Governor, teachers union and protestors still at odds - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Governor, teachers union and protestors still at odds

Gov. Linda Lingle Gov. Linda Lingle
Marguerite Higa Marguerite Higa
Jill Tao Jill Tao

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor is very confident something can be worked out to eliminate furlough days for next school year, but don't count on saving the remaining four furlough days in this year.  That was not what the protestors who have been camped out in her lobby the last week wanted to hear.

For the first time the governor invited the members of Save our Schools Hawaii inside her office.  The protestors sat in on a press conference about the furlough crisis where they heard things like this…

"We're not even close in the position the union has and that I have," said Governor Linda Lingle.

And this…

"The union insists on bringing all employees back and that's something I'm not willing to do," said Governor Lingle.

And this…

"I will not under these circumstances or any other circumstances sacrifice the state's long term financial solvency for personal popularity. I won't do it in this case or in any other case."

And despite raising their hands the governor did not take their questions because they were not members of the media.

"People have asked me the question why haven't you just met with these people and I tell them you know I'm human on my good days like most other people and when people send me what I take as politically threatening letters and saying if you don't meet with us then we'll do x, y and z then it's just not the type of people you're excited to meet with," said Governor Lingle.

The governor also said she did not want to set a precedent that anybody can come and squat in the lobby and get their way.

"It wouldn't succeed in this case because regardless of how many days you occupy this office it doesn't create any more money and it doesn't do anything to get the union off their position that they have stopped negotiating," said Governor Lingle.

While the protestors and governor were all in the same room, they are still so far apart on the issue.  By the end of the press conference they all had their hand up with a question.

"I wanted to ask what does she think about the devastation she is doing to all the school kids by the furlough Fridays. What is she going to do about that and shouldn't that come above all the interests of all these angry adults that are bickering all the time," said Marguerite Higa, protestor with Save our Schools Hawaii.

"We are only here because we know she holds the power of the purse she is the one that can release emergency funds to get of the furloughs for this school year. We're parents we're tired of having our children furloughed we want it done now," said Jill Tao, protestor with Save our Schools Hawaii.

Protestors vowed to stay in the lobby despite the threat of arrest.  Some of them have involved their kids although the governor said she would not do anything to impact a child.

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