Rep. Mina Morita's Blog


ICA Rules Hamman/Williams Not Legitimate Candidates for 14th District Race

Posted in Elections,Kauai by Mina Morita on October 24, 2011

Today the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals overturned a Kauai Fifth Circuit decision which allowed the Republican Party three additional days to field a “replacement” candidate (Harry Williams) when David Hamman supposedly “withdrew” from the District 14 State House Race to run for the Kauai State Senate seat.  The ICA ruled that Hamman was never a candidate because his nomination papers were not complete and should never have been accepted for filing.  This is an important decision for future elections to make clear that all candidate nomination papers must strictly comply with the law.

Nishimura v Williams – Decision

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I Miss Molly Ivins

Posted in Elections,General,Uncategorized by Mina Morita on November 1, 2010

I woke up this morning missing Molly Ivins.  I wish I could channel her right now to get her perspective on the absurdity of the 2010 political landscape.  But, she sums it up quite eloquently with this quote:

What stuns me most about contemporary politics is not even that the system has been so badly corrupted by money. It is that so few people get the connection between their lives and what the bozos do in Washington and our state capitols.

In my role as a “politician”, Molly Ivins grounded me because she always spoke the truth – that’s the power of a good journalist.

In this speech at Tulane University, Molly gives the most succinct civics lesson ever and her political commentary is probably more germane than anything you will hear tomorrow night.

Appointed vs. Elected Board of Education

Posted in Education,Elections,Legislation/Capitol,Uncategorized by Mina Morita on October 17, 2010

I am voting “yes” on the appointed school board question.  Hawaii’s families need to hold elected officials accountable for our public education system, however, under the current structure it is very difficult to hold anyone accountable.  We can’t say we hold our elected Board of Education members responsible because most of us don’t even know who the BOE members are and many voters don’t even vote in the BOE races.  At least with an appointed school board Hawaii’s families can point directly to the Governor and the Legislature.

Several weeks ago I wrote about what makes a great school.  Here is an excerpt from that post:

Since 2002 the Lingle-Aiona administration tried to peg school reform on one issue, locally elected school boards. The Chair of the House Committee on Education, Representative Roy Takumi, has studied the issue of school reform extensively.  What is clear is governance of a school system (local versus state board of education) has little to do with successful schools.

Throughout the country, successful schools have these common characteristics:  (1) Principals with effective leadership qualities, (2) Skilled and dedicated teachers, (3) Involved parents and active community support, (4) An Articulated Curriculum, (5) A Safe and Healthy Learning Environment.  Using this framework, I have supported legislation that brought funding and decision-making directly under local school control, worked to reduce class size, add more money for textbooks and modernize computers and technology infrastructure, tried to address the teacher shortage by providing fair compensation to retain and attract skilled and dedicated educators, established a Principal’s Academy to enhance leadership skills, established and adjusted the weighted student formula to adequately address a student’s special needs.

Today’s Star-Advertiser story on this issue sort of misses the point.  It’s not about the BOE, it’s about the best structure that can support transformation at the school level.  Yes, there can be bad, political choices made for BOE appointees but, hopefully, there will be checks and balances to minimize that possibility.  The Legislature tried to address this concern but Governor Lingle vetoed the bill that would have set-up the statutory framework for the selection/appointment process in anticipation to the possible passage of the appointed school board constitutional question.  House Bill 2377, which I co-sponsored, would have set-up a selection committee using the Hawaii P-20 Council to submit a list of potential candidates.  The Governor would have to select an appointee from this list of candidates who are then subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.  This process is similar to the Judicial selection process.

I cannot defend an elected BOE as a “democratic” process especially when voter apathy is so great.  No amount of voter education or money can “fix” this problem in a timely way.  The future of public education is at stake, the future of our children is at stake.  Democracy will not survive if public education is not our most important priority.  So please vote “yes” on the appointed school board question and remember, a blank vote is counted as a “no” vote.

Do I Have A Race? Apparently.

Posted in Elections,General by Mina Morita on September 7, 2010

The one question I repeatedly get asked when I am out in the public is the Hamman “filing” and “withdrawal” for the State House District 14 race which resulted in Harry Williams becoming my Republican challenger in the general election.  I hope the following explanation and the attached documents give a better understanding of why the Kauai Democratic Party filed a complaint.

