Lingle recruits
Akaka bill allies

Visiting Washington, the
governor says Bush will not
oppose Hawaiian recognition

After meetings in Washington, D.C., this week, Gov. Linda Lingle said she is confident the White House will not oppose the Akaka bill if it passes the Senate.

"We have been working hard with the president on down. The next move has to come from the Senate," Lingle said yesterday in a phone interview from Washington.

"I think I have a pretty good chance to get it approved if it gets through Congress, whether it is an election year or not."

Lingle said she was able to persuade another senator, Gordon Smith, R-Ore., to co-sponsor the bill. Earlier, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R- Utah, also agreed to co-sponsor the bill.

The Akaka bill would establish an office in the Department of the Interior to address native Hawaiian issues and create an interagency group composed of representatives of federal agencies that administer programs and policies affecting native Hawaiians. In effect, the federal government would recognize Hawaiians as a native population, as it does American Indians and native Alaskans.

Lingle said yesterday that in previous talks with Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, it was agreed that Hawaii's two Democratic senators would be responsible for lobbying the bill through Congress while she worked on getting President Bush and his administration not to oppose the measure.

"When we met with Sens. Inouye and Akaka, there was a feeling they could handle things in the Senate, I am trying to help in any way," Lingle said.

As for the bill's chances in the Senate, she said, "I'm not doing the vote counting, that is Sens. Akaka and Inouye's area of expertise."

Lingle is in Washington this week to lobby the administration and to attend the National Governors Association conference on long-term care. She will also attend fund-raisers in New York and New Jersey before flying home tomorrow.

After talking this week with Secretary of the Navy Gordon England, Lingle said she feels a decision on home-porting an aircraft carrier at Pearl Harbor will not be made until 2005.

The Navy is conducting a $1.8 million study to determine whether piers, facilities and utilities can support a carrier at Pearl Harbor, but Lingle said the decision will not be made until the next round of military base closure decisions.

"My impression is that the carrier decision would be made in conjunction with the base restructuring act," Lingle said.

The governor also said she told federal officials that Hawaii needs 10 more Drug Enforcement Administration agents to battle the importation of crystal meth, or "ice," into the state. There are no DEA agents on Kauai and only one on Maui and the Big Island, Lingle said.

"The majority of crystal meth in Hawaii is brought here, it is imported," Lingle said, adding that federal prosecution of drug dealers is a key part of the state's anti-drug programs.

The state will not find out if it gets the extra agents until February, Lingle said, but she noted that the pending federal budget calls for an additional 220 DEA agents to be hired across the country.

Lingle is expected to attend a noon fund-raiser today in New York City hosted by New York Gov. George Pataki. Another fund-raiser is planned in New Jersey, which is expected to be co-hosted by former New Jersey Gov. and Environmental Protection Administrator Christie Todd Whitman.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --