Kissing Kauaʻi Zoom Testimony Goodbye

Kauaʻi is now the only County in Hawaiʻi to prohibit remote interactive conference technology (ICT) testimony by citizens. No more Zooming in from Kekaha or Ha’ena to testify. Nope, you now have to take the day off, drive into Līhu‘e
, and sit in the Council Chambers for who knows how long – so you can present your 3 minutes of testimony.

This decision was made with zero public input.

They simply put out a press release saying in part remote testimony is being canceled because:

“If a connection to the ICT is interrupted or lost, the meeting must be recessed and possibly terminated, which would then void any agenda items that were pending prior to the ICT interruption, resulting in delays necessary to post a new meeting agenda…and would also invalidate the meeting and require a new agenda posting.”

Au contraire! According to: “The Sunshine Law” for State and County Boards:

“The Council’s notice may contain a contingency provision stating…that if the connection is lost for more than 30 minutes, the meeting will be continued to a specific date and time, with the new link for the continued meeting either on the agenda itself or to be provided on the Council’s website.”

“A Council does not need to re-hear or accept new testimony for completed agenda items at the continued meeting…Councils are authorized to recess…and to reconvene at another date and time to continue and/or complete public testimony, discussion, and decision-making…”

Issued by the Office of the County Clerk, the press release does not say who made the actual decision nor does it name or quote anyone whatsoever.

According to the Charter, the County Clerk works for the Council.

However, for the Council to legally discuss the topic, or make a decision to stop the public from testifying remotely they must first post a meeting and allow public testimony – per the Sunshine Law – HRS Chapter 92.

The Sunshine Law prohibits discussions on Council business between Council members outside of a properly noticed meeting. There must be advance notice; public access to the Council’s discussions; opportunity for public testimony; and Council minutes.

Furthermore, Council members cannot discuss Council business privately between themselves via telephone, text, fax, email, or social media. And, it would be a serial communication contrary to the Sunshine Law for a Council member to discuss the same Council business with more than one other Council member through a series of one-on-one meetings.

Since, in my opinion (and this is an opinion column) it’s unlikely members of the Kauaʻi Council would break the law, the Chairman of the Council Melvin Rapozo must have made this decision all by himself without consulting the other Council members.

Every other County in the State of Hawaiʻi and the entire State legislature allows citizen-testimony via interactive conference technology (ICT). Only Kauaʻi County has taken this opportunity away from its residents.

Maui and Hawaiʻi County – both have had remote testimony systems in place for years.

The Chair of the Honolulu Council Tommy Waters said in Civil Beat: “Let me be abundantly clear — remote testimony is here to stay. It’s an integral component in ensuring that all individuals can participate in the process without having to worry about the commute…it’s also our kuleana.”

A majority of the Council could if they wanted to, properly schedule and hold a public hearing on this issue, listen to the testimony, and reinstate the public’s right to testify remotely – or not.

If this is important to you, please email all 7 Council members at – Let them know your thoughts and find out theirs.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Getting rid of all those homeless people – A primer

An acquaintance grabbed my ear recently saying, “Gary, how can we get rid of all those homeless people?” He went on to bemoan the presence of the poor and unwashed that seem to be sleeping under every bridge and in every doorway.

For the most part, I just let him talk.

“Why can’t they get a job like everyone else? There are job openings everywhere. Why can’t they take a bath, get off the streets, and stop begging in front of the convenience store?”

“Why don’t we just arrest them all and fly them back to where they came from?” he complained. “You can’t go anywhere without seeing them. They are at the beach, by the airport, along the road to Kealia, across from the Mayor’s office-everywhere!”

He thanked me for my time and walked on, not really caring about what I thought.

Which is why I am here, writing this today.

The answer to getting rid of the houseless is to ensure we all have access to permanently affordable housing.

They are houseless, not homeless. Their home is on the streets. What they lack is a house.

Yes, certainly there are many other issues that include mental health and addiction. But it’s impossible to deal with these underlying issues effectively if the individual is living on the streets.

