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2 senators seek to cancel Maui judicial conference

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Associated Press


Political controversy persists over a conference planned for federal judges on Maui, with two Republican senators calling for the event to be canceled or at least scaled back.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who have been questioning the need to hold the August conference at a "far-flung island paradise," sent another letter Friday to the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"During this time of extraordinary debt, and given the history of opulence — including repeated trips to the Hawaiian Islands — we believe you should cancel the million-dollar conference," the letter said. "Failing that, ample opportunities to scale back costs at this event and at future conferences remain."

The conference was also held on Maui two years ago, in Honolulu in 2007 and on Kauai in 2003. It's also been held on Kauai in 1977 and 1983, in 1987 on the Big Island and on Maui in 1991.

The court, one step below the Supreme Court, has said the gathering will be for serious business meetings and the venue is within the circuit's jurisdiction. The court serves Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, as well as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

But Sessions, ranking member of the Budget Committee, and Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said the court's response wasn't apologetic or sensitive to the costs involved.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote to the senators last month that Maui was picked for its competitive room rates and cheaper travel costs because of the number of airlines serving Hawaii. He wrote that at $230 per night, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa compares favorably with similarly sized hotels in Anchorage, Alaska, and Sun Valley, Idaho, as well as several California destinations.

Friday's letter requests information for the circuit's 2008 through 2013 conferences including contracts and receipts, and the names and duties of the employees attending the Maui conference, along with the dates they'll be in Hawaii.

A spokesman for the circuit didn't immediately comment on the latest letter.

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busthalfnut wrote:
The government cannot afford this trip, but it can afford rail? You can't have it both ways Messrs. Caldwell and Carlisle. The government cannot afford rail!
on July 14,2012 | 08:13AM
Highinthesierras wrote:
Barry said no trips to Vegas, so he must be apoplextdc about this boondoggle - sorry too many big words.
on July 14,2012 | 06:07PM
allie wrote:
The 9th circuit court includes hawaii and is fine for them to meet here. Republicans in Congress hate Hawaii and want to do damage to our reputation as a serious place to do business.
on July 14,2012 | 08:35AM
akamlaii wrote:
that's why we're considered "far-flung". I'm sure Romney sees Hawai'i that way too.
on July 14,2012 | 12:02PM
Highinthesierras wrote:
Do business - your joking right?
on July 14,2012 | 06:08PM
mrluke wrote:
I guess it's nice that they at least consider us "paradise".
on July 14,2012 | 08:47AM
serfboy wrote:
Eh...it's just sour grapes because the 2 senators live outside their jurisdiction and would rather have the justices hold their judicial conference in the equally inviting Iowa and Alabama.
on July 14,2012 | 09:14AM
kahu808 wrote:
I wonder what their response would have been had they been invited to be guest speakers. And you're right, Iowa and Alabama aren't really known for attracting conventions. Why should Hawaii be placed off-limits? Lot of jealousy going on.
on July 14,2012 | 01:09PM
ready2go wrote:
Am glad these 2 politicians don't represent us. To complain about nickles and dimes for Educational seminars is pathetic! But they can justify spending a projected $68 Billion California Jet Rail system, one shich some surveys already claim that very few prople will actualy ride.
on July 14,2012 | 10:10AM
localguy wrote:
This is nothing but politics at its worst. These two babooze senators are just grandstanding for the camera, upset the convention/meeting is not taking place in their state. Upset their states are not the tourism draws Hawaii and some other states are. So they try to make up all sorts of excuses. They both need to realize they have no idea what they are talking about, shut their mouth and go home. No wonder our country is in such bureaucratic gridlock, elected fools like this pair. Give us a break.
on July 14,2012 | 11:24AM
serious wrote:
It's all politics. Did you notice Senator Reid's blasting of the Olympic committee on the Chinese made uniforms??? Notice he didn't bash Ralph Lauren? Maybe that $35,000 contribution they made to the DNC made the difference?????
on July 15,2012 | 04:04AM
keys4me wrote:
I think they should come and dump a million dollars into the Maui economy. that is stimulating!
on July 15,2012 | 06:37AM
honmani2 wrote:
Fascinating that these senators want to save money and yet the Senate and the House have not cut their operating budget nor their own salaries. It's as if they exist in a different world.
on July 15,2012 | 08:25AM
inlanikai wrote:
And where are our two senators sticking up for us. We're the state politicians love to hate and don't want to be associated with when there is any perception of relaxation, enjoyment and sun even within the context of an annual conference. They don't have a problem with the conference (which they probably should) only the location.
on July 15,2012 | 12:50PM
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