Sunday, July 27, 2008


EVERY DOG THINKS HE HAS HIS DAY: Well it looked bad for the home team yesterday when we spewed hydrophobic froth and foam over the Honolulu County Clerk regarding “replacing” Chrystn Eads on the ballot for the 24th state House district race

As our “correction” stated we read only a “breaking news” piece and failed to read regular edition version of the story by the Honolulu Advertiser’s Derrick DePledge regarding the musical chairs fiasco originally caused by Ann Kobayashi’s run for mayor of Honolulu, which we also cited tangentially this week.

Unlike the “breaking news” piece we cited, the “regular newspaper” version of DePledge’s story stated in so many words and unequivocally that the “replacement” candidate- who, as we heard today, is Isaac Choy- was to replace Rep. Kirk Caldwell due to his “withdrawal” from his House race.

Although Caldwell he had previously filed for re-election to his 24th district seat he also filed to take Kobayashi’s now open seat on the Honolulu Council to avoid giving former Honolulu Councilperson Duke Bainum a “free ride” in November.

The problem is that apparently he never officially and in writing withdrew from his House race before filing to run for council.

But strangely that “regular” article is apparently no longer in the Advertiser archives today and has been replaced with one updated yesterday evening that is similar to the original “breaking news” piece in not making it crystal clear if it was Caldwell or Eads that was being “replaced”.

Clear as mud? Not yet? Good. Because adding to the ambiguity is that the “breaking news” piece we cited was timelined at 8:36 a.m. Saturday, well after the Advertiser- and presumably the regular news article- went to press.

Oh, and one more slap to the face in this Chinatown “she’s my sister, she’s my daughter, she’s my sister, she’s my daughter” routine: DePledge did assure us in an email after we posted yesterday morning that it was indeed his understanding that it was Caldwell that was being replaced, not Eads.

Unambiguously and unequivocally unclear yet?

Wait. Because unfortunately we also didn’t turn to the other Honolulu newspaper before penning our correction, and evidently they didn’t get the same memo that DePledge did.

Star-Bulletin’s political reporter Richard Borreca seems to tell us that indeed the replacement was for Eads who, according to the clerk that first accepted her petition twenty minutes after the deadline, didn’t get her papers filed in time.

We finally did get to read yesterday’s Star-Bulletin’s “breaking news” after Doug White at Poinography linked to it and our piece early yesterday evening and said, as we did, that the replacement was for Eads.

Here’s the pertinent part of the take from DePledge in today’s ’Tiser:

The state Office of Elections informed the party on Friday that it had until yesterday afternoon to pick a replacement for Caldwell. The elections office determined that Chrystn Eads, an aide to Mayor Mufi Hannemann, had not properly completed her paperwork when she tried to file for Caldwell's seat before the Tuesday deadline.

It’s pretty clear that DePledge thinks that the clerk says that the one being replaced is Caldwell. He apparently tells us that although the Clerk’s rejection of Eads’ paperwork was for Caldwell’s 24th district House seat, it was Caldwell’s withdrawal that allowed the party to pick a replacement, not Eads’

But Borreca seemingly says the opposite in today’s paper as he did yesterday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in that Star-Bulletin “breaking news” story. Today, as yesterday, he maintains that:

...State Democratic party members picked Choy to fill the vacancy left when state elections officials ruled that Chrystn Eads was not a valid candidate for office in the 24th state House district of Manoa.

Party officials started meeting Friday afternoon after getting word from Kevin Cronin, chief elections officer, that Eads, an assistant to Mayor Mufi Hannemann, did not have enough signatures on her nomination petition by the required deadline.

Cronin said in a notice to the party that Caldwell withdrew his candidacy for the state House on July 23.

"These events create a vacancy for the state House seat," Cronin said in a letter to the Democrats.

Cronin failed to return phone calls to the Star-Bulletin asking for comment....

Now Borreca might be seen to be dancing around and not being sure himself when he says Choy was picked “to fill the vacancy left when state elections officials ruled that Chrystn Eads was not a valid candidate”. Still, it doesn’t leave much more wiggle room than DePledge did in his differing take.

But the real kicker is that, if the Eads saga was not absurd enough, the replacement of Caldwell is also apparently another shell game..

The actual state law says:

In case of death, withdrawal, or disqualification of any party candidate after filing, the vacancy so caused may be filled by the party. The party shall be notified by the chief election officer or the clerk in the case of a county office immediately after the death, withdrawal, or disqualification.

But state law also prohibits someone from running for two offices at the same time.

There’s a whole brouhaha over when Caldwell actually withdrew from his house race because he supposedly gave a “verbal” withdrawal on Tuesday- as he filed his incomplete paperwork for Council before the 4:30 p.m. deadline- but didn’t put it in writing until Wed. morning the 23rd - as Cronin corroborates according to all reports.

The allegedly “illegal” final signature- by a staff member in the Clerk’s office after the deadline- on Caldwell’s Council filing aside, he couldn’t have filed legally for Council until he first withdrew from his 24th district House race... a contest he had legally filed for previous to last week. That would have made the Democratic Party’s naming a of replacement out of the question because the law says “withdrawal... after filing” (emphasis added) triggers allowing for a replacement.

Caldwell is quoted everywhere as saying his official withdrawal letter did not get sent until after the deadline. If that’s so his filing for Council would have been invalid and presumably the Clerk’s office cannot accept an invalid filing.

Oh and one more potential “twist”- local races in Hawai`i are non-partisan and state law is silent on exactly how a “withdrawn” candidate’s party might be determined in the event something like this happens in the future in a local election.

And guess what- that “event” might actually have occurred on Kaua`i as Councilperson Mel Rapozo withdrew from his previously filed council race to run for Mayor but it isn’t clear how, when or even if he did so.

Hawai`i Republicans’ heads are spinning over this one as one would expect and you can actually hear the gnashing teeth and see the steam-emanating ears as you read Republican House Rep. Lynn Flannigan’s op-ed piece on it all in today’s Star-Bulletin.

Therefore we think we apologize for getting it wrong, then right, then wrong, then right again, wrong again and right again. And we seek forgiveness from anyone who was additionally confused by relying on our bewilderment based on everyone else’s uncertainty... or for today’s continued confusion, confarnit.

Maybe we can take solace in the fact that no one seems to know how to play this game..

There’s an old journalism school joke about rookie reporter Finnegan. He comes back from covering a town council meeting and hands his editor a detailed 1500 word chronology about how the new bridge that had been previously cut from the budget was revived at the beginning of the 12 hour meeting but was killed hours later. Then miraculously, after massive public testimony in support, it was passed at the very end of the meeting.

The editor, citing the standard need for a brevity in news writing, tells the cub correspondent to cut it down. After another hour of work Finnegan comes back with a 700 word piece and the editor sends him back to cut more. He comes back later with a 300 word piece and the editor sends him back for an even shorter rewrite.

Finnegan finally comes back with his last version which reads:

“On again, off again, on again- Finnegan.”

Finnegan had it easy....

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