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CONSENT of the GOVERNED PROJECT

to change the county charter  and restore sovereignty to every citizen.

Recent quotes from three of our own county council members on their positions as elected officials are revealing as to how they view their proper roles : 

“it sometimes takes a law to change people's behavior”

 "Sometimes I have to be forced to do things that are right and I don't want to.”

 (I need) “to take charge, to lead our County, to define policy in the best interests of the people of our island. “

Frightening, isn't it !


Our county government lately has taken on 3 roles:

  • Administrative (such as determining how many police to hire, or where a road should go, or how to process garbage). This is an appropriate level of authority and responsibility for them to play.
  • Telling us what things we CAN NOT do i.e.:restricting our rights, more so every year
  • Taking our money: i.e.: taxes and fees

We the people have delegated out elected officials the power to be administrators, but we have NOT delegated them the power to restrict our lives and take our money without our permission.

The Consent of the Governed acts will restore forever this authority and sovereignty to the people of the Big Island.

 

 

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Monday
May022011

Rep. Charles Djou ( Mar, 2011) “Hawaii's Traditional 20th Century Politics: Risky for the 21st Century”

 

Charles Djou opened his talk by remarking that he was frequently asked what it meant to him  to serve in Congress. He commented how remarkable it was the he, the child of two foreign emigrants, had been able to become a US Congressman. His father had fled the communists in China in 1949, and his mother had come from Thailand.  On the very day that he was taking the oath of office, his relatives in Thailand were witnessing the smell of gunsmoke, the sight of blood in the  streets and the sound of tank treads, as government troops fired on political demonstrators who had brought much of the commerce of Bangkok to a halt. That contrast was with him every day in office, and a constant reminder of the enormous privilege to have his position and the remarkable freedoms and opportunites that we enjoyed as Americans.

 

However, despite the remarkable achievements of America, there were still many challenges that were present, and especially in Hawaii. Both the world and the USA have changed dramatically and very rapidly recently, but the political system in Hawaii has not kept pace.

 

He used an example of 21st century progress. Apple’s iPad epitomized to him the new realities of 21st century economy and organization. 21st century systems are mobile, cutting edge, dynamic, fluid, and transparent.  Only 10% of he iPad’s components were actually made by Apple, and the other 90% made by others. What was the key to their success was focusing on the core of what they did best, and do that very very well. Let others do other things, that they can do better. Although 90% of the parts were made elsewhere, 90% of the profit came form what Apple did best, which was design.

 

He contrasted them with prior industrial models in Chrysler and General Motors. They had a system developed that was huge, where they made and did everything themselves, and they went bankrupt.

 

Similarly in politics, today at both the national and mainland state levels, government and political systems were more rapid, open, transparent and flexible. In the old style, information sources were few and hard to come by. Information today was shared by multitude of diverse sources, more personal and available to everyone, via the internet, blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

 

He gave political examples: Kevin McCarthy, a republican from California, had risen from being a state Assemblyman to the #3  US Congressman and majority whip in just 4 years. In prior ages, that could not have been accomplished in 4 decades, let alone 4 years.  Barack Obama rose from being a state Senator to President of the United States in just 4 years. Both understood and exploited the new 21st century technologies and methods.

 

Hawaii, however, was still stuck in a political system that was finely tuned for the 1950s. Hawaii had the oldest average aged Congressional delegation in the nation, at 73 yrs. It also has the only congressional delegations whose members did not even live in their districts (neither Congresswoman Hanabusa nor Hirono are residents of the districts they represent.)  The Hawaiian way is to quietly work through the ranks of the machine, achieve seniority and advance in elected office, and then bring home the bacon to your constituents.  If Obama had stayed in Hawaii instead of moving to Illinois, there is no way he would have advanced as he did politically, let alone have become president.

 

Presently, national policies are to cut spending and limit the size and growth of government. Although both parties have differences, they are on common ground on that concept, and only disagree on where and how much to cut.  Similar concerns and consensus are seen across the nation in every state, except in Hawaii. On the mainland and nationally, the trend is to be more like Apple: do fewer things very very well, rather than try to do everything poorly.

More and more are saying that it is essential to have a more flexible and smaller civil service, just as is found in the most efficient modern businesses. These are the thoughts not of a Republican, but of Governor Andrew Cuomo, second generation scion of a strong Democratic tradition in New York.

 

In Hawaii, unfortunately it's almost total and complete ignorance and near total denial of modern and economic reality. The legislature and Governor Abercrombie are leading Hawaii as virtually the only state looking to increase government workforce and spending.  No other state in the nation is doing that.

