as i laid in bed last night, hoping for sleep to come, (one thing) i wondered if i’d be able to sit down and write a post today. and what i might say.

well, it turns out, there will be a post. but, no, i’m not sure yet what to say about it all.

i’ve spent a fair amount of my day so far reading various commentaries, explanations about how we ended up here. i’ve been talking to friends and family commiserating and consoling.

i don’t know if i’ll be able to put into words how i think we ended up with trump as our next president, but i hope to.

jokingly, i’ve talked about moving. not to canada but new zealand (or london). but hawaii is my home. plus, it’s not in me to walk away, to toss my hands in the air and give up. the work is too important.

for now, let me say this. all you progressive warriors, you champions of working people, defenders of love and equality and fairness, take some time. crying can be good for the soul. read a book, watch a movie, take comfort in friends and family. go for a walk, swim in the ocean. recharge.

so, perhaps now more than ever, we need to suit-up, get together, organize, and work. 2018 isn’t far off and we need to get started.

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my good friend shawn asked me several weeks back to explore…

why politicians ought to consider pushing for a more medium platform rather than pushing far to one extreme or another. this may not be your belief, but it is an idea i’d like to see explored.

i’ve been ruminating off and on about his question since he posed it to me in a comment to another post. shawn’s one of the brightest people i know, but his framing of the question exposes a misframing of the issue i think he’s trying to get at.

most people see the problem with government and politics today as a question of the right and left not being able to get together on common ground to address important issues of the day.

i’d argue the problem is a result of the entire political spectrum in d.c. (and elsewhere) shifting to the right. in public political discourse, there is no “left” represented. instead, the “left” shawn refers to isn’t represented at all.

the public, i think, sees democrats and republicans arguing over how best to maintain the political and corporate elite while addressing critical issues affecting working and middle-class folks. seeing this battle play out via the news media pitting the middle-democrats and right-republicans against each other. democrats blame republicans. conservatives blame democrats and nothing gets done. the public is fed up.

they’re fed up because the system has stopped working for them. and they’re fed up because no one in government or politics is standing up to champion them first.

so, political debates today are framed with democrats on one side and the republican/tea-party on the other. the problem is the democrats represent “the medium platform” shawn refers to. and the gop represents the “right.”

you can look at any debated issue and see this played out.

the budget: in the last several years, there has been some press coverage on budgets proposed by the president, the republican leadership, and the tea party. did you know that in each instance the congressional progressive caucus (the “left”) also introduced a budget? my guess is no.

guns: republicans blame criminals, crazy people, and terrorists for gun violence. they advocate for fewer (or no) regulation or oversight of firearms. and they love conceal-carry laws. democrats, representing the counter position by the news media, want some increased regulation, generally oppose conceal-carry laws, and want to use the terrorist “no-fly” list as a basis for denying people the right to buy a gun.

there’s virtually no discussion about a broad ban on hand guns and assault weapons, purchase of ammunition, etc.

healthcare reform: there was obama’s middle position of public-subsidized private insurance versus…. well, the republicans didn’t have an alternative other than to let everyone fend for themselves. but the “left” position, where was it? it didn’t exist. neither politicians in d.c. nor the news media discussed a single-payer (medicare for all) option.

climate change: the gop, tea-party folks won’t even acknowledge that it exists. democrats decry republican denial on the issue, but obama has done little strengthen international agreements on emissions reduction. exploratory drilling in domestic waters has increased during his administration.

and both obama and clinton have, implicitly if not explicitly, been supportive of ongoing coal mining and “fracking.” and this year the planet reached the 400 ppm atmospheric co2 milestone for the first time in 4 million years.

again, no serious discussion of “left” solutions have received any attention or debate.

economic justice: democrats nibble around the edges. $12 minimum wage. paying lip service to organized labor in election years, while pushing (or quietly supporting) trade agreements that undermine labor law and hand huge concessions to the corporate elite. bailing out wall street and “too-big-to-fail” banks, while doing little to nothing to bail out working-class america.

