Political File

News, notes and anecdotes
on government and politics

Monday, February 15, 1999

Tam insists he’s not
the state’s worst

Sen. Rod Tam (D, Pauoa) says that despite what Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris may think, he is not the state's worst legislator.

Harris last week branded Tam as an incompetent fool after Tam sought Harris' ouster from the state Democratic Party for ostensibly supporting Tam's Republican challenger last year, an allegation Harris denies.

Harris, however, did support former Councilwoman Audrey Hidano in the Democratic primary against Tam, a race Tam won by only 29 votes.

Harris, Tam retorted, should not have acted immaturely and stooped to name-calling.

So if Tam doesn't believe he's the worst legislator, who does he see as the worst? "I don't think anyone of us is the worst," Tam replied. "We all have our faults."

He would not have been re-elected, Tam added, if voters thought he was incapable of being an effective lawmaker.

CRITICISM UNAPPRECIATED House Labor Chairwoman Terry Nui Yoshinaga (D, Moiliili) bristled at Gov. Ben Cayetano's recent criticism of her panel for rejecting a bill, introduced by 30 of the House's 51 members, that would have eliminated overtime in calculating retirement benefits for government workers.

"There was a comment by our mighty chief that we don't have the courage to make decisions," she said, apparently with a touch of sarcasm. "That's the kind of dialogue that is not constructive."

Her panel has the will to implement real reform in the civil service system, Yoshinaga insisted.

Sparking Yoshinaga's retort was Cayetano's comment that his administration has been looking at the overtime issue for the past five years, and each year "legislators cave in to political pressures."

The rejected measure would have saved the state and counties $20 million annually and also would have removed an incentive for abuse, many believe.

By Star-Bulletin staff

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