Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 7:24 pm
Yes, Bob Awana resigned, I know. However, Iâ€™m letting a few ideas simmer before I write about this. Itâ€™s not as if itâ€™s a time-sensitive issue at this pointâ€¦
Economic forecasts are not unimpeachable
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 7:24 pm
A few days ago (just before I had ISP woes), I noticed this SB story about Democrats who are cautious about the economy and Governor Lingle who is optimistic about the economy, and the impact this difference of opinion has on government.
Construction cranes may be reclaiming their spot as the unofficial state bird, and statewide unemployment may still be way below 3 percent, but at the state Capitol the economic talk is gloom, not boom.
Since January, Democratic legislative leaders have been cautioning Republican Gov. Linda Lingle that she was too optimistic with her economic forecasts.
Today lawmakers are predicting future cuts, while Lingle is saying that the economy can support another round of tax cuts.
Also, Lingle noted in a news conference this week that because the stateâ€™s revenues are expected to be up again, the Legislature next year will be required to give another tax rebate.
While most economists measure the stateâ€™s economy by looking at various sectors, such as construction, job rates and tourism, the state must use the semi-independent state Council of Revenues figures, which are only a prediction of tax collections.
In May, the council reduced the revenue projection to 4 percent from 6 percent, a reduction that could mean a loss of $85 million in next yearâ€™s budget.
Next month the final revenue figures for the fiscal year will come in and that sets a base for future plans on state spending.
While the state has regularly used the Council on Revenues estimates when writing the budget, itâ€™s not accurate to say the state must use the council estimates. In fact, the law allows for the Governor or Legislature to set aside those estimates, so long as â€œif the legislature in appropriating funds, or if the governor in preparing the budget uses a revenue estimate which differs from the estimate prepared by the council, then the governor or the legislature shall make that fact public together with reasons for using the differing revenue estimates.â€
Thus, the Governor could say that because of x, y, and z the Council estimate for 2008 is too low, and hence she could budget for higher revenues and a large[r] tax rebate next year. However, the Legislature could then adopt that higher revenue forecast and apply it to other priorities. The â€œestimatorâ€ and â€œre-prioritizerâ€ roles could be reversed, too, of course.
On a similar theme, I wrote an earlier post about the weird politics of these estimates and the effects of the estimates on â€œsurplusâ€ politics.
DHHL to help Wal-Mart evade the big box store ban being considered by Hawaii County, soâ€¦
Filed under: Neighbor Islands â€” Doug @ 7:23 pm
I donâ€™t have anything original to say about the stories from the neighbor islands about big box store regulation, but a recent story in the West Hawaii Today had this section that caught my attention:
Hilo Councilman Stacy Higa, the force behind the proposed legislation, said Monday the council needs to consider doing more than approving the ban if it is to keep big box stores such as Wal-Mart off the Big Island.
Not long after the councilâ€™s Planning Committee approved a resolution that directed Yuen to offer comments and recommendations on the proposed ban, Wal-Mart announced it plans to build one of its â€œsuperstoresâ€ on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property behind its existing Hilo store.
Higa said the county has no say on what is built on DHHL property, which means all sorts of developments, regardless if they meet county zoning regulations, could start sprouting up across the island.
One of the main intentions of creating a superstore ban is to â€œmake the playing field as level as possible,â€ he said.
Higa said food on the island is â€œlimited,â€ and the creation of a big box store, like the one Wal-Mart plans for Hilo, could serve to eliminate all of the competition, as the â€œsupercenterâ€ would include a complete supermarket section.
While the ordinance, should it pass, would help keep such big box stores off the island, the recent announcement that Wal-Mart plans to build a new store on DHHL property complicates the issue, he said.
Higa said the council needs to consider legislation to discourage developments from â€œsnubbing their nosesâ€ at county zoning regulations and building on DHHL property, which, like Native American reservations, is exempt from certain federal, state and local laws.
The county, for instance, could tell Wal-Mart it wonâ€™t provide infrastructure, such as sewer and water service, to its new â€œsuperstore,â€ he said.
â€œIf they want to have their own little kingdoms â€¦ let them develop (the infrastructure) themselves,â€ Higa said.
Huh? Leaving aside the punitive nature of that comment (which no other Councilmember seemed to echo, and which the Kim administration opposed), how, exactly, could the County deny Wal-Mart access to county infrastructure without also denying sewer and water service to the neighboring devlopments on DHHL land? Sewer and water lines are piped together in a sequential fashion, after all. Right?
Hawaii House Majority blog follows the Senateâ€™s lead
Filed under: General â€” Doug @ 7:23 pm
Now that the House Democrats have a blog, joining the Senate Democrats who have had one for a few weeks already, Iâ€™m wondering where are the GOP efffortsâ€¦
While Iâ€™m at it, I might as well note that one of the sties I visit often in writing for this blog, the Status & Documents page of the Legislature website, has a new look, too. If any of those webmasters are paying attention, Iâ€™d sure like it if the public website had all of the sorting, tracking, and reporting functionality found on the internal (â€Eclipseâ€™) server. Particularly the reports on bill introducers and deadline tracking. Why not?
Filed under: General â€” Doug @ 6:51 pm
Sorry, suffered from an ISP hiccup for a few days, but now Iâ€™m plowing through the comment (and spam) queue and plan to be posting again tomorrow.
Lingle and Awana are hiring, but not talking, in the Philippines trip aftermath
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 6:52 pm
Judging by an Advertiser article, Governor Lingle is pulling a page from the President Bush & Press Secretary Tony Snow playbook with a â€œwe will not comment on an ongoing investigationâ€”especially when the investigation in question just so happens to be potentially embarrassing to this administrationâ€ reaction to the simmering Bob Awana extortion mystery. So far, the Honolulu media are leaving it at that.
Meanwhile, in a SB story we learn that a Philippines Army officer who accompanied the Governorâ€™s delegation around-the-clock during the trip to the Phillippines has been offered a deputy sheriff position as a member of Lingleâ€™s Executive Protection detail.
Bob Awana, Lingleâ€™s chief of staff, said Palo was informally offered a job last year because both he and Lingle were impressed with his handling of security during her trip.
Palo is a permanent resident alien, Awana said, and is eligible for state employment.
â€œWhen we were on the 2006 trip, he was the person in charge of the entire security detail. He was with the governor every minute of the day and the governor was quite impressed,â€ Awana said.
â€œBefore we left, I made an offhand comment that if he ever wanted to move to the U.S. and work for us, we would consider him in the governorâ€™s executive protection unit.â€
Later, Awana said Palo told him he wanted to move to the United States.
â€œThe next thing I know, he tells me he has a green card and would like to apply for a job,â€ Awana said.
Hmmm. Kinda makes me wonder if Captain Palo was also present during the entertainment allegedly provided to the delegation by Bob Awanaâ€™s, uh, â€œassociate,â€ Jullie Mae. If Patkarâ€™s allegedly extortionate version of events is true, and if Palo witnessed or facilitated any â€œsexual entertainmentâ€ provided to members of the delegation, then his being discreet about that entertainment could provide Palo some leverage to ask for (or to be offered) favors like, say, a green card and a good job. Palo was hired in April. Patkar was indicted in April. Iâ€™m just sayingâ€¦
See, this is the kind of idle speculation that begins to emerge when the court records are partially sealed and no official comment or explanation is provided by, or on behalf of, Mr. Awanaâ€¦ Heh.
You donâ€™t have to like it, back alley people
Filed under: Honolulu Politics â€” Doug @ 7:35 pm
Iâ€™ve wasted a bit of time this evening troubleshooting a weird computer problem, but my intent was to do a post about this SB story concerning a zoning change in Hawaii Kai. The City Council is considering legislation to allow for a taller building, with the expectation that there would be more setback from the edge of the property (i.e. â€œopen space.â€). However, since Iâ€™m now grumpy and short on time, Iâ€™ll simply point out this closing zinger from Councilmember Tam:
Zoning Chairman Rod Tam, in recommending approval of the height increase, said he acknowledges the community concerns. â€œItâ€™s not our responsibility here on the Council to pull the community together, quite frankly,â€ he said.
