U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa held a town meeting yesterday (May 9) at McKinley High School in Honolulu where she answered mostly partisan questions regarding issues effecting Hawaii and the nation. Among the items brought up during the 2 hour question and answer session were the budget including funding for rail, social programs, and the military; the status of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, education, security, Hawaiian sovereignty and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Firing of FBI Director James Comey: Hanabusa would like to see a special investigative committee convened to look into the Comey case and reasons why the Trump administration took this action. She says the ball on this action lies firmly in the hands of the GOP majority in Congress.
Maybe so, but Trump took action to get rid of Comey because of his in-action on further investigation on the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Questions still abound about the President’s campaign connections to the Russian government if any. At worst the firing of Comey came at the wrong time. Democrats, some Republicans and the media are having a “feeding frenzy” on this one.
Rail: Congresswoman Hanabusa said that funding for Honolulu’s beleaguered rail project is in the budget. Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) still has to satisfy the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) with its financial plan update in order to get the funds released. The Hawaii State Legislature did not include additional funding for rail this session. The City and County of Honolulu may pass legislation to enable other funding mechanisms such as raising the real property tax.
The over-budgeted rail project is costing taxpayers at least $10 billion. Estimates could peg the final cost of building rail to over $13 billion. Debate has been renewed again on whether to stop the rail at middle street, tear it down or bear the additional cost of a build-out to its intended destination of Ala Moana Center.
As I have stated many times, I remain opposed to the rail. It should never have been built.
Budget: Hanabusa says funding for Planned Parenthood is still in, while the President did not get funding to build “the wall”. The budget process will go through the till again as the government gets closer to the October 2017 fiscal year deadline.
Abortion funding with taxpayer dollars should be terminated.
Sanctuary Cities: The small partisan crowd of about 60 attendees was definitely for the concept of “sanctuary cities”, something that is opposed by the Trump administration. The Ninth Circuit Court on Appeals has invalidated the President’s executive order on banning immigration from some Islamic countries.
Sanctuary Cities are not a good idea since they allow illegal immigrants to stay in the United States. What part of “illegal immigrants” do Democrats and other bleeding hearts do not understand. Illegal means not sanctioned by law. Drunk driving is illegal. Stealing is illegal. Rape and murder is illegal. They all have dire consequences if people do these things. Illegal immigration is the same thing. Break the law, suffer the consequences.
Education: Hanabusa fears that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will “destroy public education” because she is an advocate of school vouchers. I think school vouchers are a good idea because parents will be able to use their tax money to fund their children’s education in institutions of their choice.
Local issues: Audience questions also touched upon the fuel storage tanks buried at Red Hill (most tanks are okay except for one of them); emergency access through the Kolekole Pass road; climate change; the military and Hawaiian governance.
Rep. Hanabusa stated that her stance on the issue of Hawaiian governance (restoration of the kingdom, federal recognition, or nothing at all) is up to the community to decide. “There is no right or wrong answer. It is about the process.”
I am firmly on the side of keeping Hawaii a part of the United States the way it is. If this issue came up for a vote, the entire state, regardless of race would have to have a say in it. The old Hawaiian Kingdom was not based on a tribe, but was a nation that included everyone. Like the vote that authorized the Territory of Hawaii to become a state in 1959, a vote to dissolve the State of Hawaii or change its governing status needs to be decided by everyone living in Hawaii, regardless of race.
Another issue that got some discussion was the status of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The monument falls under something called the “Antiquities Act” under which the President of the United States can create national monuments on federal lands through proclamation. The Papahanumokuakea monument, which is a large ocean area in the northern Hawaiian Islands has been targeted by the Trump administration “for review”. Commercial fishermen and businesses are opposed to the expansion of the monument.
I think a review on this is a good idea. People depend on fishing industry to get us fresh, affordable seafood. Environmental regulations are frequently passed that disregard the cost to consumers, adding inconvenience and negatively impacting the economy.
Lastly two interesting things that I got from the meeting.
- When people contact congressional delegations from outside their state or districts, many of the email programs automatically reject communications from out of state residents. Kind of makes sense since contact forms on Congressional web pages often point to pre-built pages asking for your name and address.
- Like a true Democrat, Rep. Hanabusa advocated that attendees hold the current federal government majority responsible by participating in a so-called “organic movement” exemplified by the recent Women’s March. She said “stay angry”.