Welcome to Capitol Watch. There’s a new governor, new leadership at the Legislature and other government branches, and Civil Beat is reporting on all of it.

6:29 p.m. Democrats to Mull GOP Support for Say as Speaker Over the Weekend

Calvin Say emerged from a closed-door meeting at the Capitol with supporters in the House to say that no decision has been reached on accepting the GOP’s offer of support for him as speaker. Say supporters will think about the offer over the weekend and resume meeting on Monday. Negotiations will continue with House dissidents over the weekend. Say says he still remains grateful for the support of the GOP.

5:48 p.m. Can Say Convince Democrats?

Following the release of statement of support from House Republicans earlier this afternoon, Calvin Say has been meeting behind close doors with his Democratic supporters to try to seal a deal to keep him in his leadership post.

Say met earlier with Gene Ward and was well aware of the minority party’s support. Asked what Say would give to the GOP in exchange, Ward told Civil Beat, “Getting the people’s business done. That means keeping taxes down and the economy up.”

Translation: Favorable consideration of Republican legislation. Last session, the House GOP did not get a single bill in its caucus package passed.

Ward said he did not know whether Say would be successful in selling the idea of GOP involvement in voting for speaker, but he said the GOP felt they had much more in common with Say and his 25 supporters than the 17 House dissidents when it comes to fixing the economy.

Several dissenters told Civil Beat, however, that Say has his work cut out for him.

3:08 p.m. Calvin Say Gets GOP Support

The eight House Republicans today announced their support for Calvin Say as House speaker — even though Say is a Democrat and the minority party does not usually vote on the matter.

With those eight votes, Say now has 33 votes to serve another term as speaker. The GOP vote would break a stalemate between Say and 17 House dissidents who want someone else for speaker.

Some Democrats have warned that Say may see some defections from his block of 25 votes. But he only needs 26 to keep his job.

1:32 p.m. Akaka Favored in 2012

Sure, it’s nearly two years away, but mainland political analyst Larry Sabato says his crystal ball predicts Dan Akaka will not face a primary challenger and will “likely” defeat his “likely” Republican opponent, Linda Lingle, when he “likely” runs for re-election.

As they say, however, a year is a lifetime in politics. Akaka will turn 88 in 2012.

12:26 p.m. Olelo Staying Put

After worries that Olelo Community Television would have to vacate its studio in Room 414 of the state Capitol to make way for the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, it turns out that Olelo won’t be moved after all.

Some House GOP lawmakers had complained about the proposed move, as the studio is used to address the public.

But the Senate recognized the studio’s value, so Clayton Hee will now be holding his judiciary-labor hearings on Room 016 in the Capitol’s chamber level.

11:40 a.m. UHPA’s Cash Flow

Duane Stevens, president of the 4,000-member University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, said the union spent $100 per member to elect Neil Abercrombie governor.

Stevens made the comment at an UHPA-sponsored faculty workshop at UH Manoa this morning.

Abercrombie is a UH grad and former instructor, and wife Nancie Caraway is a UH employee.

10:51 a.m. DLIR Head Says Bakery Under Investigation

Dwight Takamine on Jan. 5 wrote a letter to Karl Rhoads following up on Rhoads’ concerns over possible wage and benefits by the owners of Gourmet Delite.

Takamine says his department’s Wage Standards Division has been investigating the bakery and its president, Ronald Au, since early 2009. There is also a pending request by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to the Office of Attorney General to pursue possible criminal action against Au.

Takamine says there have been 70 complaints against Au over the past two years, that $110,000 in back wages (not including penalties) are due to 62 of those employees and that Au is making weekly payments of $1,000 to DLIR to rectify the matter.

Senate Staff Miffed Over Low Salaries

A change in administration and new leadership always bring changes in staff, and some state Senate staff have taken jobs with the Abercrombie administration where salaries are often higher.

In a new twist, though, some Senate staff have left because they learned many of their House counterparts make more than them.

How did they find out? Civil Beat published the salaries in September.

Shan Tsutsui told Civil Beat that he would like to raise Senate staff salaries to be more equitable with the House, but that likely won’t happen this session because of the budget crunch. Tsutsui also said his chamber was not suffering any significant manpower shortages because of the turnover.

Wanted: Judicial Ethics

The Judicial Council of the Hawaii State Judiciary is accepting applications to fill one current vacancy and one anticipated vacancy on the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

Applicants must be U. S. citizens, Hawaii state residents and may not hold any other public office.

The Ethics Commission “addresses ethical issues involving legislators, registered lobbyists, and state employees (with the exception of judges, who are governed by the Commission on Judicial Conduct),” according to the Judicial Commission.

Applications are available on the Judiciary website,  the Communications and Community Relations Office at Aliiolani Hale or by calling the Judicial Council at 539-4702.

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