Testimony to the State Elections Commission – August 22, 2014.

Election Commission Meeting

Chairman and Members:

For the record, I reiterate my previous objections that the meeting agenda be revised to allow public testimony after the report of the Chief Elections Officer (CEO).

My testimony today also repeats my previous position that this Commission should act to replace the Chief Elections Officer and review the election procedures.

I believe that the integrity of Hawaii’s election process is in jeopardy, and like my colleagues, have had many constituents contact me with outrage over the past few weeks. They and I continue to be upset that there has been no accountability for past and present errors in the election process by this CEO. l stand by the Commission and the many volunteers who have provided the public positive service. The CEO’s failure to respond to the public and media have hurt you all. This is not personal, and it is not partisan, but the CEO needs to be removed now. In the private sector, this occurs immediately to protect the integrity of the business and to retain public trust. In government, and our most basic right of voting, there should be an even higher bar to maintain. The public needs reassurance that you will act now.

There was no disciplinary action for the outrageous acts of 2012, when hundreds of voters were disenfranchised because of the lack of distributed ballots, especially in my East Honolulu district, and the wrong ballots delivered to other precincts as well as other documented errors that took place. Incredibly, the Commission actually considered giving the CEO a substantial raise this year after a brief and incomplete internal investigation of election mistakes.

In this year’s August 9 Primary, several issues arose. While we are all very fortunate to have escaped the potential disaster of two Hurricanes, the CEO originally announced there was no Plan B in case devastation had occurred. He insisted the voting would go on. However, as we saw, two precincts in Puna on the Island of Hawaii were unable to vote because of the extent of damage there. I believe other arrangements could have and should have been made.

In clear violation of the State Constitution, vote totals were prematurely released prior to completion of voting in all precincts statewide, as required by law.

A challenge to the rescheduled vote in Puna was decided in the CEO’s favor but Judge Greg Nakamura in his ruling, raised questions of constitutionality, possible future legal action, and reasonableness to the people so devastated by the storm.

The hurried Puna election last Friday was held even though thousands in the area had no electricity, no transportation, no food and some even had a lack of knowledge of the pending election. The extremely low voter turnout confirms these concerns.

Then there were the missing 800 mail-in ballots from Maui. “Discovered” on Wednesday August 13, they were not disclosed until Friday the15th by the CEO, and then added to the Puna totals. Procedures were NOT followed. Error upon error.

Further, voter names were no longer posted at polling places this year. The book of voters was not always readily available in all precincts as it should be. Several poll watchers, and others, requested an updated voter file showing who voted in the Primary Election. The CEO responded that the voter credit process – the process where individual records are marked in the voter database whether the person voted or not in the 2014 Primary and General elections – will not be complete and available until February 2015. After the election. Unacceptable.

Voter turnout continues to decline, cementing Hawaii’s position as worst in the Nation. One reason given is lack of trust in the voting process. I tried unsuccessfully recently to fill a vacancy from Maui on this Commission. Good people did not want to serve with this leadership.

The Legislature passed new legislation making it easier to register and vote allowing for same day voting in two years. Where is the oversight? Where is a paper trail? Where is the confidence that this Administration can handle additional duties?

Mr. Chairman, and members, I implore you to take decisive action today and exert leadership. There are other qualified individuals who can more responsibly address these problems in time before the November 4 General Election.

Mahalo for your time and thoughtful consideration.

Sam Slom, State Senator
Senate Minority Leader 9th District (O’ahu)

Pardon my Dust, Site is Moved to a New Server and We’re Re-Organizing

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Senator Slom’s Opening Day Speech

Opening Day 2014 Hawaii State Senate

By State Senator Sam Slom
Hawaii State Senate January 15, 2014. | PDF Link

Senate President Kim, Governor Abercrombie, distinguished former State Senators, guests and overburdened taxpayers of Hawaii, on behalf of the entire Senate Minority, Aloha! The inclusion of our past Senators, in this our 55th anniversary year of Statehood, and the publication of a book of memories, is most welcome.

History, experience and perspective should be important reminders to us as we move forward. Otherwise, we are bound to repeat past mistakes.

