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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 11:45 a.m., Wednesday, January 16, 2008

House speaker cites Obama campaign in speech

Advertiser Staff

House Speaker Calvin Say began the 2008 House session saying that a native son of Hawai'i — Sen. Barack Obama — may soon lead the country.

"Imagine a man of color winning a state with over 3 percent of a black population," Say said. "... The forces of change will overwhelm the status quo. The way things are are not the way things will be."

Say acknowledged that he is sometimes known as representing "the old boys' club."

But Hawai'i "must embrace change," he said, "not as a political slogan but as a way of life."

He asked the people of Hawai'i "to help us take charge of our own destiny. We are too complacent, too focused on our individual concerns and too accepting of the way things are. Forces behind our state's control will work against us if we do not act."

Like state Sen. President Colleen Hanabusa did in the Senate chamber, Say referred to the controversy over the Hawaii Superferry in calling for "workable" solutions between no development and controlled development and economic growth.

He referred to "our total dependence" on fossil fuels that lead to rising costs of food, fuel and energy.

"Hawai'i is not far away when the cost of jet fuel will begin to cause havoc with our tourism economy," Say said. "...Families are already struggling with rising gas prices. Why are we moving so slowly?"

Hawai'i can lead the nation in renewable energy, Say said. Ethanol from sugar cane, for instance, is better than ethanol from corn, he said.

"Wouldn't most of us rather gaze at a sugar can field that helps fuel our cars than a field of high-rise condos built for the offshore rich?" Say said.

Every island has the potential for wind power but Hawai'i has done nothing to develop hydropower, he said.

"We sure have plenty of waves just waiting for that day," Say said. "...Too many of us in this chamber cling to the status quo."