ConCon calls amid din over Superferry
Reflecting on the Kauai public hearing one month ago with the Hawaii Superferry opponents and supporters, Gov. Linda Lingle said she found one new and interesting idea.
Finding enough lemons to start squeezing out the lemonade has been Lingle's special political skill, so it is not surprising that she would find the bright spot.
But for a political leader cursed and booed and who was compared to the devil by one Kauai blogger, Lingle must have been desperate to come away with a bright side to the Superferry controversy.
"This is a perfect reason for why we should have a Constitutional Convention," Lingle said.
The governor said her ConCon suggestion was the only time during the night when the shouting subsided as both Superferry supporters and opponents thought how to fit their way of thinking into the state Constitution.
For instance, environmental protection could be increased with new constitutional sections and business ventures could be further protected, Lingle suggested later.
Giving the people more authority has never been a popular idea in Hawaii. We still have a number of citizens wanting to restore the monarchy. Hawaii's pre-World War II history shows a lot of economic and military interests that were not encouraging more democracy.
Even as late as 1978, the issue of initiative, referendum and recall was troubling to enough vested interests that budding politicians ran on the platform of stopping initiative and referendum.
That could change as more citizens' groups get active.
Transplants from western states have observed the power voters have with initiative. Across Hawaii more issues are taking on a regional tone, sometimes almost neighborhood by neighborhood.
Zoning is always a Not In My Back Yard issue, but as the Superferry fuss shows, NIMBY issues can become a rallying cry for thousands.
Waiting in the wings are those fearful of genetically modified organisms. Already those against GMOs are painting the issue as Lingle and big corporate agriculture against the simple farmer.
Of course, it isn't that simple, but it's compelling enough to whip up a crowd. Cell phone towers, high voltage lines, new dumps ... there is an unending supply of things that we can preclude and exclude.
All of that can be neatly tucked into a new state Constitution just in time for the citizens to decide how much control over their own fate they want.
Looming further ahead is Hawaii's biggest NIMBY issue awaiting regulation, not ferries or ferns, but the multibillion-dollar Honolulu mass transit system.