Akaka not running in 2012, will not let Abercrombie choose successor
NPR: Senate Exit By Hawaii's Akaka May Open Door For Lingle
Akaka never cast one vote in favor of legal protection for unborn children in 22 years
How Inouye sabotaged Akaka Bill
Ed Case: “I remain interested in U. S. Senate”
Mufi: “Plenty of time to discuss my plans”
Lingle, Djou comment on Akaka retirement
Extortion, Criminal Conspiracy: FBI investigating Gulen Religious Cult behind Mokapu STEM School, Pacifica Institute
Hirono, Hanabusa reject Obama, vote for Government Shut Down
Jamie Story leaving Grassroot Institute
Honolulu 40 Days for Life Rally at Capitol
Souki: “They're probably all jumping for joy right now . . . The field's wide open”
Wailuku Rep. Joe Souki expressed some distaste with what he judged was some pressure for Akaka not to run. Last week, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said that while he would continue to support Akaka if he were to run in 2012, he warned that he may not be able to help Akaka as much with fundraising.
Souki said he has been close with Akaka since the late 1960s.
"I go back, way back with Danny. I'm sorry it has come to this," he said. "I'm especially sorry for the pressure that came about, that I think kinda hurried his decision not to seek re-election. For that, I don't think it was very appropriate, a lot of comments that were made - not having enough money and those kinds of things. I think that all led to an early announcement that he had to retire. And for one who served the state so well for all these years, I think it was very unnecessary."
When asked who Democrats would put forward to fill Akaka's seat, Souki said: "I really don't want to get into that at all. We're going to have a flood of names coming out, especially from the major ones, and I think we all know who they are. They're probably all jumping for joy right now . . . The field's wide open.
"I don't see a front-runner, with the possibility of Linda at this point . . . It's a long way to go," Souki said.
Maui County Democratic Party Chairman Lance Holter said Akaka's announcement was unexpected.
"It's a surprise. No one knew about it," he said.
But Akaka's decision does create opportunities for other Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono.
"I think it's a great opportunity for Mazie to go into the Senate," Holter said. "Mazie definitely knows Congress."
Solomon: Clayton Hee for US Senate
As to who might replace Akaka, Solomon mentioned a few familiar names -- former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, U.S. Reps. Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa -- and state Sen. Clayton Hee.
Hee is "very active in following the footsteps of Sen. Akaka, in terms of Hawaiian issues," Solomon said. "I think he would be great."
First Open Senate Race since 1976
Hawaii has not had an election for an open Senate seat since U.S. Sen. Hiram Fong, a Republican, chose not to run in 1976. Akaka, a former educator who served 13 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, was appointed to the Senate after U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga, a Democrat, died, and he was elected in 1990.
(1978-Hawaii ConCon invented OHA, 1973-last time DoE had an audit, 1970-beginnings of progressive vs old boy Dem factionalism, 1968-GOP smashed, Dems establish Legislative supermajority.)
“A moment of silence for Tort Reform” Tommy Waters, Portnoy named to Judicial Selection Commission
”A moment of silence for tort reform.” -- then-Rep Tommy Waters, the trial lawyer who will be picking your judges for the next six years thanks to Neil Abercrombie.
Unrelated: Arrest warrant issued for Bishop Street Malpractice lawyer
2009: Waters' name floated as U.S. attorney in isles
No pain for HGEA, No savings for State: Medicare Part B cut only for hires after July 1
Gov. Neil Abercrombie had proposed ending Medicare Part B reimbursements for all retired public workers, which would have saved the state an estimated $41.7 million in fiscal year 2012 and $46.8 million in fiscal year 2013 to help with the state’s budget deficit.
The new version of the bill passed by the committee, which now goes to the full House for consideration, would not save the state any money until workers hired after July eventually retire.
Public-sector labor unions, and many retirees, objected to the governor’s proposal. The state Attorney General’s office (conveniently) also warned that the governor’s proposal could invite a legal challenge by retirees who claim it is an accrued benefit protected by the state Constitution.
The House Finance Committee also voted to pass a bill that would freeze the salaries of state lawmakers and executive and judicial branch officials for two years to help with the deficit.
