January 11, 2009

House hired less session staff?

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 9:59 am

Buried at the end of Borreca’s Star-Bulletin column today:

Finally, here’s some good news: a veteran legislative worker who is saving money. Patricia Mau-Shimizu, the House Clerk, was told to cut the House budget.

She renegotiated contracts with vendors, cut back on new capital expenses, told House workers to take vacation time if they wanted Christmas [Eve, I hope] and New Year’s Eve off. She decided the state House didn’t need so many workers and just generally sucked it up.

The end result was a 10 percent reduction in the House budget. Total savings: $1.2 million.

So it can be done and without the Enron accounting schemes.

Translation: Savings can easily be made if you’re willing to “find savings” at the expense of the workers. Sorry, make that “at the expense of the non-unionized workers of the House.”

Hey, House insiders, care to explain what this 10% cut meant in terms of hiring? Less money allocated for each office to hire session staff could mean the same number of staff (but with even more modest salaries), or it could simply mean fewer staff were hired. The Lege is not going to have any less work this year than in a non-recession year, so the staff will have to do at least as much work with less pay and/or fewer co-workers. As if session workers were ever known to be slackers. [Well, except for staff working for powerless dissident or Minority legislators. Heh.]

Oh, those pesky details

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 9:57 am

The concluding paragraphs of a Star-Bulletin article have these surprising admissions from the Lingle administration:

Linda Smith, Lingle’s senior policy adviser, said the governor’s planned legislation would call only for the suspension of future pay raises and not include any retroactive cuts.

Hanabusa said Lingle is “privately admitting that calling on the Legislature to give up the recent raise was a mistake” because state executives had two pay raises before the legislators got their January increase.

“She has left the public with the unfair and inaccurate impression that accepting the pay adjustment was somehow self-serving,” Hanabusa said.

Lenny Klompus, Lingle’s senior communications adviser, said that in private meetings with legislators, Lingle said she had not realized that that their pay increase was coming in January.

“She told them she understood it and respected it and would not say anything else about it,” Klompus said.

You can almost picture the gnashing of teeth this detente is causing for Mr. Borreca, who begins the article by writing, “Calls for state legislators, judges and executives to cancel $4 million worth of pay raises appear to be going unanswered.” After a discussion of the legal and constituional issues, there is a resigned lament that, when pressed by Boreca, “Both [Sentoar] Kim and [Senator] Hanabusa say they know the public isn’t interested in the fine points of the legal argument, but they still have to obey the law.”

So, if the Governor is truly not going to press the issue of pay cuts, and the Democrats are not picking up the torch, and the Republican legislators (as ever) don’t matter, then it looks as if the pay raises will stick. For now, at least. Unless continued tub-thumping will drum up a champion for the cause, instead of only martyrs.

Djou, of all people, feels ambition is a disqualifying trait for City service

Filed under: Honolulu Politics — Doug @ 9:55 am

How thick is the irony in this Star-Bulletin story?

Some City Council members praised his nomination while others question Caldwell’s political ambition.

“He has certainly served the state for a number of years,” said Councilman Duke Bainum. “I go in with an open mind. I’m more interested in how well-versed he is in city issues.”

At one point, it appeared that Bainum and Caldwell could have been opponents for the City Council seat representing Moiliili to Manoa.

Caldwell, with the help of several of Hannemann’s aides, filed to run for the City Council seat last year. He was later disqualified because of a procedural error in failing to drop out of the state race on time.

Oops, Ms. Au (or her editors) forgot to include a paragraph such as, “Bainum, with the help of then-Councilmember Kobayashi, returned to Oahu, established residency in the district and filed to run for his City Council seat last year as the filing deadline was nearly passed. Bainum ran without any credible opposition because of the procedural error attributed to Caldwell’s filing.” Haha.

It gets better, though:

“I think a big part of the focus of the confirmation hearing is what exactly kind of political deal did Mufi Hannemann cut with Kirk Caldwell,” Djou said.

Bainum disagreed with Djou, saying this is a past issue that shouldn’t be the focus of Caldwell’s confirmation.

“Bainum disagrees.” Heh. You had better believe Bainum disagrees! If people start asking about political deals, then Bainum is going to be the elephant in the Council chamber.

Djou said he also expects to explore Caldwell’s political ambition with Hannemann open to running for Congress or governor in 2010. In the past, politicians – such as former Mayor Jeremy Harris – have used the managing director position as a launching point to the mayor’s seat.

“The City Council is not looking at just confirming the managing director,” Djou said. “We’re also potentially looking at selecting the next mayor of Honolulu.”

Even though the story focuses on the mayoral implications, I would not rule out Caldwell for a run at Congress (against Djou, if Abercrombie were to run for Governor) or, less likely, for Governor (if Hanneman instead runs for Congress against Djou).

Could be a trainwreck of a confirmation hearing, indeed.

Powered by WordPress