Current Thoughts (Mostly Hawaii)

Corporate travel = more government travel

Publishers note: This is a letter that was sent to President Joe Biden from Stan Fichtman, publisher of Politics Hawaii.com on November 28th, 2022.

Dear President Biden

Over the past few months, departments in the executive branch have ramped up virtual meetings. During these meetings, members of your administration and the bureaucracy who are involved with these departments have done a stellar job trying to relay important information to key constituencies throughout the United States.

For that, I give your administration kudos for making the effort to “keep government business going” in departments that reach out and seek information from a wide variety of sources to advance ideas and concepts.

Joseph P. Biden
the 46th President of the United States
PC: “Vice President Joe Biden Campaign Headshot” by Barack Obama is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

However, most recently, I noted that some of these virtual meetings are not as effective as they have been in the past. Most recently at one session, it was pined by some that the information that was being given out needed peers to meet face to face to sort it out, as they did in the past at department-run conferences.

Where I am going with this is that it may be time for your administration to work on “bringing back” the ability for face-to-face conferences to be held. There are a couple of key points behind this request that may help you see clearly why this request is being made.

The government has been in the business of being the leader when it comes to all kinds of economic drives. From infrastructure to social issues, it has become in our society that if the government does it, then it must be okay for others too. I cite, here starting and expanding the market for business travel throughout the United States.

Back during the Great Recession of 2009-2011, one thing that I noted as a member of the State of Hawaii Dept. of Labor was that at least once, maybe even twice a year, there was a government-sponsored conference that was called for employees to attend. The bosses would pick the employees to go, we would get our per-diem and tickets, and off we went.

Many times, the conferences were in Washington D.C., but with other sponsors, there would be meetings in Atlanta GA or even Los Angeles. At each of the conferences, members of the presidential administration would be present and information critical to the needs of the programs we were assigned to, was given.

After a little while, maybe a year or so, one thing that I noted is that the amount of business travel started to go up. I noted it with the number of flights that were flying to key destinations throughout the United States from airline hubs that I would fly into. From New Orleans to Minneapolis to Memphis, every morning I would fly into a hub, and I would see folks ready to conduct business flying on these flights.

While recreational (vacation) travel has come back in full force, business travel has not. The US Government could signal to businesses that it’s time to travel, expand the economy, and get commerce done as it was before the pandemic.
PC: “Business travelers” by fredcamino is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

My observation at the time was that with the government promoting business meetings across its departments, with vested interests attending, that gave the signal to businesses all over that it was time to travel, and therefore the physical interaction of people to conduct business grew. The economy, as you know, grew at the time taking us out of a recession and into a time of economic expansion.

Of course, with the pandemic shutdowns of 2020 to this year, business travel was one of the first practices to be zapped, along with any business meeting that had to do with a face-to-face meeting with any government official. Quite understandable, we were all told to stay at home, do things virtually and conduct business the best they could in that way – from government oversight to purchasing of goods and services.

With the pandemic restrictions just about eliminated, it might be time for your administration to once again get back to setting up meetings and getting the business of government done, again, face to face. This will allow for the resurgence of private corporate travel as it did in 2011-2012 as they are looking to the government to signal its intent on this matter.

2023 could be that year, Mr. President, that the government signals to everyone that it’s good to travel for business, that business must be conducted and that the economy needs to start expanding while growing. One way to combat inflation, Mr. President, is through this.

Thank you for your consideration of this viewpoint.

Stanford J. Fichtman
Citizen of the United States of America
A resident of the State of Hawaii.

Bipartisan O‘ahu

One of the storylines that emerged from the results of the General Election on November 8th is that for the first time, in about a decade, Republicans in Hawai’i gained seats in the Hawai’i State Legislature.

With the results, the House of Representatives will have 6 Republicans, an increase of two, and 2 Senators, an increase of one.

While in the aggregate, it may not seem like a huge change – after all, Democrats will continue to hold a supermajority in both chambers – there is a buried Lede that makes this development interesting. That is, the Republicans have somehow engineered wins in certain areas on O‘ahu that create something akin to a block of votes in the legislature encompassing a healthy amount of Hawai’i’s population.

But, even more impressive, is the number of people that Republicans will now represent in Hawai’i.

Let us go through some data.

Hawaii Senate Districts 20 (L) and 23 (R). A hold and a flip to Republicans, all on Oahu
PC: Ballotopedia.org

According to the reapportionment committee of 2021-2022, each state house district has approximately 28,534 residents, and each state senate district has about 58,210 people living in it. With the wins in this past election, Republicans represent a total of 171,204 residents in six house districts and 116,420 in two senate districts.