republicans want everyone to make their own way, unless they’re filthy rich, in which case they get tax breaks and slack regulations.

only here, because of bernie sanders’ presidential bid, have we seen the needle move just a little to the left. $15 instead of $12 minimum wage. free college tuition, opposition to the trans-pacific partnership and strong labor protections. and these received minimum coverage during the primary season. but from where i sit, those are all squarely on the “left” of the political spectrum.

it’s not a “medium platform” that people are clamoring for. it’s not a “medium platform” that will realign american politics and institutional politicians. rather, it is a corrective shift back to the left that is needed.

this year we’ve watched as the gop has imploded under the weight of donald trump as their nominee. we’ve see anemic enthusiasm for hillary clinton among democrats (except as an alternative to trump). one article i read referred to this year’s presidential race as an “unpopularity contest.”

from the beginning, you had donald trump (and ted cruz) representing the far right. you had hillary clinton representing the center. you had bernie sanders (and jill stein) representing the left.

network news media was basically all trump all the time, because he was so “entertaining” hillary received little coverage because it was just a given that she was going to be the democratic nominee. and bernie only seemed to receive coverage when the media covered an over-flowing-crowd event, or commented on his record-breaking fundraising. his issues were cast aside as crazy or so far afield as to be barely worth mentioning.

so, the problem with american politics isn’t an uncompromising left or right. the problem is there’s no one representing the left anymore. they’ve all been squeezed out by disappointing corporate moderates and right-wing… racist-fascists.

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apologies for today’s late-afternoon post. while brainstorming topics for this post earlier, i kept getting side-tracked.

with a lack of anything better, i thought i’d share what i’ve been doing today: collecting and reading various news articles and reports on the benefits of increasing the minimum wage. so far, i’ve identified and begun to read through about 200 pages of studies and policy briefs.

by the time i decide to draw the line on resource collection, there’s no telling how many hundreds, or even thousands, of pages i will have identified as necessary reading.

more details on this effort as we get closer to opening day….

my problem with all this reading, though i find it interesting and useful, is that my brain has an annoying habit of getting drowsy whenever i try to sit and read. anything.

i’ve poked around online looking for solutions, but the only useful information, advice, i’ve found is not to read in bed. the idea being to disassociate reading from bedtime. it makes sense and has helped a bit, i still find i can’t sit and for any stretch without dozing off.

with so many pages to read on the minimum wage, not to mention a potential graduate school course load not too far off, i’m wondering if anyone else has this experience. if so, what if any steps have you taken to address this annoying, seemingly uncontrollable habit?

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first thing’s first; i voted today!

i love “going to the polls”. i do walk-in voting. there’s just something so satisfying about standing in the booth, surrounded by others fulfilling their civic duty just like me, that i enjoy.

anyway, on to two news stories that piqued my interest (ire?) today.

the first is one with the headline, Breaking: Megyn Kelly is Supporting Hillary Clinton For President, Civil War At Fox News. i’ve never heard of this news site before, but the headline was provocative enough for me to check out. here’s the bit that bothers me:

Megyn Kelly and Trump have a long history of hating each other – and it’s obvious that by denouncing Trump in everything she does, it’s de facto support of Hillary Clinton, simply by default. By attacking Donald Trump on her show, she is directly supporting Hillary, either way you look at it.

its that simple?

this version of the story strikes me as “click-bait”. i find it poorly written and even more poorly conceived.

the only thing that’s “obvious” to me is that she’s disturbed by Trump and his candidacy, both as a conservative and as a woman.

that the mainstream news media has treated this campaign as a circus, or a school yard fight is a travesty. but now that trump is so close to stepping into the white house, pretty much everyone with any sense (or moral compass) is freaking out.

and that’s all i’ve seen in the handful of video clips of megyn kelly’s coverage of trump. she’s been challenging trump’s credibility and practicality as the gop nominee. that, to me, doesn’t equate to support of clinton.