So there. Heh.
Hawaiiâ€™s deal with CCA/Mayor to house inmates in Arizona begins
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 9:40 am
Both Honolulu dailies run a brief AP story about an â€œall-Hawaii inmatesâ€ private prison in Arizona. The SB version is here, and the slightly-truncated Advertiser is here.
?This is the first time that the Hawaiians (in mainland correctional facilities) will all be housed under one roof,? said LeeAnn Archuleta, the Saguaro Correctional Center?s [construction pics] chief of unit management.
Archuleta said Hawaii has its own prisons but like many states, it also exports some offenders to privatized prisons in other parts of the country.
Well, thereâ€™s an instance where the editorial shorthand of using â€œHawaiiansâ€ for â€œinmates under Hawaii DPS jurisdictionâ€ is definitely not flatteringâ€¦ (nor accurate, for that matter, since some Native Hawaiians are incarcerated by other jurisdictions and non-Native Hawaiian inmates are among those housed on the mainland under Hawaii DPS jurisdiction) According to 2006 DPS annual report (PDF), there were 1844 inmates on the mainland a year ago. That count included over 100 women. So, is this 1896-bed Arizona prison a co-ed facility?
Iâ€™m not familiar with Southern Arizona, but on Google maps Eloy seems to be midway between Tuscon and Phoenix. There is only a small municipal airport there, so anyone wishing to visit an inmate from Hawaii at Eloy would have some logistical challenges and expenses to deal with.
Corrections Corporation has a contract with the Hawaii Department of Public Safety?s Corrections Division to operate the $95 million Saguaro Correctional Center, for which the company will be paid a per diem for each prisoner.
Itâ€™s easy to argue that administering a single contract, and trying to monitor compliance at a single facility, would be easier for DPS, but the manner in which the contract was procured still bothers me a little bit. The Mayor of Eloy, Arizona is a Corrections Corporation of America employee, yet this deal is considered a â€œgovernment-to-governmentâ€ transaction that is exempt from State procurement laws.
Filed under: General â€” Doug @ 5:45 pm
Sorry, but Iâ€™ll be back tomorrow.
Ex-DLNR Director Young has different title, same job?
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 7:30 pm
Good work by Nancy Cook Lauer of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald for this story about the unusual aftermath of the Senateâ€™s rejection of Peter Youngâ€™s (re-)nomination to head the DLNR.
Just months after the Senate refused to reconfirm Peter Young as chairman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, he is, for all intents and purposes, back in charge.
Youngâ€™s now the deputy to the chairman and is overseeing, among other divisions, the Bureau of Conveyances â€” the very department whose troubles led most directly to Youngâ€™s rejection by the Senate.
Young, a former deputy managing director of Hawaii County in Kona, had served as DLNR chairman since 2003. Interim DLNR Chairman Allan Smith, a co-chairman of Republican Gov. Linda Lingleâ€™s reelection campaign and now the titular head of the agency, chaired the original committee that recommended Young to the position.
Smith is also chairman of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, where decisions are made about marine permits, land leases and conservation enforcement. But much of the day-to-day oversight of DLNR falls on Youngâ€™s shoulders, sources close to the agency told Stephens Media.
This irks some lawmakers, who were so troubled by problems in the agency that they not only rejected Young, but created a special joint House-Senate investigative committee to look into the security of documents at the Bureau of Conveyances, the repository for all the titles to real property and liens against them in the state.
Hey, now thatâ€™s some clever political jiujitsu! The Governor could nominate Smith, or any other person, next year with the expectation that Young would remain in control despite holding the title of â€œdeputy to the chairman.â€ First it was Bob Awana pulling the strings of Rod Haraga at DOT, and now itâ€™s Peter Young as stealth chairman of DLNR. So much for advise and consentâ€¦
Apparently it costs a lot of money to sue yourself
Filed under: Neighbor Islands â€” Doug @ 6:08 pm
Over a year ago I posted about Kauai County suing itself to stop a â€œtax revoltâ€ Charter Amendment from being implemented. Now the Garden Island News reports that in order to continue the lawsuit the Kauai County Council is appropriating more money to pay for private attorneys.
The Pacific Legal Foundation is still paying (or, rather, paid) for the legal team arguing in defense of the Charter Amendment.
Itâ€™s still hard for me to wrap my head around the concept of two branches of county government suing each otherâ€”with both sides wanting the same outcome. The article doesnâ€™t mention when (if?) the Hawaii Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling, but I think that Mr. Mickens has a point when he says that paying for additional legal work after the case has been argued before the Court is odd. Once the Supreme Court rules, then there can be no further appeals and this case is pau, right?
Aiona(?) signs gasoline transparency law
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 7:23 pm
The Garden Island News reports that Lieutenant Governor Aiona has signed SB 990 into law. Ignoring the (deceptive) pleas of Senter Petroleum for â€œflexibility,â€ the law will require weekly reports from Hawaiiâ€™s petroleum industry. Aionaâ€™s signature arguably gives Governor Lingle (thin) cover and a way to maintain hope for campaign contributions from the petroleum industry in her future pursuit of a U.S. Senate seat.
Itâ€™s about time this program gets going!
We are disappointed that after receiving all of the comments from the industry that the bill was signed. The flaws in the current bill may cause legal action by some in the industry when it could have been resolved with a simple restoration of the stricken language at the 11th hour,? [Senter Petroleum President] Cable said in a statement yesterday.
The oil company had asked the PUC and state Legislature to keep ?flexibility language? in the bill.
?The work that had gone into developing the bill so that the PUC could effectively do what is required by Act 78 was undermined â€¦ We will just have to wait and see what can be worked out to provide the information that is requested in a timely manner,? Cable said.
Rep. Mina Morita, D-14th District, said the flexibility language regarding reporting time intervals was not removed ?at the 11th hour,? but ?ironed out during conference.?
The Senate position was to require weekly reports. The House wanted to grant the PUC discretion. Compromises were made, she said.
?We needed to get the program up and running. The reporting requirement should not have been a deal breaker in getting this program funded,? Morita said. ?The industry had every opportunity to bring their concerns to the Legislature on this issue in the numerous public hearings and they did not.?
Does that explanation sound familiar? Heh.
The law takes effect on July 1, 2007. The PUC has two weeks to make the data public once they are received. Thus, we could have the first dataset in about a month and fresh data every week thereafter. Mirabile dictu.
Are draft BOE rules â€œinternal working documentsâ€ subject to secrecy? No.
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 7:21 pm
Following up on the post from yesterday, take a look at the story in the Hawaii County dailies (Hawaii Tribune-Herald here and West Hawaii Today here) where this strange aspect of the Board of Education meeting is described:
The more than two-hour meeting, interrupted by a closed-door session based on the Attorney Generalâ€™s Office having second thoughts about whether a document discussed in a public meeting is indeed a public record, ended without a decision. Instead, the rules will be discussed again at an upcoming committee meeting and then go to public hearings before becoming law.
One of the most crucial changes is the one allowing inspections of student lockers, said committee Chairwoman Mary Cochran. The rule, stating, â€œSchool lockers provided to the students on campus are subject to opening and inspection by school officials at any time without reason or cause,â€ will pave the way for searches by drug dogs statewide, she said.
The current provisions would be removed that studentsâ€™ expectation of privacy â€œextends to their persons and personal effects as well as school property assigned to their individual use. School officials shall respect and uphold these privacy rights of students.â€
Some committee members worried about random searches, but Cohcran thinks the searches can be conducted based on reasonable suspicion, thus preserving privacy rights.
Still, some committee members and the attorney assigned from the Attorney Generalâ€™s Office to represent the board were uncomfortable allowing the media to see the draft rules. After DOE staff shared the draft with reporters based on the committeeâ€™s agreement, Education Division Supervisor Holly Shikada had it taken away, and the committee went into executive session to decide if it was indeed a public record.
