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Judge dismisses lawsuit over churches' use of public schools

By Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:26 a.m. HST, Dec 20, 2013


A judge is dismissing a lawsuit claiming churches owe more than $5.6 million in rental fees to Hawaii schools.

But the judge is allowing Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of Church and State founder Mitchell Kahle and public advocate Holly Huber to amend and refile the lawsuit.

Their attorney, James Bickerton, said the judge ruled Thursday their lawsuit didn't contain the required level of detail for a case alleging fraud. He says he will file a more detailed lawsuit.

Religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom is representing two of the churches. Attorney Erik Stanley says the group will file another motion to dismiss if the lawsuit is refiled.

The group argues the churches aren't doing anything wrong and the state knows how the facilities are being used.







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Pocho wrote:
Right, the State knows the Churches are using the public school buildings, IIRC, the thing is the Churches are using the property more than what is stated in the permit or something like that. The overtime of usage ='s more electricity usage, more water usage, etc.
on December 19,2013 | 02:38PM
hawaiikone wrote:
And of course you have evidence of this.
on December 19,2013 | 02:46PM
Pocho wrote:
me? the State is
on December 19,2013 | 03:18PM
hawaiikone wrote:
Didn't think you did. Doesn't stop you from mouthing off though.
on December 19,2013 | 07:59PM
inandout wrote:
To Mitch and Holly (and other atheists behind the suit); remember this date when you "big suit" was thrown out: it is December 19, 2013 A.D. Yes Mitch, that is A.D., Anno Domini which is Latin for "In the year of the Lord." The Lord it refers to is Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate next week. A day when God reached down to all of mankind. Merry Christmas Mitch and Holly, et al.
on December 19,2013 | 02:48PM
OldEnoughToRemember wrote:
That birthdate you celebrate isn't even the correct date.
on December 19,2013 | 04:01PM
inandout wrote:
Like that is the point? Since you are so knowledgeable; what is the "correct date?"
on December 19,2013 | 04:52PM
tigerwarrior wrote:
Truth be told--nobody man alive knows when Jesus was born--not to mention--Christmas has almost nothing to do with the Biblical narrative LOL!
on December 19,2013 | 06:01PM
username_required wrote:
He was born when the unknown sperm implanted itself into Eve's egg. So 9 months /- before...March 25. Right?
on December 19,2013 | 08:21PM
loveneverfails wrote:
Dear Inandout: absolutely no offense to you. As a former catholic, I too was mislead by my church for nearly 40 years before I learned the Truth. Just go to the encyclopedia. You will learn truly where the origin of Christmas began. It's pagan roots. There is nowhere in the Holy Bible that states the date of Jesus' birth - but that the shepherds were out in the fields tending to their flocks.
on December 19,2013 | 07:07PM
inandout wrote:
again; point missed. It really does not matter what day Christ was born. The fact is that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. The word Christmas has Christian roots not pagan.
on December 19,2013 | 08:40PM
Nalukai wrote:
You Christian zealots make me laugh !! LOLO !! LOL!
on December 19,2013 | 06:08PM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
Did they include other entities in their suit or just the churches? Just a guess, but I'd say just the churches.
on December 19,2013 | 02:51PM
Anonymous wrote:
Pocho, so you "assume" these churches are not responsible for their usage? Get you facts straight before posting useless info.
on December 19,2013 | 02:53PM
beachbum11 wrote:
I agree. Talk without facts. The pocho way. LOL
on December 19,2013 | 03:09PM
Pocho wrote:
come on you should know by now. Reads like your a transplant
on December 19,2013 | 03:19PM
Pocho wrote:
bro, since you so smart. What was the grounds for bringing un the Churches suit? come on you smat bugga
on December 19,2013 | 03:21PM
palani wrote:
The group argues the churches aren't doing anything wrong and the state knows how the facilities are being used.

If the state suspected it was being "cheated", it would certainly act in its own interests. This is nothing more than a feeble attack on religion by those who believe only in the higher power of their own theocracy.


on December 19,2013 | 02:55PM
Pocho wrote:
hmmm, you have the contract? talk about facts
on December 19,2013 | 03:20PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
palani wrote: "If the state suspected it was being "cheated", it would certainly act in its own interests. This is nothing more than a feeble attack on religion by those who believe only in the higher power of their own theocracy."