The Kauai Democratic Party’s complaint simply argues the undisputed fact that Hamman did not sign his nomination papers in two places as required by law. (Verified Complaint)  First, Hamman did not sign the oath that he was a partisan candidate, i.e. that he was a member of the Republican Party.  Second, he did not sign the loyalty oath or affirmation. (Hamman Nomination Papers) However, last week Judge Randal Valenciano ruled (Judge’s Findings, Conclusions, Order) that when the County Clerk accepted Hamman’s incomplete nomination papers, he became a “candidate” for the State House District 14 race.  The decision was a disappointment because the law is very clear in stating that incomplete nomination papers are void and shall not be accepted for filing.

Here are excerpts of the Hawaii Revised Statutes that directly apply in this case:

§12-3  Nomination paper; format; limitations. (a)  No candidate’s name shall be printed upon any official ballot to be used at any primary, special primary, or special election unless a nomination paper was filed in the candidate’s behalf and in the name by which the candidate is commonly known.  The nomination paper shall be in a form prescribed and provided by the chief election officer containing substantially the following information . . .

((7)  A sworn certification by self-subscribing oath by a party candidate that the candidate is a member of the party;

and Chapter 12-3 ends with the following:

(f)  Nomination papers which are incomplete and do not contain all of the certifications, signatures, and requirements of this section shall be void and will not be accepted for filing by the chief election officer or clerk. (emphasis added)

There is another section specific to the oath or affirmation:

§12-7  Filing of oath. The name of no candidate for any office shall be printed upon any official ballot, in any election, unless the candidate shall have taken and subscribed to the following written oath or affirmation, and filed the oath with the candidate’s nomination papers . . .

Chapter 3-172-1, Hawaii Administrative Rules defines a “candidate” as follows:

Candidate means an individual who has qualified for placement on the ballot.

Without the required signatures and having withdrawn prior to the filing deadline, Hamman’s nomination papers should have been void on their face making Hamman unqualified to be placed on the ballot.  However, the Office of Elections used the “withdrawal” of the void nomination papers to give the Republican Party of Hawaii additional time to appoint Harry Williams as the “party candidate” after the filing deadline.

The Hawaii statutes allow for challenges to nomination papers (12-8, HRS).  However, the Judge’s ruling seems to made it impossible for this challenge and future challenges to occur, as the erroneous actions of the clerk’s office in “accepting” incomplete nomination papers effectively negated the mandatory requirements of the law.

So, yes, given the lower court’s decision, apparently I do have a race and I intend to win.

Race Update

Posted in Elections,Kauai by Mina Morita on July 22, 2010

Republicans named Harry R. Williams as the replacement candidate.  According to Derrick DePledge’s blog post, he is a Kapaa contractor.

Thanks for the e-mails, comments and phone calls I received throughout the day and the little chats while I was at post office and Foodland this evening.  Many of you have said, “It’s okay I know you will win.”  I really appreciate everyone’s confidence in my campaign and my ability as your State Representative.  I would have welcomed a race against a legitimate candidate, however, in this case there was no Republican candidate in the District 14 House race at the close of filing.  The Chief Election Officer misinterpreted the section of the law (11-117, HRS and 11-118, HRS) that deals with a candidate’s withdrawal, perpetuating this David Hamman fraud and scam.

At the time of the filing deadline (4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20), David Hamman was a candidate for the Senate seat, having filed his nomination papers for that race after withdrawing from the District 14 House race on Monday, July 19.  According to the Hawaii Administrative Rules, which governs the Office of Elections, Chapter 3-172-1, HAR  defines “candidate” as “an individual who has qualified for placement on the ballot.”  And, an individual is qualified only if he files his nomination papers in accordance with Chapter 12-6, HRS.  Hamman qualified as a candidate for the Kauai Senate race having filed his nomination papers for that race by the filing deadline.  The section of the law that the Chief Election Officer is relying on would apply only if Hamman was withdrawing from the Senate race.

Simply put, Hamman did not file nomination papers for the District 14 House race by the close of the filing deadline because he withdrew on July 19.  And, there was no way he could because he filed his nomination papers for the Senate race and a person cannot run in more than one race.  The Republicans did not have a candidate qualified for the ballot for the District 14 House race at the close of the filing deadline, therefore, no candidate vacancy exists to allow Harry R. Williams to run as a legitimate candidate.

Someone commented that it would be a waste of State resources to pursue this.  I was surprised by that attitude because that’s the same logic that proponents of the SuperFerry were using when people questioned and challenged the Administration’s interpretation of Hawaii’s environmental laws and the process.  And, you all know the outcome of that fiasco.