By Diane Yukihiro Chang
Friday, May 3, 1996
Look (really hard) for the silver lining
IT'S absolutely untrue that editorial columnists are cynical, sensationalistic and sassy. While everybody in town was grousing about this past legislative session - calling it unproductive, shallow and lame, for starters - I formulated a long list of redeeming qualities about the 1996 Hawaii Legislature.
Consider the bright side. Our esteemed government leaders at the State Capitol:
There, aren't you more upbeat now?
- Finally learned to read our lips.
- Gave the media something to report about other than the latest hostage situation in Waipahu.
- Balanced the budget on the backs of the disabled and Hawaiians, thereby adroitly avoiding alienation of the mainstream, able-bodied population.
- Brought feminism to new heights when Ways and Means Chairwoman Donna Ikeda was called a dictator by the head of the Democratic Party.
- Made City Council members look smart.
- Approved a $1.3 million emergency appropriation to pay for a luxury item in the schools - electricity.
- Didn't gamble with Hawaii's future by legalizing gaming.
- Bickered so much over same-sex marriage that it deadlocked, thereby preventing desecration of the Constitution.
- Proved that if it tries to cut off general assistance, a group can go to court, sue and actually win, by golly.
- Made Governor Cayetano look mellow.
- Voted to exempt from compulsory school attendance those 16- and 17-year-olds who never go to class anyway (well, duh).
- Boosted stock in signage and steel pole companies by granting the counties protection from beach liability if they put up warning signs.
- Refused to reform the controversial "high three" retirement perk for lawmakers, since they are so much more important, special and work harder than the other peons in government service.
- Should listen to Sen. Milton Holt, who said, "If we adjourn with this record, we do not deserve to return to office."
- Was led by House Speaker Joe Souki, who explained, "Dis is da price of democracy."
- Did not pass auto insurance reform, thus sparing consumers from the dizzying dilemma of how to spend thousands of dollars in saved premiums.
- Made us miss Frank Fasi.
- Formulated workers' comp laws that won't translate into big savings for employers, firmly disproving the silly notion that business leaders have clout.
- Authorized the state payroll to convert from predicted to after-the-fact payments, mirroring how it's done in the real world.
- Promised to do better next year.
IF not, here's one more positive feature of this sitting Legislature. All of the members of the House and half of those in the Senate are up for re-election in 1996. They'll have to face their constituents, who have been known in the past to have short memories and shorter attention spans when it comes to the issues.
Consequently, long-entrenched politicos believe that waving at passing cars, feeding faces at fund-raisers or walking door-to-door to hoomalimali pays off in the fall. They will be returned to office, raring to do more "good" for the community. Yes, lordy, lordy, those voters keep fallin' for it.
This time, think positive - maybe they won't.
Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at
DianeChang@aol.com, or by fax at 523-7863.