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  • Hanabusa Picked to Help Monitor Honolulu Rail Project

    · By Nick Grube

    Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was appointed to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Board of Directors by Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Monday.

    Hanabusa will replace Carrie Okinaga, a former city attorney who recently took a job with the University of Hawaii. Okinaga was once the chairwoman of the HART board.

    Former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa will help oversee Honolulu’s over-budget rail project.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    The Hanabusa appointment to the volunteer board comes shortly after the Legislature voted to extend a 0.5 percent General Excise Tax surcharge for rail by five years to bail out the cash-strapped project.

    Officials have said the project faces a shortfall of up to $910 million.

    Hanabusa is a labor attorney, who most recently began took on the Hawaii State Teachers Association as a client. She ran for U.S. Senate in 2014 losing in a tight race to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

    The 10-member HART board is tasked with overseeing the $6 billion rail project, which will run from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.


  • Hawaii Monitor: Ethics Commission Ruling Draws Teachers’ Union Lawsuit

    · By Ian Lind

    The Hawaii State Teachers Association launched two legal actions this week to block enforcement of a new policy prohibiting teachers who are candidates for union offices from distributing their individual campaign materials in school mailboxes.

    The actions came in response to a ruling earlier this month by staff of the Hawaii State Ethics Commission disallowing campaign use of school resources, including teacher mailboxes.

    “We do not think it is appropriate for schools to allow the use of a mailbox to distribute individual teacher campaign information,” executive director Les Kondo told commissioners during their regular monthly meeting on March 18.

    The new ethics ruling ended a common practice which has been “ongong for decades,” Kondo told the commission.

    School buses at the Hawaii State Capitol

    Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat


    It’s one in a string of opinions that have tightened ethics restrictions and applied ethics laws more aggressively since Kondo took over his post in early 2011.

    On Monday, the union filed an emergency motion in First Circuit Court seeking a temporary restraining order to stop enforcement of the ethics ruling and maintain the status quo, at least through the current union election.

    That case was filed by David Alan Nakashima, an attorney with the law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd and Ing. Named as defendants are Gov. David Ige, the State of Hawaii, the Department of Education, Board of Education, and Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

    At the same time, former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa filed a prohibited practices complaint with the State Labor Relations Board, which has

  • Hanabusa Won’t Challenge US Senate Election Results

    · By Chad Blair

    U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will not challenge her narrow loss to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in court.

    She conceded the election to Schatz late Tuesday.

    But the congresswoman said she is still concerned about the state’s decision to delay the primary election for one week in two storm-damaged precincts on the Big Island.

    Schatz defeated Hanabusa by just 1,769 votes in an election that saw more than 230,000 votes cast.

    Last week, a Circuit Court judge in Hilo rejected Hanabusa’s request that the second primary, held Aug. 15, be delayed until more power was restored and more roads were cleared in Puna.

    Rep. Colleen Hanabusa works the phone during a break at a food distribution center at the Makuu Farmers Market in the Puna District of Hawaii Island.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    The rural area suffered significant damage from Tropical Storm Iselle the day before the Aug. 9 primary.

    Hanabusa also said many Puna voters were unaware that the primary had been rescheduled in Precincts 04-01 and 04-02.

    “Though I will not be challenging the results of this election, I remain very concerned about the public’s confidence and trust in our election process,” Hanabusa said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “I ask former colleagues and friends in the Hawaii State Legislature to explore what is necessary to ensure the people that their vote truly counts.”

    Hanabusa continued: “I heard from many who feel strongly that they were disenfranchised from the voting process this election and I stand ready to support any collaborative effort to have those voices heard.”

    Schatz had this response to

  • Hawaii Primary: Schatz Hangs On To Win US Senate Race

    · By Nick Grube

    Incumbent Brian Schatz clinched the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate as the Hawaii Elections Office released results of Friday’s late voting in storm-damaged Puna, plus 800 previously uncounted Maui ballots.

    Schatz picked up 1,601 votes in results announced Friday, while U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa got 1,467. That gave him 48.5 percent of the vote to Hanabusa’s 47.8 percent. The total vote count as of Friday evening was 115,401 for Schatz to 113,632 for Hanabusa — a difference of just 1,769 votes.

    “This has been an extraordinary week for all of us,” Schatz said as he greeted supporters after the results were announced. “This is an extraordinary night.”

    A victorious Sen. Brian Schatz walks into the Hawaii Government Employees Association building in Hilo after hearing he won his primary race against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    Schatz thanked his supporters and also was effusive in his praise of people from all over the state who pitched in to help the storm victims in Puna and “to help our community recover.”

    Hanabusa, speaking with her supporters after the results came in, said she had not yet considered her political future.

    “I’m still a member of Congress, I still have my term to fill out,” she said.