SA: Lawmakers scale back Abercrombie's Medicare proposal
Bill takes step toward elected attorney general
In testimony submitted to the committee, Kenneth Conklin supported the measure.
"We need an attorney general who is beholden to the people of Hawaii rather than to the governor, so that the AG will have credibility if it ever becomes necessary for the AG to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing by the governor, Cabinet officers, department heads, etc.," he said.
In opposition, Gregory Swartz said an elected attorney general "may appear to improve the independence of the office," but the harm of "politicizing the office and its litigation, opinions and other activities far outweighs the benefits."
Sen. Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai) and Sen. Les Ihara Jr. (D, Kaimuki-Palolo), two of the five committee members, expressed support yesterday for the measure.
The hearing is set for 4:15 p.m. in conference room 016 at the state Capitol.
No Shortfall, But Carlisle Still Wants Higher Taxes
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle's $1.9 billion operating budget for next year paints a portrait of a city that is faring well in the short-term, but faces serious long-term money woes.
In presenting his budget to reporters on Wednesday, the self-proclaimed fiscal conservative said he plans to improve the city's financial complexion by raising fees and two taxes.
For his spending plan to work, Carlisle makes a major assumption about labor negotiations — that he can win a minimum of 5 percent in savings from city workers.
Honolulu has already “encumbered” $338M on rail Project
Facing an $800 million budget deficit over the next two years, the state has floated the idea of borrowing money the city is collecting to finance construction of the rail project. On Wednesday, city officials said that's not an option because there's no money available.
That's not to say there's no money, though. According to Honolulu Chief Accountant Nelson Koyanagi, there are hundreds of millions of dollars sitting in the transit fund. But they have been committed to contractors and are not available to be loaned out.
While Mayor Peter Carlisle unveiled his budget upstairs, Koyanagi represented the city's Department of Budget and Fiscal Services at a sparsely-attended Honolulu City Council committee meeting held Wednesday to review the city's transit fund. Koyanagi said $338 million of the $363 million in the fund June 30, 2010, had been encumbered, leaving just $25 million available for future years.
Paauilo DoE Principal headed for jail, rehab after DUI conviction
Paauilo School Principal Brian Paul Simon is appealing a recent drunken driving conviction stemming from a June 2009 arrest in Kona.
Simon, 46, of Waimea was found guilty Jan. 26 of operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant following a bench trial held before 3rd Circuit District Court Judge Joseph P. Florendo Jr. Simon's sentence is currently on hold after his attorney, Bob Kim, filed a notice of appeal of the conviction with the Intermediate Court of Appeals on Feb. 24.
The sentence, which would be imposed if the appeal is lost, orders Simon to pay $412 in fines and fees, complete a driver's education course, undergo substance abuse assessment and treatment, and enter a substance abuse rehabilitation program. He must also serve an unspecified amount of jail time and his license would be revoked, according to 3rd Circuit District Court records.
No plea yet from DoE Teacher accused of tying child to toilet
A 32-year-old Kealakehe Intermediate School teacher charged in January with the alleged abuse and unlawful imprisonment of a child following an off-campus incident has yet to enter a plea to the charges.
Clifford Wade Fabacher of Kailua-Kona, who taught eighth-grade physical education at the school, did not enter a plea during a Feb. 23 arraignment and plea hearing because the hearing was continued, said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Disher, who has been assigned to the case. Fabacher is slated to enter a plea and have a jury trial date assigned to the case at 8:30 a.m. March 23 before 3rd Circuit Family Court Judge Aley K. Auna Jr.
He faces three counts abuse of a family or household member and one count second-degree unlawful imprisonment, he said.
Big Isle Bag ban bogs down -- More public hearings slated
The Hawaii County Council bogged down on its bag ban bill Wednesday, after a minority-led move to schedule six public hearings effectively pushed a decision back until late November.
The postponement came after bill sponsor Pete Hoffmann last month negotiated a compromise with Mayor Billy Kenoi's administration, stripping enforcement and penalty sections and leaving them up to the administration.
