Un­like wa­ter­shed Con Con in 1978, com­pla­cency is to­day’s at­ti­tude on po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism

Har­vey’ s dev­as­ta­tion in Texas holds somber les­sons for re­siliency plan­ning for Hawaii

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - INSIGHT - RICHARD BORRECA Karl Kim, Ph.D., is a pro­fes­sor of ur­ban and re­gional plan­ning and the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Dis­as­ter Pre­pared­ness Train­ing Cen­ter at the Univer­sity of Hawaii. ——— Richard Borreca writes on pol­i­tics on Sun­days. Reach him at 80

SUN­DAY 9/ 3/ 17

Next year, Hawaii vot­ers get their once-adecade chance to reg­is­ter not only their dis­plea­sure with the state of govern­ment, but their hope that democ­racy can fix it. Hawaii, Illi­nois and Con­necti­cut are the only states that give vot­ers a reg­u­larly sched­uled chance to de­cide if they should call a con­ven­tion just for amend­ing the state Con­sti­tu­tion.

We vote ev­ery 10 years for or against a Con­sti­tu­tional Con­ven­tion, or “Con Con,” and next year it will again be on the gen­eral elec­tion bal­lot.

The Con Con wa­ter­shed year was 1978 be­cause the “Change is good” feel­ing from the ’60s and ’70s was still in the po­lit­i­cal air, and there was a “keep cronies out of the con­ven­tion” vibe. Sec­ondly, the ‘78 Con Con fo­cus be­came the is­sues that had been stopped or bot­tled up in the past.

As for­mer Honolulu Ad­vertiser columnist Jerry Bur­ris put it in a dis­cus­sion of the 2008 con­ven­tion vote, it was a “po­lit­i­cal power strug­gle be­tween the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’.’”

Out of the 102 elected del- egates, only three were cur­rent of­fice hold­ers; ac­cord­ing to re­ports from the event 39 years ago, many of the del­e­gates were at­tor­neys, busi­nessper­sons, ed­u­ca­tors and union mem­bers but few pro­fes­sional politi­cians. Of course the class of 1978 saw the birth of many po­lit­i­cal ca­reers, in­clud­ing now-for­mer Gov. John Wai­hee, and now-for­mer Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Har­ris. The Con Con’s ac­com­plish­ments in­cluded the cre­ation of the Of­fice of Hawai­ian Af­fairs, the re­signto-run laws, a ju­di­cial panel to pick judges and a Coun­cil on Rev­enues to give the state a ra­tio­nal means for know­ing how much money it could spend.

To­day, Hawaii does not ap­pear to be a state in much dis­sat­is­fac­tion. As the Gallup and Health­ways sur­vey re­cently noted, “Hawaii res­i­dents had the high­est well-be­ing in the na­tion in 2016, with the state reach­ing the top spot for the sixth time since track­ing be­gan in 2008.”

At the same time, those “haves” are the ones with the po­lit­i­cal power to make sure that things don’t top­ple the ex­ist­ing power cen­ters. The pub­lic em­ployee unions hold power be­cause they are rec­og­nized in the state Con­sti­tu­tion; tak­ing away the con­sti­tu­tional author­ity for col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing would mean a com­pletely dif­fer­ent state bud­get­ing process and a real di­min­ish­ment of la­bor clout.

Also, al­low­ing vot­ers to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion to be ———

LET­TERS TO THE ED­I­TOR >> RAISE YOUR HAND >> voted on by ev­ery­one through ini­tia­tive would free up those who say no one lis­tens to the ma­jor­ity.

And fi­nally, a Con Con would bring some new blood to a very tired po­lit­i­cal cast of char­ac­ters run­ning the state.

So how did the vot­ers re­act a decade ago when asked if they wanted a Con Con? A thun­der­ous “No Way!” Out of 434,264 votes cast, one-third of the vot­ers said yes and al­most two-thirds said no.

The rea­son why is that no one has come up for a rea­son why we need to re­view the en­tire Con­sti­tu­tion.

“My re­ac­tion is the same as ev­ery ear­lier time,” said Anne Feder Lee, an ex­pert on the state Con­sti­tu­tion and re­tired Univer­sity of Hawaii pro­fes­sor. “No need for one. I haven’t seen or heard any­one give any rea­son why one is needed now.”

The 1978 Con Con started with vaguely de­fined goals and a dis­en­fran­chised cit­i­zenry.

“A sur­vey of pub­lic opin­ion re­veals that cit­i­zens feel as if they have lit­tle say in how things are run in the state,” one re­port said. Still to­day, it is likely that in­stead of a cry to “keep hope alive,” vot­ers will go with a mantra of com­pla­cency and self-sat­is­fac­tion to mud­dle along for an­other decade with­out change.

Lucy Young-Oda / ly­oun­goda@starad­ver­tiser.com / 529-4831 AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS MARTHA HER­NAN­DEZ / MHERNANDEZ@STARAD­VER­TISER.COM

In­ter­state 10 was closed due to flood­wa­ters from then-Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey on Tues­day in Hous­ton.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.