After a marathon budget hearing last week, City Council members have a bit of a breather before the next round of committee meetings next week. Meanwhile, the Carlisle administration is busy transitioning its rapid transit division into a new semi-autonomous agency. Civil Beat is reporting from the inside.
State lawmakers have delayed decision-making on Senate Bill 1186 until tomorrow, after the proposal moved through a conference committee Tuesday afternoon without discussion.
The bill would cap counties’ share of revenue from the Transient Accommodations Tax, or TAT, at about $102 million through June 2015. Honolulu officials have said such a cap would harm the city’s ability to produce a balanced budget.
The House version of the bill had included that amount, but the Senate version had a blanked-out dollar amount until now. Using the $102 million figure outlined by the House might give the measure a better chance before House Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro, who is on the conference committee. Oshiro said on Tuesday he wanted more time to review the latest version.
Civil Beat money reporter Nanea Kalani contributed to this item.
When members of the labor heavyweight Hawaii Government Employees Associations cut a deal with the government, other unions take notice. They should, anyway, according to University of Hawaii economics professor Sumner LaCroix.
He says it’s “very unlikely” that any other unions will get a better deal than HGEA got. There are several groups representing city workers with contracts set to expire in the coming months, including United Public Workers and police and fire unions.
“It would be unlikely but it’s not impossible,” LaCroix told Civil Beat. “You would imagine this is kind of the type of contract that will be presented to other unions.”
LaCroix said the deal is as much of a win-win as can be found in a situation where workers are getting paid less to work less. It’s a concept he calls “flex furloughs.”
“Really getting rid of Furlough Fridays is a good thing,” LaCroix said. “There were all sorts of absolute absurdities in that blanket shut-down. It’s not so much that the current contract does away with furlough days, it makes them flex furloughs.”
Still, LaCroix says criticism of the deal is “not unreasonable.”
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle balked at the additional nine days off per year that workers will get, calling that aspect of the deal a “really, really bad idea” and “an albatross around the neck of the taxpayer.”
It almost feels like a furlough day around Honolulu Hale today.
“It’s like a tomb in here,” observed one man who stopped by the City Council offices to drop off some questions about the rail project for a council member. “This is democracy not in action.”
Inside Honolulu ran into Managing Director Doug Chin, who acknowledged it’s a bit of a slow week.
“It is quiet,” Chin said. “But next week!”
The managing director is right. Next week will bring some action-packed committee meetings: Fireworks storage and a possible end to a recycling subsidy are just some of the topics on agendas posted today.
The City and County of Honolulu set up a Facebook page. One recent post reads: “Residents! If you should become a ‘fan’ of government, this is the one. Become a fan of your city government at the City and County of Honolulu official Facebook page! They’re gonna post a lot of stuff about city services that you use.”
The page includes information about local arts exhibits, job announcements (wanted: city medical examiner) and photographs.
It also provides links to other city Facebook pages, like the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management, Honolulu’s Emergency Services Department, the Department of Information Technology and the Honolulu Zoo.
The Maui Police Department recently joined Facebook and Twitter, too.
The Honolulu Board of Water Supply is searching for a new chief engineer to replace Wayne Hashiro, who is retiring June 30. AP reports Deputy Director Dean Nakano will take over during the interim.
Read more from the Indiana paper that picked up this story.
When Panos Prevedouros lost in his second bid for mayor last September, he said he would definitely run again in 2012. But at the city’s ceremonial groundbreaking for the rail project in February, he was less certain.
The famously anti-rail Prevedouros said he wouldn’t want to helm the city if the project’s progress had reached a point of no return. Now, Prevedouros says he’ll make the call in November.
“I expect to make a final go (or) no-go decision around APEC and announce my decision soon after the APEC dust settles,” Prevedouros told Civil Beat.
