THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
OFFICE OF THE U.S. TRUSTEE
David C. Farmer, Successor Trustee
Bobby N. Harmon
(Formerly Mary Lou Woo vs. Harmon and James Nicholson vs. Harmon)
United States District Court, District of Hawaii
Judges: David A. Ezra; Kevin S. Chang
~ ~ ~
Address to be determined.
Bob Awana is Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle’s former Chief of Staff; former Chief of Staff to Honolulu Mayor Eileen Anderson; former Government Affairs Director, Waste Management, Inc.; former regional vice president Village Resorts, Inc.; former assistant vice president, Bank of Honolulu; former agent, First Insurance Company.
* * * * *
THE BOB AWANA PHOTO GALLERY
The Honolulu Advertiser
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GOOGLING FOR THE INDONESIAN CONNECTION
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CV05-00030 - U S DEPT OF JUSTICE vs HARMON - WITNESS: BOB AWANA
Saturday, September 12, 2009 10:18 PM
"Bobby Harmon" <email@example.com>View contact details
"President Barack Obama" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder" <AskDOJ@usdoj.gov>, "David Farmer" <email@example.com>, "Steven Guttman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Carol K. Muranaka" <email@example.com>, "Judge David A. Ezra" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Judge Kevin S.C. Chang" <email@example.com>, "Judge Barry M. Kurren" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Securities & Exchange Commission Enforcement Division" <email@example.com>, "U.S. Treasury Dept. Office of Inspector General" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Office of Inspector General US Dept of Justice" <email@example.com>, "Executive Office for U.S. Trustees" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Judge Robert Faris" <email@example.com>, "SEC Office of The Inspector General" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Hawaii State Bar Association" <email@example.com>, "Hugh Jones" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Insurance Division Fraud Branch" <email@example.com>, "Lawrence Reifurth" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Linda Lingle" <email@example.com>, "Jo Ann Uchida" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Office of Inspector General Civil Rights Complaints" <email@example.com>, "Mark Bennett" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "American Arbitration Association" <email@example.com>, "Judith Neustadter" <Judy@tiki.net>, "Benjamin J. Cayetano" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "All Representatives" <reps@Capitol.hawaii.gov>, "All Senators" <sens@Capitol.hawaii.gov>, "Andrew Walden" <email@example.com>, "Aon Insurance Managers" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Arthur Rath" <email@example.com>, "Bradley Tamm" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Carl Morton" <email@example.com>, "Charles Hurd" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "David Shapiro" <email@example.com>, "Dee Jay Mailer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "J C Shannon" <Hapa1234@aol.com>, "James B Nicholson" <email@example.com>, "James B. Farris" <Farrisj@adr.org>, "James Cribley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "James Wriston" <email@example.com>, "Jeffrey Watanabe" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Jim Dooley" <email@example.com>, "Joe Moore" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "John D. Finnegan" <email@example.com>, "Judson Witham" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Ken Conklin" <email@example.com>, "Lyn Flanigan Anzai" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Margery Bronster" <email@example.com>, "Michael N. Tanoue" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Michelle Tucker" <email@example.com>, "Nathan Aipa" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Paul Alston" <email@example.com>, "Randall Roth" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Rick Daysog" <email@example.com>, "Robert Bruce Graham" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Robin Campaniano" <email@example.com>, "Samuel P. King" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "William K Slate" <Websitemail@adr.org>, "Jim Terrack" <email@example.com>, "Rocco Sansone" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Ted Pettit" <email@example.com>, "Laura Thielen" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Vaughn & Lynda Robinson" <email@example.com>, "Catbird" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Ian Lind" <email@example.com>, "Roy F. Hughes" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Jack Cashill" <JCashill@aol.com>, "Marshall Chriswell" <email@example.com>, "Laser Haas" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Lucy Komisar" <email@example.com>, "Democrats.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Debra Sweet" <email@example.com>, "Jane Kirtley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "John Jubinsky" <Jube@tghawaii.com>, "Yamil Berard" <email@example.com>, "Global Exchange" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Carole Williams" <email@example.com>, "Susan Tius" <STius@rmhawaii.com>, "Human Rights in China" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Michelle Malkin" <email@example.com>, "Phil J. Berg" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Amnesty International U.S.A." <email@example.com>, "Michael Moore" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Thomas Fitton" <email@example.com>, "Ron Branson" <VictoryUSA@jail4judges.org>, "ACLU Online" <ACLUOnline@aclu.org>, "Louanne Kam" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Eric Martinson" <email@example.com>, "Bruce Nakaoka" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Oswald Stender" <email@example.com>, "Crystal Rose" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Peter Dale Scott" <email@example.com>, "IndictBushNow.org" <ImpeachBush@VoteToImpeach.org>, "National Whistleblower Center" <Imw@whistleblowers.org>, "Ernest Fukeda" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Orly Taitz" <email@example.com>, "The Whistler" <Whistler.Songs@gmail.com>, "F. William Engdahl" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "James Paul" <email@example.com>, "Alex Chasck" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "9th Circuit Court Mediation Program" <email@example.com>, "Joseph Zernick" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Glenn Beck" <email@example.com>... more
June 29, 2007
Lingle's chief of staff, Bob Awana, resigns
By PETER BOYLAN and RICK DAYSOG
Advertiser Staff Writers
Bob Awana, Gov. Linda Lingle's chief of staff, abruptly resigned yesterday amid a swirl of controversies surrounding his alleged role in a Saipan public corruption investigation and an alleged extortion attempt against him.
In a news release today, Lingle said she and Awana met yesterday and "mutually concluded it was in the best interest of all that he resign his position effective immediately."
"This is the first time the Lingle administration has even come close to a significant political scandal," said Bob Watada, former executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, whose investigations into the campaigns of former Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris and ex-state Sen. Cal Kawamoto have led to tens of thousands of dollars in fines for illegal campaign donations.
"This controversy (surrounding Awana) is the type that has dogged the Harris campaign and Cal Kawamoto."
Lingle said in her statement: "It is with deep personal and professional regret that I make this statement."
"The state has benefited tremendously from Bob's service. I will miss his wise counsel, and I thank him for his leadership and the professionalism he brought to his job. I wish Bob and his family all the best in the future."
Awana did not return calls yesterday.
As chief of staff, Awana was the most influential member of Lingle's administration, serving as the point person on most major management and political issues.
The Advertiser reported on June 16 that Awana was questioned by federal agents last year in connection with a lucrative contract to operate a landfill in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Awana has denied wrongdoing but investigators with the inspector general's office of the U.S. Justice Department have asked him if Saipan Waste Management, in which Awana owns a 1/16th stake, bribed Saipan officials to get the landfill contract.
Awana also was the alleged victim of an extortion attempt by an Indian national, 44-year-old Rajdatta Patkar, who is now in federal custody. A March 2006 federal grand jury indictment alleged that Rajdatta Patkar, a 44-year-old native of Mumbai, India now living in Tokyo, attempted to extort $35,000 from Awana in 2005.
Patkar has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
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September 12, 2009
Dear President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Trustee Farmer, Mr. Guttman, Ms. Neustadter, Judge Kevin Chang, Judge David Ezra, and All Concerned:
Due to new discoveries of FACTS related to this lawsuit, which I maintain is a "prior restraint" of my constitutional rights of Free Speech and a violation of Federal and State Anti-SLAPP statutes, I am updating the descriptive information for the subject witness, which you will find online at:
Trustee Farmer and Mr. Guttman, in light of this mounting evidence of fraud, bad faith, breach of trust, breach of fiduciary duties, obstruction of justice, withholding and destruction of evidence, tax evasion, libel, slander, misprision of felony, undisclosed conflicts of interest, etc., provided by these many Exhibits and supporting documents, I again propose to you that we attempt to NEGOTIATE a GLOBAL SETTLEMENT in this case as well as for the unanswered bad faith and professional liability claims that I have previously submitted against you, your law firms and your undisclosed insurance carriers.
