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Friday, March 12, 2010
March 12, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:33 AM :: 7314 Views

LINK>>>Hawaii congressional candidate Djou warns against ‘the nutcase in Pyongyang’

Council on Revenues’ projection: Legislature needs to come up with another $50M

The state Council on Revenues today left its forecast for the fiscal year unchanged from its previous prediction, saying the state's revenue take for the fiscal year ending in June would be about 2.5 percent less than a year ago.

For the fiscal year that begins July 1, the Council revised its forecast to 6 percent growth, down from its December prediction of 7.6 percent.

Budget analysts estimated that the revision equates to about $50 million more that lawmakers need to find this session.

RELATED: Lingle sees “promising signs” in Council on Revenues report

ADV: Hawaii's revenue expectations for next year get lowered

SB: Fragile future for Hawaii's economy

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Hawaii car dealer McKenna interested in buying Star-Bulletin

McKenna, owner of Mike McKenna's Windward Ford in Kailua, said he plans to make inquiries with the Star-Bulletin's owner, Oahu Publications Inc., which will officially put the state's No. 2 daily newspaper on the market next week.

"We'll definitely take a look at this," McKenna said in an interview with The Advertiser….

McKenna tempered his comments by saying that he hasn't seen the Star-Bulletin's financials and doesn't know the details of what's being offered for sale. But if it is attractive, he could put together a group of investors to pursue a deal, he said.

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ADV: School budget gap forces a reality check

…legislators need to make sure that either SB 2570 or HB 2376 survives the Capitol sausage-making of the coming weeks. These measures would propose an amendment to the state constitution to have the school board appointed by the governor rather than elected. There needs to be clearer lines of authority over public education, and this plan would move the state in the right direction without sacrificing necessary checks and balances.

Another surviving reorganizational fix might improve accountability further. SB 2960, supported by the DOE, would pare back layers of unwieldy bureaucracy by restructuring the agency's divisions without adding any senior positions. That idea deserves attention by the House.

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DoE: “Who’s in charge here?”

It's confusing enough trying to figure out who runs our public school system. Is it the Board of Education, the DOE, the Legislature, the governor, the public? Perhaps that's too broad a question. Here's a simpler one: Who gets to decide if the school system's bus service can be run more efficiently? Here are your choices:

a. Randy Moore, assistant superintendent of school facilities and support services;
b. James Brese, chief financial officer for the DOE;
c. Kathryn Matayoshi, interim superintendent;
d. The entire BOE;
e. Marcus Oshiro, state representative;
f. The entire state Legislature;
g. Everyone who uses public school buses;
h. The voters;
i. All of the above

If you're having trouble choosing, you're not alone. It's one reason why there have been calls to make the school system more accountable to the governor and therefore less accountable to....well, choose from the list above.

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Senate: Inouye fights for the for-profit Earmark

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the chairman of the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, slammed House Appropriations Chairman David Obey’s (D-Wis.) moratorium on earmarks to for-profit companies mere hours after Obey announced it on Wednesday.

Inouye’s decision puts House Democratic leaders in an awkward position and could create a protracted fight over the fiscal 2011 spending bills.

RELATED: Fearmarks  

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UH no longer at risk of losing accreditation

UH administrators, professors and students said the new report from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, whose accreditation is needed for UH to receive federal funds and for its students to be eligible for federal financial aid, shows that UH-Manoa is in a far better position than in 2004, when WASC reaccreditation was in question.

In its report, the WASC acknowledged it has had an "intense" relationship with the university, coming to a head in pointed "action letters" to UH administrators or at-times scathing reports.

A 2004 WASC report following a "special visit" expressed concerns about the distrust and discord between the Board of Regents and then-president Evan Dobelle — and how that friction was hurting progress at the UH system and its biggest campus. In an action letter to UH that year, the WASC said its concerns were serious enough to threaten accreditation of the three four-year campuses in the UH system and said Manoa, in particular, had been "stymied" in its goals.

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Tesoro may halt refining in Isles

"It lost money last year and it's continuing to lose money this year," said Lynn Westfall, senior vice president and chief economist for refinery owner Tesoro Corp. "It's something we're concerned about and are looking at."

Tesoro, like other refiners, has been squeezed by high crude oil prices at a time when demand has been dropping. Tesoro's 93,500-barrel-a-day refinery last year operated well below capacity, averaging only 68,200 barrels.

Tesoro's review follows one done by Chevron Corp., which last year contemplated shutting what is the smaller of Hawai'i's two refineries.

Chevron had looked at converting the local 54,000-barrel-per-day facility into a terminal and this week said that option has been taken off the table. Chevron left open the possibility that some of the 2,000 job cuts it is ordering for its refinery operations worldwide may occur here.

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Pot advocate's home, ministry office raided

Christie said he has been operating his ministry since 2000.

On Tuesday a judge in Colorado found Trever Douglas, who said he is a member of Christie's THC Ministry, guilty of misdemeanor drug charges. The judge said Douglas' beliefs do not rise to the level of a religion.

(It’s amazing what happens when these clowns appear before a real judge.)

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First phase of affordable rental project dedicated: Wai'anae building cited as model of how to solve state's homeless crisis

Yesterday, Gov. Linda Lingle and Mayor Mufi Hannemann, along with state and city housing officials, attended a grand opening dedication ceremony for Hale Wai Vista I — the first phase of a 215-unit affordable family residential project. The project has two- and three-bedroom apartments renting for $509 to $964 a month.

Kaniela Kukahiko, 22, along with his girlfriend, Chanel Mora, 23, and their 2-year-old son, Aidan, were the first family to qualify for housing at Hale Wai Vista I, which is next to Wai'anae Mall. They had been living at the Ulu Ke Kukui transitional shelter on St. John's Road.