Kick them out? Tear down their tents and tell them to move on?

Kauai Economic Opportunity (KEO) operates the only emergency shelter on our island and has 165 people on its waiting list. All of the other shelters are also full.

There is literally no place for these folks to go.

As to “send them back to where they came from”…hello…according to recent counts of the houseless that are here, only 3% are newcomers. The vast majority are long-term or lifelong residents, and Native Hawaiians are overrepresented.

Arresting poor people who cannot afford a warm, dry, safe place to sleep and who have no other option but to sleep on the street, in a doorway or in the bushes is unconscionable – not to mention, extremely expensive.

Employers are hesitant to hire a houseless person who may come to the interview without a permanent mailing address and looking like they just woke up after sleeping all night in a doorway. It further reduces an applicant’s job prospects if they are missing teeth or have other health issues.

Even if they managed to get a job, it will of course not be paying a living wage. Even if they got two jobs, there are no affordable homes available. Period.

Whether freshly scrubbed, teeth or no teeth, good clothes or not – the challenge of finding an affordable home or even a room to rent is formidable – for everyone.

Yes, it’s complicated. No, it’s not complicated.

Ensuring access to affordable homes is the answer. Constructing new, permanently affordable units, AND prioritizing access to new and existing units for long-term local residents earning local wages.

If government funding is used and/or government assistance is utilized, the homes built can legally be required to be permanently affordable, and long-time residents can be given first priority to rent and/or purchase them.

There’s no shortage of vacant land located in existing urban areas that already has the basic infrastructure (sewer, roads, water) and located near job centers, shopping, schools, and health facilities. Private lands can be purchased at fair market value by the County or State, and/or landowners could be incentivized appropriately in return for providing permanent affordable housing for locals.

There are good things happening now at both the State and County levels, but much more is needed. The houseless situation and the extreme lack of affordable housing needs to be treated like the dire emergency it is.

Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments

Remembering Larry Rivera –

I miss Larry Rivera. He and Gloria, and his entire family hold a special place in my heart. I was traveling and off island during his recent celebration of life, but was there in spirit and share here today my own memories and deep love for this very special man.

Fortunately, I was able to visit with him briefly a week or so before he passed. He was lying in bed and softly smiled up at me when I sang to him the refrain from a campaign jingle he’d written for me over 20 years ago: “Gary Hoooooser, Gary Hooooser and you …”

In the old days, when I first ran for election to the Kaua‘i County Council, and then for the Senate, Larry would go with me often to campaign and hold signs along the highway. He’d bring his ‘ukulele, and sometimes a boombox, and sit in a chair serenading the passing cars. Often Gloria would accompany him, and sometimes he would bring his children and his grandchildren. He would sing from his extensive repertoire of Larry Rivera classics, interspersed occasionally with the “Hooser jingle.”

During both the wins and the losses, Larry would be with me, sitting there in the hot sun strumming on that ‘ukulele, always smiling, telling jokes, and singing those beautiful songs.

He never asked me for anything. He never lobbied me, never asked me to vote yes or no on an issue, and never tried to influence me one way or another. He was just Larry, and we were just friends, like family, really.

I’ll never forget the one time Larry did bring up an issue. He didn’t ask me to do anything, he just told me the story. I could feel his pain and his sadness, and it has stuck with me now for decades.

We were meeting along the highway to hold signs, and Larry came up to me and said, “Gary, I can’t go fishing anymore. They took away my fishing spot.”

As we talked more, I learned that a favorite fishing spot of Larry’s childhood had become a subdivision for rich people. It seems that Larry had gone there recently to fish or perhaps just to revisit old memories, and it was gone. He could no longer walk onto the beach and cast into the ocean where for years he had previously done so.

There was a required “beach access easement” but it was far away from that favorite fishing spot, requiring walking over slippery rocks, and impractical for Larry and for most people to actually use.

That memory of Larry Rivera saying “he couldn’t go fishing anymore” has never left me.

