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Saturday, March 5, 2011
March 5, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:07 PM :: 10056 Views

Rep Pine calls for State of Emergency after Strike, Storm leave Ewa, Leeward in dark

Republicans field over 60 Neighborhood Board Candidates

RCP: Akaka's Seat a Longshot for GOP

Abercrombie Admin caught in lie as OIP director is fired

Perry & Price: Abercrombie digging a hole, just keeps digging

Highest in Nation: Hawaii Underemployment hovers between 21-25%

SB8: Abercrombie Will Sign Legislation to Appoint Board of Education Members

Human Error? “Somebody threw a wrong switch”

The wind knocked the poles down overnight, but Hashimoto did not lose power at his store until between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. The time difference has him thinking human error at HECO may have caused the outage. If that is the case, Hashimoto said he may file a claim against HECO for lost revenue.

"I know this is not an act of god. This might be like a mistake or something by them. Somebody threw a wrong switch or something," Hashimoto told Hawaii News Now.

Everyone at Ewa Town Center had the same question. When is the power coming back. It is a question that not even HECO can answer with confidence.

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Abercrombie: “My thought….”

“I have spoken with leaders of Hawaiian Electric Company and the union.  My thought is that they can set aside their respective positions during this emergency situation until the public’s safety is taken care of.

“The most important thing right now is restoring electric services for residents and ensuring their health and security then resume negotiations.”  (Is “Abercrombie Thought” like “Mao Tse-tung Thought”?  Just asking.)

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IBEW Business Manager Accuses HECO Of Stalling

The head of the electrical workers union told KITV 4 News the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 decided to strike because, during a negotiating session Friday afternoon, Hawaiian Electric managers said they had to run the latest proposals past the company president and they wanted to break for the weekend.

Lance Miyake, business manager and financial secretary of IBEW, said Hawaiian Electric President Dick Rosenblum has attended just one of about 40 negotiating sessions the company has held with the union over the last six months. HECO officials said Rosenblum was on the Big Island visiting Hawaii Electric Light Company Friday and unable to attend negotiations or a late-afternoon company news conference once the strike got underway.

Miyake accuses Hawaiian Electric of unfairly delaying negotiations by continually asking for more time to run offers by the president who's not at negotiations, a charge the company denies. A HECO spokesman said that's a "one-sided characterization" of the negotiations and Rosenblum had been substantively involved in negotiations. But the spokesman could not confirm how many times Rosenblum had personally attended bargaining sessions.

The union said management tried to split the membership, cutting pension benefits for employees 45 and under but keeping pensions the same for those 45 and older, one of several "takeaways" the company proposed to the union.

"One of things on the table we asked them to consider was a one-year contract, no raise and no takeaways. So it's not about money. They said 'no,'" Miyake said.

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KHON: Big money expected for Akaka’s seat

“Why shouldn't we expect money,” said Hart. “It's a close Senate, it's Obama's home state (and) the republicans would love to have this seat for symbolic reasons and for practical reasons - they'll be a lot of money spent on this race.”

With Republicans needing only four seats to win back control of the U.S. Senate from the democratic majority, the political money spigot in the Aloha State is expected to flow, especially with a viable candidate like former Gov. Linda Lingle in the mix.

“She has served her party well - they will reward her,” explains Hart. “She's an electable candidate (and) she finishes the governor’s office with around a 48 to 52 percent approval rating - that's pretty good.”

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WaPo: The GOP's tough path in Hawaii

Democrats also can point to a number of cases where Lingle was openly supportive of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) and opposed Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. The GOP trotted out Lingle as a campaign surrogate, and she at times vociferously defended Palin on issues ranging from her qualifications to Palin's quote that Obama was "palling around with terrorists."

Now, none of this is to say that Lingle wouldn't be formidable.

"I think when she does not have to fight a Democratic legislature and doesn't have all of the opposition, I think her general favorability would improve again," Ward Research president Rebecca Ward said in October. "She went in so strongly that I think she could recapture more of that."

Lingle is also the best fundraiser in the state and would probably have a significant financial advantage over whomever she faces. And that goes double if Democrats have a rough and tumble primary.