 

Hawaii’s unemployment rate is about 6.4%, below the national mean but at 2 ½ times the norm for Hawaii. Yet in the state government, their entire focus is not on jobs. They are considering other things: civil unions, marijuana decriminalization, ending the Senate’s prayer invocations, and job-killing tax increases. They had an incredible detachment from reality, oblivious to the economic pain coursing through their community and a Governor who was taking us in the wrong direction. In his opinion, every single government vote should be to either lower spending or increase the number of jobs, as nothing else at this time was as important. The new game across the nation was not bringing home the bacon, but finding projects to cut. Hawaiian legislators really had no understanding of modern entrepreneurs, where businesses are nimble and small of scale. They were wedded to big government, which was required to deal with big business and big unions.  Government that tries to be all things to all people is a long term recipe for disaster. We need a reform agenda in Hawaii, not the present model that is fitted to big government, big business and big labor. The longer such reform is delayed, the more painful it will be.

 

So what will he do about it? He will continue to speak out on this topic, because he firmly believed there was no better place to live or to raise his children. As for future political office, he would not run for Senator Akaka’s seat if Governor Linda Lingle chose to do so. He would support her because he believed she would be a good Senator. If she chose not to run, then “my wife and I will have a looong conversation”.

 

He then took questions from the audience:

In reply to a question about how nothing seemed to change here politically, and the same folks and system got elected, he replied that we should look to recent events in Tunisia and Egypt. They too had entrenched systems for decades, but they finally got political change because everyday people came together and demanded it. Demand responsiveness from our politicians. He suggested that we all need to become involved, and not just vote. In addition to voting, we needed to talk to each other, spread the word by email, Facebook, Twitter, post on blogs, engage our neighbors, converse. Only then would we take ownership of our government. Get someone else to get involved, also. That is what the public service labor unions do, and if we don’t do the same then be prepared for nothing to change.

 

On the issue of recent events in Libya, he commented that there was a time when a President would take the side of Liberty, voice his position, gather a coalition and take action on such. He was just surprised that it was the President of France doing that, not America. He was glad America was involved, but concerned as Obama had not articulated America’s position of why we were there and what was the path to victory. He wanted to hear that.

 

He was asked about the failure of public education in Hawaii. He pointed out that the amount of money spent on the state school system had doubled since 1980, but the number of students was nearly the same. Despite this increase in spending, classroom sizes had actually increased. Currently there was an administrator to teacher ratio of about 1:2. This was one of the highest in the nation, and compared with independent schools where it is about 1:8, and Catholic schools where it is about 1:12.  Our increase in spending was an increase in bureaucracy  not teaching. This is a model of one size fits all, bureaucracy above all, spend more and more with no regard to quality, much like General Motors. In his life, his most important job was “Dad”. In the Hawaii public schools, their most important job was not educating, but keeping the bureaucracy happy. He had seen many excellent school systems across the nation, and without exception they were small, accountable and more quickly flexible. Reform was needed to give power to local communities, but that runs directly counter to the Hawaiian system of the 1950s.

 

He was asked about his vote on the gays in the military “Don’t ask/don’t tell” system. As a JAG officer in the Army reserve he had come to see the system exploited by many soldiers. They would take a signing bonus of $10,000 or a nice scholarship to UH, but when their unit was deployed to Iraq, some would declare they were gay and receive an honorable discharge. As he viewed this as a terrible breakdown in the system, he voted to end “Don’t ask/don’t tell.”

 

In addition, he commented on the increased polarization of politics. In 1982, there were 250 of 452 congressmen who were rated as in the middle between the most conservative Democrat and the most liberal Republican. In the most recent election, there were only 7, of which he was one. Now 6 of the 7 were voted out of office. All of the Hawaiian Democrat delegation was at the extreme left of the Democratic party as a whole.  He felt this was hurting everyone in Hawaii. In states where delegations were more balanced by party, each member would lobby their party for what was best for their state. In Hawaii, for a while they got that effect as Republican Senator Stevens of Alaska would ensure Hawaii was taken care of when Republicans were in power, and Senator Inouye would take care of Alaska when Democrats were in power. But Senator Stevens was now dead, so Hawaii is very much at risk. He noted there were proportionally more non-communists in government in the People’s Republic of China than there were Republicans in office in Hawaii.

 

He was asked about recent riots of public sector workers in Greece, France and London, and that the “Two America’s” of John Edwards ( the rich and the poor) was looking more like those who got a government check and those who did not. He replied that we needed major civil service reform. 70% of Hawaii state government costs are for wages and benefits, and that if this structural problem is not addressed it is not sustainable. The government might pass a budget this year, with job killing tax increases, but the same issues will cause problems next year or in 2 or in 5. The longer reform was delayed the more painful and disruptive it would be, and the higher the probability of civil unrest.

 

In closing he commented how he had risen from a teenager who volunteered and served as a stamp-licker for Pat Saiki’s campaign for Congress, and had then himself attained that office, and in no other country but America was that sort of success possible. He remained very optimistic.