In recent years, the Coco Palms Hotel was something we did not talk about. Larry cherished the idea of a new Coco Palms Hotel being developed that recreated the grandeur of the past. He was, after all, “Mr. Coco Palms.” He knew, I’m sure, and was no doubt extremely disappointed, that his friend Hooser had lost faith in that ever happening, and held an alternative vision.

But Larry and I never talked about it. Never.

I will never forget Larry Rivera. He befriended me. He motivated and inspired me to do more and be better. He stood alongside the road in the hot sun with me. He knocked on doors with me. He made me and so many others smile, and laugh, and sing. The songs that he wrote and sang for us are a gift that will live on forever.

Sending you my love and aloha today, Larry. Mahalo for being you.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

HB955 – One man in the State House controls the birthing process for us all

One man in the legislature is controlling the outcome of an issue that impacts potentially every woman in the State of Hawaiʻi.

As a man whose grandchildren have been born both at home on Kauaʻi with midwives in attendance, and in a hospital birthing room on Oʻahu – this action impacts me as well. It’s one of those “mad as hell and not going to take it any more moments”.

Yes, one man – the Chair of the House Finance Committee, Maui Representative Kyle Yamashita, is deciding who may or may not attend and help in the birth of our children.

HB955 is titled: Midwifery; Licensure; Birth Attendants; Exemptions; Training; Certification

Over 1,000 people have submitted testimony in support of HB955.

Two House Committees have already heard HB955 and both passed the measure out unanimously.

24 Representatives have already either voted yes to pass the measure in a prior Committee and/or are Co-introducers.

A close read of the measure shows clearly that no changes were proposed to any fiscal element. There were no new fees proposed and no changes of any kind to budget-related items. Thus SB955 should not have been referred to the House Finance Committee in the first place.

Finance Chair Yamashita has decided he does not want his Committee to hear HB955, he does not want to hold a vote on HB955, and he certainly does not want to pass HB955. His decision unless changed, means there will be no further debate nor any further votes on this important measure.

One guy decides he doesn’t want it and everyone else can just suck wind.

Yes, other committee members may object but to do so they risk retribution that will most certainly be leveraged via the same unilateral power of the Chair. Any Representative who challenges the Chair risks having their bills killed, their Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) go unfunded, and their community and constituents hurt as a result.

Everyone knows it’s wrong, but the fear of retribution stifles the opposition.

On Wednesday,March 1, midwives and mothers, some of who had flown over from Maui to hopefully meet with the Finance Chair and convince him to hear, vote, and pass HB955 – ended up holding a “sit-in” and occupying the outer offices of the Finance Committee until the Sheriffs were called upon to remove them.

That sit-in at the Capitol continues today and the numbers are expected to grow further on Monday – with no end in sight. There is also a petition in support which I have signed and hope you do as well.

No single legislator regardless of title or position should have the power to unilaterally stop legislative policy changes that affect all of us. Certainly, no one man should have the power to decide issues pertaining to the health and the birthing process of all women.

HB955 can still be saved, but we need you to take 3 steps to give us the best shot.

Note legislators and staff who answer the telephone will likely tell you, “So sorry, but you’ve missed the deadline. Please reply to them, politely and professional that you are aware that if the Speaker of the House, Representative Scott Saiki wanted to extend the deadline, he could, and he should.

1. Call/email House Finance Chair Kyle Yamashita at 808-586-6330 or and tell him to send HB955 to the floor of the House for a full vote of all 51 members.

2. Call/email Speaker of the House Scott Saiki at 808-586-6100 or and tell him to send HB955 to the floor of the House for a full vote of all 51 members, AND to require the Finance Committee to hear all bills that were passed out of earlier subject matter committees.

3. Call your Representative and ask them to pressure leadership to schedule a full House vote on HB955. Find your Rep here: THIS STEP IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT!

HB955 is about regulating midwifery. But Chair Yamashita’s actions are about more than midwifery—they’re about the abuse of power.

