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Tuesday, March 2, 2010
March 2, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:09 AM :: 8563 Views

LINK>>>Ed Case in Congress voted 72 times for higher taxes, fees

LINK>>>Abercrombie farewell gift: “redistribute an entire state's wealth” --WSJ

Court Upholds Ruling In Lawsuit Challenging Kamehameha Admission Policy -- Ruling Means The Students Cannot Remain Anonymous

An attorney for the students argued that the students should be allowed to remain anonymous because they feared for their physical safety if their identities were revealed.

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Abercrombie files papers, pretends to call for furlough action 

Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie yesterday urged Gov. Linda Lingle to call an "all-hands conference" to solve teacher furloughs and said the stalemate is an example of why he is running for governor….

"We simply don't have the money that they want us to give them. It's just that simple," Lingle, speaking to reporters at the state Capitol, said of teachers. "So unless Congressman Abercrombie brought home a big sack of money from Washington, you know, it is what it is."

RELATED: Furloughs vs Layoffs: The union no-solution strategy  (Abercrombie ducks furlough issue at campaign’s first fundraiser June 29, 2009)

Neil Abercrombie must have a solution--he wants to be Governor. Kelly Hu says, “Listening to Neil speak is like going to church." Surely the Abercrombie has received a revelation. He claims, “We need a governor who can reconcile differences and not seek to impose his or her will, who can forge consensus and not pronounce unilateral decisions, who can solve problems and not just take positions…." 

Warm and fuzzy, yes.  But does Hu’s high priest have the answer? Not exactly. Questioned by reporters at his Hilton fundraiser, Abercrombie ducks the challenge saying: “How it's going to be resolved now is something I can't do anything about until I have the opportunity."

(Abercrombie is still faking it and the media is still letting him.)

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ADV: Should quitting be an issue?  (Abercrombie is arrogant, but you shouldn’t talk abut it)

Even people who aren't especially hostile to Abercrombie are annoyed by his departure from Washington, which will leave Hawai'i's First Congressional District unrepresented for months. And that departure comes at a time when many important issues — health care reform at the top of the list — have not been resolved in the House.

Blame it on bad planning or arrogance or putting his own ambitions ahead of his constituents. The question is whether this decision should dominate the campaign. The answer is clear: No.

(And so the Advertiser writes an entire editorial to instruct us peasants on what to discuss.)

RELATED: Abercrombie resignation kills Obamacare majority in House

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SB: Mail-in vote could boost turnout

Roughly half of Hawaii's residents are eligible to vote in the urban Honolulu district, making the special election the largest mail-in vote in state history and an excellent opportunity to improve on the process used quite successfully in a special City Council election last year.

Proper promotion and timely delivery of ballots should ensure higher participation than if voters had to walk in on a single day; mail-in balloting will last about two weeks, with a deadline of May 22. Results will be issued that day, in a single printout.

Only 51.8 percent of Hawaii's eligible voters—a national low—participated in the last presidential election, even with Hawaii-born Barack Obama on the ballot.

Participation in local elections can be even lower. In the special City Council election, turnout was 41 percent by mail. But that was a vast improvement over a special election in the same district in 2002, when only 27 percent of eligible voters walked in to cast a ballot.

With interest in the hotly contested House race so high, election officials should be able to capitalize on a method that simultaneously increases voter turnout and saves the state money.

RELATED: Vote By Mail: “Tool of choice for voter fraud”

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ADV: Crucial fix is only days away

A deadline to pass the needed legal adjustment is looming. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations must get the new rate in place by March 12 so that it can apply it to the state's roughly 37,000 employers and send out the quarterly tax invoices with correct amounts.

Anyone who thinks that deadline is a slam-dunk hasn't watched Hawai'i government in action for very long.

HB 2169 crossed over to the Senate Feb. 18 and on Friday cleared, unamended, review by two committees. It's due this week for a final vote on the Senate floor before heading upstairs for the sign-off by the governor.

The public can take one message from that performance: The Legislature can, when it's pushed, act quickly.

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HMSA seeks 7.8% hike in small-business rate

HMSA proposed even larger increases for other plans offered to small businesses.

This includes an average 15.1 percent rise for its health maintenance organization plan known as Health Plan Hawaii Plus.

Another average 10.5 percent increase is being proposed for the CompMed plan, a program that features a higher deductible and lower benefits for workers.

HMSA said without the increases it would have a shortfall of $64.4 million this year. The state Insurance Division has 60 days to review the request and either grant, or approve a modified rate.

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Isle bankruptcies surged 29% in Feb: More filers are homeowners whose equity has plunged

Hawaii now runs 10 BK per day.

One notable business bankruptcy during the month involved the owner of a Big Island saw mill.  Haina Properties LLC filed for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy on Sunday, listing debts of $1 million to $10 million and assets of $10 million to $50 million.  Bob Marr, a former logger, bought the 49-acre mill property in October 2007 for $3.3 million. Lenders filed a foreclosure suit against Marr in June.

RELATED: Haina Mill: Hawaii Californicated?

