What does Donald Trump’s banner have to do with it?

We are living in extraordinary times surrounded on all sides by uncertainty. Fortunately, our home is on the most isolated island of the most isolated island chain in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

In this time of social upheaval, it is good that folks from the outside cannot just jump on a Grey Hound bus and come into our community, as they have streamed into Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon in recent weeks.

We don’t need or want the hate and divisiveness here. Yes, we have a similar diversity of opinion, and we have similarly strong feelings on similar issues, but so far aloha has prevailed – mostly.

The vandalism of the Trump banner on Kuhio Highway in Kapaa saddens me, and I am hopeful that this negative destructive behavior does not spread further.

You will find no greater opponent to the re-election of Donald Trump, than me. I believe that his re-election would plunge the United States even deeper into the turmoil and darkness which now seems to permeate all corners of the continent. While it seems a cliche, I truly do believe that the election of November 3rd is the most important one of our lifetime.

But we must not allow President Trump nor his supporters, to goad us into negative behavior that accomplishes nothing except to justify their claims against us. As former first lady Michelle Obama has said, “When they go low, we go high.”

It is a slippery slope from the destruction and defacement of a Trump campaign banner, to the vandalism of other candidate banners of those who might support his re-election. Then, it could quickly devolve into a “tit-for-tat”, first among Kauai candidates and supporters, and then among our friends and neighbors who may have differing opinions.

No one should be afraid to put up any candidate’s sign in their yard. We here on Kauai are better than that. We can and must show aloha and respect each other’s political choices. We may not understand how our neighbors could come to the conclusion they come to, but we must respect and honor their choice to think differently.

As someone who has been in the thick of many important and contentious issues over the past 25 years, I have come to conclude that good people can look at the same facts and circumstances, and come to different conclusions.

This does not mean we must accept injustice, racism, the loss of our freedoms, or the poisoning of our environment. To the contrary, we can and we must join with our brothers and sisters across the planet to fight back against these things.

The battle in a civil society however must take place first at the ballot box, then in the halls of government and in the courts. And yes, the battle must sometimes also be taken to the streets in the form of peaceful protests and if necessary civil disobedience.

Stifling the free speech of your neighbor while destroying their property in the dead of the night, is not the answer.

With COVID taking its daily toll, the economy in a free fall, the November elections looming only months away, the ongoing racial injustice caught on video seemingly on a daily basis, and the increasing violence occurring on the streets of cities across the nation – the prospects of a positive path forward seem dimmer each day.

But of course, we must not let these challenges overwhelm us, and we must instead rise to the occasion as a community, regardless of how others act elsewhere.

At my core, I’m an optimist and know that this too shall pass – all of it. The time of COVID will pass and eventually, both our physical health and the health of our economy, will recover and improve. The coming presidential election and the strife and discord that now seems ever-present will also pass.

To be clear, optimism without pragmatism is simply naivety that is sure to result in disappointment. Thus, we cannot stop the work.

Now more than ever, we must pull together. Now more than ever, the importance of accountability, forward-thinking, decisive, and informed leadership at all levels – is critical. We must vote, and we must actively take ownership of our government. We must take civic responsibility seriously.

Now more than ever we need to live with mutual respect, civility, and aloha. For our community to survive and to grow stronger during these extraordinary times, we must remember first and foremost that we are all ohana, and that we are all in this together.

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COVID Economic Crisis Deserves Special Session

We are in the midst of the greatest crisis of our lifetime. The legislature should convene in a special session as soon as possible and go to work. There are many challenges to be resolved, and no reason to further delay taking meaningful action to help alleviate the mounting economic damage to small businesses and local residents.

This is not the time for “business as usual.” We simply cannot afford to wait until January for the 2021 legislative session to begin, then run its normal course and conclude in May. Issues such as the ongoing unemployment insurance debacle, our imploding economy, food self-sufficiency, and many other pressing needs must be dealt with now and given the urgent attention they deserve.

The primary excuse for inaction to be offered by legislative leaders will always be about money. That my friends is shibai. I learned a long, long time ago that when the government tells you there is no money, what they are really telling you is that what you are asking for, is not a priority.

Our state legislature found the money to fund public workers raises, but yet they can’t seem to find the money or the political will to eliminate the state income tax on unemployment benefits. This is the least our state government can do to help make up for the pain caused by the gross mismanagement of the unemployment application and implementation process.

So much can be done with just the stroke of a pen, and without money or at least without immediate budget impacts. In addition to taking the state income tax off of unemployment benefits, the legislature could also:

Place a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures, or at the minimum create a punitive sized (as in very big) new tax on lending institutions (and related businesses, law firms, collection companies, etc) who institute foreclosure proceedings on any Hawaii properties for a period of X years following the start of the COVID-19 stay at home orders.

Incentivize rent reductions both for residential and commercial rents, by making “rent reductions and unpaid rent” a deductible expense for tax purposes. Government must reward landlords who forgo or voluntarily reduce their rents to long-term tenants. Landlords would then receive a tax benefit above and beyond simply not being taxed on the income.

Eliminate tax penalties and interest for any business that has been negatively impacted by COVID. Yes, the state needs, is owed and deserves to be paid taxes on income and sales, however penalties and interest for late payments should be waived during this period.

Eliminate the General Excise Tax (GET) on long term residential rental income derived from rentals serving 100% of median income and for small business owners impacted by COVID.

Numerous options are available to increase revenue, not the least of which is the legalization and taxing of cannabis. Closing the existing tax loop-hole on Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) will also add much need additional funding to the state budget.

Redirecting existing state spending toward “buying local” is an obvious but too often neglected strategy.

The state already spends hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing imported food for prisons, schools, and hospitals. Simply requiring this food to be purchased from local farmers and ranchers would reap huge benefits. Policymakers will respond no doubt by saying that it is a bit more complicated and not so easy, and the state is already “moving in this direction.” True statements I suppose, but an inadequate response during this time when emergency action is needed.

According to one University of Hawaii study, “Hawai’i’s total food imports are roughly $2 billion per year.” The number one item taught by the experts on the “things to do” list for economic development is to “plug the leaks.” Spend public funds locally and benefit from the economic “multiplier effect.” As individual consumers, we can and must also help make this happen by purchasing from local farmers, farmers markets, and in the supermarket always focusing on buying local. But our government must lead the way.

There is so much more our state government can do to spur the economy via local food production.

While it has been talked about and “on the table” for literally decades, the legislature should finally just do it and eliminate the General Excise Tax (GET) on “fresh food” (not prepared food, restaurant meals, or processed food) thus reducing the cost of living for all residents while supporting local agriculture. The term “fresh food” is utilized here to avoid interstate commerce and tariff restrictions.

For the small farms on every island that actually sell food for local consumption, the state should exempt them from collecting or paying any GET whatsoever (on purchases or sales). This effectively reduces the cost of all of their expenses (equipment, seed, water, etc.) by 4.5% and giving their agricultural products a similar price advantage in the marketplace.

There is no shortage of meaningful public policy actions that could be made NOW during a special session. Many in the community have their own lists, and all ideas should be on the table.

What seems to be missing at the legislature is a solution based sense of urgency, and a focused commitment to identify and implement meaningful public policy – today. Unfortunately, too many of our political leaders, like so many others throughout history, seem content to just sit on the sidelines and fiddle, while the world comes crashing down around us.

Yes, the legislature has a responsibility to ask questions and demand answers from the executive branch, but their primary duty is to legislate and not to administrate. It is the legislature’s job to set the policy which guides the direction of our state, and it’s the governor’s job to implement those same policies.

The time of non-action or molasses-like “incremental progress” with the obligatory limp excuses talking about how complex the issue is, or about how hard it is to please the various groups – is over. Call and email your legislator and those legislative leaders at the top of the food chain, today – demand a special session, demand action, demand that they do their job.

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Affordable Housing – Which side are you on?

For policy wonks working on affordable housing. While the below piece is Kauai specific, I think the principles are important and universal.

Hooser – Policy and Politics
Title: Affordable Housing – Which side are you on?

The affordable housing conversation happening now at the County Council is an interesting one. As is the case for most complex “omnibus” type legislative proposals, there are both good and bad changes being proposed, depending on your perspective.

Rather than attempt to debate or dissect the numerous moving parts of the measure, it seems appropriate and important to step back and focus on the big picture for a moment.

Is the primary intent of the Council to increase the availability of truly affordable housing for local residents? Or is their main intent to generate development and “revitalize” the town core in Lihue and other areas?

Or to rephrase the question: Whose interests are being served? Is the Council most concerned with serving low to middle income working residents, or are they primarily focused on helping landowners, developers, and local business owners to increase their profits?

The answer no doubt from some proponents on the Council will be: “If we help the landowners and developers make increased profits, then low to middle income working residents will benefit as well.” The trickle-down theory at work, or not, once again.

Others on the Council will of course believe that both interests can be served, concurrently. It’s true I believe that both interests can be served, but it all comes down to money.

This should not be a surprise to anyone, as money does in fact make the wheels go round.

Developers and landowners will not develop affordable housing unless the costs of doing so are subsidized. Either those costs are subsidized by the private “market units” developed within the project, and/or the subsidy is provided by government in the form of infrastructure, density, or tax credits.

Without a subsidy, there will be no affordable housing built, period. Increasing the inventory of market-priced units will not result in an increased supply of affordable units. While this theory might be taught in an introductory economics class or in an ALEC “how to help developers” seminar, it is not the reality here on this island in the middle of the Pacific.

Prior to entering the world of policy and politics, I was active in the real estate business for over 10 years. I know first hand that the long term demand for Kauai real estate is insatiable. Certainly the demand for affordable homes which by definition are “below market,” is beyond insatiable.

No affordable housing will be built without a subsidy. By removing the requirement for developers to subsidize the 30% affordable unit requirement via their “market priced” homes, the Council will ensure that no affordable homes at all will be provided in the Lihue, Koloa, or Kalaheo town cores.

Rather than remove the requirement for the developer to subsidize the affordable units, the County could “add to the subsidy” by absorbing certain off-site infrastructure costs and/or via tax credits tied to the increased property tax value that would result from the development.

Unfortunately, the Council in the past already more than doubled the density in the Lihue town core, but got nothing in return from the property owners, who themselves received a windfall in the form of increased property values. Consequently, the “increased density subsidy” card has already been given away for free, in Lihue anyway.

If the goal of the Council is to both support the revitalization of the various town cores and to ensure that those local people who actually work in those towns can afford to live there, they must not remove the 30% affordability requirement. Invest more public funds in infrastructure or tax credits if needed to further support or incentivize the construction, but please, do not remove that 30% requirement.

First published on August 26th in The Garden Island Newspaper

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Where do we go from here?

Aloha,

A friend sent me a short message a few days ago asking, “Where do we go from here?” My initial response was simply, “Forward.”

Later, I added, “We rest a bit, then we go back at it. We help our friends in the general election of November 3, at the same time we regroup and start on 2022. Along the way we fight for the good stuff, and against the bad stuff. Are you in?”

So, I ask you who are reading this today, are you in? Can you help?

In order to continue moving forward, maintain, and grow our efforts, the Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) could use some help itself actually. We run a pretty lean organization but we do have expenses. Can you help by making a secure online contribution today? Our goal is to raise at least $6,500 by September 1st so that we can revamp our website, further grow our communication efforts and fund basic administrative costs through the final quarter of the year. If you prefer, contributions by check may be sent to: Pono Hawaii Initiative, P.O. Box 871, Honolulu, HI 96808

We had many solid wins in the recent Primary Election, but now need to focus on the General to preserve and expand on those gains. There will not be as many races to focus on but each is important and some critically so (more on this in a future post).

For 2022, the planning begins now. In 2022 every single seat in the Hawaii State House and Senate will be up for election, plus there will be a governors race, a Kauai and Maui mayors race, and others.

Potential candidates (both incumbent and newcomers) need to start laying the groundwork for their campaigns now. If you are interested in running in 2022, if you have roots in your community, and if your values are in support of environmental, economic, and social justice, please lmk if I can help or otherwise add value (for free) to your planning.

So yes, we keep moving forward and doing so as aggressively as possible. There is too much at stake to dilly dally.

Please if you can, an online contribution of any amount, whether it is $25, $250 to $2,500 is welcome and no amount is too small. We are recognized by the federal government as 501c4 non-profit organization however because of the legislative and political advocacy work we do, CONTRIBUTIONS ARE NOT TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer at this time. My hope is that we can raise an amount to cover our basic expenses by September 21st, and then focus 100% of future efforts toward helping the handful of candidates who anticipate having close general elections.

Sincerely,

Gary Hooser – http://www.garyhooser.com
Pono Hawaii Initiative https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org

NOTE: If you are not on my regular email list, please consider subscribing directly at http://www.garyhooser.com/#four

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Election Results: Iwamoto/Saiki, Ritte/DeCoite – Too Close To Call

#winning

In a stunning display of strength for the progressive movement in Hawaii, Kim Coco Iwamoto is within 162 votes of beating Speaker of the House Scott Saiki, arguably one of the most powerful men in Hawaii. HD26 (Kakaako)

Hawaii News Now is reporting the race as “too close to call” stating that approximately 2,500 votes statewide remain uncounted. Note to readers: As of August 16th I have seen no further reports to indicate anything has changed. My assumption is that the 2,500 ballots yet to be counted did not impact any race.

In his 26 years in office, Saiki had never seriously been challenged and started the race with $222,230 in his campaign war chest, versus Iwamoto’s $17,886. Saiki had the support of every single public worker union (whose pay raises during the pandemic Saiki had vocally supported), virtually the entire business establishment (given that he has consistently blocked increasing the minimum wage) and a local media that refused to even acknowledge that Iwamoto was a serious challenger.

On top of it all, Speaker Saiki utilized his power and position and both his campaign budget and his official legislative budget, to flood his district’s mailboxes with official-looking brochures touting his work on pandemic issues.

Yes, the entire political and business establishment rallied together to beat Kim Coco Iwamoto. They may, or may not have won this election, but Kim Coco Iwamoto and those in Hawaii who are fighting to put people and the planet above corporate profits, are definitely winning the war.

On another battle-front between corporate profits and protecting the ‘aina, is another “too close to call” race between Walter Ritte, a man who is unquestionably a champion for all Hawaii, and incumbent Lynne DeCoite. At the time of this email, Ritte was just 91 votes shy of victory. HD13 (Molokai/Maui)

Running in their first re-election campaigns incumbent Representatives Amy Perruso and Tina Wildberger both soundly trounced their challengers, proving that a new legislator can speak out, oppose the establishment when necessary – and still get reelected. HD46 (Wahiawa)  & HD11 (Kihei Maui)

Sonny Ganaden, a true champion for working people has overwhelmingly beaten incumbent Representative Romy Cachola 1,470 to 831. HD30 (Kalihi)

First-time candidate Adrian Tam, a strong progressive and emerging young leader, also appears to have carved out a narrow 143 vote win, against the House Leadership backed incumbent Representative Tom Brower. HD22 (Waikiki)

Another newcomer, Trish La Chica HD36 (Mililani) won her primary solidly. Trish’s campaign is based on her “dedication to fighting against unjust systems and policies that favor those with wealth and power.” HD36 (Mililani)

Former Representative Matt LoPresti “the comeback kid” who is a solid progressive also won his primary with strong numbers. HD41 (Ewa)

Lisa Marten’s win is also emerging as a victory for progressives and those in the environmental community. This Windward Oahu district was fortunate to have several good candidates competing and though my choice was Alan Akao who did not make the cut – this district and the progressive/environmental community will be well represented here by Lisa Marten. HD51 (Kailua/Waimanalo)

Similarly, on the Big Island there were two solid individuals running for the same seat, who share the world view of putting people and the planet first. Jeanne Kapela came out on top over Colehour Bondera who is also a friend and ally. HD5 (Kona)

So let’s do the math for the State House of Representatives – 8 solid wins for people and the planet, with 2 more “on the bubble”.  #winning

During the course of this campaign journey, I came to the conclusion that we had at least 19 solid candidates running for the State House who shared our world view of environmental, economic, and social justice. To each of you who ran, please know that you are a hero in my book. I know a little bit about what it takes to run a campaign for public office, and the toll it can take on family, friends, and finances.  

Whether you are one of those candidates who made it over the top, or perhaps you fell short – you should be commended for your willingness to put it out there. Many in our community talk about change, but few are willing to actually make the commitment to enter the arena and risk defeat.

I lost my first race in 1994 for the Kauai County Council and it was the worst day of my life. I ran again in 1998 and won. In total, I have run for public office 10 different times, winning 6 and falling short in 4.  I encourage every candidate that was not successful this time, to take the time needed to rest and catch-up on family and personal stuff…and then start working on the next campaign.

After-all – 2022 starts now.

Sincerely,

Gary Hooser
http://www.garyhooser.com
Complete Results – Office of Elections
Subscribe – Hooser email/news 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

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For Monsanto and friends it’s politics as usual: Buying influence at the state legislature –

Does anyone else find it interesting that a lobbyist for Monsanto is running the House Leadership PAC? House Leadership by definition is Speaker Scott Saiki and his team.