The unilateral power of a Committee Chair to kill a bill is inherently undemocratic and the practice must change here and now with HB955.

The majority and leadership in the House and Senate can stop this practice immediately if they choose to do so. Requiring a committee to hear all bills that were passed out of an earlier subject matter committee and requiring a public vote in order to kill a bill is a good place to start.

Gary L. Hooser

Kauaʻi Friends:
This coming Wednesday, March 8th the Kauaʻi County Council will vote on a Resolution proposed to support HB955. Similar Resolutions were passed unanimously by both the Maui County Council and the Hawaiʻi County Council.

Please submit testimony prior to the meeting to


See the complete agenda here:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Status quo, good ole boys, will not get us there

Believe it or not, it’s time for those new candidates considering a run for office in 2024…to…well…get running. The August 2024 Primary Election is only 17 months or so away and anyone serious about winning, best be getting real, very soon.

I’m hoping that those interested in growing in their capacity in the area of civic leadership will consider applying to the upcoming Kuleana Academy (more info at bottom).

Elections are won and lost based primarily on name recognition, or the lack thereof. For new candidates building positive name recognition requires both money and work.

A new candidate can win purely on their willingness to do the work – knocking on doors, attending community events, participating in community work days, telephone calling, and ultimately rising early every morning to hold signs on the highway. Yes, it takes a certain amount of money for signs, brochures, and basic media, but on-the-ground campaigning is what it takes to win.

Building the team, analyzing the district, formulating the plan, fundraising, and embarking down the path of this 17-month marathon – must start now for new candidates who are serious about winning.

Having served in elective office at both the County Council level and in the Hawaiʻi State Senate, I can say without any reservation whatsoever – the experience was immensely gratifying.

Some will say it’s a thankless job, but for me, I did not find this to be the case. The love, and the overall positives, far outweighed the negatives.

We need new candidates, new energy, new perspectives and new ideas at all levels.

We need changemakers, not placeholders.

The status quo is not sustainable. And in my opinion, a majority of those now holding public office believe it’s their job to resist change and maintain the status-quo.

To be clear there are many in public office who feel the same urgency that many of us do. They understand that sea levels are rising and climate change is real. They see also the enormous and ever-growing disparity between the very rich and everyone else.

But unfortunately, they are in the minority and thus not able to swing the votes needed to make meaningful change happen.

The needs are great and the threats are real. Settling for the same good ole boy business as usual, status quo as usual – is not working.

To win, we need good people at all levels to step up and engage the civic and electoral process. There are many important opportunities to serve. Whether it’s sitting as a volunteer on a State and County board or commission, working with a non-profit advocacy group or labor union, or serving on the ground as a community organizer – all are important.

Holding elective office puts you at the table where votes are cast that change people’s lives for the better, or for the worse.

We need more good candidates, and every one of those candidates needs a campaign manager, a treasurer, and solid boots on the ground. Every elected official needs strong staff support, and they need a community that shows up and backs them up.

There are many roles to fill and now is the time to start filling them.

If you want to be a candidate and be elected to public office, now is the time to put together your team. If running for office is not your cup of tea, then seek out candidates who share your values and feel the same urgency and need for change, and join their team. Show up. Testify. Be part of the solution. Make the calls and send the emails. Help make our world a better place.

There’s much to be done and it will take all of us to get there.

Which brings me to the Kuleana Academy —

What is Kuleana Academy (KA)?

KA invests in community-accountable leaders by giving them the skills, tools, and network to run for public office, or manage a campaign, or serve on a government Board or Commission, or become community organizers.

Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) is now accepting applications for the 7th Kuleana Academy (the deadline to submit an application is March 31), a four-month political leadership development and non-partisan candidate training program for emerging leaders in Hawai‘i. Participants will be evaluated and selected via a process that includes a panel made of HAPA board members and Kuleana Academy Alliance Education Partners. Applicants will be chosen by April 30, 2023.

