[ OUR OPINION ]
Hawaiis future depends
on a cooperative spirit
DISTINCTIVE changes in leadership take place in Hawaii today as the governor's office passes from a male to a female, from a Democrat to a Republican, from a local boy to a Missouri-born woman who 27 years ago embraced the islands as her home and whose life journey -- from California to Molokai and Maui, and from journalist to politician -- has taken her all the way to the state Capitol.
The new governor will need the help of all to succeed.
Linda Lingle acquires the title and the command of governor with the due respect and due rigors the job encompasses. She is assigned with fulfilling the hopes and expectations of a citizenry anxious for betterment of their lives through a revitalized economy, superior public education and refurbished schools, responsive government and services, protection of its natural resources and landscape, improved transportation, greater security against terrorism and crime, reduced costs of health care with expanded choices and coverage, lower taxes, cleaner and more efficient energy production and honoring of obligations to Hawaiians.
She has much to accomplish and she cannot do it alone. For Lingle to carry out the promises of her campaign, she will need the support of the public, Hawaii's businesses and industries, and the state Legislature.
Although the House and Senate are dominated by Democrats, their moderate positions do not distance them too much from Lingle's leanings. As lawmakers, they are charged with evaluating and considering earnestly her proposals and solutions. As the loyal opposition, they are duty-bound to debate and challenge her ideas, but without acrimony and without obstruction. They must keep in mind that voters chose her to lead Hawaii forward and will object if they allow petty politicking to stand in the way.
Lingle -- candidly pro-business during the campaign -- nevertheless knows that the governor serves all the people, and one purpose of government is to preserve the common good. Making it easier for businesses to turn a profit should boost individuals as well as bottom lines. By the same token, business leaders, buoyed by a friend in the highest office, shouldn't exploit the governor's goals. She will need their advice to tailor laws that will ease their burdens, but not transfer them to consumers, employees or the environment.
Government workers and public-employee unions, some of whom may view Lingle as an adversary, should set aside self-protective notions and do their best to cooperate with the new administration. Foot-dragging and impeding modifications of past practices will only slow, not eliminate, the goal to streamline government.
The public will play a substantial role in determining the success of Lingle's tenure. People should be vocal in identifying their priorities, but should not be single-minded in their objectives. Patience will be required. The new governor will need time to put changes in motion and some problems require complex solutions involving many stakeholders.
Lingle, who has lived in Hawaii for more than half of her 49 years, appears well-versed in the techniques of compromise and persuasion. She seems to strive for common ground, rather than employing the take-it-or-leave-it approach of her predecessor. She has adopted the aloha spirit much as she has adopted Hawaii.
On her inauguration day, we extend Governor Lingle our best wishes. What will be accomplished in the next four years will depend on collaboration toward mutual prosperity. We will sink or swim together.
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A tough guy for tough times
BEING governor is easy when the state is flush with money. A true test of mettle arrives when red ink splatters the budget books and Benjamin J. Cayetano was the man for the lean times.
Growing up poor in Kalihi prepared Cayetano with the instincts and intuition he needed. Knowing poverty meant pinching pennies, he said no to bigger government. Knowing the effects of privation, he said yes to those at the bottom. Knowing the value of an education, he protected public education from the deepest of budget cuts. Knowing that entitlement can lead to stagnation, he demanded teachers be paid according to merit and accomplishment rather than pure seniority.
That conviction, which led to a statewide teachers strike, and Cayetano's standing fast on reforms of the civil-service health fund, painted him as the enemy to public workers. His blunt demeanor earned him the scorn of others.
His brusque attitude may not have served him well where finesse and persuasion might have, although not all of the problems of his administration can be blamed on personality. Cayetano made mistakes. He left a number of issues unresolved. But for all the barbs and criticism, he had a tough job and somebody had to do it.
Cayetano had the right stuff for the worst of times.
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