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Sunday, February 13, 2011
February 13, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:00 PM :: 12116 Views

Honolulu Neighborhood Board Elections to be Cancelled?

New Study on Bag Taxes: Economically Destructive, Job-killing

Hawaii Renewable Energy Mandates driving Utility Bills sky high?

Fighting Meth With Miles around Oahu

VIDEO: Nerf Gun Means Jail for Seven Year Old

Tricky Aila to Fickle Hawaiians: “I'm not William Aila now, I'm the chair.”

On Friday, Water, Land and Housing Chair Donovan Dela Cruz told Civil Beat that overwhelmingly positive1 testimony [pdf] showed the committee that Aila is "dedicated to the community, he wants to make a difference, he's passionate about the department."

But some offered their support with "deep" or "grave" reservations.

Those who shared their concerns Saturday — including the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs — said they were unhappy with Aila's stance on Senate Bill 23, which would establish an indigenous aha kiole advisory commission placed within DLNR to advise the governor and the Legislature on all land and resource management matters. Aila testified [pdf] on behalf of DLNR that the bill "would conflict with the statutory responsibilities of both the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Commission on Water Resource Management."

"You see how fickle the Native Hawaiian community can be," he said, referring to those who were displeased with his stance on SB23. He said because the movement is always evolving, growing and changing, there will be differences of opinion.

"I'm held to a higher standard because I'm Native Hawaiian," he said. "I can agree with these folks on a personal level ... but I'm not William Aila now, I'm the chair. ... That office has a different set of responsibilities."

Asked if juggling personal and professional responsibilities was difficult, Aila said: "At its simplest level, it's tricky. At its deepest level, it causes me a great deal of internal conflict."

Where have we heard this before?  Abercrombie: “I am the governor. I’m not your pal.” (ringtone available)

WHT: Animal Liberation activists freak out over Aila’s Aquarium License

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Elementary kids most expelled over fake guns (and this is being used as an argument FOR a toy gun ban)

Elementary school students toting fake guns to campus made up the largest group of public school children in each of the last two school years expelled for firearms violations, a trend that's spurring educators to redouble efforts to warn younger kids about bringing replica guns to school.

The issue has also prompted lawmakers to consider a measure that would ban the sale of toy or replica guns to minors.

(Yep.  This is being used as an argument IN FAVOR OF a toy gun ban!)

REALITY: VIDEO: Nerf Gun Means Jail for Seven Year Old

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Raid on Tobacco Settlement Funds: State finalizing partnership with Tobacco Industry?

The University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine could lose up to $4 million a year, or 4 percent of its budget, if the state Legislature does not restore tobacco settlement funding set to expire in July.

The school is fearful that if it loses the steady income for operations, it will no longer be able to enroll 90 percent of local students into its programs, instead seeking to enroll more out-of-state students who pay double the state tuition of about $27,000 per year. The school would seek to raise in-state tuition to $58,000 in 2012 if the money is redirected, said Tina Shelton, school spokeswoman….

In recent years, the group said, the portion of tobacco settlement funds used for prevention and smoking-cessation programs has been whittled down from 25 percent to 12.5 percent to 6.5 percent.

The tobacco settlement pays the state between $40 million and $60 million a year. The money is the result of an agreement between 46 states and large tobacco companies to recover costs paid by taxpayers for tobacco-related ailments.

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KGI: Hawai‘i should set shield law in stone

State lawmakers should make permanent the limited news media privilege against the compelled disclosure of sources and unpublished information as legislation pending in the House would effectively do.

With the current law scheduled to sunset on June 30, we call on the Legislature to pass HB 1376 and HB 194 this session.

We stand with other Hawai‘i media professionals in urging the Judiciary Committee to promptly approve the bills so the full House can consider the matter.

As the Society of Professional Jounalists-Hawai‘i Chapter Vice President Nancy Cook Lauer said in her testimony last week to Chairman Gilbert Agran, the limited news media privilege has a proven track record.

Since its inception in 2008, the law has successfully protected a journalist and a documentary film producer in Hawai‘i.

The filmmaker was able to prevent disclosure of Native Hawaiian belief systems and burial practices told in confidence. As Lauer put it, the reporter covering the circumstances surrounding a threat to public safety was able to cover the story rather than spend costly days in a courtroom fighting subpoenas.