With a population of O‘ahu in 2022 pegged at 905,000, about 18% of the population of the island is now represented by a house Republican, and 12% is represented by a Republican senator. Taken as a whole (Republicans representing the population from both the senate and the house), 403,864 O‘ahu residents are now represented, in the Hawai’i Legislature, by at least one Republican. (One Republican senator – Kurt Favella – has some of his population overlapped by house district 41, which flipped to Republican in 2022. Much of his senatorial district is in house district 42, which flipped to Democrat).

In other words, Republicans now represent 44% of the population of O‘ahu in the legislature.

Looking at it another way, with the state’s population at 1.42 million, 28% of the state is now represented by Republicans.

Now if the distribution of power was diverse, meaning that the Republicans won in various districts that are not related to each other, or next to each other then the significance of this may be muted by provincial issues that don’t relate to everyone else.

Hawaii House Districts (from top to bottom) 18, 38, 39, 41, 42, and 43, all held or flipped to Republicans in 2022. This block represents 18% of the population of Oahu.
PC: Ballotopedia.org

However, in their wins, the Republicans were able to (just about) flip an entire section of O‘ahu, all interconnected, from blue to red. The West O‘ahu section of the electoral map now shows, from Kunia all the way to just south of the Waiʻanae coast, an almost unbroken section of the island that is now Republican. This has not happened since the Republicans lost East Honolulu (the portion between Kaimukī and Hawai’i Kai) starting in the mid-2000s, and ending in 2016 with the flip of the Hawai’i Kai senate seat from Sam Slom to Stanley Chang.

Representative Gene Ward is the only Republican representing East Honolulu and was part of the East Honolulu block before it got broken up.

Add to that the Senatorial win for Brenton Awa on the north shore, and the map almost looks like a red wave crashing on the Windward O‘ahu hamlets (Kailua, Kāneʻohe), and pushing into the urban area of O‘ahu, west of Pearl City and east of Hawaii Kai.

Now one asks “okay, they won these seats, what can they do with them? After all the legislature is still strongly in the hands of Democrats.” Only time will tell but if one believes in “strength in numbers” and understands that a common cause is heard more by those in the back with more voices saying the same thing, diversity of ideas – long pined for by other pundits in Hawai’i – might come alive again after a long hibernation.

In other words, for the first time in a long time, O‘ahu might experience something akin to bipartisanship, or at least a healthier debate on issues, going forward.

It’s time to vote

This message to the readers of PHwSF is going to be short and sweet.

If you have received a ballot in the mail, please open it up, make your choices, follow the instructions and get your vote in.

You may choose someone that will lose. You may have a problem choosing from two candidates on the ballot. You may not know or understand the various questions to change the county charters on the ballot.

That is okay! Take a little time to read up on them, call a friend, or talk to your spouse about the items (hey, maybe they know more than you on this).

But at the end of the process, put your ballot into the sleeve;

Put it into the envelope; 

Seal the envelope;

Sign the envelope as indicated (important step); and then

Go to a ballot box and turn it in (as of this writing it’s going to be too late to post this in the mail).

If you really believe in voting in person, there are locations across the state where you can up until the close of ballots on November 8th. But mailing it in is fine, especially in Hawaii.
PC: “Vote Ballot Box” by Prachatai is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Then go to the store;

Buy some good popcorn; and

Tune into your favorite TV station and their hired pundits on Tuesday, November 8th, and find out the results.

Then come back here in a week or so, to politicshawaii.com, as this humble blogger might have a couple of things to say about the result.

Remember, every vote counts.

Read past entries of Stan Fichtman and PoliticsHawaii.com!

What am I listening to?

These are the Podcasters that I am listening to, try them out!

Pod Save America (on YouTube)

Regular Car Reviews 

Who am I reading/getting news from

I am very choosy as to where I get my news from, here are some dependable sources I refer to when reading up on topics

The Atlantic

CNBC

Civil Beat (Hawaii on-line newspaper)

Honolulu Star Advertiser (mostly paywalled, but you get free headlines)

Beat of Hawaii (Tourism based news source from Kauai)

Twitter Feed

Here are my current thoughts of things going on.

The Best of The SuperflyOz Podcast
By Stan Fichtman

The best of my podcasts dating back from Jan. 2018.
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