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.

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