Political File

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Council members visit
conference in Washington

Six members of the City Council joined 2,000 county officials from across the country in attending the annual National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz and members Romy Cachola, Mike Gabbard, Nestor Garcia, Ann Kobayashi and Rod Tam and six neighbor island members of the Hawaii State Association of Counties attended the conference Feb. 27 to last Tuesday.

County officials met with members of Congress on issues concerning local governments such as transportation funding, homeland security and opposing unfunded mandates. They also heard from members of President Bush's administration, including Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Leavitt.

Hawaii's county officials met with their respective congressional representatives on issues affecting counties here.

Lawmaker gets baby boy

The family of Rep. Brian Schatz (D, Tantalus-McCully) grew by one last week.

Tyler Kwok Tin Chee Schatz was born 9:07 a.m. Tuesday at Kaiser Medical Center. He weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces. Tyler is the first child of proud parents Brian, 31, and Linda, 29.

Kwok is Linda's maiden name. Tin Chee means "blessing from the heavens" and was chosen by Tyler's maternal grandfather, Schatz said.

He said he was in the delivery room when his wife was going through labor even though he admits getting queasy at the sight of blood.

Schatz missed work at the state Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday but was back Thursday.

Maui chamber backs gov

Gov. Linda Lingle has picked up the endorsement of the Maui Chamber of Commerce in her effort to break up the statewide public education system into locally elected school boards.

"We call on the Legislature to give the people of our state the opportunity to decide whether they want to establish local school boards," Steve Williams, chairman of the Maui Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday.

The governor's proposed constitutional amendment was voted down in the state House by a 30-20 margin last month, and faces a tough battle in the Senate, which just approved the Democratic majority's education reform plan on a 22-3 vote.

Senate Education Chairman Norman Sakamoto (D, Salt Lake-Foster Village) said he expects to hold a hearing on the governor's proposal, although he does not support it. The bill would require a two-thirds vote of approval in both the House and Senate to go on the ballot.

Lingle, a former Valley Isle mayor, thanked the chamber for recognizing that "without fundamental changes to dissolve the Department of Education, principals in our schools will not have control over the money they need to improve student success."

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