Five City Council members are in Washington, D.C., but there’s still plenty going on at City Hall. The mayor released his budget plan for next year, new unemployment figures are out, and Civil Beat is reporting from the inside.

Carlisle to Salary Commission: Don’t Give Me a Raise

5:42 p.m.
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle testified before the Salary Commission this afternoon, saying he did not want a raise.

“It’s clear to me that this is not the time for any of us to get raises,” Carlisle said. “It would be a terrible, terrible thing for us to set that example.”

Carlisle acknowledged there is a problem with pay disparity, particularly within the ranks of the city’s police and fire departments.

“I know that the fire chief and police chief spoke to you to raise an issue that they were concerned about … their salaries are now lagging distinctly behind some of their battalion chiefs,” Carlisle said. “Both of them had disucssions with me today. It couldn’t have been more profiessional and more accomodating on both sides … I think it would be fair to determine that they are not expecting to get a rasie from this body.”

Carlisle said the city will have to take a long-term approach in fixing some of the structural pay inequities at the city and county level. He blamed the discrepancy on unions being rewarded by politicians trying to curry their favor.

“But I don’t think we should be going the Wisconsin route by any stretch of the imagination,” Carlisle said.

Salary Commish to Recommend Pay Raise for Medical Examiner

4:29 p.m.
The Honolulu Salary Commission meeting is expected to get under way any minute. Expect a recommendation that the city medical examiner’s salary be bumped up from $154,000 to $200,000. The medical examiner is already the city’s highest paid employee.

There’s also word that the city’s fire chief is backing down on attempts to secure pay raises. Chief Ken Silva told Civil Beat over the weekend that he never outright asked for a raise, but simply provided information to the salary commission that shows Hawaii fire fighters make less money than their mainland counterparts.

Honolulu Unemployment at 5.4 in January

8:33 a.m.
New figures on unemployment are out today. The City and County of Honolulu jobless rate was at 5.4 percent in January, up from 4.8 percent in December 2010. The rate — which is not seasonally adjusted — is still lower than about a year ago. Honolulu’s unemployment rate was 6.0 percent in January 2010. The only county in better shape is Lanai, with a jobless rate of 5.3 in January, down from 8.7 percent the year before.

The seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate was at 6.3 percent in January, the same as the previous month, and down from 6.9 percent in January 2010. The nationwide jobless rate continued to drop. It was 9.0 in January, down from 9.4 in December 2010, and 9.7 in January 2010.

Berg Chief of Staff: HECO, IBEW “Playing Chicken” at Bargaining Table

6:33 a.m.
Despite a day-long bargaining session Sunday, Hawaiian Electric Company and the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have yet to announce a deal. IBEW has been without a contract since October, and went on strike Friday. City Council member Tom Berg represents District 1, which saw the bulk of weekend-long power outages.

“The citizens of Waianae, Kapolei and Ewa Beach continue to be exposed decade after decade to preventable outages, spoiled groceries, lost schooldays, and lost business due to a misguided reliance on third world, wooden utility poles to serve major residential areas,” Berg wrote in a statement.

Berg’s chief of staff weighed in on the labor dispute, blasting HECO for what he characterized as a willingness to “stab Ewa Beach folks in the back.”

“It is unacceptable that the residents of Ewa Beach are being held hostage and treated so disrespectfully by the parties responsible for delivering electricity to our homes, schools and businesses,” wrote Eric Ryan in the statement. “We understand that the parties are playing chicken at the bargaining table. But if this monopoly company and its striking workers are unable to do the job of providing electricity and are willing to abandon the customers who pay their paychecks, then we need another company and we need other workers who aren’t so willing to stab Ewa Beach folks in the back after years and years of high electricity rates.”

Catch Up on This Month’s Inside Honolulu

March 4, 2011: Landfill channel not designed to handle rainfall equivalent to storm that caused near-catastrophe; Six City Council members out of town.

March 3, 2011: Line-by-line budget to go online in about a week; Five City Council members are D.C.-bound.

March 2, 2011: Mayor Peter Carlisle raises taxes, fees in first budget; More money for autopsies; Liquor commish nominee Wesley Fong talks commission image issues; TheBus turns 40; Ides of March deadline for City Council’s HART nominees.

March 1, 2011: City Council member Breene Harimoto worries about bandaid approach to homelessness; Planning Committee advances North Shore communities plan; Parks and Rec eyes new dog park; Tom Berg pitches Matson containers as possible living space.

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