Hawaii's popular view of its system of government education (k-12) has experienced a major shift in the past 20 years. Twenty years ago, the prevailing attitude was that there were some flaws in the DOE organization but none that could not be fixed by injecting more money into it. Today, it is conventional wisdom that the system is broken. It is failing great numbers of our children. And what is being done about it? Not much. But at least the "more money mantra" is dying a slow death. The Governor wants to accomplish some significant change. The legislature disagrees. They want to tinker with the system. Yes. Tinker. Leave it intact with an adjustment here and a tweak there. In effect they are making a generation or more of children tinkertoys. And it get worse. Talented, dedicated teachers and administrators whose calling is the development of children are being drowned in a mindless, unaccountable, unresponsive bureaucratic system that feeds on itself from within and from the public through the legislature. (more)
The Power of Eminent Domain to Redistribute Land Ownership
The recent news has been filled with the term 'redistribution of wealth', but in Hawaii and elsewhere the power of the state to confiscate private property under the guise of economic development has never been more popular. The recent Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London in 2005 involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another to further economic development is one example. In a 5-4 decision the Court held the state using eminent domain to redistribute property for redevelopment was permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment because the community derived "economic benefits". (more)
Hawaii, and in particular the island of Oahu where the majority of residents live, has been a battleground for mass transit advocates and opponents over the last 30 years. The fight over the best alternatives to traffic congestion has intensified as the state's population has swollen to 1.2 million, with more the 800,000 people residing on Oahu, the majority of whom prefer to commute by automobile, the more personalized, convenient and flexible transit option. With more commuters driving to and from work, dropping their children at school and other activities, traffic has naturally become more congested, particularly on Oahu's freeways during the morning and afternoon drive times. (more)
Putting the Cost of a Constitutional Convention in Perspective
This November, Hawaii's citizens will be asked to vote on whether to authorize a new constitutional convention (“Con-Con”) which could lead to changes to some or all of the existing 1978 State Constitution. While it certainly comes with risk, the Con-Con would provide a rare opportunity for citizens to inject transparency and accountability into Hawaii state government. Hawaii’s voters must decide if the benefits of a Con-Con outweigh the costs, and if they want to take advantage of this opportunity. (more)
On May 29, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann issued a press release in praise of a Brookings Institution study that "underscores how important rail mass transit is to Honolulu's future." Among other things, the Mayor remarked that "This important study makes it clear that we are moving down the right path with our rail transit project."
The next time Mr. Hannemann promotes a piece of research from a liberal think tank, he should read it more carefully first. (more)
A proposal to all the Big Island to experiment with taxpayer-funded political campaigns promises that it will restore citizens' confidence in government and increase citizen participation in politics. But other places that have enacted schemes such as House Bill 661, now in conference committee in the Hawaii legislature, have found that "welfare for politicians" only results in wasted money and broken promises. (more)
Correcting historical revisionism and misconceptions promoted by the Akaka Bill.
How Fast Does The State Government Spend Your Money?