what it is, to me, is the smallest sign of a “journalist” (i’m not sure i’d call her one) doing her fucking job. it is the new’s media’s job to be critical. to challenge standing assumptions that may not prove true. to point out flaws in political logic. and to show when something, or in this case, someone would be a terrible, terrible, terrible thing for this country.

a quick google search found other references to the exchange between hannity and kelly. not one among the main news sites came to the conclusion that kelly was a trump supporter. they all, accurately i’d say, refer to hannity’s comments as what they are, an accusation.

facebook can be a great news aggregator, but we need to view the things we see with skepticism. if a story sounds strange, unlikely, or too good to be true, look for other credible sources. don’t just repost it.

the second story, in a lot of ways, is far more disturbing.

the senate is contemplating taking a stand against any clinton nominations to the supreme court (or any other?).

while browsing news headlines over lunch, i came across this one: This Could Be The Beginning Of The End Of The Supreme Court As We Know It.

the gist of the article is that the cato institute says the senate is well within its constitutional right to never hold hearings on or confirm another supreme court nominee ever again.

the libertarian (and in this context constitutional constructionist) cato institute, it should be noted, is a creation of the koch brothers. so, you might expect this kind of position from them.

i tend to take the huffington post with a grain of salt, as their reporting strikes me as hit and miss, occasionally sensationalist, and typical of mainstream news media. still, this is a concerning claim from the cato institute and one that comes just days after senator mccain said as much would be the case should clinton win.

on the other hand, i found another article on the same subject that suggests an equally radical solution for clinton and the democrats: appoint without confirmation. its radical and, at least for me, completely unheard of.

but this is what at least one progressive lawyer and national common cause board member is suggesting should the senate continue to shirk their constitutional responsibility. i recommend reading the while article, but here’s the core point, i think:

The Constitution glories in its abilities, however, and it is possible to read its language to deny the Senate the right to pocket veto the president’s nominations. Start with the appointments clause of the Constitution. It provides that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint… Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.” Note that the president has two power: the power to “nominate” and the separate power to “appoint.” In between the nomination and the appointment, the president must seek the “Advice and Consent of the Senate. What does that mean, and what happens when the Senate does nothing?

the common knowledge has always been that the president cannot appoint without the “advice and consent of the senate.” the question here is an interesting one. at least the author seems to believe that if the senate chooses not to act, the president has nonetheless met his constitutional obligation to present the nomination to the senate. why should the president, the supreme court, and arguably our democracy suffer if the senate refuses to “advise and consent?”

It is altogether proper to view a decision by the Senate not to act as a waiver of its right to provide advice and consent. A waiver is an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege. As the Supreme Court has said, “‘No procedural principle is more familiar to this Court than that a constitutional right,’ or a right of any other sort, ‘may be forfeited in criminal as well as civil cases by the failure to make timely assertion of the right before a tribunal having jurisdiction to determine it.’”

its an interesting interpretation of the constitution. one that certainly differs from that of the cato institute’s view.

not being a legal scholar of any kind, i have no idea how it would play out, but it’d be interesting (and possibly entertaining) to watch play out.

taking this course of action, obama or, should she be elected, clinton, would be a bold step to rebalance the checks and balances of our democracy. any such action would certain wind up in court, but that’s ok with me. i’d like to see democrats take a stand and call the republicans on their nonsensical bullshit.

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here’s the last 10, as promised, continued from a previous post.

Amendment #11
Should an approval process and an advisory commission for Clean Water Natural Lands Fund projects be establish in the Charter?

Present Situation: An advisory commission and the approval process for expenditures from the Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund are not established in the Charter.

If Proposal Passes: This proposal would establish an advisory commission and the review and approval procedures with respect to the Clean Water Natural Lands Fund.

wow. like too many of these, the information provided by the charter commission… sucks. no back ground, no practical impact information.

the clean water and natural lands fund is meant to “provide for the purchase of or to otherwise acquire real estate or any interest therein for land conservation in the city” for conservation, preservation, or public recreation and education.

the amendment, it sounds like, would allow the city to use the fund to fulfill the mission of the fund without itself having a stake in or purchasing the land. i’m not sure how i feel about that.

if the city is going to use public moneys to preserve important lands, it should have a stake in the property to ensure proper stewardship and have a say in the future of the property.

i’ll likely vote “no” on this one.