Kukahiko learned about Hale Wai Vista I through his case worker at the shelter. He said he earns enough from his job at a moving and storage company to afford the $509 monthly rent on the two-bedroom, 600-square-foot apartment the family will move into on April 15.

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Churches urge Hannemann to revive homeless project  (Tam bust gives 2nd chance to project)

In January the City Council unanimously adopted a resolution urging the administration to establish a special area plan for Chinatown that "gives the community a chance to describe the characteristics of their community," said its author, Council member Rod Tam, whose district includes Chinatown….

Opponents say that the project will attract people who drive away business or frighten residents in an area already beleaguered with a large population of homeless people.

"The tactics they are using is misleading," said Albert Lui, of the Chinese Buddhist Association, whose 300 members meet in a temple at the Chinese Cultural Plaza. "Similar housing projects already exist in the Chinatown area ... but they're full and the waiting lists are long, over 200 people on the list."

Neighborhood board Chairman Frank Lavoie said the organization supported an original proposal for low-income housing.

"When they changed it to provide housing for mentally ill, we voted against it," he said. "There are schools, cultural groups, residences in the area, and when you stick people with drug and addiction problems there, it is not a smart idea."

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Tam to repay $13,700 in meal expenses at just $380 per month and without any interest

If you haven’t taken a look at the commission’s opinion, you definitely should.

To settle with the commission, Tam agreed to repay $13,700 which the commission determined to have been wrongfully paid with public funds. But I don’t recall seeing the terms of the Tam’s settlement described.

Tam signed a promissory note in which he commits to repaying the full amount. But Tam will repay at the rate of $380.56 per month for three years.

Tam will not have to pay any interest if he makes monthly payments on time.

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SB: Police should explain why 'drunk drivers' site removed

(No explanation yet, they must’ve busted another legislator.)

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Former American Samoa group official pleads guilty to theft of grant funds

The U.S. Department of Justice says David Wagner of Maryland Heights, Mo., admitted he stole more than $31,000 from U'una'i Legal Services Corporation and the department's Office of Violence Against Women in 2005 and 2006.

The 47-year-old Wagner entered his plea Thursday before U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson in the Eastern District of Missouri.

He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and payment of $31,000 in restitution when he is sentenced July 12.

(OK.  Now what about all the Samoa tsunami warning money that was diverted to the purchase of TVs and leather furniture?)

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Feds cite Guam company over working conditions

Officials said Thursday in a San Francisco news release that Hua Sheng International Group Corp. was assessed $139,500 in penalties.

The department cited the company for one willful violation for allegedly failing to provide workers with an adequate water supply for drinking, cooking, bathing, flushing and laundry.

There are also 28 serious violations listed for alleged safety and health hazards related to poor living conditions at the employees' barracks as well as at the work site.

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Hawaiian Utility Fights Solar Industry Over Private Installations

In February, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) proposed a ban on a booming industry of rooftop solar installations, claiming that too much distributed power generation could destabilize the islands’ isolated power grids. It was forced to back off by the public backlash, but environmental groups and the solar industry say the utility is trying other tactics that will stifle the growth of renewable energy in the state.

(HECO is doing this to make way for giant wind farms on Lanai and Molokai)

RELATED: Wind Energy's Ghosts

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Honolulu Advertiser employees get formal notice of upcoming termination and rehiring

Gannett has officially notified Honolulu Advertiser employees they will be terminated when the newspaper’s sale to Honolulu Star-Bulletin owner David Black’s Oahu Publications, Inc. closes, which is expected to occur between April 12 and April 30, 2010.

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Sunshine law: Progressives call for all Legislative votes to be recorded (still pushing for HB444)

A month ago, the House was widely criticized for its anonymous vote to defeat the controversial civil unions bill, House Bill 444. A motion was made to postpone the bill indefinitely. This should have triggered debate on the bill’s merits, but it did not. Nor did any House member seek a roll call vote. We believe a recorded vote should have been taken, without a member having to request it.

Citizens on both sides of the issue want a recorded vote, and legislators owe the public at least that much. The Legislature will earn the respect of the public by voting on HB 444.

Recently, another anonymous vote was taken. This time it was to recall a bill on the right to fly the American flag. Even though eight House members requested a recorded vote, it was denied because House rules require 11 supporters.

Ironically, when the recall vote was taken, the count of raised hands was incorrect, and the attempt to bring the bill to the floor failed. If recording individual members’ votes had been a requirement, the motion would have passed.

Fortunately, the flag bill will now be getting a proper vote. But on the civil unions bill, House members need to seek a vote to make that happen….

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Majority of State Senators Send Pro-Rail Letter to Gov. Lingle

HONOLULU (March 11, 2010) – A majority of State Senators signed a letter that was delivered to Governor Linda Lingle today urging her to review and accept the final Environmental Impact Statement for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project in a timely manner once the document is released by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

(Well this demand that the Governor accept a document that the Senators have not even seen is an improvement over Mufi’s demand that she approve it before it is even written, but then the implication is that somehow this is not going to happen.  The Gov has already addressed this issue: Lingle: Rail is “most expensive transit project in the history of America”)

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Uncertainty at Kuilima Over Turtle Bay's Future

Development spokesmen complain about a lack of certainty and then admit that the new owners plan to keep the property for only three to five years. They assure us that resort expansion has been continuous since 1986, but they have no immediate plans for any new hotels.

Instead, they talk about a small park they were supposed to dedicate years ago and some vague plan for affordable housing.


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