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Thursday, July 2, 2009
July 2, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:22 AM :: 5326 Views

Gov. Lingle, unions have date in court

Gov. Linda Lingle's power to furlough state workers will be tested today before Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto.

Three public worker unions are seeking to stop the governor's planned furloughs, but Lingle insists the furloughs of three days a month for the next two years are needed to reduce the state budget by $688 million and keep it balanced.

In a court filing yesterday, Attorney General Mark Bennett argued that state law allows Lingle to "relieve an employee from duties because of lack of work or other legitimate reason."

"She is relieving employees from duty for legitimate reasons," Bennett said in a court document. "This is the essence of a furlough."

Hanabusa said if Lingle shuts the Capitol as planned three days a month next year the 2010 Legislature will not be able to meet and the session will have to be extended a total of 12 days.  (Now THAT'S dangerous)

RELATED: Rethink furloughs, Hawaii state Senate president urges  (but doesn't offer solution, hence the SB's next editorial...)

Hanabusa's suggestions would save the state less money than Lingle's furlough plans, but are based on an alternative estimate of the budget deficit that is lower than what the governor projects.  (money will fall from the skies and Colleen will direct the Ko olina groundskeepers to pick it up and deposit it !into the general fund)

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Hilo: Hundreds protest state furloughs

HILO -- Members of four state employee unions, frustrated by what they see as the governor's attempt to balance the budget on their backs, turned out by the hundreds in Hilo to wave signs and drum up community support.
Tuesday's rally coincided with a much larger protest in Honolulu, which drew thousands to the state Capitol's southeast lawn, below Gov. Linda Lingle's fifth-floor offices.
The show of force came on the eve of furloughs for state workers, three days off per month, equal to a 14 percent pay cut. The first furloughs for selected workers begin July 6.

RELATED: Senate President Colleen Hanabusa letter to Gov Lingle

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SB: Special session not warranted

Gov. Linda Lingle's list of bills that she may veto will please some and disappoint others, but none warrants a special session of the Legislature to override a veto. Legislators have been known in the past to use a special session to accomplish other ends and should not again place themselves under such pressure.  (In other words, let the Governor take the rap for the heavy decisions so you precious legislators can keep posing.)

Advertiser: Veto of Hawaii excise tax on online retailers likely to stand

Local Internet advocates warned that the bill could chill financial opportunities for local Web sites, from small one-person blog sites to larger operations such as the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin.

"I'm hoping that and will reinstate Hawai'i affiliates," said Troy Fujimoto, new media director for the Star-Bulletin.

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State wins OK for $129 million in federal funds for education

Some $129 million in federal money has been approved for public education in Hawaii under President Obama's national economic stimulus plan.

The funds were requested as required by Gov. Linda Lingle on June 10 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

About 70 percent is expected to go to primary and secondary education and 30 percent for higher education, said Linda Smith, the governor's senior policy adviser.

"We're just pleased that the U.S. Department of Education approved our application so quickly," Smith said.

She said state education officials are required to meet certain goals, when using the funds, such as tracking the academic progress of students.

State education spokeswoman Sandra Goya said the announcement was good news.

"We now anxiously await the transfer of funds to Hawaii's public schools by the governor." (So that paper-shuffling bureaucrats can keep their jobs.)

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HawTel ordered to look at Sandwich Isles Purchase (Old boy justice)

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Lloyd King denied the phone company's request to extend the period in which it had exclusive rights to pursue its own reorganization plan.

"Because of the public's cronies' interest, Sandwich Isles must not be denied the opportunity to see if it can present an alternative to the plan that has been filed," King said.

Hawaiian Telcom Inc. had asked the bankruptcy court for an extension to pursue its own $460 million reorganization plan. The company exclusivity period ends Aug. 30, and Hawaiian Telcom wanted to extend it until Sept. 30.


HFP: Sandwich Isles Communications: Political Connections Pay Off

LBO Wire: Hawaiian Telcom Battles Takeover Attempt

SB: Court opens bidding for Hawaiian Telcom

Advertiser: Sandwich Isles keeps finances private

Best line: Hee added that he does not to know his company's annual revenues, saying he leaves the company's financial details to CEO Robert Kihune.

"I don't track the financial. I have no idea what the revenues are. All I know is that the expenses are less," Hee said.


Gregory Bray, attorney for Sandwich Isles, said Hawaiian Telcom did not allow his company to conduct due diligence or examine the phone company's data room. He said Hawaiian Telcom suffers from "staggering losses," "distant ownership" and "crumbling infrastructure."

"It is hemorrhaging cash," Bray said. "There's no evidence in its business plan that it will be able to make the required capital investment in its system. Their plan is to give the company to the lenders.

"The amount of cash they are hemorrhaging is huge. They may not be around. They might face liquidation. it would be disastrous for the state."

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Inouye's bank-relief call raises brows

In a statement, Inouye said his aide simply left a voice message with the FDIC and did not speak to anyone at the agency.

"This single phone call was the entire extent of my staff's contact with regard to Central Pacific Bank, to any outside agency," Inouye's statement said. "Neither I nor my staff took any actions that would undermine the independence of those procedures."

Inouye's office said an FDIC official called back days later and left a voice message saying the application was still under review.

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Bulk of Superferry bankruptcy case will remain on Mainland (in a real court), judge rules

WILMINGTON, Del. — A bankruptcy judge today ruled that Hawaii Superferry can abandon its two catamarans to lenders owed $158.8 million for their construction and that the bulk of the bankruptcy case will remain in Delaware (not in the Hawaii Court of old-boy appeals).

The decision by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Peter Walsh means the vessels, relocated from Hawaii to a shipyard in Mobile, Ala., may be taken over by the federal agency that helped fund the ships' construction.

"We're not going to be returning back to the state of Hawaii now that the estate has abandoned the ships," company attorney Leon Barson...

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Honolulu buying more hybrid buses

HONOLULU - The city of Honolulu is buying 20 new articulated hybrid buses with $19.3 million in federal stimulus money.  The purchase enables the city to quickly use stimulus dollars on a ''green'' project...buying modern diesel buses is better financially and environmentally than purchasing fewer more-expensive hybrid buses.

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Honolulu City Prosector Declines to Prosecute Misdemeanor Case Against Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism Director Ted Liu

In the end, the prosecutor's findings agreed with an April 2009 state audit by Hawaii Legislative Auditor Marion Higa - there is incompetence in the management of that office.

However, under the procurement law the way it is written, there was no crime committed by Liu or his employees.

Liu said late today that he is grateful that a thorough and impartial review by the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney resulted in the conclusion that “no probable cause that a crime was committed” and that “prosecution would be unethical”.

SB: Liu cleared in contract award dispute

Adv: Agency seen as inept, not criminal

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Hawaii housing prices increase

Hilo homes sold between April and June had an average price of $325,981, 18.4 percent more than those sold during the first quarter of the year, according to RealtyTrac, a leading online database of foreclosure, auction and bank-owned homes.
Kaneohe, Oahu, posted the highest increase of 24.7 percent during the same period, while Aiea, Oahu, finished second with a 20.3 percent jump in average home sales prices, according to RealtyTrac.

Kailua-Kona had the fifth-highest increase at 14.3 percent, while Keaau placed eighth with a 5.3 percent escalation.

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