Public hearings will be held in Keaau, Pahoa, Naalehu, Hilo, Laupahoehoe and Kona June 7, July 12, July 26, Aug. 25, Oct. 27 and Nov. 15, respectively.
the changes weren't enough for the Honolulu-based Retail Merchants Association, who asked the council to establish a "collaborative group of stakeholders" to work with the Department of Environmental Management to "develop reasonable, manageable and effective regulation."
"Our mutual goals are to maximize the usage of reusable bags, to provide plastic bags to consumers for their personal, practical uses and to recycle the excess bags, without overburdening our residents," said Carol Pregill, the group's president, in written testimony.
Kauai Residents torn over bag ban
Kaua‘i County Councilman Mel Rapozo on Feb. 9 introduced an amendment to exempt businesses that sell ready-to-eat food. He said many people had approached him with health-related concerns.
“Paper bags and reusable bags increase opportunity for cross-contamination for ready-to-eat foods,” said Allen Okuhara, co-owner of Mark’s Place in Puhi.
Okuhara said when food contamination happens, it affects the business.
“I don’t want to gamble with the health and safety of the beautiful people of Kaua‘i,” he said.
Okuhara also said many of his customers complain because once food gets into contact with paper bags, the bags rip easily, causing the food to fall on the ground.
Airline maps out China-Hawaii runs
China Eastern Airlines, the carrier that brought the first direct charter flights from China to Hawaii last month, has taken the next step toward offering regularly scheduled nonstop service between the destinations.
China's second largest carrier has applied with the administrative body of the People's Republic of China for permission to operate direct flights between China and Hawaii, Michael Merner, managing director for Hawaii Tourism Asia, told members of the visitor industry yesterday.
The Shanghai-based carrier took the step after successfully partnering with China CYTS Tour Holding Co., one of China's leading tour operators, to bring about 777 visitors here on three inaugural charter flights during the Chinese New Year holiday, Merner said.
"They sold out these flights in just 14 days," said David Uchiyama, the Hawaii Tourism Authority's vice president of brand management. "They would definitely like to come back."
Eco-Frauds claim Rate Hike Isn’t
Hawaiian Electric Co. customers using a typical amount of electricity will see little change in the "non-fuel energy" part of their bill as a result of the utility's shift to a tiered rate structure.
HECO announced the change on Tuesday but did not give enough information at that time to evaluate whether the new tiered rates would cause electric bills to go up or down. Star-Advertiser calculations yesterday showed the new rates will result in little change for the average rate payer.
A HECO customer using 600 kilowatt hours (kwh) a month paid a non-fuel energy charge of $49.80 in February. Under the tiered system the charge would have been $47.88, a savings of $2.08.
While the "non-fuel" charge may be the same or a little less, it's likely that most customers will see an increase in their total electric bill this month due to higher oil prices. (Oh.)
Oi: Wind energy shows lack of prudence
Renewable energy research and resource development still hold a glimmer but Hawaii's leaders have yet to offer crisp encouragement. Lack of focus in this field is evident. In merely setting deadlines on home-grown power production, the state hasn't done much to guide prudent projects that will serve all islands fairly and equally. This is especially pronounced in the plan to cover large tracts of land on Molokai and Lanai with wind turbines, run undersea cables to Oahu (an idea with unresolved reliability) and retaining the current massive distribution network (with questionable practicality) dependent on single-source technology.
Democrats Talk, Give Aila Nomination Green Light
Gov. Neil Abercrombie has been mum on the Aila delays. Press secretary Donalyn Dela Cruz (Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz's sister) told Civil Beat Tuesday that the governor wasn't concerned, and when he walked past the caucus room on his way to the elevator Wedneday, Majority Caucus Leader Ron Kouchi joked with him that maybe he should stop in and make his case to Hee in person.
Told that the confirmation would be held Thursday, Donalyn Dela Cruz downplayed the importance. "That's the legislative process and they're doing their job," she said.
Hee was the first to leave the caucus room, a couple of minutes before his colleagues as they wrapped up matters. Asked at the elevator door to comment on the meeting and specifically whether the Aila confirmation had been deferred as he had requested, Hee declined to comment and referred this reporter to Tsutsui.
