Wednesday…Upstairs/Downstairs in the House, Superferry lawsuit describes initial financing plans

It’s the last day of April, and the day before the end of Hawaii’s 2008 legislative session.

While we watched the floor session in the House from the gallery or on television upstairs, the real fireworks were to be found in the running comments on Advertiser political writer Derrick DePledge’s blog entry concerning the dueling end-of-session parties. He titled it “Handbags at 10 paces“. That would have been funny except for the seriousness with which some comments were made, revealing a lot of unfortunate feelings among some staff.

I admit habitually looking past this kind of internal bickering, so some of the blunt and raw comments surprised me.

One especially caught my attention this a.m.

The whiners and crybaby staff who are airing their grips here, who seem to not be able to accept all the realities of the hierarchy of the Legislature, would do best not to return to the Legislature for employment, or the rest of state government while we are at it. I assure you, you’re completely replaceable and dispensable because theres always someone else ready to fill your spot.

It’s simply not true that session staff are “completely replaceable”. The House, with its greater staffing needs, has had a pretty difficult time in recent years.

But I have to wonder how widespread the “get in line or get out” attitude is. Luckily I work in an office where that isn’t the case, and I’ve so far had a reasonable accommodation from the folks upstairs. Knock on wood. My own experience has been that there are folks in leadership willing to help mediate or work out staff communication problems, in part to avoid this kind of public venting.

I would also suspect that House leadership is quite well aware that this hasn’t been handled well and is somewhat of an embarrassment. I expect they’ll learn from the experience.

Oh, did I mention that I’m not attending either party?

In any case, my day was also marked by the release of amended lobbyist disclosure reports by Hawaii Superferry, Inc. I quickly threw those up online with brief comments, and they’ve gotten a good deal of attention so far.

Later I ran into an interesting federal lawsuit filed in San Francisco in December 2005 by Argent Group Ltd against Hawaii Superferry, Inc. Argent claimed it was owed $1.6 million under a contract to “coordinate overall financing for the Project, and to act as HSF’s exclusive debt advisor for the Project.”

According to a copy of the agreement and a subsequent amendment attached to the complaint, Argent Group had primary responsibility for “advising HSF on the terms of any construction financing…or obtaining a Title XI guarantee commitment from the U.S. Maritime Administration”.

Argent is described in Congressional testimony:

Argent is a boutique investment banking firm that specializes in structuring and arranging financing for projects involving large-ticket assets such as ships. Since its inception in 1982, Argent has arranged financing for projects costing in excess of $25 billion, more than half of which has been in connection with ship financing transactions.

Given that some of the key issues with the whole Superferry stem from that MarAd negotiation, it would appear that Argent could have been a key player that has been overlooked to date. The documents, which I’ve only started to review this morning, spell out the financing plan and other details.

In any case, I know there are others involved in the Superferry issue who may be able to spot any significant material in these documents.

Here are links to the Argent Group complaint filed in U.S. District Court, the Superferry’s answer and counterclaim, and Argent’s reply.

A settlement was apparently reached and the case dropped in January 2007.

One response to “Wednesday…Upstairs/Downstairs in the House, Superferry lawsuit describes initial financing plans

  1. This party debacle is more related to the internal struggle within the House. My hunch is that if it weren’t a staff person from Luke’s office who made the initial proposal to have a joint House-Senate party, this would be much ado about nothing.

    But when Chong found out it was Luke’s, then the gloves came off and Chong scheduled a party the same day and the same time.

    Petty stuff but symbolic of more substantive issues.

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