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Tuesday, February 8, 2011
February 8, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:36 PM :: 6922 Views

Could Djou Challenge Akaka?

SB803 Assisted Suicide Killed in Committee

Feb 7, 2011: How Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation Voted

Emergency Landing gives Koko Head Elementary students chance to learn about helicopters

Feb 18 deadline to Neighborhood Board Candidates to file for election

Pensioner:  Governor Abercrombie, please don’t throw us out of the canoe

Under House bill 1092 and Senate bill 1319 as  proposed by the Governor,  the taxes as have a 3 year phase in period but after that if you reach the threshold it taxes all of the money (including all income sources) up to that amount and above.  A lot of people seem to think that the first $37,500 and $75,000 are exempt, not so, read the bills….

If the Governor truly wanted to end “preferential” tax treatment he should start with himself and other legislators.  The Gov., Mayors, Legislators, receive 3.5% credit per year factored into their retirement calculations for part-time work and eligible to retire after 10 years.  Judges also receive 3.5% retirement credit each year served and are all are vested after only 10 years (a judges term is 10 years).

Police/firefighters get 2.5% and are vested after 25 years.  Teachers, clerks, laborers, and other government professionals get 2% credit per year and are vested after 25 years.  All have to reach age 55 to collect.  With such a huge disparity and with the Employee Retirement System going unfunded, the Governor should set the example and change himself, legislators and judges to 2% to show solidarity with the teachers.

Governor Abercrombie, please don’t throw us out of the canoe and into the water just because our best paddling days are behind us.  We still contribute to the community.

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Gambling on table as HGEA Begins to detail Negotiating Position

Today for the Hawaii Government Employees Association, much of the mission is about preservation.

Randy Perreira, HGEA executive director, sees the ongoing state worker furloughs and rising medical costs as the two big issues. So first he needs to get back the pay his members lost because of the days off and second he must do something to get off the medical-cost escalator.

"It is not sustainable for either the employers or the employees. We are looking to negotiate a different range of benefits, provide more options for the employees and create more competition in the marketplace so we can hold the line on costs," Perreira said in an interview last week.

What Perreira wants is to take medical benefits out of the government committee and put them into negotiations so that the unions can bargain medical costs.

Abercrombie … named Neil Dietz, the longtime port agent for the Seafarers International Union as Office of Collective Bargaining chief negotiator. He also unilaterally promised state workers $18 million extra in state funds for their medical benefits, although he won't say if he will continue the increased payments into the next fiscal year. The extra money would have to come from an emergency request Abercrombie sent to the Legislature.

Perreira appears ready to work with Abercrombie, even after his union endorsed former Mayor Mufi Hannemann for governor….

Perreira calls it "offensive that legislators can cavalierly address the pension of people who work or government as being too rich, when in fact they enjoy the same if not better."…

Perreira is not saying "no" to some form of legalized gambling to raise state funds. In the past the union membership was against gambling, he said, but an internal survey done last year showed support for gambling to help fund the state budget; Perreira now says it is time for more discussion.

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More Secrecy? Rumors swirl over Morita’s replacement

Kaua‘i County Council Chair Jay Furfaro said the candidate has to reside in District 14 — Kapa‘a, Kealia, Anahola, Hanalei and Waipouli — on the day of the appointment.

Furfaro, along with Councilman Derek Kawakami, former state Sen. Gary Hooser and attorney Harold Bronstein are all rumored to be serious contenders.

Furfaro and Bronstein live on the North Shore. Kawakami lives in Kapahi. County records show Hooser’s residence is in Wailua Homesteads, outside the District 14 jurisdiction.

Kawakami spoke openly about his aspirations. He said he would be “absolutely” interested in the position, and has been contacted by supporters, family and some members of the Democratic Party….

“They haven’t even had precinct meetings yet,” Furfaro said. “The confirmation of Mina is absolutely the first step.”…

In case Furfaro would leave the council to replace Morita, Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura would not automatically become the new chair. Furfaro said the body would reconvene and choose a new chair together.

