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Cayetano supporter mistakenly reported as major donor to Caldwell

November 2nd, 2012 · 10 Comments

A Honolulu attorney says Kirk Caldwell’s mayoral campaign mistakenly listed him among those top contributors who gave $4,000, the maximum allowed by law.

But John R. “Jack” Dwyer, Jr. says he’s been actively backing Caldwell’s opponent, Ben Cayetano, and the error has put him in an embarrassing position.

“I don’t want my friends thinking I’m two-timing and playing both sides against the middle,” Dwyer said yesterday.

Dwyer said he has not contibuted to Caldwell’s 2012 campaign, and records confirm he has given $3,000 to Cayetano’s campaign committee. Dwyer said he has also asked others to support the former governor.

“I know Kirk and like him, but I did not contribute to his campaign,” Dwyer said. “I am adamantly opposed to rail. We can’t afford it, and we’re passing the bills on to our children and grandchildren.”

Dwyer said he learned about the error when his son called after seeing his name near the top of the Caldwell contributors list posted here on Wednesday.

Dwyer said he called the Campaign Spending Commission, which confirmed that his name, home address, and law firm had been reported by the Caldwell campaign along with the $4,000 contribution.

He then contacted Caldwell’s campaign treasurer, and was told the contribution was actually made by a Denis Dwyer.

I’m guessing this is Denis Dwyer, the D.C.-based lobbyist for Honolulu’s rail system. Infraconsult, the manager of the Honolulu rail project, has paid Dwyer’s firm over $1.2 million in lobbying fees since 2008, lobbyist records show.

Jack Dwyer did contribute $500 to Caldwell’s bid for the mayor’s seat in the 2010 special election following Mufi Hannemann’s resignation to run for governor. If his name and address were retained in the campaign database from this earlier contribution, it wouldn’t have been hard to confuse them as the recent contribution from Denis Dwyer was entered into the computer records.

Jack Dwyer said he was told that an updated and corrected contributors list is being prepared by the Caldwell campaign.

Tags: Campaigns · Politics

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Undecided // Nov 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Aside from the money being taken out of Mr. Jack Dwyer, Jr.’s household budget, children’s college fund, etc., by the rail tax surcharge to build the rail, and the increased taxes or fees that will be required to operate and maintain a future transportation system centered around the elevated rail line, he may now also need to be concerned about being required to fund payouts to those injured as a result of the accelerated construction pace that will likely result as a consequence of signing construction contracts too early.

    Late last year, the city warned that the delay in construction that would have resulted if the FTA had refused to allow the rail project to start construction before receiving a funding agreement would have in turn resulted in “putting public safety at risk along the already congested corridor.”

    I commented on this before on an entry that had been up for 2 or 3 days and fell off the front page a few hours after I posted when Ian Lind added some new entries. Here it is again for others who share Jack Dwyer Jr.’s concern that “we’re passing the bills on to our children and grandchildren.”

    ***

    I think this one may qualify as not only a dirty trick, but a dangerous one too.

    It has been widely reported that the Hawaii Supreme Court ruling delaying rail construction will cost the rail project about $7 to $10 million per month until a full archaeological inventory survey or AIS can be completed.

    In addition to that, however, assertions made by the city in a December 27, 2011 request to the FTA seeking to obtain a Letter of No Prejudice (LONP) that would allow the city to begin limited construction activities before the FTA commits to a funding agreement for rail suggest that the construction delay may have other undesirable impacts.

    In the request for permission to start construction ahead of receiving a funding agreement the city warns the FTA of what would happen if a letter of no prejudice was not granted to Honolulu’s rail project :

    http://www.slideshare.net/civilbeat/hart-requests-fta-lonp

    “Optimal construction sequencing is also important to HART in order to minimize traffic impacts to the public. Should this LONP 2 request not be approved, the work would require overlapping construction along major highways and arterials creating additional major traffic disruptions and putting public safety at risk along the already congested corridor.” — Honolulu Authority For Rapid Transportation

    The FTA did agree to allow the city to start construction early, which in turn presumably allowed the city to avoid “creating major traffic disruptions and putting public safety at risk.” At least for a time.

