Friday, February 21, 2003

Lingle to meet
with Ashcroft
in Washington

She will also press
the case for a Hawaiian
sovereignty measure

By Richard Borreca

WASHINGTON >> Gov. Linda Lingle will meet this morning with Attorney General John Ashcroft as she kicks off her six-day trip to the nation's capital, where she will lobby for a native Hawaiian sovereignty recognition bill and promote the islands in national television appearances.

Lingle, Hawaii's first Republican governor in 40 years, said the meeting with Ashcroft comes as something of a surprise, noting that she has never met the GOP attorney general.

"I was a little surprised to be able to get in a talk with him directly," Lingle said.

She said she is hopeful that the Republican administration of President Bush, along with a GOP-led Congress, will be more interested in Hawaii now that the state has a Republican governor.

"I think our access will be different on an administrative level," she said last night while dining with her staff members at the Capitol Grille, an upscale steakhouse on Pennsylvania Avenue. "If they have a choice of being helpful, they will help."

Tonight, Lingle will have dinner with U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a former GOP campaign worker who helped Lingle in her unsuccessful 1998 gubernatorial campaign.

Lingle said she hopes that Cole will be able to discuss the sovereignty bill with Oklahoma's Sens. Don Nickles and James Inhoffe, who supporters have said blocked the bill in the past.

To both meetings, Lingle will bring her chief of staff, Bob Awana, and her Hawaiian Home Lands Director Micah Kane, who are both part-Hawaiian.

Lingle is also expected to meet with Paul Moorehead, chief of staff for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which is the body she will testify before on Tuesday.

In a smaller effort to pitch Hawaii, Lingle plans to give Bush a letter from the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism asking the president to serve only Kona coffee in the White House since it is the only coffee grown exclusively in the United States.

Lingle also plans to meet with the USA Today editorial board today, hold an interview with the Washington Post and appear on MSNBC. Next week, she is scheduled to appear on CNN's "Inside Politics" and perhaps "Crossfire."

Turning her attention to home, Lingle said she is monitoring reports of the massive cleanup of Lake Wilson, which has been covered by the weed Salvinia molesta. She said she is concerned not just from an environmental standpoint, "but as a health issue."

"This is a very serious public health issue, and I am very worried about it, if we don't make some progress," Lingle said. State officials have noted that there could be public health implications if the weed causes a large fish kill in the lake or adds to the proliferation of mosquitoes in the Wahiawa area.

Lingle said she will inspect the site when she returns to Honolulu at the end of the month.

Office of the Governor

E-mail to City Desk


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