If any member of the council leaves before their term is up, the council would have 30 days to choose a replacement, which would not necessarily be the eighth candidate with the most votes in the last election, Furfaro said. KipuKai Kuali‘i finished eighth last November.

Furfaro said the council would have to reach a simple majority to agree on a replacement. If a decision couldn’t be reached in 30 days, the mayor would appoint a new council member.

RELATED: Transparency? Abercrombie administration brings secrecy back to Capitol

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Tax Department Report Calls Act 221 Job Creation “Disappointing”

The latest report on Hawaii’s controversial Act 221 high-technology tax credits concludes the laws was successful in helping prompt investment here, but that it came at a cost of more than a one-half billion dollar loss in tax revenues.

The report issued in December is an analysis of previously reported data from 2009 and says there was a discouraging decline in jobs even though the cost of the credits remained more than $100 million annually.

It reported the number of employees (full-time, part-time and temporary) and contractors fell to 3,007 in the year from 4,701 in 2008.

“Based on the combined numbers of contractor and direct jobs, the Act 221 impacts on employment remain disappointing,” said the report, noting $121.2 million of tax credits were claimed by investors in Act 221 companies during the year.

The report comes as the Legislature gears up to reconsider measures relating to high-technology tax credits, some of which would revitalize the program that’s been cutback during recent legislative sessions….

The legislature is contemplating several high-technology tax credit measures, including HB355, which seeks to restore some of the credits.

FULL TEXT: http://www.state.hi.us/tax/pubs/2010hitec_rpt_20101124_final.pdf

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Young Claims Hawaii’s Debt high due to DoE

Young noted that Hawaii's bond debt traditionally has been higher than in other states because capital improvement projects in the schools here are financed through the issuance of state bonds. In most other school districts, projects are paid for by local governments.

"These are projects that bulk up our overall amount of debt. This isn't consistent with other jurisdictions," Young said.

Although Moody's and bond investors are generally aware of this fact, state officials will make it "explicitly clear" in the future when they conduct presentations on state bond offerings, he said.

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Transsexual DoE Anti-Bullying Bill Gets Overwhelming Support

Jo Chang is the co-founder of a support group for parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender children.

"It is really sad that some of our most vulnerable children are subjected to an environment that could leave them with lifelong emotional scars,” said Jo Chang, co-founder of Da Moms, a support group for parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender children.  (The message to bullying victims:  “If that bully called you a homo, it is OK to be a homo.  Embrace your homosexuality.”) 

Others who testified urged lawmakers to avoid focusing solely on the proposed misdemeanor penalty.

"A lot of the kids we work with and a lot of the kids who are bullies are damaged themselves and engage in behaviors that in effect they've learned from their own environment,” said Sidney Rosen.

"What we don't want is to kick them out completely because we don't want uneducated bullies in our society. We want to work with them and educate them,” said Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto.

City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro disagreed, saying consequences are necessary.

"Penalties reflect the seriousness of a problem. If a problem is serious, the penalties are much higher,” Kaneshiro said.

But the prosecutor does support education and therapy for both bullies and their victims.

You Have Been Warned: The transsexual agenda for Hawai`i schools

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180 Days? House Ed Cttee approves bill to legalize DoE illegality, incompetence

Department of Education officials have said that the requirement for 180 days of classroom instruction would be physically impossible for the multi-track schools.

The extended school year was passed by the Legislature last year during the controversy over school furloughs, which gave Hawaii students the fewest days of classroom instruction in the country.

In a compromise Monday, Education Committee chairman Roy Takumi proposed that multi-track schools be allowed to have fewer instructional days but would still have to provide the same number of instructional hours as all other schools. The Department of Education and principals of the multi-track schools said they could add instructional hours by lengthening the school day by as little as half an hour per day.