Let me acknowledge the passing at the end of December, of Hawaii’s greatest fiscal watchdog, and the taxpayers’ best friend, Mr. Lowell Kalapa of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii. Lowell will be missed during this Session. He helped all of us understand the consequences of government fiscal actions. Many of us are glad that 2013 is behind us, because the year did not live up to expectations of change or measurable improvement and was difficult for our local families and small businesses.

Let me say that I was advised to keep my remarks “light” today and refrain from being too “hard hitting.” Light? That’s not in my DNA. We have serious problems in Hawaii that too many choose to ignore or deny. We must confront and solve them so we can have a better Hawaii for all our citizens. My professional experience and discussions with real people in the marketplace, tell me, despite what some politicians say, Hawaii has not turned an economic corner, our economy has not rebounded, and across the board we are still struggling. Recently, the State Council on Revenues reduced its economic growth projections from 4.1% to 3.3%.

From my perspective, we have become a nation, and a state, of entitlement. Our work incentive, our American individual exceptionalism, have been eroded by a growing clamor by those who think they are entitled to the fruits of other peoples’ labors.

Last week, we noted the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” It is another war, similar to international conflicts and the “war on drugs,” that cost much, but wars we have not won. Since 1964, more than $21 trillion has been transferred in the U.S. from some taxpayers to others thought to be “entitled.” In 1964, approximately 14% of Americans were classified by government as being below the “poverty level.” Today, it is more than 21%. Clearly, government is moving in the wrong direction, creating more poverty.

Money thrown at a problem does not bring positive results. Money without a sound, workable plan and able leadership, results in more failure.

Consider:

Our state’s existing $25 billion unfunded liability.

Providing more subsidies with lack of oversight to our largest energy monopoly, which keeps increasing electricity rates, and experimenting with wind turbines, and undersea cables, instead of deregulating to help consumers.

Allowing even higher salaries, benefits and $10 million more to a deficit ridden UH athletics program. A UH that is proud to have “52% of the students able to graduate in 6 years?”

Spending nearly a million dollars on a “Pono Choices” sex program to teach 11 and 12 year olds how to have sex?

Proposing a 36% pay raise for the Chief Elections Officer who failed miserably during the last election.

Raising motor vehicle fees and taxes while not repairing roads and potholes? Are you serious?

Using $204 million to create a flawed Hawaii Health Connector for Obamacare?

Funding a study on “Global Warming” while the streets, highways and streams of Hawaii are littered with trash and sewage. Are you serious?

Members of the public, who pay our salaries, are fed up. They demand we listen to them and change. We better do so, starting today.

Taxpayer expenditures for welfare and social services exceed expenditures for government education. We must refuse to support those who choose not to work or are financially irresponsible. Leading the nation in food stamps, and welfare subsidies, and being among the top for homelessness, are not badges of honor.

During the Not So Special-Special Session on same sex marriage held in November, 10,000 people came to the State Capitol. Many weren’t registered to vote. Few had been to their Capitol before. In the end, nearly all were disappointed, frustrated, or angry because of the perceived arrogance of their representatives. They felt betrayed.

“Let the People Decide!” was their cry.

Article 1, Section 1 of the Hawaii State Constitution says, “All political power of this state is inherent in the people and the responsibility or the exercise thereof rests with the people. All government is founded on this authority.”

It seems many in government have forgotten that we derive our power from the people.

A state without accountability and lack of consequences sets a dangerous precedent. We need meaningful change and must provide consequences for bad behavior and poor performance in government.

Every year, the Senate Minority has introduced legislation providing the people more empowerment and choices, as well as greater government transparency. This year, we again have introduced measures to allow for Initiative, Referendum, Recall and Term Limits. Hopefully, the people will become more engaged so the Majority will at least hear these measures.

Hawaii requires True Economic Development. Instead of artificially forcing entry and training wages up, and taxing and regulating small business further, we must listen to our local job creators and incentivise them. Those in government who have never met a private payroll shouldn’t be giving their failed advice to businesses and adding more taxes, regulations and employer mandates.

