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Saturday, March 14, 2009
March 14, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:37 AM :: 9896 Views

Aiona to protest 'SNL' Hawaii skit

Hawaii Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona said he's worried the skit might hurt the state's biggest industry by deterring people from visiting the islands.  He planned to send a letter in protest to Lorne Michaels, the NBC program's executive producer.  The skit "went too far in its negative depiction of Hawaii's native people and tourism industry," Aiona said. He added he would not let "such distortions go unchecked" when the economy is doing so poorly.

When a woman gushes about being in Hawaii for her honeymoon, telling the entertainers "it must be fun working here," they respond sarcastically.  "Yeah, it's great. They make us wear grass skirts," Armisen says. "We make $7 an hour. It's a dream job."  Johnson tells one visitor: "It's a fun fact about Hawaii. Our biggest export is coffee. And our biggest import is fat white tourists!"  He later deliberately knocks over the drinks of a customer who points to the flower lei around his neck and makes a lame joke about getting "lei-ed."

But others in the islands are laughing, or at least nodding knowingly.  "I thought it was extremely funny," said Augie Tulba, a local standup comedian who performs under the name Augie T.  "As a comic, my whole thing is, I'm a reflection of society. And I say things that people want to say but they have a hard time saying," Tulba said, adding this is what the "Saturday Night Live" piece did.  "We think that way but we won't come out and say it," he said.

"I thought the skit was not uproariously funny but was very much true to life in expressing how many people in Hawaii actually live with tourism," Osorio said. Tulba said "one little skit" would not stop visitors from coming to Hawaii, noting the islands are beautiful and people here are friendly.  We have comedy, he said, to help us tell the truth.

SNL's "Hawaiian Hotel":

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Mayor: Motta's comments 'absurd'

The Big Island papers FINALLY--13 months after HFP--got around to interviewing Billy Kenoi about Malu Motta.  Here's what they got.

Motta, a former University of Hawaii at Hilo student body president, described the prospective governor as being part Native Hawaiian and someone who spoke at Motta's Oct. 30, 2004, legal defense fundraiser at Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo.

Although Motta did not specifically name Kenoi, his statements seemed to be a reference to the newly elected mayor, The Honolulu Advertiser reported Wednesday. Kenoi, who did not comment about the FBI tape for the Advertiser story,  (But he apparently called the Tribune-Herald so he could be interviewed by the weakest patsy available) is part Hawaiian, was Motta's friend and spoke at his fundraiser while working as an executive assistant to then-Mayor Harry Kim.  (Exec Assist in charge of the war on Meth....)
"I have no idea what they're talking about or what's being referenced," said Kenoi, 40, when asked about the newspaper account that mentioned his name.

Kenoi also called the notion that he's being groomed to run for governor "ridiculous."  (Hard to argue with that...but Motta and Hawaii Business Magazine see it differently....)

Kenoi told Stephens Media he was never contacted by the FBI about the Motta case. The FBI confirmed that Thursday.  "Mr. Kenoi's name never came up in the investigation," FBI spokesman Brandon Simpson said.  (Which means that none of the things Kenoi did for Motta are illegal.  But Judge Town's name DID come up, hmmmmm...)

The HTH version of the same article includes these additional lines:

In 2007, Kenoi was recognized by Hawaii Business Magazine as one of the "25 People for the Next 25 Years -- Hawaii's Bright People and Bright Future."
"Some say he'll be the next Big Island mayor, some say future governor," the magazine reported in its tribute to Kenoi.
The following year, Kenoi waged his first election campaign, which resulted in his overwhelming victory in the 2008 mayoral race.
One of Kenoi's earliest political experiences came in 1992, when he worked as a legislative intern for U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, widely considered to be Hawaii's most powerful Democrat.
In 2004, Kenoi, also a Democrat, served as East Hawaii chairman for Inouye's re-election campaign.  (That's what 'grooming' looks like....)

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Mark Recktenwald Confirmed to Hawaii Supreme Court

HONOLULU, HAWAII – The Hawaii State Senate confirmed Mark E. Recktenwald today as an associate justice on the Hawaii State Supreme Court. Recktenwald fills the seat left in December by former Associate Justice Steven Levinson. The Senate vote was unanimously in support with three Senators absent.  Nominated by Gov. Linda Lingle, Recktenwald will step up from his current position as the Chief Intermediate Court of Appeals, which he’s held since 2007.

Related Coverage: Advertiser, Star-Bulletin 

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Budget: Pay cuts vs Tax Hikes

Hawaii Government Employees Association head Randy Perreira said his public worker union is not open to pay cuts or furloughs. The governor instead is going to have to consider tax hikes to close the budget gap, he said.