You really can’t make this stuff up. A Political Action Committee established to support “House Leadership,” is being managed by Emmanuel Zibakalam who is a lobbyist for the largest GMO companies and pesticide manufacturers on the planet. For added value, Mr. Zibakalam is also involved in a “pro-rail” group that appears to be masquerading as a grass-roots community-based organization.

It goes without saying that both groups have a significant financial stake in the decisions made by Speaker Saiki and House Leadership.

Organizational Report for Hawaii House Democratic PAC

The position of PAC Chairperson, the PAC Treasurer and the PAC Custodian of Books and Accounts, are all held by a single individual – Emmanuel Zibakalam.

Mr Zibakalam lists his occupation as Principal at Pacific Business Advocates LLC 

Per their website: “Pacific Business Advocates accommodates clients looking for advocacy in the Federal, State, and County arenas. We maintain a constant dialogue with government entities to ensure current information of the rapidly changing political landscape.”

At the very top of their “Sample Client Roster” are: Bayer (Monsanto), Syngenta, Corteva (Dow/Dupont), and the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association.

Mr. Zibakalam is also a spokesperson for Friends of Rail, a “pro-rail” support group that has been described as a fake grassroots organization (astroturf) backed by rail development interests. See Civil Beat Ian Lind: ‘Don’t be fooled by Friends of Rail’

Mr. Zibakalam has raised $24,750 during the most recent reporting period.

Recent Campaign Contributions by the Hawaii House Democratic PAC are all to Representatives who Speaker Saiki and House Leadership want to “protect.”

Onishi, Richard 08/03/2020 $2,000
Gates, Cedric 08/03/2020 $2,000
Brower, Tom 07/15/2020 $2,000
Eli, Stacelynn 07/15/2020 $2,000
Kitagawa, Lisa 07/15/2020 $2,000

By protecting these Representatives, Mr. Zibalkalam and by extension his clients are protecting the position of House Speaker Scott Saiki.

For Mr. Zibakalam and his clients, this is a twofer. They gain and/or improve their access and influence with regards to these 5 legislators, but more importantly, they significantly increase their access to Speaker Scott Saiki.

This my friends is the definition of “buying influence.” It is of course legal, and yes, Speaker Saiki has some influence when it comes to making laws.

A closing note on “buying influence”: To be clear, for the vast majority of legislators a $2,000 contribution does not buy a vote. But it does buy access. The is a very real “hierarchy of access” and people that help politicians get elected, have greater access than the regular man and woman on the street. Accepting a donation from the House Leadership PAC does not beholden the recipient to the donor, but the donor will in fact gain easier access to the recipient in the future.

Full Disclosure: I am actively and strongly supporting Kim Coco Iwamoto in her campaign for election to the State House, currently held by House Speaker Scott Saiki. Kau’i Pratt-Aquino is also on my “highly recommended” list of endorsements and she is running against incumbent Lisa Kitagawa. My endorsement list and that of Pono Hawaii Initiative, also is supporting Adrian Tam who is challenging incumbent Tom Brower as well as is Shannon Matson who is running against Richard Onishi.

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Title: Why Jacquie Esser Over Judge Alm For Honolulu Prosecutor?

If you believe that our criminal justice system needs an overhaul then Jacquie Esser is your candidate for Honolulu Prosecutor. If you believe that people should not go to jail simply because they are poor and homeless, then Jacquie is someone that you will want to support. If you want a prosecutor who will aggressively go after white-collar crime and political corruption – Jacquie Esser is your candidate.

Honolulu Prosecutor candidate Jacquie Esser can win, but she needs our help today. She is very, very close to making it into the General Election (see Civil Beat Poll). Jacquie has momentum, she has worked very hard to make it this far and needs to push her t.v. advertising just a little bit harder over the next few days. 50 of us giving $100 apiece online TODAY can make a huge difference in this very close race.

Regardless of where you live, if you have the capacity to help – please send something to Jacquie Esser today. She is very close and just needs a little bit more support – from all of us.

Jacquie is the one and only candidate for these times, at this moment. She has been endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders as well as a wide range of organizations and community leaders.

A friend sent me an email recently asking, “Why Esser over Alm?”