    Hanabusa lamented that many voters never got the chance to go to the polls due to the storm, including many in precincts where the election was held Aug. 9.

    And on Friday, only voters

  • Will Hanabusa’s Push in Puna Be Enough?

    · By Nick Grube

    U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz embraced U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono on Saturday night and told her he was replaying the events of a colleague’s life.

    “I feel like Al Franken,” he said.

    Franken is Minnesota’s junior senator, who in 2008 was locked in a tight race with Republican Norm Coleman. They were separated by only a handful of votes, and it took nearly nine months and a lawsuit to settle who won.

    Schatz finds himself in a similarly close race.

    Colleen Hanabusa and Brian Schatz hug at the Democratic Party Unity Breakfast the morning after the primary.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    He leads U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa by 1,635 votes and there are two precincts on the Big Island where registered voters have yet to cast all their ballots. Tropical Storm Iselle caused state elections officials to shut down polling stations in those precincts.

    While Schatz has significantly more padding than Franken — who ultimately won by 312 votes — there’s some potential narrowing on the way.

    There are about 8,200 registered voters in the Puna district on the Big Island where voting has been extended.

    Voters who did not already cast absentee ballots or participate in early walk-in voting will be able to vote by mail possibly as soon as this week.

    Both Schatz and Hanabusa plan to be on the ground to capture as many of these votes as possible.

    That means lots of door knocking and maybe even some sign waving.

    “The one thing I learned about this race is that the neighbor islands always feel that we

  • Hawaii US Senate: Schatz Leads Hanabusa — Slightly

    · By Nick Grube

    U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz was leading U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa early Sunday morning in the Democratic primary race to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. Hanabusa started off the evening with a slight lead but the results flipped as the night wore on.

    The latest election results released Sunday morning had Schatz with 48.5 percent of the vote and Hanabusa with 47.8 percent, as of 3:25 a.m. Sunday.

    Just 1,635 votes separate the two.

    When news broke of the swing in Schatz’s favor his campaign headquarters erupted in cheers.

    But no one was declaring victory. Some votes were still not counted, including two districts in Puna where the election was postponed due to Tropical Storm Iselle.

    U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz talks to his supporters after learning he held a small lead over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

    Nick Grube/Civil Beat

    Hanabusa spoke to a crowd of about 200 people who were gathered at her election party at The Hall of Laborers’ Local 368 in Kalihi. Supporters were using their Hanabusa signs as fans to try to cool off from the muggy heat.

    “It’s been an amazing campaign,” Hanabusa said to cheers.

    She reminded supporters that she was out funded and had less money to spend on ads.

    “This election is not over,” she declared. “It’s far from over.”

    Asked if Hanabusa would be taking the campaign to the Big Island, Peter Boylan, her campaign manager said, “Yes. Definitely.”

    There are about 8,000 registered voters in the two districts who will be allowed to vote by absentee ballots if they haven’t done so already.

    Schatz climbed

  • Ad Watch: Hanabusa Hits the TV Airwaves, Touts Local Upbringing

    · By Nick Grube

    The ad is the congresswoman’s first for TV, and presents the same message to voters as her previous radio spot about her being a woman of the people.

  • Ad Watch: Hanabusa Airs First Ad, Highlighting her Hawaii Roots

    · By Nick Grube

    The minute-long radio spot doesn’t touch on issues, but it does show that the congresswoman is hurting for cash.

  • Campaign Cash Advantage: Schatz’s Edge Over Hanabusa Is Paying Off

    · By Nick Grube

    UPDATED The senator has raised and spent more money than his opponent, but still seems to hold the advantage afforded by cash in the bank.

  • Did Sen. Brian Schatz Score Big Political Points With Climate Summit?

    · By Nick Grube

    The senator played a key role in bringing heavy-hitters like Al Gore and Barbara Boxer to Hawaii.

  • Ad Watch: Schatz Touts Equal Pay for Women in Latest TV Spot

    · By Nick Grube

    It’s early in the campaign season, but the senator is on the offensive with his second ad in the past month.

  • Hanabusa Vs. Schatz — Will Voting Records Matter to Hawaii?

    · By Nick Grube

    What are the political differences between Democratic Senate candidates in one of the bluest states.

  • The Middle Man: Hawaii’s Brian Schatz Zeroes In On Working Families

    · By Nick Grube

    Incumbent U.S. senator says his focus is on helping Hawaii’s struggling middle class.

  • Report Cards for Hawaii’s D.C. Delegates: How’d They Do?

    · By Chad Blair

    Schatz and Gabbard each got a bill passed, Hanabusa co-sponsored a lot of bipartisan measures and Hirono missed only one vote.

  • Will Hawaii Voters Buy Colleen Hanabusa’s Campaign Pitch?

    · By Chad Blair

    U.S. Senate candidate says in her case politics is about trust.