Amendment #12
Should all boards and commissions, except for the Board of Water Supply, the board for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) and any board or commission mandated by state or federal law, be reviewed periodically to determine whether they should be retained, amended or repealed?

Present Situation: Boards and commissions are not evaluated to determine if they are fulfilling their purpose to serve a public interest or goal.

If Proposal Passes: The City Council would periodically evaluate all boards and commissions, except the Board of Water Supply, the board for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) and those boards and commissions mandated by state or federal law, to determine whether they should be retained, amended or repealed.

given that the city council already has the authority to review boards and commissions, i’m not sure this is necessary. that it excludes HART is telling, though i’m not sure what it’s telling.

there was an attempt earlier this year to eliminate the neighborhood board commission, which was met with strong opposition from the public. this might be an attempt to pursue that move from another angle, but it’s hard to say.

either way, this one seems unnecessary to me. i’ll be voting “no”.

Amendment #13
Should the Grants in Aid Fund be the sole source (with certain designated exceptions) for city-funded grants to federal income tax-exempt nonprofit organizations that provide services to economically and/or socially disadvantaged populations or that provide services for the public benefit in the areas of the arts, culture, economic development or the environment?

Present Situation: City-funded grants to nonprofit organizations are awarded by city departments and agencies through their own review processes. The City Council awards city-funded grants to nonprofit organization for specific purposes, separate from the Grants in Aid Fund. Grants awarded by the City Council from the Grants in Aid Fund are specifically limited to federal income tax-exempt nonprofit organizations that provided services limited to economically and/or socially disadvantaged populations or that provide for the public benefit in areas of the arts, culture, economic development or the environment.

If Proposal Passes: With certain exceptions, the Grants in Aid Fund would be the sole source of city-funded grants. These grants may be awarded only to federal income tax-exempt nonprofit organizations providing services to economically and/or socially disadvantaged populations or for the public benefit in the areas of the arts, culture, economic development or the environment. The Grants in Aid Advisory Commission would provide recommendations based on these limitations and the City Council would continue to determine which organizations would receive such grants and the amounts of the grants.

currently, there are basically two ways to receive a GIA from the city: go through the formal vetting process, or get a council member to include the funds in the city budget separate from the GIA fund.

i am very sensitive to the idea of public moneys going to private business, even nonprofits. but i understand most people don’t completely agree with me.

in the case of this proposed amendment, at least the process would be more restrictive. all GIA applications would go through the commission with recommendations to the city council and grants could only be awarded out of the fund.

i’ll vote “yes”.

Amendment #14
Should the deadline to hold a special election to replace the mayor, prosecutor or council members be extended from 60 to 120 days, and should the City Council be able to appoint a temporary member until a special election is held?

Present Situation: The time provided for special elections by the Charter is insufficient to meet the requirements of state law. When a council member leaves office midterm, there is no provision for appointing a temporary replacement.

If Proposal Passes: The scheduling of city special elections would be in compliance with the state law, and the City Council would be able to appoint a temporary replacement council member when the vacancy is for an unexpired term of one year or more. If the City council does not name a successor within 30 days of the vacancy, the mayor would make the appointment.

this one seems pretty straight forward to me. i’ll be voting “yes”.

there doesn’t seem to be any real opposition to the proposal. in fact, no testimony in opposition was given. giving the office of elections and the city clerk more time to hold the special election is a good idea and allowing a temporary appointment to be made in the case of a mid-term vacancy ensures that those residents have representation on the council until a special election is held.

Amendment #15
Should the term limit for the prosecuting attorney, the mayor and the councilmembers be three consecutive four-year terms?

Present Situation: The mayor and the councilmembers are limited to two consecutive four-year terms and there is no term limits for the prosecuting attorney.