In case you have misplaced or destroyed these previous claims letters, you can more information online at:
If you still refuse to enter into confidential settlement negotiations in a good-faith effort to settle these matters, then I ask that you perform your mandated review of this Exhibit in accordance with Judge Ezra's Order and advise me, whether or not, it contains any so-called "protected subject matter" as defined by the arbitrator in this case, Judith Neustadter Fuqua.
If I do not receive a response within 15 days, I will consider this to be yet another act of bad faith on the part of you and your insurance carriers, and that you will not object to any future Motions that I may make to reopen this case.
Very truly yours,
Bobby N. Harmon, CPCU, ARM
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NEW DISCOVERY (06/27/09): James Nicholson’s undisclosed conflicts of interest with the Kansas City Chiefs, William S. Richardson, University of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Company, Constance Lau, Teamsters Local 996, Tony Rutledge, Francis Keala, Linda Lingle, Bob Awana, Eric Seitz, and other persons and entities related to this case:
Hawaii Labor Relations Board Annual Report 2007-2008
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NEW DISCOVERY (03/30/09): Undisclosed conflicts of interest between Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the United States Department of Justice, Office of the U.S. Trustee, Curtis Ching, Carol Muranaka, Guido Giacometti, Susan Tius, Sukamto Sia, Bank of Honolulu, Diane Plotts, Bob Awana, Linda Lingle, Citigroup, Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton, John Waihee, Ben Cayetano, Goldman Sachs, Colbert Matsumoto, Henry Peters, Matsuo Takabuki, Richard Wong, Jeff Stone, Oswald Stender, Gerard Jervis, Lokelani Lindsey, Nathan Aipa, Colleen Wong, Louanne Kam, John Candon, Clifford Laughton, Timothy Johns, Bishop Museum, Nainoa Thompson, Mark Polivka, Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo (fka Bambi Weil), Judge Lloyd King, Judge Robert Faris, Judge David A. Ezra, Judge Barry Kurren, Mary Lou Woo, James B. Nicholson, David C. Farmer, Steven Guttman, etc:
August 24, 2000
for $4 mil
Ownership of the properties
could change during
another round of bids
By Peter Wagner, Star-Bulletin
A Nevada investor has outbid Citibank on 32 residential and two commercial units at Executive Centre, the downtown high rise that once belonged to Indonesian investor Sukamto Sia.
But with court confirmation and another round of bids possibly ahead, ownership of the property is yet to be determined.
Clifford Laughton, president of the Reno-based Nevada Holdings Ltd. and chief executive at Honolulu-based satellite company Columbia Communications Corp., yesterday made the winning bid of $4,000,100.
Laughton's bid topped a $4 million offer by Citibank N.A., the only other bidder at a foreclosure auction at the state courthouse yesterday.
The leasehold properties include 31 residential units, a penthouse, two commercial spaces occupied by Sprint Hawaii and Fujikami Florist and 65 parking stalls.
The heavily mortgaged 41-story building, at 1088 Bishop Street also includes a 120-room Aston hotel, retail outlets including Long's Drugs and Ross Dress For Less and nearly 300 residential units.
The entire property was appraised last year at $39.5 million.
Citibank, the major creditor in a foreclosure action against one of Sia's company's, MKS Executive Partners, took possession last month of most of the 41-story building in a complex bankruptcy deal in which Sia's estate will receive about $500,000.
Citibank affiliate EXCT L.P. took ownership of about 400 units on July 28.
Sia, currently in Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation, originally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in November 1998.
While Citibank yesterday allowed itself to be outbid by $100, the sale is far from over. Under rules of the foreclosure, new bids may be entertained at confirmation but must be at least 5 percent above the auction price.
Foreclosure commissioner John Candon said at least three parties who were silent during yesterday's auction have asked when the confirmation hearing would be. No date has been set.
Laughton yesterday said he would likely honor existing leases at Executive Centre if he remains the high bidder. He said the units are a good investment because of depressed property values and a strong rental market in the downtown area.
While Executive Centre was once a key holding of Sia in Honolulu, the bankruptcy trustee was unable to liquidate the property for creditors because Sia held no equity in it.
His ownership in the building was through MKS Executive Partners, one of his numerous companies.
The 40-year-old businessman owes nearly $300 million to casinos, banks and creditors around the world.
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NEW DISCOVERY (07-21-08): UNDISCLOSED PERSONAL, PROFESSIONAL, FINANCIAL AND POLITICAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN DAVID C. FARMER, STEVEN GUTTMAN, GEORGE ARIYOSHI, JOHN WAIHEE, BEN CAYETANO, LAWRENCE JOHNSON, DIANNE PLOTTS, CHRISTOPHER HEMMETER, MARK HEMMETER, BOB AWANA, ETC.:
November 28, 2003
Developer Christopher Hemmeter
dies at age 64
Pacific Business News (Honolulu)
Christopher B. Hemmeter, a prolific developer who built some of Hawaii's most notable hotels and resorts, died Thursday at his Los Angeles home. He was 64.
Eight months ago he was diagnosed with severe liver cancer. He also had been coping with Parkinson's disease. This was his second bout with cancer.
Sharing memories of his father, son Mark Hemmeter told PBN from Los Angeles, "Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday because it was all about just family. Our whole family was with him yesterday, and it was very peaceful."
Hemmeter came to Hawaii in the 1960s and became a noted developer while still in his 20s, along with partners Henry Shigekane and Diane Plotts. Many credit Hemmeter with creating the concept of a destination resort. He moved to the mainland in 1991 and became a casino developer in Colorado and New Orleans. His most recent venture was a successful restaurant near Universal Studios.
Former President Jimmy Carter, Hemmeter's close friend, told PBN for an October profile: "Chris has the uncanny ability to dream ... then put his concepts into practice for the enjoyment of countless others."
"We are extremely saddened by his passing, but we also rejoice as we reflect upon his life," the family said in a statement Friday. "He stood for all that was good in us and gave unselfishly of his time and energy. He will be greatly missed. His affection and caring for others, his charisma, and his professional accomplishments lead many people to pronounce that he was truly 'larger than life.'"
For his accomplishments, Hemmeter has received numerous awards including being named twice as the Businessman of the Year, Salesperson of the Year, Marketing Man of the Year and Islander of the Year in Hawaii. He was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement in 1979. In 1991 Hemmeter was selected the Independent Hotelier of the World.
Hemmeter's activities went beyond the hotel industry. He was the founder and chairman of the Bank of Honolulu, a director of the First Hawaiian Bank, a director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C., a trustee of Punahou School in Honolulu, a member of the Young Presidents Organization, a director of the Carter Center, a director of Morrison Knudsen, a director of Resort Income Investors, and a Trustee Fellow of Cornell University where he received the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award granted to Cornell University graduates.
"Hawaii needs to appreciate his contributions to the visitor industry and the state," close Hemmeter friend and retired Bank of Hawaii CEO Larry Johnson told PBN previously. "His legacy will live here forever."
He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Patricia; children Mark and daughter-in-law Lisa, Chris and fiancée Debi, Katie and husband Cully; stepchildren Kelley, Shane, Brendan and wife Brook, and Holli; sister Sally Younge and husband Eric; brother Dr. Mead Hemmeter and wife Mari-Jo; sister-in-law Karen Cook; and six grandchildren, Taylor, Maddy, Annabelle, Austin, Ryan and Quinn.
Private services will be held Sunday in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the new Christopher B. and Patricia K. Hemmeter Kahaola Hospice Foundation at 1164 Bishop St., Suite 800, Honolulu, HI 96813.
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September 7, 2007
Former Lingle aide Bob Awana starts consulting firm
Pacific Business News (Honolulu)
Bob Awana, Gov. Linda Lingle's former chief of staff and campaign manager, has started a business called RSR Consulting.