CB: Transcript Paints Picture of a Divided Hawaii Senate
‘Recused’? In Decades no Senator has been found to have a conflict
There is also a seldom used (very seldom) procedure when a Senator asks the committee chair or Senate President if he or she is “in conflict” of a specific bill because of involvement with the subject matter, organization, or individual to be voted upon. If the answer is “yes,” the Senator should not vote.
Good news! Over the past several decades, no Senator has been found to be “in conflict,” of anything … and has been allowed to vote.
Keith-Agaran turns away anti human trafficking supporters
"Representative, we've been trying to get in touch with you about House Bills 576 and 577," Kathryn Xian said.
"You can see me on Friday," Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran said
"That's after the hearing, sir," Xian countered.
Xian and a handful of other anti-human trafficking advocates raised their voices in the representative's office as a last resort
They were hoping to get a face-to-face meeting with Keith-Agaran, the chairman of the House Judiciary committee.
"He's not returning our calls or anybody's calls, for that matter, or emails," Xian said.
Maui Charter Panelists will pretend to be Objective
WAILUKU - Nominees for the 2011 Charter Commission were grilled about their opinions on district voting and other issues Wednesday, but a vote to approve them was postponed.
While some nominees have taken a stand on district voting in the past, they said Wednesday they would listen to all sides if the issue came before them as commissioners. On other issues, some nominees said they believed that county government was too large and should operate more efficiently.
Kauai Charter amendment sets higher limit on Charter Amendment petitions
Some residents fear county officials are trying to raise the required percentage of voter signatures to put a charter amendment question on the ballot through a citizens’ petition.
One of the charter sections, 24.01 B, says that charter amendment petitions can be introduced on the ballot via signatures of 5 percent of registered voters. The other section, 22.03 C, says that initiatives and referendums can be introduced on the ballots via signatures of 20 percent of eligible voters.
(They are still trying to tamp down Kauai Ohana for petitioning against tax increases.)
VIDEO: Payroll Lag Gimmick to balance Hawaii County budget
The administration has managed to close a $38.8 million dollar budget gap, and has submitted a proposal for a $366,128,670 budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which is 9.2% percent less than the budget that was in effect when Kenoi first took office in 2008.
The latest budget calls for a new $1 fee to ride the Hele-On bus, which is expected to save the county $740,000. The bus system has been free for public use.
The mayor also says that furloughs will come to an end on June 30th, although he and his executive staff will still be furloughed. There will also be large savings this fiscal year through the use of a payroll lag.
Mesa Air emerges from bankruptcy
During reorganization, the Phoenix-based company eliminated 100 excess aircraft and now has 76 planes, fewer than half the total it previously had in its fleet. Mesa also restructured aircraft leases and financing for its remaining CRJ 200 fleet to get lower costs on the 50-seat aircraft. Mesa flies the CRJ 200 in Hawaii.
The company also eliminated $700 million in capitalized leases and $50 million in debt, and extended a partnership with US Airways through September 2015.
"Mesa is among the first regional airlines to address the risks associated with 50-seat regional jet aircraft, which have increasingly fallen out of favor with mainline carriers," Mesa Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein said. "We believe the elimination of exposure related to this fleet provides Mesa with a significant competitive advantage."
Waikiki getting pre-APEC facelift
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Waikiki's main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, is getting new sidewalks and fresh pavement before prime ministers, presidents, and premiers arrive for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November.
The City and County's $5.5 million sidewalk work began this week. Workers are tearing out old red tile along Kalakaua Avenue between Saratoga Road and Liliuokalani Avenue and installing a stone surface similar to what covers other portions of Kalakaua sidewalk.
The city is also spending $7 million repaving portions of Kalakaua Avenue and several side streets in Waikiki. Lam said the work was needed and the city wants to make sure it gets finished before world leaders arrive for the APEC conference.
Waikiki hotel workers authorize strike
Of the roughly 2,200 workers who were eligible to vote, 1,011 voted in favor of giving union leaders the authority to call a strike. Only 26 voted "no." Those numbers come from the workers union, Unite HERE Local 5.
