State Convention +

This report is focused more on local, our convention, than national.  I began reporting as a prelude to the 2010 primary elections.  With all the good since the elections, I decided that while looking forward I would get caught up.  Not a public blog, this email is to Republicans and conservatives.  Feel free to forward this email, allow other to decide for themselves.  Discussion is good.  We’ll need the most informed coalition of right, center-right and center that we can build before the 2012 elections.  Previous reports are listed at the bottom.  Remember, it is not about the people, it is about the politics.

You call that fun?  I had a lot of fun at our State Convention.  If you haven’t been recently, come next year.  What we accomplished:

Bright and shiny.  Chang and Fukumoto were elected state vice chair for Coalitions and Coordinated Campaigns, respectively.  Having never served at the political party state- or county-level, both have the talent to be good party officers.  I assume they will not run for office in 2012 as we expect party officers to focus on the party.  Ward’s selection as Candidate Recruitment and Training indicates that the HRP Strategic Plan (I am told we will have one this cycle) will give priority to the state house, not the senate, local or national candidates.  Coluccio was Secretary and is now Vice for Community Service.  Makanani is Secretary.  If Makanani’s convention antics are what we’ve come to expect from our officers, Chang’s maturity and intelligence will greatly exceed our expectations.  Don’t know Dorn but she comes recommended by a communicator you know (Heck).  Dorn’s speech was strangely moderate in the room Kaauwai put together.

Badges?  We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.  Lance (didn’t catch his last name) took the microphone, his voice breaking, and told the assembly a ‘falsehood’ fed to him by someone who knew better.  The ‘falsehood’ (not even a half-truth) was an issue to some but to most it highlighted Lance’s attendance.  Having not performed due diligence, Kaauwai and Nonaka certified a 16 year old delegate.  To be a delegate, one must be a member of HRP.  To be a member of HRP, one must be registered to vote in Hawaii.  To register to vote, one must be at least 18.   UPDATE:  in another case of shirking responsibility, HRP contends that because our membership card does not mention an age requirement and the website requires an applicant to certify to being 18, signing up for party membership is confusing and ambiguous.  So, no harm, no foul in certifying our young Lance.  Huh?  What happened to reviewing each delegate’s status to confirm he/she is eligible be certified?  Party rules take precedence over membership card, website or even your co-worker’s opinion.  If HRP can’t accomplish this simple task (Finlay used to do this), Kaauwai needs to let the Credential’s Cmte do the job.  With the attention and intensity of a national convention, these ‘mistakes’ will be challenged next year.  We can do better.

We’re number 2!  Law prohibits political conventions from being a fund raising event.  However, reacting to Thomason’s plea with a good-sized calabash collection and some extra $5000+ collected in registration and meal charges (55% markup for the Sat evening meal), our convention is very likely to be HRP’s second largest fund raising event of the year.

Rules?  We don’t need no stinkin’ rules.  I am certain Lance is a nice young man, but he should not have been a delegate.  Notice that delegates were still being credentialed an hour after the convention convened?  When we figured out the Treasurer’s election would be contested, long-time Rules Cmte member Moore pointed out that ballots were to be returned to the ballot box by district chairs, not by the individual delegate and Moses (on stage in some never explained capacity) had to then lead the convention in a vote to suspend the convention rules that we had passed only a couple hours earlier.  Later, we debated resolutions which were brought forth by a Platform Cmte that had not reached quorum in their deliberations but we passed the resolutions anyway.  We have rules, let’s follow them.

We’re all here.  I thank Ward, Johanson and Fontaine for attending the convention.  The missing legislators had other engagements and may have wanted to put distance from the resos or from HRP.  A highlight was having a former Governor, former Lieutenant Governor, and former Congressman in the room for a part of the convention.

Speak up now.  Governor, Congressman and Lieutenant Governor gave speeches to rally the troops.  None of them addressed the rules changes or commented for or against the resos.