Actually the City and State have a long history of redirecting taxpayer money to their own causes and own friends in order to build political support. There's good reason to suspect that's what's going on here.

What's wrong with asking churches to pay for the time and the resources they use at our public schools? The money they cost that they DON'T pay gets taken out of the school budget and they are cheating the students, teachers and the tax payers? I'm pretty sure "THOU SHALL NOT STEAL" is one of the big 10.


on December 19,2013 | 03:40PM
Holomua wrote:
If the church service runs late, or if people are hanging around and talking to each other past the rental time, the school probably lets them slide a bit. The lawsuit is demanding that the churches pay for that extra time. The suit was thrown out because they couldn't prove that the churches were getting preferential treatment. Like if a Girl Scout meeting runs late, do they charge the troop for 15 minutes overtime? They're really just filing the lawsuit to harass religion.
on December 19,2013 | 04:01PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Holomua wrote: "If the church service runs late, or if people are hanging around and talking to each other past the rental time, the school probably lets them slide a bit. The lawsuit is demanding that the churches pay for that extra time. The suit was thrown out because they couldn't prove that the churches were getting preferential treatment. Like if a Girl Scout meeting runs late, do they charge the troop for 15 minutes overtime? They're really just filing the lawsuit to harass religion."

If it were about 15 minutes here and there, I'd agree with you, but it's not. It's about the church paying rent for an hour or two for Sunday, but using the school facilities all weekend long. Does that seem okay to you? Here's an important question to consider; Would you be okay if it were the ACLU or Wiccans renting it out for an hour and using it all weekend? Me? I don't care who is renting it, I want them to pay their fair share and honor the 5 year rule.

"The plaintiffs in the case produced a 2,242-page report containing a detailed comparison of the amount of time stated in applications to use the school facilities, and the actual time involved based on direct observations and review of the churches’ own schedules and publicity."

http://www.ilind.net/2013/08/17/lawsuit-on-church-rental-of-public-school-facilities-is-definitely-one-to-watch/


on December 19,2013 | 05:54PM
Holomua wrote:
If what you say is true, then by all means it should stop. Although I see nothing that states that the churches were using facilities for that long without paying for it. If it is specifically New Hope, and "Pastor Don" is pulling some strings, I think that reflects poorly on New Hope and their members should seriously take a look at where their leaders are leading them spiritually. But if this is really about churches leaving 15 mins late, then it's obvious that Kahle's group is just harassing them. Well, he's probably harassing them regardless. That's what he does.
on December 19,2013 | 06:26PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
The link for the detailed report with dates and times has been posted multiple times in here before, but don't assume those blindly protecting the churches actually read it or will acknowledge it.

Waiting for Maneki_Neko to weigh in with the link again...


on December 20,2013 | 06:38AM
inandout wrote:
Kalaheo: How concerned are you that workers unions can use school property for free? How concerned are you that private basketball clinics can use school facilities for little or nothing? There are a host of organizations that use the school properties simply because they do not take collections on school property. Why should little league be allowed to use the property for free and churches cannot. In short, why can churches be discriminated simply because they take offerings and other groups get their money elsewhere before they use the facilities? By he way Kalaheo; unless you have specific knowledge of collusion don't speculate or accuse falsely. I am certain that "THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR" isone of the "big 10!"
on December 19,2013 | 04:49PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
inandout wrote: "By he way Kalaheo; unless you have specific knowledge of collusion don't speculate or accuse falsely. I am certain that "THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR" isone of the "big 10!"

Board of Education chair Don Horner is a registered pastor with New Hope. New Hope is suspected of being the biggest abuser and may owe the State, DOE and taxpayers about $3.2 million.

"The executive pastor at New Hope Oahu wrote to Horner in October requesting that he lower rental fee rates and eliminate a long-standing provision that barred the churches from leasing facilities for more than five years, according to the memo which was forwarded to Civil Beat. (The provision aimed to prevent churches from using school facilities on a permanent basis.)

Less than three weeks later, DOE Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi announced that she had deleted the five-year rule from application forms."

http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2013/08/15/19701-lawsuit-churches-shortchanged-hawaii-schools-56m/

So I guess we're back to "thou shall not steal."


on December 19,2013 | 05:45PM
inandout wrote:
Now to the absurd! You take allegations by he atheists and their lawyers, elevate them to 100% truth and the accuse based on that fabricated truth. First, there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Don Horner, former CEO of First Hawaiian Bank. Second, there is no evidence that New Hope owes any money let alone the $3.2 million you claim. That figure is made up by the atheists and their lawyers designed to et people like yourself to go off with reckless accusations without real evidence. New Hope has every right as a tenant of the BOE to write them and ask for reduced rates or extensions of terms. It is the BOE that makes the decision NOT the churches.. But let's follow your "logic" to see if it makes sense. The "pro gay marriage, pro abortion, pro gay sex education in schools, etc.,etc. government and BOE decided to conspire with the churches to cheat themselves out of income from the pro life,anti gay marriage, anti gay sex education churches??? Brilliant. I bet you also believe that Mufi is an aboveboard politician.
on December 19,2013 | 06:19PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
inandout wrote: Now to the absurd! You take allegations by he atheists and their lawyers, elevate them to 100% truth.... First, there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Don Horner, former CEO of First Hawaiian Bank. Second, there is no evidence that New Hope owes any money let alone the $3.2 million you claim. That figure is made up by the atheists....

And you take claims by the churches and their lawyers, elevate them to 100% truth.

Don Horner is more than a plugged in banker. He's a pastor at New Hope Church AND the head of the BOE. Didn't you know that?

He basically wrote a letter to himself asking for fee reduction and to do away with the 5 year limit, and then approved the request. Why should New Hope get their rent reduced? Are water and electricity and labor suddenly cheaper on Oahu than they were 5 years ago? No? Would someone else like to rent it? Maybe a less powerful church than the wealthy New Hope mega church? We'll never know.


on December 19,2013 | 08:02PM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
You want to do some research into other organizations who use school property? Or are you content with taking the easy way and blindly following Kahle?
on December 19,2013 | 04:53PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
I'd like everyone who used the facilities to pay their share. If other organizations are paying for an hour on Sunday but using the facilities all weekend long, I'm am equally opposed to that too.
on December 19,2013 | 05:46PM
thanks4reading wrote:
This appears not to be a first amendment matter but rather a contract issue. Lacking specifics on a contract issue is strange. Generally, you just need to quote the appropriate language from the contract and claim that it was not fulfilled.
on December 19,2013 | 04:15PM
Anonymous wrote:
It's not even contract issue. The schools are the ones who decide how much to bill the churches, and the churches pay what they owe. The principals are not complaining, they are happy to receive the income from the churches, as well as the improvements that the churches make to the schools. The State had the right to take over the lawsuit, but they chose to stay out, because they know there is no fraud. The atheist plaintiffs are simply trying to: (1) make a profit on the transaction for themselves through a nuisance lawsuit; and (2) drive churches out of the schools because it suits their agenda.
on December 19,2013 | 05:08PM
kailuaboys wrote:
Trudat
on December 20,2013 | 04:29AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Name the judge.
on December 19,2013 | 04:39PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Every public school in this state has a principal and one or two vice-principals or deputy principals who are responsible for ensuring their schools and campuses are operated according to law and directives from higher authority. It is highly unlikely that the churches were given keys to the schools to use as they desired. Some school official had to be responsible for opening and closing the school for each use by a church or other community organization. If the churches were using schools for longer than specified in their contracts or agreements with the schools, they obviously did so with the approval of a school official, so where is the fraud?
on December 19,2013 | 04:59PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Ronin006 wrote: "If the churches were using schools for longer than specified in their contracts or agreements with the schools, they obviously did so with the approval of a school official, so where is the fraud?"

