Venus glimmers briefly, brilliantly, in a pale band of morning sky and then the dark curtain falls, as does the rain, dampening the visitors' holiday vacations, countering the picture-perfect weather portrayed in the movies that attracted a whopping 22 percent of the first-timers here, but replenishing the aina, restoring the wai, the wealth.
So now that Sen. Inouye is gone, amid tributes paid in hundreds of column inches and emails from Tulsi and Mazie, Hawaii is faced with a bleak financial future as political leaders ponder the burning question: who is going to bring home our bacon now that the Prince of Pork has passed?
In just a cursory review of some of the accolades and photos, I'm reminded that Dan was a player in virtually every economic arena, supporting PMRF, NTBG, the West Kauai Visitor and Technology Center, Sue Kanoho's tourism career, etc., etc., etc. Not to mention Honolulu's high-speed rail project, which he vowed to see through to completion, though fate intervened. Nor was he able to bring to fruition another plan, announced last February, to secure Department of Defense funding for a state-operated interisland ferry.
As I reported for the Honolulu Weekly in May:
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Inouye was instrumental in securing some $490 million for Hawaii this year to finance initiatives ranging from military construction and highway projects to native Hawaiian healthcare and disaster preparedness. Inouye secured funding to base F-22 Raptor fighter jets at Hickham Air Force Base and build a new Coast Guard command and control center on Sand Island.
[Peace activist Kyle] Kajihiro thinks Hawaii will see less military money “in a post-Inouye situation.” Though the Senator has announced his plans to run for a tenth term in 2016, it is questionable whether the 87-year-old will be able to fulfill that dream. His spokesman, Peter Boylan, did not respond to questions on how the Islands would fare economically without the clout of the Senate’s most senior member.
“Let’s start looking at alternatives now,” Kajihiro urges. “What is a different economic model for our islands, one that is more sustainable?”
Well, we obviously didn't follow Kajihiro's suggestion, preferring to pretend instead that Inouye could live forever. So now he is gone, and with Sen. Akaka retiring, we have no one but a newbie — Mazie Hirono — in the Senate. How much cash do you suppose she'll be able to muster?
Which leads to Inouye's replacement. Though he reportedly chose Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa as his heiress apparent in a deathbed last wish, that kind of rubs me the wrong way. Talk about some heavy political pressure. I mean, we're not a banana republic, where political leaders get to name their successors, right?
I've been wondering whether Gov. Abercrombie, who makes the pick based on a list of three nominees provided by the Democratic Party, will choose himself. I imagine some of the sheen has worn off the governor's job, now that he's been booed and badgered about the PLDC, the Lege has drawn the drapes on his "New Day Hawaii" and the state's coffers are empty.
In some ways, it makes sense to send him. Abercrombie surely has more clout in Washington than Hanabusa, and Brian Schatz, a personable guy, could take over as guv, with Senate President Shan Tsutsui filling his seat.
If Hanabusa is selected, a special election would have to be held to fill her seat in Congress, which means Charles Djou, the Republican who challenged her in November, might well be elected. And no way do the Dems want to risk that.
Who else is there? Tulsi Gabbard, another newbie, is probably the most popular politician in the state right now, and she's also captured national attention. But if they name her, we could be stuck with Mufi Hannemann as our Congressman, perish the thought. Surely they won't choose the big Muffster, and no way are they going to give Ed Case an edge.
In any case, with both of the Dans out of the Senate and Calvin Say no longer running the state House of Representatives, political life as we've known it for decades in Hawaii has ended. And it's not even 12-21.
Perhaps this is our chance to create a different future: one that incorporates more of the self-sufficiency and sustainability outlined in Abercrombie's “New Day,” but without so many of the federal handouts that require us to accommodate the military at all costs.