Awana registered the business Aug. 15 with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
RSR (it stands for Robert Senior) has one employee -- Bob Awana -- and lists a Hawaii Kai address. Lena K. Awana is listed as a company officer.
Awana told PBN he already has begun consulting but declined to provide details. Before starting work as manager of Lingle's first gubernatorial campaign in 1998, he was a lobbyist for a trash-hauling firm.
Awana resigned from Lingle's office on June 28. Over the summer, reports surfaced that he was involved in a corruption investigation in Saipan involving a landfill contract there. In a separate case, he was the target of an extortion attempt, for which a man from India pleaded guilty in federal court on July 10.
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NEW DISCOVERY (05-26-08):
The Global Economy's Investment
Want to know a few of the results of the move towards the so-called "Global Economy" which has become the nirvana Corporate America seeks? Be very careful, you might not like what you find.
According to U.N. documents, 4 million women a year are sold into sexual slavery around the world. Understand, these documents aren't discussing some Mid- Eastern potentate's harem. What we're talking about is 500,000 women "imported" into Western Europe and 90,000 into Italy, alone. These women are kidnapped and sold into prostitution for the gratification of men like the late Larry Hilblom, the founder of DHL courier service. Hilblom, it should be added, also participated in the kidnapping and sales of many young women, as well.
The majority of these women, who are mostly just young girls, come from the countries once known as client states of the old Soviet Union, such as Albania and the Ukraine. In fact, the selling of girls for the sexual gratification of wealthy men has become a major export for many of the supposedly free nations from the former Soviet bloc.
Amazingly, many of these women are moved through our ally Israel. The reason Israel is a major center for these atrocities is that Israel has absolutely no laws against the sale or ownership of other humans. Now there is wonderful reason to continue our hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid to this moral back water of a country.
The main reason that these crimes can so easily occur is the demand by the world's corporations that there be few or no inspections at national borders and that, with corporations buying up governments just like ours at bargain prices, they own the decisions to investigate crimes and, of course, see no reason to investigate the very crimes they, themselves, are committing.
Now, of course, America is immune from these charges, aren't we. I mean, this is the country where politicians spend their entire careers shouting about their fairy tale world of "family values", right? Our government would immediately spring into action should even a hint of this crime appear within our borders, right?
Wrong, of course. Thai women were imported into the United States and forced into sexual slavery in New York, Houston and Toronto, according to stories in the LA Times, New York Times and Dallas Morning News.
How long will it take the corporate prostitutes in Washington, D.C., to even acknowledge these crimes? How many conservatives do you think are going to stand up in protest against these horrors against humanity? How many will demand hundreds of billions of dollars to fight these crimes against humanity? What is less than none?
Unless America wakes up to these violations against humanity and demands action from the blow hards in office, nothing, whatsoever, will ever happen. Why? Because the victims do not fall within the parameters these vile people respect. These are young girls from foreign countries that don't contribute to American political coffers, nor are they related to anyone who owns enough property to matter to American politicians. If they were all Republican, Christian, wealthy wives and daughters of campaign contributors then this would be a problem of cosmic proportion. They aren't, so the problem is ignored.
These crimes against women are only the most extreme examples of the damage that is being done to people all over the world in the name of corporate profits. Add in the disease ridden fruit coming into America from countries which have little in the way of health and safety laws and food covered with the pesticides that America banned so Corporate America sold its stock to the same Third World countries now supplying us with our daily fruits and vegetables and grains.
Consider the effects that corrupt rulers the world over have regarding the financial health of your retirement and investments and, if the idiots who hate government safety nets have their way, your Social Security. Consider the damage another episode like the Hunt brothers attempt to corner the silver market would have on America if it were done by a nation or groups of nations. Finally, consider the costs of a simple computer virus invading the systems which control what will be the world's financial institution.
You, as an individual, have absolutely nothing to gain in a global economy. In fact, you will be the loser if you continue to listen to the lies and do not begin fighting the mutation of your world into a world corporation where the wealthy would rule through unlimited economic power. As in all things, it is your choice but your inaction will affect billions of people for centuries to come.
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NEW DISCOVERY (05-22-08):
May 22, 2008
House subpoenas Karl Rove
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON - The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday subpoenaed former White House top political adviser Karl Rove to testify about whether the White House improperly meddled with the Justice Department.
Accusations of politics influencing decisions at the department led to last year's resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
The subpoena issued Thursday orders Rove to testify before the House panel on July 10. He is expected to face questions about the White House's role in firing nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, a Democrat.
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers had negotiated with Rove's attorneys for more than a year over whether the former top aide to President Bush would testify voluntarily.
"It is unfortunate that Mr. Rove has failed to cooperate with our requests," Conyers, D-Mich., said in a statement. "Although he does not seem the least bit hesitant to discuss these very issues weekly on cable television and in the print news media, Mr. Rove and his attorney have apparently concluded that a public hearing room would not be appropriate."
"Unfortunately, I have no choice today but to compel his testimony on these very important matters," Conyers said.
Neither Rove nor his attorney, Robert Luskin, could be immediately reached for comment.
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NEW DISCOVERY (04-17-08):
April 17, 2008
Audit: Superferry drove
Lingle administration criticized for
bypassing environmental review
By DERRICK DePLEDGE, Honolulu Advertiser
The state may have compromised its environmental policy because of pressure from Hawaii Superferry executives who were worried about financing for the interisland ferry project, the state auditor has concluded.
The auditor found that an internal June 2005 deadline imposed by Superferry executives "drove the process" and pushed the state Department of Transportation to bypass an environmental review. The deadline, according to the auditor, was tied to Superferry's agreement with Austal USA to secure financing to pay the Mobile, Ala.-based shipbuilder to construct two high-speed ferries.
The federal Maritime Administration, which approved a $140 million loan guarantee for ferry construction, wanted confirmation that no environmental assessment of harbor improvements would be required because of the risk that environmental concerns could jeopardize port access. But Maritime Administration officials told the auditor they did not set the June 2005 deadline as a condition of the loan guarantee.
"In the end, the state may have compromised its environmental policy in favor of a private company's internal deadline," state auditor Marion Higa concluded. "It remains to be seen whether these decisions will cost the state more than its environmental policy."
The performance audit was required by state lawmakers as part of a law passed in special session last fall that allowed Superferry to resume operations while the state conducts an environmental impact statement. Legal challenges and public protests had halted ferry service after the state Supreme Court ruled in August that the state's decision to exempt $40 million in state harbor improvements from environmental review was in error.
The auditor's main finding was that the June 2005 deadline was not imposed by the federal government, but related to an agreement between Superferry and Austal. The audit questions whether the state did "sufficient due diligence to verify whether the deadline was valid for the reasons Hawaii Superferry Inc. claimed."
John Garibaldi, Superferry's chief executive officer, said yesterday that Superferry has consistently portrayed the June 2005 deadline as necessary for both federal and private equity financing. He described the agreements with the Maritime Administration, Austal USA and primary investors J.F. Lehman & Co. as interrelated.
"They were all dependent upon each other. No one stood on its own," Garibaldi said. "I think that's what we tried to express to people."
Garibaldi declined to comment on other findings in the audit because he had not yet seen a copy.
The auditor's descriptions of the chain of events that led the state to exempt the project from environmental review in February 2005 are similar to reports in The Advertiser in September and January.
The auditor and the newspaper received many of the same documents, which were screened by the Lingle administration for attorney-client privilege and executive privilege before being released. The administration is preparing a privilege log for the auditor and the newspaper to describe the documents that have been withheld. The Advertiser requested the documents under the state's open-records law.
Most significantly, the auditor — like The Advertiser — emphasized a late December 2004 meeting at the governor's office that included the governor's then-chief of staff Bob Awana, department officials, and Superferry executives.
Staff in the department's harbors division had wanted to require a statewide environmental assessment of the project and to get Superferry to install a stern ramp on the vessel to give it more flexibility at Kahului Harbor on Maui. But Superferry executives, according an account by a department staffer, told the state that anything but an exemption was a deal-breaker and that they would not install any ramps.