Money?  We don’t need  no … get the idea.  Treasurer Thomason and NCW Hellreich made clear that HRP is in trouble with $70,000 in Accounts Payable.  Many had no idea until Thomason’s report that HRP is broke.  HRP made $37k on LDD, instead of the usual 200k+.  At the same time fund raising failed, expenses continued to grow.  Someone proclaimed that HRP doesn’t “have a revenue problem, you have a spending problem.”  With monthly expenses higher than any time in the past decade and revenues lower than anytime in the past decade, I’ll go out on a limb and venture that HRP has both problems.

Compliance.  With Treasurer Klompus’ name on the blame line with FEC and CSC, she’ll keep an eye on the compliance reporting and challenge irresponsible financial management.  Sam Aiona’s nomination by Christian coalition chief Hashimoto was a pleasant surprise though Hashimoto and the convention were equally surprised when they found Aiona was not present.  Getting Klompus keeps Thomason and IMS involved.

“It’s not professional,…. just personal.”  Changing the rules to remove the previous chairman from the Exec Cmte turned out to be time-consuming.  Time allotted for debate, in what Kaauwai supporters expected to be a slam dunk, was extended, then extended again, then one more time and then a little more.  Opponents to the rules change spoke mostly to the principled argument against Kaauwai, Finnegan and Nonaka changing party rules to simply silence a sometimes-critic.  Supporters of the change admitted, in response to King’s motion to delay until 2013, that the rules change was solely to keep me from speaking out (against wasteful spending and a lack of fund raising by the current leadership).  My suggestion was, rather than to boot me, for Kaauwai and Nonaka to raise money and quit their wasteful spending.  Proponents for this rules change also researched how to remove Hellreich and Morioka from office.  Not a precedence – I heard that our house and senate leaders were once taken off the central cmte (back in the day) in similar circumstances.

We’ve been there.  Or not.  The convention cleaned up procedures and changed the date for the 2012 HRP Presidential caucus.  A confrontational Walden submitted the rules changes.  Proponents who had never been through a national delegate selection process and never attended a national convention wrote the change two years ago and tried to fix it this convention.  An equal number (well, a couple less because we lost the vote) who had been through multiple selection years, attended multiple national conventions and organized the previous successful delegations to the national convention were less confident of the proposal.  Where were these opponents two years ago when only I challenged the change (though mostly because it was not thought out enough to be placed in our rules)?  Opponents cited flawed process and procedures, and the costs (HRP pays, not the state), delegate selection, delegate attendance, and voting at the national convention.  Let’s hope Kaauwai and Walden pull it off.  Nothing gains national recognition faster for a small state than botching our national delegate selection or voting.  I hope this Walden-Wharton-Kaauwai-Nonaka group can successfully get our delegation to Tampa (they’ll get help) but when they make errors (see Badges? above) it is gives me concern.  Supporters – Kaauwai, Walden, L Smith – say it will be a huge boost to HRP membership, pay for itself, and make Hawaii more relevant in the nomination process.

Best performance.  Convention manager Klompus, if expenses in fact come in as low as forecasted.

Worst performance.  Whomever may have been Sergeant-at-Arms.  No one checked my credentials, no one kept non-delegates from the convention floor, no one brought order to the chaos of the Treasurer’s election process.

Answer the question.  Makanani announced that HRP is not in financial trouble and would raise funds to get out of trouble (notice the small but significant disconnect?).  NCM Morioka challenged “How much money have you ever raised?”  Makanani’s strong response was……a scowl at the NCM.

Hit the Easy button.  Rules chair Akase’s ruling that resolutions can be passed even though the resos were not part of the Platform Cmte’s report eliminates the need for Platform Cmte to consider resos, ever.  Platform Cmte failed to meet quorum (following the example of our Exec and State cmtes).  Hence, their ‘report’ was void and cmte chair Markham didn’t attend the convention.  Only one issue came up “in the normal course of other business,” that being Walden’s failed rules change to ‘force’ the legislature to change state law from open primary elections to closed.  By ruling that resos can be presented by simply having time on the agenda to consider resos, Akase allows future Cmte work to be halved.  Now, instead of Platform Cmte accepting, vetting, researching and formatting resos in advance of a convention, any delegate may just show up and present their reso.

Good riddance.  Not about me but about the noticeable lack of recognition given the outgoing Exec Cmte.  Granted, many of them did not attend or did not want the scrutiny.  Several, in the course of the convention, were never mentioned (Bryan, Leong).

