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Board of Education chairman, advocate clash at meeting, sheriff's deputies called

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 02:11 a.m. HST, Aug 21, 2013

State sheriff's deputies were called to Tuesday's Board of Education meeting following a feisty exchange between advocate Mitch Kahle and board Chairman Don Horner.

Kahle, founder of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of Church and State, said he wanted to let the board know about his whistleblower lawsuit unsealed last week in state court that claims five churches have underpaid the Department of Education by more than $5.6 million over the past six years for the use of public schools.

The lawsuit claims the churches — New Hope Oahu, New Hope Hawaii Kai, New Hope Kapo­lei, One Love Ministries and Calvary Chapel Central Oahu — use the school facilities for longer periods than what they indicated on their applications.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Kahle and public advocate Holly Huber. They filed their lawsuit under seal in March to give the state the opportunity to join in. When the state attorney general declined, a state judge ordered the lawsuit unsealed.

"The DOE has actually been involved in a cover-up," Kahle said during the public testimony portion of the meeting.

Horner asked Kahle to wrap up his testimony after he hit the allotted two minutes. Kahle said he wasn't finished.

"Don, as a pastor of New Hope, we understand why you don't want this testimony to be heard," Kahle said, talking over Horner on a microphone. "You have a conflict of interest, and I would say to you that you might want to abstain from this discussion."

Horner is a licensed pastor and serves as a volunteer staff member of New Hope Diamond Head Church, according to his profile on the BOE's website. He's also a member of Hawaii Pastors Roundtable.

Horner, visibly agitated, responded, "For your information, sir, I'm in full compliance" with the state's ethics code. "And you are out of order."

Kahle continued, saying subpoenas would be issued to obtain documents and witness testimony.

Horner interjected: "Mr. Kahle, can I ask one other question? If you could direct your threats to this board and to the senior management. Respectfully, I ask you not to threaten our employees in the field."

Kahle asked for an example, but Horner declined to elaborate, which upset Kahle, who later called the accusation slanderous.

Sheriff's deputies were called during the exchange for the safety of board members, the superintendent and the public, a DOE spokeswoman said. Kahle had already left the room and was not questioned.

