Political File

News, notes and anecdotes
on government and politics

Monday, November 1, 1999

Ways and Means panel
down to one budget-
savvy staffer

The "help wanted" sign is posted again on the door of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Research chief Garrett Kashimoto is the latest staffer to leave the committee. Research analyst Mark Buflo left in September, and chief clerk Barbara Kim Stanton left in August.

All the openings leave the committee, which handles all money bills in the Senate, with only one key staff member with budget experience. Senate colleagues of Ways and Means co-chairpersons Carol Fukunaga (D, Makiki) and Andy Levin (D, Kau) fear that a lack of stability on the committee will give the House the upper hand when both sides negotiate over the budget. Last year, the end-of-session conference committee session was criticized for a lack of organization. The committee also lost about 40 bills during a key "crossover" deadline when bills have to pass the Senate and be sent to the House.

Fukunaga and Levin, however, say they are confident they will be able to hire experienced staff members before the end of the year. They insist that getting the committee organized, even with less than three months to go before opening day, will not be a problem.

"We're looking for the best possible people," Levin said. "I think we're on schedule."


Councilman Mufi Hannemann is scheduled to speak before a group of Republicans in Hawaii Kai this week. But, he says, don't read anything into the gathering. Republicans in Washington, D.C., are wooing Hannemann to switch parties and run for Congress under the GOP banner. But Hannemann says the Hawaii Kai Republicans are like any other group that invites him to speak and answer questions about the City Council. "It's like going to a Rotary meeting," he said. "I'd do it if the Libertarian or Green Party invited me."


Local Republicans who supported Elizabeth Dole for president are now supporting George W. Bush after Dole pulled out of the race. Rep. Colleen Meyer (R, Kahaluu) and Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua), the former co-chairwoman of the Elizabeth Dole for President Leadership Team, say they are now endorsing Bush.


Attorneys have been doing a double take lately when Circuit Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo's name is mentioned.

The judge, formerly known as Bambi Weil, married in September and took her husband's surname.

Eden Elizabeth has always been her legal name, but the nickname Bambi had stuck since birth. She decided to use her full legal name for the purpose of signing legal documents. Friends, family or anyone who prefers to can still refer to her as Bambi, she says.

Hifo last month became the proud mom of a baby boy and is on personal leave.


U.S. Rep. Patsy T. Mink, D-Hawaii, was among 10 Democratic congresswomen given the heave-ho Oct. 27 and ordered out of a Senate hearing by Sen. Jesse Helms for carrying placards requesting Senate ratification of the 1979 United Nations Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Helms has refused to schedule a hearing on the treaty against sexual discrimination. Capitol police officers escorted the congresswomen out of the Foreign Relations Committee hearing after Helms admonished them "to act like ladies."

Helms was chairing a hearing on President Clinton's nomination of Adm. Joseph Prueher as ambassador to China, listening to testimony from human rights activist Harry Wu, among others.

The U.N. treaty dates back to 1979 and has been signed by 162 countries but never ratified by the Senate, where it requires a two-thirds majority.

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