Kudos.  To whomever thought to have smoothies served in mid-afternoon.  Though at a critical juncture in the proceedings, I’ll estimate 70% of delegates left the floor to grab a refreshing drink.

Out with the old and in with the new.  By not recognizing the outgoing Exec Cmte it made sense that in the self-inflicted confusion of an election in which the Treasurer, not party chair, was first named as a party officer, the incoming Exec Cmte was neither recognized nor took the stage for their swearing in.

“It’s the economy stupid.”  The convention passed pro-life/anti-abortion, pro-gun, pro-marriage resolutions and we passed zero resolutions concerning jobs, the economy or growth.  Closest we came were an anti-Jones Act and anti-anything related to the Akaka Bill (though not because of economic reasons) resos.  Did we miss the boat (or Super Ferry) this month?  Jobs, growth, the economy.

Polling.  I hope the media does not poll our legislators to ask how many support the passed resos.

Really?  Three times during the day, I was asked “Where is Eric Ryan?”  Really?  Ryan?  Actually, he is doing a good job as CoS for HNL Councilman Berg.  When he isn’t hitting me with his material, I wish him well.

Best hope for the immediate future, no contest.  Thomason and Hellreich announced the Capital Campaign to pay down mortgage on HQ property.  I am a member of the steering cmte.  This program alleviates much of a chair’s fund raising requirement (nothing can remove his responsibility) while securing our HQ for future campaigns, Republicans and voters.  This is worthwhile.  In Exec Cmte minutes, I referred to the opponents of CC – Kaauwai, Rodriguez, Sarmento, Hong, Nonaka – as acting ‘crazy’ to not appreciate this effort.  CC will raise funds for the HQ property and Kaauwai will have to only raise funds to reduce his incurred debt’s and pay staff salaries.  Next year candidates will vie for your support.  This year I encourage you to invest your funds in our Capital Campaign.  The funds must go to HRP-Capital Campaign, not to HRP.  If you want the contact info for your CC rep, write or call me.  UPDATE:  several sources, including a Kaauwai email, own up to HRP continuing to research the selling of HQ in order to buy a house or two as HQs.

We were the party of fiscal responsibility.  Was the disregard for business-supporting, growth creating resos was purposeful?  With HRP in debt and having to do work-around’s to meet mortgage payments this is not a good time to hit the dems on fiscal irresponsibility.

You don’t say?  In lunch line a woman from the north shore read my credentials and proclaimed “Nice to meet you.  You’re not a 60000 pound elephant in the room.”

Whip that elephant.  Several members took offense at the whips on the convention floor.  Makanani, appearing confused holding up “Yes” or “No” signs to tell delegates how to vote, did not offend as many as did the paid staff Executive Director Nonaka serving as a Kaauwai whip.  Your contributions pay Nonaka’s salary.

Always great to see you.  Aaron Johanson’s parents.  Ada Koenes.  Ed Gutteling.  Dave Hamman.  Marlene and Archie Hapai.  Congressman Djou.  Ted Hong.  So many more.

Great fun.  I enjoyed seeing and speaking with friends from previous campaigns.  I enjoyed the new faces.  I enjoyed hearing that some candidates were running for 2012 election and I hope they attend next year’s convention so we can meet them.  I enjoyed the excitement of the crowd as factions argued for their positions.  The debate is good.  The environment was similar, on a smaller scale, to when we had these same debates a decade ago.

Eating pie and having it, too.  A goal of mine, whenever on Kauai, was to enjoy a bowl of Hamura’s saimin.  This statement also serves as an apology for my hurried ‘aloha’ after adjournment.  Then, I carefully carried a Lilikoi Chiffon pie home to my family.  Even TSA didn’t mess with the pie.

The party’s over……done with convention, the new Exec Cmte met Thur.  Notwithstanding the four county chairs who had not before their March elections ever seen the HRP budget, the new cmte brings some bright new faces.  Four of the eight elected have not been privy to HRP’s budget.  I expect several members to be serious about holding leaders accountable.  Unfortunately, it detracts from their elected duties knowing that leadership doesn’t have their back.  While the threat of “If you don’t toe the line then you won’t receive HRP support” may influence officer-candidates, Klompus and Coluccio will provide experience to the Exec Cmte.