We say everything we do here is “for the keiki.” But is it? With sexual assaults and harm to our children increasing, and more evidence of human trafficking of minors, Hawaii needs more meaningful protection of our keiki. We should start with adoption of Jessica’s Law and harsher penalties for those who hurt or endanger our children.

Our skies may become crowded with drones and unmanned devices. We welcome their positive use but must be vigilant with unlawful government or law enforcement use that violates 4th Amendment Constitutional guarantees. We shouldn’t condone NSA-type spying on law abiding citizens.

I pledge my efforts to support good legislation regardless of who introduces it; to analyze and report honestly on the impact of all bills, to work towards ending Legislative exemptions and to boost transparency.

Let use celebrate our individual, God-given liberty and our ability to change for the better.

Our goal, as I outlined last Session, is not a “New Day,” but, A Better Day. This is not a partisan position. We can navigate a different course. Turn that State Government canoe into the wind and explore the greatness that Hawaii can be. For, We, The People.

God Bless Hawaii, our men and women in the armed forces, and the United States of America. Aloha and Mahalo

Senator Slom’s Opening Day Speech

Opening Day 2014 Hawaii State Senate

By State Senator Sam Slom
Hawaii State Senate January 15, 2014. | PDF Link

Senate President Kim, Governor Abercrombie, distinguished former State Senators, guests and overburdened taxpayers of Hawaii, on behalf of the entire Senate Minority, Aloha! The inclusion of our past Senators, in this our 55th anniversary year of Statehood, and the publication of a book of memories, is most welcome.

History, experience and perspective should be important reminders to us as we move forward. Otherwise, we are bound to repeat past mistakes.

Let me acknowledge the passing at the end of December, of Hawaii’s greatest fiscal watchdog, and the taxpayers’ best friend, Mr. Lowell Kalapa of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii. Lowell will be missed during this Session. He helped all of us understand the consequences of government fiscal actions. Many of us are glad that 2013 is behind us, because the year did not live up to expectations of change or measurable improvement and was difficult for our local families and small businesses.

Let me say that I was advised to keep my remarks “light” today and refrain from being too “hard hitting.” Light? That’s not in my DNA. We have serious problems in Hawaii that too many choose to ignore or deny. We must confront and solve them so we can have a better Hawaii for all our citizens. My professional experience and discussions with real people in the marketplace, tell me, despite what some politicians say, Hawaii has not turned an economic corner, our economy has not rebounded, and across the board we are still struggling. Recently, the State Council on Revenues reduced its economic growth projections from 4.1% to 3.3%.

From my perspective, we have become a nation, and a state, of entitlement. Our work incentive, our American individual exceptionalism, have been eroded by a growing clamor by those who think they are entitled to the fruits of other peoples’ labors.

Last week, we noted the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” It is another war, similar to international conflicts and the “war on drugs,” that cost much, but wars we have not won. Since 1964, more than $21 trillion has been transferred in the U.S. from some taxpayers to others thought to be “entitled.” In 1964, approximately 14% of Americans were classified by government as being below the “poverty level.” Today, it is more than 21%. Clearly, government is moving in the wrong direction, creating more poverty.

Money thrown at a problem does not bring positive results. Money without a sound, workable plan and able leadership, results in more failure.

Consider:

Our state’s existing $25 billion unfunded liability.

Providing more subsidies with lack of oversight to our largest energy monopoly, which keeps increasing electricity rates, and experimenting with wind turbines, and undersea cables, instead of deregulating to help consumers.

Allowing even higher salaries, benefits and $10 million more to a deficit ridden UH athletics program. A UH that is proud to have “52% of the students able to graduate in 6 years?”

Spending nearly a million dollars on a “Pono Choices” sex program to teach 11 and 12 year olds how to have sex?

Proposing a 36% pay raise for the Chief Elections Officer who failed miserably during the last election.

Raising motor vehicle fees and taxes while not repairing roads and potholes? Are you serious?

Using $204 million to create a flawed Hawaii Health Connector for Obamacare?

Funding a study on “Global Warming” while the streets, highways and streams of Hawaii are littered with trash and sewage. Are you serious?

Members of the public, who pay our salaries, are fed up. They demand we listen to them and change. We better do so, starting today.

