Wednesday, May 26, 1999

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Hawaii State Sen. David Ige and Rep. K. Mark Takai address
community members gathered at the Aiea Library last night.

Aiea residents give
lawmakers earful

Some of the residents were
upset with the Senate's rejection
of Bronster's renomination

By Craig Gima


At a meeting to update Aiea residents about the Legislature, Sen. David Ige got an earful from a constituent about his vote against the confirmation of Margery Bronster as attorney general.

But Senate President Norman Mizuguchi did not.

That's because Mizuguchi (D, Aiea) -- one of four lawmakers who organized the meeting -- wasn't there last night.

"I was at another engagement so I just was not able to attend. But I asked my staff to get the respective comments," he said later. Mizuguchi would not say what the other engagement was.

Since Mizuguchi was not there, it fell to Ige (D, Pearl City) to defend the Bronster vote to constituents like Paulette Puaa Moore.

"I was very outraged and distressed that you did not represent the point of view of many of your constituents when it came to Margery Bronster," Moore told Ige.

"Who do you represent? Do you represent us or were you representing special interests?"

Ige said he could not support Bronster because of what he saw as a lack of support by her office on the Felix consent decree and other education issues.

Ige said spending to provide services to special needs students required by the Felix consent decree rose from $75 million when Bronster first became attorney general to $250 million, yet the attorney general's office has only two attorneys working on Felix cases.

He said if you go to individual schools and ask educators what services they are legally required to provide, "most of the people cannot tell you what is legally required."

Ige also insisted he has not taken any campaign contributions from the former Bishop Estate trustees and has not had conversations with the trustees.

He added that he spoke with the attorney general's office before the vote to make sure the Bishop Estate investigation would continue no matter what the outcome of the Bronster vote.

"Every time there's a controversial issue, we get people who feel they were not represented," Ige said after the meeting.

"We're up for election and that's the ultimate test."

A Mizuguchi flier was available for constituents.

The flier gave some of the reasons Mizuguchi voted against Bronster, including what he says are a lack of support for public employees, diminished native Hawaiian rights and poor legal opinions.

The town meeting last night at the Aiea library was the first community forum scheduled in Aiea since the Bronster vote.

The day after the Legislature ended, Mizuguchi told reporters that senators would have to go back to their communities and explain their votes against Bronster and on other issues.

"It will be our responsibility to go back to our communities and justify to the voters what we did, including the Bronster vote and that's how politics works in any jurisdiction," he said.

Ige and Rep. K. Mark Takai also answered questions about a number of community concerns, including the future of the site of the former Aiea Sugar Mill.

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