The program is geared toward individuals living on all islands, from across Hawaiʻi, with a track record of community service and engagement; who are seeking to grow their political leadership, advocacy, and organizing skills and expertise. Whether it is running for elected office, managing a political campaign, or honing advocacy and organizing skills, Kuleana Academy provides in-depth training, mentorship, and connection to a community of like-minded leaders.

Apply Here:

Kuleana Academy (KA) is a statewide, non-partisan, political, civic, and community-rooted leadership accelerator program.

While I am the volunteer President of the HAPA Board of Directors, I do not pick and choose who is accepted into the Kuleana Academy. Applicants are accepted based on their application information, the quality of their own outside recommendations, and an evaluation by former KA graduates, HAPA Board Members, and other community partners.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Kauaʻi County Council – Time Sensitive – Action Needed!

It seems the rush is on to fill the seat being vacated by former Councilmember Luke Evslin, who was recently appointed to the State House of Representatives.

Apparently, Council Chair Mel Rapozo wants to do this Wednesday, February 22 at 11:30am, 7 days after the public was made aware of the vacancy.

So, if you were considering putting your name forward to be considered, or perhaps you know of others that would make a positive addition and bring new energy and new ideas to the Council – sorry but it’s too late.

I guess the idea of informing the community, inviting those that might be interested to submit an application, doing some one-on-one interviewing, then scheduling a meeting to allow the public to comment – and then and only then hold a vote to select the candidate who rose to the top – I guess this idea somehow got lost in the rush to appoint the person who already has the votes locked down?

Similarly, I’m thinking that a thoughtful evaluation of the current strengths and weakness of the existing Council and attempting to find a candidate that could complement and/or fill in the gaps – this idea also has apparently been disregarded.

Actually, I agree that the Council should not waste everyone’s time and act like this is an open process, that all interested people are welcome to apply, and all will be evaluated based on criteria that places only the best interests of the County first.

Because clearly that is not the case.

I’m guessing that the Chair and a majority on the Council are thinking that former Councilmember Ross Kagawa has already got the votes locked up so why bother with the process?

Kagawa finished #8 in the recent elections and that will no doubt be the criteria used to justify his selection. He has served on the Council in the past, is familiar with the process, and is thus qualified to serve.

That is all true and the former Councilmember may very well be the best choice, especially when no other choices are given an honest, clear and open evaluation – let alone the time to actually submit a letter of interest.

To make it happen as quickly (and painlessly) as possible, Council Chair Rapozo scheduled a “Special Council Meeting” for Wednesday 02/22, 7 days after Evslin’s resignation, “to appoint a successor for a vacant unexpired term on the Kauai County Council…”.

According to newspaper reports at the time, when now Representative Nakamura vacated her Council seat on November 1, 2013 then Council Chair Jay Furfaro utilized a process that included one week “so those who are interested can apply”. The following week was then used to “look at the names of people who applied and see who can be nominated…”.

Then two weeks later on November 15, after reviewing several highly qualified applications from a broad cross-section of the community, the remaining 6 Councilmember’s (of which I was a part of) selected now former Councilmember Mason Chock to fill the slot.

That selection was at the time accompanied by its own bit of controversy coming in the days immediately preceding the veto over-ride of Bill 2491.

In retrospect, most would agree this decision turned out to be an excellent one. Councilmember Chock was an exceptional, thoughtful, and hardworking member of the Council and at election time often at the top of the vote count as well. Yet, he had never held public office before and had no experience whatsoever working in government.

Bottom line – There should be an open, and fair – public process that invites all who are interested in filling the open Council position to apply and be honestly evaluated.

Otherwise it’s #politicsasusual

If you believe as I do that jamming through this appointment is not in the best interest of our community, and/or if you have someone else (such as Fern Anuenue Holland or other qualified candidate) you would rather see appointed – please share your thoughts directly with the Councilmembers or show up in the Council Chambers in person at 11:30am Wednesday 02/22.

