Sixty years ago, big money in the form of Hawaii’s Big Five corporations completely controlled Hawaii’s political, economic and social structure. Then in the 1954 election, for the first time, a majority of Democrats were elected to Hawaii’s territorial legislature. Dan Inouye was one of those Democrats. In 1954 the Democratic Party, strongly supported by unions, represented the interests of the common people. Today, unions and Dan Inouye have joined with big money, although the Big Five has been replaced with other large corporations. Their object in the Honolulu mayoral election was to defeat Ben Cayetano because he opposed the rail project. Big money spent lots of cash to defeat Cayetano, largely through their contributions of millions of dollars to Pacific Resource Partnership. Cayetano would likely have won if the election was based on a debate of the issues. Understanding that, PRP waged a malicious ad campaign against Cayetano, which did not address the issues, but instead used deception to attack Cayetano’s reputation. Caldwell didn’t say much about the issues except for making general statements about how he wanted the City to perform all of its functions and that he supported rail. He didn’t win on the strength of his campaign, [but] because of the vicious PRP anti-Cayetano campaign.
Some say that this mayoral election is the beginning of a new era in campaigning, that it represents the future of Hawaii. In reality, this mayoral election moves [us] back six decades–to an era when big money controlled Hawaii.
John Kawamoto Honolulu HI
After every election, there’s the same speculation: Will the candidates run again? [If not,] will they be missed? One of the most intriguing [considerations] is the next step for [Distr. 1 City Councilman] Tom Berg. Like him or not, one thing is undeniable: He’s not your standard Honolulu politician; He’s loud and he calls things like he sees them. I do not think Tom Berg is ever going to be universally accepted in Honolulu political circles for several reason, one being his willingness to put his own reputation on the line if he feels strongly about a particular issue. That tends to rub people the wrong way in Hawaii.
I think Tom Berg belongs in the media. He needs a place where a strong, informed approach to the issues is appreciated and encouraged.
Mike McFarlane Honolulu, HI