Friday, January 29, 1999

Hawaii State Seal

Sen. Hanabusa
wants inquiry into
election process

By Harold Morse


State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa says she will seek a statewide investigation of the election process.

A recount was done of the close race between Republican Rep. Emily Auwae and incumbent Merwyn Jones in the 44th House District two weeks ago.

Hanabusa said a representative of the voting machine manufacturer said during the recount there was a malfunctioning machine but nothing was done about it.

1999 Hawaii State Legislature "I requested a Senate investigation of the whole election process," she said. "It's what I learned as a result of the recount."

She didn't recall the official's name but thinks Dwayne Yoshina, chief election officer, heard what was said.

Yoshina could not be reached for comment..

William F. Welsh II, president and chief executive officer of Election Systems and Software Inc., has said a faulty sensor in a machine in Waianae created a high number of overvotes. He has said it was an isolated incident and did not compromise the whole general election.

Hanabusa, D-21st Sen. Dist. (Waianae-Maili-Makaha), a freshman legislator, said: "It caused such a division in the community."

Hanabusa added the election controversy put candidates, their families and their supporters at odds and should not have happened.

State Sen. Matt Matsunaga, judiciary chairman, doesn't foresee a full-blown investigation with subpoena power in line with Hanabusa's request.

"However, the Judiciary Committee will certainly within its existing resources look into this matter and do its own investigation," Matsunaga said. "We won't have subpoena power, but hopefully we can still get answers. I guess a preliminary investigation would be a good characterization."

Legislature Directory

School officials
protest bills on textbook
deposits, lab fees

By Crystal Kua


Textbooks, money and a camel's back were discussed during a hearing on several bills before the state House Education Committee yesterday.

Two measures under consideration would require students to pay fees to cover the cost of laboratory classes and to pay for lost or damaged school property and textbooks.

1999 Hawaii State Legislature House Bill 309 would set up a textbook deposit revolving fund in which each student would deposit a fee to "guarantee the timely return of any assigned textbooks, and to compensate the department for the negligent."

House Bill 308 would allow the Department of Education to assess and collect fees for so-called laboratory classes, which would include science, home economics, photography and band classes. The bill would also allow the department to collect fees for broken or damaged school property.

The textbook deposit revolving account, which would be administered by the schools, was strongly opposed by the Department of Education, school administrators and clerical staff.

They said lost or damaged textbooks are a serious problem. Assistant Superintendent Evangeline Barney said that textbook losses amount to an estimated $500,000 a year with the department collecting less than 25 percent of the amount.

But creating the fund would also create more problems for an already understaffed and overburdened school where clerical workers are reeling from the downsizing of district and state offices, opponents said.

"This will break our backs," said Anne Higashi, a school administrative services assistant at Kailua High School.

"We're at the point in which the camel's back will be broken," Pearl City High School Principal Gerald K. Suyama said.

In the laboratory class fees bill, Rep. Mark Takai (D-Waimalu, Newton, Waiau) said science teachers have told him that schools have not supported them in the replacement of broken beakers and test tubes.

Rep. Bob McDermott (R-Aliamanu, Hickam, Foster Village, Halawa Valley, Aiea) said working families are already paying $75 per child for school supplies and these bills would further "nickel and dime" parents.

Superintendent Paul LeMahieu suggested that a clear directive could be sent to schools telling them what they could and could not do to hold students responsible for lost or damaged textbooks and other school items.

Deputy Attorney General Russell Suzuki said schools need to be careful on how they hold students accountable.

The committee discussed other bills including:

bullet Having the school board instead of the Legislature set the salary for the superintendent.

bullet Allowing the Board of Education to use a lawyer outside the attorney general's office.

Legislature Directory

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