BY JIM DOOLEY – The Legislature did not pass a $2 million budget request for security expenses related to the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference, but officials of Gov. Abercrombie’s administration are refusing all comment about the issue.

Instead, the office Attorney General David Louie, which is coordinating APEC security planning for the state, referred all questions to the U.S. Secret Service, which said it has no role in state or local budgeting matters.

“We do not as an agency fund or reimburse expenses” incurred by state or local agencies, said Max Milien, Secret Service public affairs representative for APEC.

Milien said questions about state or local APEC-related expenses should be answered by state and local officials.

“As far as bills or legislative measures, I couldn’t comment on that, that would still have to come from their office,” said Milien.

Joshua Wisch, special assistant to Attorney General Louie, did not respond to renewed efforts to obtain information about APEC spending.

One of the big-ticket items which Louie’s office has said it needs to prepare for APEC is a state-of-the-art computerized “facial recognition” system that costs between $500,000 and $600,000.

The system matches photos of individuals who arrive in Hawaii with a database of photos contained in the FBI’s “Repository of Individuals of Special Concern,” according to a non-bid contract request from the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center.

The HCJDC, which is part of the Attorney General’s office, submitted the request in March to state purchasing officials, saying they needed to buy the equipment quickly to have it ready in time for the November APEC conference.

The state wants to buy a system manufactured by a French-owned firm, Safran MorphoTrak, which also makes a fingerprint identification system used by the Attorney General’s office and other local law enforcement agencies.

“Working with another vendor introduces significant risks of not implementing the system in time to support APEC,” the request said.

In written testimony to the Legislature asking for APEC funds, Louie’s office said the MorphoTrak system and related software would cost $616,971.

The non-bid contract request, wich was approved by chief procurement officer Aaron Fujioka April 12, put the purchase price at $507,973.

Louie’s office did not respond to questions about the status of the non-bid purchase, or about anything APEC-related.

His office’s testimony to the Legislature, however, said the state needs $2 million, mostly to pay the salary and overtime expenses of 310 security officers and staff.

Mayor Peter Carlisle said in his City budget proposal that the City plans to spend $44 million on APEC expenses, with most of that money going to the Police, Fire and Emergency Services Departments.

President Barack Obama and leaders from 20 other APEC member nations are expected to attend the conference, to be held here Nov. 11-14.

“Other jurisdictions that have hosted APEC and similar types of international conferences have seen law enforcement security staffing requirements of up to 20,000-plus officers, and costs of over $100 million,” Louie’s legislative testimony said.

“Past events of this magnitude have attracted protestors that can number in the tens of thousands,” the testimony continued.

Most are peaceful but “others protest violently, damaging property, attacking law enforcement, and attempting to disrupt or shut down the event,” said the Attorney General.

“Modern protest organizations are often well-funded,and traveling to Hawaii to protest APEC is well within the realm of possibilities,” Louie asserted.

HPD has asked the state to handle security at “ports, airports and waterways” as well as assist at APEC venue sites.

The state would also be responsible for transporting, processing and detaining anyone taken into custody during “mass arrests,” Louie’s office said.

Legislators initially reduced the APEC funding request to $1.2 million but ultimately approved no additional security money at all.

Abercrombie’s office said after the bill failed that “APEC allows us the opportunity to showcase our state to the world.  The Governor is committed to working on finding partnerships to ensure that Hawaii puts its best face forward.”

Non-funding by the Legislature means that greater efforts will be made to find “outside funding,” the governor said.

Calvin Say, Speaker of the state House of Representatives, said Thursday that the Legislature may return for a special session in late may or early June. If it does, he said, he would like to revisit the APEC funding bill.

Visit the Hawaii APEC official website here: Hawaii APEC

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com