ISN’T THAT FLEA BAG DEAD YET?: Well it’s all over- except it isn’t.
In case anyone hadn’t heard Honolulu County Clerk Denise Decosta “disqualified” Kirk Caldwell from the Manoa Council race based on the decision we highlighted yesterday by State Election Chief Kevin Cronin.
Ian Lind did a masterful job - with one typo- in analyzing the whole thing this morning and the articles in the two Honolulu newspapers presented their version of the facts, with the Star-Bulletin even publishing a surprisingly accurate and on-point editorial about Cronin’s shenanigans and incompetence.
We won’t recount that and readers can review our and Ian’s posts over the past few days for a catch up.
But there are numerous ways that the leads in the papers proclaiming that, since Caldwell won’t challenge the ruling it’s all over, are probably anything but accurate prognostications..
Because the ruling by Cronin- upon which Decosta said she was forced to based hers- flies in the face of the actual law
HRS 11-117 says:
A candidate may withdraw not later than 4:30 p.m. on the day immediately following the close of filing for any reason and may withdraw after the twentieth day prior to an election for reasons of ill health. When a candidate withdraws for ill health, the candidate shall give notice in writing to the chief election officer if the candidate was seeking a congressional or state office, or the candidate shall give notice in writing to the county clerk if the candidate was seeking a county seat.
So a written withdrawal is required only for reasons of health. Apparently Cronin “erred” in the matter of law by saying Caldwell’s post-filing, written withdrawal was the only “official” way to withdraw
Cronin’s ruling was that Caldwell’s verbal withdrawal from his state house race before filing for county council was insufficient even though the Decosta’s office accepted it and apparently the state did too because they noted it on the official list after a phone call from the clerk’s office..
And another problem may be that Decosta was not really allowed to make the decision.
In a letter of challenge by Honolulu attorney Amy Mizono says
The Clerk must file a circuit court complaint whenever an objection “may” warrant disqualification
The elections statute requires the Clerk to file a complaint with the circuit court for a determination of an objection whenever the objection “may" warrant disqualification of a candidate. $ 12-8 (e), Haw. Rev. Stat. As such, the Clerk is not designed to be the final arbiter of whether a generally meritorious objection merits disqualification. Rather, the Clerk is charged with the statutory obligation to seek final determination in the circuit court whenever an objection "may" reasonably warrant disqualification.
So not only is the content of self-described “de facto” Election Chief Cronin’s decision wrong but Decosta- who in her “ruling” described a loosey-goosy deadline as the clerk’s office’s past policy - wasn’t even legally able to make the determination that the mainstream press has swallowed as the “final say” on the matter.
Perhaps the most insane part of yesterday’s events is Caldwell’s statement that he won’t challenge it all since he actually spurred the challenge by getting one of his own people to challenge his candidacy, supposedly in the public interest of sorting all this out. And now when we really need a ruling to avoid stupidity and confusion from reigning, he’s suddenly happy to leave “F” part of the SNAFU intact.
But for now, unless someone challenges it, Cronin’s head-scratching “what orifice did you pull that out of” determination is the “de facto” law of the land
And what concerns us on Kaua`i is how this late Friday afternoon series of events could effect our own mayor's race.
We’ll have to wait for Monday to ask County clerk Peter Nakamura but we’re not sure how this new requirement for a written withdrawal- submitted BEFORE filing for another office- will effect Councilperson and mayoral candidate Mel Rapozo.
Rapozo originally pulled papers for council on February 6 and officially filed them on Feb 22. But then he pulled papers for mayor on July 7 and filed them on July 22, the final day to file.
The question is did Rapozo withdraw in writing and did he do so before he flied for mayor?
The documents should be public information and should have date and time of receipt stamped. And if Rapozo is to stay in the Mayor’s race the Clerk should have two chronologically-successive, stamped documents, the first being Rapozo’s official written withdrawal from his council race and the next his filing for the mayor’s race.
Although the “official” list shows a “(w)” for withdrawn after Rapozo’s name on the list of council candidates, so did Caldwell’s name for his house race on the evening of July 22 after his verbal withdrawal. His “in writing” withdrawal- the one Cronin says is the only official one- came in July 23.
It seems that by law this has to go to circuit court and Decosta is required by law to file the case.
But if she doesn’t and Cronin’s and her decisions are allowed to stand- and the press plays dead as they did today- we can just imagine the game of chicken that will occur at the filing deadline for the next election
It’s 4:25 p.m.- five minutes to filing deadline Lined up at the counter stand multiple candidates with multiple filings for multiple offices and multiple withdrawal letters wagging and shoving their papers under the noses and screaming for attention from elections’ office staff while jostling each other and jockeying for positions both at the clerk’s desk and in elective office... all the while craning their necks to see what office or offices the other ones are filing for and withdrawing from.
When the music stops and they scramble for seats precisely at 4:30 p.m. they may have to figure out which office they finally wound up running for.
Conversation outside the clerk’s office at 4:31 p.m. Filing deadline day, July 2010
PNN- What’d ya’ll get?”
Candidate A- Oh! Look- State House!- just what I always wanted. I didn’t even know I filled out those papers. What’d you get?
Candidate B- (looking at paper) Prosecutor? I’m not even a lawyer.
Candidate C- Well you’d better go to law school quick because I thought I had prosecutor but wound up with county council because I didn’t get my mayor withdrawal in first.
Candidate D – Darn I got so confused I submitted the wrong withdrawal letter and now I’m not running for anything. But apparently I am somehow now entered in next year’s Brown Bags to Stardom.
Candidate E- Aw damnit- I wound up with Mayor- I’m gonna be sick
Candidate D – Oh good. If you’re sick then you can withdraw for health reasons and name me as your replacement. Lemme look in my wallet...
Candidate C Wait a minute Would you take an appointment to the planning commission and two other appointments for your cronies to be named later?
Candidate B- I’m out. All I got is all these filing and withdrawal papers and oh, look... the clerk’s office’s time stamp.
Candidate A- That’s ok guys- I’ll just make sure you all get appointed judges.
Head of the Chamber of Commerce- When you guys sort it all out gimme a call. I gotta know who to bribe next year.