Taxpayer expenditures for welfare and social services exceed expenditures for government education. We must refuse to support those who choose not to work or are financially irresponsible. Leading the nation in food stamps, and welfare subsidies, and being among the top for homelessness, are not badges of honor.

During the Not So Special-Special Session on same sex marriage held in November, 10,000 people came to the State Capitol. Many weren’t registered to vote. Few had been to their Capitol before. In the end, nearly all were disappointed, frustrated, or angry because of the perceived arrogance of their representatives. They felt betrayed.

“Let the People Decide!” was their cry.

Article 1, Section 1 of the Hawaii State Constitution says, “All political power of this state is inherent in the people and the responsibility or the exercise thereof rests with the people. All government is founded on this authority.”

It seems many in government have forgotten that we derive our power from the people.

A state without accountability and lack of consequences sets a dangerous precedent. We need meaningful change and must provide consequences for bad behavior and poor performance in government.

Every year, the Senate Minority has introduced legislation providing the people more empowerment and choices, as well as greater government transparency. This year, we again have introduced measures to allow for Initiative, Referendum, Recall and Term Limits. Hopefully, the people will become more engaged so the Majority will at least hear these measures.

Hawaii requires True Economic Development. Instead of artificially forcing entry and training wages up, and taxing and regulating small business further, we must listen to our local job creators and incentivise them. Those in government who have never met a private payroll shouldn’t be giving their failed advice to businesses and adding more taxes, regulations and employer mandates.

We say everything we do here is “for the keiki.” But is it? With sexual assaults and harm to our children increasing, and more evidence of human trafficking of minors, Hawaii needs more meaningful protection of our keiki. We should start with adoption of Jessica’s Law and harsher penalties for those who hurt or endanger our children.

Our skies may become crowded with drones and unmanned devices. We welcome their positive use but must be vigilant with unlawful government or law enforcement use that violates 4th Amendment Constitutional guarantees. We shouldn’t condone NSA-type spying on law abiding citizens.

I pledge my efforts to support good legislation regardless of who introduces it; to analyze and report honestly on the impact of all bills, to work towards ending Legislative exemptions and to boost transparency.

Let use celebrate our individual, God-given liberty and our ability to change for the better.

Our goal, as I outlined last Session, is not a “New Day,” but, A Better Day. This is not a partisan position. We can navigate a different course. Turn that State Government canoe into the wind and explore the greatness that Hawaii can be. For, We, The People.

God Bless Hawaii, our men and women in the armed forces, and the United States of America. Aloha and Mahalo

Senator Slom’s Opening Day Speech

Opening Day 2014 Hawaii State Senate

By State Senator Sam Slom
Hawaii State Senate January 15, 2014. | PDF Link

Senate President Kim, Governor Abercrombie, distinguished former State Senators, guests and overburdened taxpayers of Hawaii, on behalf of the entire Senate Minority, Aloha! The inclusion of our past Senators, in this our 55th anniversary year of Statehood, and the publication of a book of memories, is most welcome.

History, experience and perspective should be important reminders to us as we move forward. Otherwise, we are bound to repeat past mistakes.

Let me acknowledge the passing at the end of December, of Hawaii’s greatest fiscal watchdog, and the taxpayers’ best friend, Mr. Lowell Kalapa of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii. Lowell will be missed during this Session. He helped all of us understand the consequences of government fiscal actions. Many of us are glad that 2013 is behind us, because the year did not live up to expectations of change or measurable improvement and was difficult for our local families and small businesses.

Let me say that I was advised to keep my remarks “light” today and refrain from being too “hard hitting.” Light? That’s not in my DNA. We have serious problems in Hawaii that too many choose to ignore or deny. We must confront and solve them so we can have a better Hawaii for all our citizens. My professional experience and discussions with real people in the marketplace, tell me, despite what some politicians say, Hawaii has not turned an economic corner, our economy has not rebounded, and across the board we are still struggling. Recently, the State Council on Revenues reduced its economic growth projections from 4.1% to 3.3%.

