Inouye chides Lingle on Turtle Bay
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Hawaii's senior senator, Daniel Inouye, is warning Gov. Linda Lingle that there might not be much federal help for her plans to protect the Turtle Bay area of the North Shore.
In a strongly worded letter written to Lingle on Tuesday, Inouye said Lingle did not inquire about federal help until the middle of March, and time has run out for most congressional programs.
Inouye also admonished the governor that she should have stopped by his office to discuss her proposal with him during her February trip. A spokesman for Lingle said the governor had not yet seen Inouye's letter.
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Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye is telling Gov. Linda Lingle she might be too late to get any federal help in her quest to buy land at Turtle Bay to stop development of the area.
In a strongly worded letter, Inouye told Lingle she should have talked to him about the effort when she was in Washington in February. He called her requests "delinquent."
A spokesman for Lingle said the governor had just received the letter, had not read it and could not comment.
Lingle wrote to Inouye on March 31, asking for his help.
"As a member of our congressional delegation, you can play an important role in this project by providing federal financial resources for the acquisition," Lingle wrote.
Lingle added that she "would appreciate learning by mid-April of the specific steps your office can take to assist the state of Hawaii."
Inouye wrote back Tuesday in a letter that was also given to the rest of the congressional delegation and leaders of the state Legislature.
Inouye noted that he learned of the governor's plan "as most others in Hawaii, in your surprise announcement during your State of the State message in January."
"Since that time, however, I have not received any other information or details to further define your broad-brush statements," Inouye said.
Since her announcement, Lingle has held a community meeting in Kahuku on the issue and discussed it with Oaktree Capital Management LLC, the landowners. She also assembled an advisory group.
Two bills are moving through the Legislature to ease the purchase.
But Inouye says no one is talking to him. Inouye is considered one of the U.S. Senate's most powerful members.
In his letter, Inouye said he could not help more because he had not been "privy to any additional information."
"I have no idea what is real or not, feasible or simply wishful thinking," he declared.
He added that he needed information from Lingle about "the magnitude of your administration's financial contribution" and a budget or "some sort of financing plan."
Inouye noted that Lingle had said she met with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne but did not say whether the federal government would put any money into the project.
"Here again, this is important information I need to have before any meaningful congressional discussions can be had," Inouye asked.
Lingle had asked Inouye to consider using funds from several programs, but Inouye said those programs "are already in active use supporting Hawaii projects that have been vetted with sufficient detail and reliable funding partners."
"By the time I received your letter in April, all appropriations requests for the Department of the Interior ... were prioritized and submitted," Inouye said.