The “Big Eyes” Have It: Hawaii Courts Again in the Hollywood Spotlight

The “Big Eyes” Have It: Hawaii Courts Again in the Hollywood Spotlight

  We’re going to start off 2015 slightly off-topic, a movie review. But rest assured, there is a small eminent domain connection. Anyone who was around in the 1960s and 1970s remembers those paintings and prints of sad children with oversize eyes. They were ubiquitous. But they gave our young eyes dissonance. To us, “art” was whatever the adults said it was, and by any measure these paintings must have been art, because they were everywhere, and popularity equated to artistic quality, right? But at the same time, they were kitschy, and in a creepy way (not low-rent fun like our favorite kitsch, Dogs Playing Poker and Velvet Elvis). The weird-but-true backstory behind the big-eyed paintings has recently hit the big screen, Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes” with Amy Adams as long-time Hawaii resident, painter Margaret Keane, and Christoph Waltz as her Svengali, husband Walter Keane. Hawaii lawyers have always known the backstory due to a spectacularly kitschy Honolulu federal court trial in the mid-1980s, the result of Margaret suing her by-then ex-husband Walter (and USA Today) for defamation for his claim that he, not Margaret, was the creator of the paintings. During the rise of their popular art empire in the 1960s, Walter had taken sole credit for the work, although she had announced publicly in 1970 that they were her creations. Big Eyes tells the story from Margaret’s perspective as a struggling single mother with a passion for painting, whose work and talents are slowly co-opted by Walter. Seemingly before she knows it, he is opening galleries, rubbing shoulders with celebrities, and being celebrated for “his” work, while she...

Big Bad Surprises in the New Akaka Bill

• Tribal casinos in Hawaii even if the state legalizes only church bingo • Grabbing for federal, state, and even private lands in Hawaii • Akaka tribe casinos competing against genuine tribes on mainland • Grabbing federal handouts away from genuine tribes • Pig in a poke — recognizing a tribe before it’s created • Race the only requirement enforced for tribal membership • Balkanize America — any “indigenous” group can now be a tribe The present essay is a quote-free citation-free version of a more detailed analysis with extensive documentation and internet links. Please see http://tinyurl.com/9yadojp The new Akaka bill introduced on September 13, 2012 is a monster. It’s only 14 pages long, but it’s all the previous versions on steroids. Until now the bill prohibited the Akaka tribe from engaging in any form of gambling in Hawaii or anywhere else. The new version authorizes full-blown tribal casinos in Hawaii if the state ever legalizes any form of gambling including church bingo. This new bill allows the Akaka tribe, by far the largest tribe in America, to bully the genuine but much smaller mainland tribes by competing against them in two ways which previous versions of the bill prohibited. (a) The Akaka tribe can put casinos in 48 other states (excluding Utah) even if the State of Hawaii does not allow gambling in Hawaii. (b) Language in the bill also says the Akaka tribe can immediately receive benefits automatically from existing programs routinely available to all the federally recognized tribes, plus any new programs. In view of America’s $16 Trillion national debt, the pot of money available for...

Are The United States & Hawaii Competitive?

by Adam Smith World leaders, business executives, bankers, journalists and other influential policy makers recently met in Davos Switzerland to discuss the most pressing economic and political issues of the day. During this year’s gathering, there was mutual agreement that soft economic conditions are forcing countries to rethink how they can become more competitive in order to attract new businesses that will create more jobs and also provide tax revenues to pay down public debt.  The need for the United States to become more competitive in world markets was also made clear in Mr. Obama’s recent State of the Union speech.   Do the United States and Hawaii currently offer a competitive environment that will attract and stimulate economic growth?   Most people would say no.  The United States has one of the most complex tax codes in the world and one of the highest tax rates among developed countries.  According to the Tax Foundation’s most recent report, Hawaii’s tax system is ranked 35th among the 50 states.  Both the United States and Hawaii have costly regulations when compared to other countries and states and Hawaii has a reputation for not being a pro-business state.   Also, according to the Pew Foundation, the United States is over 15 trillion dollars in debt and Hawaii has projected unfunded pension obligations of over 16 billion dollars and projected unfunded Medicaid obligations of over 10 billion dollars.  These debt obligations are making it increasingly difficult for the governments of the United States and Hawaii to fund public infrastructure projects that will support economic growth.   Why does being competitive matter?   Business...

While Our Leaders Doze, a National Plan to Hose Hawaii Moves Onward

by Malia Hill Hey, I have an idea that should make the NFL season more fair and representative of which is really the best team.  Instead of awarding the championship title to the winner of the Superbowl, we should abolish the Superbowl and playoffs, and decide the winner based on which team scored the most points that year.  Wouldn’t that be the best determination of who really deserves to win? I’m kidding, of course.  I’m a Ravens fan—a lot of the time, we’re lucky to creep into double digits.  But before you dismiss this example as pure nuttiness, you should realize that it’s a lot like what some states (including Hawaii) are trying to do with the Electoral College.  And just as Ravens fans (and Jets fans and 49ers fans as long as Alex Smith is at quarterback) would oppose awarding the Superbowl based on regular-season point totals, so should smaller states fight the elimination of the Electoral College.  And for very similar reasons . . . it undermines their importance and ignores their standing. At stake is something called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), a coalition effort (of sorts) to accomplish a backdoor elimination of the Electoral College by having states individually pass legislation that agrees to award its electors by popular vote within the state.  Then, once the NPVIC has sufficient participating states to control a majority of the Electoral College, they would cast their votes as a block in favor of the nationwide popular vote winner (regardless of who won the popular vote within each state) so as to guarantee that the winner of...