Contemplating A Trio Of Island Issues

The authors's screen shot of the proposed Hawaii residency amendment

The authors’s screen shot of the proposed Hawaii residency amendment

A triple-header for MidWeek readers this week. The lawmaker-residency issue, corporate Hawaiian Electric and our growing dislike of air travel.

1) Why do we insist that state lawmakers and City Council members be residents of the district where they run for office?

There’s a proposed ballot amendment for 2016 to require state lawmakers to live there a full year before the general election.

Maybe there was a time of small, rural communities here when that residency mattered. Not today when Kailua runs right into Kaneohe. A person running for Congress just has to live in the state, not in any district. Nor are U.S. senators district-restricted.

Back in the late 1960s, only a few big cities had a residency requirement for candidates. Then, in the ’70s, a revival appeared and quickly most cities and states opted for residency rules.

Locally, we’ve had the questions of whether state Rep. Calvin Say and state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria live in their districts. Nobody but some losing opponents seems to care.

Why not drop the residency thing except for voters and leave it to those doing the voting to give a thumbs up or down on candidates regardless of where they live?

An out-of-district candidate could not vote for himself.

2) Before the PUC decides on NextEra’s purchase of Hawaiian Electric, we should hear about the pros and cons of an Oahu electricity co-op owned by the ratepayers.

We’ve had co-ops in America since 1935, although mainly in rural areas. There is an electricity co-op on Kauai.

On Oahu, as with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, we’d all be the owners, elect the board and it would set rates. If the co-op is making money, we customers get a rebate. No bags of money for a Connie Lau as CEO. We’d all be “investors” through an initial registration fee and our monthly electric bills. The focus of a co-op would be serving the customer-owners, not rewarding out-of-state shareholders or paying the CEO $5.6 million a year or lavishing $17 million on executives who arranged HECO’s pending sale to NextEra.

Let’s hear more.

3) I don’t want to say we “hate” airlines and air travel. I’ll go with “intensely dislike.”

Why? High fares, high “fuel surcharges” and ever-more-uncomfortable leg room. My wife and I just paid $100 to move our two 30-pound bags with us from Honolulu to Hilo and back on Hawaiian Airlines.

Miles rewards often expire before you can use them.

Everyone’s carrying bags aboard to avoid the check-in fees, so by the time I board in Zone 3 all the bins are full. Zone 3 is for we few who’ve refused to pay that huge yearly fee for the airline’s credit card.

Oil dropped almost 45 percent, but the only change in fares has been upward.

That’s because there’s very little route competition any more.

Deregulation brought us a kind of airline oligarchy.