Governor and Dems
unite for Akaka bill
Lingle says the entire state
should support issues important
to native Hawaiians
Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday that she is working closely with Hawaii's congressional delegation to gain approval for the Hawaiian federal recognition bill "no matter what."
"We're approaching this in a coordinated fashion, and we won't give up on this issue no matter what," Lingle said in a talk at the Native Hawaiian Conference in Waikiki.
The governor noted that the conference theme is "With just one voice," and said the state's political leaders are approaching the so-called Akaka bill in the same way.
Lingle said she is in constant contact with members of Hawaii's congressional delegation in a joint effort to gain approval for the bill.
She said she feels strongly about the bill and wants to be part of having it passed.
"I can't really say I'm optimistic, but I'm not pessimistic, either," she said of the chances of the bill being passed by Congress. "This is something we put our whole hearts and efforts into."
"It's a matter of doing what's right," she said. "It's right not just for native Hawaiians, but right for the entire state of Hawaii.
"So many issues are tied to federal recognition -- more than when the bill was first proposed," Lingle said.
The governor also addressed the issue of the Kamehameha Schools' policy of giving admission preference to Hawaiians.
"This has nothing to do with civil rights," Lingle said. "It's about honoring a legacy and living up to someone's will."
She also repeated an earlier statement that Kamehameha Schools has every ethnic group in the state represented.
Lingle said all people of Hawaii must support native Hawaiian issues.
"Without Hawaiians there is no Hawaii," she said to loud applause. "That is not a slogan on a bumper sticker. That's a fact."
Lingle also noted that more than half of the state's charter schools are native Hawaiian-based, and said that is because Hawaiian children are not excelling in regular schools.
She said she will ask the Legislature to make it easier for those who want to establish charter schools.