Latest Articles

  • Emergency Money Made Easy, If You’re a Democratic Governor

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Gov. David Ige was elected Nov. 4, took office Dec. 1 and hit the Legislature up for $670,400 a month later.

    His office needed the emergency money to cover payroll shortfalls, travel expenses and other transitional needs of the new administration.

    It’s a common request for incoming governors to make, but one that often receives little scrutiny, particularly for Democrats in deep blue Hawaii.

    Gov. David Ige attends a legislative meeting April 24 with his deputy chief of staff, Laurel Johnston.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    State lawmakers rushed to pass House Bill 930, unanimously agreeing to provide every cent Ige requested. He signed the legislation into law in late February as Act 2. 

    Few details of how the $670,400 was to be spent or how that amount was arrived at were provided prior to the vote — just a handful of categories and assurances that it was necessary.

    The governor’s office provided a breakdown of the appropriation this week in response to a Civil Beat request.

    Laurel Johnston, Ige’s deputy chief of staff, said the bulk of it, $359,000, went toward paying out unused vacation time to staff in the previous administration.

    The remainder included $12,000 in protocol funds to buy gifts and dinners for visiting dignitaries; over $100,000 in dues to the Western Governors Association and National Governors Association; and $52,000 to buy a 2005 Ford Expedition to chauffeur the governor and his security detail around in. The balance went for new Microsoft tablets for staff,

  • Weekend News? Ige’s Appointments Tend to Come Late on Fridays

    · By Nathan Eagle

    It’s 4 ‘o clock on a Friday. Pau hana, right?

    Wrong. It’s time for Gov. David Ige to reveal his latest Cabinet appointment — right at that moment when no one is looking.

    Since he started picking people in November to serve in his new administration, 11 were named on Fridays and another seven were disclosed on New Year’s Eve.

    The ceremonial room in the governor’s office sits empty Thursday. Gov. David Ige has been announcing his Cabinet appointments often on Fridays and hasn’t held weekly press availabilities.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    The timing raises the question of whether the governor’s office is trying to avoid public scrutiny by announcing these major decisions when people are paying less attention to the news.

    His Friday appointees include the head of the Public Utilities Commission (Randy Iwase), Attorney General (Doug Chin), Department of Land and Natural Resources (Carleton Ching), Board of Agriculture (Scott Enright), Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (Jobie Masagatani), Department of Health (Dr. Ginny Pressler) and Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (Catherine Awakuni Colón), to name a few.

    The Cabinet choices are huge. This is who will be running departments with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars, charged with providing myriad public services, enforcing state laws and working to fulfill an ever-growing list of responsibilities.

    All of Ige’s appointments so far have been announced via news releases. No fanfare. No accompanying press conferences like his predecessor, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, was fond of holding. Just the

  • Will Senate Investigators Be Able to Fix the Hawaii State Hospital This Time?

    · By Nick Grube

    Problems of overcrowding and understaffing persist at the mental health facility despite a federal consent decree.

  • Hawaii AG May Spend $3 Million to Investigate Matson, Defend State

    · By Anita Hofschneider

    The attorney general is requesting $1 million from the Legislature in an emergency appropriation.

  • Is Hawaii Really Doing So Well? Fact-Checking the Governor’s Speech

    · By Anita Hofschneider

    Gov. Neil Abercrombie painted the state in a rosy light during the State of the State, boosting his re-election campaign.

  • It’s Your Money: Hawaii’s Election Holiday Cost Taxpayers Millions

    · By Alia Wong

    But voter participation is still declining even though public holiday was created in part to boost turnout.

  • ‘Sucky Websites’ To Become Cool Under State’s New Tech Reform Plan

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Multi-million-dollar initiative to bring Hawaii into 21st Century.

  • Most Oppose Hawaii Judiciary’s Plan to Seal Expunged Records

    · By Anita Hofschneider

    The courts received mostly negative feedback about a rule that would close off public access to some criminal records.

  • Hawaii’s Old Records Are Literally on Ice

    · By Alia Wong

    Waiting for records to “thaw” at the Hawaii State Archives.

  • Civil Beat Poll – Can Gov’t Solve Challenges?

    · By Michael Levine

    Non-voters pessimistic about country fixing problems.

  • Is Hawaii Law Governing Public Officials Effective?

    · By The Civil Beat Staff

    Hawaii Accountability Project, Part 14: Effectiveness of Hawaii law hurt by big gaps.

  • Does Hawaii Have Civil Service Regulations?

    · By The Civil Beat Staff

    Hawaii Accountability Project, Part 13: Hawaii’s lack of rules preventing nepotism, cronyism and patronage hurt state’s ranking.

  • Can Hawaii Citizens Access the Asset Disclosure Records of the Governor?

    · By The Civil Beat Staff

    Hawaii Accountability Project, Part 7: While Hawaii’s laws may be strong, the reality is a different story.

  • Are Hawaii’s Conflict of Interest Regulations Effective?

    · By The Civil Beat Staff

    Hawaii Accountability Project, Part 6: Post-employment and asset disclosure rules lower Hawaii’s grade.

  • Are There Conflict of Interest Rules For Hawaii’s Executives?

    · By The Civil Beat Staff

    Hawaii Accountability Project, Part 5: State gets 100%, but when it comes to nepotism and cronyism, it scores 0.