This is the problem with City and State employees who come to believe that they own public property. Those schools belong to the citizens and the taxpayers, NOT the principal and vice principal. It is not the principal's building or money to give away just because he or she happens to belong to the private club using it.

It's really simple. The churches should pay the schools for the hours they use the facilities. They have 5 years to establish their church, they should honor the contract and move out in 5 years, not use insider contacts to extend it indefinitely. I don't care if it's churches, the ACLU or Wiccans. Pay up or get out.


on December 19,2013 | 06:00PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Kalaheo1: "It's really simple. The churches should pay the schools for the hours they use the facilities. They have 5 years to establish their church, they should honor the contract and move out in 5 years, not use insider contacts to extend it indefinitely. I don't care if it's churches, the ACLU or Wiccans. Pay up or get out. We have a winner. It really IS simple.
on December 20,2013 | 06:31AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Left out important quotations after "out" when quoting Kalaheo1.
on December 20,2013 | 06:34AM
Anonymous wrote:
Funny thing is, the churches came to Court, the lawyers came to Court, but the plaintiffs Mitch and Holly didn't even bother to show up in Court on the date their suit was dismissed.
on December 19,2013 | 05:03PM
Pocho wrote:
does it make a difference if they were there or not? Geez, the judge threw it out cause the lawyer didn't know what he was doing.
on December 19,2013 | 06:21PM
Anonymous wrote:
I think it makes a difference. These plaintiffs filed a lawsuit that takes up enormous amounts of lawyers' time, judges' time, and huge amounts of money. Then the hearing comes, and they don't care enough to even be there? If it were your lawsuit, wouldn't you have put it on your calendar to show up?
on December 19,2013 | 07:24PM
Anonymous wrote:
Their suit was dismissed with leave to amend. The "dismissal" means nothing. It is the judge saying "Guys, for this to go forward I need you to insert 'x' under line 10. Then, we will get going".
on December 20,2013 | 05:32AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
I wonder if this the same judge who ruled incorrectly on the "Mufi is a vindictive bully" lawsuit that's going to cost Honolulu taxpayers loads more money. Once again, it took the Hawaii State Supreme Court, ruling unanimously, to undo the ruling of an inept, compromised, or just plain wrong judges.

Here's a story you won't see reported in the Star-Advertiser: http://www.civilbeat.com/posts/2013/12/18/20704-hawaii-monitor-blacklisted-for-life-by-mayor-hannemann/


on December 19,2013 | 06:10PM
Skyler wrote:
You bet the SAd won't print it. City has egg all over its collective face because of that man & his huge ego, not to mention the 'gift' of the boat anchor called Rail to drag us down the next 50 years.
on December 19,2013 | 10:41PM
Anonymous wrote:
The headline really is misleading. Gives the public the impression that the judge sided with the churches. When a judge dismisses with leave to amend, all he is doing is saying "Guys, I need you to insert "x and y" under line 14 in order for us to proceed. Then we are good to go." This dismissal does not mean anything. Fraud must be alleged "with specificity" in the pleading. they just need to put a couple of additional facts in there, in all likelihood.
on December 20,2013 | 05:37AM
inandout wrote:
So you believe that Mufi is not an arm twisting, corrupt politician?
on December 20,2013 | 07:06AM
NDN wrote:
I wonder why Mitch Kahle doesn't spend his time and efforts on more noteworthy causes like homelessness and feeding the hunger? Why does he have to target the church, which for the most part are filled with decent and good people. I really don;t get it.
on December 19,2013 | 08:10PM
niimi wrote:
The fact is, the churches leave the schools better than they found it. They donated a lot to upgrade the school facilities. Even school custodians marvel at how much cleaner the schools are on Monday mornings. Some of the kids who attend the very public schools trash them, vandalize them; have no respect for the property.
on December 19,2013 | 08:58PM
7yearTribulation wrote:
Hallelujah
on December 19,2013 | 10:08PM
JohnD2 wrote:
Why do the plaintiffs have standing to sue? They have no legal stake in the matter.
on December 20,2013 | 12:20AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
They are taxpayers. We all have a stake in this.
on December 20,2013 | 06:30AM
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