Lingle makes three-day Kaua’i campaign blitz

Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle is on Kaua’i for a three-day campaign tour of the island, and to open her Kaua’i headquarters.

On Friday, at a lunchtime speech in Waimea, Lingle spoke in support of keeping the Kaua’i Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea open, and in doing whatever was needed to keep Gay & Robinson’s sugar operation at Makaweli open.

On statewide issues, the Maui-based GOP candidate said that if she is elected, she will demand a complete audit of the state’s financial books, reduce reliance on special funds for funding state government and bring back trust in government.

Lingle also said she would protect Hawai’i’s agricultural industry, establish school boards on each island to improve education and create a committee to draft a “power sharing structure” that will result in cost-efficient and improved county and state government services to the public.

Lingle raised those issues during a gathering hosted by Waimea residents on the grounds of the Waimea Plantation Cottages.

As part of her election campaign, Lingle was to spend Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday on Kaua’i, according to Laurie L.K. Yoshida, Kaua’i’s director for Lingle’s campaign team on the island.

On Friday evening, Lingle was to attend a fundraiser at the Lihu’e home of Dan and Carol Mackey.

Today, Lingle has a full day scheduled with campaign stops that will include a tour of Kapa’a town, attending a luncheon at the Coconut Beach Hotel, visiting Koloa town and attending the Sunset Ho’olaule’a, or block party, at the Sheraton Kaua’i Resort in Po’ipu.

On Sunday, Lingle is scheduled to attend a fundraiser at the Po’ipu home of Bob Cohen and Mary Stanton and visit the Kukui Grove Shopping Center.

Lingle also planned to attend a fundraiser for Councilman Bryan Baptiste, a Republican mayoral candidate in this year’s Kaua’i election at the Kukui Grove Pavilion in Lihu’e.

At yesterday’s gathering attended by 200 people, Lingle expressed thoughts on what she said were key issues confronting Kaua’i and the rest of the state:

– For Kaua’i, she said would work to ensure the continued operation of the Kaua’i Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea, and put more emphasis on the maintenance of state parks rather than build new projects in them.

She also promised to protect access to the mountains, beaches and oceans.

Lingle also told Alan Kennett, president of Gay & Robinson, Kaua’i’s last remaining sugar plantation, that she would do what was necessary to protect Hawai’i’s two remaining plantations.

As part of its expansion plans, Gay & Robinson has taken over the lease of 4,000 acres in Kekaha formerly leased to Amfac Company before the company closed its sugar operations on the island.

Lingle also voiced her thoughts on what she said were pressing state issues.

– Fixing the state’s economy, which she said has been “meandering without direction” under Democratic Gov. Ben Cayetano.

“If we are to succeed, especially in a place like Kaua’i, where people value the environment, we are going to have to find better balances for projects,” she said. It is not a situation of the “environment vs. the economy; I see them working in tandem,” she said.

– Restore trust in government. She said it is “overwhelming” to see the number of elected officials “convicted, going to jail, being indicted, being under investigation, enough is enough.”

She said there are many “good people” running for office” and pointed to candidates for public office on Kaua’i this year who attended the luncheon.

They included Baptiste, council candidates John Barretto and John Hoff, Rosemarie Holt and Scott Sagum, and Jose Keamoai -Felix and JoAnne S. Georgi, both potential candidates for the 16th House District seat now held by Westside Democrat Bertha Kawakami.

Lingle said citizens like the Kaua’i Republican candidates “have a desire” just to serve the public.

Lingle lumped Republican Kaua’i Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, who attended the gathering, with those types of elected officials and commended Kusaka for her eight years of service to Kaua’i residents.

– Bring integrity back to government contracting.

Lingle said that, in some cases, contracted work at the Honolulu Airport was not done. In other work at the airport, “contracts were inflated and were handed over to construction companies that really existed on paper,” she said.

– Bring fairness back in the awarding of non-bid government contracts.

Lingle proposed increasing the number of people who sit on a government contractor selection committee from three to five. The two new committee members should be non-government employees with “relevant experience” in contract awards, she said.

– Reduce the number of special funds used by the government.

There are more than 300 of them, and they “equal more money than there are general funds. Well, that is backward,” Lingle said.

She contends special funds are unaccounted for and that “nobody knows how they are being used.”

“When the legislature looks at them and see they are dedicated for a certain purpose, they don’t really give them the oversight they deserve,” said Lingle in explaining why it might be difficult tracking the funds.

When special funds build up, they become “convenient areas for the legislature to grab money, like we saw with the hurricane relief fund,” Lingle said.

– Restore discipline in public schools.

In many schools, teachers are not given the authority and backup to maintain order in classrooms, Lingle said.

Also, situations where teachers spend 80 percent of their time on “three students” and 20 percent of their time on the remaining 25 students should be corrected, Lingle said.

“Its not fair to the majority,” she said. “It seems that too often our whole system is operated for the few and not for the many.”

– The state must “revisit” the Felix consent decree affecting children with special needs.

“It is an important issue to taxpayers who don’t have children with special needs and parents who have children with special needs,” Lingle said. “Nobody is happy” with the system.

– Neighbor island counties should have more say about their futures rather than be subordinate to the needs of O’ahu.

As a former mayor of Maui, Lingle said she understands the need for counties to decide what is best for them.

Doing so would allow them to become “true partners in the future of Hawai’i,” Lingle said.

This goal could be reached with the creation of a committee consisting of representatives from the state government, the counties, labor, business and residents.

The group would draft “a power-sharing structure between the state and county governments.”

The proposed committee could identity problems and address those that mayors of the four counties are very well aware of, Lingle said.

One long-standing problem deals with the state transferring assets to the counties but not funds to the counties to maintain them, Lingle said.

The power-sharing structure concept marks a change in the way government operates, but is needed, Lingle said.

“Just like in your own company, or in our home, when things change, you have to change the structure,” Lingle said.

– Creation of a governor’s advisory committee on all islands to “offer input on budget priorities” and appointments to state boards and commissions.

She said the appointment of people to such bodies has “been tightly controlled and secretive, nobody knows how those all come about. And I want to open that process up.”

– A cabinet that is representative of the diversity of the state.

“So when you look at a Lingle cabinet, you will see people from Kaua’i, the Big Island, Maui, because without that kind of representation at the highest levels of state government, you aren’t going to get the kind of regular and steady input you need.”

– Open up the appointment process for state boards and commissions.

Lingle said her form of government is progressive and embraces public participation.

A vote for her is a vote for “raising expectations” from government, she said.

For the past ten to 15 years, Hawai’i voters, she said, have “come to accept things the way they are” and have been convinced by politicians that if they want improvements, they would surrender “what is great about Hawai’i…that we can’t have both.”

“The next time somebody tries to convince you we can’t have improvements without losing our traditions or way of lie, just “Ask them why? Why would that be true. That is not logical,'” Lingle said.

Also attending the gathering were Carmen Mateo-Bostick, president of the Kaua’i Republican Party, and Betty Chandler, a past president.

Lingle’s campaign headquarters at 4272 B Rice Street opened officially Friday afternoon.

Staff Writer Lester Chang can be reached at mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 225).

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