    But while the city was able to convince the FTA to go along with its effort to attempt to mitigate a past administration’s mistake of signing rail contracts too early, they were not able to do the same with the Hawaii Supreme Court.

    Although the project is months ahead of where it would have been if the FTA had refused to let the rail project start construction work ahead of receiving a funding agreement, the rail project is obviously still at a very early stage of construction.

    So does the substance of the city’s warnings to the FTA remain in effect? Have HART and its Executive Director Dan Grabauskas neglected to inform the public that if and when rail construction is resumed “the work would require overlapping construction along major highways and arterials creating major traffic disruptions and PUTTING PUBLIC SAFETY AT RISK along the already congested corridor.”? (emphasis mine)

    I wrote about this once before a while back , yet when I read the above LONP request quote from HART I find that it still startles me that putting public safety at risk for the sake of this rail project was ever an option.

    And now it might be more than that.

  • 2 Patty // Nov 2, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    The rail project should not have started until all EIS’s and funds were available, so someone’s has made a huge error in letting contacts and starting construction. I think that we citizens should have a list of names of people who authorized and signed contracts. We may want to sue the individuals for our loss and the return of said funds. Once the rail is stopped!

  • 3 Richard Gozinya // Nov 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say I bet your handle of “Undecided” doesn’t reflect your position on the mayoral candidates.

  • 4 palolololo // Nov 3, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Kirk Caldwell has signed a contract for delivery of all 20 miles of track,first shipment arriving soon.
    Where are they going to store all that without it rusting..” …to a shiny patina.” ?

  • 5 Hugh Clark // Nov 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    This is why I grow weary of police blotters and campaign spending reports: too many errors and too few editors.

    Beware of what you read!

  • 6 Undecided // Nov 5, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Something grabbed my attention while skimming a document that’s been circulating lately. Part of what I was reading in that document reminded me of something I’d read somewhere else.
    Now, I’m not at all suggesting that any improper conclusions were reached; it’s just… interesting.

    Below is an excerpt from Thursday’s federal court ruling in Honolulutraffic.com v. Federal Transit Administration. The excerpt from the court ruling is followed by an internal FTA email that is part of the administrative record for rail. The subject matter of the court ruling quote is discussed in the FTA staff email. MLA stands for managed lane alternative.

    From the court ruling:

    “Plaintiffs argue that the AA used to eliminate the MLA from further consideration was inadequate, because it was not supervised by the FTA and because it was not subject to public comment. The record belies both of these assertions. There are a number of documents that indicate that the FTA played an active role in shaping, overseeing, and approving the AA.”

    What will follow shortly is an internal FTA email in its entirety that apparently reflects one FTA staffer’s view of the “active role” the FTA played in Honolulu’s Alternatives Analysis process. But first, here are some key sentences to look for in the email:

    “And that obviously leaves no time for a meaningful FTA review.”

    “So we agreed that they are on their own with the information they’re giving to the City Council and the public to support a decision on an LPA.”

    “But the reality is that we have not really been involved in many AAs, so Honolulu has lots of company in the way things have gone: local agencies do AAs without any FTA contacts and then submit a PE application with information that may or may not be useful in evaluating their project.”

    “So the Honolulu situation is unfortunate (as is the situation in most AAs) and not amenable to remedy in the next few weeks.”

    But here again from yesterday’s court ruling:

    “There are a number of documents that indicate that the FTA played an active role in shaping, overseeing, and approving the AA.”

    The entire FTA email:

    Sent: Thursday, October 12, 2006 8:42 AM
    To: Sukys, Raymond
    Cc: Libberton, Sean ; Fisher, Ronald
    Subject: RE: Honolulu’s AA

    Ray:

    We seem to be proceeding in the hallowed tradition of Honolulu rapid transit studies: never enough time to do it right, but lots of time to do it over.

    Toru and Mark Scheibe were here yesterday to deliver the draft AA report. This is the first material they’ve given us since spring, so we haven’t seen anything on the alternatives, costs, ridership, etc., etc. Toru had marked up a somewhat earlier version of the draft report while he was traveling here (by way of Colorado Springs to visit his Air Force cadet daughter). And a FedEx box with graphics pages to be inserted into the draft didn’t arrive at the PB-Washington office — so no graphics.

