Friday, July 27, 2001

plans sought

Common Cause files a complaint
to get the information
before next week's vote

By Pat Omandam

Common Cause Hawaii filed a complaint with the state yesterday after the 2001 Reapportionment Commission presented a closed-door briefing to lawmakers on a proposed plan to reshape the state's 76 legislative districts.

"Taxpayers paid for this process, and we should get the information as everyone else," said Common Cause Hawaii spokesman Larry Meacham, who filed the complaint with the state Office of Information Practices.

Since the redistricting plan was given to legislators, there is no reason to withhold it from the public, Meacham said. The information is urgently needed since the commission plans to release the plan on Tuesday and vote on it Thursday, he said.

"There's no reason why the public should wait a week after the legislators," Meacham added.

Commission Chairman Wayne Minami confirmed that lawmakers were briefed about the reapportionment process on Wednesday but were not shown any detailed plan. Instead, legislators were briefed on the entire reapportionment process -- information made available to those who asked, he said.

But lawmakers from both the majority and minority caucuses told the Star-Bulletin yesterday they were shown an actual redistricting plan that drastically reshapes the 76 districts.

For instance, the plan would combine Kalihi's two House seats into one, forcing state Reps. Felipe "Jun" Abinsay (Fort Shafter-Kapalama) and Benjamin Cabreros (Palama-Kalihi Kai) into a primary election next year.

Both men, who were initially appointed to their House seats before being elected to them, said yesterday they have a good relationship and will not run against each other. They will wait for the final reapportionment of Kalihi before they decide their future.

"We'll leave our options open," Abinsay said.

Meanwhile, the commission by a vote of 7-1 adopted the "traditional" reapportionment plan for the congressional districts.

The plan basically moves Waipahu to Neil Abercrombie's House District 1, which is urban Honolulu, from Patsy Mink's House District 2, which covers the rest of Oahu and the neighbor islands.

Mink did not want to lose Waipahu, which is considered a safe Democratic area. She had proposed her own redistricting plan, but it drew little support.

Commissioner Harold Masumoto voted against the traditional plan yesterday.

Masumoto favored his north-south plan, which puts Kauai and most of Oahu into one district, and the rest of Oahu and Maui and Hawaii counties in the other. Other commissioners, however, said those on the neighbor islands felt they would get better representation in Congress under one U.S. representative.

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