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Saturday, February 12, 2011
February 12, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:48 PM :: 12810 Views

How They Voted: Civil Unions passes House 31-19

Rep Ward, Sen Slom invite public to speak out on pension tax, other issues

Censorship: Courts would strike down unconstitutional Hawaii 3rd Party liability law

Beverage tax vote scheduled Monday in Hawaii Senate Health Committee

SB1449 Hearing Saturday: Hawaii Sunset Advisory Commission to assess Government Agencies

Gov’t Employees mock Abercrombie: “Idiot.  What a jerk.  You’re full of shit.”

Abercrombie opened his testimony on both bills saying, "I'm speaking as a public employee this morning. I've devoted my life to being a public employee."

That comment immediately drew dismissive laughs from the crowd, which, judging by the logos on their polo shirts and T-shirts, included members of the state's major unions: Hawaii Government Employees Association, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the United Public Workers union and the State of Hawaii Police Officers union.

Reaction to the rest of Abercrombie's testimony was peppered with more insults as he was called an "idiot" and "a jerk."

The following public union leaders spoke in "strong opposition:" HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira; UPW Director Dayton Nakanelua; University of Hawaii Professional Assembly Executive Director J.N. Musto; SHOPO President Tenari Maafala; the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association; and the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

Abercrombie asked public employees to pull together, noting the $9 billion unfunded liability facing the Employees' Retirement System, and the fact that the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund is on the brink of bankruptcy.

When he finished, two audience members were heard saying, "You're full of shit," and "What a jerk." 

After Abercrombie's testimony, he left the room. HGEA's Perreira was called to testify next and was greeted with hearty claps and cheers.

  • Senate Bill 1268 would eliminate state-funded Medicare Part B reimbursements for retirees.
  • Senate Bill 1269 would change the definition of "compensation" for calculating the state's contributions toward pensions to no longer include such things as overtime or lump sum payments.

(The purpose of this meeting is to force the HGEA/UPW/HSTA/UHPA etal to get behind a GE Tax hike and/or gambling.)

SA: Medicare reimbursements unjustified, governor says

KITV:  "Looking for villains, or looking for solutions."

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Abercrombie: “I am the governor. I’m not your pal.” (ringtone available)

Political Radar: When asked by reporters whether he expected the negative reaction, Abercrombie had some choice words: “I am the governor. I’m not your pal. I’m not your counselor. I am the governor. And I am determined to be truthful with everybody about what we have to do together to survive.”

If you’d like that as an mp3 ringtone we offer it here: Abercrombie.  To download it, direct your phone’s web browser to http://bit.ly/notyourpal and use the “save link” feature of your phone.

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Hawaii House passes same-sex civil unions bill

Opponents pledged to continue meeting with lawmakers to urge their defeat of the proposal.

"We keep hoping and working on our governor. We never give up hope," said Belinda Jacobs, 47, of Manoa, founder of Christian Counseling and Research Center of America, a conservative organization that publishes research on social issues….

Rep. John Mizuno (D, Kalihi) wiped away tears as he explained that his no vote was not out of hatred or bigotry, but because of his commitment to God.

"We have no hate or disdain for our people — for the people of Hawaii," he said.

Other opponents argued that civil unions would simply be a gateway to same-sex marriage.

"Whether you like it or not, the institution of marriage as we have known is being challenged, and it will never be the same after this," said Rep. Joe Souki (D, Waihee-Wailuku). "We cannot pretend that it's not marriage. It is."

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City Moves for Dismissal of anti-Rail lawsuit

The rail project still faces significant opposition, particularly in a lawsuit from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. over archaeological surveys along the rail route.

The lawsuit claims the city did not complete an inventory survey of archaeological sites before starting the project. At issue is the Kakaako area, long believed to have many native Hawaiian burial sites. The city's plan is to conduct archaeological surveys before each of the project's four phases, not before the groundbreaking.

Interim city Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka has said archaeological surveys will be conducted before any construction, and the fourth and final phase of the route, where Kakaako is located, will be surveyed before the third phase. An archaeological survey of the first phase has already been conducted.

The city filed a motion earlier this week to dismiss the lawsuit. The city said the lawsuit has "not alleged any facts that would establish a realistic threat of irreparable injury to any Native Hawaiian burials."

The lawsuit, which seeks to stop construction, "has no basis in statute, regulation or case law, is based on pure speculation as to any harm, much less irreparable harm, and would require this court, both legally and from a technical engineering sense, to place the cart before the horse," according to the city's motion.