"Decisions made: We need to pursue EXEMPTION; and HSF will not provide any ramps on vessel," one department staffer told colleagues afterward in an e-mail.
The auditor concluded that department e-mails showed a decision was made at this meeting, although who made the decision is not revealed.
"Current and former department officials and employees who worked on the ferry project were either unable to recall who made the decision at that meeting or chose to invoke executive privilege when asked who directed the team," the auditor found.
The department, in its written response to the audit, rejected any inference that a decision was made at the governor's office directing the department to pursue an exemption. The auditor countered that the department's e-mails about the meeting "are self-explanatory."
"Ultimately, a decision involving the governor's office was made that directed the 'ferry project team' to pursue scenarios that would exempt the ferry harbor work from environmental review," the auditor found.
Awana, who resigned last year, told The Advertiser in January that he had no role in the decision. Barry Fukunaga, who was then the department's deputy director of harbors and is now Gov. Linda Lingle's chief of staff, has said he made the decision in consultation with his construction and engineering staff and then-department director Rod Haraga. The department also consulted with the state Office of Environmental Quality Control and county planning agencies.
Fukunaga told The Advertiser in writing last year that he did not discuss his deliberations or his eventual decision with Lingle, Awana or state Attorney General Mark Bennett.
The audit is also similar to The Advertiser's reporting last September on the Maritime Administration's loan guarantee for Superferry. Maritime Administration officials told the auditor that loan guarantees are typically exempt from environmental review because they just provide financing for ship construction. The vessels typically use port facilities already in place.
Maritime Administration officials told the auditor that harbor improvements for Superferry could have triggered an environmental assessment that could have limited ferry access to ports. So the Maritime Administration added a condition that Superferry provide confirmation that no environmental assessment was required.
"MARAD's position was that it was not willing to finance the construction of any vessel that might be unable to operate because it has no port," the auditor found.
The audit recommends that the Legislature empower a state agency to enforce environmental review laws and require agencies to update exemption lists every five years. The auditor found that the public has little involvement in the exemption process other than the right to file a lawsuit to challenge an exemption.
Higa had complained to lawmakers that she missed a March deadline for a preliminary draft of the audit because of significant delays in obtaining documents from the Lingle administration. Higa repeated those complaints in the audit and said her staff would be preparing a second phase of the audit for a later report.
Higa described the Lingle administration's cooperation as "slow and incomplete, at best." The department called that description "wholly untrue" and said any delays were based on requests by Higa that the attorney general found were "unreasonably broad in scope."
The department chose not to comment on many of Higa's conclusions. Mike Formby, the department's deputy director of harbors, said last night that the administration's wants the opportunity to review the second phase of the audit.
I think what we wanted to do was reserve the right to see the full report, because it's really risky to look at half the report and respond knowing that they're out there still doing field investigation, interviews, reviewing documents," Formby said. "And basically, they look at the response you gave, and they go out and look for a way to rebut your response."
The Honolulu Advertiser
~ ~ ~
NEW DISCOVERY (12/03/07):
December 3, 2007
Lingle Discusses Departure
Of Awana, Blackmail Case
Governor Says Former Chief Of Staff
Appropriate During State Trips
HONOLULU -- Gov. Linda Lingle on Monday spoke for the first time at length about her former chief of staff and the extortion case, which threatened to expose an alleged extramarital affair he was involved in.
"I believe that he always conducted himself appropriately when he was on an official state trip," Lingle said.
Lingle said she and Bob Awana, her friend and closest adviser, decided together he would resign as chief of staff.
"Bob resigned because the media attention and the sensationalization of him being a victim of blackmail," Lingle said. "The issues surrounding Bob were because of something he did personally."
In October, the man who tried to blackmail Awana, Rajdatta Patkar, was sentenced to a year in federal prison.
Patkar allegedly stole e-mails from Awana to a Filipino mistress, asking that she find other women who wanted to meet married American men prominent enough to travel with Lingle.
"Did you investigate whether it was on state trips?" one reporter asked Lingle during a news conference.
"Yes I did, and I found no information that would lead me to believe that it was ever done on state trips," Lingle said.
Patkar's attorney, Pamela Byrne, has said he has agreed to return to testify in another federal case that involves an investigation in Hawaii involving young Filipino women, and what Byrne called "men behaving badly."
"I know of no investigation of the government. None of my directors or myself have ever been contacted about an investigation," Lingle said.
When a reporter asked if it was appropriate to carry on a so-called liaison with another person during a state trip, Lingle had this response:
"Well, Dave, you are asking a difficult question. You're asking a moral question first of all," Lingle said.
A federal judge has not decided yet whether to unseal e-mails and other evidence in the Patkar extortion case.
Lingle on Monday announced Department of Transportation Director Barry Fukunaga will take over as her chief of staff.
~ ~ ~
November 28, 2007
Full disclosure, please
Journalists want documents containing the details of the Bob Awana extortion case made public, but politics might keep them under wraps
Ian Lind , Honolulu Weekly
A federal judge in Honolulu is expected to rule this week whether documents must be made public detailing what was behind the international extortion plot that targeted Bob Awana, the state’s former administrative director and chief of staff to Gov. Linda Lingle, who resigned suddenly at the end of June.
Rajdatta Patkar, a computer consultant from India who was extradited from Japan to face charges in the case, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a single count of extortion and was sentenced last month to serve a year in prison and a year of supervised release. Due to the length of time since his arrest in Japan last year, he is likely to be released soon and deported to India.
At issue now are at least 786 pages of documents used in the successful prosecution. The documents have remained confidential under a pre-trial agreement between prosecutors and Patkar’s federal public defender, an agreement which was itself filed under seal and kept secret until this month.
Among the disputed records are e-mails that reportedly show Awana was trying to arrange for one or more men from Hawai’i to meet young Filipino women while traveling as part of a state delegation to the Philippines in early 2006. In documents filed in a high court in India, Patkar’s family alleged these contacts involved ’sexual exploitation’ of the women.
Judge Michael Seabright was prompted to take another look at whether to allow disclosure after receiving a Nov. 1 letter from Mark J. Rochester, Associated Press assistant bureau chief for Hawai’i, Northern California, and Northern Nevada, urging full disclosure.
Rochester urged Seabright to consider ‘larger open government concerns,’ including the public’s right to know whether ‘there was any wrongdoing or impropriety’ while Awana was a top Lingle appointee, and whether this case triggered Awana’s unexpected resignation. Lingle has refused to make any comment on the case or her administration’s responses to the case.
Court records are exempt from the federal Freedom of Information Act, but are generally considered public unless a judge finds ‘good cause’ to restrict access.
In a court order directing attorneys on both sides to explain why the documents should continue to be considered secret, Seabright expressed concern that the confidentiality agreement ‘is not broader than necessary under the particular circumstances.’
A week later, on Nov. 13, Seabright ordered several legal documents to be unsealed after removing the victim’s name, including the confidentiality agreement itself and several letters between attorneys which identify, in general terms, the nature of the withheld documents.
The two sides appear far apart on the issue. Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Connors has asked that all documents made available to the defendant in preparation for trial now be returned to the government or, alternatively, that the existing secrecy order be extended indefinitely.
Federal Public Defender Pamela Byrne, in a response filed in court last week, called the government’s demand unprecedented.
‘This is not a ’state secrets’ case,’ Byrne wrote. ‘This is not a child pornography case. This is a garden variety extortion case in which there is no legal or moral precedent for returning one’s discovery to the federal government.’
However, the documents also include hundreds of pages of additional materials, including the government’s initial mutual legal assistance treaty request that initiated extradition proceedings against Patkar; his statement to police in both English and Japanese; warrants, documents and other items seized when Patkar’s apartment in Japan was searched; and reports by FBI and Japanese investigators.