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HB385: Card-check legislation back on the agenda

While a card-check bill was fought mightily on both a state and national level, the bill was held off at the national level. Hawaii, however, passed a card-check bill initiative originally aimed at agricultural producers, but that impacts businesses with annual gross revenue of $5 million or more.

This legislation streamlines union organizing and takes away the right to a secret-ballot vote. The measure also includes a binding-arbitration provision that allows state-appointed arbitrators to dictate wages and benefits under a union contract, and deprives workers of the chance to vote on that contract under certain conditions.

Many saw Monsanto as the target of this measure, although no one wanted to state this readily, and legislators told business and industry groups it would affect only a very few….

Businesses still are reeling from economic devastation as they work to return to prosperity and job generation, and they are asking legislators to reduce the cost and size of government. Nevertheless, both the House and Senate have introduced bills to broaden the earlier card-check legislation. Such broadened legislation, if passed, could raise costs significantly for us all and negatively impact businesses.

House Bill 385 (HB385), Relating to Collective Bargaining, authorizes nonsupervisory legislative employees to unionize through the card-check and expedited-bargaining process. While this bill would expand the opportunity for unionization within government versus the private sector, we still resist it because we, first and foremost, believe everyone is entitled to a secret-ballot vote when unionizing, and recognize that this measure could further increase the cost of government….

Senate Bill 618 (SB618), Relating to Streamlining Union Certification, which would repeal the limited application of the card-check union-certification law for only those employees of employers with an annual gross revenue of more than $5 million.

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Reapportionment: Democrats talk up shifting House seats to Democrat Areas

Reapportionment means deciding how many House and Senate seats each island gets. Oahu has 35 House seats, the Big Island has seven, Maui has six and Kauai has three.

Tsutsui explains that, "It is all about where the growth is happening.  "You would assume that those districts that are growing will geographically be smaller and those in the urban core will get bigger.  "That could pose a problem," Tsutsui said.  (He means ‘opportunity’.)

There is already speculation that this year Oahu may lose one or two seats in the House and one Senate seat.  (And the Democrat media is happy to play it up because Oahu is the most Republican area.)

"I think we will lose on Oahu," says Slom 

REALITY: 38.9%: Hawaii has most deviant Legislative Districts in Nation (Because the Dems talked everybody into stacking the districts in favor of the more-Democratic sister-island areas last time.  And surprise, surprise, Democrat Borreca is doing it again.)

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DHHL gives lease to man waiting 44 years, Abercrombie fails math test

When Leonard Kama's name was called, it ended his decades long wait for a Hawaiian Homesteads Lot.

"I signed up in 1967, we were young kids back then," said Kama.

Leonard will now have a permanent home to call his own and pass down to his family.

"This is a place for my children, grandchildren and me," said the 68 year-old Kama.

As their promise of a land lease was fulfilled (by a project left over from the Lingle administration), Governor Neil Abercrombie made told another promise lie to Native Hawaiians.

"There will never ever again be someone on the list for 42 years, waiting for an opportunity to have that homestead land," said Abercrombie.  (Really, then why is his director pledging to abandon the mission in favor of building rental housing instead?  Why is your comrade David Frankel being allowed to sue to block DHHL from generating the revenues it needs to operate from commercial leasing?)

(BTW 2011-1967 = 44 years, Perfersser Abercrombie.)

MORE DHHL News: Waimea bypass project stalled 40 years

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Fixing the foreclosure 'mess'

After soliciting comments on elements of 10 House bills related to foreclosure at the Wednesday hearing, Herkes put forth a revised version of one measure, House Bill 1411, that consolidated elements from other bills as well as some new reform-minded ideas that would replace the state's existing nonjudicial foreclosure law.

Provisions of the new HB1411 include mandatory mediation between a borrower and lender, better foreclosure notification requirements, and an option for borrowers to convert a nonjudicial foreclosure to a judicial foreclosure overseen by a judge.

"We're trying to make the nonjudicial foreclosure law strong enough to protect consumers," Herkes said.  (Herkes’ opinion is always a good clue about KSBE’s interest.)

In the Senate, a bill introduced by about a dozen senators led by Sen. Rosalyn Baker, (D-W. Maui, S. Maui), would allow homeowners to force mortgage holders to engage in face-to-face dispute resolution overseen by a professional facilitator before a foreclosure could be completed.

