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Monday, November 29, 2010
November 29, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:03 PM :: 7201 Views

Hawaii Concealed Carry launches Firearm Permit Initiative

Deadline Today to register to vote in special council race

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Election season isn't quite over yet on Oahu. The District 1 seat on the Honolulu City Council is still up for grabs, and the deadline to register to vote in that race is Monday.


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Shapiro: Abercrombie serves up waffles on BOE

Now some legislators and interest groups that feed off of public education seem intent on thwarting the will of voters by limiting the governor’s choices to as few as two candidates put forth by a screening committee mostly controlled by interest groups and the Legislature. It would provide no more accountability than the current system.

Abercrombie has been all over the map. During the campaign, he avoided a straight answer on whether he supported switching from an elected to an appointed school board, a change opposed by the teachers’ union that gave him a key endorsement.

He finally said he voted for the constitutional amendment, but suggested he had reservations.

On the question of how the school board would be appointed, he initially indicated that he would work with what the Legislature gave him. Then, in a meeting with senators, he was reported to have expressed a preference for appointing directly without being restricted by a selection committee.

Now, an excellent analysis by Dave Koga in yesterday’s Star-Advertiser reports that he’s waffling again:

A three-point memo from his staff says Abercrombie wants to hear different views on the process, will work with legislators to pass enabling legislation and wants the matter “resolved quickly and in a way that best reflects the voters’ decision and serves the public interest.” 

RELATED: Gaming Industry Lobbyist, Progressive activist screen Abercrombie cabinet picks

KHON: Newly-elected school board members to be inducted

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Cachola: Counties’ Legislative Package hinges on aquarium fish

At a Honolulu City Council meeting Wednesday, District 7 Councilman Romy Cachola said that if a single change were made to the 2011 Hawaii State Association of Counties Legislative Package, the entire resolution would have to be scrapped….

By going down on the bill, Cachola was talking about removing one of the more controversial aspects of the resolution. Specifically, Item 2, which says the council approves for inclusion in the package, "A proposed bill to increase the regulation of aquarium aquatic life collection in order to protect Hawaii's aquatic life and the marine environment."

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Civil Beat Publishes salaries of Honolulu County Employees

Lawmakers return to US Capitol to clean up leftovers

The words “Akaka Bill” occur nowhere in this article.

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Obamanomics keeps construction prices, activity depressed

Depressed construction activity in Honolulu continues to keep prices in check for builders, according to a new survey.

Construction industry consultancy firm Rider Levett Bucknall said construction costs for Oahu were nearly unchanged in the July-to-September period from the prior three months.

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43% of DoE teacher hires not licensed

Public schools have made progress in making sure core classes are taught by fully certified teachers, but officials acknowledge there is lots more work to do.

Not least of the concerns, they say, is addressing the large number of teachers hired before completing a teacher education program or taking all the tests to demonstrate content knowledge in the subjects they teach.

Such "emergency hires" made up 43 percent of new teachers brought into Hawaii public school classrooms in the 2009-10 school year -- down from 65 percent four years ago, according to a new Department of Education employment report.

Officials say part of the problem is Hawaii's high teacher turnover, something the DOE attributes to the large number of teachers from the mainland and Hawaii's high cost of living.  (And certainly not the DoE’s lack of discipline or lack of a curriculum.  No, as with everything else, it is not the DoE’s fault.)

Nationally, 96 percent of core academic classes were taught by highly qualified teachers in 2008-09, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

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SA: Patients before policymakers

The Lingle administration certainly acted from the unenviable position of needing to make short-term cuts quickly to balance the budget. And although revenue projections have improved, Hawaii is far from out of the fiscal woods. The incoming Abercrombie administration has pledged to reorient government services to achieve efficiencies and cover what's most important, rather than blithely raising taxes. The mental-health crisis before it presents a formidable challenge of this resolve.

In March, lawmakers took testimony under oath from Dr. Tina McLaughlin, one of the top executives of the private mental health agency Care Hawaii Inc. Dr. McLaughlin told legislators that she compiled data of the number of deaths among mental patients that resulted from curbs on their access to care and follow-up, data that showed a 36 percent increase over the 2008 death count. At last week's hearing, Eileen Uchima of the National Alliance on Mental Illness' Hawaii office cited that "deplorable statistic" and urged legislators "not to make these changes on the backs of extremely vulnerable people."

Written testimony will be received until 4:30 p.m. today at the Adult Mental Health Division, HAR 11-175, 1250 Punchbowl St., Room 256, Honolulu 96813. There is an e-mail form on the division's website:

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Nuclear option advances energy independence

During the recent Asia Pacific Clean Energy conference in Honolulu, state Sen. Fred Hemmings introduced a provocative energy solution for Hawaii in the form of small modular reactors (SMRs). Hemmings and industry proponents think that small modular reactors could be installed on the most populated islands and provide base load power within five years.

So if Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative goal is to be 70 percent clean by 2030 and the islands are well endowed with renewable resources like wind and solar, does a nuclear energy option make sense?

So why haven't we heard about any nuclear options? Fear and misinformation, plain and simple. There have been no new nuclear plant permits issued over the last thirty years because of the fear generated over the nuclear reactor shutdown at Three Mile Island in 1979. Not one person was injured due to the incident. The Navy has effectively deployed and operated compact nuclear reactors for decades and several nuclear powered naval vessels are homeported at Pearl Harbor. In fact, the U.S. holds an enviable safety record across the entire energy generation sector, with no significant injuries or deaths, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Times and attitudes have changed. MSNBC quotes President Barack Obama: "On an issue that affects our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, we can't continue to be mired in the same old stale debates between left and right, between environmentalists and entrepreneurs. Our competitors are racing to create jobs and command growing energy industries. And nuclear energy is no exception."