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Labor Department says 1,600 in Hawaii in danger of losing jobless benefits

Bunning said again today that he opposed the extension because it would add $10 billion to the budget deficit, and he attacked Democrats for abandoning promises to pay for legislation instead of contributing to a budget deficits projected to hit almost $1.6 trillion this year. Bunning proposes to pay for the extension with unspent money from last year's massive economic recovery package.

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State gets $125.7M of $26.6B allotted for roads

Hawaii has already started 13 of the 23 stimulus-funded highway projects.

State Transportation Director Brennon Morioka said the projects in Hawaii reflect unprecedented collaboration and teamwork among state, county and federal agencies.

"We took this responsibility seriously, knowing that this money would save local jobs and create more positions for those in the construction field who are struggling to find work," Morioka said.

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Congress Tries to Break Hawaii in Two

The method used to create this tribe should make everyone squeamish. The bill delegates the delicate task of deciding who may join the tribe to a federal commission appointed by the secretary of the Interior. Ultimately, the tribe itself will have the power to expel members or invite new ones.

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Kapiolani Park closure hours extended

The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation said the closures will run from midnight until 5 a.m….

The Honolulu City Council is considering bills that would discourage the use of tents in city parks and would ban shopping carts in parks.

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Zoo Atmosphere Pervades Legislature

Lawmakers debated whether or not ice cream should be banned on school campuses. Another issue that stalled in the house was whether or not community associations could dictate if residents could fly the American flag when a bill was held in committee by the chair….Having read a couple of studies on childhood obesity, lawmakers have come to the conclusion that drinking soda is the culprit and have proposed to slap a hefty surcharge on the sales of soft drinks.

RELATED: Hawaii Legislators’ pay tops nation

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Snobs keep six fireworks ban bills alive in legislature

Of the 39 bills that addressed the issue of fireworks introduced this year, only six bills are still alive, according to Takai.

“I continue to believe that all common fireworks and all aerial fireworks should be illegal in Hawaii,” Takai said.

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Open Carry Legislation gets no hearing in Leg

The current Senate bill is to authorize chiefs of police to issue licenses to openly carry firearms.  No action since may, 2009.

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UH Federalist Society: National Security under the Obama Administration

The Hawai`i Student Chapter of the Federalist Society is pleased to welcome Afsheen John Radsan, Founder and Director of the National Security Forum, Former CIA Attorney, and Associate Professor William Mitchell College of Law for a critique of foreign policy and national security under the Obama Administration. The event will take place on Tuesday, March 2 from 12:35 pm -1:30 pm in Classroom 4 at the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Manoa.

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Hawaii air tour companies estimate losses at $200,000 from Obama visit

Representatives of the affected companies are asking federal officials to reimburse them for the losses they suffered during the Obama stay from Dec. 23 to Jan. 4.

In addition, members of the newly formed Oahu Aviation Initiative hope to enter talks with the Secret Service and the Transportation Security Administration to make flight restrictions much less severe the next time Obama visits Oahu…

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Framing up, one month remains for Developer to finish affordable units

The county Planning Department is responsible for providing the commission quarterly reports about the project; in April, Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd said the county supported developers' requests to keep the 1,090-acre parcel classified as urban. But, she told commissioners at the time, she gave the project only a 50-50 chance of completing the affordable units on time. She revised that estimate a few months later to 85 percent.
The commission imposed the March 31 deadline on Robert Wessels and DW Aina Lea after Wessels began the process of purchasing the former Bridge Aina Lea development from Bridge Capital. If Aina Lea fails to construct the 16 units by the deadline, the commission could again consider a move to revert the property's land classification back to agricultural.

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Cliftos Ooma land use case to be heard Wednesday

Transportation concerns trumped promises of a beachfront park, affordable housing and other offers in 2004, when the Hawaii County Council and former Mayor Harry Kim considered a development proposal.
At the time, Kim noted that Department of Transportation officials had said Queen Kaahumanu Highway, which ran through the Clifto's Kona Coast project, had been at maximum capacity since 1998. The DOT in 2004 said the earliest the widening of the highway between Kealakehe Parkway and Kona International Airport would be completed was 2009. The council approved a plan, but Kim vetoed it and council members could not muster enough votes to overturn the veto.

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Shiira gets probation for crime that may soon become felony

LIHU‘E — Duston Ray Kainalu Shiira was allowed to walk out of court with just probation at his sentencing Feb. 10 on a misdemeanor family-abuse charge.

But the 19-year-old Kapa‘a resident may still end up being the poster boy for a proposed law that would make any crime a felony if perpetrated against another who has a temporary restraining order or other protective measure in place against the perpetrator.

The bill, part of the law-enforcement coalition package of bills introduced in the state Legislature last year, was carried over to the body this year, though the legislative Web site shows no action taken so far this session.

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Legislature passes first bill—to cover its own expenses, natch!

ACT 001 (10)  HB2162 HD1 SD1 Signed: February 26, 2010
Appropriates $34,116,617 for the expenses of the Legislature, Auditor, Ethics Commission, Legislative Reference Bureau, Ombudsman, and Legislative Broadcast Program.

Related:  Hawaii Legislators’ pay tops nation


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