A summary of Star-Bulletin endorsements
Hawaii voters will decide Tuesday among candidates for office and on proposed changes in the state Constitution and City Charter.
THIS YEAR'S general election might seem anticlimactic after the highly emotional battle between incumbent Sen. Daniel Akaka and Rep. Ed Case, his challenger in the Democratic primary. However, important decisions will be decided Tuesday not only in the Senate race, where Akaka faces Republican competition, but elsewhere on the ballot.
During the past three weeks, the Star-Bulletin has made recommendations for governor, Congress and constitutional and City Charter questions being put forth to voters. Here is the summary of our opinions on those issues:
GOVERNOR: Republican Linda Lingle has been highly successful during her first four years as the state's chief executive and deserves a second term, with Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona continuing at her side. The Lingle administration has been especially effective in performance of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and putting forth plans to increase the state's energy self-sufficiency.
U.S. SENATE: The Republican Party chose state Rep. Cynthia Thielen as its candidate to face Akaka after ill health forced the top vote-getter in the GOP primary to withdraw. Thielen is a moderate Republican who has the support of the environmental community and, with Sen. Daniel Inouye, would provide Hawaii with long-needed bipartisan representation in the Senate.
U.S. House: Rep. Neil Abercrombie stands to gain chairmanship of an important armed services subcommittee if the Democrats gain control of the House, as expected. That potential merits his return to a ninth term representing the First Congressional District. The Star-Bulletin makes no recommendation in the Second District race between Democrat Mazie Hirono and Republican Bob Hogue.
State constitutional amendments
QUESTION 1: Vote NO.
This is a Democratic-sponsored amendment aimed at stripping Gov. Lingle of much of her authority to appoint regents at the University of Hawaii.
QUESTION 2: Vote NO. This amendment would give legislative leaders control over salaries not only in the executive and judicial branches of government but of legislative salaries, allowing legislators to receive pay raises without being forced to vote on them.
QUESTION 3: Vote NO. This is a work of partisan politics allowing judges appointed by past Democratic governors to postpone their retirement from the bench until Lingle is out of office.
QUESTION 4: Vote YES. This would remove a legal hurdle in prosecuting a defendant of continuous sexual assault of a minor, ratified before but overturned by the state Supreme Court for technical reasons.
QUESTION 5: Vote YES. This amendment would allow low-interest loans aimed at improving enterprises on important agricultural land.
City Charter amendments
Question 1: Vote No.
This amendment assumes that the public wants to eliminate or extend term limits for City Council members and is worded in a way that could confuse voters by presenting alternatives listed in Question 2
. Voters should mark "No" on Question 1. If Question 1 is rejected, there would be no need to choose the alternatives in Question 2, but if voters choose yes on Question 1, Alternative B would be preferable, since it would leave term limits in place, though instead of two terms, Council incumbents could seek a third.
Question 3: Vote Yes. The amendment would direct 1 percent of the city's annual property tax revenue to fund land conservation and affordable housing. It is not a tax increase. The amendment will help to build homes sorely needed by the less fortunate and affirms a quality-of-life principal for Oahu, placing high value on sustaining scenic and historic coastal lands and forests.
Question 4: Vote Yes. By including curbside recycling as part of the functions of the city administration, this amendment would reduce the millions of pounds of reusable material that continues to pack Honolulu's sole landfill. It would make recycling convenient and declare the city's commitment to a cleaner environment.
Question 5: Vote Yes. Approval of this proposal would authorize the Ethics Commission to impose civil fines on elected officials who violate ethics rules, which the commission now is powerless to do.
Question 6: Vote No. The amendment would allow city elections with only two candidates to be conducted in the general election rather than in the primary election. There is no pressing need for this change.
Question 7: Vote No. Elected officials and other high-ranking employees would get automatic pay raises if this amendment is adopted. Current practice requires City Council members to reject Salary Commission recommendations, which forces them to defend the need for the increases, including raises for themselves.
Question 8: Vote Yes. This amendment calls for making Honolulu congenial to pedestrians and bicyclists by adding duties to the Department of Transportation Services. Hawaii's high pedestrian fatality rate, particularly among elderly residents, and a need for alternative transportation should place this as a priority for the city.
Question 9: Vote Yes. This amendment would exempt the Liquor Commission administrator, deputy administrator and secretary from civil service protections and allow removal of unsatisfactory employees. It would provide accountability and oversight for an agency that has been plagued with problems.
Question 10: Vote Yes. This amendment would specify duties, powers and functions already being provided under the director of Emergency Services and the fire chief to include ocean safety, emergency medical services and hazardous materials.
Question 11: Vote Yes. This proposal would extend from six months to 12 months the time in which capital budget appropriations can be spent for public projects and studies. It would reduce paperwork and other red tape
Question 12: Vote Yes. This catch-all amendment requires public notices to be distributed by electronic medium as well as other methods, corrects an unconstitutional ban on political campaigning by members of the police department and reconciles other portions of the charter with federal law.