My brief response, “On Judge Alm and Jacquie Esser: My general view of the world at the moment (and not just because of COVID) is one of intense urgency.  Esser brings the values, commitment, and energy needed for the moment.  Jacquie is actively out in the community every day it seems, sharing her values, plans, and thoughts on criminal justice.  I don’t think I have ever seen anything from Judge Alm at all. Perhaps he is not on social media, or maybe because he is the comfortable front-runner he has not been campaigning aggressively – However I would prefer someone with “the eye of the tiger” and not someone comfortable with the status quo. And…I would be less than truthful if I did not say that I find Esser as a woman and someone much younger than Alm…a more refreshing and inspiring candidate. This is coming from a 66-year-old white man 😉  We need to move our state, our country and our world more quickly along that “arc of the moral universe” which is long, but it bends toward justice.” (Dr. King) – and I believe Esser has the “fire in the belly” we need to do this.“

My fellow baby boomers: we have seriously messed up. it’s time to give the next generation a shot at fixing what we broke. Please help Jacquie Esser today if you can.

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Statewide endorsed candidates & walk-in voting/registration locations

The absolute final day to vote in the 2020 Primary Election is August 8th, but the deadline to mail-in your Ballot has passed.

Please consider voting this week, in person at a “Voter Service Center” or drop off your ballot at a “Place of Deposit” – for these endorsed/recommended candidates:

Statewide endorsements/recommendations

Oahu County

Kauai County

Maui County

The official Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) endorsements

To ensure the likelihood of your ballot being RECEIVED by the office of elections on or before August 8th, you should go to a “Voter Service Center” for accessible in-person voting, same-day voter registration, and collection of voted ballots. Hours of operation are daily through August 7, 2020 – 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
On Saturday, August 8th, they are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

You can drop off your ballot at the “Voter Service Centers”, or “vote in person”, and or do “same-day voter registration” and then vote.

There are also many “Places of Deposit” on every island where a completed ballot (complete with sealed and signed envelope) can be dropped off. These locations do not allow actual voting or voting registration only ballot drop off in a secure location. A map and list of statewide location is here:

To be absolutely sure your vote is counted, or if you have questions about your voter registration, or if you have not gotten your ballot in the mail yet – I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO MAKE THE EFFORT AND JUST GO TO A VOTER SERVICE CENTER (LOCATIONS ON EACH ISLAND LISTED BELOW). And please, don’t wait until Saturday to do this!

Piikoi Building
4444 Rice St
Lihue, 96766

Kapolei Hale
1000 Uluohia St
Kapolei, 96707

Honolulu Hale
530 S King St
Honolulu, 96813

Mitchell Pauole Center
90 Ainoa St
Kaunakakai, 96748

Lanai Police Station
855 Fraser Ave
Lanai City, 96763

Velma McWayne Santos Community Center
395 Waena St
Wailuku, 96793

West Hawaii Civic Center
74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy
Kailua-Kona, 96740

County of Hawaii Aupuni Center
101 Pauahi St
Hilo, 96720

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My mail-in ballot was rejected…so I’m voting in person, please join me if you can.

It’s crunch time. Today is the last day to vote by mail, but I strongly encourage everyone to join me and vote in person today. Yes, vote in person!
See locations below –

I tried voting by mail but my ballot was returned by the office of elections with a note saying my signature did not match with the signature they had on file. My first thought was that I may have signed my middle name, or my middle initial, or not…and the therefore the sample they have on file did not match. Upon investigation, I discovered my return envelope and my wife’s return envelope had inadvertently been mixed up and we signed the wrong envelope.

So…since I did not want to just guess, take a chance and re-sign, and re-mail…I went down and voted in person. While in theory today is the final day to put your ballot in the mail, I’m encouraging everyone to consider voting in person – TODAY if possible! See the locations for every island below!

If it’s helpful, here are my recommendations for many of the races around the state, especially for the State House – but also includes Council, OHA and the Honolulu Prosecutor (Jacquie Esser of course).

Statewide endorsements/recommendations – https://garyhooser.blog/2020/06/14/rebuilding-the-house-an-almost-complete-list-of-phi-endorsed-candidates/

Oahu County – https://garyhooser.blog/2020/07/21/2020-a-complete-list-of-oahu-candidate-recommendations-state-house-oha-prosecutor-council/

Kauai County – https://garyhooser.blog/2020/07/21/a-complete-list-of-kauai-candidate-recommendations-oha-council-cd2/

Hawaii County – https://garyhooser.blog/2020/07/21/a-complete-list-of-hawaii-county-election-recommendations-state-house-council-federal-oha/

Maui County – https://garyhooser.blog/2020/07/21/a-complete-list-of-maui-candidate-recommendations-state-house-council-oha-and-federal/

The official Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) endorsements are HERE.
https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org/endorsements-2020

Ballots must be mailed out no later than Monday, August 3rd to ensure the likelihood of being RECEIVED by the office of elections on or before August 8th.

