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Tuesday, January 4, 2011
January 4, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:04 PM :: 5707 Views

Robert Iwamoto trust sued over Maui Ponzi scheme

Calif. EIS shows plastic bag ban harms environment

VIDEO: Steele Faces Rivals in RNC Chair Debate

Abercrombie gift to Unions: State to pay 60% of Medical Insurance costs

…Abercrombie will be listening to a constant stream of pleas for more money.  The loudest will come from the public employee unions. The state's deficit projections are based in part on the end of the state worker furloughs in June. After that, the state employees work five days a week, four weeks a month, unless Abercrombie can figure out a new way to pay state workers less.

That doesn't seem likely. Abercrombie has already given public workers a big gift for the new year by restoring the 60-40 split in medical insurance costs.

Last year, Gov. Linda Lingle had refused to increase state spending for public worker medical benefits. The historical split of the state picking up 60 percent of the costs shifted. Unions said that under some plans, workers were actually paying a larger percentage than the employer.  (51% or more)

Abercrombie restored the 60-40 split for the remainder of the contract period, which ends June 30. No dollar figures are available, but it shows that Abercrombie is not ready to alienate his labor base.

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Grabbing for $100M, Lawmakers target Building contractors for double taxation

Most construction projects involve general contractors who hire subcontractors. Under the current subcontractor tax exemption, a general contractor on a $1 million job who subcontracts half the work pays half the excise tax, about $20,000, and the subcontractors pay the other half, The total tax generated is $40,000, or 4 percent of the million-dollar contract.

Removing the exemption would mean the general contractor would pay a full 4 percent, $40,000 on the entire million dollar job, and the subcontractor would also pay four percent on his $500,000 portion of the work. In the end, the contractors together would pay $60,000 in excise taxes -- a 50 percent increase.

The House Finance Committee has estimated more than a $100 million a year could be generated by repealing the subcontractor exemption. But leaders said a partial repeal, along with repeals of exemptions in other industries is the most likely scenario, if lawmakers choose tax reform for long-term solution of the budget crisis.

(General contractors with State jobs would have to pay double taxation on the parts performed by subcontractors.  This is a scam to divert money from CIP bond funds into operating expenses.)

CB: Hawaii Tax Debate: Don’t Increase the General Excise Tax

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Tsutsui, Abercrombie: No TAT Raid

Tsutsui said he hoped to secure $100 million in state capital improvement funds for Maui projects and to get the assurance of Gov. Neil Abercrombie that the money would be released.

In addition, Tsutsui said he would protect the county's share of hotel room tax revenues. For the past several years, state officials have threatened to withhold the approximately $18 million Maui County receives in revenues from the transient accommodations tax to plug the state's massive budget gap.

"If I have anything to say about it - which I believe I do - Maui County will continue to retain its share of TAT revenue for years to come," Tsutsui said to applause.

Abercrombie also has promised not to raid county TAT revenue.

(This s a huge gift to the HGEA and UPW who would face furloughs and layoffs if the counties lost their TAT)

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Honolulu Mayor Pushes More User Fees To Balance Budget

During the swearing in ceremony, council Chairman Nestor Garcia urged the newest council members to consider revisiting the pay as you go system for city services.

“I will ask my colleagues to take a closer look at a fairer system to generate revenue by having those who benefit from a public service to pay for the service," said Garcia.

Garcia said the Carlisle administration is pushing the plan, although the only proposal currently on his desk would increase fees for camping permits.

“We’re going to be looking at user fees in a whole bunch of different and conceivable ways,” Carlisle said after the ceremony.

SA: Raising user fees on Council agenda

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Case family operative called back from gig as VP Biden’s Chief of Staff

Ron Klain, chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, will leave the White House to become president of Case Holdings, the holding company of AOL co-founder Steve Case.

Klain joined the White House staff in January 2009. Prior to that, he worked with Case to launch the investment firm Revolution LLC in 2005….

Case Holdings is the holding company for Case’s many businesses; it has “significant investments” in Hawaii firms such as Maui Land & Pineapple and Grove Farm

RELATED: Furloughs: Advertiser sides with “sustainability” billionaires against “Save our Sports”, Green hypocrites: Case & Omidyar’s Maui Land & Pine tied to human trafficking case, Neil Abercrombie's slavery problem

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After Republican elected to Council, Democrats conspire “to prevent such an election in the future”

After a tiny fraction of District 1 voters turned out to elect incoming City Council member Tom Berg, city leaders are speaking out about how to prevent such an election in the future.

Just 4.3 percent of registered voters selected Berg in the Dec. 29 election from a field of 14 candidates, according to a Civil Beat analysis. Mayor Peter Carlisle and some City Council members say, as a result, they're open to the possibility of changing the law to require instant runoffs in special elections.

(Instant Runoff has been a Progressive scheme for years.  it’s purpose it to enhance the chances of electing a Progressive idiot to office by allowing voters to cast an irresponsible “second choice” vote which would be used to determine the winner of an instant run off.)


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Maui Council organizes Committees

Council members also established eight committees, in order to meet and discuss specific topic areas in greater detail. The committees and the council members chosen to lead them are:

  • * Budget and Finance, Pontanilla.
  • * Economic Development, Agriculture and Recreation, Mike White.
  • * General Plan, Gladys Baisa.
  • * Infrastructure Management, Elle Cochran.
  • * Land Use, Robert Carroll.
  • * Planning, Don Couch.
  • * Policy, Riki Hokama.
  • * Water Resources, Mike Victorino.

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Maui Dialysis Monopoly challenged

KAHULUI - Dialysis patients and their advocates as well as doctors and lawyers for competing health care companies delivered arguments Monday before a state panel tasked with deciding whether Maui will get a second dialysis provider.

