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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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“Is it a lobbying thing?” You betcha!

September 10th, 2011 · 24 Comments

Key portion of an on-the-fly interview by Adreinne LaFrance with a Honolulu rail delegation in D.C., published as part of her Civil Beat story on Thursday.

Civil Beat, catching up with man walking ahead of the group: Hi, sir. I’m Adrienne LaFrance with Civil Beat. What’s your name?

Dennis Dwyer: My name is Dennis Dwyer.

Civil Beat: Can you tell me about what your role is here?

Dwyer: I can’t because my contract says you have to talk to the city about it.

Civil Beat: Is it a lobbying thing?

Dwyer: Sort of. More advisory than that.

Hey, this guy Dwyer has quite a sense of humor! “Sort of” a lobbying thing. Funny.

Check the record. Infraconsult LLC, Honolulu’s designated project manager for the rail project, hired the D.C. lobbying firm of Williams & Jensen in April 2008 to press for federal funding, according to Senate lobbying records. The person registered to act as Williams & Jensen’s lobbyist for Infraconsult? Denis Dwyer.

Since 2008, Williams & Jensen has been paid a total of $840,000 in lobbying fees by Infraconsult for Dwyer’s services. He’s currently being paid $80,000 every three months. The total will reach $1 million by the end of this year.

The U.S.Senate’s lobbying database discloses the following annual fees paid to Dwyer for representing Honolulu’s rail:

2008 $150,000
2009 $210,000
2010 $320,000
2011 $160,000

Actually, though, the whole interaction with Dwyer wasn’t funny, it was disturbing. I would have expected a professional like Dwyer to act professionally in a situation like this. It appears he was taking his cues from the mayor instead.

I wonder if the contract between Infraconsult, as a contractor for the city, and Williams & Jensen, for rail lobbying would be considered a public document?

A 1995 OIP opinion determined that records of a state contractor were technically controlled by the state agency that issued the contract, and therefore had to be considered government records, but the opinion rested on the facts of the contract relationship between the department and the contractor.

Do you suppose it will make interesting reading?

Tags: lobbyists · Media · Politics

24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ilima // Sep 10, 2011 at 6:30 am

    Ha! I love the transcript. Adrienne LaFrance is such a badass.

  • 2 Anti-stupid // Sep 10, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Your exposition of Dennis Dwyer raises more questions:

    Since 2008, Williams & Jensen has been paid a total of $840,000 in lobbying fees by Infraconsult for Dwyer’s services. He’s currently being paid $80,000 every three months.

    The U.S.Senate’s lobbying database discloses the following annual fees paid to Dennis Dwyer, Williams & Jensen for representing Honolulu’s rail:

    2008 $150,000
    2009 $210,000
    2010 $320,000
    2011 $160,000

    DAMN! The Mayor Peter Carlisle, Daniel Inouye, Mufi Hannemann were doing this behind the taxpayers’ backs. If Civil Beat did not pursue them underground, who would know about this expense?

    Where does this expense show up? Probably buried.

    How much has Infraconsult LLC been paid so far?

    How much is Inouye, Peter Carlisle, Mufi Hannemann’s cut in this $5.4 Rail BS?

  • 3 Richard Gozinya // Sep 10, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Reading the Carrie Okinaga bob and weave was worth the subscription price to CB. Dismaying that our public officials were too busy and rushed to report what their taxpayer-paid trips were accomplishing. I guess they were inspired by the Breene Harimoto trip report from Europe. But the funnioest part was the snuffling and snorkling of the lobbyist caught feeding at the trough.

    Just some more reasons why the price tag on the Mall Train is $50,000 per foot.

  • 4 Ian Lind // Sep 10, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Here’s a link to one list of the city’s contracts.
    Infraconsult and its subs are listed here, including Dwyer’s firm.
    http://ilind.net/misc /2011/Contractors.pdf

  • 5 cwd // Sep 10, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Nothing wrong with hiring a lobbyist – the only reason I can see for making such a BFD out of this is that anti-railers are torked off that Honolulu’s political leaders are standing up to the nutburgers who think that there’s something wrong with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by removing thousands of cars from O`ahu’s roadways.

    We need rail and all the Old Futs who keeping opposing it are the best argument for banning anyone over the age of 40 from being involved in public policy-making except for protecting Social Security and Medicare. And, yes, that includes me.