The additional hours, lengthened school day and additional days will all be subject to collective bargaining negotiations. Officials of the state teachers' union were not present at Monday's hearing.

Lawmakers and education officials said the effort to lengthen the school year could still fall short if the cost, which will be determined by the terms of the new contract, is too high.

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DOE recommends closing Liliuokalani Elementary

This morning, parent Lyle Bullock raised issue with how the department had gone about studying whether the school should close. He said the decision appeared to have been made long before a public hearing in December.

“This is the department thinking they can do what they want to do,” he said.

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Star-Advertiser columnist endorses Censorship of Limbaugh as Council passes resolution

BJ Reyes: Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.  The City Council doesn’t use the exact wording of Sen. Al Franken’s 1996 book, but it is trying to make a similar point.

The Council’s Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee today is taking up Resolution 11-34, titled: Relating to Broadcast Personality Rush Limbaugh. (Update, 2:10 p.m.: The Committee passed the resolution unanimously. It now goes to full Council.)

Introduced by Council members Stanley Chang and Romy Cachola, the resolution urges Limbaugh to issue an apology over his mocking of Chinese President Hu Jintao during the latter’s recent visit to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Barack Obama.

REALITY: Don’t Mock Hu Jintao: Honolulu Councilmembers demand Rush Limbaugh be censored

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Tom Berg votes for Censorship resolution after criticizing it

City Council members Stanley Chang and Romy Cachola, who introduced the resolution, also spoke in support of its passage.

Ultimately, Berg said he'd trade his plan to vote against the resolution for unity with the City Council.

"I was going to vote no," Berg said. "But I believe it is of necessity to be in unison and of one voice. I will put aside my differences... We're all in this together and we all do bleed the same color."

REALITY: Don’t Mock Hu Jintao: Honolulu Councilmembers demand Rush Limbaugh be censored

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Rep Pine: Legislators should be able to exercise religious freedom, too

As with other important values of freedom and equality, our country was founded upon the idea of tolerance. One of the most significant facets of our American values is acceptance of people from all backgrounds -- and both recognizing and celebrating our differences. As Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in his first State of the State address, "Our diversity of beliefs and background does not divide us, it defines us."

Sadly, some legislators are overlooking that for fear of a lawsuit. The Hawaii Senate is the only state legislative body in the entire country to have eliminated invocations -- and it may happen next in the House of Representatives. Before we end invocations, though, it's important that we understand the implications.

The likelihood of a successful lawsuit is actually quite low. Indiana once banned the practice but a higher court later determined it to be constitutional….

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Prayer: Politicians, like alcoholics, need humility

It’s sad because it is humility that builds a healthy community, especially if the humility starts from its leaders. Humility acknowledges that we may not have all the ideas or answers we need. That more eyes mean clearer vision. That we don’t have the strength to endure the stress of the issues before us. In essence, we need help, and that aid, assistance, insight and entrepreneurial vision can come from above, particularly from our all-knowing God.

It’s sad because the Hawaii Senate’s decision is saying, “We don’t need divine help.”

The Senate doesn’t seem to understand what people have learned and understood in recovery groups, like Alcoholic Anonymous (AA). Here are the first three steps in the original 12-step AA program:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Sure we can say, “But our Senators don’t deal with alcoholism.” Might be true, but they might be tempted or addicted to power, greed, selfishness, deceit. We all are. We need all the help we can get, and the best help comes from above.

There’s another reason why it is sad that our senators made the decision to remove opening prayer: Lack of historical understanding of our state. It’s sad because faith and prayer are such a rich part of our history in Hawaii. Queen Liliuokalani, Queen Kapiolani, Queen Kaahumanu, Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV, to mention a few monarchs, all had a deep Christian faith, and all of them expressed it as part of their rule as leaders of our land…

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Religious Left being squeezed out by Atheist-dominated Hawaii Democrats

The Christian Right insists that their political views are the only truly Christian views (and that Christianity is the only true religion), while progressives wrongly claim that religion is in all times and places a regressive force. Wittingly or not, secularist liberals and religious conservatives conspire to erase the reality of progressive, modernist religion. This is terrible for religion, because it publicly ignores whole denominations like the United Church of Christ, Reform Judaism, and the Unitarian Universalist Association (to name only a few). And it’s terrible for political progressives, who can be made to appear inexplicably opposed to religion, God, and all that’s decent and holy.