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Hawaii Tops Nation In Bankruptcy Increase: Bankruptcy filings hit 5-year high

The federal Bankruptcy Court reported yesterday that 3,954 Hawaii residents and businesses filed for bankruptcy last year, the highest level in five years and a 27.5 percent increase over 2009.

The state's 6.4 percent unemployment rate is lower than the national average, but it has improved only marginally since hitting 7 percent at the depths of the recession in 2009.

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization is forecasting the statewide unemployment rate to fall from an average of 6.5 percent in 2010 to 5.9 percent in 2011, still well above the range of 2 percent to 3 percent in the years preceding the recession.

SA: Kauai's Cold Stone Creamery operators file for bankruptcy liquidation

KITV: Hawaii Tops Nation In Bankruptcy Increase

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Lenny Klompus goes to work for House Minority Caucus

Lenny Klompus, the former senior adviser to Gov. Linda Lingle, is back in the game at the state Capitol.

Klompus will help shape message and policy for state House Minority Leader Gene Ward, (R-Kalama Valley, Queen’s Gate, Hawaii Kai), and the GOP caucus.

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Calvin Say faction negotiates for one last vote

The dissidents have suggested state Rep. Roy Takumi, (D-Pearl City, Momilani, Palisades), as a compromise speaker, which the Say group has rejected.

One dissident, meanwhile, has received a note from the Say group discussing committee chairmanships and leadership posts to end the stalemate.

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Hawaii Budget Hearings: Council on Revenues

Asked by Sen. Will Espero what the council suggests lawmakers can do to boost or help our economy, Bonham said:

"Really, for state government, it's not their role to boost or try to make the economy better ... They should provide the public with services they need: infrastructure, safety, health and well being of those who can't help themselves. And should try to avoid things on the side — Act 221, for example — picking a sector to bolster with the idea that it will change the nature of economy. The economy will get itself figured out ... One piece, which you may not look at this year, is to look at long-term liabilities at the state level. We need to start looking at addressing those."

The Blaze: ‘Truther’ TV Crew Left Bloodied in Video Confrontation With Cops Guarding Obama

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CB: What Brain Drain?

Hawaii may not hold onto every bright student, but it's attracting enough educated people to make up the difference.

Despite concerns over the quality of Hawaii's public schools and the prevalent theory (fact) that the best and the brightest are fleeing the islands for a better life on the mainland (out of the reach of socialism), the state is more than holding its own in terms of educational attainment, according to Civil Beat's analysis of new Census data.

CB: Local Pride? Most Hawaii Towns Saw Decline in Hawaii-Born Residents

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Former bank supervisor sentenced to four months in $183,000 embezzlement

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Shipley said DeMotta's case took so long to prosecute because investigators were looking into whether other ASB officials committed crimes by having the customer and DeMotta sign a promissory note after the fact.

In 2006 the customer, whose checks to the IRS DeMotta cashed, sued ASB in state court over the theft and alleged attempt to cover it up.

On that same day ASB's former security director filed his own whistle-blower lawsuit in state court accusing the bank of trying to discourage him from reporting the theft to state and federal regulators then retaliating against him when he did.

ASB promptly settled out of court with the customer and security director.

And Shipley said investigators did not find evidence of criminal behavior by ASB in part because the customer had died.  He said the government concluded instead that ASB officials were incompetent and did things to protect the bank's reputation.

SA: Inquiry clears 'incompetent' bank officials

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Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz names senior adviser, director of Fair Share Initiative

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz has appointed Dale Chikuami Hahn as his senior adviser and Lynn Heirakuji as the director of the Fair Share Initiative. Schatz oversees the Fair Share Initiative, which aims to maximize the amount of federal funds for the state.

Hahn was an independent consultant to Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, and previously was the director of government affairs at NCL America.

Heirakuji has been deputy assistant secretary of the Army for personnel oversight and previously was the SES deputy director in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Human Capital Management.

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Molokai Ranch owners seek ruling on land use

Molokai's largest landowner is seeking to designate nearly 5,000 acres of property mostly used for cattle ranching as important agricultural land that would qualify the owner for state benefits….

Molokai Properties also said the land holds future potential for large-scale crop production, perhaps for biofuels or seed corn, if sufficient water could be provided.

Presently, the water supply to the land comes from mountain streams and can sustain cattle but not crops, though pineapple, a dry-land crop, was once grown on much of the land.

Molokai Properties said breakthroughs in technology such as desalination combined with wind power could create an economical water supply for the land to sustain crops.

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“Green” Energy hustlers rake in bucks

Alaska Dispatch: The rise of Native Hawaiian companies

For some time Alaskans have been following the ups and downs of Alaska Native corporations, particularly the controversy over whether Native corporations should continue to receive the special government contracting preferences that have helped them prosper. Now there's a new dimension to the debate about those congressionally-mandated preferences: Hawaii.

Native Hawaiian organizations are also developing economic muscle in the government contracting arena, some of them with help from Alaska Native corporations, according to a recent investigation by the Hawaii Reporter. And the Hawaiian companies are sinking money into the coffers of political protectors of their right, as a designated special class of minority-owned entities, to preferential treatment under the U.S. Small Business Administration's 8(a) program.

Some executives of NHOs enrolled in the 8(a) program fear that recent congressional scrutiny targeting waste, fraud and abuse within the ANC 8(a) world could hurt the NHOs, which have only in recent years become players in the world of "super 8(a)s" -- companies that have access to no-bid or limited competition federal contracts. Earlier this month, ProPublica offered a good overview of how Alaska Native Corporations work and the small business benefits to which they have access.

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