Abercrombie cites leadership 'crisis'


POSTED: Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie says he is in the race for governor because Hawaii is experiencing “;a crisis in leadership”; with the best example being the continuing Furlough Fridays.

Abercrombie formally filed for governor yesterday, becoming the first major candidate to jump into the race.

Fellow Democrat Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Republican Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona are also expected to file before the July 22 deadline.

In his announcement, Abercrombie said if he were governor now, he would call “;an all-hands meeting”; to jump-start negotiations with all parties involved with the school furloughs.

“;Obviously, you need planning days. The instruction days should be extended, not diminished. You have to put pay-cut questions on the table. There are at least a half-dozen combinations where you can restore the instruction days,”; Abercrombie said.

In response, Gov. Linda Lingle countered that the various sides are not moving.

“;The Board of Education and the Department of Education have to make some decisions, and HSTA (Hawaii State Teachers Association)—that represents teachers all across the state, the teachers union—has to make some decisions as well, and they have to put the students first. If they do that, I think we can resolve this.”;

She added, “;So unless Congressman Abercrombie brought home a big sack of money from Washington, it is what it is.”;

Lingle said her administration expects to meet today with the Board of Education regarding the furloughs.

In his announcement yesterday, Abercrombie also took a swipe at expected Democratic primary opponent Hannemann, calling him “;politics as usual.”;

“;The mayor is status quo politics. ... I'm not interested in that kind of politics, and I don't think the people are interested in that kind of politics,”; Abercrombie said.

Star-Bulletin reporter B.J. Reyes contributed to this report.