â€œOh my â€” so much for transparency in our government,â€ snapped an exasperated Cohran, who voted against the closed-door session.
The 40-page document was returned to reporters after the brief executive session.
â€œI want to make it clear on the record that I consider the document in question to be an internal working document and that it should not be used as a final document based on a decision we had this afternoon,â€ said committee member John Penebacker, who called for the executive session. â€œItâ€™s draft legislation and should be treated as such and eventually there will be monumental changes made in this document before itâ€™s a final document that will go out to public hearing.â€
Wha? Penebacker seems to be first claiming for the Board privileges provided only to members of the legislature and then he proceeds to misrepresent the (non-existent) allowance for secrecy of draft legislation. The Uniform Information Practices Act does make an exception for, among other things, the â€œinchoate and draft working papers of legislative committeesâ€ â€¦ but the BOE is not the Legislature. Furthermore, regardingPenebackerâ€™s call for the rules draft â€œto be treated asâ€ legislation, draft legislation placed on an agenda for a public hearing at the Legislature is not exempt from disclosure.
Now, if the BOE would be so kind as to put the 40-page document on their websiteâ€¦
Lingleâ€™s HCRC poised to protect employers from complaints
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 7:15 pm
The SB editorializes about proposed rules (PDF) to be considered this Friday by the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. In cases of sexual and ethnic harassment, the new rules would shift liability from the employer to the indivdual harrasser, and would require the victim to first report the matter to the employer (before turning to a union, the federal government, or the HCRC). Sounds like a big step backward for workers facing harrassment, but not if you consider this unintentionally accurate (due to poor website maintenance) description of the Commission:
The HCRC was organized in 1990 and officially opened its doors in January 1991. For twelve years the HCRC has enforced state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment (H.R.S. Chapter 378, Part I), housing (H.R.S. Chapter 515); public accommodations (H.R.S. Chapter 489), and access to state and state-funded services (H.R.S. Â§368-1.5).
See, apparently the Commission quit that important work in 2003â€¦ Sorry, yeah?
Seriously, though, itâ€™s worth noting that the current Commissioners were all nominated by Governor Lingle (and confirmed by the State Senate). They are an Army general, an HR professional, a corporate lawyer, and an educational filmmaker. So far as I can tell the HCRC doesnâ€™t put minutes of its meetings online, so I donâ€™t know if the Commissioners tend to vote unanimously or not.
Board of Education smells a rule change for locker searches
Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media â€” Doug @ 7:15 pm
In order for their canine search program to flourish, the Hawaii Board of Education wants to amend administrative rules to allow searches of student lockers without probably cause. The SB has a piece that gives some idea of what is going on, but I canâ€™t find the language of the proposed rule changes online to see for myself.
The state Department of Education made public yesterday proposed revisions to the student misconduct code, also known as Chapter 19.
The code, which has been untouched since 2001, needs to be updated to include definitions for cyberbullying, forgery and hazing and to prohibit, in writing, gadgets like laser pen pointers, iPods and DVD players, as well as gang paraphernalia, on school grounds.
Any changes to the code would be subject to approval by the Board of Education, public hearings and Gov. Linda Lingleâ€™s signature.
The school board deferred a vote on the planned revisions yesterday after members spent two hours going over a 40-page draft line by line. They will continue debate on the issue at a meeting on Thursday.
But most members seemed supportive of a law [sic] change that would let school officials inspect studentsâ€™ lockers for drugs, guns and other illegal items to ensure campus safety,
â€œYou donâ€™t have the same rights when you enter the school,â€ said board member Denise Matsumoto. â€œItâ€™s just like at the airport.â€
Whoa. First of all, is this an editorial or a news article? What â€œneedsâ€ to be done is not for a reporter to sayâ€¦
Second, Matsumoto is so eager to simply assert that a school is â€œjust like the airportâ€ that she fails to make her case in favor of that analogy. If Iâ€™m not mistaken, the drug searches conducted at the airport are done to comply with federal law(s). As such, the State Constitutionâ€™s provision granting a right to privacy is superseded. In contrast, I know of no federal law that would compel Hawaii to search public school lockers without probable cause. There is extensive case history on searches and seizures, including some involving airport searches, a principal searching a purse, and one described as:
Warrantless search and seizure of property in area open to public not unreasonable; in area not open to public unreasonable absent exigent circumstances. 60 H. 197, 587 P.2d 1224.
I am not a lawyer, but I donâ€™t think randomly searching student lockers can withstand a legal challenge. That does not mean the BOE wonâ€™t try it anyway, though.
Is Lingle an international booster of Hawaii vacation rentals?
Filed under: HI State Politics, Honolulu Politics, Neighbor Islands â€” Doug @ 7:10 pm
No context is given, but this Pacific Business News article leads me to wonder if Governor Lingle is encouraging international travellers to patronize the (often quasi-legal or unlawful) vacation rentals that are proliferating throughout the State. Several counties are considering legislation to regulate and, to varying degrees, are seeking to â€œcrack downâ€ on vacation rentals. Maybe the Governor leans toward the â€œboost tourismâ€ side of the question and away from the â€œpreserve Hawaii neighborhoods for residentsâ€ angle? Without access to the text of her remarks at the seminar in Japan, itâ€™s impossible to know.
Hannemannâ€™s campaign treasury over $1M, without an announced opponent
Filed under: Honolulu Politics â€” Doug @ 6:43 pm
The SB reports that Mayor Hannemann held a successful fundraiser last week and already has a balance of over $1M in his campaign account for a re-election campaign in 2008. Ed Case waves off the suggestion that he will run for Honolulu Mayor (in favor of â€œstatewideâ€ office).
â€œWeâ€™re preparing for a race that would be costly because of my experience the last time I ran. And I donâ€™t want to take anything for granted even though no one has surfaced yet. I donâ€™t want to assume weâ€™re going to be without a credible opponent,â€ Hannemann said.
But those who have been named as possible candidates disagree that money will win the election â€” after all, Hannemann was 2-to-1 behind his opponent, former Councilman Duke Bainum, in spending when he won the record $6 million race in 2004.
Councilman Charles Djou, a critic of the Hannemann administration, canâ€™t run again for the City Council because of term limits. He said he hasnâ€™t decided what, if any, office he may run for in 2008.
â€œCurrently Iâ€™m not actively campaigning for mayor. Iâ€™m not looking at it, but I have not entirely ruled it out,â€ Djou said. â€œObviously the size of a candidateâ€™s war chest is a factor in an election. â€¦ I think ideas you have as candidate on what you want to do as mayor are far more important.â€
Actually, divining the intentions of Djou (and the intentions of the other term-limited Councilmembers) is a much more interesting topic to me than the no-surprise â€œnewsâ€ that Mufi will run again. Those egos are not the type that will just fade away quietlyâ€¦
I canâ€™t remember from the last election (and Iâ€™m too lazy to look it up today), but has Bainum ever ruled out another run for Mayor?
Alleged extortionistâ€™s brother speaks
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 9:20 am
The scrappy Maui Time Weekly has a piece about the Awana extortion allegations that covers some new (to me, anyway) ground:
Patkar?s brother, Charudatta, tells a somewhat different story. According to him, his brother is innocent and his friend ?donated the gift card to a Hindu religious charity.?
Charudatta said his brother is a highly educated professional with three advanced degrees who once served as the lead interpreter when the Indian Prime Minister visited Japan, and was most recently working on his own computer business.
According to Charudatta, Paktar had developed ?a relationship? with Jullie Mae of the Philippines through the Internet, though they apparently never actually met. When Mae began complaining to Patkar about being bothered by a U.S. official, Patkar decided to help. Charudatta added that Awana had allegedly promised Mae a job and had sent her money.
But the job never materialized, and when Awana and other state officials visited the Philippines, Charudatta said Mae was expected to ?entertain his delegates.? When I asked if this included sexual entertainment, Charudatta said, ?Yes.?
