Feuding over Hawaiian Telcom bonuses continues

Should Hawaiian Telcom (HT) pay $6 million in bonus money while in bankruptcy proceedings? Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii continues to defend remarks saying the company shouldn't be paying out bonuses while going though bankruptcy.

On March 20  Lingle issued a statement calling a decision by Hawaiian Telcom to pay $6 million dollars in bonuses while in bankruptcy proceedings "unconscionable" and said the state would oppose it in court. Paying the bonus would put the company in a "precarious position that jeopardizes its long-term viability, as well as threatens Hawaii's economic recovery."

Her remarks generated criticism from Hawaiian Telcom Chairman Walter Dods and U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie. Dods said the bonuses were part of a collective bargaining agreement and there was no tax money involved. "This is routine performance pay, not five rich cats getting $6 million," Dods told the Hawaii Star-Bulletin on March 21.

Monday, in an editorial published by the Star-Bulletin, Lingle's chief of staff Barry Fukunaga defended the governor's initial remarks, saying it is "understandable that Governor Linda Lingle would raise concerns about bonus payments to managers and staff at a time when the company has turned to the court for protection from its creditors during its reorganization efforts." He goes on to discuss how closely the state has been involved in the bankruptcy proceedings, how HT is a company that "cannot be allowed to fail," and that "decisions made during this perilous time in its operation must be made in consideration of all of us who depend on it, not just those who are employed by the firm."

For more:
- Read the editorial in the Hawaii Star-Bulletin
- Two weeks ago, the political battle over Hawaiian Telecom flared.

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