    We spent five hours walking through the “highlights” of the document and it’s clear that both the document and the underlying work are in rough condition. Discussions on the financial analysis, for example, stumbled into some perverseness in the approach that they’ve used. They have considered a range of possible revenue generation from the excise tax, and estimated the New Starts funding that would be needed to cover the shortfall in local funding: the lower the proceeds from the excise tax, the higher the New Starts request. The large problem with that approach is that they will not know what the revenue stream from the excise tax will be (because most of its duration will still be in the future and it depends on the future state of the Hawaii economy and the still-uncertain fraction of statewide tax revenues that are generated on Oahu) when they have make the request for New Starts funding. Ooops!

    And the chapter on transportation benefits has a few tables with island-wide totals followed by many tables of incredibly detailed (and not very useful) numbers like station-to-station rail volumes. It’s missing all the really useful information on the key ridership markets and how the alternatives make transit travel better for those markets.

    One thing that seems clear is the rail alternative preferred by the city administration: a “shorter” rapid transit project that drops the last four miles through Kapolei on the western end and terminates at Ala Moana Center on the eastern end. That’s what they think is affordable without an extension of the increment in the excise tax (And the goofy Kapolei-to-Mililani “local funded segment” seems to have disappeared, so we won’t have to deal with the potential segmentation issues that loomed with that idea.)

    After more than four hours of muddling through the document, I asked what they wanted from us given that they intend to hand a cleaned-up version of the draft report to the City Council in two weeks. Toru said that he wanted his edits incorporated into the report (and the financial analysis revised) before we review the report, and that it might be another week before we got a real review copy. And that obviously leaves no time for a meaningful FTA review.

    So we agreed that they are on their own with the information they’re giving to the City Council and the public to support a decision on an LPA. They are not sure how that’s going to proceed because the Council chair and the mayor are already disagreeing on how quickly the Council can/should act on the decision. And Toru expects that the Council members will be
    generating lots of questions that they and PB will be responding to for a month or two. And who knows what Cliff Slater will toss into the mix.

    We also agreed that lots of work is probably needed to provide solid grounding (numbers) to support a PE request to FTA and that we will cooperate on that work once an LPA has been identified. Ideally, that work would get started before the LPA so that we don’t lose 2, 3, or 4 months or more waiting for the LPA decision. But they have funding and contractual issues that may prevent any such head start.

    I subsequently talked with Sean about the status of FTA’s role in AA reviews. We’ve been saying publicly for the past two years that we’d like to see AA materials as they are produced so that we can head off any obvious problems that will become barriers to PE approvals of LPAs that emerge from the studies. But the reality is that we have not really been involved in many AAs, so Honolulu has lots of company in the way things have gone: local agencies do AAs without any FTA contacts and then submit a PE application with information that may or may not be useful in evaluating their project.

    So the Honolulu situation is unfortunate (as is the situation in most AAs) and not amenable to remedy in the next few weeks. Fortunately, DTS says they recognize that lots of additional work is necessary to get solid numbers needed for a PE application. Assuming that’s what happens, we’ll be able to make them cover the bases on costs, ridership, the managed-lanes alternatives, other key topics germane to either New Starts requirements, or NEPA requirements, or both — before we take on any responsibility by OKing them into PE and NEPA. That work will occur between January and June, assuming that the LPA decision happens by the end of this year.

    As they say in Hawaii, oy!
    Jim

  • 7 Undecided // Nov 5, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I should add that the Alternatives Analysis was delivered to the City Council on October 30, 2006. The date of the FTA email is October 12, 2006.

    The FTA email I’m talking about is the one that said of the FTA’s role in assembling the Honolulu rail project’s Alternatives Analysis —

    “And that obviously leaves no time for a meaningful FTA review.”

    “So we agreed that they are on their own with the information they’re giving to the City Council and the public to support a decision on an LPA.”

    “But the reality is that we have not really been involved in many AAs, so Honolulu has lots of company in the way things have gone: local agencies do AAs without any FTA contacts and then submit a PE application with information that may or may not be useful in evaluating their project.”