Already, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle has started fundraising for his re-election campaign. Former Honolulu Managing Director Kirk Caldwell, who trailed Carlisle in the September special election, says he’ll make a decision about whether he’s running for mayor in the coming months. (Caldwell may also run for U.S. House if one of Hawaii’s congresswomen vacates her seat to run for U.S. Senate.)
Carlisle, Caldwell and Prevedouros were the three front-runners last time around. Who else might throw her or his hat into the ring?
Last time around, Rod Tam ran for mayor. He pleaded guilty to 26 counts of theft in November, and — after a series of delays — will be sentenced in June. Former City Council member Donovan Dela Cruz also ran for mayor for a short time, but dropped out of the race. He’s now a state senator instead.
City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia says he gets asked a lot whether he’ll run for office, and Council member Ann Kobayashi ran and lost against former Mayor Mufi Hannemann in 2008.
April 25, 2011: State lawmakers urge benefits for residents near landfills; Utility relocation for rail under way; Who gets a “honolulu.gov” email address?
April 21, 2011: City Transportation Chairman Breene Harimoto heads to Copenhagen; Some overlap between HART, corporation counsel for Carrie Okinaga; City’s new top lawyer to be Bob Godbey; Council member Tom Berg‘s chief of staff slams ethics director, Civil Beat over inquiry about Berg’s use of City Council letterhead.
April 20, 2011: City Council member Nestor Garcia discloses his part-time job again and again (and again); City Council advances fuel tax hike; Fireworks legislation back before council; Rail officials submit new financial plan; Kirk Caldwell mulls running for Honolulu mayor, U.S. House.
April 19, 2011: Honolulu to be nation’s first city to comply with federal-standard ID cards; Oahu hotels to get electric-car chargers; Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle launches re-election campaign.
April 18, 2011: Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle taps Don Horner, Buzzy Hong and Carrie Okinaga to new transit agency; City Council Transportation Chairman Breene Harimoto picks Ivan Lui-Kwan, Damien Kim and Keslie Hui for HART.
April 15, 2011: City Council member Tom Berg to kick off Tea Party rally; City plans to spend $248 million to acquire property for rail; Shootout in East Oahu ends in suspect death, traffic gridlock.
April 14, 2011: City Council member Stanley Chang turns to Charles Djou on “unfinished business;” City says Waimanalo Gulch back to “normal;” City Council member Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo defends possible cuts to the arts.
April 13, 2011: City Council Budget Chairman Ernie Martin calls mayor’s take on fuel tax “inaccurate;” Zoo considers sending rhino to hospice; Free parking for some city workers could end; City Council rejects move to reclaim some rail money.
April 12, 2011: City Council member Stanley Chang passionate about funds for roads; Council advances real property tax measure; Council on a roll with disclosures.
April 11, 2011: Two rail protests filed against city; Tom Berg speaks out against state money grab; U.S. Senate race could have ripple effect on City Hall.
April 8, 2011: City Council member Ernie Martin taps IBEW business manager for HART; Peter Carlisle distant from Big Island, Kauai mayors; Government leaders attend prayer breakfast.
April 7, 2011: Hawaii mayors issue joint response on tentative HGEA deal; Was Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle cut out of labor bargaining? U.S. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood chats about Honolulu’s “light rail.”
April 6, 2011: City, state and other Hawaii counties agree to deal with HGEA; Council grows capital spending; City Council member asks for legal fees to fight administration.
April 5, 2011: Council member Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo says her deployment to Afghanistan is unlikely; HART nominees still not official; City cites $1.4 billion for Ansaldo contract.
April 4, 2011: Todd Apo and Don Horner surface as mayor’s possible picks for transit authority; Tom Berg nominates Panos Prevedouros for transit authority; State awaits results on more dengue cases; Losing rail bidders set for debriefs.
April 1, 2011: Gov. Neil Abercrombie taps former City Council candidate; GOP wants Nestor Garcia ethics investigation; Budget Chairman Ernie Martin schedules two special budget meetings.