In that primary, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz has built a solid profile and may be a frontrunner. A former Obama campaign aide, he got the president's support when he ran for party chairman in 2008 and the support of the president's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, when he ran for lieutenant governor. Even if Obama doesn't publicly insert himself in the Democratic primary, this kind of thing matters.

But that doesn't mean he would have a clear path; after all, former Rep. Ed Case (D) has shown a willingness to buck the establishment, having run against Akaka in a primary in 2006. And there are myriad other contenders, including Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, who lost the Democratic governor primary to Abercrombie.

The GOP basically has to hope that Lingle gets in and that Democrats shoot themselves in the foot.

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Hawaii ponders moratorium on home foreclosures

With 1 of every nine homes sold in Hawaii last year in foreclosure, legislators are considering temporarily banning the practice and creating a system for homeowners to seek mediation and loan modifications.

The moratorium idea already passed the Hawaii House of Representatives.

But instead of pushing the moratorium legislation into law, it appears more likely that lawmakers will seek reforms to the foreclosure system.

One such reform would allow borrowers to force lenders into mediation discussions, with loan modification plans as a possible outcome to prevent foreclosure.

Online: HB894, HB1411, SB651:

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Groups' anti-gambling efforts pay off

None of the bills advanced out of committee before yesterday's deadline for nonbudget bills to be placed for a vote in their originating chamber.

More gambling bills than usual were pitched this year because of the state's deepening fiscal crisis, said the Rev. John Heidel, president of the Interfaith Alliance of Hawaii. For the fourth year, he said, the group rallied members to submit testimony opposing the bills, in conjunction with the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, he said….

"We have had an unprecedented number of gambling bills introduced this year," said Dianne Kay, president of the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. Eight such bills were introduced in 2010, and 11 bills in 2009, she said. "Prior to these last three years, there were only a few gambling bills introduced each year, and they were almost never heard," she said.

The Interfaith Alliance includes people representing all faiths and denominations, who "base their opposition on the social impact of gambling as an addiction, rather than it being a spiritual sin," Heidel said.

The Rev. Charles Buck, Hawaii Conference minister of the United Church of Christ, said his denomination has given money to the coalition and that its members have submitted testimony in support.

"Religious leaders have been more united against gambling (than other issues) because of its detrimental effects on people and their families and how it disproportionately affects those least able to afford it," Buck said.

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Hawaii excise tax revenue climbs, but general fund is down compared to last year

The general fund was at $2.39 billion as of January, compared to $2.45 billion the same period last year.

The state Department of Taxation said Friday the decline was primarily because the state waited until the new fiscal year began in July to pay refunds it normally would have paid out in the previous fiscal year.

The department says the general fund would be up 5.6 percent if the state hadn't delayed tax refunds.

General excise tax revenues were up 7.6 percent to $1.42 billion at the end of January.

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Things that make you go hmmmm.....TIMING, REALLY?

From Could it be a coincidence that the person who said Governor Abercrombie’s refusal to release the names of judicial nominees violated state law is now getting a pink slip?  His spokesperson calls it “timing” but with all the critical issues facing the state, is removing the head of the Office of Information Practices one of the Governor's most pressing priorities?  The Governor may say this is not an act of retribution but as the old saying goes, if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is probably a duck.  Claiming this is just a case of timing makes you go hmmmm….  *From Civil Beat: Abercrombie Fires Head of Open Records Agency

House Bill 853: Most Dangerous at the Hawaii Legislature copied from Most Corrupt State in the Union

Last Session, the House Finance Committee passed without hearing any testimony House Concurrent Resolution 200 under cover of a “unanimous consent” blanket vote to send to the Floor a measure calling for the establishment of a state owned bank.

The idea which has gained considerable favor among Majority caucus members is that by duplicating North Dakota’s style of a state owned bank, Hawaii can, through issuance of credit, develop unlimited revenues to plug any future foreseeable budget gaps.

While the Senate did not grant HCR 200 a hearing last year, the idea has returned in the form of House Bill 853 HD1 which is presently headed to Third Reading, and if adopted, soon to cross over to the Senate. If enacted, HB 853 will prove to be the most dangerous and potentially destructive mandate issued from the Hawaii State Legislature.