In addition, according to one description, the documents include ‘the e-mails as they were originally forwarded to law enforcement by the victim, the e-mails that comprise the basis of the extortion, letters from Mr. Patkar’s mother and Mr. Patkar, and handwritten notes taken by FBI Assistant Legal Attache, Bruce Strauss,’ along with a CD including all of the e-mails, including those sent by Patkar after Japanese authorities searched his home in February 2006.
On the eve of the Nov. 28 hearing, there appears to be confusion over what is actually covered by the existing confidentiality agreement.
Although all documents have been withheld, the confidentiality agreement, dated June 29, 2007 but only made public in mid-November, appears limited to the documents ’stamped 654 through 745, which were provided to the Federal Public Defender by the United States on April 18, 2007.’
That would leave nearly 700 additional pages available for disclosure, although that appears contrary to the position staked out by prosecutors.
Although prosecutors cite privacy concerns as the reason for continuing to restrict public access to the documents, others wonder whether the Department of Justice is taking special steps to limit potential political damage to Lingle, a popular Republican governor in an otherwise heavily Democratic state.
For more by Ian Lind, visit [ilind.net].
~ ~ ~
October 30, 2007
Man sentenced in Hawaii blackmail case
By Peter Boylan, Advertiser Staff Writer
Gov. Linda Lingle's then-chief of staff promised a woman admission to a Hawai'i nursing school, money and other favors in exchange for a weekend with him and members of a trade delegation to the Philippines in January 2006, according to testimony in U.S. district court.
The testimony came yesterday during the sentencing of an Indian national, Rajdatta Patkar, 46, who admitted to blackmailing former Lingle aide Robert Awana.
Patkar's attorney, deputy federal public defender Pamela Byrne, said her client hacked into the e-mail accounts of his Filipina girlfriend and her friend and discovered e-mails from Awana in September 2005.
The e-mails have prompted the FBI to open an investigation into the behavior of state officials and other members of trade missions to China, South Korea and the Philippines over the past three years, according to federal law enforcement sources who did not want to be identified because the probe is ongoing.
Byrne said her client has been interviewed by federal agents and that he is cooperating as part of his plea agreement.
FBI special agent Brandon Simpson said he can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an ongoing investigation. Awana did not return a phone message seeking comment. Lingle spokesman Russell Pang did not return a message seeking comment yesterday.
In the e-mails Patkar accessed, Awana attempted to get Patkar's girlfriend, a woman named Julie Mae, to join Awana, his girlfriend Jet Ebale, and his "friends" for a weekend in the Philippines during a trade mission Awana was on with Lingle, Byrne said.
Both Patkar and Awana met their Filipina girlfriends on the Web site blossoms.com.
"She would receive favors, including money and the ability to come to Hawai'i to finish nursing school, if she performed favors for his friends," said Byrne, speaking outside of court. "It was men behaving badly."
Patkar on July 10 pleaded guilty to a single count of attempting to extort $35,000 from Awana. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop four related extortion charges.
U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Michael Seabright sentenced Patkar to 12 months in prison, one year of probation, and ordered him to pay restitution of $7,348.99 to the federal government.
"We are satisfied and feel he (the judge) took into account all the relevant circumstances in the case," said assistant U.S. attorney Clare E. Connors, who prosecuted the case for the government.
Patkar, who has been in custody since December 2006, will get credit for time served and is likely to be released in December and will be deported back to India.
Awana resigned on June 29 after details of the extortion began to surface.
Patkar discovered Awana after Julie Mae, the woman he was having an online relationship with, abruptly cut off contact after months of daily interaction. Patkar, who is "not sophisticated in the romance department," according to his attorney, became jealous and hacked into her account and the account of her friend, Jet Ebale.
It was in Ebale's e-mail account that Patkar found correspondence from Awana in which he tried to get Mae and her friends to get together with them in the Philippines in January 2006, Byrne said.
Patkar, slightly balding and dressed in a light blue shirt, dark blue pants and sneakers, admitted guilt and took responsibility for his actions.
"I acknowledge my actions were very unlawful and wrong. I would like to express apologies to R.A. for stress and embarrassing him," said Patkar, speaking before receiving his sentence. "It was my poor management of my emotions that led to these circumstances." R.A. are the initials used in federal documents to refer to the victim of Patkar's extortion attempt.
Patkar has been in custody at the Federal Detention Center near Honolulu International Airport since March. He also was in custody for several months in Japan while awaiting extradition to Hawai'i.
~ ~ ~
NEW DISCOVERY - December 17, 2007:
October 11, 2007
Thursday…What about Bob?
By Ian Lind
A politically akamai reader wonders whether the Lingle administration’s key decisions on the Superferry were made by former chief of staff Bob Awana.
Why isn’t anyone asking what role Bob Awana played on all this? He was running the DOT when Haraga was iced out of any decision making. I assume that all the Superferry decisions were going through him, just like the decision to impose the Honolulu GET.
Lingle made it clear to her cabinet that all major decisions were hers and hers alone. Cabinet members were instructed that a particularly important or sensitive issue under their areas would be sent to Bob Awana to handle and the Gov to make the decision on them. Talk about micromanagement! Seven dead on Kauai!
This shows that when the boss is an idiot and doesn’t hire independent, strong willed individuals, the yes men/women cabinet is a receipe for disaster. She has said to insiders that she doesn’t want to run for any congressional seat and wants to be a CEO or Trustee in town. She is the same as Cayetano in her inability to effectively govern due to her poor management ability. Lack of trust and paranoria have really hurt the State since the days of Waihee.
Bennett just saw his chances of becoming the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court just get flushed down the toilet. Kirk Caldwell is correct to ask what legal reasoning or justification (in the form of an opinion or memo) did Lingle have in “waiving” the eviromental assessment for the Superferry. Before Lingle wants to get the Legislature to bail her ass out of the sling, she ought to be more open and forthcoming about what the hell she has been doing these last five years.
You remember Awana. He’s the guy who reportedly tripped over his own you-know-what while trying to arrange after-hours entertainment for delegates on a state trip to the Philippines and then fell victim to an extortion attempt by another suitor of the young woman involved.
The Maui News reported earlier this year that Awana had sidelined the director and taken control of the Department of Transportation by mid-2005, and its likely he was micromanaging hot-button issues before that. That appears to make it likely that his fingerprints will be found on the administration’s handling of the Superferry issue....
~ ~ ~
July 11, 2007
Lucky Twist of Fate for Former Chief of Staff Embroiled in Blackmail Scheme
Indian National Pleads Guilt to Extortion So There Will Be No Trial, But Awana Still Under Investigation for Alleged Bribery Deal in Saipan
By Malia Zimmerman
In a lucky twist of fate for Gov. Linda Lingle’s former chief of staff Robert “Bob” Awana, Indian national Rajdatta Patkar pled guilty on Tuesday, July 10, in U.S. District Court to one count of extortion.
Patkar, 46, was indicted on 5 counts of extortion in 2006, but prosecutors agreed to consolidate the charges after Patkar confessed to attempting to blackmail Awana on 5 separate occasions in September 2005 and extort $35,000 from him. U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright ordered that Patkar be sentenced on Oct. 29, 2007, at which time he could face up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The plea agreement means Awana’s secret emails to Jullie Mae, a young resident of Davao city in the Philippines, which he was being blackmailed over, won’t be made public in a trial.
Sources say Mae contacted by Awana to set up local female escorts for married men traveling to the Philippines who were major sponsors or donors to the governor. Awana made two trips on the governor’s behalf, once in 2005 and 2006.
Awana also reportedly was in a relationship with one of Mae’s friends -- a woman whose name has not been revealed. Earlier media reports said Mae was the woman who the married Awana was allegedly in a relationship with, but since, law enforcement sources confirm it was actually Mae’s friend who was reportedly involved with Awana, and Mae who was the contact for the escort arrangements.
Patkar, his friends tell Hawaii Reporter, was in a relationship -- at least by email -- with the woman who Awana was reportedly involved with. Her name will remain under seal as will the names of the two prominent Hawaii men who were copied on Awana’s email to Mae requesting escorts for them.