Complete contact information for all Councilmembers including telephone and email is here:

Please, take ownership of your local government. Share with them your thoughts, concerns, and demands.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Clever, common, corrupt and legal campaign finance abuse – Hawaiʻi politics

A half dozen friends, all who happen to be legislators with large balances in their campaign accounts, gather in a bar or restaurant – each cuts a check for $2,000 from their campaign accounts and hand it over to the candidate with the tough upcoming election.

They throw back a beer or two, slap each other on the back, then walk back to the Capitol to continue the people’s work.

This happens over and over again – candidates raising $10,000 – $12,000 a pop from a handful of sitting legislators to who they will then owe their loyalty.

In Honolulu especially, legislators and candidates from across the islands will sometimes announce and hold fundraising events where only 4 or 5 people show up. These “events” will often be held in a bar or restaurant within walking distance of the Capitol, or more recently online via Zoom. The publicly posted “ticket” price will be listed as $150, $250, $500, or $1,000.

The primary purpose of these “events”, is to create a legal opportunity for legislators who happen to be flush with campaign cash to transfer some of that cash, into the campaign account of candidates who are less flush – and perhaps who are facing a tough upcoming election.

These legislators are not bad people. They are just friends helping friends (and future allies). It’s all done within the law, the law these same folks are in charge of.

One of the fundamental principles driving campaign spending regulation is that campaign donations should be used only for the purpose of election activities. Donors are supposed to give money to candidates for the purpose of helping them get elected – not for the purpose of allowing their donation to be used to help other candidates get elected.

Allowing legislators to use their own campaign funds to purchase a couple of tickets to attend another candidate’s campaign event sounds reasonable until you learn of the abuse.

Fortunately, there’s a bill before the legislature HB721– which will eliminate this practice.

HB721 is part of a package of bills being proposed by the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct (CISC) and it’s scheduled for a hearing before the House Committee of Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs, Wednesday, February 22 at 2pm.

HB726 is part of this same package and on the same agenda – It’s also extremely important to support and “Prohibits state and county elected officials from soliciting and accepting campaign contributions during any regular session or special session of the state legislature..”

At the present time, legislators are legally permitted to request and receive campaign money from businesses and persons who have bills before the legislature – at the very same time that their bill is being voted on.

HB726 will stop this.

Please submit testimony in strong support, please take the time also to email or call your own district Representative and Senator. For their name and contact information go to “Find Your Legislator”.

Encourage them to support HB721 AND HB726 – AND all CISC Commission recommendations on this agenda. A few more of these good bills are listed below.

HB705 – Requires legislators to post for public review how they spend their “legislative allowance”

HB706 – Requires legislators to disclose relationships with lobbyists or lobbying organizations

HB707 – Disqualifies a person from holding elective office for ten years upon conviction of making a false, fictitious, or fraudulent claim.

HB708 – Requires lobbyists to disclose for public review the exact bills or actions they are attempting to influence.

There are too many to list here, so please go to the actual agenda. Take the time to review the bills, contact your own district Senator and Representative to support these important reforms

AND make sure you include that one reform that makes all other reforms possible (that is not on this agenda but still needs your support) – Publicly Funded Elections – SB1543!

Please. Time is short.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Clean Elections: The reform that makes all other reforms possible

I’m hoping you share my goal of getting money out of politics – or at least greatly reducing its impact.

To be clear, I am not some aging Pollyanna who thinks we can turn our government and political system into something that is all sweetness and light.

But we can make it better and today I’m asking you to help make that happen.

Please, Please, Please – send in testimony in support of SB1543 NOW if you can and certainly no later than Tuesday at 10am!

SB1543 “Establishes a comprehensive system of public financing for all candidates seeking election to state and county public offices in the State of Hawaiʻi”.

This is critical. No in-person oral testimony is allowed so we need to flood them with overwhelming written support, which has to be submitted 24 hours before the hearing.

Please also forward this message to two of your friends!

If can, mark your calendar for this Wednesday 2/22 at 10am and attend the hearing in-person at the Capitol in Conference Room 211. Even though oral testimony isn’t allowed, it’s important we have a strong visible presence.