If Proposal Passes: The proposed amendment would establish uniform term limits of three consecutive four-year terms for the prosecuting attorney, the mayor, and the councilmembers. Current office holders serving a four-year term (first term) and running for re-election in 2016, if re-elected (second term), would be eligible for one more four-year term in 2020 (third term). New office holders, and any persons filing out the remainder of someone else’s four-year term, if elected in 2016 (first term) would be eligible for two more terms in 2020 (second term) and 2024 (third term). Current office holders serving a four-year term (first term) but not running for re-election until 2018 (second term) would be eligible for one more four-year term in 2022 (third term).

personally, i don’t have strong feelings about this one, but will likely vote “no”

i am, i suspect, in a very small minority of people who don’t support term limits — i can talk about that another time — and while limits already exist for the mayor and council members, this would create a term limit for the prosecuting attorney.

since the term limit already exists for the mayor and council members, i don’t see any reason to extend it. and i certainly don’t agree with creating a term limit for the prosecuting attorney.

Amendment #16
Should certain city departments be responsible for their own program planning and small infrastructure design and construction projects, and should the powers, functions, and duties of the Department of Environmental Services be updated and expanded to emphasize resource recovery and include the planning, engineering, design, and construction of all of its projects?

Present Situation: All city design and construction projects are currently the responsibility of the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), regardless of size. This broad responsibility requires DDC to use its limited resources to work on small construction projects that could be done by the departments responsible for the infrastructure. The charter authority for planning, engineering, design and construction of the Department of Environmental Services projects resides with DDC.

If Proposal Passes:
– DDC would direct its resources to major projects, while the departments of Enterprise Services, Environmental Services, Facility Maintenance, Transportation Services, Information Technology, and Parks and Recreation would be responsible for their own program planning and infrastructure projects of limited size and complexity and would not be dependent upon DDC for such work.

– The powers, duties, and functions of the Department of Environmental Services (ENV) would be further updated and expanded, to emphasize resource recovery, including the planning, engineering, design, construction, and improvement of all of ENV’s wastewater and solid waste systems projects, and incorporate other provisions that more completely reflect the department’s current activities.

while (i think) i like the sound of the department of environmental services emphasizing resource recovery, the rest of the amendment sounds completely unnecessary. it would, add inefficiencies and duplicative work throughout city government.

i’ll be voting “no”.

Amendment #17
Should the mayor have the authority to delegate the signing of documents to certain other city officers?

Present Situation: The mayor signs a significant number of documents that require execution by the city, as required by the Charter. Many of these documents are recurring or involve business decisions that relate to routine or ordinary city operations.

If Proposal Passes: The mayor would have the authority to designate the managing director and deputy managing director to sign instruments requiring execution by the city. The mayor would also have the authority to designate administrative head of an executive department or office to sign instruments requiring execution by the city that affect the administrative head’s respective department or office.

i’ll vote “no”.

it sounds to me like the mayor may not actually like the work of being mayor. or that it’s getting in the way of the “fun stuff,” whatever that may be.

i’d be supportive of some provision allowing for appointment for limited signing authority, say when the mayor is out of town, ill, etc. but this amendment goes too far and doesn’t seem to have any limit.

as they say, “the buck stops here,” and the mayor should be doing this work unless otherwise unavailable. i think this amendment could also create problems down the road along the lines of some scandal the mayor could simply say he didn’t know about because he wasn’t the one who “signed it.” bridgegate comes to mind.

Amendment #18
Should the Fire Commission be expanded from five to seven members, and should the fire chief’s powers, duties and functions be updated to reflect current services?

Present Situation: There are currently five members on the Fire Commission. The powers, duties and functions of the fire chief including fire fighting and rescue work, responding to emergencies in hazardous terrain and on the sea, providing emergency medical care, maintaining and supervising a force of fire-fighting personnel, monitoring the construction and occupancy standards of buildings for the purposes of fire prevention, and providing educational programs related to fire prevention.

