Hawaii Democrats elect progressive party chair

The Star-Advertiser’s Kevin Dayton provided the best wrap-up of the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s state convention, held in Waikiki over the weekend (“Isle Democrats rally for unity, pick new leader“).

The election of the party’s state chair was one of the key battlegrounds.

For the first time that I can remember, one of the candidates ran an email campaign soliciting support. I received several campaign emails this month from Jacce Mikulanec, a longtime activist in local Democratic circles. Mikulanec has served as president of the Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League and is registered as president of the Equality Hawaii Action Fund, a political action committee supporting “candidates who support equality for Hawaii’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families.”

It seemed to me that Jacce had a real shot at winning this election.

Also running were Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, executive director of the Hawaii Construction Alliance, and Florence Kong Kee, a UPW lobbyist and another longtime party activist and insider.

But in the end, the prize went to Tim Vandeveer, an environmental activist who ran with the backing of supporters of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

A quick online search turned up additional background on Vandeveer, who originally hailed from Texas. He’s been host of Hawaii Public Radio’s “Full Nelson.”

“I was raised on Willie’s music,” he explains in an HPR blurb about the program.

He worked for several years at the Turtle Bay resort on Oahu’s north shore.

A 2008 Honolulu Weekly story noted that Vandeveer “led Turtle Bay horseback tours for five years and was named Kuilima’s Employee of the Year in 2004.”

He was one of the hotel employees who opposed a massive expansion and became active in the Defend Oahu Coalition. He’s currently a co-chair of the group, according to its website, and president of the Defend Oahu Coalition Fund.

And Vandeveer was the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against American Savings Bank, which alleged the bank (owned by Hawaiian Electric Industries, parent company of HECO) processed debit card transactions in a way that maximized overdraft fees. The lawsuit was eventually settled last hear for $2 million, according to a story in Pacific Business News.

Vandeveer said he is going to put a priority on ending the Democratic Party’s reliance on corporate and special interest funding, which he termed “fundamentally wrong.”

Of course, the party in Hawaii has never been financially flush, so it’s going to be interesting to see whether Vandeveer can actually motivate individual members to contribute to the party, rather than directly to candidates.

I agree with comments by former Gov. John Waihee, quoted in Dayton’s story.

“I appreciate his ambition, I wish him well, but … ultimately, the party’s primary duty is to get people elected, so we’ll see how that agenda plays into that scenario,” Waihee said. “It’s a complex thing, because at the same time you need to raise money.”

Waihee said he hopes a Democratic president will be elected who will appoint Supreme Court justices who will help overturn the Citizens United ruling.

“That’s really what ultimately the big picture is about,” he said.

Another round of Kahala Morning Dogs

Today was a good day for dogs.

Photographs of our Kahala Morning Dogs, that is.

For one thing, we walked down the beach in the opposite direction from our regular route, and so we ran into dogs that we don’t see often, and at least one we hadn’t met before.

And I was primed for certain dogs. Pepper, for example. Pepper is typically in nonstop motion. Despite my best efforts, and many tries, I’ve still been in search of a good picture of Pepper. Today I had great luck, and managed to not only get a few good shots of Pepper, but a twofer in combo with Pup Tart.

The two of them are shown in this photo, below.

Just click on the picture to see more of today’s Kahala Morning Dogs.

Pepper and Pup Tart

DSC04839.jpg Cooper

Sunday morning on Kahala Beach

It’s expected to rain later in the day, but you certainly wouldn’t have guessed that when you walked out the door this morning.

It was a gorgeous morning, almost no wind, clear sky, bright sun, calm ocean, and a bit of surf breaking out on the reef.

Click on any photo to see a larger version.

Top photo: Koko Head and Koko Crater visible in the background across the bay.

Kahala Beach

2nd photo: The light in the shallow water had its own special colors.

Kahala Beach

3rd photo: This line of coconut trees along the shore have a bit of age, and have so far survived the clear cutting to make way for the Kahala Avenue mansions.

Kahala Beach

Bottom photo: Just to shatter the illusion of the simple tropical paradise, there’s graffiti sprinkled in a number of places along the beach and the public access ways (sorry about Ms. Autocorrect doing damage in the earlier version of that sentence).

Kahala Beach

We took a different turn today and walked towards Black Point from our start at the Waialae Beach Park, instead of our usual turn towards Wailupe. The beautiful morning brought a lot of dogs and their people out onto the beach. I’ll hopefully post a few photos of more Kahala morning dogs later today.

Highlights from Nixon’s Watergate tapes

“Believe it or not, listening to the Nixon tapes is fun.”

Okay, I admit it. That first sentence had me hooked.

It’s the lead to a story from the Center for Investigative Reporting, “Caught on tape – the presidential edition.”

The article offers a quick tour of selected highlights from the Watergate tapes, with brief descriptions and links to the chosen audio files.

There’s also a link provided to full transcripts of these and other conversations.

Have fun!

More souvenirs of Hawaii’s newspaper past

While sorting through another box of old folders and papers (one pile, trash; another pile, scan and trash; third pile, offer to other history buffs; final pile, keep), another unexpected bit of local history turned up in an old envelope.

Another remnant of Hawaii’s media history.

Recognize them?

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

They are pogs, the small cardboard pieces for the game originally played with milk bottle caps. It roared back into popularity in the 1990s, and the Hawaii Newspaper Agency, along with the old Star-Bulletin, got right into the spirit.

I’ve got eight of the dark rim version, and just two of the lighter, gray rim version.

I’ll split them into two sets, each with five pogs, including four of the dark version and one of the lighter design.

Free to the first two people who ask.