by Andrew Walden
Liliha, “the last of the old-time places on Oahu”, is being targeted by the pro-development Pacific Resources Partnership.
With all eyes on the Mayoral race, little notice is going to the money PRP is spending to support carpetbagger Takashi Ohno in the HD27 race. Their aim: unseat 10-year incumbent Corinne Ching whose efforts spearhead the successful preservation of Liliha. Ching, organizer of the annual “I Love Liliha” Festival, was among the legislators who successfully blocked the so-called “dirty dozen” anti-environmental bills in the Legislature last session.
(PRP money is also flowing to pro-rail council candidate Carol Fukunaga, facing a strong challenge from anti-rail candidate Sam Aiona for CD6 which includes Liliha.)
Of course is it harder to pave over a community if the residents maintain their historic properties and pride themselves on maintaining the ‘old Hawaii’ feel. Ching’s neighborhood preservation efforts, based on the volunteer work of homeowners and small businesses, just don’t fit in with any scheme to send in the bulldozers. PRP needs a malleable legislator they can control.
In one recent candidate survey, Ohno, who only moved to Hawaii four years ago, explains: “I am open to expediting our permitting and procurement procedures. In fact, I’d be open to expediting any other functions of government as well.”
Another difference between the two candidates is summed up in their biographical sketches. When asked to list community organizations of which she is a member, Corinne Ching responds:
“Chapter President, American Association of University Women, 1998-2000 Community Representative, Maemae Elementary School Community Based Management Council, 1996-1998 ASWA Senate, 1989-1991 Senator, Associated Students of the University of Hawaii Mentoring Team, Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii "America's Promise" Member, Caledonian Society of Hawaii Member, Catholic Women's Guild Member, Center for Arts Member, Chinatown Lion's Club Member, Chinese Chamber of Commerce Member, Community Coalition for Neighborhood Safety Vice Regent, Daughters of Hawaii-Historic Hawaii Foundation Member, Go For Broke Foundation Board Member, Hawaii Chinese Civic Association Member, Historic Hawaii Foundation Board Member, Lanakila Multi Purpose Senior Center Member, Education Committee, League of Women Voters President, Life of the Land Member, National Conference of State Legislators Member, National Organization of Women Legislators Board Member, Nova Arts Foundation, Iona Pear Dance Theatre Member, Pa'ani O' Punahou Member, Pacific-Asian Affairs Council Member, Public Urban Center Vice President, Save Our Beach Member, Swedish Women's Educational Association Member, Wong Kong Har Tong Auxiliary, Chinese Cultural Society.”
Takashi Ohno responds with just one affiliation--the group that parachuted him into Hawaii:
“Teach for America Hawai'i.”
PRP has burned several thousand dollars on mailers and canvassing workers, but the effort appears to be failing. Honolulu Weekly, October 24, interviews Justin Hahn, a former PRP canvassing supervisor:
Each day, Hahn oversaw between 25–40 canvassers making door-to-door rounds for I Mua Rail, whose mission, stated on its website, is “to reinvigorate support” for the controversial rail project. The canvassers, Hahn says, included union members paid $20/hr., and others, like himself, who earned $12/hr.
A graduate of UH Manoa, Hahn found himself supervising a motley and, at times, intimidating crew. Canvassers included an ex-con (“a nice guy, who told us he had served his time for murder, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing anything that he wouldn’t approve of”) and another individual who, “in front of the crew, threatened to assault me.” Like many of the canvassers, Hahn recalls, this individual came to work late and hung-over or on drugs, carried drug paraphernalia, and was unreliable. For union members, “that job wasn’t about working. It seemed more like it was the dole,” Hahn says. “We’d find them sometimes hanging around under a tree. I think that’s why they have [PRP-distributed] smart phones now, to track them,” he says.
While many canvassers turned in a desultory performance, dumping I Mua literature in the trash or leaving up to 20 circulars at one address, others were overzealous. Hahn, whose company cell phone number was listed in a folder carried by all canvassers, says he received calls from police, private security/neighborhood watch staff and residents themselves, who were distressed about canvassers’ appearance and behavior.
And true to PRP volunteers’ form, Ching’s campaign signs are being stolen and defaced:
Election Day is November 6.
Related: Pro-Rail PRP Pumps Money into Council District 6 Race