The Honolulu Star-Advertiser On Politics column
Jan 27, 2013 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
As legislative proposals go, Gov. Neil Abercrombie's third State of the State speech had plenty of meat.
The preschool initiative is needed, but there are many problems in paying for it, plus concern that getting it up and running permanently will need an amendment to the state Constitution.
The solar panel subsidy is a good first step, but talking about energy independence and not rushing the interisland cable forward is wasted breath.
Fiddling with the setup for the Public Land Development Corp. will bumble along without any likely resolution until someone in government takes ownership of a specific project. Abercrombie made no mention of the PLDC, although the administration has a list of suggested changes to the law to transform it into some sort of development company for public schools.
Since 2011, the Abercrombie administration's learning curve has been mostly a perilous rollercoaster ride, but now it appears the governor and his current crew are up to speed.
What is so baffling, then, is how he started and then finished his speech.
In the beginning, Abercrombie went after the naysayers.
It is understandable that after a summer of battling Native Hawaiian and environmental groups over the PLDC, Abercrombie would be a tad prickly about protesters.
But, come on, this from someone whose early career was built on anti-Vietnam War sound bites and bullhorn-led protest marches
Yet, Abercrombie the leader, not Abercrombie the dissenter, would say: "When politics gets reduced to slogans and bumper stickers -- what is right; what is good What is wisdom and virtue to one is grounds for accusation and denunciation to another.
"One's position is not merely faulty or misguided; it is characterized as the work of someone consciously plotting to destroy the environment, or stealing public benefit for private gain, or willfully corrupting the good and welfare of the community," Abercrombie said.
Yes, this is the same fellow who early in his gubernatorial term said, "I am the governor. I'm not your pal. I'm not your counselor. I am the governor."
Abercrombie then wrapped up the speech by presenting the lawmakers with something that sounded like a gubernatorial pardon or "get out of jail free" card.
The Democratic governor said many legislators are already so popular no one even runs against them.
"Some members had no opposition either in the primary or general election. Some members were sent here with 60 percent plus of the vote. Some were sent with 70 percent-plus of the vote," said Abercrombie.
"You have the faith and trust of an overwhelming majority of your voters. You have the opportunity to authenticate the role of government by acting in bold affirmations of that faith and trust."
Some of those savvy legislative veterans, including several who were elected without opposition, said in reaction that they were alternately shocked that their governor thought the gig was so easy and that voting for controversial legislation couldn't end a career.
As Abercrombie signed off the speech, repeatedly saying "I love legislating," the lawmakers were thinking to themselves: "Let's see how you love our legislating."
Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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