Awana refused to comment for this story on either how he allegedly knew Mae or Charudatta?s allegations. ?I can?t share any details about that,? he said. But he did confirm that he has visited the Philippines within the last three years. Awana also denied that he had ?sexually exploited? Mae in a June 11 KITV news report on the case, but refused to comment on why Patkar was allegedly blackmailing him.
When I asked for a copy of the emailed blackmail or letters from Jullie Mae, Awana declined, saying he?d ?turned all of that over to the FBI.?
Heh. What a pickle for Awana and the federal prosecutor. How to make the extortion charge stick without (eventually) disclosing the contents of those messagesâ€¦ Itâ€™s not outrageous for the public to think that if the information in question would exonerate Awanaâ€™s actions it would have been released already.
Plea bargain rescinded; no new trial?
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 9:19 am
Since I wrote about it earlier this week before it happened, I may as well comment on the Advertiserâ€™s report about a court hearing that set a date for re-sentencing a woman who â€œsabotagedâ€ her placement in a secure mental health treatment facility.
Maybe some of my lawyer audience can help me out here. How binding is a plea agreement? As I understand it (I am not a lawyer), the agreement spares the prosecution the trouble of a trial and, concordantly, reduces the punishment faced by the defendant. Thus, it would seem to me that if plea agreement falls apart there would need to be an actual trial (or new plea agreement) before a new (enhanced) sentence could be imposed. Going straight to re-sentencing doesnâ€™t seem to be justice. Are plea agreements stored online anywhere? The exact wording of Lewisâ€™ agreement might answer these questions.
[Judge] Strance ruled that Julia Lewis had violated the terms of her probation by failing to enter a secure Mainland treatment facility.
Lewis testified that she would have gone to a California facility the state had proposed for her, but acknowledged she did write a letter arguing that the program was â€œnot appropriate for her.â€ Among other issues, Lewis was concerned there were male sex offenders housed at the facility.
The California program later rejected Julia Lewis after Sharon Lewis called the vice president of the program and raised â€œissues she had concerns over,â€ according to testimony from Lewisâ€™ probation officer.
Sharon Lewis said she was looking out for her daughterâ€™s interests when she called the California institution because she was worried her daughter could be physically or sexually abused at the facility.
Sharon Lewis denied she ever sabotaged efforts to place her daughter in a Mainland treatment facility, and said state officials havenâ€™t done enough to get Julia appropriate treatment.
Wha? The state â€œproposedâ€ a facility for Lewis? If the state â€œproposesâ€ to send an inmate to a prison where there is a history of sexual abuse, he or she goes to that prison. Right? This notion that the inmate has veto power seems novel to me. Maybe I havenâ€™t been paying attention?
Furthermore, I wasnâ€™t aware that it was the responsibility of the patient to find a safe and appropriate secure treatment facility. I reckon that once Lewis and her mother raised their concerns, the facilities felt that the legal risks of housing the daughter were too great because, should any actual mistreatment occur, it would not look good for the concerns to have been expressed in advance.
Why Kauai dealers oppose transparency bill
Filed under: HI State Politics, Neighbor Islands â€” Doug @ 8:36 am
In a poorly-edited Garden Island News story that alternates between two topics with almost no warning, there is news on why some Kauai gasoline distirbutors oppose the gasoline price transparency legislation that awaits the Governorâ€™s signature. With the discussion of the bill reinstating a GET exclusion for gasoline removed, the article says:
Some Kaua?i gasoline dealers concerned about ?11th hour? changes to the Senate bill have called for a ?correctional veto.?
?The problem is legislators inserted some language at the last minute that made the reporting that?s going to be required under that bill impossible for small business people to do,? Senter Petroleum General Manager Roger Cable said.
Representatives from the Lihu?e-based Senter Petroleum, and similar ?small jobbers? across Hawai?i, recently met with PUC Chairman Carlito Caliboso and other officials to discuss the effects of lawmakers removing flexibility language from the Senate bill.
?We?re trying to work with the PUC and governor to get the bill sent back and get stricken language reinstated so the PUC has discretion to get information in a manner that will be helpful,? Cable said. ?So much work was done on this bill over the last year, to have it changed right at the last minute was unfortunate.?
Instead of requiring every distributor to file weekly with the PUC, Senter Petroleum said in a June 5 letter to Morita that it wants the law to state: ?or other appropriate time interval, and on reporting dates to be determined by the commission.?
The premise of the Senate bill is ?you can?t make good decisions without good information,? Hooser said.
After the PUC runs the PIMAR program for at least a year, the legislature will know whether gasoline prices are appropriate and fair, he added.
?It gives us a foundation,? Hooser said. ?It will take time to see the benefits â€¦ but if the monitoring and analysis does show excessive prices or profits being made, then the legislature would take whatever action is necessary to address that.?
But Senate Bill 990 fails to ask gasoline retailers to also report to the PUC, Cable said.
The legislation does not ask ?the real question,? he said. ?Are these savings being passed on to the consumer??
Did you notice the transparency program is referred to by an acronym already? PIMAR. Tres chic.
Anyway, moving to Roger Cableâ€™s comments, language addressing the â€œimpossibilityâ€ of reporting the data on a weekly schedule established was not included in any of the Senate drafts of the bill. Weekly reports are on the books now, as part of the transparency program that the PUC has never carried out due to a lack of funds and/or inertia. The House Commerce & Consumer Affairs Committee addressed that â€œimpossibilityâ€ by adding language to Section 486J-3 without explanation that allows for the PUC to set a different schedule (e.g. monthly or quarterly reporting). The House Finance Committee (which passed out the final House Draft) made further amendments but left the language inserted by CPC intact. This type of substantive difference between the final House Draft and the final Senate Draft is a perfect example of why Conference Committees exist. During Conference deliberations the Senate side prevailed and the amendment offered by the House was removed.
Cable makes it sound as if the industry enjoyed a flexible reporting schedule until the Lege suddenly stripped it away to require weekly reports from his company. Not true. The law at the beginning of the session, and, I should add, the law that would remain in place should the Governor choose to veto this bill, already requires weekly reporting. I would describe the situation as Mr. Cable becoming upset because a sly provision to dilute the law to his advantage was inserted, discovered and deleted during the legislative process. Language was not inserted â€œat the last minuteâ€ as Cable alleges; language was deleted during the course of public deliberations. For Cable to cast aspersion upon the legitimacy of the normal conference committee process is a red herring. Cable should try to confine his comments to offering an explanation of exactly why a weekly report is â€œimpossible.â€
Grassroot Institute seeks additional chances to avoid Native Hawaiian protestors
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 8:02 pm
A week ago, after the solicitation for clients to challenge Kamehameha Schoolsâ€™ admissions policy was revealed, a group of Native Hawaiians gathered outside the office of the Grassroot Institute for an informational picket. The GIH staff left the building, or, in their words, â€œchose not to accomodateâ€ the protestors. Now, the Grassroot Institute hopes for a repeat of the occasion.
Ironically, the Grassroot Institute derisively describes a truly grassroots event as rude, ineffectual and even counterproductive. Go figure.
Green Party debate exclusion leads to inquiry
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 8:01 pm
Philosophical debates over beer? Why not, says a Campaign Spending Commissioner as they take up the question of why the 2006 debates for Governor only included Randy Iwase and Linda Lingle. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that the Commission is examining to see if the exclusion of the Green Party candidate â€œmet state law.â€ Wha? Thereâ€™s a state law about televised debates? Huh. That would be news to meâ€¦
The commission Wednesday overturned a staff recommendation to dismiss the complaint, saying it must first determine whether the selection process met state law before it decides if the free statewide airtime could be considered an unreported campaign contribution.
But commissioners agreed with a Republican Party attorney and removed both the GOP and the Democratic Party from the long list of defendants.