However, to be absolutely sure your vote is counted, you should go to a Voter service center for accessible in-person voting, same-day voter registration, and collection of voted ballots. Hours of operation are July 27, 2020 – August 7, 2020 Monday through Saturday, excluding Sundays – 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Piikoi Building
4444 Rice St
Lihue, 96766

Kapolei Hale
1000 Uluohia St
Kapolei, 96707

Honolulu Hale
530 S King St
Honolulu, 96813

Mitchell Pauole Center
90 Ainoa St
Kaunakakai, 96748

Lanai Police Station
855 Fraser Ave
Lanai City, 96763

Velma McWayne Santos Community Center
395 Waena St
Wailuku, 96793

West Hawaii Civic Center
74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy
Kailua-Kona, 96740

County of Hawaii Aupuni Center
101 Pauahi St
Hilo, 96720

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Voting for change: The time is now and the choice is yours

Let’s face the facts. The majority rules. Whether it’s state, federal or county — the majority of elected office-holders drive the agenda, and a majority of voters elect those office-holders.

In Hawaii, a majority of the population has historically stayed home on election day. Consequently, a minority actually elect those who represent the majority.

Go figure. No wonder things are so messed up.

So to the disaffected, disenfranchised and disconnected who do not believe in the system and therefore do not vote — yours is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you voted, perhaps things would be different. If you actually got involved in the system and in the democracy that controls our government, perhaps your issues and priorities would be addressed.

You have two choices. Join in making our democracy a better one that puts people and the planet first, or drop out and see your predictions of a deteriorating world come true. If you choose to drop out, please do so quietly — we do not need the passive-aggressive behavior of those who claim to be revolutionaries but who never leave their couch.

The time is now, the choice is yours.

Our world is literally burning. Nearly half of Hawaii’s people wake up every morning facing the stress that comes with being one paycheck or now one unemployment check, away from homelessness. Our economy is collapsing, and the opportunity to re-imagine our future is at our doorstep.

Meanwhile, our legislative leadership just sits there. They have the power to redirect our economy today to one the embraces both technological innovation, and food self-sufficiency. They have the power and ability to reshape our visitor industry to one that has a smaller footprint, and ensures every worker receives a living wage. Balancing the budget for a few weeks and arguing with the governor are not enough. Hawaii deserves so much more.

The complainers rail that the only choices we have at the ballot box are the “same ol’, same ol’.”

But this year it’s different. This year, fortunately, we have an array of high-quality candidates to choose from.

For the first time in many years, we have a strong selection of candidates on the ballot who are willing, able and brave enough to make the bold choices needed to move us forward.

These candidates are knocking on the door asking to come in to help, and to lead. It is our collective vote that will open that door.

We collectively have the power today, at this very moment, to literally change the direction of our state, and the nature of our government.

Hawaii voters are being presented with a unique opportunity to reshape the entire state House of Representatives. Voters can send a message loud and clear that business as usual at the state Capitol is no longer acceptable.

There are at least 19 solid progressive and environmentally friendly candidates running for election to the state House.

In addition to the state House, there are good and forward-thinking candidates running for County Council, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and for the office of Honolulu prosecutor. See the complete list of endorsed candidates here:

Yes, we can in fact change the world of Hawaii politics and government as we know it — but only if we take the time to vote.

Just a handful of days remain until the primary election concludes. Ballots must be received by Aug. 8. The deadline to mail in your ballot is Monday August 3rd but everyone can also vote, and/or register to vote in person at these locations:

It’s crunch time for the 2020 elections. The stakes are high.

Please vote.

ISLAND VOICES StarAdvertiser 07/30,20 By Gary Hooser – The above blog post is a slightly edited version – https://www.staradvertiser.com/2020/07/30/editorial/island-voices/column-voting-for-change-the-time-is-now-and-the-choice-is-yours/

Gary Hooser is the executive director for Pono Hawai‘i Initiative, board president of HAPA, and a former senator and Kauai councilmember.

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