What you may have missed:

Think they met quorum?  Following our first meeting in 09, our Exec Cmte went 18 months without meeting quorum.  As our new Exec Cmte meets, they’ll learn of the HRP financial mis-management, Kaauwai and Finnegan’s out-of-touch-with-reality budgets, Kaauwai’s inability to raise funds and Nonaka’s out-of-control spending.  Pending the convention budget consolidation, HRP has a couple hundred dollars in federal funds, a couple thousand in state funds and $70 thousand in debt with the credit card bill, payroll, mortgage and monthly expenses all due.  Welcome to state-level politics.  If you haven’t seen my letters and email detailing the abuse, ask one of the Exec or Platform Cmte members for a copy.

County conventions.  No contested elections for county chair and the new leaders took over in March.  A couple have energy, a couple prefer to avoid HRP and each of the four should be appreciated for their willingness to attempt to do better than their predecessors.  None of the four are shy.  Counties will have to fill a fundraising void left by HRP.  County chairs are basically administrators, working between HRP leadership and district chairs (the hardest job in a political party is that of district chair).  Thank you to our legislators (Slom, Johanson) who attended the Honolulu convention.

Debt ceiling.  ‘The sky is the limit’ is an ominous rally cry for the incoming Exec Cmte.  HRP has increased its debt to $70000, up from 20-something thousand in January.  I provided on several occasions detailed analysis of HRP finances to assist our leadership and asked them to refute the dismal numbers.  They haven’t.  It is time for Kaauwai and Nonaka to act on our debt.

Reapportionment.  Nonaka touts one commission dem who has two decades of experience.  Our team is new to the process.  As of last week, still no one has called Baker to ask her experience on the previous commission.  It has been years since I’ve seen a new officer or cmte chair ask his/her predecessor for information.

Pay up.  The reason for HRP money woes is not, as surmised in a Walden article, that conservatives don’t contribute, in fact many have never been asked to donate.  It is because no one wants to contribute to a poorly run organization, the chair failed to connect with donors and the chair and executive director failed to control spending.  When donors buy into our philosophy, they want to trust that their funds will be used wisely.

That’s transparent.  If HRP continues to make ‘mistakes’ such as knowingly certifying underage delegates, giving false statements in the media and to members about plans to sell the HQ, falsifying budget entries to hide 60k in expenses and claiming 15000 new members then it will be hard to convince anyone to participate in what is perceived as an integrity-challenged organization.  When we are honest and transparent, people will join.

Charge that Hill!  Several district chairs are fighting back…. against us.  District chairs are pushing back against ex-Marine Rodriguez and his mandates to do better or go away.  One long-time chair and past candidate told me he has never met Rodriguez, has asked for a meeting and still gets only email edicts from the novice county chair.  Another excused Rodriguez behavior because Rodriguez has never been a district (or precinct) chair and has obviously never worked with volunteers.  Yet another received an email so scathing that he would not repeat Rodriguez’ words.  Following Gray as county chair means even one candidate recruited, one fundraiser conducted or one district organized is a success rate of 100%.  This tour of duty should be a slam dunk for Rodriguez.  Semper Fi!  (Disclaimer:  I love Marines almost as much as I do soldiers.)

We can make numbers say anything.  After the election Walden explained in exquisite (for us political junkies) detail how the 15000-20000 Kaauwai-recruited new members made an impact in the elections only to be contradicted by Kaauwai this month revealing that HRP gained only 1000 members.

Hawaii Republican Assembly.  Members of “the conservative arm of the Republican Party” received an email in which a leader (Smith) took responsibility for the actions of the organization.  No excuses, no blaming.  How refreshing.

Lincoln Day Dinner.  Lingle hammered Kaauwai at LDD saying that HRP should make members and voters comfortable with HRP, and Kaauwai’s letter to pastors did not.  Donors hammered Kaauwai at LDD with a net of $37k in our major fundraiser which usually nets 200k.  Members hammered Kaauwai at LDD with only 300 in attendance reflecting the impact of inflated ticket prices and lack of member support.  Must applaud that we had now-candidate Gingrich as key-note speaker.