No more information is likely to be made public in this case because the court records have been sealed, the emails remain confidential, Patkar has been silenced via a court mandated “gag” order, and Awana resigned as chief of staff for the governor on June 29, 2007, after the blackmail attempt, and likely reasons behind it, became public in Hawaii.
But this isn't the end of the saga involving Awana.
The Honolulu Advertiser also reports in its July 11th edition that there was an additional condition to Patkar’s deal -- he agreed to “cooperate with a separate, federal public corruption probe into a Saipan waste management company that Awana partially owns.”
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney in Guam.
Awana admitted to the local media, including Hawaii Reporter, that he was in fact questioned by FBI officials in 2006 over an alleged bribery attempt of the former Republican governor of Saipan, which may have led to Awana’s company securing a multi-million Saipan government contract.
The governor would not comment further on either the blackmail or bribery cases. The only statement she issued was on June 29 when she announced Awana’s resignation. She said the state has benefited tremendously from Bob’s service and she will miss his wise counsel.
Awana, who ran Lingle’s 1998, 2002 and 2006 gubernatorial campaigns, was considered Lingle’s closest confidant and widely the second most powerful and influential person in her administration. Many Republicans were wary of him because he was an active Democrat who changed political parties for Lingle. He was the former chief of staff for Honolulu Mayor Eileen Anderson, also a Democrat.
In addition, Awana was the deal maker for Lingle with House and Senate Democrats, the Democratic congressional members and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann. He is considered largely responsible for the record 12.5 percent GET tax hike that passed in 2005 after Gov. Lingle promised to veto the measure -- tax hike that split the Republican base and caused many Republicans to pull their support for Lingle.
Awana’s resignation also helped with damage control, not only for Lingle, but for Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona’s campaign for governor planned for 2010. Several of the governor’s Philippine trip sponsors -- and the prominent married men who reportedly hired Philippine escorts -- were likely to be deposed if a trial took place, sources say.
Reach Malia Zimmerman, editor and president of Hawaii Reporter, via email at mailto:Malia@hawaiireporter.com
~ ~ ~
June 30, 2007
Hawaii governor's chief of staff resigns
By Peter Boylan and Rick Daysog, Honolulu Advertiser
Bob Awana, Gov. Linda Lingle's chief of staff, resigned amid controversy surrounding his alleged role in a Saipan public corruption investigation and an alleged extortion attempt against him.
In a news release yesterday, Lingle said she and Awana met Thursday and "mutually concluded it was in the best interest of all that he resign his position effective immediately."
"It is with deep personal and professional regret that I make this statement," Lingle said.
As chief of staff, Awana was the most influential member of Lingle's administration, serving as the point person on major management and political issues. He did not return calls yesterday.
In the past month, two legal cases involving Awana made headlines.
In the first case, Awana was the alleged victim of an extortion attempt by an Indian national who is now in federal custody.
Rajdatta Patkar, a 44-year-old native of Mumbai, India, now living in Tokyo, attempted to extort $35,000 from Awana in 2005, according to a March 2006 federal grand jury indictment.
Patkar, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, allegedly threatened to expose an extra-marital affair Awana had with a woman in the Philippines, according to people with knowledge of the investigation who declined to be named, citing an ongoing criminal proceeding.
Patkar learned of the affair after finding e-mails Awana allegedly sent to the woman, the people said.
Awana said he immediately notified federal law enforcement officials after the alleged extortion attempt and informed Lingle.
The details of the alleged extortion attempt would be made public if Patkar's case goes to trial, but Patkar could avoid a trial with a plea agreement.
Yesterday, Patkar's attorney, Pamela Byrne of the Office of the Federal Public Defender, filed a motion to withdraw his not guilty plea and asked that Patkar be able to enter a new plea. A hearing on the motion before federal Judge Michael Seabright is scheduled for Friday.
Awana is involved in a second controversy involving a lucrative contract to operate a landfill in Saipan.
In 2002, the Republican governor of Saipan awarded a company owned in part by Awana a $9.9 million contract to operate a new landfill. After the Republican governor was replaced by a Democrat in 2005, the contract was canceled.
A member of the Democratic governor's Cabinet said the contract given by the Republican governor was too expensive, according to the Saipan Tribune newspaper.
The awarding of the contract is the subject of an ongoing federal public corruption probe. Awana was questioned by federal investigators last year in the case.
Awana, who owns a 16 percent stake in the Saipan venture, has denied wrongdoing.
Investigators with the inspector general's office of the U.S. Justice Department have asked Awana if Saipan Waste Management bribed Saipan officials to get the landfill contract.
Last year, the FBI requested records from the Commonwealth Election Commission in Saipan relating to political donations to Juan Babauta, the former Republican governor of Saipan, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Awana said Justice Department investigators confiscated and reviewed his personal financial statements as well as those of the company.
Justice Department investigators also asked about a cash account kept by the company that Awana said was used for business trips and entertainment for company executives. Investigators wanted to know how much was given to elected officials in Saipan, Awana said.
Reach Peter Boylan at firstname.lastname@example.org and Rick Daysog at email@example.com.
~ ~ ~
June 09, 2007
There's more to the Advertiser story on Bob Awana than appeared in the paper
I've often wondered how investigative reporters get their leads on a story. Do they have an army of tipsters? Is there a special radio channel they tune to?
It seems that the Advertiser's Rick Daysog and Peter Boylan were on to a story about an alleged extortion plot involving Governor Lingle's chief of staff, Bob Awana. Blogger and investigative reporter Ian Lind was working on the same story and could have scooped the Advertiser had he posted something on his popular blog, but Ian was hoping to run it in the Honolulu Weekly. So the daily beat out the weekly.
However, Ian's story is much more complete and satisfying. Check out both: the Advertiser story, Gov. Lingle's top aide helped FBI sting, is here, and Ian's post, international intrigue, is here.
I read the Advertiser story first, and it left me with nothing but question marks. Hey--if someone was trying to extort money from Awana, what was that about? There's no hint in the story. Now, people can always give you a phone call and demand money, or, they may know something about you and demand money to keep the secret. I can't help it, I just wanted to know more. I planned to hit up Google for some info later, since the Advertiser was obviously holding out. Or maybe they were planning to run more details tomorrow, to sell some more papers.
But Ian's blog revealed the missing information, which Google easily confirmed. Ian blogged:
An Indian software professional from Japan and a top state official are at the center of an international criminal case involving allegations of sex and blackmail.
Rajdatta Patkar is being held in the federal detention center in Honolulu on charges that he threatened to injure the reputation of a Hawaii resident identified by the initials “R.A.”, according to an indictment issued by a federal grand jury in Honolulu in April 2006.
The Advertiser hides the details clumsily by reporting:
People familiar with the investigation said the alleged extortion was in connection with a trip to the Philippines.
Ian's article, supported by reports from Indian websites, describes the intrigue:
According to the Indian publications, Patkar contacted Awana and demanded cash after reading his girlfriend’s e-mail and discovering she was allegedly the victim of "sexual exploitation" involving the governor’s top aide. The federal indictment makes no mention of this sex allegation and no evidence has been made public that would support the charge.
Now, I really don't care what went on or didn't in the Philippines between two consenting adults, even if one of them is a government official. Except possibly that if government officials mess around, they expose themselves, and any state secrets they may have, to blackmail by spies or opportunists. But the details are sure to come out, as they did pretty quickly. So this raises the question for me of the Advertiser omissions.
If Ian had not posted the background, I or another blogger or reporter would quickly have discovered it. The background would likely have come out during the legal proceedings to follow. So I can't understand why the Advertiser constructed its article so as to "cover up" the detail that the extortion followed an alleged sexual situation involving Awana. It's only an allegation, and Awana isn't the one who will be on trial for extortion.