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Maneki_Neko wrote:
Horner is looking pretty bad in all this.
on August 20,2013 | 05:21PM
Anonymous wrote:
Kahle is looking worse.
on August 20,2013 | 06:23PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Horner is the best board member money can buy
on August 20,2013 | 06:39PM
atilter wrote:
ooooo - the implications abound!!! as a past advocate, i can say that the advocate is almost always on the short end of the "stick"....unless the weight of the facts used in the support of the claims are superior, the board can play a waiting game.
on August 20,2013 | 07:31PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
You're kidding right? How does Kahle look worse? It is documented that Horner has a conflict.
on August 20,2013 | 07:57PM
1Hankster wrote:
No Mr. Horner has no conflict. YOU have a conflict with reality!
on August 21,2013 | 11:50AM
1Hankster wrote:
Totally agree! He needs to cut off that silly stupid hippy pony tail. Maybe, it will get caught in a fan and he'll be praying to.. oh yeah, he can't be praying...he's an atheist.
on August 21,2013 | 11:48AM
Bdpapa wrote:
I thinks so too. seems a conflict odf interest exists.
on August 20,2013 | 08:25PM
ISCREAM wrote:
How does a conflict exist...anyone who believes in God has a conflict?
on August 20,2013 | 10:28PM
whs1966 wrote:
Mr. Horner may be in "full compliance" with the law, but that does not mean that he acted ethically in his role as BOE chair re the use of DOE facilities by his church. But then he's probably following the ethics standards set by our legislators and the gov.
on August 20,2013 | 05:26PM
8082062424 wrote:
his church is not one of those on the list. and he does not own the church, he is a volunteer staff member. just about all pastors hold down full time jobs it all they pay there bill. we got quite a few who are professors At Uh also at KCC. we have them in the police dept fire dept just about every field out there
on August 20,2013 | 06:10PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Are you saying ALL New Hope churches are not affiliated? You know they are and all are run by Wayne Cordiero and family.
on August 20,2013 | 06:36PM
Mythman wrote:
Reminds me of the old days when the crazy OHA thing got started........
on August 20,2013 | 05:39PM
dwataoka wrote:
Unfortunate that all of Mr. Kahle's energy is directed in this manner versus actually supporting our schools. A person would this much passion and energy could actually make a difference if he focused on the things that matter. If you explore the history of Mr. Kahle, he seems to be on some vindictive mission against a particular pastor. Whatever his reasons, it just seems so sad.
on August 20,2013 | 06:46PM
Anonymous wrote:
is the DOE set to collect some money if the lawsuit goes through? anyways, there should be more support for whistleblowers whose actions will end up helping the larger community, not those of a few.
on August 20,2013 | 08:01PM
Anonymous wrote:
doe is set to collect $ if lawsuite goes thru?
on August 20,2013 | 08:02PM
1Hankster wrote:
Yes, I agree. If he and his wife Holly Booper would use their energies to help the community instead of destroying its foundations, life would be so much more pleasant. Mr. Kahle has an ego of a whale, but the mindset of a pinhead. Alas!
on August 21,2013 | 11:57AM
inlanikai wrote:
Take it to court. Let a jury decide the merits of the suit, in the meantime, if Horner had any class, dignity or sensibility, he should just recuse himself from any discussion regarding the issue.
on August 20,2013 | 06:48PM
HOSSANA wrote:
If Kahle would look at all the renovations that New Hope has done for Farrington and even Kalakaua, the costs would surpass many times over the rent they pay for the use of the grounds and the now torn down auditorium at FHS. Kahle is so near-sighted that he doesn't get his facts straight and is so tunnel visioned that he doesn't see the big picture how the Church not only pays rent but has spend so much monies in making improvements for both schools for the benefit not only for the Church but for the students as well...Its people like Kahle that distorts the moral values of our kids and schools......
on August 20,2013 | 07:37PM
Anonymous wrote:
you mean squatter rights?
on August 20,2013 | 07:57PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
So bribery is okay?
on August 20,2013 | 07:59PM
pakeheat wrote:
Can you define bribery dontbelieveinmyths?
on August 20,2013 | 09:00PM
Wazdat wrote:
Horner is a CLOWN and DOES have a conflict of interest. Time to CHANGE the LAWS on the BOOKS. Is this the same First Hawaiian Bank employee who now works for Hart. And his bank is the one that owns the rail car company ???

No CONFLICT of INTEREST...Yeah Right...I say CORRUPTION with the RAIL company and its selection

on August 20,2013 | 08:03PM
Slow wrote:
Not too much aloha for the whistle-blower. Thank god we have Mitch Kahle & friends to ferret out the weasels. To bad Pastor Don's cozy arrangement has been revealed. Having fun wiggling in Mitch's spotlight, Pastor Don?.
on August 20,2013 | 08:25PM
pakeheat wrote:
name calling Slow? I think you are misguided
on August 20,2013 | 09:03PM
wunnee wrote:
Kahle is on to something. Separation of Church and State is one of the things that makes this country great. The founding fathers of this country were very religious people but insisted on the separation of Church and State knowing and witnessing that mixing the two will lead to corruption, conflict, and abuse---all the things that the Hawaii DOE is entrenched in. Except we don't use harsh words like corruption, conflict and abuse, we just (kindly?) say: The DOE is a large bureaucracy.
on August 20,2013 | 09:40PM
SteveToo wrote:
"Horner is a licensed pastor and serves as a volunteer staff member of New Hope Diamond Head Church, according to his profile on the BOE's website. He's also a member of Hawaii Pastors Roundtable." Yea this Horner guy should step aside on this issue. Talk about a conflict.
on August 20,2013 | 10:31PM
2NDC wrote:
"...Mr. Horner is a licensed pastor and serves as a volunteer staff member of New Hope Diamond Head Church....." http://www.hawaiiboe.net/About/Members/Pages/DonaldHorner.aspx Yup, sounds like Mr. Horner has a conflict and should abstain from any discussion or voting on the issue.
on August 20,2013 | 11:03PM
st1d wrote:
i find kahle's questioning of new hope's contracts with schools very interesting.