….Hawaii should move to immediately remove its nuclear ban and amend the state constitution to allow nuclear energy development.

RELATED: Small Modular Reactors: Creating Energy Independence for Hawaii

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Hawaii Senate panel holding hearing on PUC decision to allow Pasha inter-island cargo business

Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection lawmakers are having a hearing at the state Capitol on Wednesday to ask how the decision may affect neighbor island residents and businesses.

The PUC says the move will foster competition and provide customers with choice.

But the state's existing interisland ocean carrier — Young Brothers Ltd. — says the decision will lead to a decrease in service and an increase in cargo costs.  (And their Senate is stepping in to maintain the monopoly.)

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Democrat WHT targets Univ of the Nations

WHT: The University of the Nations has attracted nearly 50,000 students to its Kailua-Kona campus in 50 years, yet the school's president remains relatively mum on how the nonprofit contributes to the community to offset the demands it puts on public services.  (First, invent a controversy where none exists.)

"We are part of the fabric of this community, but we haven't blown our trumpet locally because we don't want to be the elephant in the room," said Loren Cunningham, Kona campus president and the university's co-founder. "We really do try to serve where we are in the world, including Kona, and we try to do it quietly."  (Yes, yes, let them have their say so that the weak-minded will still think WHT is an objective source…. THEN go for the money….)

The university is a 501(c)(3) educational organization making it exempt from paying federal income tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service's Publication 78, which contains a cumulative list of tax-exempt and charitable organizations.

The school's 2008 Form 990, required by the IRS to be filed every year, states the university held assets of nearly $23 million dollars and liabilities of $7.6 million. Cunningham added the university employs none, but has about 474 volunteer staff, who are not paid by the university and therefore support themselves via jobs outside the school and/or assistance from various churches and groups.

While the school's net assets topped $15.1 million in 2008, the university pays annually just $100 in real property taxes to the county for its 45-acre site located along Kuakini Highway south of Coconut Grove Marketplace, according to the county's Real Property Tax Division.  (Tax the charities, schools, hospitals and churches to balance the county budget….Taking a page from Mufi’s handbook, eh Reed?)

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Residents protest rate-of-growth bill

NAWILIWILI — The Kaua‘i County Council last week introduced legislation that residents said was inconsistent with the “spirit and letter” of a charter amendment designed to control the growth of tourist accommodations on island.

“The ordinance before you today has far too many exemptions with ‘legalese’ terminology allowing negation of the charter amendment’s purpose,” said Kapa‘a resident Rich Hoeppner, who was involved with the citizen petition to put the amendment on the ballot in 2008. “This entire ordinance has the appearance of a way to get around the charter amendment and find ways to allow non-compliance.”

The council on Wednesday unanimously voted to send proposed Draft Bill 2386 to the Planning Commission for its review and recommendations. After working on it, the commission will send the bill back to the council for its approval.

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Video captures lava igniting home in Kalapana subdivision

KALAPANA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lava destroyed a home Saturday afternoon in the Kalapana Gardens subdivision on the Big Island of Hawaii. It was the second home this year claimed by a lava flow from Kilauea volcano.

RELATED: Red Hot Lava Menaces Old-boy Scam

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Tax Hike shuts Fiji’s namesake Bottled water firm

SUVA, Fiji — Global bottled water company Fiji Water said Monday it is closing its business in Fiji because of a huge tax hike demanded by the country's military government.

Fiji Water president John Cochran said in a statement issued from the company's headquarters in Los Angeles that the shut down was effective immediately. It is also canceling purchase orders from suppliers in Fiji and putting on hold several construction contracts in the South Pacific nation.

The statement said the government had announced last week that it was imposing a new tax rate of 15 cents per liter on companies extracting more than 3.5 million liters (920,000 gallons) of water a month — up from the current one-third of one percent rate. Fiji Water is the only company extracting that much water.

"This new tax is untenable and as a consequence, Fiji Water is left with no choice but to close our facility in Fiji," the company, which sells its bottled water in more than 40 countries, said in the statement.

The tax rise comes amid a deep downturn in Fiji's economy that is blamed on political instability following a coup in 2006 by armed forces chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama. Key trading partners have imposed various sanctions on the government, including European Union restrictions on the vital sugar industry.

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Location of firing range challenged on Guam

Guam - The federal government meanwhile has until January to respond to the complaint filed in Hawaii by the Guam Historic Preservation Office, We Are Guahan and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The suit challenges the military's plans to build a firing range complex adjacent to the historic village of Pagat, named one of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites in America.

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Gay Atheist behind leaks of 250,000 State department cables, military files

According to The New York Times, Manning spent his early childhood in Oklahoma with his father and, while staying with his mother in southwest Wales as a teenager, "classmates made fun of him for being gay."[7] Former neighbors in Oklahoma described the young Manning as "opinionated beyond his years about politics, religion, and even about keeping religion out of politics."[7]

Manning enlisted in the United States Army to become an intelligence analyst and was deployed with a support battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Contingency Operating Station Hammer, Iraq. In the Army, Manning's "social life was defined by the need to conceal his sexuality under 'don't ask, don't tell' "[7] Sometime in 2008, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Manning became "part of a social circle that included politically motivated computer hackers and his boyfriend, a self-described drag queen. So when his military career seemed headed nowhere good, Private Manning, 22, turned increasingly to those friends for moral support."[7]

Before being arrested, Manning had been demoted from Specialist to Private First Class for assaulting another soldier and was to be discharged early.[4][8]

UK Guardian: How 250,000 US embassy cables were leaked

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