This bill, Senate Bill 651, is modeled after a roughly 18-month-old program in foreclosure-plagued Nevada that has resulted in homeowners remaining in their homes in 46 percent of mediated cases

Alternative dispute resolution is important, the bill states, because it solves one of the chief problems encountered by homeowners pursuing loan modification: poor contact with out-of-state lenders and loan servicers.

Another proposal, Senate Bill 652, would implement recommendations of the task force, including conversion from nonjudicial to judicial foreclosure, a 21-day minimum notice for property auctions and a ban against lenders seeking deficiency judgments against owner-occupant homeowners.

RELATED: Nevada Foreclosure Mediation News

In its first year of operation, Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program mediators completed 4,212 mediations. Between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010:
Number of Notices of Default reported by Nevada Counties: 79,232*
Number of mediations requested: 8,738
Number of mediations completed by program: 4,212
Percentage of mediations completed not ending in foreclosure: 89%
Percentage of mediations completed resulting in homeowners remaining in home: 46%

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Death Lobby Regroups with schemes to impose suicide

Lesson: The atheists will never quit trying so we can never quit fighting them.

More workers freed from domination of Old Boy Companies and their Unions

Great News! More people on Oahu now work for Walmart than Hawaiian Electric or Bank of Hawaii.

On Kauai, Walmart is the fifth-largest private employer, topped by only the Hyatt Poipu, the contractor that runs the PMRF Naval Base, Wilcox Hospital and Princeville Resort. (All of which are tied into the State machine.)

On the Big Island, Walmart is No. 2. More Big Island people work at Walmart than at KTA stores, Four Seasons or the Mauna Lani.  (And Walmart is not tied in.) 

The PBN Book of Lists shows Walmart employing 3,470 people statewide. To compare, Hawaiian Airlines has 3,800 employees in Hawaii.  (HA is tied in.)

Also in the top 10 of private Hawaii employers is Securitas, which provides contract security services. (Securitas is not tied in.)

TOTALLY RELATED: Good News: A small elite no longer runs Hawaii -- Bad News: Mufi thinks he can change that

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Bag Tax: Pair of measures would mean fees for disposable bags

The Surfrider Foundation Hawaii and a retail merchants group are supporting bills intended to encourage consumers to bring reusable shopping bags to the store.  (This story starts by eliminating opposition.)

Senate Bill 1363 would impose a fee of 25 cents for a non-reusable bag, including plastic and paper bags dispensed at stores. House Bill 998 calls for a 10 cent charge.

Foundation coordinator Stuart Coleman said in an interview Friday that similar legislation that took effect in Washington, D.C., charging 5 cents a bag resulted in an 80 percent reduction in the use of paper and plastic bags. 

Senate Bill 1363 and House Bill 998 are both scheduled for decision-making by joint committees tomorrow and Tuesday respectively.

The Senate committees on Energy and Environment and on Economic Development and Technology are scheduled to make a decision on SB 1363 at 1:15 p.m. tomorrow at Conference Room 16.

The House committees on Energy and Environmental Protection and on Economic Revitalization and Business are expected to make a decision on HB 998 at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday at Conference Room 325.

Kauai and Maui counties have adopted a ban on the use of plastic bags, and the Big Island and Oahu are reviewing bills.

Some critics say the ordinances on Maui and Kauai have shifted consumers' use to disposable paper bags, an alternative that is more costly and bad for the environment.  (Finally, some opposition!)

(The Eco-Faddist Advertiser wants you to know that) Carol Pregill, president of the 200-member Retail Merchants of Hawaii, said in an interview Friday that (the most potent opponents of the bag tax have been liquidated).

REALITY OF DC LAW: New Study on Bag Taxes: Economically Destructive, Job-killing

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Excellent News! NIMBYism obstructs Hawaii’s move to wind power

But anyone who has been close enough to such behemoths, either along the highways in southern Spain, on the coast of Nova Scotia, near the sand dunes on Prince Edward Island and in southern Alberta, knows that they are noisy and intrusive, regardless of their green credentials. Nobody in his right mind would want to live within earshot of these things. At least here they’re on top of the mountain (a somewhat puny one, but everything’s relative) and even if the sound traveled down to the beach, the constant susurration of the surf would drown them out.

Few of the ardent supporters of alternate energy mention the irritation of the constant noise, albeit one might be able to get used to it much in the same way that living near a highway renders one somewhat immune to the constant traffic noise.