new hope pays for contracted hours of use of public property and pays well.

yet, kahle's yearlong monitoring of the new hope groups revealed that many school venues were being used well beyond contracted time and compensation was never made or demanded to remedy the overuse of facilities.

rather than dwelling on the fees paid and improvements made, i agree that an audit of new hope contracts is appropriate..

there may be tens of millions in income each year that the doe is missing out on. dollars that could be used for the children.

fees paid by new hope in the past and the new spin video put out by new hope is a red herring. the issue is fair payments for use of public property.

on August 20,2013 | 11:41PM
whatutink wrote:
While I do fervently believe in the separation of church and state, and do not always agree with Mitch Kahle, I do think that Don Horner is wrong in some of his actions and assumptions, as Chairman of the BOE, in this case. It appears that Chairman Horner forgets that he is no longer in a position of supreme power as a CEO and Chairman of the Board in private industry. In his positions with the BOE and HART, he is supposed to be providing a public service and to be responsive to the public. If he cannot properly adjust his attitude to be responsive to, and have some patience with the public, he should resign from both BOE and HART. In this specific instance, while he may or may not have a conflict of interest, there was most definitely at least the appearance of a conflict of interest, which should have moved him to recuse himself during Kahle's testimony and given the gavel to the Vice Chair.
on August 21,2013 | 03:35AM
msott wrote:
I think the lawsuit initiated by "Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church" (you can find them on Facebook) is interesting news, but I'd like to redirect commentary to the events described in the article. I attended yesterday's Board meeting. BOE Chair Horner said he would allow Mr. Pahle to speak, even though it was "out of order" to not speak on an agenda item. Mr. Pahle said he was addressing Agenda Item VI.d - Superintendent's Report. Then, Chair Horner didn't let Mr. Pahle have his full 2 minutes, interrupted him during his speaking time (reducing it even further), and accused Mr. Pahle of threatening DOE employees. Mr. Pahle asked for one example of having done such a thing, but Chair Horner would not respond. Right after public testimony, the Board moved into Executive Session and the public adjourned to the hallway. While we were there, three sheriffs showed up to the astonishment of everyone in the hall. It was so unnecessary. What kind of intimidation was this? Are we living in a police state? There is only one Board of Education in the entire state of Hawaii, but they are not answerable to the public. The public is not permitted to speak at BOE meetings unless it is to address an agenda item, though on rare occasions, exceptions are made. I tried for years to get an answer to this question: "How does a member of the public get an issue on a BOE agenda so they may speak to it." I pushed and pushed, for years, to get an answer and finally had the opportunity to ask this of Chair Horner. His response was, "You can't. I don't work for you." I had about a minute at the Democratic Party Luau this past Sunday to speak to Governor Abercrombie about my concerns that the BOE was not allowing the public to have a voice. He said he was planning to speak to the Board about this. So, if there's anyone out there who cares about the public having a voice before the BOE on any issue of concern regarding our schools, please write to the Governor and let him know how you feel (addresses are below). The time to address this is NOW. Mahalo. The Honorable Neil Abercrombie Governor, State of Hawaii Executive Chambers, 
State Capitol Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 http://governor.hawaii.gov/forms/contact/
on August 21,2013 | 08:18AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Administrative management of BOE hearings aside, Mr. Kahle is to society as a Kamakazie was to the 7th fleet, aimed at fruitless destruction, aimed at splitting legal hairs until religious institutions and references disappear from public life. What is his end goal? How will we bettered if he achieves it? What do we gain if these beneficial religious organizations are driven underground? Sure, they should pay their way, but, really, what is so abhorrent about cooperating with a group aimed at charity, morality, family, or the public good? What's Khale afraid of? That New Hope might pollute the kids education by conspiring to leave behind a bible?
on August 21,2013 | 08:58AM
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