Honeymoon Time For Our New Guv

Gov. Neil Abercrombie got right down to business following his inauguration ceremony. It was a work of art in the world of politics, much like he is. With the lights and cameras flashing and clicking, Native Hawaiians dressed in black and carrying signs of protest, the new governor wearing a pink shirt and necktie, humbly thanked the crowd and everyone in his immediate family and campaign headquarters.

He promised he would hit the ground running, and he wasn’t kidding. He held his first news conference after being sworn in and announced he was releasing money for public education and social service programs. He released $67 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund to restore 17 instructional days for public schools. In addition, he released nearly $24 million from the Rainy Day Fund to help 15 social service programs.

Everyone at the inauguration ceremony was happy – there were hugs, handshakes and kisses for everyone in attendance. It was a heartwarming sight no matter what your political point of view. Maybe it was just because everyone was on the same page for a change.

Just keeping a couple of campaign promises to the teachers and social service providers was good holiday politics. This moment is often referred to as the “honeymoon” period. In gubernatorial politics, the honeymoon period usually lasts until midway through the first legislative session. It will be interesting to see if Abercrombie will continue to pull millions of dollars out of the state coffers to satisfy his vast political machine’s enormous appetite. There is hope that the media and his opponents will extend the honeymoon a couple of months for a couple of reasons.

First, there is the challenge facing House Speaker Calvin Say, who for 14 years has held the Democratic majority together with a cool head and Zen-like attitude toward solving intra-party divisiveness. It’s one of the festering problems in our Legislature that is overwhelmed with one-party politics, especially in the Senate with only one Republican present. In the House, the overwhelming majority has split into what appears to be two Democratic parties. In the past, the Neighbor Island representatives molded the leadership. That hasn’t happened yet. And don’t count on the Republican minority to help them solve their leadership challenges.

Hopefully, Abercrombie will make his presence felt in the House chambers before it’s too late. He’s served in the House and knows how they organize themselves in a time of crisis.

Another problem facing the Abercrombie administration is a shortage of money and, to a lesser degree, forming a newly appointed Board of Education.

Here’s wishing the new administration a merry, merry holiday season and a happy honeymoon.

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