A bleak November in Hawaii's political life
GOOD RIDDANCE to November 2005.
If you appreciate politics, November was just a lousy month.
It started off with the tragic end of Galen Fox's political career as he fessed up to a Los Angeles conviction for sexual abuse of a female passenger on a flight to the West Coast one year ago.
Republican Fox kept the mainland arrest and conviction quiet, telling only Gov. Linda Lingle, but when a KITV news reporter found out about it, Fox hurriedly called a news conference to announce his resignation.
The story is just sad. During his decade in the House, Fox was regarded as a smart and thoughtful middle-of-the-road Republican who worked hard for his district, but his career was unsalvageable with the conviction. He is to be sentenced in January.
Former CNN newsman and aspiring politician Dalton Tanonaka already has been sentenced to three months in federal prison, three months of home detention and fined $10,000 for two counts of campaign spending violations stemming from his campaign for Congress last year.
Besides lying on his campaign spending reports, federal prosecutors said Tanonaka tried to influence public policy without disclosing his own financial interest in a firm seeking to do state business. The case might not be sad or tragic, but it is disheartening to see someone fumble government ethics so badly.
It might be the federal government that has to clean up the mess made by state government with the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. Legislative hearings last month revealed that while progress has been made, patterns of harassment and physical and emotional abuse still pervade the Windward Oahu youth prison.
A federal investigation called the system "chaos," and it is expected that the feds will deal sternly with the state and its handling of HYCF.
And finally, for those hoping for a spirited campaign for governor next year, we lost one of the state's most eloquent liberal Democrats when Rep. Neil Abercrombie said he would run for re-election and not governor.
Abercrombie clearly wanted to make the race against Lingle, and if he doesn't have a serious, well-funded opponent to keep him busy next year, he is likely to spend most of his time hurling grenades at the GOP governor. But he still won't be a candidate, and the level of discourse just won't inflame the voters' interest.
If December is worth anything, the best present it can bring will be a 2006 election year that enlivens the debate and gets local politics back on track.
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Richard Borreca writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org