Wednesday, December 12, 2012
HURRY UP BEFORE WE FALL FOR A FAST ONE
HURRY UP BEFORE WE FALL FOR A FAST ONE: Are we having fun yet?
When nationally-proclaimed uber-liberal Neil Abercrombie announced he was leaving congress to run for governor and reverse the horrific wounds inflicted by Sarah Palin's pal, "What, me Republican?" Linda Lingle, many were encouraged that he would, if not be our "pal," at least put an end to the policy-by-press-conference and nose-thumbing of process that characterized her reign.
But we can't be the only ones who feel like Neil is quickly wearing out his welcome, especially after yesterday's "shame on you Sierra Club" rant for having the temerity to sue to stop him from doing administratively what he couldn't get the legislature to do.
Whether or not the state can afford to pay for the solar tax credits the legislature clearly granted- which have gone from a cost of $34.7 million in 2010 to $173.8 million in 2012- is not the stated issue in the suit, although Abercrombie apparently wishes it was.
The problem is that what the legislature giveth only the legislature- not rules passed by the state Department of Taxation (DOT) that conflict with the law- can taketh away.
So last session when the legislature failed to change the law that allows consumers to get multiple $5000 tax breaks for multiple photovoltaic "units," Abercrombie tried to pass administrative rules to do it- and is rushing passage of the DOT rules before the legislature goes into to session.
Where have we heard that before? (PLDC).
Abercrombie doesn't actually challenge this but instead is trying to not only demonize the Sierra Club but do it in a divisive way his 2010 gubernatorial opponent, Mufi Hannemann might be proud of.
According to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser article (pay-walled) today,
"The Sierra Club is saying that they want to protect people who cheat. It's astounding to me, absolutely astounding," the governor told reporters at the state Capitol. "We're trying to do something serious here. We're trying to say that we want to move to alternative and renewable energy, and we want to do it in a pono way. The fact that some people are trying to take advantage — and threaten the entire system that allows us to provide incentives for people who are doing things the right way, the correct way, the pono way.
Cheat? Serious? Pono way? There's clearly no ambiguity in the law that allows for the multiple credits. So is flouting the law okay just because it will result in your desired policy outcome?
But if that's a little sleazy, try this little bit of "haole go home"... from one haole to another.
"Now maybe the Sierra Club does that kind of thing on the mainland, but this is Hawaii. If people are cheating and gaming the system and preventing other people from taking advantage of what is legitimately there to be done... And when some people cheat and put in systems that are doubled or tripled or whatever they do in order to pretend that they need more than one system, that takes away from the capacity of honest people to do things honestly. It is an insult to the people of Hawaii to say that in order for us to get alternative energy, we have to shut our eyes to cheaters."
Gaming the system? Pretend that they need more than one system? Is he intimating that it's dishonest for honest people to take the credits the law allows to fully power their homes? Is that cheating?
No. "Cheating" is when you overestimate your political skills and fail to get the legislature to change the law so as to restrict the number of tax credits you can take... and then decide to illegally pass administrative rules that conflict with the law.
Yes- we know you're not a lawyer, Neil. But you've been a legislator long enough to know that you can't pass a rule administratively to negate a law you don't like.
As matter of fact you've blown a lot of hot air recently trying to tell us that the administration cannot reverse Act 55- the legislative measure that created the public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC)- by abolishing it through the administrative rules you're trotting out, saying only the legislature can change what they created.
We have the feeling we're not alone in being fed up with this business of having to determine which side of your mouth you're using to attack your former "pals."