Disappeared news has a habit of coming forward eventually. In this case, the two Advertiser reporters might have told us more. I wonder why they did not?
Permalink posted by Larry @ 6/09/2007 10:37:00 AM
~ ~ ~
February 10, 2007
Lingle sidelined transportation director
but kept him on the payroll
By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer
HONOLULU – Gov. Linda Lingle’s chief of staff, Bob Awana, confirmed Friday that Rod Haraga, when he was state transportation director, was frozen out of operational decisions.
Awana portrayed the situation as normal, for a department director to be shut out of normal responsibilities more than two years into the four years he was Lingle’s transportation director. Haraga was not reappointed in December after Lingle had won re-election.
The freeze on the transportation director did not continue now that Haraga has been replaced, according to Barry Fukunaga, the new director, who is awaiting confirmation by the state Senate. He said this week that he gets reports from his deputies.
In an e-mail response to questions, Awana wrote, “During his tenure (Haraga) oversaw the department’s administrative functions, which included approving and signing contracts. The deputies oversaw the daily line-functions of their divisions.”
In sworn testimony offered in a deposition taken as part of a lawsuit by Pacific Wings against the Department of Transportation, Haraga said, “Well, what happened, I could not get enough information from Brian (Sekiguchi, the deputy director for airports). So consequently, I had a discussion with (Lingle and Awana) and had thought that perhaps I could threaten (Sekiguchi) by resignation.
“And I was told by the chief of staff and the governor that was not my call, that the deputies do not report to me, that they report directly to the governor.
“I’m not aware that other departments have similar requirements,” he added.
It was not made public at the time that Haraga was not functioning as the director, responsible for all functions of the department, and he continued to collect a salary of $102,000 a year and even got a raise in July.
In public meetings on Maui, Haraga spoke about DOT policies, although his deposition indicated he did not know what airport policies were and was not taking part in deciding them. The deposition did not reveal what, if anything, he knew about harbor and highways policies during the past 18 months.
For example, on Aug. 12, 2005, he spoke about the Lahaina bypass in West Maui; and on Oct. 20, 2005, and Feb. 4, 2006, he spoke about the Superferry and Kahului Harbor on Maui.
Haraga, who has taken a job as staff engineer in the Design and Construction branch of the Honolulu city government, has not returned calls from The Maui News.
From August 2005 to December 2006, DOT policy direction was coming directly from the governor’s office.
“As appointees, all directors/deputies from the various departments report to the governor’s office, and as chief of staff, I meet on a regular basis with the directors and deputy directors,” Awana wrote.
“We also meet monthly with all deputies as a group. For departments requiring more support, I meet with directors and deputies more frequently.”
Greg Kahlstorf, president of Pacific Wings, whose lawsuit uncovered the odd situation in the Transportation Department, wants the Legislature to hold off on confirming Fukunaga until what he calls the illegal direction of the department is exposed.
Kahlstorf also contends that all decisions coming out of DOT for the past year and a half may be invalid. He bases this on state law, which says the department “shall be headed by a single executive.”
When asked who the single executive was after August 2005, Russell Pang, the chief of media relations in the governor’s office, said, “Rod Haraga remained director with all statutory authority and oversight of the administrative duties of the department, including planning, budgeting and administration. The deputies were responsible for line operations and for making day-to-day decisions within their divisions.”
Kahlstorf isn’t buying it.
“Imagine how incredulous (2nd Circuit) Judge (Joel) August will be when he learns all the decisions and rationale he has been given by the administration for its actions related to the Superferry were invalid, because the governor and her chief of staff circumvented the DOT director, law and Constitution to advance their own agenda,” he said.
Pacific Wings wants to join the lawsuit by the county, Maui Tomorrow and the Kahului Harbor Coalition that is challenging the Harbors Division’s environmental assessment for the expansion of Kahului Harbor.
Pacific Wings is an airline with no dealings at the harbor, but Kahlstorf sees a link between his lawsuit contesting the Airports Division’s decision to put go! Airlines in the Honolulu International Airport commuter terminal and the other lawsuit about the harbor.
The link is that evidence uncovered in research for his lawsuit shows that Haraga was cut out of operational decisions throughout his department.
On Wednesday, Kahlstorf also asked state Rep. Mina Morita of Kauai to look into the operations of the Transportation Department and the confirmation of Fukunaga.
He addressed Morita because, as chairwoman of the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, she is pushing for a law to require DOT to do a full EIS for the Superferry.
“You may not need a bill to pass through Joe Souki’s hands to force an EIS,” Kahlstorf wrote Morita. Souki is chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
Kahlstorf suggested to Morita that “the Democratic majority . . should demand immediate hearings into the apparently illegal activities . . and delay confirmation of any DOT director Lingle nominates until it is addressed. We will certainly be at any confirmation hearings with the facts in hand.”
Morita said Thursday that if Kahlstorf provides more background to support his charges, “I’ll consider it.”
She did not make any commitment to introduce a resolution on Fukunaga’s nomination, but she said she had already been aware that state employees have been “cut out of the loop because they disagreed on policy matters.”
She said that this has happened in several departments, but at Transportation in particular she had heard complaints about preferential treatment at the airport in Kauai.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has not yet scheduled hearings on Fukunaga’s confirmation.
During the last two years, the Transportation Department has had its usual share of controversies and sensitive issues. On Maui, these included the Superferry EIS, unhappiness about the time it has taken to build a Lahaina bypass and extensive changes at Kahului Airport.
But there was nothing unusually contentious going on – at least in public – in the months before Lingle told Haraga in August 2005 that his deputies would no longer report to him.
“Awana and Lingle sidelined the DOT director so they could run things themselves,” Kahlstorf contends.
“This could invalidate decisions made by Hawaii DOT during the time the department was being illegally run,” Kahlstorf told Morita, including the decision that an EIS was not required for Hawaii Superferry.
Although it was not publicly known that Lingle had removed Haraga from operational decisions in 2005, House Transportation Committee Chairman Souki knew.
He said Wednesday that “of course” it bothered him, but he did not see what the Legislature could do about it.
“I was aware last year that (Haraga’s) responsibilities were taken away from him. I didn’t know why.”
Souki said he knew that “the power was going to (Haraga’s) respective deputies, he was left only with public relations.”
“She’s the executive branch and we are the legislative branch and never the twain shall meet,” he said. “I’m not privy to any of what happened. I can’t make any comment.”
The lawsuit in which Pacific Wings wants to intervene is not directly connected to any Superferry EIS. Instead, it is about an environmental assessment the Harbors Division did in order to expand Kahului Harbor by purchasing the Old Kahului Store and Kahului Railroad Building.
The airline would have to apply to August for permission to be added as an intervening party to the harbor lawsuit.
~ ~ ~
December 11, 2002
In Awana, Democrats' loss is Lingle's gain
By Gordon Y.K. Pang, Advertiser Capitol Bureau
Bob Awana was a conflicted man in 1997 when Republican Maui Mayor Linda Lingle asked the lifelong Democrat to run her gubernatorial campaign.
Five years later, in his first week as Lingle's chief of staff in the first state Republican administration in 40 years, that conflict remains, he said.
"In my heart I'm a Democrat, in my head, I'm a Republican," he said. "I am a passionate person for the people. I fight for the underdog. I'm concerned about people who are less advantaged."
But to those who know him, Awana, who has worked with a Democratic Honolulu mayor in the early 1980s and later Republican candidates, is tailor-made for his key role in Lingle's administration as her chief of staff.
Andy Chang, city managing director during Democrat Eileen Anderson's mayoral term in 1980 to 1984 when Awana served as her chief of staff, described Awana as extremely affable, intelligent and loyal.
"I think he's going to do well with his job, particularly in his relationships with Cabinet officers," said Chang, now vice president of government relations with Hawaiian Electric Industries.
Awana, he said, has a knack for taking the time to understand the duties and roles of department heads and others in government.
"That bodes him well in carrying out his duties," Chang said. "He will be an effective liaison."