That’s a big “might.”

The not-in-my-backyard syndrome is working overtime in paradise. (Thank God!) A proposal for 170 wind towers on the thinly populated (less than 3,000 people) island of Lanai has brought out the opposition who have added a new dimension to NIMBY – not on our island and not for the benefit of people living on Oahu, where 70 per cent of the residents of Hawaii live, most of them in Honolulu. The energy created from a wind farm would be channelled to Oahu through undersea cables.

On the surface, after four meetings on three different islands in the county to listen to residents’ concerns, few of the testifiers wants anything to do with the proposal. One resident, quoted in The Maui News was blunt: “It is not Lanai’s and Molokai’s responsibility to keep the air conditioning running on Oahu.”

That may be an unusual take on xenophobia, a sort of inter-island suspicion and dislike, harking back to the old Hawaii, when each island had at least one independent kingdom – Maui had three – but it’s a chorus repeated over and over: let Oahu work out its own difficulties without destroying the natural beauty of another Hawaiian island.

If the rampant development of these islands to satisfy the burgeoning tourist demand for creature comforts is any indication, “natural beauty” has been trumped by development time and time again.

CB: Big Wind To Go The way of the Super Ferry?

Here is what the “NIMBYs” are saving us from: Wind Energy's Ghosts

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Kamehameha Schools planning wind farm in Haleiwa

"It should be fully commercially operating within the next couple of weeks, by the end of February for sure," says Kekoa Kaluhiwa.

Twelve Clipper Liberty turbines will generate 30 megawatts of electricity, enough to power almost 8,000 Oahu homes, cutting Hawaii's oil consumption by nearly 140,000 barrels a year.

Kamehameha Schools wants to harness that same energy in Haleiwa. On the slopes above Laniakea beach, there's a plan to build 30 more wind turbines on the former Kawailoa Plantation property.

"We're excited with what's happening there and to be able to contribute to green energy," says Kalani Fronda, Kamehameha Schools Senior Land Asset Manager.

The Kawailoa wind farm could generate 70 megawatts of energy. Add that to the turbines that will be turning in Kahuku and together the wind farms could power over 22,000 homes on Oahu.

HNN: Kamehameha Schools, community discuss North Shore plans

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Columnist takes anti-Telescope Shakedown Scammers at their word

Interestingly, one of the most influential figures in the development of Mauna Kea's observatories was Alika Herring, a part-Hawaiian scientist, recently deceased. This remarkable man, an expert in moon mapping, was one of the world's most skillful telescope artisans. In 1964, with university support, he spent many long, frigid nights on Mauna Kea with his own superb optics to assess the mountaintop's seeing qualities. With his hand-made telescope and meticulous observations, Herring opened to the world Mauna Kea's window on the universe.

One might hope that all of Hawaii's interest groups will understand that the world shares their deep appreciation of the mountain as a sacred and beautiful entity. How it might be changed by the telescope is the issue. 

(WRONG.  The activists’ demands for $50M/year in payoffs/rent to OHA is the issue.)

REALITY: Telescope: The Shakedown begins, Thirty Meter Telescope Selects Mauna Kea -- Let the looting begin!

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Tom Berg: Honolulu Council Members Should Not Demand Apology from Rush Limbaugh

I have been getting a major earful in the past 72 hours from island residents throughout Oahu.

Self-described liberals and moderates and conservatives alike have been five parts miffed and two parts mystified about a vote that I and other councilmembers cast on Monday.  (Yes, Tom.  All you had to do was vote “no” but for some reason you just couldn’t do that after speaking against the resolution.)

Frankly, I haven’t seen this much outrage since the State Legislature voted to create “Islam Day” in Hawaii.

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

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Judd: I pardoned Massie convicts under threat of Martial Law

Former Governor Lawrence M. Judd says that he "acted under the heaviest pressure" in commuting the prison terms of the four slayers in the Massie case. (Thelma Massie was a Progressive and a member of the Roosevelt Family.)

Judd's comments, made in an interview with the Star-Bulletin and in his to-be-published memoirs, broke a self-imposed silence on the case, which rocked the Islands in the 1930s.

The former governor said he decided to speak up because of what he termed some inaccuracies in three books published on the Massie case….  (The Progressive Democrats have been trying to pin blame for their crime on the Republican Judd.)