Worst of all, this caricature of religion has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the public face of religion has gotten more regressive, liberal religious denominations in fact have seen their membership decline. So the claim of conservative evangelicals to be the only real Christians in America begins to seem accurate. Conversely, the wholesale rejection of religion by liberals looks more and more warranted.

So sad for them:  Slumping in the polls, Abercrombie now says Nazis are after him

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Hawaii Legislature scuttles assisted suicide

Kevin Inouye spoke from his wheelchair about how he thought about killing himself for five years following a car wreck, and he said he would have lied to doctors to make it happen if the law had allowed him to.

"All I thought about was killing myself. I had no hope," said Inouye, who wore a yellow sticker saying, "No doctor prescribed death." "As soon as my situation got a little bit better and I learned to live with my disabilities, I wanted to live again."

Others, such as Marcia Linville, who went through two hip replacements and couldn't walk for eight months, said she deserves the right to end her own life if the time comes.

"As much as I want to live, when the time comes, if I want to die, that is also my choice — nobody else's," she said.

Health Committee Chairman Josh Green, a Big Island emergency room doctor, said he was swayed by the vast majority of testifiers who opposed the bill.

"For an issue of this magnitude, I believe we need to have much more agreement as a community," said Green, D-Milolii-Waimea. "So for now, we need to find other ways to support those dealing with end-of-life decisions with the greatest possible compassion and respect."

Many opponents of assisted suicide said people who are sick, injured or depressed aren't able to make competent life-or-death decisions for themselves.

"We do not need a law that is presented to people when they are vulnerable, sick and unable to think clearly," said Kim Howard, who has been a quadriplegic for 20 years but still paints art by holding a brush in her mouth.

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Dante Carpenter: Death with dignity deemed priority issue for Hawaii Democrats

The Hawai`i Death With Dignity Society is pleased to announce that the 50,000-member Democratic Party of Hawai`i (DPH) has made the Death With Dignity legislation now before the State Legislature a “priority" issue. Scott Foster, Communications Director for the Hawai`i Death With Dignity Society said, “DPH Chair Dante Carpenter has informed us that because the Party's resolution supporting Death With Dignity had received such overwhelming support, including a standing ovation when it passed the May, 2010, State Convention, Senate Bill 803 is deemed 'a priority issue.'"

ILind: The right to have some control over when and how we die 

Shapiro: Time to pass “death with dignity”

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Star-Advertiser Editors Endorse Tent City Nightmare for Kakaako

Others prefer their tents to the walled shelters because they resist all the rules imposed, said Utu Langi, executive director of Hawaii Helping the Hungry Have Hope, the nonprofit that runs Next Step. At the shelter residents must do various chores, for example.

And therein lies another key component: Many of the homeless must rise above vagrancy and muster the same will to help themselves as those trying to help them.

While any program would need at least some regulation and oversight to maintain security, the city and state should explore another option that some individuals and families might find a better fit: "safe zones." Various cities have instituted these legal campsites that provide some sanitation and security but more accommodating to people who want a little more privacy.

Langi said his shelter -- in a waterfront warehouse -- can accommodate about twice the 200 currently residing there, but staffing would need to increase, and that costs money. Still, an expansion on-site through greater support should be considered.

HNN: Homeless create tent city in Kakaako 

Here is what is coming.  You have been warned: Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

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'Dead' English man who stole brother's identity found homeless in Hawaii

Mr Woodhouse said it must have been after his release from prison that Roy began using his identity, to get a passport to go abroad again.

