By Lee Cataluna
Ordinarily, the most dangerous thing about lame duck politicians is the temptation to coast through the last year of their term and do nothing because they just don't have to worry about appearances anymore.
Lame duck Gov. Ben Cayetano has never been one to worry much about appearances, and as he rounds out his last term it seems the most dangerous thing is his willingness to play fast-and-loose politics. Kinda makes you wish he would lay low and do nothing.
It takes some real nerve to get the state tax director to analyze Republican gubernatorial front-runner Linda Lingle's tax and budget plan, and then hold a press conference to rebut Lingle's proposal as if waging a campaign of his own. Actually, it takes more than nerve. It takes blatant disregard for the legal separation of government time and campaign work.
Of course, in classic Cayetano fashion, there was no apology and there will be no apology; just the standard, "So what?" attitude.
Cayetano denied there was any politicking going on. He said he would be analyzing the plans of all the major candidates. He made it sound like he was performing some kind of public service when he said, "... I think that it is important not only for me but for everyone else to understand what each candidate is going to propose in this very, very critical budget year."
Great. So now the guy who got us to this very, very critical budget year is gonna enlist the expertise of the folks who helped him get us to this very, very critical budget year to tell us who to vote for (and more obviously, who not to vote for).
This whole business is more than unethical. It's insulting, as if we can't be trusted to make our own decisions about the candidates, and as if we wouldn't see the bias in Cayetano's commissioned analysis.
Why didn't Cayetano take this sort of interest in analyzing the traffic camera program so we could have found out long before those despicable vans hit the road what a money pit the whole thing would be for the state?
Why didn't he figure out what a mess the medical record privacy act would be? He could have saved his buddy Mazie Hirono from adding to her "uh, I changed my mind" list.
Why didn't Cayetano get his brain trust to figure out that the Aloha Stadium Astro-turf would have such a dismal life span? The list goes on and on.
If Cayetano wants to do the thinking for us, great. Think about ways to fix the schools, Governor. Think about ways local families can live decent lives without working three jobs at a time and farming their kids off to unlicensed baby sitters. Think about ways to promote tourism without selling Hawai'i's soul. But leave the voting to us.
Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.