Lingle to go local in Obama meeting


POSTED: Wednesday, February 18, 2009

When she finally gets the chance to meet President Obama, Gov. Linda Lingle said she expects any discussion to steer clear of policy.

“;I expect we would simply probably talk about Hawaii,”; Lingle said in an interview yesterday. “;I don't think there would be any big policy discussions.

“;Most of that kind of work really goes on at the Cabinet level, talking with people who are the directors - Cabinet members - as well as the staff.”;

Toward that end, Lingle plans to have a full entourage of state officials in tow as she embarks for Washington on a nine-day trip that begins tomorrow.

Lingle is scheduled to attend the annual winter meetings of the National Governors Association from Saturday through Monday, but also has scheduled appointments with various federal agencies to talk about Hawaii issues, particularly how the state can benefit from the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

“;The three issues we listed as our highest priorities were our broadband initiative, renewable energy and our highway modernization,”; Lingle said. “;All three of those dovetail really well with what President Obama is saying are his priorities, so we know that there's funding available there.”;

Lingle plans to meet extensively with Sen. Daniel Inouye and his staff on the implementation of the stimulus package for Hawaii.

She also has scheduled a meeting with Sen. Daniel Akaka to discuss the bill for native Hawaiian recognition. The latest version of the so-called “;Akaka Bill”; reverts to a previous bill that was introduced in 2000, and no longer bans a Hawaiian government entity from running a gambling operation or from setting up a reservation similar to those established for American Indians.

“;I have not spoken to him about it yet, so I want to understand what his plans are with that,”; Lingle said.

Lingle and various state officials also have scheduled meetings with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and White House energy czar Carol Browner.

“;I think we have some terrific appointments with the different Cabinet secretaries,”; she said.

The governor said she expects to meet Obama on Sunday or Monday. The White House hosts a formal dinner with the governors on Sunday night, followed on Monday by a roughly three-hour session with the president and various Cabinet members to discuss policy matters.