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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 7, 2009

All take, no give among lawmakers

By David Shapiro

When Hawai'i lawmakers say "show me the money," they want to see it in their own pockets and that's where we begin our "flASHback" on the week's news that amused and confused:

House Finance Committee members voted to increase the limit on corporate political donations to their campaigns from $1,000 to $50,000. It seems there's never a recession in the buying and selling of legislators.

Lawmakers said it can't be helped that the state has to temporarily cut in half general assistance payments to the poor and disabled. I'm sure the neediest are honored to be made needier so legislators can have their 36 percent pay raises.

President Obama said he'll sign a Democratic pork barrel bill that includes $225 million in earmarks for Hawai'i, calling it "last year's business." Best of all, it'll be paid for with the next generation's money.

The Lingle administration said it can balance the state budget without tax increases or layoffs. It's a tried-and-true Republican economic strategy: Keep on sleeping on.

State Auditor Marion Higa said the Hawai'i Teacher Standards Board is in a "state of confusion." Where was she when we needed a motto for the 50th State quarter?

Former city councilmen John Henry Felix and Steve Holmes hope to regain their old jobs by running for the late Barbara Marshall's Windward seat. Some rascals just won't stay thrown out.

The city awarded a $26,950 contract to a California company to develop a risk management plan for Honolulu's $5.4 billion rail project. The biggest risk is government management.

A Hawaiian monk seal that got too friendly with humans was shipped off to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. That's what happens when you don't keep your flippers to yourself.

Hawai'i is the nation's No. 2 consumer of porn behind Utah, a Harvard business professor reports. Gee, I feel guilty about not doing my share to get us over the top.

Breaking news item: "The Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens welcomed three bintlets, or binturong babies, on Feb. 10. The bintlets are the offspring of zoo residents Lucille and Ricky Ricardo." See what we'd miss without newspapers?

And the quote of the week ... from state Sen. Josh Green on a 13 percent raise paid to HMSA chief executive Robert Hiam as the health insurer lost $36 million: "This is an outrage. His board should fire him and hire someone with a conscience." That means a lot coming from a guy who gets a 36 percent raise while the state swims in red ink.

Reach David Shapiro at (Unknown address).