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Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Legislature 2000


State eyes
Hemmeter Building

$22.3 million would buy the
structure, land and pay for
upgrades and repairs

Bill would ease hiring of principals

By Richard Borreca


The state wants to buy the Hemmeter Building in downtown Honolulu for $22.3 million and put a $3 million art gallery in it.

The building, once known as the Armed Services YMCA, is already largely leased out to the state. It has been on the market for a year.

The historic building was built in 1872 and underwent a $30 million upgrade in 1987 when former Hawaii hotel developer Chris Hemmeter bought it for $11 million. Three years later, he sold it to BIGI Corp. of Japan for $82 million.

Yesterday, the state asked the Legislature for the extra money to be included in the state's construction budget.

"The state has negotiated a purchase price of $22 million for the land, building and furnishing, based on the state's recently completed appraisal," Ray Sato, state comptroller, wrote in testimony given to the Senate Ways and Means Committee yesterday.

The state calculates that it would save $14.3 million over 20 years by buying instead of renting.

The request also includes $315,000 for a second standby air conditioner, plus more money for custodial, grounds maintenance, contractual repairs and six janitor positions.

The state also wants $3,057,000 for the design and construction of a state art gallery with staff support areas for the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

The state had been approached by BIGI in December to buy the building for $27 million, but the state's own appraisal pegged the value of the building and two acres at $18 million to $22 million.

The building is connected to the state office tower on Beretania Street.

Sen. Andy Levin, Ways and Means co-chairman, yesterday initially dismissed the proposal, saying it was not in the Senate's version of the state budget.

But the Cayetano administration sent a letter to both the House and Senate leadership yesterday asking that the lawmakers act this year to buy the building.

Bill would loosen
guidelines for hiring
school principals

by Crystal Kua


A Senate bill that would allow the state to hire principals and vice principals from mainland or private schools is headed for a vote on the House floor.

Current law requires that those hired must have taught in Hawaii public schools for at least a year or been an exchange principal in Hawaii for at least a year.

The bill deletes those requirements. Principals and vice principals, however, must still meet Department of Education certification requirements and have been teachers for at least five years.

With retirement and other factors, the DOE is anticipating a shortage of 400 to 500 school administrators in the next five years.

The Department of Education testified in support of the bill, saying it would increase the department's pool of qualified principals and vice principals.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association opposes the measure. The union, which represents school administrators, said requiring a minimum of one year of teaching within the department would give individuals a chance to learn about the Department of Education and the mission of the public school system.

But a private school principal disagreed.

"Hawaii schools are in need of professionally trained school administrators, and to turn away competent, talented applicants will only add to the current shortage," Linda Tatomer said.


A MATTER OF RESPECT: Gov. Ben Cayetano has approved a bill that protects burial and other cultural sites by keeping information about the description and location of the area confidential.

HB2762 is one of four bills signed into law yesterday by the governor. Another measure, HB2526, HD1, clarifies that the public notice and hearing requirements for hazardous waste permits issued by the Department of Health do not apply to used oil permits .

HB2551, HD1 corrects a mistake and will allow the Health Department to spend $5 million that has already been appropriated from the Tobacco Settlement Special Fund.

Star-Bulletin staff

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