Guest Column — Last-Minute Political Predictions

By Steve Offenbaker

With a little time on my hands before we get returns I decided to put my completely unscientific election projections down in writing.

Nationally the GOP is going to take the house and end the reign of Speaker Pelosi. On the Senate side, I think the Democrats will keep a slim majority but Harry Reid will lose in Nevada, should this be the case I wonder is the senate president pro temp Dan Inouye will be in line for majority leader?

The result of this election will be governmental gridlock as the House won’t be able to get much done with the house being GOP and the Senate being controlled by the dems. It will be 2012 before the mess gets sorted out.

In Hawaii, the race for the states chief executive is very close and very interesting. I’ll be the first to admit I’m biased in this race, not to party but to the people. Duke Aiona is a good man. He is not a politician but a committed servant to the public, serving as a prosecutor, a judge, a drug court judge (in fact he was the first one), and then as LG. He is the only candidate in the race with any executive experience. I think he is best equipped to lead us as we work to improve the economy in Hawaii. Lynn Finnegan is a superstar in my mind. Read more

*** Commentary *** Notes Regarding My Journey For Prenatal Care #1

North Hawaii Community Hospital Full Birthing Unit midwives Patricia Hopkins (L) and JoAnn Johansen. Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved.

I’ve been so busy covering politics this campaign season that I haven’t had a chance to write any notes on my journey for prenatal care.

Let’s see, it’s a little after 11 a.m. Friday and I am just about to get on the road to make my way to Waimea for my second prenatal appointment at the Women’s Center there.  I’m expected to see Patricia Hopkins, who I got acquainted with my last pregnancy.  Like me, her husband is a surfboard shaper. We have a great rapport.  Actually, I know all the midwives at Waimea Women’s Center aka the Full Birthing Unit of the North Hawaii Community Hospital.  JoAnn Johansen, I met when she lived on Molokai and I visited a mutual friend nearly a decade ago. Brigid Mulloy, her son and daughter-in-law have been friends of mine since we were obtaining our bachelor’s degrees at the University of Wyoming.  I absolutely love the Women’s Center, the philosophy of care there, and generally I feel like it’s a home away from home.  I just wish it wasn’t a two-hour car ride from Pahoa.  What a trek.  It’s so grueling, especially when you are in labor.

But, believe me, having had my first child at the Full Birthing Unit of North Hawaii Community Hospital and having had the negative experience I had with Bay Clinic at the onset of this pregnancy, the drive is tolerable.  What I’ve decided to make these car rides more enjoyable is I am planning excursions for myself — rediscovering East Hawaii and all the great shops and businesses along the way.

Last month, after my first prenatal appointment in Waimea, I treated myself to chili rellenos at Tako Taco.  I actually have a picture to show you of the meal, I just have to track it down.  Stay tuned.  It wasn’t just that I was so hungry I could eat a frozen dog.  The meal was absolutely scrumptious.  The ambience of the place was idyllic. It’s very colorful, from the plates to the walls, and all the decor is Day of The Dead.

On my way back down to Puna, I plotted what stops I will make to and from Waimea in the months ahead.  There are a couple of places in Honoka’a I want to explore, including the sports bar run by Steve Offenbaker et al. And I’d like to revisit Cafe Il Mundo.  I love their pizza, calzones, and their lasagna.  I used to patronize that restaurant all the time when I lived in Laupahoehoe.  There’s a natural food store and a bakery, and a funky crystal shop that I’d also like to visit.  Oh, and there’s a great baby store in Honoka’a called Symbiosis that I have visited during my last pregnancy, and would like to visit again this pregnancy.  I’d actually like to see if the owner, Spinnaker Wyss, is interested in carrying “Tiff’s Retro Rag Dolls.” Currently, I make them for Moonsprout in Hilo, and it would be nice to have them in other locales.  I’d also like to spend some time in Laupahoehoe at the 50’s Restaurant and hit up Honomu and Wailea.  Any recommendations for stops to make?

Today, on my way to Waimea, I’ll be getting a haircut with Patty Morrissey at Headline News in Hilo and then I’m going to be seeking out Perfect Harmony owned by Ju Lee to see if they have any extra large gaucho pants.  I got some from her recently, and I’d like another pair.  Not sure where I’ll be grabbing a bite to eat, but I’ll let you know.

Excuse the stream of consciousness writing.  I’m letting you inside the brain of a pregnant woman who is having to commute to receive prenatal care.  It really is one of my top priorities to see that we get a birth center in Hilo or Puna and OB-GYNs in Hilo to see the virtue of midwife-assisted births.