Remaining are Republican Gov. Linda Lingleâ€™s campaign, unsuccessful Democratic candidate Randy Iwaseâ€™s campaign, the Hawaii Society of Professional Journalists, KGMB-TV, KHNL-TV, KHON-TV and KITV-TV. The SPJ was a co-sponsor of the Oct. 6 debate, while the television stations aired the program, either live or the next day.
Commissioners seemed to think the participants were chosen by the [Hawaii Society of Professional Journalists], but SPJ President Stirling Morita told Stephens Media that wasnâ€™t the case.
â€œWe applied no specific standards of our own to who would participate in the debate. The format and the participants were presented to us by other sponsors,â€ Morita said in an e-mail. â€œWe accepted co-sponsorship because we considered the debate a legitimate public forum that would feature the views of the two major party candidates who had drawn large public followings and widespread interest.â€
KITV-TV General Manager Mike Rosenberg said in an interview that his station was operating under Federal Communications Commission rules that allow broadcast of â€œa bona fide news eventâ€ without regard to equal opportunity for candidates.
Several commissioners worried that the selection standards were â€œarbitraryâ€ or â€œconclusionary.â€
â€œThe social studies teacher in me wants to have a long philosophical debate over a beer â€¦ but I fear weâ€™re tilting at windmills,â€ said Commissioner Michael Weaver. â€œIâ€™m really schizophrenic on this. Thereâ€™s a philosophical argument here that I think needs to be made, but Iâ€™m not sure itâ€™s the appropriate forum.â€
I am eager to see how (if?) the defendants resond to the Commission. What the FCC â€œallowsâ€ and what is best for democracy are not one and the same. Anyway, I donâ€™t see how the Commission can dictate what is allowable for broadcast, and I wonder if the policy changed would other future non-mainstream candidates be as robotic and as scripted as the Democrat and Republican?
Makeover house permits get preferential treatment; how not to promote a film industry
Filed under: Honolulu Politics â€” Doug @ 9:07 pm
It is not the first thing that would come to mind, but, surprising approximatelyt zero readers, the SB reports that the home in Kalihi that was razed and rebuilt in one week for television benefited from expedited City permits.
[Mayor] Hannemann said long before the city received confirmation that the show would be coming to Oahu, he dispatched two members of his Cabinet to take care of the logistics.
Hannemannâ€™s special assistant, Isaac Hokama, worked with the Kalihi Valley Neighborhood Board to get community support for the project and to work with different city departments to work out things like traffic mitigation.
Managing Director Wayne Hashiro shepherded the necessary permits through the Department of Planning and Permitting.
According to city online files, the application for the building permits for both the Akana home and the center were filed on May 15 and approved June 6, the start date. The project received a demolition permit within a day.
On April 19, the Kalihi Valley Neighborhood met in a special meeting and approved a conditional use permit, which usually can take longer to get, although the minutes do not mention that the permit was for the home improvement show.
Councilman Charles Djou, a frequent critic of the Hannemann administration and permitting process, said: â€œIâ€™m not going to quibble with the mayor as to whether he shouldâ€™ve done this for this â€˜Makeoverâ€™ house. In this one specific instance, I think the mayor did the right thing.â€
But Djou said the project should bring to light the continuing problems with the permit approval process.
Djou is the model of magnamity, eh? haha. Seriously, though, if the conditional use permit process was actually done in such a sly manner (there could be a difference between not mentioning the television show and a permit application that was altogether misleading), then itâ€™s a wee bit disconcerting. Did they need a special permit (and neighborhood notification/approval) to work around-the-clock? I dunno. I guess at this point it doesnâ€™t matter anyway.
In other â€œHollywood meets governmentâ€ news, a story from Guam (citing a LA Times article) describes how an abortive kung fu movie bamboozled their local film office and Governor Camacho:
â€œMax Havoc: Curse of the Dragonâ€ was the first of at least two action flicks that Hollywood producer John Laing and director Albert Pyun planned to shoot on Guam as part of what [LA Timesâ€™] Christensen describes as â€œan unusual dealâ€ with the Guam Economic Development and Commerce Authority (GEDCA).
The issue is now in court with Guam officials contending that Laing fooled them into putting up US$800,000 to guarantee a bank loan on which he later defaulted while Laing counters that GovGuam broke its promise of financial support and caused his company to lose US$1.5 million.
Sen. Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, was one of those mentioned in the article and quoted as accusing the filmmakers of peddling â€œthe glitz of Hollywoodâ€ to star-struck officials who were all too eager to buy it.
â€œIf somebody on Guam wanted to meet Carmen Electra, there are a lot cheaper ways than backing a film in which she had a three-minute part,â€ said Pangelinan.
According to Christensen, the governor declined comment but the article does contain this anecdote concerning Camacho during a gala dinner with the stars of the movie: â€œThe governor is standing next to me and we?re behind Carmen Electra and he?s looking down her bustier and he says to me, ?Wow, look at that. That?s Hollywood!?â€ the article quotes Laing as saying.
So, while there may be grumbling among other contractors about the permit line-jumping, at least Mayor Hannemann wasnâ€™t tossing away public funds, or looking down any bustiers[!], in Kalihiâ€¦
Aw, no purse â€œjokesâ€ this time?
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 7:15 pm
David Shapiro tries a bit harder and delivers an insightful column about Duke Aionaâ€™s intentions to run for Governor. Shapiro hasnâ€™t responded to the critics of his Friday blog posting, but in this latest column he writes:
All of the leading Democrats [i.e. Abercrombie, Hanabusa, Hannemann] except Case would have to give up their current positions to run for governor, and theyâ€™ve been averse to such risks in the past ? as seen last year when no top Democrats were willing chance losing the jobs they had to run against Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.
Aionaâ€™s biggest initial problem is that he lacks Lingleâ€™s broad appeal across party lines in this Democratic state, and trying to build those ties over the next three years will be as important as amassing a bankroll.
Her personal popularity notwithstanding, Lingle hasnâ€™t carried other Republicans to victory, and Aiona canâ€™t count on her support automatically transferring to him ? especially if the Democratic nominee is Case or Hannemann, who also appeal to cross-party moderates and independents.
Caseâ€™s failed challenge to Senator Akaka in the Democratic primary arguably benefited from a significant crossover vote, so I am wondering what a hotly contested Democratic primary for Governor would mean for Aionaâ€™s (still theoretical) appeal to Democrats. If Aiona is challenged in the GOP primary from the right (by Carlisle, for example) then might the GOP base stay home in hopes of tipping the vote on the GOP ballot instead of crossing over? Another possibility, if the Democratic Party ticket is un- or unevenly-contested, then those normally voting Democratic in the primary could cross over to meddle in the GOP primary.
Gee, a two-party system, what fun! Heh.
No treatment available, so off to prison?
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 8:08 pm
Not much caught my attention today politically, but there is an Advertiser story about a strange Hawaii County court case:
Under terms of the plea agreement, Lewis was to receive a sentence of up to one year in jail, 10 yearsâ€™ probation and restriction to a Mainland therapeutic institution until she is 21.
Last September, Judge Elizabeth Strance approved that plan, sentencing Lewis to one year of jail time and 10 years of probation. However, Strance gave Lewis credit for the nine months she had been confined to the Kahi Mohala mental health facility on Oâ€™ahu, and suspended three months of jail time.
The plan at the time was to house Lewis in a South Salt Lake, Utah, facility until her 21st birthday, and then return her to Hawaiâ€™i to complete the balance of her probation.
That never happened, Tai said. Instead, Lewis was rejected by treatment facilities in several states, and she has remained at a treatment facility on Oâ€™ahu. Tai declined to say why the facilities would not accept Lewis.
The Department of Health has been trying to place Lewis in a facility that will get her the treatment she needs, but if that isnâ€™t possible, Tai said prosecutors will ask that she go to prison. At a hearing last week in Kona, state officials reported they have identified another facility that may accept Lewis, and Strance delayed ruling on the request to revoke Lewisâ€™ probation until June 15.