    Do I like the design? Not particularly, but if the choice is beetween what is being proposed and nothing except more GHG-emitting cars to accommodate an anticipated increase in O`ahu’s population of nearly 50% in less than two decades – that’s based upon the Department of Planning & Permitting’s own calculations – then the proposed mass transit system is the only acceptable/viable alternative

  • 6 Ian Lind // Sep 10, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Well, in this case, it was the mayor and the lobbyist who made it all a BFD, to use your phrase, by trying to pretend they didn’t exist and severely editing what they would say to an unexpected reporter after unsuccessfully trying to get away with saying nothing. If there’s nothing wrong with hiring a lobbyist, as you say, why in the world are they so defensive? It sure makes it appear that there’s something being hidden from the folks who are paying the bills.

    “Sort of” a lobbyist? As I said, what a joker!

  • 7 Nancy // Sep 10, 2011 at 11:30 am

    How did Dwyer know she was a reporter? (Excuse me — “reporter host.”) Did she show him her press credentials? Honest question, and I mean no disrespect to LaFrance (even though she didn’t bother to get the correct spelling of the gentleman’s name).

    Was Dwyer told ahead of time what Civil Beat is? If I didn’t pay attention to Honolulu news media and someone came up to me and said, “Hi, I’m So-and-So from Civil Beat,” I wouldn’t have any idea what that meant. And “Is it a lobbying thing?” doesn’t sound professional, either. What’s a “lobbying thing”? That sounds like something a high school reporter would say, not a professional journalist. If you want to know if he’s a lobbyist, ask him if he’s a lobbyist.

    I’ve been a little out of the loop this week, taking care of a friend who’s recovering from a major illness, so I might be missing the backstory on this. If so, I apologize. And I’m really not as bitchy in real life as I probably sound here.

    Disclaimer: I’m pro-rail.

  • 8 Richard Gozinya // Sep 10, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    How did he know she was a bona fide reporter? I guess he could have turned to Carlisle or Okinaga and asked for an introduction.

    $50,000 per lineal foot. I’ll take “nutburger” for the win.

  • 9 Can we afford this? // Sep 10, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    You need not put your disclaimer at the bottom. It was very obvious. I can tell by the way you tried to minimize a very energetic reporter.

    This “deep underground” encounter again shows how ‘ transparent’ the rail process had been. Shame on Mayor Peter Carisle and his Mufi gang.

    Scrap this damn thing. We cannot afford it. The federal govt. cannot afford it. It’s not taxpayers’ business to provide a golden parachute for politicians.

  • 10 HonoluluSuz // Sep 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks, Ian, for your report.
    Hard to believe that this lobbying expense of taxpayer dollars is really justified.

    Got an idea: How about all the folks who like ugly heavy rail pay for it? Then we might know how many are really committed to using it.

    Fuggedabout any other ridership projections. Bwahahahaha!

  • 11 BigBraddah // Sep 11, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Infraction-Conning-Insult

  • 12 carol // Sep 11, 2011 at 2:29 am

    From rail to lobbyists to governor to legislators: The community gets what the community wants.

  • 13 Bill // Sep 11, 2011 at 3:53 am

    Civil Beat: Is he an attorney?
    Carlisle: No.
    Civil Beat: International man of mystery?
    Carlisle: You have to ask him.

    nice work — strange that a guy earning our money at a rate not much different than Coach McMackin needs to be hidden — great example of the elitist attitude that is pervasive in politics — and the irreverence of Adreinne LaFrance is golden

  • 14 Can we afford this? // Sep 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I would add a community which is too busy making a living or too beaten up to think their voice can make a difference.

    Go Ian and the rest of community watchers!

    Constant drip of water will crack the cement one of these days.

  • 15 TMZ // Sep 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I think Nancy has a valid point. What I’ve seen thus far from AL is far from professional reporting especially for someone maintaining a Washington “bureau”. Her reporting comes across as unpolished. Her style for ambushes is more like Ridaldo Rivera than a traditonal journalist. Her goal seems to embarrass someone important first….report on the confrontation she herself created….second. Might make for good TV on late night but seems tacky to me. Of course, anti rail folks love her as long as she can embarrass the other side. Aren’t reporters supposed to be objective???

  • 16 I am a taxpayer // Sep 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Aren’t public officials and the Mayor Carlisle, Senator Daniel Inouye supposed to be transparent and open to the public and media?

