U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye: Not Reachable for Comment on CPB Deal

U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who owns stock in Central Pacific Bank, helped the Hawaii-based bank obtain bailout funds in January 2009.

The story in the Washington Post that Hawaii Reporter also covered at the time, said Inouye’s staff “contacted federal regulators last fall to ask about the bailout application of an ailing Hawaii bank that he had helped to establish and where he has invested the bulk of his personal wealth.”

This was during the peak of the 2008/2009 financial crisis and it looked as though California home loans gone bad might severely hurt the bank’s stability.

The Washington Post reported: “The bank, Central Pacific Financial, was an unlikely candidate for a program designed by the Treasury Department to bolster healthy banks. The firm’s losses were depleting its capital reserves. Its primary regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., already had decided that it didn’t meet the criteria for receiving a favorable recommendation and had forwarded the application to a council that reviewed marginal cases, according to agency documents. …

“One day after the bank’s request, an Inouye aide called the FDIC’s regional office in San Francisco, which regulates Central Pacific. Inouye said in a statement that the staffer, Van Luong, “simply left a voicemail message seeking to clarify whether Central Pacific Bank’s application for TARP funds had actually been received by the FDIC.” The statement said that the bank was soon notified that the application had been received, ‘and that closed the matter.'”

“This single phone call was the entire extent of my staff’s contact with regard to Central Pacific Bank, to any outside agency,” Inouye told the Washington Post.

Inouye’s pull was quick and evident. The U.S. Treasury Department invested $135 million of federal taxpayer dollars in CPB by purchasing about 14 percent of the bank’s 39.65 outstanding shares for $10 a piece.

Was it a good investment?  The U.S. Treasury now wants to sell the shares. But with shares selling for just under $12.50 today, and those selling at a discount, federal taxpayers will only be able to retrieve half of its investment or just under $70 million.

Inouye could not be reached for comment. His spokesperson, Peter Boylan, said the senator is in France. “The Senator is in Paris leading a bipartisan delegation of Senators at the Paris Air Show. I was unable to share your questions,” Boylan wrote to Hawaii Reporter.

Hanabusa on Weiner

Hawaii Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa had this take on the Congressman Weiner sexting scandal and his resignation that followed yesterday: “Because of the distraction this situation created, Congressman Weiner realized it was in the best interest of his family, his constituents, and his personal being to resign.  I wish him well and hope he will seek the help he needs so he and his family are able to move forward.”

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono said: “My personal thoughts will be with Congressman Weiner and his family at what is certainly a difficult time. His resignation puts an end to this distraction and allows us to redouble our efforts to create jobs, protect Medicare and do the people’s business.”

More Jobs Lost: Hawaii Telcom Announcement Doesn’t Help

The Hawaii Council on Revenues, which provides the state legislature and governor with an economic outlook projection so that the state budget can be set, predicted in the end of May that Hawaii’s economic forecast would remain at minus 1.6 percent for this fiscal year ending June 30 and jump to an 11 percent increase in fiscal years 2012 and 2013. The one big concern the council members voiced was over employment and whether job growth would rise.

Hawaii Telcom’s announcement late yesterday afternoon will add to the job loss count. A statement from the company said: “As part of its personnel realignment initiative to meet the demands of the evolving communications industry, to rebalance its workforce consistent with industry norms, and to focus on next generation services, Hawaiian Telcom has provided advance notice to 103 employees that their positions have been proposed for reduction.  The actual number of impacted employees is expected to be lowered due to attrition, election of early retirement or voluntary separation options, and transition of current employees into approximately 60 new positions aligned with the Company’s strategic direction.” Five retail stores also will be closed: three on Oahu and one each on the islands of Hawaii and Maui.

Unit 9 Contract Negotiations: Not Much Progress

The Hawaii Government Employees Association settled its contract negotiations with the state for all but one of its units – the nurses. Yesterday, the HGEA sent out this update. “On June 14, HGEA met with the employer regarding Unit 9 negotiations. No progress was made; however, the employer requested a formal proposal from HGEA. The Unit 9 negotiating team will meet early next week to determine their formal position or timetable for possible arbitration.”

Reapportionment Military Issue Still Undecided

The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission met this week, but ended in a closed door meeting without a resolution to the question of whether military personnel (dependents, spouses, active duty etc) should be counted in the redistricting. Reapportionment of the state’s congressional boundaries as well as House and Senate districts, is required every 10 years based on population.

The Oahu Reapportionment advisory council recommended that military be included. The decision may ultimately impact whether the island of Hawaii gets another senator (from three to four) or whether the count stays as is. The commission is meeting weekly at the state capitol to provide a rough draft of the plan by early August for public comment.

Kailua Surprise

Save Kailua Fireworks is counting on the show to go on- into its 63rdd year celebrating America and the 4th of July – Independence day. With just about $30,000 raised so far, the group hopes to raise the additional $30,000 needed in the next two weeks. “Donations have been slower this year and we’re counting on more donations coming in the next couple of weeks and also hoping sales of the new Kailua Fireworks Coupon book will help,” explains Brook Gramann, Save Kailua Fireworks coordinator.

The Kailua Fireworks Coupon Book was created in hopes of sustaining the event year after year and as a way of involving more Kailua merchants in the fundraising effort to help keep the community tradition going. “We have businesses who give every year: Castle Medical Center, All Pool and Spa, Foodland Stores, Sunetric,” says Gramann. “The Kailua Fireworks Coupon book is a way for smaller businesses in Kailua to give back to the community… it’s a win win. Great deals for residents of Kailua, increased traffic in stores for the merchants participating, and the money goes to support the fireworks effort.”

Save Kailua Fireworks was formed three years ago in 2009 when the Kailua Chamber of Commerce chose not to raise funds for the event.  A small group of volunteers brought their professional skills to the table to make sure the fireworks happened.  In 2010, the group came together again, and the merchants and citizens of Kailua joined together for a magnificent fireworks display on Kailua Bay.

“Hopefully we can get this event to support itself with donations from businesses, individuals and especially sales of the coupon book,” says Gramann. “Funds pay for the fireworks as well as road signage, security, off duty police officers, parking arrangements and more. It is a significant amount of money to raise each year.”

List of offers in coupon, more information on event can be found at www.kailuafireworks.com

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Hawaii Reporter is an award-winning, independent Hawaii-based news and opinion journal founded in 2001 and launched in February 2002. The journal's staff have won a number of top awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including the top investigative news reporting awards, business reporting awards, government reporting awards, and online news reporting awards. Hawaii Reporter has a weekly television news show, News Behind the News, which airs on Mondays at 1:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.