Stan Koki, who lost a bid for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 1994 when Awana managed Koki's campaign, recalls Awana as an astute strategist.
"Doing things right — fairly and ethically — is high on his priority list," Koki said. "He doesn't want to play games. He's very, very up front with you, and you don't have to read between the lines."
Awana comes from a proud Democratic family, which believed that the party was "working to get opportunities in the workplace. There were virtually no local persons in management-level positions in any of the big companies at the time, and they wanted the opportunity to excel."
Lingle, he said, helped show him that Republicans could be just as compassionate and also reach those that need help.
"When you get to know her, you'll find that her warmth is beyond what you ever expected and it's genuine," he said.
As for the Democratic Party he left behind, Awana said he is the beneficiary of many of the things for which the party fought.
"But along the way, something went wrong," he said. "They didn't have the goals, they didn't have the cause. It fact, it was totally reversed ... it became the party that awarded the very few."
Among Awana's earliest memories are of his grandparents' beach concession in Nanakuli. "They used to rent out surfboards, and sell hot dogs and hamburgers."
Later, Awana's parents' family moved to several different homes before settling in what he jokingly calls "the least expensive home in Wai'alae-Kahala" in 1956. His first job was his newspaper route.
A 1964 graduate of St. Louis High School, Awana received football scholarship offers from several Mainland institutions. But Awana and his future wife, Lee, had their eldest child during their senior year and the young father set off to make a living to support his new family.
Awana said he thought seriously about becoming a police officer. His father, an insurance adjuster, had other plans and told him to try working for an insurance company for six months first. Despite starting out at $206 a month, the 18-year-old Awana found he liked the business world.
While Awana does not have a college degree, his job résumé is vast and varied. After the insurance industry, he worked as manager of Sea Life Park, a banker with the Bank of Honolulu and then an executive for a small hotel chain known as Village Resorts before Anderson tapped him to enter politics.
Awana, a card-carrying Democrat since age 18, learned how to deal with reporters from political gurus Joe Napolitan and Jack Seigle, who had engineered the campaigns of Democratic stalwarts from the time of the late Gov. John A. Burns.
"I followed everything they said," he said.
It was while he was with the Eileen Anderson administration that Awana first experienced what he felt as roadblocks to a smooth-running government. At one point, he tendered his resignation to the mayor. Awana said his main source of frustration was the power of the government worker unions and the difficulty the mayor had in making decisions they opposed.
"It seemed to me, and this is in 1981, that the mayor couldn't really make those decisive management decisions that has to be made," Awana said. In one case, he said, it took more than a year for the union to allow its workers to use a pressure washer in park restrooms. "Everything had to be approved by the unions. So I thought 'I need to go back to the private sector.' "
Anderson asked him to reconsider and he eventually became chief of staff. He then helped in her unsuccessful re-election campaign in 1984 when former Mayor Frank Fasi returned to power.
During the 1990s, Awana became local government affairs director for Waste Management Inc., a Mainland company that had won a contract from Hawai'i County to run the new Pu'uanahulu Landfill in Kona. It dragged into a years-long court battle with the United Public Workers over the hot-button issue of privatization that was closely watched statewide.
Awana said he first met Lingle in 1997 when she spoke at a function he attended. "I was so moved by her sincerity, and by her vision, and by her speech — so straightforward — that I went up and gave her my business card." Awana said he told her he hoped she would run for governor and offered his family's services for cooking stew and rice.
"A week later she called," he said.
He managed Lingle's 1998 bid for governor when she lost to former Gov. Ben Cayetano by 5,000 votes. But the campaign provided the experience and the foundation for Lingle defeating Democrat Mazie Hirono in November to become Hawai'i's first Republican governor in four decades.
Awana said his role as chief of staff is "to obtain good information from a variety of sources with the absolute best information available so (Lingle) can make good decisions."
He describes himself as a persuasive, authoritative manager.
"I try to persuade people into doing things and why they should do it," he said. "Here's what I want you to do, why it's important to do and how it fits the big picture. I try to motivate them and accept the challenge to do more than they think they can do."
Being the governor's right-hand man has not gone to his head, though.
On the day after Monday's inauguration, Awana stopped in to the snack shop in the State Capitol chamber level to buy a late lunch.
Reaching over the counter to shake the hand of proprietor Dave Cameron, Awana said simply: "Hi, I'm Bob. I'm new here."
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October 10, 1997
UPW asks judge to order
HILO -- The United Public Workers union is asking a judge to order a private landfill company or Mayor Stephen Yamashiro and several County Council members to personally repay millions of dollars to the county treasury.
In a continuation of the dispute over the county's 1993 contract with Waste Management Inc. to construct and operate the Kona landfill, UPW attorney Herbert Takahashi says the contract was illegal and money paid to the company must be returned.
Waste Management spokesman Bob Awana said the amount paid over four years may approach $16 million.
"He (Takahashi) has been threatening to do this all along," Awana said.
County attorney Ted Hong said, "To me it just looks like another example of UPW's vendetta against (Mayor Yamashiro's) administration and against privatization."
The state Supreme Court earlier said Waste Management could not operate the Kona landfill because that kind of work was customarily done by county workers. The union represents those workers.
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This witness is expected to provide testimony regarding his relationships with Governor Linda Lingle; Stanley Hong; Waste Management, Inc; Mark Recktenwald, Director of the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs; Kenneth Hipp; Marr Hipp Jones & Pepper; J.P. Schmidt, Hawaii Insurance Commissioner; Judith Neustadter Fuqua; Maui County; Mark Bennett, Hawaii Attorney General; Bank of Honolulu; Sukamto Sia; Diane J. Plotts; Constance Lau; Donna Tanoue; Bank of the Orient; Guido Giacometti; Colbert Matsumoto; Island Insurance Co.; April Masini; Hawaii Pacific Cinema Development Foundation; Eric Gill; Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union Local 5; Unity House; Anthony Rutledge, Sr.; Tony Rutledge; David Louie, Roeca, Louie & Hiraoka, LLP; Rudy Tam; Romeo Mindo; Colleen Hanabusa; Michael Green; Eric Seitz; Judge David A. Ezra; Gary Rodrigues; Judge Barry Kurren; Faye Kurren; Hawaii Dental Services; Robert Katz and John L. Knorek of Torkildson Katz Jossem, Fonseca, Jaffe, Moore & Hetherington; William McCorriston, Mark J. Bennett and Nadine Ando of McCorriston, Miho & Miller; Linda Chu Takayama; Wayne Metcalf; Hawaiian Insurance Group; Hawaiian Electric Company; Robert Clarke; Edwina Clarke; former Honolulu Mayor Eileen Anderson; Benjamin Matsubara; Ralph Englestad; George Ariyoshi; Wayne Minami; Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate; First Insurance Company; Paul Brown, Lena Awana; VHY Insurance; Michael Nauyokas; Carol Muranaka, Senator John McCain, Jack Abramoff, Karl Rove, Judge Michael Seabright, Alberto Gonzales, Saipan Waste Management, Rajdatta Patkar, John Marshall, J.C. Shannon, James B. Nicholson, James B. “Jim” Nicholson, David Farmer, Ted Hong, Dan Case, Steve Case, John Garibaldi, Hawaii Superferry, Norman Mineta, Ed Kubo, Susan Ichinose and others to be named upon discovery.
Equity 2048 - The Attorney General’s Report by Goodenow & Assoc.
Equity 2048 -The Richards Report by Robert Richards
XL Reinsurance Policy No. XLRKS-01796
Equity 2048 - Related Correspondence and Documents
IRS Closing Agreement for Kamehameha Schools
Broken Trust - The Book
Originally posted: January 1, 2005, by The Catbird
Last updated: September 12, 2009
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January 1, 2005: Originally posted on www.the-catbird-seat.net
March 13, 2007: Judge David Ezra signs Order to shut down website
September 12, 2009: Latest update on www.kycbs.net
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