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David Shapiro
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By David Shapiro

Saturday, June 26, 1999


All together now,
‘Thanks, governor’

After my column last week about Mazie Hirono's invisibility as lieutenant governor, people started shaking their heads sadly as I passed.

"She's gonna kick your butt," warned one colleague.

I didn't think much of it until I received a copy of the state's slick new magazine, 'Imi Loa, published by Gov. Ben Cayetano to combat "negative" news coverage.

I opened to page 22 and saw a story about Hirono's effort to cut red tape. The picture of her sent a chill down my spine. She was wearing a devilish smile and carrying giant pruning shears. I couldn't help reaching protectively for a certain vulnerable body part.

Cayetano's opponents accuse him of using 'Imi Loa to spread propaganda at the expense of taxpayers and local businesses. It doesn't bother me.

So what if 'Imi Loa mentions the governor 26 times in its 28 pages? We mention our publisher John Flanagan every day, too. OK, so it's only once on the masthead, but what's the big difference? Once, 26 times, who's counting?

We've covered most of the "positive" news Cayetano wanted to draw attention to -- the relocation of "Baywatch" and other film projects here, the condemnation of Bishop Estate's Ka Iwi lands, the first lady's renovation of Washington Place.

The biggest difference between our coverage and 'Imi Loa's is that we don't sprinkle our stories with phrases like "thanks to Gov. Cayetano."

I get the feeling that the governor felt unappreciated because people don't thank him enough so he spent $30,000 of somebody else's money to thank himself.

Good grief, if it'll save $30,000 and get the governor back to worrying about his own job instead of John Flanagan's, I'm not proud. I say with all the sincerity I can muster: "Thank you, Governor Cayetano."

Local politicians are babies about "bad" press. Our aloha spirit makes us polite compared to mainland media. Hawaii reporters don't carry on like idiots at news briefings like the White House press corps. You don't see TV sound trucks parked on Lokelani Lindsey's lawn. We don't pound on the doors of people who have suffered tragedy.

From Washington, D.C., to New York to Mississippi, the love lives of politicians have come under intense scrutiny. Our governor divorced and remarried and we've treated it mostly -- and properly -- as none of our business except when the Cayetanos invite us into their marriage.

I've been reading turn-of-the-century newspapers and the governor probably would prefer the way they reported news in the old days. Political writing was so boring that readers must have dozed off before they learned what their officials were up to.

On May 6, 1901, the Evening Bulletin reported a major local political story with this understated headline: "What is taking place in politics." The first paragraph said, "The Independents have decided to send Representative Beckley to San Francisco in company with Delegate Wilcox to place before President McKinley the petitions and resolutions against Governor Dole and to plead for his removal."

In today's fast-paced world, we don't have time to beat around the bush. Our headline would have said, "Independents want Dole's head." Our first paragraph would get to the point: "Opponents will demand Gov. Sanford Dole's ouster in meetings with President McKinley next week."

Another passage from that same story in the 1901 Evening Bulletin said, "The Advertiser suggests this morning that Senator White is at outs with the Independent Party...This is incorrect as usual."

Some things never change.



David Shapiro is managing editor of the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at editor@starbulletin.com.

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