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Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Takamine Donors: A Road Map of Hawaii's 'Old Boy' System
By Andrew Walden @ 5:20 PM :: 7624 Views :: Ethics, Politicians

By Andrew Walden

“We paid good money for a Finance Committee Chair and all we got was a pudgy labor lawyer from Laupahoehoe.” -- anon

With Dwight "baby Tak" Takamine now unceremoniously booted from his seat as House Finance Committee Chair, some of his campaign contributors may feel that they aren’t going to be getting their money’s worth. Running unopposed in the November General Election, Takamine (D-N Hilo, Hamakua, N Kohala) received the predictable campaign contributions from unions. What may be more surprising to readers are the contributions he received from Political Action Committees (PACs) representing Hawaii big business. The list of donors reads like a who’s who of Hawaii’s business elite. Industries represented include: Tourism, land development, auto dealers, banking, utilities, agriculture and insurers -- all heavily regulated by the State. First elected in 1984, Takamine occupies the House District 1 seat first taken by his father, ILWU operative Yoshito "papa Tak" Takamine, some 48 years ago. He has not faced an election opponent in years. The close alliance between these heavily regulated businesses, which touch every person on these islands, and organized labor representing government employees, construction workers and tourism workers is a key reason for Hawaii’s lack of a fully developed two party system.

Hawaii government employee union officials, working to create the largest dues base by keeping taxes high and keeping employees’ pay low, have the same agenda as the large highly regulated businesses which dominate Hawaii’s economy. They fund the Democrat machine which, until the 2002 election of Republican Linda Lingle, for decades exercised sole control over the state’s largest employer -- government. In a society where the largest businesses were not indirectly controlled by the government through regulation, Dwight Takamine, one of the most anti-free-enterprise legislators in Hawaii would not likely be collecting money from business sources. But many of Hawaii’s largest businesses are as much protected from competition as they are saddled by regulations. Run by managers rather than stockholders, they are just as anti-free-enterprise as the unions. A competent competitor allowed into the Hawaii market could quickly eat into their profits. (Mesa Airlines’ Go! is now doing this to Aloha and Hawaiian and the Superferry threatens even more competition. Note the political efforts against Go! and Superferry.) On the other hand, business such as bio-tech, are threatened by so-called environmentalists, including some environmentalists supported by Takamine himself.** In response, they donate heavily to Takamine and other incumbents. This racket buys them some protection, but keeps Hawaii saddled with the machine. The list of Takamine donors is a road map to why the Democrat Machine was able for so long to make Hawaii a one-party state.

Information extracted from the 311 campaign spending reports filed by non-candidate political action committees (PACs) with the state Campaign Spending Commission (CSC) for the period ending September 1, 2006 shows:

    • From business Takamine received $9455. Not a huge amount, but donors included Alexander and Baldwin, Castle and Cooke, Maui Land and Pineapple, the Pineapple Growers PAC, and Outrigger Hotels’ PAC. From the banking sector, Takamine’s backers include Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian, Hawaii Credit Union League, and Hawaii Electric Industries (HEI), owner of American Savings Bank. Pending the resignation of Constance Lau, HEI officers currently comprise three of the five Kamehameha Schools Trustees.* Besides HEI, other highly regulated utility money comes from Hawaiian Telecom and from HMSA, seen by some as working to block medical innovation and competition in Hawaii, as demonstrated by the recent decision to block construction of a second hospital on Maui. Other donations came from Hawaii Biotech, the Red Hill Committee (closely tied to Hokulia developers) the Realtors PAC and Hawaii Dental PAC.

    • From unions, Takamine received $9099.06. Donors included government employees unions, HSTA, HGEA, UHPA and UPW. Other donations came from construction unions: Carpenters, Ironworkers, Laborers and Painters.

      In addition to money, unions’ reports to the CSC show where the machine storm troopers come from. Expenses for door-to-door solicitors, cell phones, receptions, travel expenses, polls, consultants, voter lists and other basics of political campaigning fill the pages of reports to the CSC from COPE (the AFL-CIO’s Committee on Political Education), Calvin Say’s Citizens for Responsive Government, Hawaii Democratic Party, Firefighters Union, and the ILWU.

      The same donation patterns repeat themselves again and again throughout a list of 12 highly regulated business PACs making large contributions to a wide range of political incumbents, overwhelmingly Democrat. The main exception is business donations to Gov. Lingle, though some appear to be donating to every single incumbent regardless of party. On the other side sixteen labor unions gave money to a wide range of incumbents, all Democrats, with almost no donations to Lingle. Very little money came from these sources to challengers, although several donated to the Democrat nominee in open-seat races and some money went to losing Democratic challengers. Almost no money went to Republican challengers or Republicans running for open seats. Whereas Democrat activists have formed several large PACs to funnel political money to Democrat candidates, there appear to be no equivalent Republican PACs of any size.

