June 28, 2009

The wait is almost over – vetoes announced tomorrow

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 6:24 pm

Long time, no posting. Sorry. This post has been on my back burner for quite some time, and now it is finally time for me to act.

Back in early May, the Governor issued a press release seeking public comment and input on the bills transmitted to her by the 2009 legislature.

As she has done in prior years, the Governor is seeking comments on bills from the public, including individuals, businesses, industry and professional associations, nonprofit groups, and community organizations statewide. In addition, the Administration is soliciting input from the counties, law enforcement agencies and state boards and commissions.

“I am asking the public to stay engaged in the process,” said Governor Lingle. “My Administration values the public’s input regarding the impact the proposed laws will have on residents, businesses and the future of our state.”

Engaged? That’s me, in spades!

Days earlier, in her veto of a few tax increases, the Governor chided the Legislature for its lack of transparency, suggesting a contrast with herself:

The Governor plans to issue her vetoes in a public forum with the opportunity for members of the community to fully see and understand the basis for her decisions. This compares to the practice of the Legislature who render their decisions late at night, frequently behind closed doors, and without the opportunity for public scrutiny.

A few weeks later, in the Honolulu Weekly wrap-up of the completed regular session, Governor Lingle wrote:

The general public may not be aware of how many critical decisions by the Legislature are made behind closed doors during conference committees, instead out in the open during public hearings. This means that when a bill fails to pass at the last minute, we often have the same questions as the public: “What happened? How come?” Several innovative measures introduced by our Administration, and which had broad bipartisan support, suffered this fate this past legislative session, and were killed during secret sessions and with no explanation. Until this process is improved and made more transparent, I fear that the Hawaii public will continue to be kept in the dark on issues that affect their quality of life.

A few chinks in the Governor’s “transparency” armor have appeared since then. Before her speech about the budget crisis, the Governor and her administration engaged in closed-door meetings all weekend. Hmmmm.

Is the Lingle administration on or off the transparency wagon at this time? June 29 is the last day for the Governor to signal if she intends to veto any of the still-pending legislation.

UPDATED: Here is the list of measures the Governor intends to veto.

So, here’s where I go to work. I have made a UIPA request to obtain all the incoming and outgoing communication and records related to the veto (or approval) of the still-pending legislation. If the Lingle administration is as good as her word [wink], then with this information we will know, “What happened? How come?” If individuals, businesses, industry and professional associations, nonprofit groups, community organizations, counties, law enforcement agencies and state boards and commissions actually participated in the process as she requested, then there should be plenty of records to disclose. I’m sure the Lingle administration will respond promptly, but even if a response takes the entire 10 days allowed by law we’ll have the information before any veto may be carried out.

RELATED: If she does not sign the budget bill by Wednesday, then what? Automatic furlough?

June 3, 2009

UH part of effort to send ROV to bottom of deepest ocean trench

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Science — Doug @ 7:39 pm

It’s been a while since I have used the science category (not surprisingly, since it’s been a while since I have done any scientific work), but the Saipan Tribune reports on a research expedition from the R/V Kilo Moana, a UH-operated ship that used to take me to sea regularly. If you’re a science dork, it’s exciting news. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, partnered with a UH geologist, has made several dives to explore and to gather data from the Mariana Trench with the Nereus, a remotely operated submersible.

It has been a few years (after the loss of a Japanese unmanned submersible in 2003) since a machine capable of reaching these depths has been in operation. It’s amazing how little we know about the bottoms of the sea…

Oh, and I also use the Hawaii Media tag on this post because I’ve seen no mention of this locally. [Did I miss it somewhere?] Get with it, UH flacks!

META: The last I heard of my former co-worker, Akel Sterling, was that he piloted ROVs for WHOI. I wonder if he’s part of this effort?

AG reverses its opinion of furloughs, with curious timing

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 7:39 pm

Thanks to the Hawaii House Majority for this blog post that provides two opinions sent from the Attorney General’s office to Speaker Say in response to a series of questions about furloughs. The first opinion, dated February 17, told the Speaker that furloughs would need to be part of the collective bargaining process. On May 29, however, a second opinion now claims that the Governor may unilaterally impose furloughs.

The first opinion took pains to note areas of the HRS where furloughs are conspicuously absent, but at that time the Deputy AG inferred that furloughs would need to be negotiated with the employee unions. The second opinion does a rather thorough job of dismantling the arguments presented in the first. So, why the change? The cynical no-brainer answer is that opinion number two serves the Governor’s interests at this time. However, I think the same answer applied to the February opinion, which also served the Governor’s interests at that time. Here’s why: In February, had the AG noted the HRS’ lack of clarity yet somehow concluded that the Governor could go ahead with furloughs, there would have been ample time for the Lege to amend HRS 89 to make it clear if furloughs were to be a part of collective bargaining, or, less likely, to make it clear that the Governor is indeed free to impose furloughs unilaterally. On May 29, however, with the collective bargaining contracts expiring in a few weeks and the Lege no longer in regular session, it is too late for HRS 89 to be clarified before any legal challenge to her furloughs (which she intends to begin in July).

Pretty devious, yeah? Lull them into complacency, then spring the trap.

Of course, the Lege could take up the matter of amending HRS 89 in the now almost-inevitable veto override special session this July. Everyone remembers that legislators were too-wiling to haphazardly bail out the Hawaii Super Ferry for very little obvious political benefit, so perhaps legislators would be just as quick to, at a minimum, require the Governor to negotiate furloughs with the public employee unions, i.e. a constituency that wields much more political influence than the pro-ferry folks.

Powered by WordPress