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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Reaction mixed to Cayetano's address

By Lynda Arakawa and Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Reaction to Gov. Ben Cayetano's State of the State speech today was mixed, with some noting it showed Cayetano's softer side and others saying it did not give proper attention to the state's economic troubles.

"It was a trip down memory lane and all that, and that was fine, but we have some very real problems and if we don't take decisive actions, we're still in danger of losing hundreds more businesses and thousands more employees and that's a fact," said Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Wai'alae Iki, Hawai'i Kai).

David Carey, president and CEO of Outrigger Enterprises, said, "The things that I liked about the position the governor is taking is his support of the university, his support of medical technology to this state and although he did not say it, he has been supportive of tourism."

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Brian Taniguchi, D-11th (McCully, Mo'ili'ili, Manoa), appreciated Cayetano's comment that he is open to alternatives to using the Hurricane Relief Fund and raising the alcohol tax to balance the budget.

"I think the governor sent a message that he's willing to look at other things," he said. "He's not going to fight to the death over the Hurricane Relief Fund. I thought that was a very positive sign."

Taniguchi also called Cayetano's speech "heartfelt."

"He was looking back on his career and he's felt that he's had to make hard decisions that cost him friendships, cost him popularity, but I think in the end he feels good about what he did, so he's just trying to convey that to us," he said.

Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono also noted the sentimental tone of the governor.

"I know some of the legislators were just discussing with me how surprised they were to see this side of him, but it's a side that's always been there, and it doesn't come out that often, and he let that out, his humanity, his commitment to public service," she said. "I think it's a really important thing to remind ourselves why we're here."