Watching and reporting about Hawaii from Washington Place to Washington, D.C.

4:52 p.m. Gov: ‘Committed’ to Public Workers Despite Cutbacks

The Abercrombie administration this afternoon released a statement detailing changes to public employee wages and benefits effective Friday — the start of a new fiscal year.

Those changes are detailed in a Civil Beat article.

In his statement, the governor said in part:

It is important to remember that the state budget reflects a 5 percent temporary pay reduction and 50/50 split on health care premiums and those cost reductions are to be distributed throughout all state agencies.

In our continuing dialogue, we remain committed to our public employees, open with our public employee unions, and steadfast in facing our challenges together.

The full statement can be viewed here.

3 p.m. U.S. Senate May Cancel July 4 Recess

Normally, Dan Akaka and Dan Inouye would be taking off the week after July 4th, as per the U.S. Senate’s calendar.

Indeed, the Senate was set to recess after close of business tomorrow.

But, because of the protracted fight over raising the federal debt ceiling, senators are thinking about sticking around.

The idea gained further urgency after Barack Obama‘s press conference today calling on Democrats and Republican to step things up, as the government risks defaulting on payments for U.S. government bonds come August.

1:48 p.m. Earthjustice Suing Maui Over Wastewater

The Maui News reports that attorneys for Earthjustice announced Wednesday they had filed a notice of intent to sue Maui County over alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility:

The notice claims that the county has known for years that treated wastewater injected into the ground at the facility percolates into the ocean nearby, but has not made good on promises to phase out the injection wells or obtained a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit to allow the discharge.

It also states that, although the wastewater receives some treatment, it still contains bacteria that presents health risks to ocean users, as well as nitrogen and other nutrients that can stimulate reef-smothering algae blooms offshore.

County officials said they expected to make a statement on the notice later today.

10:18 a.m. Two BLNR Members Say They Won’t Quit

The Maui News reports today that BLNR members Jerry Edlao and David Goode have sent letters to Neil Abercrombie declining his request that they resign.

Civil Beat previously reported that Edlao and Goode, as well as the four other Linda Lingle appointees to the BLNR, were inclined to stay put. A total of 11 of the 28 boards and commission members appointed by Lingle have thus far resisted Abercrombie’s request.

“I do take my charge very seriously and if I can get information regarding DLNR issues here on Maui, what better place than to meet with these guys,” Eldao said in his letter to the governor, which was obtained by The Maui News. “I do respect your request, however, I do hope you can respect my decision to remain on the BLNR to see these issues and others that will come to the board to protect and preserve our resources and environment, even if it takes the remainder of my term to do so.”

The Maui News also reports that an administration spokeswoman confirmed that the only board member to agree to the governor’s request so far is Matilda Yoshioka, who represents Kauai on the Public Housing Authority.

9:35 a.m. Neighbor Isle Gov’t News

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that Bob Herkes said he’s “obviously disappointed” that Neil Abercrombie intends to veto a bill that would create a vog task force comprised of state and county officials:

“If the Interagency Task Force on Sulfur Dioxide were doing its job, we wouldn’t have introduced this bill,” he said. “There is no sounding board for us that live in vog-impacted areas.”

West Hawaii Today reports that an override of Billy Kenoi‘s council budget veto is unlikely, Dominic Yagong told mauka Rotarians yesterday afternoon:

“The only way (the council would override Kenoi’s veto) is if Mr. (Fred) Blas would change his vote,” Yagong said, referring to the Puna councilman’s position as the council’s swing vote.

The Garden Island reports that a Kauai man who is not even on Kauai Island Utility Cooperative‘s electric grid is circulating a petition to recall member ballots and redo the member vote on the Board of Directors’ May 9 decision to contract with Free Flow Power:

Jonathan Jay, a program host at KKCR, said even though he is not a co-op member and lives in a little shack in a citrus grove on the edge of a jungle in Kalaheo, he started the petition because he wants “to be a member of a community in which there are vibrant democratic institutions.”

The Garden Island reports that deputy county attorney Justin Kollar recently announced his plans to seek the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney:

“I am not somebody who is very well known but I am running on the track record of what I have accomplished here and the relationships that I have developed,” Kollar said.

The Maui News reports that this Maui County officials will finally begin building proper shelters and benches at Maui Bus stops:

With the help of $1 million from the county and federal government, Mayor Alan Arakawa‘s administration and the Transportation Department recently hired a private contractor to finish the work started under the last administration by completing five bus stops in 2011.

Briefing: Mortgage Foreclosures

A joint informational briefing on Hawaii’s new mortgage foreclosure law is scheduled for early this afternoon at the Capitol.

“Assuring fairness and transparency in the mortgage foreclosure process is very important for so many families here in Hawaii,” said Roz Baker in statement. “We think Act 48, which was signed into law by the Governor on May 6, will help the situation for many of our homeowners. The foreclosure issues are complex. Our intent is to share with the public the status of implementation of the new law and clarify any ambiguities in Act 48.”

As Civil Beat has reported, Fannie Mae is already skirting the law, and there are concerns Act 48 may be flawed.

The Legislature has invited banks, Realtors, lawyers and others to talk about the issues.

Forum: Energy Efficiency

The governor and LG are featured speakers at a rally at noon at the state Capitol regarding an energy-saving campaign for state offices.

State employees from all 16 departments will be on hand, too, as well as legislators. Free CFL and LED lights while supplies last!

And music: Jive Nene, featuring green gurus Jeff Mikulina, Mark Glick and Isaac Moriwake backing singer Simone Cole.

Forum: Cyber-Bullying

Mental Health America-Hawaii has a forum set for 11:30 a.m. at Central Union Church in Honolulu regarding bullying, including cyber-bullying.

The panel includes Suzanne Chun Oakland, Karen Umemoto and Nancy Kern.

According to a press release, one in 10 Hawaii youth have been victims of cyber-bullying, and they are more likely to binge drink or abuse marijuana, report depression and attempt suicide.

Legislative Update: Morikawa and Kauai

Dee Morikawa invites constituents to Waimea Neighborhood Center (4556 Makeke Road) on Kauai for a 6 p.m. talk on legislative highlights and capital improvement projects slated for her district.

Discussion in also expected on the Waimea Valley Ditch System, the Waimea Levee, the Multi-use Path (Kekaha to Waimea) proposal, the potential for National Byways Designation, Waimea Story Boards and Music in the Park, Kokee issues and the status of Waimea High School.

Forum: Progressive Legislation

“Hawaii’s Legislature: Prospects for, and Obstacles to, Progressive Legislation” is the title of a discussion that begins at 5 p.m. in Democratic Party of Hawaii headquarters in Ward Warehouse.

The discussion — which is not open to the public — features Linda Ichiyama, Gil Keith-Agaran, Chris Lee and Karl Rhoads and is sponsored by Progressive Democrats of Hawaii and Americans for Democratic Action-Hawaii.

Hearing: Diplomatic Security

Dan Akaka will chair a hearing today in D.C. titled “The Diplomat’s Shield: Diplomatic Security and its Implications for U.S. Diplomacy.”

Here’s a press release excerpt:

“To counter growing threats and meet expanding missions, the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security must train more personnel to effectively protect people, information, and property at U.S. foreign missions and domestic offices. Although the State Department has increasingly focused attention and resources on training, the Government Accountability Office and others have concluded that Diplomatic Security faces serious challenges in carrying out its expanded mission. This hearing will examine those challenges, and a new GAO report will be released.”

The hearing will be webcast live here.


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