Publicly funded elections have been called the reform that makes all other reforms possible.

Point #1 – Money now has a huge impact on elections

Candidates must actively seek donations that create relationships that can cause corruption or the perception of it.

Legislators listen to donors, since they fund their campaigns.

Money is crucial to winning. 91% of candidates who outspend their opponent go on to win.

Many elections are uncontested because potential candidates can’t afford the high price tag.

Point #2 – Clean Elections creates a fairer system

Candidates will spend more time with constituents rather than fundraising.

Elections will be more competitive with a more diverse set of candidates.

Legislators will be free to make decisions without concern as to what their donors think.

74% of Hawai’i voters support full publicly financed elections.

Point #3 Cost of this program is small

At less than $25 million, a $3 visitor fee or cannabis legalization would generate more than enough to pay for it.

Legislators who aren’t beholden to donors can save costs elsewhere in the budget.

Point #4 We aren’t reinventing the wheel

Big Island County Council races had a similar program in 2010 and 2012.

Connecticut and Maine have clean elections statewide which are both popular and successful.

Over 70% of Democratic legislators use this program in Maine.

SB1543 would set up a system of fully publicly financed elections, a.k.a. clean elections. It would provide participating candidates with competitive amounts of funding they need to run an effective campaign, and would ban them from receiving any private donations at all.

Passing into law, publicly financed elections is the single most important thing we can do to end pay-to-play corruption in our politics and start building a Hawaiʻi that puts kamaʻāina and kānaka maoli first — not big money interests.

Please take the action. Send the email. Tell your friends. Show up on Wednesday if you can. Support SB1543!

Gary Hooser
*Mahalo to the many friends working on this important issue for allowing me to borrow some of their words, describing the bill and its impacts 😉

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Policy & Politics – Don’t Come After My Chickens

Yes, I feed them. I dump left-over rice, papaya and pumpkin seeds, and all manner of left-over food in my backyard – and then I enjoy watching these beautiful creatures enjoy their feast. In return, they give me their chicken poop – a truly closed loop and some of the best fertilizer in the world.

If HB72 passes into law (it won’t), the police could come after me with a $500 fine.

Yes, those majestic roosters crow at ungodly hours of morning, noon, and night. Yes, they dig holes in my yard that irritates me to no end. But their vibrant plumage, the subtle clucking of the mother hen, and the long train of baby chicks that follow her out of the bushes and into the yard – it’s part of my very being. Images of my children and grandchildren chasing them at the beach, the laughter, the color, the exploding energy of the chickens taking flight just inches from their fingertips – yes, it’s safe to say that chicken culture is embedded in my very soul.

While I of course cannot speak for everyone, where I live, wild chickens are an integral part of our daily lives. I know I’m not the only person who smiles when they see the chickens greeting them at the airport upon returning to Kauai from a trip. 

So leave them the heck alone.

I’m telling you, don’t mess with our chickens.

And while we’re at it, leave my cat “Socks” alone as well. Laws banning the feeding of feral and/or outside cats have also been proposed.

I understand the importance of protecting native birds, I really do. But banning me from feeding my cat who never leaves my yard and who bothers no one but me when she’s hungry?

Socks has never ever killed a native bird, I promise you that. The only birds she’s ever messed with are the doves and rice birds who sometimes fly into our windows, knocking themselves silly, sometimes unconscious, or sometimes worse.

Socks will literally lay stretched out in the shade under the mango tree while the chickens roam just a few feet from her lazy gaze. She couldn’t be bothered with all the work it takes to chase them. And then what? I’m sure she’s thinking. What do I do with them once I catch them (a big assumption there)?

Socks is an outdoor cat who never ever comes into the house. If she did, for sure she and Maximus Aurelius would clash and I can only imagine the damage they would inflict on the inside of our home – racing madly around the rooms chasing each other, and knocking over all manner of things.

