Hannemann Running for Hawaii Governor as Independent Candidate

As expected, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann is running for governor of Hawaii as a third-party candidate.

You can read all about it on his new campaign website.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state Sen. David Ige are running in the Democratic primary and Duke Aiona is running in the Republican primary. There are other candidates as well in the mix.

Abercrombie defeated Hannemann in the 2010 Democratic primary and former Lt. Gov. Aiona in the general election.


Photo: Twitter pic. (votemufi.com)

—Chad Blair

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Honolulu Diocese ‘Distressed’ by Sex Abuse Allegations

Vicar General Gary Secor of the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii issued a response late yesterday to a sex abuse lawsuit filed against the Honolulu Diocese and former Vicar General Marc Alexander.

Today the Diocese of Honolulu learned of the filing of a lawsuit against Marc Alexander and the Roman Catholic Church in the State of Hawaii alleging that he abused a female minor about 1984. We are distressed by this allegation. Notwithstanding a much-publicized previous allegation about inappropriate conduct with an adult woman, this is the first time that anyone has alleged that she was abused by Marc Alexander when she was a minor.   

When such an allegation is reported to the Diocese, we take it very seriously and thoroughly investigate it. No credible allegation is disregarded and, when abuse of minors is alleged, appropriate reports are made to public authorities as well. When an allegation is first brought to our awareness through the legal system, we also work within that process to find the truth of the matter. Either way, if the allegation is found credible, the cleric is permanently removed from ministry, no matter when the abuse took place.  

Marc Alexander was either a seminarian or a deacon in 1984. He was ordained a priest in October, 1985, served in various parishes and ministries, and was Vicar General of the Diocese of Honolulu from early 2006 until he was suspended from priestly service in January, 2011. He has not served as a priest in this Diocese or anywhere else since that time. He is without authorization to exercise the priestly ministry here or elsewhere, but until now the reason for the suspension had nothing to do with any alleged sexual abuse of a minor.

When we learned of Marc Alexander’s relationship with an adult woman, the Diocese acted on the information it had, sought counsel and advice, and gave him the chance for professional evaluation and assessment at the Saint Luke Institute near Washington, DC. Although many associate the Institute with treatment of priests accused of abusing minors, in fact, it provides a broad range of medical and psychological services for clergy and religious for a variety of situations. 

Plainly, all abuse is wrong. Any abuse of minors by priests and religious is wholly unacceptable. It violates the laws of God and society. It is also abuses the trust of the people to whom they minister. We are firmly resolved to address and remedy all instances of abuse for which we have responsibility. We take all claims of abuse seriously and work collaboratively with law enforcement, child protection and medical resources to address all instances. We ask anyone, regardless of when, where and by whom that person has experienced abuse, to report the abuse and seek assistance.


Photo: Screen shot, April 24, 2014. (Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii)

—Chad Blair

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Meet Hawaii’s Congressional Candidate Who Calls Georgia His Home

You might not recognize the name Allan Levene, but he’s hoping you vote for him anyway.

Levene, a Republican, is running for Hawaii’s first congressional district, which is wide open now that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is running for Senate.

But what makes Levene’s candidacy so strange is that he doesn’t even live in Hawaii.

He’s a resident of Georgia, who was born in England and grew up in London.

What’s more, he’s also running for Congress in Peach State.

Politico Magazine recently wrote about Levene and his journey to become a U.S. representative, whether its Hawaii or Georgia.

But what makes the story even more fascinating is that what Levene is doing is perfectly legal.

He also tried to run campaigns in Minnesota and Michigan.

Levene’s attempt to run for four offices at the same time has grabbed a fair amount of attention from the national media.

You can check out this piece from CNN that ran in January about Levene’s bid to get on four state ballots.

That piece notes that while it’s legally feasible, it’s likely a “logistical nightmare.”

And then there’s this story from Roll Call that describes Levene as the first carpetbagger “to assemble an entire set of matched luggage.”

In Hawaii, Levene will be facing off with fellow Republican Charles Djou in the Aug. 9 primary.

Levene’s full name as registered with the Hawaii State Elections Office is Stanley Allan Levene.

Photo: Stanley Allan Levene (Screen shot)

—Nick Grube

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On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 24

A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings, meetings and events for Thursday at the state Capitol. Click here for more.



Photo: Hawaii state Capitol. (Civil Beat)

—Chad Blair

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Hawaii Senate to Vote on Controversial Nomination to HCDA Kakaako Board


The Hawaii Senate plans to vote Thursday on Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s nomination of Brian Tamamoto to the Hawaii Community Development Authority’s Kakaako board. 

Tamamoto, the executive vice president of Resort Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Kobayashi Group, was nominated in December to fill the board position set aside for a representative from the small business community.

His nomination comes at a time when the HCDA has been under intense political scrutiny for approving a slew of new high rises in Kakaako despite vocal public opposition.  

Abercrombie has been criticized for leaving HCDA board positions vacant for several months, which allowed his cabinet members to fill a majority of seats on the influential Kakaako board.

Members of Hawaii’s construction industry, including the Pacific Resource Partnership and several construction-related unions, praised Tamamoto’s nomination. Tyler Dos Santos-Tam from the Hawaii Construction Alliance called Tamamoto “a knowledgeable and capable steward for the transformation of Kakaako.”

But Tamamoto’s appointment is opposed by many who believe he has a conflict of interest through his association with the Kobayashi Group, a developer in Kakaako.

More than 240 people have signed a petition urging the governor to withdraw Tamamoto’s name, arguing that “his appointment only perpetuates the on-going effort to fast track development approvals despite the myriad of concerns raised by residents.”

Sen. Laura Thielen argued in a blog post on Wednesday that Tamamoto’s confirmation would break the law because he is not from the small business community.

When asked earlier this month whether the governor planned to withdraw Tamamoto’s name in light of public opposition, Abercrombie’s spokesman said, “Brian Tamamoto was chosen from a list of nominees selected by the City and County of Honolulu. The Governor respects the Senate’s advice and consent process, which allows for public comment.”

Photo: Construction in Kakaako in Nov. 2013 (PF Bentley/Civil Beat).

— Anita Hofschneider 

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Two More Coqui Frogs Found on Oahu

Two more coqui frogs were found recently in Honolulu. One frog was turned in by a grounds crew at a Waikiki hotel on April 12, and the other was captured by staff of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture at a Kalihi Valley home April 17.

The department is concerned that in both incidents there was a reluctance to contact HDOA at the initial detection of the coqui mating call.

Suspected invasive species should be reported immediately to the state’s toll-free pest hotline 643-PEST (7378).

To hear what a coqui frog sounds like, click here. Enjoy!


Photo: Ko-KEE! (DOA)

—Chad Blair

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Public Access Trails Hawaii Wins Case Against Haleakala Ranch Company on Maui

A jury on Maui ruled Wednesday that the Haleakala Trail on Maui belongs to the state, dismissing Haleakala Ranch Company’s claim to the land.

The decision followed a 14-day jury trial brought by Public Access Trails Hawaii. The Maui-based nonprofit has been advocating since 2011 to secure public access to the historic trail. The state later joined PATH as a co-plaintiff.

Don Young, president of the Haleakala Ranch Company, said he was disappointed in the verdict and will consider the possibility of an appeal. 

"We believe that all landowners in Hawaii should be concerned about the potential impact of this verdict and the risk of other claims arising from the Highways Act of 1892," Young said, noting that the company has stewarded the land for more than 125 years. 

PATH’s executive director, David Brown, said in a statement that the decision was “ground-breaking.” 

“The court victory today should be celebrated by anyone who wants to recognize, preserve and protect Hawaii’s unique and rich cultural past, including Hawaii’s historical trails,” Brown said.

The next part of the trial will determine the level of public access to the road and how it will be managed.

Read Civil Beat’s related coverage: 

Development Sparks Effort to Designate Historic Coastal Trail on Kauai

Bill Would Give Hawaii Legislators More Power Over Public Trails

Hawaii Land Board Agrees to Study Haleakala Trail, Denies Initiating Land Exchange

Photo: A beach on Maui. (Courtesy of Sunsplash via Flickr)

 Anita Hofschneider

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Sex Abuse Lawsuit Names Marc Alexander, Honolulu Diocese

A sex abuse survivor filed a civil lawsuit in Hawaii today, naming former Vicar General Marc Alexander and the Diocese of Honolulu.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys Mark Gallagher and Jeff Anderson, claims that the Diocese was” grossly negligent in allowing Alexander to work with children.”

The survivor, identified as Jane Roe 42, was a minor and attended St. John Vianney parish in Kailua when Alexander allegedly sexually abused her. The complaint can be read here.

Civil Beat left messages with Alexander and the Diocese today but has not yet heard back.

Alexander stepped down as vicar general in 2011 to became the Abercrombie administration's point man on homelessness. He resigned a year after he admitted to having had an affair while he was a priest.


Photo: Marc Alexander and Gov. Neil Abercrombie, 2011. (Civil Beat)

—Chad Blair

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Arbitration Panel Approves Raises for Hawaii Principals

Principals of Hawaii’s public schools and other educational officers who are members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association are getting 4.5 percent raises for four years, according to a press release.

The raises, which are retroactive to July 1, 2013, were approved as part of an award issued by an arbitration panel. 

Other highlights of the agreement include a 90-day vacation cap and a “rewards and recognition” program whose details are still being worked out. The program will be able to distribute $400,000 total in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years to educational officers who receive top evaluation ratings.

In December 2012, the state Department of Education and HGEA agreed to a principal evaluation system that is now being implemented at all 255 regular public schools. 

Photo: HGEA logo

— Alia Wong

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Civil Cafe Brings Packed Crowd to Fresh Cafe

"I feel like for the first time, the city is listening."

This was one of the comments made at last night’s packed Civil Cafe, the first such event at Fresh Cafe at 831 Queen St. in Kakaako. 

Civil Beat will be hosting monthly Civil Cafe events, where our readers and the community can be part of the story process, having a chance to ask local leaders and influencers about issues important to their lives. 

Last night, our guests were Honolulu transportation Director Mike Formby and Hawaii Bicycling League Executive Director Chad Taniguchi. Reporter Sophie Cocke, who covers the Honolulu beat, was the host. 

Olelo Community Media aired the two-hour discussion on Channel 54 last night, and will be running the entire program again on Channel 53 at these following dates: 

  • May 5, 4 p.m.
  • May 12, 1 p.m.
  • May 21, 7 p.m.
  • May 25, 1:30 p.m.

We will also have full video of last night’s event on our site soon. 

We want to send a special mahalo once again to our sponsor The Bike Shop (yes, THE bike shop) for helping us make last night possible. 

Thanks also goes to Tiffany Tanaka, owner of Fresh Cafe, for providing the venue, and to the staff at Olelo Community Media for their technical know-how and assistance. 

And the Earth Day bicycling festivities continue tomorrow at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. 

“BikeUHM 2014: Earth Cycles” will be held along Legacy Walk (near Dole Street) from 8 to 10 a.m. tomorrow.

This year’s events include:

• test drives of ebikes from Ebike Hawaii

• bike lessons on recumbent tricycles by Hawaii Bicycling League

• a refurbished bike sale for UHM students from Cycle Manoa (all bikes under $100). 

Read more about the university’s Earth Day festivities here

Mahalo again to everyone who made last night a success, and see you next month at the next Civil Cafe, which we will announce soon. 

Photo: Civil Cafe (PF Bentley/Civil Beat)

— Gene Park

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Bill That Would Place Ads on Buses is Resurrected

The Honolulu City Council’s Budget Committee deferred a proposal by Mayor Kirk Caldwell in January that would place advertisements on the sides of buses.

The bill has attracted strong opposition from groups like the Outdoor Circle, which led the successful fight to ban billboards on Oahu. 

