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Sunday, February 22, 2009
February 22, 2009
By Andrew Walden @ 8:32 PM :: 7556 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News

Ceded Lands Case to Go before Supreme Court

whichever way the justices rule will likely affect the bargaining positions by the state as well as native Hawaiians in reaching the elusive settlement of their claims.  The Supreme Court justices set a one-hour hearing scheduled to begin at 5 a.m. Hawaii time. The justices won't immediately rule but are expected to render their decision by this summer.

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Council member Barbara Marshall dies at 64

As the leader of the City Council, Marshall remained mostly independent from the political divide at the nine-member body. She was one of the two councilmembers who voted against Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s proposed multibillion-dollar elevated rail transit system, citing its high costs.

During the rail debate that created much controversy in the community in the summer of 2008, Marshall was diagnosed with colon cancer — her third battle with cancer. That year, she was overwhelmingly re-elected.

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Hawaii Senate may pry civil unions bill from panel for vote

State Sen. Robert Bunda, who was the potential swing vote on the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee, said he plans to vote against the bill that would give same-sex partners the same rights as married couples under state law.  The bill, which passed the House earlier this month, could die in the Senate committee without Bunda's support. But Senate leaders, who favor the bill, may take the rare step of circumventing the committee to bring the bill to the full Senate.

For Bunda, the former Senate president who is thinking about a campaign for lieutenant governor in 2010, being identified as the potential swing vote on the issue has made him a focal point of the lobbying.  His office has received dozens of telephone calls and more than 1,400 e-mails, with the majority urging him to vote against the bill.

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Honolulu hopes $1B will cover overruns in rail-transit costs

Not only are they already planning for overruns before groundbreaking, but the City is going to be the rail system's General Contractor instead of hiring a private General Contractor which would be responsible for keeping costs within the contract amount.  Result: Subcontractors will laugh all the way to the bank--with a short side trip to make deposits in the campaign coffers of their benefactors: Mufi Hannemann and Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

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UH Could gain Mauna Kea oversight

"The UH has no right to create a gated community for astronomers on the public's sacred summit," said Kealoha Pisciotta, one of several plaintiffs who sued DLNR's board and UH over management of Mauna Kea.  But for $50M/year paid to OHA, the summit might suddenly become less 'sacred'.  Too bad the Leg. didn't do something like this for that drug treatment center OHA blocked on Kauai.

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Riviera redux? Ka'u site targeted for development again

This is a maneuver designed to con the Nature Conservancy or Trust for Public Lands into buying out the landowners.

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Strangled by HGEA: Kona Hospital short $5M as Leg. considers options

There are a number of bills currently in the state House and Senate that may help with not only capital improvements, but in cutting costs in both the short and long term.
Senate Bill 1673 -- which as of Friday afternoon had become an omnibus, or all encompassing, bill -- would allow Hawaii Health Systems Corporation to pursue or transition its legal status into a nonprofit or for-profit corporation, municipal facility or public benefit corporation.
The bill now also includes provisions such as negotiated changes to the personnel system.
If passed, the hospital could negotiate an alteration of the current benefits system for new employees, which Greenia said is "a little too generous." Employee paid time off, pension and retirement benefits are expected to cost the hospital $8.4 million next year.
Current employees would be grandfathered in under their current contract, but within 10 years Greenia said that 80 percent of employees would be on the new civil service program.
"It's a great benefit, but it's an expensive benefit," said Greenia, who has the same compensation package.
Outsourcing is also a possibility.
If enacted, Senate Bill 1136, which is currently deferred, would allow the hospital to outsource non-clinical services such as laundry, housekeeping and dietary services, which could save $600,000 to $800,000 a year, Greenia said.
Another bill in the legislature, House Bill 1630, currently referred to the Finance Committee, would appropriate nearly $20.4 million to the hospital. Eight million dollars would go to emergency room renovations, $1 million to seismic mitigation and the remaining $11.375 million to renovations and upgrades throughout the hospital.
"Many of the short-term fixes may not be popular," Greenia said. "But some will be necessary to survive and move forward -- we're in survival mode and we need to move forward from that."

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