      Fallout from the Case vs Akaka Senate Democratic Primary race and the Hirono vs. Hanabusa Democrat Congressional Primary may be reflected in the committee ouster of Akaka and Hirono supporter Takamine. If this is a sign of change within the Democratic Party, it is slight change. More likely his removal is just a byproduct of infighting. Takamine at Larry Mehau Ranch rally for Akaka:

      As long as Hawaii’s economy is heavily regulated to prevent competition, the “protected” companies will continue to give money to the machine Democrats whose legislative votes provide that protection. For the citizenry, this means no second hospital on Maui, doctors leaving the state, limited insurance options and high inter-island airline ticket prices. It also means a never-ending stream of big-government boondoggles such as the Honolulu rail transit scheme or the Kau Spaceport (an old idea again being flogged by ex-Gov Ariyoshi) or the Tradewinds Veneer Plant planned for Takamine’s district, over the objections of local residents and far from the trees it will harvest (Tradewinds donated $500 to Takamine on April 13, 2006). These are designed solely for the purpose of vacuuming tax money out of the pockets of residents and tourists alike and placing that money into the pockets of the protected companies while creating more union jobs. It is for these reasons Hawaii is constantly bombarded with proposals for shoreline resorts to take advantage of the tourist tax potential of Hawaii’s natural beauty. It is also why Hawaii business regulations are among the most anti-entrepreneur in the country -- government-dependent businesses only are welcome here. In the background is the Department of Education, graduating thousands of students with no skills: suited only for entry-level employment in tourism or government, circumscribing the lives of an entire generation to feed the machine.

      With the election of Gov Lingle, business donors began to deviate slightly from labor. To bring about this little deviation, Hawaii was required to endure a decade-long economic depression in the 1990s while the rest of the world was enjoying the internet boom. If it took that much to budge the existing businesses to support Governor Lingle, it is not realistic to expect them to move further towards freedom without some unlikely further economic cataclysm. For the cycle to be broken, new political-economic forces will have to step forward and involve themselves in supporting candidates to change Hawaii’s socialist-controlled legislature.


        • Note: Readers of Hawaii bestseller, Broken Trust may note that Bishop Estate bizarrely chose to purchase the acreage of the defunct Hamakua Sugar Co in the 1990s and then plant it in eucalyptus trees. Keeping this land covered with trees and out of private hands helps to make sure voters in the center of Takamine’s district are union workers, not independent property owners. Former plantation workers in Honokaa now work in tourist hotels on the Kohala Coast. District 1 south of Laupahoehoe is now trending Republican as the new owners of subdivided C Brewer land begin living there.

        • *Note: Takamine backed the writers of the so-called Hamakua Agricultural Plan, released earlier this year, which calls for government to use eminent domain to buy up all the subdivided C. Brewer lands. Ironically Takamine’s Plan calls for the abolition of genetically modified (GM) agriculture, yet GM companies with business in Hawaii are among Takamine’s largest and most dependable donors.


          Hamakua Ag Plan:



          PAC income and expenses Jan-Aug, 2006: Elected Officials and their opponents CSC reports:

          Takamine Donors: Nov-Dec 2004 1st half 2005 2nd half 2005: 1st half 2006:

          HIGHLY REGULATED LOCAL BUSINESS: A&B: BoH: Castle & Cooke: First Hawaiian Bank Good Citizenship Ctte: HADA: Hawaii Credit Union League: Hawaiian Telecom Good Gov’t Club: HEI/ASB (KSBE): HMSA: Maui Land and Pineapple: Outrigger OEPAC: Pineapple Growers PAC:

          UNIONS: COPE (AFL-CIO): Hawaii Carpenters PAC: Hawaii Citizens Political Ctte (Electrical Workers): Hawaii Firefighters Assn: Hawaii Electricians: Hawaii Ironworkers: Hawaii Laborers PAC: HGEA: HSTA: ILWU: IBEW Donations: Operating Engineers PAC: Painting Industry PAC: Plumbers and Pipefitters: UHPA Donations: UPW PAC:

          OTHERS: Democratic Party of Hawaii: Citizens for Responsive Gov’t (Calvin Say): --- Anheuser Busch: Democracy for America (Howard Dean): Democratic Party Hawaii County: Dowling Co: Emily’s List (Pro-Abortion): Hawaii Biotech: Hawaii Citizens Rights PAC (NRA): Hawaii Dental PAC: Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce: Hawaii Medical PAC: Hawaii Optometric PAC: Patsy Mink PAC: Realtors’ PAC: Red Hill Ctte (Hokulia Developers): Stoebner (Honda Windward): Watanabe Ing Lawyers: Waimana Enterprises (Clayton and Al Hee): ---


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