Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and City Council member Stanley Chang are back from their two-week business trip to Asia.

The countdown is on before the transfer of city oversight of the $5.3 billion rail project moves into the hands of a semi-independent transit agency.

There’s always something interesting going on at Honolulu Hale. Civil Beat is reporting from the inside.

Carlisle Vetoes Four Bills, Threatens Lawsuit

4:49 p.m.
Mayor Peter Carlisle vetoed four bills this afternoon and implied a City Council override of two of them — those related to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit budget — could result in a lawsuit.

The four measures — Bills 33, 34, 35 and 36 — represent the first vetoes of Carlisle’s mayoral term.

He said the council’s HART budget bills would undermine the charter amendment approved by voters last year to hand control of the rail project over to the independent board.

While Carlisle didn’t promise to file a lawsuit in the event of a council override, he did say it would be worth spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend the will of the people.

In vetoing Bill 36, which would have resinstated a discounted disposal fee for recycling operations, Carlisle said the move will save the city $2 million.

Bill 35 would have moved money from the transit fund to the general and highway funds for pre-2007 expenditures. Carlisle pointed to a state Attorney General opinion that such reimbursements would be illegal as the reason for his veto.

Mayor Calls Press Conference to Announce Vetoes

2:16 p.m.
With time running out to veto key bills passed by the Honolulu City Council, Mayor Peter Carlisle has called a 4 p.m. press conference.

The announcement, which came without further explanation, said the conference is specifically “to announce vetoes.” Spokespeople for the mayor wouldn’t disclose which bills will be vetoed.

Quorum Lost, Discussion Deferred

12:01 p.m.
The departure of Councilmember Ann Kobayashi a few minutes before noon left the Parks Committee with just one voting member — Chair Tom Berg — and no quorum.

After briefly recessing to check the rules, Berg said nonvoting members Nestor Garcia and Stanley Chang weren’t enough to allow the committee to continue even with its discussion-only agenda items.

The final three matters on the agenda were deferred to the next Parks Committee meeting, tentatively scheduled for early August.

Gabbard Sends Update From Indonesia

11:43 a.m.
City Council member Tulsi Gabbard, a captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard, is in Indonesia for a two-week training exercise. She sent out an email message this afternoon, as part of her congressional campaign, and made sure to point out that she’s staying on top of city issues:

“I am staying involved with what is happening at home, and will be back in Hawaii in about 4 days,” Gabbard wrote. “I am not missing any full City Council meetings, and am in touch with my staff daily.”

City Lawyer Rains on Commerce-In-Parks Plan

11:28 a.m.
A proposal to allow licensed tables, kiosks and vendors at some city parks along the Waianae Coast isn’t as simple as it might seem.

Parks Committee Chair Tom Berg‘s resolution [pdf] to create a pilot program stalled this morning after the city’s attorney raised concerns about the intersection between commerce and recreation.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Dawn Spurlin told the committee that because Hawaii courts have held that parks are held in the public trust, any economic activity needs to either be recreational in nature or must be in conjunction with some recreational activity.

“The bottom line is that you cannot just go into a park and make money,” she said.

Craft fairs are already allowed at city parks, and food could be allowed because it enhances the experience of park users. The limits get even more complicated because some Waianae Coast parks are owned by the federal government or Hawaiian Electric and are leased to the city — with restrictions.

Berg’s committee deferred his resolution to allow the council to consult with the Nanakuli-Maili Neighborhood Board and corporation counsel.

Two More Gifts Headed to Full Council

10:37 a.m.
The City Council is loathe to turn down gifts offered to the city, and two more could soon be accepted.

The council’s Parks Committee this morning recommended that two resolutions be adopted by the full council.

One is $2,893.51 from the Friends of Henry Preece to purchase a recycled bench to be installed at Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park. The other is the enhancement of baseball fields at various City parks in the Kailua and Kai Waimanalo complexes by Sports Turf Hawaii, valued at $11,761.18.

See our previous coverage on gifts to the city: Honolulu City Council Approves Every Gift Offered in 2011 and Off the Beat: Do City Ethics Laws Forbid Officials From Accepting Gifts? .

Hoopili Fight Heating Up (Again)

10:12 a.m.
The ink on Hoopili’s revised development plan is barely dry, but the renewed fight over 1,500 acres of quality farmland is about to get started.

The first public airing will happen Wednesday night at the Makakilo-Kapolei Neighborhood Board meeting. The agenda includes a presentation by DR Horton Schuler Division Vice President Cameron Nekota.

The debate will continue next week when the Hawaii Land Use Commission is expected to have Hoopili on its agenda, though nothing has been posted for its tentative June 30 meeting. Early this morning, the Save Oahu Farmland Alliance blasted an email to supporters asking them to attend a rally at the LUC meeting.

A previous incarnation of the Hoopili development master plan for some 12,000 homes failed to pass the commission. The new design includes more green features.

