisement in the August 24 Hawai`i Tribune-Herald. The ad, paid for by Rep Dwight Takamine’s Senate campaign committee is a belated response to a February 21, 2008 letter to the editor of the Hawai`i Free Press from Hawai`i County GOP Chair Dylan Nonaka. Nonaka’s February letter refers to Takamine’s 2007 fundraising results. Brian Schatz, Hawai`i State Democratic Chair claims that more than 80% of Takamine’s January to June, 2008 contributions were in amounts of $100 or less. He then bizarrely claims the 2008 information contradicts Nonaka’s 2007 information.
Since contributions under $100 are not reflected in Takamine’s campaign spending report, Schatz insists we must take Takamine’s word for it. But in HFP’s August 21, 2008 edition “Incumbents get little homegrown support” we debunked that claim. Our analysis of Takamine’s report filed with the Campaign Spending Commission July, 2008 shows exactly what HFP reported in our August 21 edition – that small contributions resulted in 39% of the amount of Takamine’s fundraising, not 80%. Takamine continues to confuse contributions with his unverified claims about contributors and apparently expects us not notice the distinction. This and much more in Schatz letter indicates the Takamine campaign—facing its first real electoral challenge in decades--is coming unhinged from reality. Here are some of the symptoms:
• Schatz says, “The fact that Representative Takamine consistently takes the high road should offer comfort to voters.”
High road? What part of “Mafia” does Schatz not understand? Takamine’s ILWU cronies are intimidating and harassing senior citizens in O`okala and Laupahoehoe. Takamine supporters are slashing campaign signs of his opponent, Ted Hong, from Waimea to Hilo. Are these the same people who also slashed Ed Case signs in 2006? The slash marks are identical.
• Schatz says Takamine is for “health care for everyone.”
This comes even as the state funded HHSC hospitals and even private hospitals are facing bankruptcy, laying off nurses and cutting back on doctors and other staff because the legislature—including Dwight Takamine—failed to enact tort reforms which would have reduced HHSC insurance costs. Hawai`i’s congressional delegation has failed to make the case to increase Hawai`i Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors and hospitals. Democrat even attempted to drive one of their own-- Rep Josh Green MD --out of office after he dared to speak up in favor of tort reforms which would have helped HHSC at the expense of greedy trial lawyers like Dwight Takamine.
The legislature, including Takamine, Evans, Hanohano, Clift Tsuji (D-Hilo), Roz Baker (D-Maui), J Kalani “powder nose” English (D-Maui) and the rest also failed to abolish the so-called “Certificate of Need” process which allows O`ahu-based bureaucrats to decide whether hospitals, dialysis centers and other medical facilities can even be built.
Thanks to trial lawyer Takamine and the majority of legislative Democrats, O`ahu-based Hawai`i Medical Center August 22 filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Legislative Democrats’ failure to pass tort reform has kept hospital insurance costs outrageously high, and without the HMC St. Francis facilities in Liliha and Ewa Beach, dialysis care is now becoming critically short. Patients are being shuttled from island to island and are being required to set midnight appointments in order to use state’s dwindling supply of dialysis machines. Is that what Takamine had in mind when he wrote that his campaign would focus on “supporting senior citizens”?
• Takamine claims to be for “workers rights.”
Takamine has consistently opposed California-style workers compensation reforms which would give injured employees quick access to the treatment they need while reducing employers’ insurance costs – but put a big dent in the business of workplace injury lawyers such as Takamine. Hospitals, businesses large and small and the Department of Education are among the organizations burdened by the state’s high workers comp insurance rates. Perhaps Takamine is for a “workers’ right” to help him rack up big attorney fees?
• Then Takamine says he is for “educating our children.”
Takamine voted in favor of this session’s School Closure Bill--HB 2972--several times before rejecting only the final version of the bill which would have targeted schools throughout East Hawai`i for closure. Are school closures OK if they are outside one’s district? Takamine did nothing to notify his constituents. Many found out only when their children brought home notes from school and when Council member Dominic Yagong sponsored a series of community meetings in Honoka`a, Pa`auilo and Laupahoehoe.
It was Governor Lingle who stepped up to save East Hawai`i schools by vetoing the bill. In her intent-to-veto message, the Governor pointed to a May 22 letter from former UH Regent Ted Hong, as being the first communication she had received in opposition to the bill. Ted Hong is Takamine’s campaign opponent.
• Takamine claims to prioritize “protecting our natural resources” and “expanding economic opportunity.”
It is not clear how planting thousands of acres of eucalyptus trees on the former Hamakua Sugar Co. lands protects natural resources. It didn’t do much to help provide funds for the education of Hawaiian children but it certainly did “expand economic opportunity” for Larry Mehau’s “security” company which in the 1980s got a lucrative “security" contract to protect the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate “investment” in the pencil thin trees.
Now Takamine is pushing for a wood-burning electric power plant in Pa`auilo—yet another of his crony capitalist projects which is meeting opposition from local residents. Is 18th century wood burning technology also an “expansion of economic opportunity”?
Takamine got $6 million in highway funds for his district but instead of improving highways every penny was wasted scaling the walls of Maulua Gulch to knock loose rocks and dirt from the cliffs. This exercise in futility only exposed more loose rocks—some the size of a Volkswagen--which have continued to endanger motorists. The funding could have gone to build a chain link rock slide arrestor system similar to that on Maui’s Honoapi`ilani Hwy, but instead it went a make-work project which has accomplished exactly nothing.
And then there is the Kapa`au Bond Library project -- $6 million for construction of a 6,000 square foot building. That’s $1,000 per square foot-- without any land acquisition costs and without any books, furniture or computers to go inside the new building. The design cost? An additional $600,000—equal to $100 per square foot. This funding could have paid for improvements at several libraries, instead it will “create economic opportunity” for another very lucky contractor.
After 54 years of Yoshito Takamine and Dwight Takamine ruling HD 1 unchallenged, Takamine suddenly faces challenges both within and outside his own party. In late 2006 he attempted to “shed more blood, not less” of Ed Case supporters in the Legislature after Case’s defeat in the Democratic Senate Primary. Takamine failed and lost his powerful chairmanship of the House Finance Committee. Shunned, Takamine then racked up the worst attendance of any Legislator in the 2007 session. He then fled the House, announcing his campaign for the Senate District 1 seat being vacated by Sen. Lorraine’s decision to seek the Hawai`i County Mayor’s seat.