Is it Lewisâ€™ fault that the DOH canâ€™t find a place for her? If not, then it seems unfair to deny her treatment and send her to prison instead. Especially since Hawaii prisons (and the State Hospital) are frequently under scrutiny for marginal, if not inadequate, mental health care. For that matter, what is so bad about keeping her at the Oahu facility until she turns 21 or until another alternative treatment facility is found?
On a more technical level, if the plea bargain called for only a year in jail, I donâ€™t understand how her punishment could be increased without a new trial. Lewis is credited with 9 months already served, so at most it seems that â€œunsuspendingâ€ the remaining three months would be fair. Additional prison time (i.e. beyond one year) would violate the stateâ€™s side of the plea agreement, wouldnâ€™t it?
Honolulu Council stalled in effort to strike back against Reesâ€™ (post mortem) HSC victory
Filed under: HI State Politics, Honolulu Politics â€” Doug @ 7:12 pm
Iâ€™m not sure what qualifies this Advertiser story as â€œnews,â€ since the Council action in question happened weeks agoâ€¦ Anyway, after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in March that Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle does not have authority to spend public funds to influence ballot questions, in May the Council heard and deferred action on Bill 45 (PDF) which would grant that authority to the prosecutor.
Hereâ€™s the compromise Iâ€™d propose:
Alllow any individual (and/or public official) the opportunity to gather enough qualifying signatures and small donations to demonstrate a minimum threshold of public affinity and at that point make â€œcleanâ€ election money available to those seeking to advocate for or against a ballot question. Allow no government funds to spent by an elected official other than such â€œcleanâ€ election money. Thus, the government funds are not limited to favoring one side of the question over the other side.
Dogâ€™s nose under the DOE student privacy tent
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 9:34 am
The SB reports that the canine drug searches at Lahainaluna Intermediate and High Schools have found alcohol and marijuana. Now, the BOE wants to expand the program to studentsâ€™ lockers. Which means I get to say, I told you so.
A drug-sniffing dog that found marijuana and several liquor bottles at two Maui public schools could prompt education officials to expand the pilot program and allow for drug searches of studentsâ€™ lockers.
Board of Education member Mary Cochran, who spearheaded the 5-month-old program, said she believes it should be added to all secondary schools.
â€œThatâ€™s what I want. The timing is right politically, with the random drug-testingâ€ of teachers, said Cochran, who represents Maui. â€œTo me, itâ€™s not just the teachers, itâ€™s everybody.â€
The proposal comes as the state Department of Education is revising Chapter 19, the administrative rules on student misconduct, to possibly allow dogs to sniff studentsâ€™ lockers.
â€œHow itâ€™s written, it prevents us from doing it,â€ said schools Deputy Superintendent Clayton Fujie, citing student privacy rights. The revisions to the rules will be sent to the Attorney Generalâ€™s Office and presented to the school board by monthâ€™s end, Fujie said.
Searches are OK only in common areas like cafeterias, gymnasiums and bushes, with students, lockers, backpacks, purses and vehicles being off-limits.
Whitney White, owner of Interquest Detection Canines of Hawaii, which is running the pilot program on Maui, said principals want access to lockers.
â€œThe principals that Iâ€™ve been dealing with have really been pushing for more latitude in that,â€ she said.
White couldnâ€™t estimate costs of an statewide program, saying that expenses vary depending on how often it is done. She said the pilot project is paid for with grants.
Karen Knudsen, chairwoman of the school board, said student safety should take priority over funding if members opt to spread the program to all counties.
â€œI wouldnâ€™t let cost stand in the way,â€ she said. â€œIf itâ€™s effective, if itâ€™s deterring drugs on campus, then maybe we need to find the money for a program like this.â€
Why is it that whenever it comes to drugs, the first doses are always free?..
Another potential veto target
Filed under: HI State Politics, Neighbor Islands â€” Doug @ 9:34 am
The West Hawaii Today reports on a bill that raises some interesting home rule and separation of powers issues for Governor Lingle to consider as the deadline for signing or vetoing legislation approaches.
A bill passed by the Legislature this session could prevent the state from transferring its five harbors, 13 piers and 427 moorings and berths to Hawaii County.
House Bill 507 would prohibit the transfer of the stateâ€™s small boat harbors to a county without legislative approval. Rep. Joe Souki (D-Wailuku, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Waikapu) introduced the bill, which now awaits Gov. Linda Lingleâ€™s signature.
â€œIt was just one of the options being looked at and now it canâ€™t happen,â€ said Ed Underwood, administrator for the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.
The Legislature also authorized the Board of Land and Natural Resources to lease lands to private parties and restrict those to counties.
In December 2005, Peter Young, former Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman, sent Mayor Harry Kim a letter, offering control of Hawaii Islandâ€™s small boating facilities.
The small boat harbors are (and have been for some time) a stepchild at DLNR. Starved for funds, poorly maintained, and getting worse instead of better.
The DLNR would love to get the small boat harbors off of their plate, and, accordingly, the department provided the only opposing testimony for the legislation that would prohibit a direct transfer of the harbors from State to County control. The Governor may choose to veto the bill citing â€œhome rule,â€ in which case the veto would either be overturned by the Legislature or, if the Legislature failed to overturn the veto, the Constitutional questions mentioned in the bill seem to make it ripe for the Courts to strike down any extra-Legislative transfer of the harbors to the County. The Governor could also trot out her [t]rusty argument about the Legislative branch stripping powers from the Executive Branch, but that argument is especially weak in this case since the legislation actually aims to preserve her authority, not to strip her of it.
Youâ€™ve come a long way, uh, Duke
Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media â€” Doug @ 9:33 am
The SB editorial today somehow manages to comment on Duke Aionaâ€™s intention to run for Governor without stooping to the blatant sexism found in the Advertiser. Example One: Lee Catalunaâ€™s column suggests that
His tenure as LG has been more first-lady-esque than gubernatorial. All he needs is the Ramona purse dog and the Vicki fishtail muâ€™umuâ€™u.
Aiona was so good [as a Drug Court judge] at giving pep talks to screw-ups and setting goals for other peopleâ€™s conduct. But we need more than that in the governorâ€™s office. He has three years to prove he can wear the pants and leave the purse dog to [Mrs.] Vivian [Aiona].
Hmmm. I wonder if Ben Cayetano ever had his masculinity questioned while he served as #2 to Governor Waihee?
Example Two: In David Shapiroâ€™s Friday blog post he dabbles in the same language:
Lt. Gov. James â€œDukeâ€ Aiona is getting a three-year head start on running for governor in 2010. I hope Gov. Linda Lingle gives him time off from carrying her purse so he can campaign.
Some commenters at his blog are already taking Shapiro to task (and one alleges that Larry Price made similar remarksâ€”and apologized). As I post this, there has been no response from Shapiro.
Any sort of part-Hawaiian = no discrimination?
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 2:19 pm
Iâ€™ve been mulling over the interesting column about the Kamehameha Schoolsâ€™ tax exempt status that ran in the Advertiser this week. Jim Dooley reminds the readers about the history of this topic, and concludes that the matter is, for now, at rest.
Private attorney John Goemans sued the IRS over the tax exemption issue in 1997, but later dropped the suit because his client did not have the money to pursue it. Goemans later participated in another suit against the schools filed on behalf of a non-Hawaiian student. The suit attacked the admissions policy on civil rights grounds, but had direct implications for the tax exemption issue.
The suit was withdrawn last month after reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. The schools agreed to pay an unspecified amount of money to the plaintiff in return for the suitâ€™s dismissal. The tax exemption and the admissions policy remain.
The Kamehameha Schools website has a page with links to the documents Dooley mentions (and more). Iâ€™m not a lawyer, and they are a bit dense in legalese at times, but the IRS decision (PDF) to uphold the exemption has some passages that, even to a layman, are interesting. From page 3:
The admissions policy does not exclude an individual of any particular racial or ethnic group as long as the Hawaiian ancestry requirement is met. Students belong to a wide variety of racial and ethnic groups.