If Proposal Passes: The number of members of the Fire Commission would increase to seven members and the powers, duties, and functions of the fire chief would be expanded by adding new services, including education programs for life safety, and investigation of fires and explosions for cause and origin, as well as adding personnel for emergency response, reviewing construction plans and inspecting buildings to prevent fires.

i’ll vote “no”

this one is a combination of two proposals. they should have been kept separate.

i don’t have a problem with updating the job description of the fire chief to reflect real changes in what is being done. what i don’t understand is the move to increase the number of commission members. there’s some suggestion the move is a response to the commission currently have problems meeting quorum, but i don’t see how adding members will solve that problem. if the fire commission can’t make quorum with five members, i don’t see how they expect to do so with seven.

Amendment #19
Should the requirement be repealed that no more than five of the City Council Reapportionment Commission’s nine members be from the same political party?

Present Situation: The City Council Reapportionment Commission determines the boundaries of each City Council district. The City Charter limits the number of members of the Commission to no more than five members from the same political party.

If Proposal Passes: Appointments to the City Council Reapportionment Commission would be made without limits based on party affiliation.

i had to ponder this one for a bit, but i’ll be voting “yes”.

opponents have raised the specter of gerrymandering as a negative consequence should this amendment pass, but i just don’t see it. yes, nationally, gerrymandering has been a serious issue for some time and is one of root causes of the disfunction of our federal government.

that’s the case, though, because nationally we have a government comprised of two political parties. the same isn’t true of the city council. candidates run unaffiliated and the leadership structure of the city council isn’t dependent on one party holding a majority or the other.

even if democrats were to use the elimination of the party affiliation limits to their advantage, i cannot foresee how it would affect the makeup of the council in any negative way. maybe political ideology associated with one party or another would have greater influence in a particular district as a result of gerrymandering, but i’d say that’s already the case in the current map.

i should disclose i am an officer in the democratic party of hawaii. that affiliation, though, hasn’t impacted my position here….

Amendment #20
Should the Charter be amended for housekeeping amendments (i) to conform to current functions and operation, (ii) to conform to legal requirements, (iii) to correct an inadvertent omission, and (iv) for clarity?

(a) Require the books and records of all city departments to be open public inspection;
(b) Require the Department of the Corporation Counsel to update the Charter by July 1 of the year after the election at which the Carter amendments proposed by the Charter Commission are approved by the electorate;
(c) Require the Charter Commission to submit amendments to the Office of the City Clerk five working days before the deadline for ballot questions to be submitted to the state Chief Election Officer;
(d) Require that all written contracts of the Board of Water Supply and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation be approved by the Department of the Corporation Counsel for form and legality; and
(e) Require that the city centralized purchasing practices conform to the state procurement code.

Present Situation: (a) The Charter excludes records of the Honolulu Police Department and the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney from public inspection, although state law requires open records;
(b) The Department of the Corporation Counsel does not have a time requirement to prepare updated editions to the Charter;
(c) The Charter Commission is required to submit amendments to the Office of the City Clerk any time before September 1 of the year when amendments will be placed on the ballot.
(d) The Board of Water Supply and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation are not required to obtain approval on written contracts from the Department of the Corporation Counsel with regard to form and legality; and
(e) Certain Charter provisions do not conform to state procurement code.

If Proposal Passes: (a) The Charter would be amended to permit the public inspection of city books and records, including those of the Honolulu Police Department and the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney and be consistent with state law;
(b) An updated edition of the Charter would be published by July 1 of the year after the election at which proposed amendments approved by the Charter Commission, are approved by the electorate;
(c) The Charter Commission would submit the proposed Charter amendments to the Office of the City Clerk five working days before the state deadline;
(d) The Board of Water Supply and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation would be required to obtain approval from the Department of the Corporation Counsel on all written contracts, with regard to form and legality;
(e) The Charter would require the city to follow the state procurement code.

i’ll be voting “yes”.

none of these provisions seem controversial and there was no public testimony in opposition.

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