Bad call.  HRP supported McDermott for City Council.  House minority leader Ward supported McDermott.  Tea Party supported Berg.  Everyone knew neither would win against the unions.  In late Dec, Berg won the special election.  Berg has the largest constituency of any Oahu Republican.  It was nice to have McDermott back in politics.

Apology accepted?  Ryan broke a story that HRP was bankrupt and was discussing selling or renting HQ.  Throughout Dec, the call went out for Ryan’s head – liar and all-around mean guy.  Kaauwai vehemently denied to the newspaper that there were discussions about HQ and even used the ‘liar’ word.  Nonaka followed in an AP article by calling Ryan a liar who didn’t know anything he was talking about and pledged that HRP was not broke.  The minutes of the Dec Exec meeting reflect, that’s right, discussion of selling or renting the HQ because HRP is broke.  Flash forward to the state convention:  the convention speeches, controversial HQ-selling reso that was pulled at the last minute and hallway discussions all dealt with the selling of HQ and HRP debt.  Ryan says neither Kaauwai nor Nonaka have apologized, yet.

Good news.  Thirteen HRP local candidates already running for 2012 is better than I recall in recent history.  If that number includes incumbents, not so.  Still, better more than less.

A comment on national.  While Republicans narrow (and enlarge) the presidential field and America learns more about Seal Team 6 than ST6 wants America to know, keep an eye on the media.  Japan, Osama, Israel …. the mainstream media and Obama are doing all they can to keep the economy and gas prices off the front page.
Another comment.  It is early to call but we are going to win the US Senate.  On the other hand, keep an eye on the House.  It’ll be closer than people think.  As Presidential campaigns get off to a slow start, is there anyone else besides me who appreciated Trump’s entertainment value and willingness to speak whatever may be on his mind?

Coalitions.  Tea Party Express issued their first endorsements for the 2012 primaries.  We’ll see if Tea in Hawaii challenges our incumbents and candidates.  Kaauwai needs to reach out to Tea and repair his damage from 2010.  Continued disrespect towards Tea leaders and continued non-support of Tea efforts will damage our 2012 chances.  Reviewing the Tabs of the SA poll, all our coalitions need some work.

More coming?  So far, the only Presidential action in Hawaii is the naming of Rohlfing again as state chair (or campaign manager, not sure) for Romney-Hawaii.  His first act may be to ask his national bosses for $5000 to meet the new HRP rule charging candidates to be allowed on our caucus ballot.

Focus.  The Republican National Committee plans to focus its resources on 13 states in particular for the presidential race……The top nine are states won by George W. Bush in 2004 and President Obama in 2008: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. “The next four,” as they are referred to internally, were chosen based on GOP performance in the 2010 midterms: Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. (National Journal, Apr 12)

Are You Watching?  The RNC, under Priebus’ leadership, is digging out of the $24M debt left by previous chair Steele.  Since the Jan election, RNC has killed 5M in debt and currently has 5M COH.

Blast from the past.  Maui Print Media from our 09 convention:  Kaauwai promised that a ”Republican hurricane is coming.”  Kaauwai said he would create a ”world-class” effort to get the party’s message out and respond to Democrats.  That message, he added, is centered around values that he claimed are ”under attack by the liberals.”  He said he wants the state party to welcome all viewpoints on contentious issues, even if he personally disagrees with them.  Some critics have worried aloud that Kaauwai, who has strong religious beliefs, would push the party too far to the right ideologically, and make it less attractive to moderate voters.  But in an interview, Kaauwai said he would not personally press for changes in the state party’s platform, even if he strongly agrees or disagrees with rule proposals.

This week.  From the RNC Chairmen’s meeting, Dallas.  The most important message, however, was that of Governor Barbour who told us that in this post-McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulatory environment, each and every state committee must become financially self reliant and self-sufficient, and that we can no longer depend upon the RNC to finance state-level efforts that are not directly connected to the defeat of Barack Obama and the election of a Republican president in 2012.

If you remember only one thing from this email: the current leadership needs to do better at raising funds, cutting costs and being honest with members and voters.  Let’s win elections in 2012!




State Convention +


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