Socks was or is (you tell me) a feral cat. She was born under our house. Claudette trapped her and a few of her brothers and sisters, had them fixed and chipped at the Humane Society and then brought Socks home to live with us – outside with the chickens. I feed her every afternoon. She waits patiently on the steps and rubs her body against my legs as I navigate down to the yard where her food bowl sits. What she doesn’t eat, the chickens and the doves finish off.

I’m not entirely clear if a ban on feeding feral cats would apply to Socks. She definitely has a deep feral streak, but she is a family friend who lives with us, in our yard, far away from the natural habitat of native birds.

So, to all the politicians out there. Please leave my chickens, and my cat Socks alone. Maximus can take care of himself. You don’t even want to mess with Max.

Seriously. Don’t you have real work to do? Perhaps you can build some affordable housing, fill some pot-holes, legalize cannabis, cut our taxes, pay our teachers a decent salary, fight climate change, increase health and dental care, regulate tourism, or condemn the Coco Palms hotel and create a community center that honors its deep history and cultural significance.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

HB796 Term Limits For Hawai’i State Legislators scheduled for today Wednesday 02/08/23 – Here’s my testimony in support as amended

HB796 Relating to Term Limits for Hawaiʻi Legislators has been scheduled for today Wednesday 02/08/23 at 2pm. Below is my testimony in support as amended.

Readers are also encouraged to submit testimony!

Support HB796 with amendments:

Committee Chair and Members,

I am testifying in strong support of HB796 with the following amendment:

 “No person shall serve as a member of the house of representatives for more than eight years, nor shall any person serve as a member of the senate for more than eight years.”

The amendment is intended to say legislators may serve up to 8 years in the House and up to 8 years in the Senate, and no more than 16 years combined.

Few in the public sector are pleased with the status quo. Though our current legislative leadership possesses decades of experience, clearly that’s not enough.

“We already have term limits, they’re called elections” is the stock response, and until relatively recently, the position I subscribed to.

However, after 26 years of working within the system, I’ve come to believe differently.

Term limits will put a stop to the do-nothing, take no risk, keep your head down, go along to get along, “long game” strategy that too often infects those who aspire to serve in elected office.

Term limits will also put a stop to the excessive accumulation of power and the nonstop campaign fundraising that too often defines long-term incumbency. 

The problems and challenges facing us today are far too urgent to play the long game or any games at all. An 8-year term is plenty enough time for new elected leaders to make their mark, and to set and accomplish their goals.

The barriers to entry for new candidates are formidable. Money, name recognition and a conscious manipulation of the system by those already in power give incumbents an overwhelming advantage while keeping newcomers out.

The basic cost to run a campaign for the state Legislature can run between $40,000 to $100,000, sometimes more. Because there’s no cap on the amount incumbents can raise, some sit on “war chests” approaching $1 million, much of it raised during the legislative session from the very interests they are charged to regulate.

Legislators, by virtue of their position, are frequently in the public spotlight. They are constantly cutting ribbons or “breaking ground” at some new school, highway, or community center. They hold press conferences and issue press releases. In recent years, state legislators have taken to sending out glossy mailers under the guise of constituent surveys or a “report to the district.” These taxpayer-funded mailings conveniently become more frequent in the months preceding an election.

Yes, the cards are stacked high against new candidates, new voices, new ideas, and new leadership.

The governor, lieutenant governor, mayor, and all Council members in all counties already serve with term limitations. These term limits have not caused the weakening of government operations, nor have they empowered the deep state, or created a dearth of expertise.

What term limits do is create an opportunity for change. Our elected leaders are given eight years to pursue their goals and then they move on, creating space for others to step up.

There is no shortage of other opportunities to serve. Those “termed out” can work elsewhere in the public, private or nonprofit sectors, if indeed service is their primary focus and motivation.

Fifteen states including California and Colorado currently limit the terms of state legislators. It’s time for Hawaii to join them.

Please pass HB796 as amended, place this question on the ballot, and allow the people to vote it up or down.

Gary Hooser

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment