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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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A different Throwback Thursday: An inquiry about Hugh Montgomery of Fergushill, Scotland

October 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

A couple of years ago, I posted information about the mining community in Scotland where my father’s mother was from, including information to visit via Google Earth (“Visiting Fergushill via Google Earth“).

Yesterday that post drew a rather interesting inquiry.

Searching for information on the railways which served the Fergushill and Doura mining areas between Kilwinning and Irvine a search led to your blog and the story about your grandmother living in one of the Fergushill miner’s rows and mention of her uncle, Hugh Montgomery. There is a person of that name mentioned in this old newspaper report following an explosion at Fergushill No 22. Was this your grandmother’s uncle?

There are still some foundation remains of the pit buildings which I visited earlier this year. A fascinating area for amateur industrial archaeoligists!

7 August 1913

Explosion In An Ayrshire Pit – One Man Killed and One Injured -

The mining district of Fergushill, in Kilwinning parish, was yesterday thrown into a state of excitement by a pit explosion involving the loss of one life and serious injury to a second miner. The pit is known as No. 22 Fergushill, and locally it is called the Diamond pit. It belongs to Messrs A. Finnie & Sons. It is reported that two miners named Andrew Allardyce and Hugh Galone, were at work in a section of the pit by themselves when the accident occurred. Amongst the first to suspect that something was wrong was another miner named Hugh Montgomery, who was working in another part of the pit some hundreds of yards distant. He became conscious of a vibration, and was at first inclined to think that something had gone wrong in No. 23 pit, which connects. On further inquiry, however, he had reason to believe that the explosion had taken place in the workings occupied by the two men named, and this belief was soon confirmed by two pony drivers, who emerged from the direction of the occurrence, and reported that an explosion had taken place. It was impossible to proceed in the direction, indicated owing to the state of the atmosphere, but assistance was quickly secured, and attempts were made to reach the two men. These efforts, however , were unavailing. Later, in travelling along the air course, the rescuers were surprised to come across Galone, who had crawled from the danger zone to the pit bottom, a distance of about 300 yards. Galone was in a semi-conscious condition, and was unable to tell anything of the occurrence. He was removed with all promptitude to the surface, when it was found that he had sustained serious burning injuries besides shock, and he was taken to Kilmarnock Infirmary for treatment. The remains of Allardyce were recovered later. Deceased, who was forty seven years of age, resided at Wellington Row, Fergushill, and was well known and held in high esteem by a large circle of friends. He leaves a widow and six dependants. Galone is unmarried, and resides in the same row. [Source: Scotsman 8 August 1913]

Douglas Blades
Public Transport Officer
Argyll and Bute Council

So I forwarded it over to my sister, Bonnie Stevens, who has done considerable research on that part of our family. Here’s her reply.

It is possible that the Hugh Montgomery of this article is indeed our grandmothers uncle. James Grant Mintgomery, our great/grandfather had a brother Hugh who would have been 55 in 1913 and who was living at his death in 1935 at Fergushill Cottage, Kilwinning. But I cannot day with certainty the man in the article is her Uncle Hugh.

She told me about her Uncle Hugh in the context of evening church meetings held in Uncle Hugh Mintgomery’s home in Bensley, but suspect that Uncle Hugh was a great-uncle rather than an Uncle. Her description “a very religious man” who brought the extended family together weekly for worship midweek.

→ No CommentsTags: History

Throwback Thursday: A backyard photo

October 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

Here’s an old slide, recently rescued and scanned.

I’m standing in the back yard of my parents’ home in Kahala. I don’t recall having such a short haircut, but photos don’t lie, do they?

About 1953-54

→ No CommentsTags: General

Special Senate Session on judicial nominees overlooked by news media

October 22nd, 2014 · 5 Comments

The State Senate is in session this week for hearings to consider three judicial nominations, including two by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, likely his last. The Star-Advertiser ran a brief Associated Press story on the hearings, which in turn is attributed to information published by West Hawaii Today.

It seems this matter has been almost entirely under the media’s radar.

KAILUA-KONA >> Public officials are defending a Hawaii County lawyer after the Hawaii State Bar Association deemed her unqualified to be a district judge.

West Hawaii Today reports the Bar Association questioned deputy corporation counsel Margaret Masunaga’s legal knowledge, professional experience and ability to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

There was a lot of testimony in support of Masunaga in person and in writing at a confirmation hearing. Support came from U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, retired District Court Judge Joseph Florendo, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi and about 40 more people.

A reader commented on the media inattention to the special session.

I am really puzzled at the lack of attention to the recent judicial appointments and the fact that the Senate is meeting in Special Session this week to consider nominations – one for a Big Island district court vacancy, and two to fill circuit court vacancies – one vacant by retirement, one vacated by Mike Wilson – here on Oahu.

One of the nominees, Margaret Masunaga (CJ’s appointment for the district court seat) was even deemed “unqualified” by the HSBA Board. Mazie Hirono, Colleen Hanabusa and Billy Kenoi (and many others) testified in support.

The Star Advertiser carried a very perfunctory story about the appointments, with only passing reference to the fact that hearings were being conducted by Clayton Hee’s Judiciary committee yesterday – until just now when an AP story was posted that linked to Nancy Cook Lauer’s story in West Hawaii Today. She apparently covered the story by watching the live public access TV coverage – good for her. Did anyone else (media) cover the hearings – either on TV or in the hearing room?

Further, the Senate convenes on Wednesday and Thursday to consider the appointments. It should be the final appearance on the floor for Senators Ige, Solomon and Hee. Will be interesting to see if Clayton takes any parting shots – at anyone/anything. He’s wrapped up his investigation of the Hawaii State Hospital System. A month or more ago he said that a final report would be available “in a couple of weeks.” Anyone bother to follow up?

Just askin’ . . .

→ 5 CommentsTags: Court · Media · Politics

A quick look at ethics in the news

October 21st, 2014 · 1 Comment

Time for a quick survey of ethics news from elsewhere. There’s a lot of activity out there!

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard Arrested in Ethics Case,” Wall Street Journal.

According to the indictment, Mr. Hubbard used his position as chairman of the state Republican Party to secure business for his companies, including Craftmaster Printers, a printing company, and Auburn Network, a multimedia production company.

It accuses him of using his position as a member of the Alabama House to land business for the Auburn Network from entities such as the Southeast Alabama Gas District, a public utility. And it charges him with soliciting things of value from various lobbyists.

Panel punts on ethics changes,” JournalGazette.com (Fort Wayne, IN).

The meeting was the result of an ethics investigation earlier this year into Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, who tried to sway his colleagues in a private House Republican caucus against a moratorium on new nursing homes. The bill died in the waning hours of the legislature.

He acknowledged in a statement that he has an ownership stake in Mainstreet Capital Partners, which has an interest in Mainstreet Property Group. His son, Zeke Turner, is CEO of Mainstreet Property, and his daughter, Jessaca Turner Stults, is Mainstreet’s registered lobbyist.

The business builds nursing homes. Turner claimed the construction ban would have had “no significant effect” on Mainstreet’s business model, but a report by The Associated Press said he stood to lose millions in future profits.

A House Ethics Committee review found Turner did not break the rules, which say a member with a conflict of interest cannot vote on or sponsor legislation affecting him or her personally. He did neither.

Since then, the AP reported that a company that was part of the ethics investigation was sold to an Ohio company as part of a $2.3 billion deal.

R.I. Ethics Commission takes up allegations of nepotism, improper hiring, failure to disclose,” Providence Journal.

Hodgson is the the Republican Party’s candidate for attorney general.

In September, Hodgson alleged an impropriety in the hiring by current Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, a Democrat, for awarding more than $47,000 in legal work to a sitting state legislator, Sen. William J. Conley Jr., D-East Providence.

More specifically, Hodgson, R-North Kingstown, alleged a potential violation of the provision in the state ethics code that prohibits an elected official from accepting state employment, in this case, as a lawyer representing the state against a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

When asked about the allegations, Kilmartin denied any conflict or potential violation of the ethics code, based on “the very specific and specialized nature of the case” and noted that the Justice Department in April reached a “landmark” settlement with the state “that will resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act” for 3,250 Rhode Islanders.

A week ago, the state Democratic Party turned the tables on Hodgson.

On Oct. 9, the Democratic Party’s Executive Director Jonathan Boucher filed a complaint alleging that Hodgson initially failed to disclose his one-third ownership in his family’s Slocum turf farm in 2012 and 2013. The Democrats’ complaint also alleges he failed to disclose his “executive position as director and secretary of Sodco,” until he was questioned about it. He has acknowledged — and said he immediately corrected — “the minor clerical error.”

“This makes you wonder what other information he’s buried on his turf farm,” said state Rep. Joseph M. McNamara, the new chairman of the state Democratic Party.

Hodgson’s response: “This is a disgusting personal smear by a sad old politician.”

The House’s Ethics Lesson for the Senate,” New York Times editorial.

The public’s low opinion of Congress has had one good effect: It has helped to insulate the Office of Congressional Ethics from members of Congress who might privately pray for the office’s demise.

The semi-independent ethics office was created six years ago, after the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal, and has since become a credible watchdog of misbehavior by House members, who dare not abolish it, much as many of them resent its oversight. The office has built such a strong reputation of nonpartisanship and professionalism in conducting discreet preliminary investigations of accusations against House members that it stands as a powerful argument for creating a parallel office in the Senate, which has no such ethics monitor.

CalPERS board strips Priya Mathur of posts after ethics law violations,” Los Angeles Times.

The country’s richest public pension fund has stripped one of its 13 members of her posts on its board of administration after she repeatedly violated California’s political ethics laws.

Rob Feckner, board president of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, announced at a Wednesday meeting that colleague Priya Mathur no longer serves as his vice president. Mathur also lost her chairmanship of the CalPERS Pension and Health Benefit Committee and vice chairmanships of two other committees.

Feckner, however, did not remove Mathur as the fund’s representative to an international panel, Principles for Responsible Investment.

It was the second time that Mathur has been publicly disciplined by the board since first being elected as a representative of employees of public agencies that participate in the CalPERS system.

→ 1 CommentTags: General

A reader comments on today’s Star-Advertiser

October 20th, 2014 · 17 Comments

This comment in from a reader:

Front page of today’s paper is a full two page wrap around of local weather art. Photo by AP. Nothing special about the photo. When I was in college I had one professor who used to say “if you can’t make it good make it big”

Another example of a one-paper town.

The front page photo shows a woman in a yellow raincoat. As the reader comments, there is nothing at all special about the photo. And I hadn’t even noticed the fine print attribution to Associated Press.

→ 17 CommentsTags: Media