by Andrew Walden
There’s a reason why Hawaii Democrat reporters never interview Neil Abercrombie verbatim. Maui Time did one last summer and we learned that Abercrombie thinks “marijuana should be utilized” and the TEA Party is led by “sociopaths”. The LA Times and NY Times interviewed Abercrombie December 23 and 24 and we learned that fighting “Birthers” will be a “top priority” of the Abercrombie Administration. But even with Jerry Burris carefully choosing which quotes to use in a December Hawaii Business magazine article, enough of the real Abercrombie comes through to add in context and tell the story. Burris writes:
…Abercrombie has been a good friend of the Hawaii economy through his work on military appropriations in Congress – the hundreds of millions of dollars spent here on military housing construction is just one example….
That’s a crass reference to the Hunt Building Company. OpenSecrets.org reports that El Paso, Texas-based Hunt Building Company was Abercrombie’s fourth largest source of campaign cash in the 2007-2008 Congressional election cycle. People tied to the El Paso, TX company contributed $13,800 to the Honolulu Congressman in 2007-08. Since 2002, Hunt has contributed at least $32,500 to Abercrombie’s Congressional campaigns. CEO Woody Hunt also contributed $6000 to Abercrombie's Gubernatorial run.
Hunt renovated the 1400-home military/civilian Iroquois Point housing development in Ewa Beach, Oahu at the mouth of Pearl Harbor. The company has an entire Hawaii Division building “The Waterfront at Pu`uloa” on Oahu and “Palamanui” and “Kakaeloa” on the Big Island.
On its website, Hunt Building describes itself as “one of the nation’s leaders in military housing, specializing in turnkey design-build services through traditional military construction (MILCON) programs, and the military’s private/public ventures (PPV) process.”
Abercrombie’s 2009 effort to push through Congress a $10 billion dollar Guam military base construction scheme could have been immensely beneficial to Hunt—at the taxpayers’ expense. $10 billion is about $30 from every man, woman, and child in America handed over to Abercrombie’s multi-billion dollar developer buddies.
In off the record conversations, business leaders expressed concern—even fear—about what Abercrombie might do if elected. Their focus had been less on the specifics of his platform than on how he might treat the business community.
Abercrombie’s response? Hawaii business leaders have nothing to fear and if they think otherwise they are just ignorant knuckle dragging Neanderthals. Says Abercrombie:
“I think it’s clichés…. I think a lot of this is the usual mix of ideological and political rigidity that doesn’t have much to do with the electorate out there.”
Clichés? Ideological and political rigidity? Of course Neil “I am not a socialist” Abercrombie is unwittingly describing himself here. But look at the message he is delivering. “(It) doesn’t have much to do with the electorate” means: “I don’t have to care what you think because I will get reelected anyway. And since I can get reelected without satisfying you, I don’t need to be concerned about you rigid ideologues with tiny cliché-ridden brains.”
“I’m going to be on offense. I’m not about to apologize to anybody.”
“We’ve always had an ability to develop capital beyond a subsistence level” he says. (Subsistence level?) But along with outside money comes some danger, he says. He cites examples in the hotel industry where outside investor groups have come in, “sucked all the equity out of them, leveraged them and then, as far as they are concerned, will go on to the next business.”
Hunt Development is good because they contributed “capital” to my campaigns. Some other businesses realized what is going on around here and did what comes naturally, they got their money out and left. Obviously they are the problem, not me. And my buddy, Broken Trustee Dickie Wong, who “sucked equity” out of Bishop Estate? He is an example of “people coming together.”
“From a business perspective, I am looking out for Hawaii’s interests, but outside capital has to come in and show a little aloha. All we are looking for is a little respect. I have met with investors from outside and they want to be part of the community in a proper way. As long as I am in charge, that is what will happen.”
"Aloha" means "cash." "Respect" means "contributions." "Be part of the community" means "contribute to my campaign".
Contrast Abercrombie's “I am in charge” to another line from Abercrombie's campaign:
“Hawaii’s economy is not a business enterprise for a few executives in power to oversee.”
In other words, Hawaii’s economy will not be overseen by you, “I am in charge.” You take orders and make contributions and everything will be OK. Otherwise I will “suck out your equity” and make you leave.