Thursday, September 26, 2002

Lingle ad says
Hirono shares blame
for isle woes

Hirono calls the spot a negative
attack on the people of Hawaii

By Richard Borreca

Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono is part of Hawaii's problem with poor school performance and a weak economy, according to a new television ad by Republican Linda Lingle.

Election 2002
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That ad -- which Lingle called "fact-based" -- is "a negative attack on the people of Hawaii," responded Hirono.

"She is always negative and putting our people down," Hirono said.

The ad, the seventh by the Lingle campaign, is the first one that concentrates on the current Democratic state administration -- to which Hirono belongs -- rather than on Lingle, former mayor of Maui.

"How can Mazie say things are better when for the past 20 years, she has been part of the government that got us here?" Lingle said yesterday at a news conference at her Ala Moana headquarters.

The ad says Hawaii's reading scores are among the worst in the country.

It also says Hawaii ranks last in creating new jobs and first in increased poverty rates.

Lingle offered statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics -- part of the U.S. Education Department -- the Labor Research Association and the U.S. Census Bureau to back up her claims.

Hirono, however, said recent economic indicators show the state's economy is improving, and the state administration pushed through the largest tax cut in state history.

She said school reading scores have been hampered by the large number of children in Hawaii who do not speak English as a first language.

"I can identify with that because when I came here, I didn't speak any English," she said. "If I were tested in first grade, second grade, third grade, I would have failed, and I'm standing here before you running for governor of this state.

"It is definitely a negative attack on our people. It is putting our people down," Hirono said.

In response, Lingle said it "sounds like she is in denial about the problems we need to solve."

Lingle pointed to statistics that show that a 1998 national school assessment that ranked Hawaii's fourth- and eighth-grade students as having the lowest reading performance levels of all the states.

Lingle also said Hawaii had the lowest job growth among the 50 states and that Hawaii's poverty rate grew faster than that in any other state.

"Between 1990 and 2000, 37,746 more Hawaii residents joined the poverty ranks," Lingle said.

"This is just the facts; she has to take the responsibility for what has happened."

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