    “So the Honolulu situation is unfortunate (as is the situation in most AAs) and not amenable to remedy in the next few weeks.”

  • 8 Undecided // Nov 5, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Wise choice. That limb is fairly secure.

  • 9 aleph // Nov 6, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    In a post mortem of the mayoral race, I think that there are two major factions who frequent this blog who turned against Cayetano. One faction are progressives who were frustrated with what they saw as Cayetano’s conservatism. (You might be one of these people, since you have expressed your opinion that Cayetano’s rule as governor turned off liberals and kept them away from the polls, enabling Lingle to win. However, there might not be many real liberals in Hawaii.)

    But remember that when Cayetano first got into office, he had big plans. He had a convention center built with public funds, and he wanted to build an ocenarium and an art museum. He was then seen as a pretty typical liberal. Then the economy caved in. Unfortunately, few in Hawaii seems to have noticed that. (I remember hearing UH professors talk about what a disappointment Cayetano was in his betrayal of the faculty, but when they were asked what what they would do in his situation, they either fell silent or would laugh and say they would do as he did.) And one hears this sentiment echoed here in the comments on this blog, on how the past twenty years have really sucked with poor leadership — with no comment made about how the economy has collapsed three times in that period. Also, Cayetano’s personality does not help. Obama, in contrast, projects a sunny, youthful, polished and hip persona that might not be the real Obama, but it’s like honey to a bear.

    The other group consists of local Democratic Party insiders. They are conservative insiders who imagine themselves to be liberals. (You may recall your suggestion that perhaps the local for-profit utility be made an official agency like in Seattle (or a cooperative, like on Kauai). There was a deafening silence on that issue. In the “bluest of blue states”, as Hawaii is often called, one would think that talk of ‘nationalizing’ a corporate monopoly would spread like wildfire, but instead your idea seems to have been greeted with crucifixes raised in silent fear, as if against a vampire.) When conservative insiders who imagine themselves progressive encounter a reformist politician who wants change but has the reputation of being conservative, it’s like matter hitting anti-matter.

  • 10 aleph // Nov 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    What will be the legacy of this election on Cayetano’s reputation?

    That depends on how things go over the years. I think that things might be looking up for his reputation in the history books because things may be looking down for Hawaii.

    After the Iran-Contra scandal, Ronald Reagan’s reputation never really recovered within the mainstream. Even after he died, amid the mourning, there was a uniform tone of respect throughout the society for the passing of a nice man, but even the right-wing (at least in my memory) did not get particularly emotional and insist that Reagan was a model president.

    In fact, when Reagan left office amid a chorus of disappointment, the careers of Jimmy Carter and Tip O’Neil were rehabilitated. Carter had been criticized earlier as an idealistic failure, but now he was seen as intelligent, sober and responsible (in that sense, he was now seen as a conservative!). O’Neil had always been caricatured as the classic old boy, pork-barrel political insider, but after Reagan’s fall, O’Neil was seen as an old-fashioned man of the people.

    Even earlier for Cayetano, when he left the governor’s office, there was a re-evaluation of him among the political class to the effect that he was then seen as the best governor since Burns. One will note that this kind of outpouring of respect did not await Linda Lingle when she left office. There was brief thanks, like “Thanks for not being corrupt.” She was seen as a professional hired to do a job that could not be entrusted to insiders like Hirono. She did an okay job and was amply rewarded with the status of high office. She worked hard, she got paid well, and now she and Hawaii could part ways. There was a sense that for her Hawaii was always a mere stepping stone to the national stage, and that her heart really lay with Israel. One cannot say this about Ben Cayetano.

    Another question is the legacy of Dan Inouye. Mufi Hannemann initiated a grand project as a signature project to get himself elected governor, and that might have backfired. Inouye has taken up that very project as his swan song. That might be a terrible mistake in terms of reputation. If political legend stays in an office too long, not only might he come to be seen as a dinosaur living in another age. Worse yet, it might be revealed that he has feet of clay, and that he was never really that good. In fact, Inouye’s status lies with having gotten injured in a war fought generations ago. I always liked him, but he’s nothing special, he’s just some guy. 35 million people died in WWII.

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