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Public safety, defense and accounting heads unanimously confirmed by Hawaii Senate

The Senate on Friday unanimously approved Jodie Maesaka-Hirata as director for the Department of Public Safety, Maj. Gen. Gen. Darryll Wong as the state's adjutant general and Bruce Coppa as comptroller for the Department of Accounting and General Services.

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Kauai NIMBYS follow in OHA’s Footsteps, block drug treatment

Many agree that the island is in dire need of a drug treatment center for teens — as long as it’s not in their backyard.

Almost 400 signatures opposing the county’s two selected sites for the proposed Adolescent Drug Treatment Center disrupted the center’s siting meeting, Thursday at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center.

Mary Pigao, who earlier in the afternoon led a sign-waving campaign against the ADTC being located in the proposed sites, presented the petitions to Theresa Koki, the county’s anti-drug coordinator.

Same Treatment Center, different location: Office of Hawaiian Affairs Blocks Kauai Drug Treatment Facility

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Police, Fire Chief Want Pay Raises; Mayor Opposed

Although Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle wants all city workers to take a five per cent pay cut, Police Chief Louis Kealoha and Fire Chief Kenneth Silva are seeking large personal pay raises.

Kealoha has asked the Honolulu Salary Commission for a 22 per cent pay bump that would raise his salary from $136,236 to $174,617.

Silva didn’t specify the size of the increase he is seeking but said it would parallel the police chief’s. Silva now receives the same compensation as Kealoha.

The requests from the two chiefs came in letters written last month to the Honolulu Salary Commission that were publicly posted this week on a City website. Police Chief Letter Fire Dept. Letter

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Park Concessions could help offset cost of repairs — Arakawa

Mayor Alan Arakawa said Thursday that he is considering opening county parks to food and activity concessions, to help defray the cost of park repairs and maintenance.

Arakawa also said that this year he will seek to double the county budget for regional road repairs. He spoke at the annual meeting of the West Maui Taxpayers Association before a crowd of around 100 people Thursday night at the Lahaina Civic Center.

Speaking about park concessions, Arakawa said that "purists," who don't want commercial activity at county parks, should be willing to pay for improvements and maintenance - or they could see parks continue to deteriorate.

"What we are proposing to raise revenue is to farm out concessions," he said.

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Star-Advertiser Sunday circulation off projections by 10%

But the Star-Advertiser may not have reached Black’s projections, at least when it comes to circulation. After the merger was completed last summer the newspaper reported it expected a circulation of 135,000 daily and 150,000 on Sundays.

In December the Star-Advertiser carried an article saying the merger had created an operation with 128,000 daily subscribers and 135,000 on Sundays.

The printing operation also lost customers, including Pacific Business News.

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Fire chiefs want sprinklers in all new single-family homes

Protecting single-family homes with fire-protection sprinklers makes good sense when it comes to safety, but is it worth the cost?

That's the question local government and building industry officials are wrestling with in an initiative to require sprinkler systems in all new single-family homes and duplexes built in Hawaii.

A state panel responsible for updating building codes in Hawaii is considering adopting the regulation, which would make homes safer but could add $5,000 to $6,000 to the cost of a 1,000-square-foot house.


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Oahu Landfill Set To Reopen

Oahu's landfill is set to reopen for everyone Sunday -- on a limited basis.

It had been closed since the beginning of the year when heavy rains damaged the landfill's liners and flood waters washed waste and dirt down the mountain.

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Hawaii state farm fair will not take place this year

The summer family tradition of food, fun and farm animals has been canceled for the first time in nearly 40 years.

"It was just a problem, there was not a venue available at the time we could do it," Gary Heusel, state 4-H leader.

The Hawaii State Farm Fair involves hundreds of people from the Farm Bureau, vendors, exhibits, entertainment and 4-H participants who come to showcase and auction their animals.

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Bill to recognize bat stalls

A bill to recognize the endangered bat wasn't scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee before Friday's deadline for nonbudget legislation to clear committees in its originating chamber.

Sen. Sam Slom, a Republican representing Hawaii Kai, said that he will renew the effort to honor the bat next year.

(Legislative Democrats gratuitously block even the most trivial GOP bills.)

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