Hmmm. That is a curious way to interpret the matter, in my opinion. In essence, it says, â€œThere is no exclusion, so long as the exclusionary criterion (i.e. Hawaiian ancestry) is met.â€ It goes on to present figures that purport to demonstrate that students of diverse ancestry are enrolled, but those statistics subtly obscure the fact that the admissions policy (with a handful of â€œmistakesâ€ or exceptions from time to time) is designed to produce a student body that is entirely part- or pure Hawaiian. Despite the diversity of part-Hawaiian students, itâ€™s still a binary admissions policy; no Hawaiian ancestry, no admission.
Later, on page 6, there is a discussion of the IRS code and the federal rule that defines racially nondiscriminatory policy. The definition is:
the school admits students of any race to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at that school and that the school does not discriminate on the basis of race in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.
Note that all these decisions from the IRS predate the current Bush administration. Even a sympathetic Court could have a problem affirming the IRS decision that KSâ€™ admissions policy is nondiscriminatory, and, frankly, given the Bush administration reaction to the Akaka Bill, I do not think the current Administration (or its right-leaning SCOTUS majority) is particularly sympathetic. In any case, the IRSâ€™ somewhat tortured logic is a weak wall to hide behind at this point.
As Dooley notes, however, none of the legal challenges to the IRS decision have been resolved. It seems clear to me now that the latent threat to the tax exemption was the elephant in the room in the recent coverage of the admissions policy lawsuit. The estimated $750M financial impact (PDF) of possibly losing the exemption make the recent Doe settlement (still of unknown value) much more understandable.
Citizens for Kona; a public relations â€œcommunity groupâ€
Filed under: HI Media, Neighbor Islands â€” Doug @ 2:19 pm
Check out this interesting story from the Big Island Weekly about a group that became active in County politics during the last election cycle.
As the political landscape changes on Hawai`i Island, from Hilo-centered plantation politics to Kona-centered development politics, campaign strategies will change as well. As labor unions lose their clout and the Democratic machine loses steam, new coalitions have formed to fill the void. The Citizens For Kona incident demonstrates that campaign techniques common on the mainland have reached our shores. Tactics such as phony grassroots organizations (often referred to as Astroturf ), last-minute media onslaughts, obfuscation of issues and the funneling of off shore money will no doubt be tried again; what remains to be seen is whether locals are influenced by these strategies.
This is the kind of information â€œhiddenâ€ in plain sight at the Campaign Spending Commission. Kudos to the BIW for unearthhing it.
Governorâ€™s chief of staff allegedly the target of an extortion scheme
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 2:19 pm
The Advertiser reports (and Ian Lind is scooped even though he had been working on the story for Honolulu Weekly) that Bob Awana, Governor Lingleâ€™s Chief of Staff, was the target of an extortion scheme. Once approached by the suspect, Awana worked with authorities and the alleged extortioner, and Indian citizen in Japan, was apprehended after Awana paid him money.
The prosecution is interesting so far as it goes, but if the process (or further developments/leaks) were to reveal the nature of Awanaâ€™s alleged â€œsexual exploitationâ€ that led the suspect to contact Awana in the first place, then this story could be tabloid-worthy in a heartbeat. However, in spite of the gossipy appeal of airing that possibly dirty laundry, I am pretty sure that â€œtruthâ€ is not a valid defense against extortion charges. Heh.
Councilmember Pilago intends to run for Hawaii County Mayor
Filed under: Neighbor Islands â€” Doug @ 2:19 pm
The Hawaii County dailies have a story (abridged version at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, and longer version at the West Hawaii Today) about Councilmember Angel Pilagoâ€™s intention to run for Mayor. Pilago wants to be the first Mayor â€œfrom the West Side.â€
â€œWe should not only talk about moving issues forward in a positive attitude, we should actually practice that,â€ Pilago said. â€œIf youâ€™re going to work cooperatively, it must start from the top â€¦.â€
While Pilago acknowledged [the] present administration has a â€œpositiveâ€ attitude, he said they work â€œin an environment and attitude theyâ€™re accustomed to â€¦ Iâ€™m going to bring in a new attitude.â€
Pilago said the administration now is staffed mostly with people from East Hawaii. He would have people from all parts of the island in top positions, which would get problems resolved quickly and more efficiently.
â€œUnless we have representatives from these areas, we canâ€™t really solve island issues in a fair and equitable manner,â€ Pilago said.
Pilago said itâ€™s long overdue for the mayor to be from West Hawaii.
â€œI think thatâ€™s an asset,â€ he said. â€œIt would signal a change to the cooperative efforts of the whole island.â€
Pilago was born and raised on Oahu, and served in the U.S. Armyâ€™s 151st Airborne Division and saw action in the Vietnam War for which he received silver stars for heroism and bronze stars for bravery in combat.
In 1986, Pilago moved to the Big Island to work as an employment counselor with Workforce Development, a position he held until 2004 when he joined the council.
Hasnâ€™t a basic geographical imperative produced an administration staffed mostly with people â€œfromâ€ East Hawaii? Itâ€™s not as if residents who live hours away from the County seat are going to be eager to uproot their families or to struggle with the long distance commute. Iâ€™m also curious regarding Pilagoâ€™s comments about efficiency. Assembling an administration from all over the island is not in and of itself a reason to expect more efficiency. Fairness and equity? Okay, now that is an easier argument to make (it may even be true), but efficiency? Eh. In all of this, Iâ€™m assuming that Pilago is referring to the â€œexemptâ€ positions of government. The civil servants working in (â€from?â€) Hilo are not going to be replaced wholesale, obviously.
Laughs to come
Filed under: General â€” Doug @ 6:20 pm
I am joining some friends for an evening at Hawaii Theater where Charlie Murphy is performing. I donâ€™t know exactly what to expect, but his â€œbasketball versus Princeâ€ sketch on the Chappelle show a few years ago is one of my favorites, so Iâ€™m excited to go.
Back to work tomorrow.
Gas refiner getting nervous about transparency
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 8:38 pm
I went sailing again this evening, so I donâ€™t have much online time to spare, but I will briefly point out a SB story about the Governorâ€™s looming deadline to sign the legislation that will fully fund the gasoline pricing transparency program.
The gasoline-related bills include House Bill 1757, which would forgive the general excise tax on ethanol-blended fuels; and Senate Bill 990, which would fully fund oversight and monitoring of the petroleum industry.
Lingle has supported both measures in the past, but said some gasoline dealers on Kauai have raised concerns about provisions of the oversight and reporting requirements in SB 990.
â€œThere were some issues that were raised to me,â€ Lingle said without going into specifics. â€œWe told them weâ€™ll look, but they know also that weâ€™ve been supporting this openness.
â€œWe use this period to give everybody a chance, who wants to, to come in and express themselves.â€
What are these â€œconcernsâ€ expressed by the Kauai dealers, and, furthermore, are these emergent problems or could (did?) the dealers have brought up the concerns during the legislative process? How many gasoline dealers are there on Kauai anyway? It seems to me that a few phone calls would be enough for a reporter to learn what the concerns are.
If the Governor vetoes this legislation, then I hope the Legislature overturns the veto. Iâ€™ve been curious about these data for a long time nowâ€¦
Lanai renewable energy plans announced
Filed under: HI State Politics, Neighbor Islands â€” Doug @ 7:09 pm
Both Honolulu newsppapers report on new plans announced by Castle and Cooke to generate power on Lanai using solar and wind power, with the potential for surplus wind power to be exported to Oahu. The Advertiser story is here and the SB has two articles; one about wind and another about solar.
Iâ€™m curious why the plan is to send the surplus energy from Lanai to Oahu instead of to Molokai and/or Maui (both are closer to Lanai than Oahu). Also, even though I worked for years as a mapper of the seafloor, I donâ€™t recall which interisland channel has the more favorable terrain for laying cable. Of course, at the ends the cable has to come ashore somewhere, too, which will present issues of the cable crossing reefs, surf breaks, beaches, private shoreline property, etc.