But Bill 69 was resurrected on Wednesday during a budget hearing and could pass as City Council members grapple with how to balance the 2015 fiscal year budget. 

The bill passed out of the committee with a 5-0 vote. Councilman Joey Manahan voted yes with reservations. The bill now goes to the full City Council for review. 

Caldwell has said that the extra revenue, which could bring in about $8 million a year, would be used to help restore public bus service that was cut due to fiscal constraints. 

Photo: The Bus (Flickr courtesy of ninacoco)

— Sophie Cocke

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Compromise Reached on Bill to Require More Boards to Disclose Financial Interests

In the spirit of the evolving romance between the House and Senate, as state Rep. Angus McKelvey put it, a compromise was reached Wednesday afternoon on a bill to add 15 more boards and commissions to the list of those required to file public financial disclosure statements.

If the agreement on Senate Bill 2682 holds and the full Legislature approves the measure before session ends May 1, it would mark a significant milestone on the path toward improving government transparency in Hawaii.

But it’s unclear what the administration intends to do if it reaches Gov. Neil Abercrombie's desk. There's concern among lawmakers and others that he will veto the measure because the new requirement would apply to current board members as opposed to future ones.

The draft the Senate passed last month would only add the three members of the Public Utilities Commission to the list of state employees who have to disclose their financial ties.

The House draft added 16 more agencies, including the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, Board of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaii Community Development Authority.

The conference draft approved Wednesday, which Sen. Clayton Hee introduced, snipped two boards from that list — the Hawaii Labor Relations Board and the Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board.

Members of the LIRA board wrote lawmakers a letter in March that went so far as to suggest that passing the bill might somehow lead to suicide or murder because their decisions are so controversial at times.

Read past Civil Beat coverage here.

Nathan Eagle

Photo: Rep. Angus McKelvey (Civil Beat file)

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Sen. Hee Holds Fundraiser During Session

State Sen. Clayton Hee, a Democrat, is holding a campaign fundraiser tonight at the Plaza Club.

The suggested contribution is $250.

Today is the 56th day of the 60-day Hawaii Legislature. Yep, yep, yup.


Photo: Cash call. (Tax Credits)

—Chad Blair

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Hawaii State Budget to Come Down to Wire as House, Senate Struggle to Reach Agreement

With two days till deadline, state budget negotiators didn’t make a lot of progress after meeting for less than an hour this morning at the Capitol.

Conference committee chairs Rep. Sylvia Luke and Sen. David Ige said after the hearing that disagreements over what capital improvement projects to fund — including a $40 million deal with Turtle Bay Resort — are holding up the budget but they still fully expect to finish their work by 6 p.m. Friday.

Of the agreements that were reached Wednesday, education took center stage. The committee agreed to put $3 million toward pre-kindergarten, far less than the $5.2 million requested.

Luke said the reduced amount is a result of the Council on Revenues projecting hundreds of millions of dollars less revenue over the next several years, so lawmakers went with Gov. Neil Abercrombie's scaled-down request.

Check out Civil Beat later today for a complete report on the decisions made at the Legislature. 

Nathan Eagle


Photo: Hawaii Sen. David Ige and Rep. Sylvia Luke talk to reporters about the state budget, April 23, 2014, at the Capitol. (Nathan Eagle/Honolulu Civil Beat)

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Hawaii Budget Negotiators Resume Work as Deadline Looms

State budget negotiators have reconvened this morning to continue ironing out the $12 billion spending plan for Hawaii in 2015.

Wednesday marks the fourth day the conference committee of select House and Senate lawmakers have met to resolve the differences between the two chambers’ versions of the budget.

The deadline to finalize the state budget is Friday, and some lawmakers have said it’s possible they will finish their work on House Bill 1700 today. All the other bills with a fiscal component are being held up until they do.

Look to Civil Beat later for a full report on the decisions made today at the State Capitol, from the state budget to minimum wage, financial disclosures to county hotel tax money.

Nathan Eagle

Photo: Budget conference committee meets, Wednesday. (Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat)

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