From my perspective, we have become a nation, and a state, of entitlement. Our work incentive, our American individual exceptionalism, have been eroded by a growing clamor by those who think they are entitled to the fruits of other peoples’ labors.

Last week, we noted the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” It is another war, similar to international conflicts and the “war on drugs,” that cost much, but wars we have not won. Since 1964, more than $21 trillion has been transferred in the U.S. from some taxpayers to others thought to be “entitled.” In 1964, approximately 14% of Americans were classified by government as being below the “poverty level.” Today, it is more than 21%. Clearly, government is moving in the wrong direction, creating more poverty.

Money thrown at a problem does not bring positive results. Money without a sound, workable plan and able leadership, results in more failure.

Consider:

Our state’s existing $25 billion unfunded liability.

Providing more subsidies with lack of oversight to our largest energy monopoly, which keeps increasing electricity rates, and experimenting with wind turbines, and undersea cables, instead of deregulating to help consumers.

Allowing even higher salaries, benefits and $10 million more to a deficit ridden UH athletics program. A UH that is proud to have “52% of the students able to graduate in 6 years?”

Spending nearly a million dollars on a “Pono Choices” sex program to teach 11 and 12 year olds how to have sex?

Proposing a 36% pay raise for the Chief Elections Officer who failed miserably during the last election.

Raising motor vehicle fees and taxes while not repairing roads and potholes? Are you serious?

Using $204 million to create a flawed Hawaii Health Connector for Obamacare?

Funding a study on “Global Warming” while the streets, highways and streams of Hawaii are littered with trash and sewage. Are you serious?

Members of the public, who pay our salaries, are fed up. They demand we listen to them and change. We better do so, starting today.

Taxpayer expenditures for welfare and social services exceed expenditures for government education. We must refuse to support those who choose not to work or are financially irresponsible. Leading the nation in food stamps, and welfare subsidies, and being among the top for homelessness, are not badges of honor.

During the Not So Special-Special Session on same sex marriage held in November, 10,000 people came to the State Capitol. Many weren’t registered to vote. Few had been to their Capitol before. In the end, nearly all were disappointed, frustrated, or angry because of the perceived arrogance of their representatives. They felt betrayed.

“Let the People Decide!” was their cry.

Article 1, Section 1 of the Hawaii State Constitution says, “All political power of this state is inherent in the people and the responsibility or the exercise thereof rests with the people. All government is founded on this authority.”

It seems many in government have forgotten that we derive our power from the people.

A state without accountability and lack of consequences sets a dangerous precedent. We need meaningful change and must provide consequences for bad behavior and poor performance in government.

Every year, the Senate Minority has introduced legislation providing the people more empowerment and choices, as well as greater government transparency. This year, we again have introduced measures to allow for Initiative, Referendum, Recall and Term Limits. Hopefully, the people will become more engaged so the Majority will at least hear these measures.

Hawaii requires True Economic Development. Instead of artificially forcing entry and training wages up, and taxing and regulating small business further, we must listen to our local job creators and incentivise them. Those in government who have never met a private payroll shouldn’t be giving their failed advice to businesses and adding more taxes, regulations and employer mandates.

We say everything we do here is “for the keiki.” But is it? With sexual assaults and harm to our children increasing, and more evidence of human trafficking of minors, Hawaii needs more meaningful protection of our keiki. We should start with adoption of Jessica’s Law and harsher penalties for those who hurt or endanger our children.

Our skies may become crowded with drones and unmanned devices. We welcome their positive use but must be vigilant with unlawful government or law enforcement use that violates 4th Amendment Constitutional guarantees. We shouldn’t condone NSA-type spying on law abiding citizens.

I pledge my efforts to support good legislation regardless of who introduces it; to analyze and report honestly on the impact of all bills, to work towards ending Legislative exemptions and to boost transparency.

Let use celebrate our individual, God-given liberty and our ability to change for the better.

Our goal, as I outlined last Session, is not a “New Day,” but, A Better Day. This is not a partisan position. We can navigate a different course. Turn that State Government canoe into the wind and explore the greatness that Hawaii can be. For, We, The People.

God Bless Hawaii, our men and women in the armed forces, and the United States of America. Aloha and Mahalo