Richard Borreca

On Politics


Energizer governor
keeps going and
going and...

Attentive readers have been treated to a series of "Where the heck did that come from?" stories as Governor Cayetano has scrambled to fill in the picture of his administration.

He came into office unhappily agreeing to spend more for a new state prison, instead of new schools and university improvements. But for eight years, Cayetano was unable to secure a plan and the funding for either a prison or a new program to handle inmates.

He heard a parade of suggestions: Tear it down, build a new one, move the inmates to the mainland, let the feds build one, how about a private prison? The plans and calls for action seemed to fill every week of Cayetano's eight years in office.

There was everything except a resolution to the problem of prison overcrowding.

So, when Gov.-elect Linda Lingle last week called for Cayetano to stop negotiating with a group still pitching a new privately funded prison, you had to wonder what was going on.

Wondering was all you could do because the administration has refused to fill in the details of who it was negotiating with, what it was negotiating for and how much any of it would cost.

Sources at the Capitol who sat in on some of the first discussions said it was a group of representatives of four firms and attorney Bert Kobayashi Jr. The firms, clients of the law firm of Kobayashi Sugita and Goda, include Durrant-Media Five, Melvyn Y.K. Choy, managing partner; Municipal Capital Markets Group, Norman E. Wirkler, president; Foresite Capital Facilities Corp., James Anderson, senior vice president; and Group M, Edison Miyawaki and Kale Ane, principals.

The Cayetano administration last week refused to release bid documents submitted by the group, claiming that negotiations were still under way.

Meanwhile, another long-standing gubernatorial project, an aquarium at Kakaako that Cayetano has been pursuing as if it were the Holy Grail of tourist treats, came winging back down into low orbit. In this version, a private developer gets a year to come up with a plan to develop a $230 million aquarium and marine research center. The University of Hawaii appears to have signed on, but none of this is certain yet, because it was all sprung at the last minute.

Government by fait accompli is always easiest on the participants, but not so good for the governed.

With a new administration looming, it might be time for state legislators to revisit the open meeting, open records laws to see how many surprises they want during their own time with a new governor.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at

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