"I refused pardons, but under pressure from (Democrat-controlled) Congress, commuted the sentences to one hour in custody of the Territorial High Sheriff," Judd recalled. ...

"... I acted ... against my better judgment. Had I possessed facts of which I learned later, I doubt that I would have commuted the sentences. That would have flung the issue straight back into the hands of an infuriated (Democrat) Congress.

"Punitive legislation against Hawaii was being considered in that body at that time. (By the angry Progressive Democrats in Congress an the White Hoiuse)

"Had I not acted as I did, I believe that Congress might have changed our form of government and placed us under a commission. (Just to get one of their precious Progressives off the hook for murder.)

"In that event, Hawaii might not now be a State of the Union."

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Hawaii war hero remembered

A decorated war hero and Medal of Honor recipient was remembered by dozens of family and friends Saturday.

Last month, Barney Hajiro who belonged to the 442nd, "Go for Broke," 100th battalion, died at the age of 94.

Many say Hajiro is one of the few left of the 442nd who helped set the example of what the battalion is all about.

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Years of toil led to freedom for innocent man

Scheck and Neufeld, who both served on the defense team in O.J. Simpson's 1994-95 murder trial, founded the Innocence Project in 1992 to take advantage of advances in DNA testing and to change public policy in an effort to exonerate people who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. With affiliate programs now spread out across the country, the project has helped overturn the convictions of some 260 people.

Neufeld first contacted UH's William S. Richardson School of Law about starting a local Innocence Project in the late 1990s, but the school lacked the resources to move forward. By 2004, however, the school reached an agreement to collaborate with California Western School of Law faculty and students and the California Innocence Project, enabling the Hawaii project to begin a year later.

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Alaska and Hawaii subsidized flights 'may' continue after 2013

The bill, introduced Friday by House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, a Florida Republican, says funding for the program will end in the Lower 48 on Oct. 1, 2013, but it might continue in Alaska and Hawaii after that.

I say "might" because the bill does not use the word "shall."

It says the U.S. transportation secretary "may continue to carry out the essential air service program under this subchapter in Alaska and Hawaii following the sunset date. . ."

This provision is one of many in a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.

The bill says that starting in the 2014 fiscal year, the "EAS program would receive  from overflight fees only the amount needed to provide essential air service to eligible  communities in Alaska and Hawaii."

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Saddle Road project receives prestigious award

Every two years, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recognizes outstanding highway transportation design projects across the nation and highlights the best via the FHWA’s Excellence in Highway Design Biennial Awards Program.

Saddle Road was honored recently among other national standouts with an Honorable Mention award in the Rural Highways division.

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Protest against Desmond Tutu set for Honolulu Psychiatrists meeting

Tutu is scheduled to deliver the principal address at the Convocation of Fellows during the May, 2011 American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in Hawaii. He also will be made an honorary fellow at that time.

All of which irks many Jewish members of the APA, including Dr. Daniel Shrager of Jefferson Hills, a member of Beth Israel Center. Shrager and several other APA members are planning some way to register their displeasure with Tutu’s appearance during the meeting.

He wasn’t prepared to disclose the details of that protest, but 27 members, who have decided not to attend the gathering, have listed their names on an ad, which will run in the next issue of Psychiatric Times — the APA publication — explaining why.

One of the signees, Dr. Thomas G. Gutheil, a distinguished life fellow of the APA, has gone further, resigning from the organization.

“Although my feeling that the APA does not have its members’ interests at heart has been growing for many years,” Gutheil wrote in a letter to the members, “the precipitant for this action is, first, the selection of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as recipient of one of APA’s highest honors, the role of convocation speaker and second (and more important), the complete indifference and non-responsiveness of the leadership when his despicable record of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel communications was explicitly pointed out by actual cites and quotations. The leadership’s refusal not only to dis-invite him but even to respond to members’ concerns was, for me, the final straw.”

Tutu’s anti-Israel remarks are well known in Jewish circles. Not only has he referred to Israel as an apartheid state, last year he urged the Cape Town Opera to cancel a tour of Israel, which it refused to do, and called for an academic, artistic, social and political boycott of Israel including the severing of research cooperation on water purification between the University of Johannesburg and Ben Gurion University in Israel. APA is on record with a position statement opposing all academic boycotts.

Among his many other controversial remarks, Tutu has said the Palestinians are paying “penance” for the Holocaust.

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