Friday, September 23, 2005

Maybe They Should All Be Portuguese

Lingle appointee will not heed calls to step down

Harbin says criticism over her party switch and unpaid taxes is mudslinging "politics"

By Jaymes Song
Associated Press

Newly sworn-in state Rep. Beverly Wolff Harbin said yesterday that she was committed to serving out her term, despite intense public scrutiny into her personal finances and calls from her own party to step down.

Democrats say she changed parties to qualify for the appointment

Harbin was sworn in Monday after Gov. Linda Lingle appointed her to succeed Kenneth Hiraki, who resigned to become a lobbyist for Hawaiian Telcom. The Republican governor was required to appoint a Democrat to replace Hiraki, because he was a Democrat. But the Democratic Party has accused Lingle of handpicking one of her own.

Harbin, whose term expires in November 2006, said she has deep roots as a Democrat and accused the party of being threatened by her desire to change the "status quo."

"Am I surprised? Of course, not. Anybody that has any type of intelligence or knowledge and any type of passion for our state is considered a threat to the imploding old-boy network," she said.

Lingle chose Harbin over four candidates recommended by the Democratic Party. She said Harbin was selected because of her extensive small-business background and because she has worked, lived and been active in the 28th House District (Kakaako, downtown).

Harbin explained that she ran as a Republican more than two decades ago to oppose a Kalanianaole Highway expansion project that was supported by a Democrat.

Calls to resign "made me mad," she said. "I'm a three-generation Portuguese person, and you know what? I don't sit down and take crap from anybody," she said.


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