He had presumed Roy had been dead for decades until he received a call from the immigration detention centre in Honolulu last week.

Roy was detained last year and decided to tell officials he had been using his brother's name.

US Immigration officer Joy Tokunago spent months trying to trace Roy's family to confirm proof about his real name as he could not be released and returned to Britain until new identity papers were issued.

She finally traced the family through another brother in England. Mr Woodhouse then emailed the Hawaii detention centre to help confirm Roy's identity….

Mr Woodhouse said he did not know what Roy had been doing during all those years away but said he had never married or had a family.

"He told me he had been in Honolulu since 1995, doing a bit of everything and living rough," he said. (Meaning “homeless”)

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House Bill would create domestic violence court

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The bruises on Maria Styke-Marquez's arms and torso testify to the savage beatings she said she suffered at the hands of her boyfriend.

She said telling him she was pregnant and refused to get an abortion triggered his rage.

"His right fist just comes smacking down. That's what knocked me out. He was kneeing my stomach -- jumping up on top of my stomach," she said.

He was arrested, charged and convicted of abusing a household member.

But when he got out of jail a Family Court judge granted him sole custody of their two-year-old daughter…

House Bill 772 calls for the creation of a separate Domestic Violence court within Family Court. Judges would be specially trained to handle custody cases involving domestic violence. It's one of several domestic violence bills Styke-Marquez wishes were in place when her case happened.

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HB1178: Legislators seek to Slash and Burn Car Audio

Imagine that you couldn’t sell a speaker larger than 6.5 inches or that could produce more than 100 watts of power, or you couldn’t sell any system with more than 4 speakers. Dealers in Hawaii are facing legislation that would ban all of the above.

The bill goes before a State legislature committee tomorrow, Wednesday, February 9. Without opposition from local retailers, one local lawyer said it could easily pass and severely curtail the auto sound business in Hawaii.

Text and Status: HB1178

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Toy gun sales would be banned under proposed Hawaii legislation

The bills would make it a crime to sell or offer to sell a toy gun to a minor in Hawaii: "Penalty, any person who violates this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000, imprisonment of not more than ninety days, or both," the legislation says.

HB432  and SB749 were submitted to the House and Senate by Rep. Scott Saiki and Sen. Carol Fukunaga, respectively.

A hearing is set next Tuesday in the Senate Consumer Protection Committee at 9 a.m. in room 229.

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Water rate increase sought

Hashiro wants to raise the Board of Water Supply's current $40 million capital improvement budget to $200 million to $300 million per year over the next 12 to 15 years, which would require undetermined rate increases, Hashiro said.

The Board of Water Supply experiences an average of one water main break per day, Hashiro said.

With 2,000 miles of pressurized water line, Honolulu's rate of repairs works out to 18 breaks per 100 miles of pipeline, Hashiro said.

The national average is 25 to 30 breaks per 100 miles of pipes, he said.

The relatively low rate of water main breaks in Honolulu is due primarily to an ambitious pipe replacement program in 2001 that laid 16 miles of new pipes, Hashiro said.

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Hawaii Health Department removes more items from First Commercial Kitchen recall list

The Hawaii Department of Health has released the latest revised list of recalled products manufactured by First Commercial Kitchen LLC in Honolulu. It replaces the list issued on Feb. 3, with future updates being posted by 4 p.m. daily on the department’s website.

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When Should Names of Police Officers Be Public?

police officers can be released under Hawaii's open records laws.

Current law requires the release of the names, job titles and salaries of all public employees, except "present or former employees involved in an undercover capacity in a law enforcement agency."

The problem is that the law contains no definition of undercover officer, and when Civil Beat last year requested the information, the Honolulu Police Department refused to provide it for any of the department's officers. (All state agencies and the rest of Honolulu government complied.)

Now we have two identical bills — HB1200 and SB 1376 — that attempt to clarify the issue.

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