Harimoto, Martin Still Haven’t Filed Expense Report

9:56 a.m.
City Council Transportation Chairman Breene Harimoto and Budget Chairman Ernie Martin finally submitted a report about their trip to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Copenhagen, Denmark, late yesterday afternoon.

But there’s still no public record of how much taxpayers spent on the fact-finding trip. Expense reports must be filed to City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia, and an aide for Garcia told Civil Beat this morning she hasn’t yet received them.

It took Harimoto and Martin more than seven weeks to file a report of observations about the trip. The clock is still ticking on their disclosures of how much they spent on it.

City To Take General Plan Update to Public

9:50 a.m.
The city’s Department of Planning and Permitting announced this morning it will soon share its work on the Oahu General Plan update.

The city will host a community meeting Thursday night, July 7, where it will “present the project’s purpose and scope, discuss preliminary findings, and begin gathering community comments,” according to a press release. The announcement said:

The General Plan is a guide for the future of the island of Oahu. The update will focus on overall growth, tourism, agriculture, affordable housing, and sustainability. It is an appropriate time to review and update the plan, now that Oahu’s agriculture has diversified, tourism has matured, and the secondary urban center is becoming a reality.

University to Chip In For Road Widening?

9:27 a.m.
The city might ask the University of Hawaii to contribute funding for the widening of Farrington Highway near the West Oahu campus, just like a private developer might.

City Council Chair Nestor Garcia floated the idea this morning as the Planning Committee discussed a resolution [pdf] to revise the public infrastructure map for the Ewa Development Plan.

The change would start the process for widening the road from two lanes to four lanes between Kualakai Parkway and the Kapolei Golf Course.

Garcia said that before the council considers appropriating any capital improvement project money, the administration should look at cost-sharing.

UH-West Oahu Chancellor Gene Awakuni, who came to testify in favor of the map change, said he’s open to the conversation but noted that the developer in this case is an institution of higher learning.

“We’re a quasi-state or -public entity, and to the extent that we are, we don’t have the ability to generate revenue as a private developer might,” he said. He also said the land to be used for the widening would come from the University’s property.

Veto Deadline for Key City Bills

8:30 a.m.
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle is up against the deadline to veto bills passed by the City Council in a June 3 meeting. Carlisle left for a two-week business trip in Asia on June 4 and returned yesterday. Today’s the day he has to veto bills, or they’ll pass without his signature.

Bills to watch for possible veto action include Bill 36, which would reinstate a city subsidy for recycling companies (Carlisle already signed into law a bill to eliminate the subsidy) and a pair of bills establishing the budget for a new transit agency. City Council members passed their own version of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Budget against Carlisle’s wishes. He has promised to veto the council’s HART budget, and says he would take the council to court over the matter.

Council members, too, have indicated they’re willing to sue the mayor over HART.

Read Bill 33 and Bill 34, pertaining to the HART budget. Read Bill 36, pertaining to the subsidy for recycling companies.

Read Previous Editions of Inside Honolulu

June 20, 2011: Ethics training could be required for all city workers; Stanley Chang, mayor, back from China; Ag property-tax tweak advances; Council Budget Committee advances bond float.

June 17, 2011: City Council member Tom Berg wants commercial activity at some parks; Baby warthogs at the zoo.

June 16, 2011: Perennial mayoral candidate Panos Prevedouros‘ poetry; Opinion on Garcia ethics investigation still two months out.

June 15, 2011:: Council Chairman Nestor Garcia steps down; City offers amnesty on turned-in fireworks.

June 14, 2011: Photos released from Peter Carlisle‘s Asia trip; Carpenters Union steps up rail advocacy; Water outage on windward side.

June 13, 2011: Read the complete HUD report; Tom Berg to hold town hall on rail; Still no rail report from fact-finding trip.

June 8, 2011: Acting Mayor Doug Chin signs historic homes bill; FAA issues Record of Decision on rail; Hillary Clinton to attend APEC; Stanley Chang posts messages to Twitter from Taiwan; Precedent in the dispute between Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and City Council members.

June 7, 2011: Two-time candidate Panos Prevedouros fundraising for 2012 mayor’s race; Tom Berg weighs in on chief of staff’s role in hacking of lawmaker’s email; Rod Tam sentencing pushed back; Ship that buried Osama bin Laden stops in Honolulu.

June 6, 2011:Creator of city rail poll says it was unbiased; More details on Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle‘s China trip; Former City Council memeber Rod Tam charged with eight counts of campaign spending violations.

June 3, 2011: City Council approves rail bond float, slew of fee increases, property-tax rate hike, operating and capital budgets; Council members reverse decision on eliminating subsidy to scrap yards.

June 2, 2011: Complete script of questions from city rail poll; Rail supporters plan virtual sit-in.

June 1, 2011: City announced poll showing majority support for rail; Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle mum on veto plans; Hurricane season starts.

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