  • 17 Nancy // Sep 12, 2011 at 1:34 am

    That’s a great idea! How about having all of the people who use the Likelike Highway pay for it? Then we might know how many are really committed to it. And let’s get all those people who really want Fort Weaver Road to pay for that. Screw them, it’s their road. I don’t use it, why should I pay for it? And all those little streets that go up to various neighborhoods in Kalihi, and Waianae, and Waialae Iki, and through Kahala and Hawaii Kai … whoever uses those should pay for them. It’s not like they’re important — after all, I don’t use them! And they’re so ugly! All that pavement and icky stoplights and stuff.

  • 18 kalaheo // Sep 12, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Nancy – I think the big difference here is that the the “streets that go up to various neighborhoods in Kalihi, and Waianae, and Waialae Iki, and through Kahala and Hawaii Kai ” and Fort weaver Road are essential and there is a public clamor for them.

    In the case of Honolulu’s current rail plan, the biggest supporters are lobbyists and PR firms who are PAID to pretend they care about rail and think it’s a good idea. Lobbyists and PR firms work for who ever pays them, not who has the best ideas.

    You’ll notice that when ever Mayor Carlisle appears at the podium to announce a new rail contract, he’s surrounded by construction and union people, NOT commuters.

  • 19 kalaheo // Sep 12, 2011 at 6:14 am

    TMZ – I think it’s difficult to get a “polished” interview from someone walking away from you.

    As for “ambushing” the Mayor, his entourage and the “undercover” lobbyist, that came after The Civil Beat made multiple attempts to learn the details of this junket through official channels.

    From the article: “We made repeated requests. Multiple spokeswomen repeatedly turned us down. We emailed Hamayasu directly. He didn’t write back.

    A spokeswoman for rail and a spokeswoman for the mayor told us that Hamayasu and Carlisle knew Civil Beat wanted to hear about their meeting with the Federal Transportation Administration in Washington on Thursday. No guarantees, the spokeswomen said separately, but they might — maybe, possibly, but definitely not definitely — call us for a very brief phone interview after the meeting.

    Nobody called. ”

    http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2011/09/08/12788-civil-beat-catches-rail-leaders-trying-to-go-deep-undercover-in-washington/

    As for “embarrassing” Mayor Carlisle and his rail entourage and “secret consultant,” it was their own games and stonewalling that embarrassed them, not Adrienne LaFrance.

  • 20 yobo // Sep 12, 2011 at 7:05 am

    The exchange with Carrie Okinaga was priceless. A little cub reporter exposed the top of city government for the buffoons they are.

    As for LaFrance’s approach to Carlisle, et al, when you have to talk to kids, you gotta speak their language. Bravo, CB! Who knew Carlisle was such a clown? Now we know, thanks to CB.

  • 21 Leinanij // Sep 12, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Adrienne is not a little cub reporter. She was highly respected by the readers of Honolulu Weekly which was the only newspaper printing the truth about almost everything. When she moved to Civil Beat, that’s when I knew CB was the real deal. I no longer subscribe to the Star Advertiser and haven’t missed it one day since.

  • 22 LOL // Sep 12, 2011 at 7:57 am

    The topic could be about the famine in Africa and Leianji always ends up her rant with a reminder that she doesn’t read the SA. LOL!

  • 23 Embarrassed // Sep 12, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Mayor Peter Carlisle does not need any help with embarrassment. He is vintage embarrassment. From putting a rail through the Koolau mountains to his door step at Hawaii Kai to griping about Ben Cayetano’s big mansion on the hill to calling the homeless infested rats. Carlisle deserves no more than a half-term mayor. This guy is arrogant and belongs to the Gang of 3 Stooges.

  • 24 skeptical once again // Sep 12, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Yes, those who use the roads should pay for them through fees, either tolls or through user fees placed on fuel. This would not only be more fair and would help fix Oahu’s roads which are in a state of lamentable disrepair, but would help to encourage less driving and limit the expansion of suburban sprawl.

    Added to the user fees that would be placed on fuel that would pay for the roads, there would also be impact fees imposed on the price of fuel to offset the massive damage to the environment that the emission of carbon is having on the planet. (There are 8,000 Micronesians living in Hawaii in part because rising sea levels are swallowing their countries. Ask them about what might happen to Hawaii in time thanks to global warming.)

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