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Big Isle bag ban moves forward even as food service owners protest bag ban on Kauai

The Hawaii County Council is expected to approve Bill 17 on Wednesday, following a 5-3 vote on first reading last week.
Modeled after the Kauai and Maui programs, Bill 17 forbids businesses from providing plastic checkout bags to customers, with fines ranging from $100 to $500.

Kauai council members on Wednesday, however, loosened that county's bag ban after protests from food service owners, who said the plastic ban was unworkable. The Kauai law had gone into effect less than a month ago.

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PVT Land Co. sues union attorney for defamation

In public hearings in front of two state legislative committees on Feb. 1 and Feb. 3, PVT says Ronald Y. Amemiya, who represents the Ironworkers Union Local 625 Stabilization Fund, submitted written and oral testimony of a "severe breach" at the PVT landfill which "also caused these hazardous waste materials to flow into the neighborhood."

In a lawsuit filed in state court yesterday, PVT says it has asked Amemiya to retract the above statements but he has yet to do so. (Ironworkers desperately trying to save Waimanalo Gulch Landfill by blaming PVT.)

TOTALLY RELATED: Honolulu Council Special Election: Mel Kahele, Waimanalo Gulch, and other baggage

And MORE: Nanakuli Park: Hannemann pounds Hanabusa in proxy fight between Waimanalo Gulch and PVT landfill

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UHERO: Economic growth not enough to pay for Abercrombie decision to end Furloughs

One sign that overall economic activity is picking up is that state tax collections rose 8.6 percent in the first four months of fiscal year 2011.

Yet the state revenue picture still shows a huge gap, put at $772 million over two years as of December, because gains in tax revenue are more than offset by two things: the winding down of federal stimulus money, and the $158.8 million cost of ending furloughs of state workers.

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Legislators want to give away $46.3M to Clinton’s billionaire cronies, ACT 221 scammers

Clinton who has financial ties to both companies, sent a letter this week to lawmakers asking them to support HB 1551 and SB 1550. "The Shangri-La/Relativity commitment to build the most environmentally friendly stages in existence, coupled with the economic benefits of this bill and Hawaii's timeless appeal, will make Hawaii the most attractive place in the world to shoot a film," Clinton writes.

The legislation would cost the state an estimated $46.3 million in lost revenues, according to the state tax department, by boosting the film production tax credit on Oahu by 35 percent (from 15 percent) and 40 percent (from 20 percent) on the neighbor islands….

Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, isn’t shocked or awed by the film giants’ proposals or celebrity endorsers.

He says many national studies show that film tax credits don’t pay for themselves, rather a handful of people “walk off with the bacon.”

He says these tax credits would benefit a small number, while taking money from important educational and social service programs. “The cost is really born by residents,” he says. “Meanwhile the rich get richer.”

Kalapa says while the film industry claims to provide jobs, they are just temporary jobs that don’t have a longer term gain for Hawaii’s job market or its economy. “This is not a beneficial mechanism to attract economic development,” he says. “Instead of getting ga-ga and awed because stars are involved, we need to step back and see what this proposal means for Hawaii’s resources.”

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Honolulu water rates to go up 25%

$40 million capital improvement program budget. Investing $200 million to $300 million each year in replacing pipelines, pumps and other components would make the Oahu system far less vulnerable to emergency patches and urban disruptions when untended, aging water mains burst.

The question is: How fast can we get to that point? Hashiro said pushing it through over the mere six-year course of a CIP plan would mean annual rate increases of 25 percent or more, and he acknowledges that this would be ghastly. He hopes it might be phased in over 15 years, and is having a rate-plan consultant crunch the numbers to see how much that might cost. Ultimately it may be best to program in the rate hikes once the economic recovery takes stronger hold, rather than in the initial years of a six-year cycle.

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State politics potpourri smells like mean spirit

And the quotation of the week ... from Senate Ways and Means Chairman David Ige on a bill to raid special funds to balance the budget: "There are lots of areas that are obviously not good ideas. There are many provisions that are unconstitutional; there are many provisions that may violate federal law." In other words, a typical bill in the Hawaii Legislature

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Special Fund Raid would steal UH Student Activity Fees

University of Hawaii students who pay hundreds of dollars a semester in student fees say that money should not be used to help balance the state budget.

A bill introduced by Sen. Malama Solomon (D, Hilo-Honokaa) would take the money in 138 state special funds, including money from University of Hawaii student fees, and add them to the state's general fund.

