Posted tagged ‘Calvin Say’

Richard Lim and his spear-carriers

December 1, 2010

Here’s a telling passage from former Gov. Ben Cayetano’s autobiography “Ben” (pp 519-520) that has bearing on the leadership struggle in the state House and my post earlier today on Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie’s appointment of Richard Lim as DBEDT director and his rumored plan to name Sen. Brian Taniguchi to head of the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

Shortly after he became Speaker, (Calvin) Say was offered and accepted a directorship on the board of directors of City Bank. Many legislators hold full-time jobs with private employers, but the propriety of a legislator sitting as a director was questionable. Unlike employees, a director owes a fiduciary duty to his company and its stockholders. This can pose a potential conflict with the fiduciary duty the legislator owes to the public. …

One morning, I got a call from Evan Dobelle, the recently appointed president of the University of Hawaii, which provided some insights to Say’s role with City Bank.

“Governor, do you know a Richard Lim from City Bank?”

“Not well, but I know who he is. Why do you ask?”

“Well, Lim asked for a meeting, and he brought along Calvin Say and Brian Taniguchi. Pres [Prescott Stewart, a Dobelle staff person] was with me. I discussed ideas that the faculty and students have for University Avenue, past the Varsity Theater down to King Street. Then Lim started talking –— and he did all of the talking while Calvin and Brian looked on. The tone of Lim’s words bothered me. In essence he seemed to be suggesting that if I wanted to get anything done at the University I should call him.”

“What did Calvin and Brian do?” I asked Dobelle.

“Well, afterward I turned to Calvin and Brian and said, ‘What was that all about?’ ” he replied.

“Did they say anything?”

“No. They just sat there looking down at their shoes — and that bothered me more than what Lim was saying. Calvin has been helpful to me and the University. I couldn’t understand his behavior.”

“Looking down at their shoes?”

Years later, I got a slightly different version of the Lim-Dobelle meeting from a former UH regent who had arranged the meeting and was also in attendance.

“I was asked to arrange a meeting with Dobelle and I did,” the regent told me. “I have no idea what Lim wanted to meet about, so I asked Calvin and Brian if they knew. They both said they didn’t.”

“How did Lim come across?”

“Well, he did all of the talking, and after a few minutes I felt Dobelle didn’t like what he was hearing. And I think everyone was kind of caught off guard by what was being said.”

“Including Calvin and Brian?”

“Probably — I think they were surprised too.”

Dobelle thought Lim was trying to intimidate him. If he was, then having that Speaker of the House and the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee in tow only added to that impression. If Say and Taniguchi were surprised by Lim’s words, the right thing for them to do would have been to contact Dobelle later and clear up any misunderstanding. They didn’t. …

In 2004 Calvin Say lost his directorship when City Bank was bought out by Central Pacific Bank. Central Pacific paid a premium $91.83 price per share, up from its original offer of $21.83 less than a year earlier. So Say didn’t walk away empty-handed. His director’s stock options provided a handsome return.


Where does Calvin Say live?

August 2, 2010

House Speaker Calvin Say is facing new allegations that he doesn’t live in the Palolo district from which he is seeking re-election — and this time the complaint is coming from some of his fellow Democrats as well as Republicans.

A statement issued by Van Law and Laurie Cicotello on behalf of what they say is a bipartisan group of more than two dozen people, claims that Say hasn’t lived at his house at 1822 10th Ave. in the 20th District  for years and actually lives with his wife at 2477 Star Rd. in Pauoa in the 26th District.

They’re asking it the city clerk rule him ineligible to vote in the 20th District and the state chief elections officer to invalidate his nomination papers.

The complaint was circulated to the media by Jo-Ann Adams, chair of the Democratic Party’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caucus, which has endorsed Say’s primary opponent, Dwight Synan.

Say earned the ire of gay and lesbian groups for failing to call the House into special session to try to override HB 444, the civil unions bill. He’s also in hot water with public worker unions for refusing to support tax increases to protect their pay and benefits. Both groups have indicated they’ll support efforts to remove Say as speaker if he’s re-elected.

His residency has been a source of persistent controversy, with the previous complaint that was rejected coming from the Republican candidate in the 20th District, Julia Allen.

Law and Cicotello said previous investigations relied on affidavits from the Says and urged a deeper look this time.

They said Board of Water Supply bills from September 2009 to May 2010 show no water usage at 1822 10th Ave. “despite Calvin Say’s claim that he spends 60% of his evenings there.”

A neighbor from across the street “claims she never sees anyone at the house, no lights at night, no slippers on the porch.”  Van Law said he saw no potted plants, no personal property in the carport and no garden hose attached to the home.

“Calvin Say is not without options,” Cicotello said. “He can move back to 10th Avenue if that’s the district he wants to represent.  He can run for office in the 26th district if that’s where he wants to live.  He can run for island-wide office, like mayor, or statewide office, like governor.  What he cannot do, is live in the 26th District and represent the 20th District.”

Attorney Robert Thomas has a relevant earlier post in his blog about the latest Supreme Court ruling on residency in the Kaho’ohalahala case on Lana’i.

The bottom line: “The Hawaii Supreme Court held that in order to register to vote as a resident of a district, a person must have a fixed habitation in the district in which he is attempting to register, as well as a ‘physical presence’ there.  … Intent to return is not enough.”

Note: For those interested in reading the full complaint against Calvin Say, I posted a copy here.

Calvin Say’s conflicting interests

June 4, 2010

To tie up a loose end, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway officially struck down a controversial law that effectively changed the terms of leases between a Mainland landlord and 180 businesses renting its properties in Mapunapuna and Kalihi Kai.

Mollway ruled in favor of the landlord, Massachusetts-based HRPT Properties Trust, that the 2009 legislation attempting to dictate terms of private business contracts violates the Contract Clause and equal protection requirements of the U.S. Constitution.

Mapunapuna Industrial Subdivision

I had raised the case earlier in relation to a conflict of interest on the part of House Speaker Calvin Say that was first reported by Pacific Business News.

One of the tenants benefiting from the legislation was Warabeya U.S.A. Inc., which rents from HRPT for its musubi-manufacturing subsidiary Tokyo Bento Nichiyo. Say is an officer of Warabeya and is paid $1,000 a month.

He didn’t disclose his conflict when he introduced the House version of the disputed bill or voted for a similar Senate version that eventually became Act 189.

It was never my purpose to defend HRPT’s rent increases, just to say it was an inappropriate remedy for lawmakers to pass special legislation interfering in a private business agreement — especially when a key legislator had a clear and undisclosed vested interest.

To be fair to Say, he wrote a letter to the editor disputing my original piece, which you can read here.

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