The strike authorization does not mean a strike is imminent, but that union leaders may call a strike at any time. It gives them some leverage in their ongoing contract talks with hotel management.
The workers have been working without a contract since June. (While Local 5 has been busy with other things such as gay civil unions.)
After Legislators attack, Hawaii Car Audio Dealers Organize
New York - A group of Hawaii-based car audio retailers and sales reps agreed to form an association to promote the courteous use of car audio systems, change the industry's perception in the state, and beat back onerous legislation intended to curb loud sound systems.
Recently dealers organized on an ad hoc basis to persuade a Hawaii state legislative committee to indefinitely defer a proposal to ban the installation and ownership or aftermarket car stereo systems with speakers of more than 6.5 inches in height or depth, with five or more speakers, and with speakers rated at more than 100 watts.
The group proposed the formation of the non-profit Electronics Association - Hawaii and selected owners of five car audio dealerships and a sales rep to form a board,
Hawaii's Homeless: Transitioning out
There are 68 rooms here at Hale Ulu Pono and all of them have a common kitchen where they can cook and utilize the refrigerator. And then there's a common sitting area, where people can gather and talk story. All of the residents are asked to put a little something down when they move in. And their rent is based on 30 percent of their income.
HNN: Homeless Briefing Today at State Capitol Auditorium (The Homelessness Industry has arrived! Complete with tent cities being moved around to manipulate APEC planners.)
Kaiwahine Village moves forward
Those supporting the project were Land Use Chairman Bob Carroll and Council Members Gladys Baisa, Mike Victorino, Mike White and Don Couch.
Couch, who holds the council's South Maui residency seat, was able to get three amendments attached to a resolution approving the project.
Developer Royal Main Properties LLC proposes to build Kaiwahine Village as a 120-unit multifamily subdivision with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units in 15 buildings, off-street parking and other improvements on 9.3 acres off Hale Kai Street in Kihei.
Prices for the units are estimated at $180,000 for one bedroom, $225,000 for two-bedroom units and $250,000 for three bedrooms.
Pontanilla said he wasn't so sure the homes would be affordable to low-income families. He estimated the mortgage prices for a one-bedroom would run at approximately $1,600 a month, plus maintenance fees of $300 a month.
Kaiwahine developer John Sindoni revealed in Wednesday's hearing that he has had ongoing discussions with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands about the possibility of the agencies purchasing the units and then renting them out or providing a rent-to-own option for Native Hawaiians.
Enlightened, Conscious, and Progressive Commune-dweller pleads guilty in killing
Schimberg was shot in the chest and died, Rivera said. He said Berg hid behind a 6-inch post when Dean fired the .32-caliber revolver at her and was shot in the arm.
Rivera said the prosecution agreed to the plea bargain "for the victims, so they can move on."
About four months before the shooting, Dean had been ordered not to possess a firearm or ammunition as part of a temporary restraining order obtained by the mother of three of his children, August said.
Yet on the night of the shooting, Dean had the loaded gun, the judge said. He said Schimberg was heading back to his house with another person when they were confronted by Dean and got into a physical fight. Schimberg, a National Honor Society student in high school, had no criminal history and had graduated from the most prestigious culinary arts institution in the country, August said.
He said that after shooting Schimberg, Dean went after Berg in the kitchen and aimed while shooting twice.
Missouri welfare benefits being spent in Hawaii
In January Missouri EBT cards were used to withdraw $362,682 in cash outside the state. During that same time period Missouri EBT cards purchased $3,521,974 worth of food outside Missouri. Those card users racked up $752 worth of ATM fees, they were also paid by taxpayers.
9-11 trooother Rosanne Barr attacks neighbors in Hamakua
The comedian claims Roree Oehlman and her husband Richard have harassed and threatened her ever since she took over her macadamia nut farm. (God Bless the Oehlman Family!)
In court documents, Barr alleges that she found two of her four goats had been killed and, shortly after discovering the bodies, claims her neighbour told her son-in-law, "That's what happens when you p**s people off."