"They shouldn't take the student fee money because that's something we worked hard for and our parents worked hard for," said UH-Manoa sophomore Thadd Chang, 19.

Chang, like the more than 20,000 other full-time undergraduate UH-Manoa students, pays $216 a semester in student activity fees.

Sen. David Ige (D, Aiea-Pearl City), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means committee, said students who think the state is stealing their money are not different from other fee-paying constituencies.

"It's the same perception that says the state is stealing from insurance agents or the state is stealing from real estate agents by taking their fees," said Ige. "There are literally hundreds of thousands of funds which assess specific fees for specific purposes."

The Senate Ways and Means Committee has postponed a decision on the bill, and has until March 2 to act if it is to stay alive this session.

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Sovereignty Activists sue: Being denied chance to brainwash and recruit prisoners

Inmates Richard Kapela Davis, Michael Hughes, Damien Kaahu, Robert A. Holbron, James Kane III and Ellington Keawe say the staffs at Saguaro and Red Rock correctional centers, both in Eloy, Ariz., have consistently denied written requests to practice their religion, to establish a sacred place in the prison yard and to have access to a spiritual adviser and sacred items….

One of the practices the inmates say they have been denied is a daily gathering outdoors with other native Hawaiian inmates at sunrise for chanting, dancing and prayer….

The Arizona inmates say in their lawsuit that the closing ceremony for this past makahiki season was conducted six weeks early. They also allege that prison staff authorizes only certain inmates to supervise, lead, control and teach educational classes concerning Hawaiian culture, language and history.

In Hawaii, inmates at Halawa Correctional Center are allowed to celebrate makahiki and to construct an outdoor altar for the ceremonies, said Michael Hoffman, Institutions Division director of the state Department of Public Safety. Sprenger said no inmates in Hawaii prisons have complained about not being able to observe religious practices.

(Now you know why so many sovereignty activists are convicted felons.)

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Kauai: Solar gets the hype, Hydro does the work

(After 8 paragraphs hyping a solar farm which will allegedly power 300 homes if the sun shines enough, at the very end of the article we get to real projects which will power 37,000 homes.)

KIUC also has plans to increase the amount of hydroelectric power produced on the island. KIUC has partnered with Massachusetts-based Free Flow Power Corp. to explore the development of four hydroelectric projects on rivers and streams across Kauai that could generate enough electricity to power roughly 13,000 homes.

KIUC's plans would add another 24 megawatts of hydroelectric generation from facilities planned for the Hanalei, Wailua and Makaweli rivers as well as at Kokee Ditch.

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Borders bankruptcy imminent, report says

Borders Group Inc. might file for bankruptcy reorganization as early as Monday or Tuesday, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The No. 2 traditional bookstore in the United States also plans to close about 200 of its 674 stores and cut thousands of jobs, the newspaper reported yesterday, citing sources it did not name.

The company's website lists seven Borders and three Borders Express stores in Hawaii. A Waikele store supervisor said yesterday she did not know whether any Hawaii stores would be closed.

AP: Round Table Pizza files for bankruptcy

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Hawaii residents have second-highest credit card debt

Hawaii residents had the second-highest average credit card debt in the nation in January, according to consumer credit advocate CreditKarma.com.  Hawaii residents’ average credit card debt was $8,439 last month

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Things that make you go hmmmm.....WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PROMISE OF TRANSPARENCY?

From www.GOPHawaii.com No man is above the law.  But Gov. Abercrombie decided he does not have to abide by a ruling from the State Office of Information Practices.  That office has ruled that State law requires the disclosure to the public of the names of candidates who apply for judicial positions. What is there to hide? Where other candidates more qualified? Residents can only guess.  This flies in the face of his rhetoric to be open and transparent. History shows that Gov. Cayetano released names after his pick was made, and Gov. Linda Lingle as well as Chief Justice Moon immediately, upon receipt of nominees from the Judicial Selection Commission, released names and initiated a public comment period. This practice ensured the public is fully aware of who is being selected to sit in judgment of their fellow citizens.  Also, this is particularly important because Hawai'i is one of the few states where the public does not elect judges.  If Gov. Abercrombie can decide to not obey this law, then doesn’t this make you wonder what other laws has he decided unilaterally to not obey? The new governor has been in office for only 60 days, but instead of using the unique communication tools he has at his disposal, he has taken State government back to the dark ages where deals are made in secret by political power brokers and decisions are made without the good of all the people in mind.  Makes you want to go hmmmm…. * Governor will keep high court nominees secret


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