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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 23, 2010

Of pay raises and deficits

By David Shapiro

A Capitol opening as solemn as a wake tops our "flASHback" on the week's news that amused and confused:

• The 2010 Legislature got off to a subdued start, dispensing with the usual food and music in the face of a $1.2 billion budget deficit. Opening day was so quiet that the only sound legislators heard was the lobbyists whispering in their ears.

• Lawmakers asked everybody to be "unselfish" as the state struggles to deal with the record budget shortfall. Easy to say after you've already scooped your 36 percent pay raise.

• State Rep. John Mizuno proposed a 5-cent bottle fee to get teachers back in classrooms on furlough Fridays. After all the drama, will anybody want to drink to them?

• Interim schools chief Kathryn Matayoshi doesn't think furlough Fridays will hurt our chances of receiving $78 million in federal "Race to the Top" funds. We'd be a shoo-in if it was a race to the weekend.

• The Elections Commission wants a legal ruling on delaying a special election to replace U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie. An elections office that doesn't hold elections would fit right in with our schools that don't hold classes and our tourism authority that doesn't bring in tourists.

• "Pirates of the Caribbean" and a popular Korean soap opera will film here, but a new pilot for "Hawaii Five-0" may be shot elsewhere. And we wonder why kids are confused about geography.

• The state expects our work force and tax breaks to attract more film projects. One rumored production is a remake of "The Long Goodbye" based on Abercrombie's departure from Congress.

• The new Disney resort in Ko Olina will be named Aulani, which means "the place that speaks with deep messages." That's a lofty moniker for an outfit built on the nostrums of Mickey, Donald and Goofy.

• Honolulu police spent twice as much for security during President Obama's recent visit as the previous year. Mayor Mufi Hannemann was doubly determined to get by them for his photo op this time.

• A play about Obama's life called "Hope" made its debut. After the Massachusetts Senate election, the title was changed to "D'oh!"

And the quote of the week ... from Rep. Isaac Choy on the University of Hawai'i budget request: "If no more money, no more money." We've tried everything else, why not Zen legislating?