Three years ago, when state lawmakers nearly restricted the governor’s emergency powers, they were mostly responding to then-Gov. Linda Lingle’s use of the state civil defense law to help build homeless shelters on the Leeward coast.
But when Senate Democrats first announced that the bill was part of their majority package, they also cited Lingle’s emergency proclamation in 2005 to help remove abandoned vehicles on Maui. Junkers had been piling up on Valley Isle roads because there was no vehicle storage facility.
At the time, then-state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser questioned whether Lingle was using the civil defense law for real emergencies. The Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter and other environmental and cultural groups are raising similar questions about Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s use of his emergency powers for unexploded ordnance and nene relocation.
From Hooser in 2008:
There have been situations where emergency powers were used to build affordable housing or emergency shelters and procurement issues are waived, prevailing wages are not paid, so there’s a lot of impact from using those. One could argue that there are emergencies in all areas — in prisons and in schools — (and) it kind of begs the question what’s an emergency and what’s not.
Hooser is now Abercrombie’s choice as director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.