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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Two awarded cash judgement after ban that followed run-in with former mayor’s brother

January 26th, 2015 · 3 Comments

The city has been ordered to pay just over $750,000 in damages to two stagehands who were arbitrarily banned for life from working on shows in city facilities after a 2007 run-in with then-honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s brother.

The incident happened during a rehearsal for a benefit concert at Blaisdell Center in which a performance by the mayor was to be featured.

In a decision issued on October 15, 2014 by Judge Karen Nakasone, Eric Minton was awarded $556,156 on his claim of “tortious interference with prospective business advantage.” Richard Stanley was awarded $194,483 for his similar claim. Minton was crew chief with decades of experience, while Minton is a sound engineer who was working the concert. Both men were union members hired by the show’s organizers.

The city is now appealing the judgement.

The men alleged they had been wrongfully targeted after Mayor Hannemann called a meeting with top Blaisdell managers to discuss the incident.

The case, originally filed in 2007, has been dragging through the courts for years. The case was originally decided in favor of the city, a decision which was affirmed by the Intermediate Court of Appeals. But the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed those initial decisions and, in a scathing decision issued in December 2013, ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor.

The case was sent back to the Circuit Court for consideration of damages, and there was an additional appeal on the question of whether attorneys fees should be awarded to the men’s lawyers.

Here’s how I summarized the case in a December 2013 Civil Beat column.

The court’s decision came in a lawsuit brought by Eric Minton and Richard Stanley, professional stagehands with nearly 75 years of experience between them, not to mention many rave reviews from prior clients. Named as defendants, along with the city, are Sidney Quintal, former director of the Department of Enterprise Services, and John Fuhrmann, who was in charge of daily operations at the city-owned facilities.

The men were barred from working in city facilities, and the city told groups or promoters who wanted to hire them to find other stagehands to do their jobs.

The court ruled the blacklisting violated the men’s constitutional rights, found they had not been provided due process, and ruled that the evidence properly demonstrated the city’s action had resulted in the loss of a significant part of their incomes.

The court called the city’s action “particularly egregious” because it effectively destroyed the men’s livelihoods by banning them for life from the premier entertainment venues, Blaisdell Center and the Waikiki Shell, without any intention of providing due process.

You can read my full Civil Beat column here.

Judge Nakasone was a 2008 Pacific Century Fellow, prior to her appointment to the Circuit Court by then-Gov. Abercrombie in 2011, according to her profile on the Judiciary website. Mufi Hannemann was founder of the Pacific Century Fellows program and serves as its chairman.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Court · Labor · Politics

Planned Parenthood President to speak on UH Manoa Campus this week

January 25th, 2015 · No Comments

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, will be speaking on the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus this Friday, January 30, 2015.

Her appearance is scheduled for 12:30 pm to 2 pm in Kuykendall Auditorium. The free event is open to the public as well as the campus community.

Richards is a leading advocate for women’s rights and access to health care. She is a frequent speaker and commentator on issues related to women’s rights, reproductive health, and sex education, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

The theme of Friday’s event is “Sex, Rights, and Health Care: Women’s Struggle for Birth Control.”

Richards will be joined by Susan Trout, co-chair of Planned Parenthood Young Leaders (PPYL) of Hawaii, and Kathy Ferguson Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies at the University of Hawai’i. Former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa will moderate the discussion.

The event is part of the University of Hawaii Manoa Women’s Studies Department’s 40th Anniversary Celebration. Click here for more information on the year-long series of 40th Anniversary events.

Richards will also make appearances at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser on Maui on the evening of January 30, and the organization’s “Champions of Choice Gala” at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Saturday evening, January 31.

→ No CommentsTags: Education · Health · Politics

A curious fact about the governor’s controversial Land Board nominee

January 24th, 2015 · 13 Comments

I don’t know Carleton Ching, Governor David Ige’s controversial nominee to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources, but here’s one very interesting factoid about him.

He did not contribute to Ige’s campaign. In fact, he didn’t contribute to any candidates. Not last year, or in any recent year.

Despite being a lobbyist for several Castle & Cooke corporate entities, Ching has not contributed to any state and local political candidates, in cash or in-kind, going back to November 8, 2006, according to the online database maintained by the Campaign Spending Commission. None. Zero.

It’s possible that he contributed only small amounts that never added up to $100 to any candidate, but that’s certainly not a typical pattern for someone in his position.

A search for federal campaign contributions also came up empty.

Castle & Cooke’s corporate entities contributed $103,816 to dozens of Hawaii candidates over the same period, and other individual company employees and officers added another $20,395.93. Ching was not among them.

As to his lobbying, only limited records are currently available online. State Ethics Commission online records show Ching is registered as a lobbyist representing three C&C corporate entities. State records currently available list Ching as a lobbyist beginning in February 2013 for Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii, Inc. and Castle & Cooke, Inc. He filed to represent Castle & Cooke Properties, Inc. on January 15, 2015. However, his service for Castle & Cooke appears to extend back at least a decade, although those reports are not available online.

But Castle & Cooke reported paying Ching just $1,152 as a lobbyist over the past two years. City lobbying expenditure reports are not available online.

Is this an example of lobbying disclosures that need to be taken with a grain of salt?

→ 13 CommentsTags: Campaigns · environment · Politics

U.S. called out for our lack of maternity leave and family supports

January 23rd, 2015 · 4 Comments

A segment on last night’s PBS Newshour should be required watching (“Almost every country in the world offers more generous maternity leave than the U.S.“). That link will take you to the video of the segment and a transcript.

According to the United Nations, we and Papua New Guinea are the only countries in the world that do not provide any paid time off for new mothers.

And only since 1993 have we had the Family and Medical Leave act, or FMLA, which grants up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for full-time workers at firms with 50 or more employees. But the law fails to cover fully 40 percent of American workers, like part-timer Kimberly Lewis.

And then there are mothers who take their maternity leave, and then are fired by their employers when they try to return to work. Maternity leave is, it seems, a right that is not self-enforcing.

The program raises the issue of who would shoulder the cost of a broadly available family leave. But it fails to look at the longer term benefits to the society, and the economy, as a whole that likely more than balance the cost.

This is certainly an issue that needs to be near the top of the public agenda.

Unless we’re happy at the bottom of the international pack, the U.S. and Paua New Guinea, going it alone on our anti-family agenda.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Business · Economics · Health · Politics

Feline Friday: Yesterday we got a scare

January 23rd, 2015 · 2 Comments

Ms. HarryYet another Feline Friday, and Ms. Harry, the cat also known as Harriet, is still with us.

Ms. Harry’s is eating almost nothing, although there’s still a spark–a small spark–of an appetite. She’s getting by on tiny bits of baby food, raw fish, NutriCal, a little canned tuna, Fancy Feast, and an occasional taste of dry cat food. I basically rotating different choices past her, hoping that she’ll decide to take a bit or two of enough of them to get through each day.

We know this is kitty hospice care, and that one day the spark will be gone from her eyes. At that point, we’ll give her a graceful way out. But I don’t think she’s there yet.

Yesterday, though, she gave us a scare. After our walk, we let Harriet go out on the front deck. She usually just sits in the sun, or observes the yard from a chair. But when I went looking for her a bit later, she was nowhere to be found. I checked under the house. Not there. I checked the front and back yards, looked down the hill, took another look down the road, asked our immediate neighbor…no signs of Harriet.

We delayed our departure to town in order to do another sweep of the yard. No sign of Harriet.

Under more normal circumstances, this wouldn’t have been an issue. Our cats formerly had free access to the outside, although we’ve been teaching them about being indoor cats. But with Harry’s fragile condition, we feared that this might be her time to disappear into the jungle, find a hole to hide in, and wait for the end. We finally had to leave for the day with very mixed emotions, and hoped for the best

When we arrived back in the late afternoon, there was no Harriet on the front steps, or on the front deck, or in the garage. She didn’t come out from under the house to greet us. As I came into the house, I was already heading for our bedroom to change clothes and head out to tramp through the brush in the undeveloped lot next door in search of the ailing black and white cat. But when I turned around, I looked out the window and spotted a bit of contrast on the green grass at the very back edge of our back yard. On closer inspection, it was Ms. Harriet, laid out on the grass in a spot of sun.

I went running to the door, down the stairs, and into the yard. She didn’t move, but she started crying, a loud, plaintive meow. I picked her up and brought her back into the house. Today wasn’t her day after all. And she was hungry. I drained a can of tuna, and she drank the liquid, then slowly ate a teaspoon or so of the tuna, followed by some tiny bits of smoked salmon. Then another partial teaspoon of canned cat food. It was actually the most she had eaten at one sitting in several days.

So now we’re back to the hospice care. With our current household of geriatric felines, this will likely be the new normal for the next several years.

Meanwhile, Romeo is on my lap, fussing. Ms. Wally is in Meda’s lap, also fussing. Harry is on a towel on the “island” in the kitchen. Kili is looking out the door to the front yard. Toby is asleep in a chair. And Ms. Annie is asleep on our bed. The morning meals are over, insulin shots done for Duke & Kili.

Time to face the world.

–> See Ms. Harry and the rest of today’s Friday Felines!

→ 2 CommentsTags: Cats · Photographs