Harris’s departure
stirs up isle races


The mayor's decision to quit the governor's race sends ripples through Hawaii's political waters.

FROM the turmoil stirred by Jeremy Harris's withdrawal from the race for governor may come a favorable shift in the dynamics of politics in Hawaii. With an enlivened Republican Party tendering a vigorous candidate and the Democratic Party jarred from its long-presumptive stronghold on the state's top political berth, voters may reap opportunities improbable previously.

Harris -- armed with a potent, disciplined campaign and a big cache of money -- had been viewed as the Democratic front-runner with state Rep. Ed Case and recent party convert D.G. "Andy" Anderson trailing behind. Harris had established himself despite the reluctance of party stalwarts to embrace him fully, bucking the trend of party-anointed candidates and forcing Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono to abandon her lady-in-waiting role. His rank as interloper gave some credence to his claim that his recent clashes with the state Campaign Spending Commission and others were motivated by Democratic faithfuls unhappy with his status.

Harris's departure doesn't leave the ruling party in the lurch. However, it may compel Democrats to open doors to new viewpoints and to extend their reach beyond the party's stagnant core. It is a crucial adjustment necessary to keep up with the evolution in the make-up of Hawaii's voting population.

Because the party has no shortage of candidates, voters may be treated to healthy competition. Case, Anderson and Hirono -- as well as others who may decide to run -- will have to work hard to define themselves and their ideas to a public hungry for change.

The dust-up from Harris's decision filters up and down the political food chain. Linda Lingle, who has a lock on the Republican nomination, will have to tweak her message until she is sure who her opponent will be in the general election. Those who had sought to replace Harris at City Hall will no doubt scramble for other seats in the game of political musical chairs. Others who had tied their candidacies to his, including aspirants for lieutenant governor, will have to reconsider and adapt.

Harris himself faces reconciliation as he returns his full attention to being mayor. He will confront a City Council with a majority of new members, but with lingering memories of bitter conflicts over operational and budgetary matters. He will have to mend many of the bridges he burned in his gamble for the governor's mansion.

Harris's decision may turn out well for voters. The chaos has certainly captured the attention of a public accustomed to the same old political scenery and injected welcome excitement into the election year.



City-state squabble
a bunch of rubbish


The governments argued for weeks about which was responsible for a pile of junk.

AS the city and the state talked trash over jurisdiction, the problem of a pile of rubbish along Fort Weaver Road was solved simply when an Ewa couple decided enough was enough. They gathered up the junk in their pickup truck and hauled the mess to a city refuse center themselves.

Would that a state or city official had had the sense to set aside the bureaucratic definition of responsibility and gotten the job done.

The exasperating situation began on May 10, when Adopt-a-Highway volunteers cleared litter on Fort Weaver Road. Along with two bags of trash were tires, a mattress, a battery, some old furniture and carpeting stacked for routine pick-up. State Transportation Department workers took away the two bags, but left the other stuff for the city Refuse Department to handle because bulky items are the city's responsibility, the state said. But the city said because the items were left along a state highway and in front of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, it was the state's problem.

Meanwhile, the mound of junk was seen as a place for people to dump other unwanted articles. The pile grew and grew.

Now, it may well be that the complexities of government operations prevented officials from directing public workers to just do it. Who knows if liability issues were involved or if officials felt a pick-up would set a precedent for future junk piles. But those in charge should have realized that jurisdiction doesn't amount to a hill of beans in the eyes of residents. All taxpayers saw was a silly squabble between governments, which furthers the perception of bumbling bureaucracies.

After weeks of waiting for a resolution, Pam Lee Smith and her husband, Garry, decided to take matters into their own hands. Smith, a member of the Ewa Beach Neighborhood Board who ran for a state House seat two years ago, said the task took about an hour.

She had a message: People don't have to wait for government or someone else to do a fix. "They can do stuff for themselves," she said. She's right.


Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
Assistant Editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor 529-4762;

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4790;
John Flanagan, Contributing Editor 294-3533;

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