The articles also mention other renewable energy schemes in the works statewide. Iâ€™m not going to bet the farm on their fruition, but all of this is encouraging news nonetheless.
Hawaii County Council snuffs Green Harvest from budget
Filed under: Neighbor Islands â€” Doug @ 7:13 pm
A few weeks ago the Hawaii County Council amended the County budget to reject federal money intended for marijuana eradication, and now they have voted on the budget for a second time and the omission is still there. The Hawaii County newsppaers have reports, here and here.
As was noted earlier, itâ€™s still possible that the federal money will come before the Council again for an up-or-down vote, and if the County continues to reject the money the federal government could simply take charge of the eradication program itself.
The more interesting part of the story is the strange exchange between a member of the public and Councilmember Yagong.
But one comment from â€œGreen Harvestâ€ opponent Randy McDowell upset Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong, who last month withdrew his support of the program and cast the swing vote against it.
Wearing a shirt depicting marijuana leaves and a hat with the words â€œJust Say Moâ€ printed over a pot leaf, McDowell accused Yagong of laughing when an earlier speaker threatened to vote the council members out of office. Apparently, Yagong was more upset by McDowellâ€™s expression, which went unseen by the audience since his back was turned.
â€œPlease watch the way you look at me,â€ Yagong said.
McDowell apologized multiple times as Yagong removed his sport coat and appeared to be very angry. Yagong did not accept his apology, but [Council Chair] Hoffmann did.
Wha? Were they really going to beef over â€œstink eye?!â€
One resident at one point called Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong â€œcockyâ€ and apparently looked at him in a threatening manner.
Resident Randy McDowell, while commenting on the proposed operating budget and his opposition to the marijuana eradication program, apparently got out of line, calling out Yagong, speaking to him in what Yagong perceived as a threatening fashion.
Yagong told McDowell to â€œbe carefulâ€ and said, â€œDonâ€™t look at me like that.â€
Yagong stood up and took off his suit jacket and warned McDowell he should never mess with someone who hails from Honokaa.
McDowell apologized, and then it was back to business.
Wow! Things do seem different over there. In comparison, thinly veiled threats of physical confrontation are something I canâ€™t recall at the Capitol since â€¦ well, since Senator Solomonâ€™s tenure, haha.
On a more serious note, it was interesting that the (shared) coverage last week in anticipation of the budget meeting did not mention the implications the vote could have on the marijuana eradication program. The opponents of the program still turned out by the dozens.
Aiona-Djou as a possible 2010 GOP ticket
Filed under: HI State Politics â€” Doug @ 8:01 pm
The SB confirms (via campaign spending documents and a spokesman) the open secret that Duke Aiona intends to run for Governor in 2010.
Gov. Linda Lingle, who is prohibited by the state Constitution from seeking a third consecutive term, is strongly backing her lieutenant governor.
â€œI have encouraged him to run. I told him I think he would do a great job. He is more knowledgeable than almost anyone else right now in terms of the operations of state departments and the budget,â€ Lingle said Friday in an interview.
Yeah, and everyone agrees that knowledge of government operations and budgeting are canâ€™t-lose attributes for a candidate seeking to motivate voters. Not.
For the first time since she became governor in 2002, Lingle is not holding her own round of June birthday fundraisers. Lingle, who turns 54 today, said that while she is encouraging Aiona and supporting him, the lieutenant governor will have to build his own team.
â€œI have made it clear that you just donâ€™t transfer support to people, you have to go out and earn it yourself,â€ Lingle said. â€œIf you see people helping him who also helped me, it is because he asked them.
â€œIf people ask me, I would say he would make a great governor, I have no doubt about it,â€ Lingle said.
Also looking for higher office is [Honolulu] City Councilman Charles Djou, who has filed with the spending commission to run for lieutenant governor in the Republican primary.
Although Aiona is in his fifth year in elective office, he has not been a formidable political player. His only solo victory was the GOP primary in 2002, when he beat Dalton Tanonaka by 8,280 votes. Since then he has run with Lingle.
During the last campaign, Aiona held 11 fundraisers, and he now reports a campaign treasury balance of $142,000.
When (not if) Lingle challenges for Dan Inouyeâ€™s U.S. Senate seat in 2010, I anticipate that contest will attract the bulk of whatever campaign contributions would normally go to the Governorâ€™s race. Aiona (and whoever wins the Democratic Party nomination) may actually be able to (okay, forced to) run a gubernatorial campaign on the cheap, at least relative to the 2006 race.
Borreca is too charitable when he says Aiona has not been a formidable political player. Aiona was formerly a drug court judge, which doesnâ€™t provide a statewide profile, and he has been an almost invisible LG except on matters that end up embarrassing him (e.g. his stadium authority prohibition meddling). We can expect the Governor to shovel a few high(er)-profile projects to Aiona over the next few years, but we can also expect to see the Lege deny Aiona any easy opportunity to shine.
Filed under: HI State Politics, Neighbor Islands â€” Doug @ 9:13 am
Iâ€™m impressed that enough volunteers were found to attempt a simulation of the traffic associated with a Superferry arrival in Kahului. As I predicted, though, Superferry officials (and the State DOT) say that the simulation overstates the impact. The Maui News has two articles and the SB carried a piece, too.
Iâ€™m not familiar enough with the Kahului area to visualize the traffic patterns described in the article, but Iâ€™m skeptical of the companyâ€™s claims that with a 9:30 arrival over 100 vehicles could be unloaded onto Kahului streets by 10:00 and another 100-odd vehicles could be checked in, inspected for cleanliness, and loaded for departure by 11:00. (By the way, is there to be any TSA-style passenger screening? When/where does that happen?)
The experiment on Friday only attempted half of that process, and it took over an hour. Company officials commented that congestion will be eaased because passengers may arrive at their leisure up until the departure time. Well, human nature being what it is, there will be procrastinators (and folks stuck in traffic) who will not arrive on time. Does the boat wait for late passengers and then make up lost time by exceeding its self-imposed speed limits which were intended to protect whales? What if the delay was on the Honolulu end? Where would the vehicles in Kahului stage for loading?
Itâ€™s going to be interesting.
Imposed anonymity on letters to the editor?
Filed under: HI Media â€” Doug @ 9:11 am
A rather mundane column from Mark Platte of the Advertiser about the use of Hawaiian words that occasionally annoy those readers who may not know the meaning. Mundane, that is, until the conclusion.
â€¦an Air Force major, said he and his wife moved here about a year ago and have been â€œcontinuously annoyed by your paperâ€™s consistent use of terms like â€˜makaiâ€™ in your stories, leaving those of us who donâ€™t speak Hawaiian clueless as to what youâ€™re referencing.â€
The major pointed out that he has lived overseas and is familiar with assimilating with other cultures but believes it is not proper to use Hawaiian-language words in stories.
â€œI didnâ€™t think Iâ€™d have to do that when I got back to the United States, of which Hawaiâ€™i is still a member, last time I checked,â€ he wrote.
The Air Force major asked us to print his letter in the newspaper, but I fear that identifying him by name would only subject him to ridicule. He means well, and many will come to his defense, but Iâ€™m left with the thought that any newcomer to any area should find it useful to immerse himself in the culture, whether it be local customs or local language.
Wha? Platteâ€™s editorial paternalism is shocking. Platte quotes extensively from the airmanâ€™s letter, but the Advertiser wonâ€™t print the letter on the letters page because Platte doesnâ€™t want to â€œsubject [the writer] to ridicule?â€ The Air Force reader has a point to make, and he deserves to have his name associated with his [published] words, be they ridiculous or not. The writer certainly didnâ€™t expect (much less ask for) anonymity! No other letter writers have their words published anonymously in the Advertiser, do they?
â€¦ well, except for the anonymity found on the Advertiser blogs and their spam-filled comment forums, that isâ€¦ Heh.
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