Guest Column — Back To School; DOE Still Failing Our Keiki

By Steve Offenbaker

Image Courtesy of Patrick Sutherland

Image Courtesy of Patrick Sutherland

Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Pat Hamamoto has publicly described how the budget cuts to the DOE this year are going to have such a negative impact on the Keiki of Hawaii.

Problem is the DOE has been failing for years to educate our kids and are such an oversized, funds sucking bureaucracy that they cannot fulfill their mission; educate Hawaii’s children.

Let me start off with saying that I have no problem with the administration of our schools from the principal down. The staff on the ground at our schools are doing the best they can with limited resources to get the job done, often times putting in hours without pay and using their own money for supplies.

Last year the DOE budget was almost 50% of the State budget. When you divide those funds by the number of students enrolled you get just about $32,000 per student.That’s what the state gives to educate our kids. For perspective, that is what it costs to send a child to Punahou for an education. Is your DOE school educating on a Punahou level? Read more

Guest Column — State Layoffs Versus Furloughs: Why Lingle Has It Right

By Steve Offenbaker

For many weeks now, we have all watched the drama unfold as Republican Governor Linda Lingle battles Hawaii’s powerful government employees unions over how to best reduce cost to the taxpayers and close the states estimated $786 (M)illion deficit over the next two years.

Gov. Linda Lingle

Gov. Linda Lingle

    The Lingle administration today announced that 1,100 state workers would be facing layoffs 90 days from today, if a deal is not reached. That number could swell to 2,500 after the union-allowed “bumping” based on seniority is completed and the state is able to determine what its total cost savings were.
       The announcment of state layoffs even drew comment from U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye with the senior Senator saying, “We should not make decisions to politically punish or politically enhance a group.” Sen. Inouye is dead on, but his target is very misdirected.
       Instead of singling out Governor Lingle, he should have been commending her. She did the very thing he is asking when she proposed furloughs for state workers instead of lay offs. The furlough plan was done without politics in mind. Read more

***Commentary*** The Ivantatum Mystery; Whistleblower, Watchdog, Or Axe Grinder?

In the last couple of weeks, someone using Ivantatum for a pseudonym has left 37 pages worth of comments that has left us intrigued and disturbed all the same.

Along with the frequent comments here, Ivantatum is now calling me from a blocked number regularly and, when I’ve answered, has talked ad nauseam about the allegations he’s made here.  Mostly it is about certain Department of Public Works employees and procurement issues in which he alleges cronyism and nepotism. But Ivantatum has gone so far to suggest that this corruption is pervasive throughout county and state government. His comments are compelling while, at the same time, inflammatory and, in some instances, slanderous.  

 Ivantatum remains cloaked in anonymity, shoveling dirt about various elected and appointed officials, naming names and accusing people of crimes.  Us readers are intrigued by Ivantatum’s dirt-flinging and are curious to uncover his true identity. Read more

***Commentary*** Dominic Yagong’s Former Legislative Aide Alleges HTH Newspaper Reporter Tailored Facts To Fit His Story


Steve Offenbaker

Steve Offenbaker

Steve Offenbaker, Dominic Yagong’s former legislative assistant who the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported last week was among the County Clerk’s Office employees with the highest internet usage, feels like the reporter tailored the facts to fit his story.

Jason Armstrong reported in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald on Thursday June 11, 2009 that Steve Offenbaker had the highest internet usage in the County Clerk’s office, second to Kareen Forissier, a legislative assistant to then-Vice Chair Pete Hoffmann. In fact, neither Steve Offenbaker or Kareen Forissier had the highest internet usage, persay, but the highest rate of data transfer, according to the way the Data Systems report was tailored.  

Jason Armstrong stands by his story and, refusing to talk about it with the Big Island Chronicle (BIC), said he doesn’t like this blog and accused this reporter, the blog’s editor and publisher, of legal and ethical breaches.  He referred this reporter to Hawaii Tribune-Herald editor David Bock, who also said he stands by the story and refused to provide any statements to BIC. Read more

***Commentary*** Ironic Twists And Turns Of The County Worker Internet Investigation

Did you see Jason Armstrong’s article in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald today entitled, “Council aide was big Web surfer”? Here is the first paragraph: “One of the county government’s most prolific Web surfers worked for the councilman who requested an investigation into employees’ Internet abuse.”

You read it right. Steve Offenbaker, the legislative assistant to Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong — (key point for the irony) who has been actively seeking the findings of a county worker internet investigation — has the second highest usage in the County Clerk’s Office, confirmed Clerk Kenny Goodenow.  The one said to have the highest internet usage is Kareen Forissier, the legislative assistant to Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann, the current vice chairman and former chairman. Read more