Lingle repeated on Friday that she would veto any proposal to raise taxes. The governor's office said that in the next two weeks she will have a revised budget plan to deal with the additional $90 million gap. 

An earlier version of this story carried a headline indicating Lingle was considering layoffs. She is not and has not.

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Ceremony honors Mauians killed in Iraq, Afghanistan

Soldiers honored on Friday were:

* Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Bolor, 37, a Lahainaluna High School graduate, killed in a helicopter crash on Nov. 15, 2003.

* Spc. Jay Cajimat, 20, also a Lahainaluna graduate, killed in a roadside bombing April 6, 2007.

* Pvt. Eugene Kanakaole, 19, a Maui High School graduate, killed in a noncombat-related incident June 11, 2008.

* Spc. Christopher Sweet, 28, a Maui High graduate, killed in a noncombat-related incident on Feb. 6.

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Two GMO bills survive crossover

Two bills with opposite purposes are the only surviving pieces of GMO legislation this session.
House Bill 1663 would ban genetic modification of Hawaiian taro. (Remember, these are the same people sheering embryonic stem cell research.)

House Bill 1226 seeks to block similar bans on genetic modification of other crops.
The bills have moved on from the House and passed first readings in the Senate on Thursday, but haven't yet been referred to committees.

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Global Cooling hits Hawaii Hard

It was 59 degrees at Honolulu International airport at 4:30 Friday morning, 56 degrees at Wheeler Army Airfield in Wahiawa.  Other overnight lows Thursday night / Friday morning around the state included 54 at the Lanai Airport, 55 at Lihue and Kahului, 57 at the Molokai Airport, 60 in Hilo and 66 in Kona.  Cool northwest winds behind a cold front will last through Friday night and Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.  (Please help!  Buy an SUV!)

Maui News: North winds bring chilly weather to the isles

RELATED: NOAA Hawaii Climate Info, NWS info

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Widespread Flu in Hawaii

"Finally here we are at the end of March, and we're finally seeing some flu activity in the state, especially on this island (Oahu) it seems," said Dr. Sarah Park, State Health Dept.

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Hilo police find 111 pot plants, repeat offender 

Santos has 15 criminal convictions, all on the Big Island between 1992 and last October, mostly for misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors.  She has two felony convictions, both in 1995 in Kona Circuit Court for second-degree theft. She received one-year jail sentences for both convictions....

RELATED: Tribune-Herald coverage

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Maui Judge: Removal of councilman not up to court

WAILUKU - An effort by a group of Lanai residents to block Council Member Sol Kaho'ohalahala from serving on the Maui County Council was thrown out Friday by 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza.

Cardoza said the proper way for citizens to seek the removal of a county elected official they believe should not be in office was through impeachment or recall. The group of 19 Lanai residents had argued that Kaho'ohalahala was not a resident of the council's Lanai residency district, and asked the judge to force him to forfeit his seat.

Cardoza said his decision was not a ruling on Kaho'ohalahala's Lanai residency, just that his challengers did not follow the correct process to seek his removal.

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Maui: Mayor’s budget avoids tax hikes

"No jobs have been cut," Tavares said during a packed news conference in the Planning Department conference room.

In fact, she wants to add another 15 positions. The mayor's relatively sunny outlook - especially compared to other parts of the country - stems from property tax revenue increases from hotels and time-share properties, a significant infusion of federal stimulus and state revolving-fund dollars as well as funding cuts to county departments and nonprofits, among other things, she said.

Star Bulletin: Tavares proposes fee increases in budget

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Hawaii County: We can raid 2 percent fund

HILO -- While Mayor Billy Kenoi's administration views a proposed moratorium on Hawaii County's land use fund as a necessary evil to balance next fiscal year's budget, the woman who helped make the fund a law says doing so is illegal.
However, should the County Council agree to approve Kenoi's proposal to place the 2 percent land use fund on ice for two years, the county claims that action can withstand legal challenge.
Voters in 2006 approved the land use fund initiative by a 57 percent margin, thus creating an ordinance that required the county to set aside 2 percent of all real property taxes to buy properties residents believe should be protected from development and preserved for public use.

Because of the difficult economic times, Kenoi's proposed operating budget calls for placing a moratorium on the fund for two years, placing all tax revenues into the general fund and ignoring the 2 percent law. He estimates the county will save $4.5 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year by instituting a moratorium.

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Kenoi budget comes under fire

In a Wednesday letter to Kenoi, Hamakua Councilman Yagong suggested the administration take a harder stance with the proposed budget by considering a plethora of cost-saving measures such as job furloughs, across-the-board pay cuts, a $1 one-way fee for mass transit riders and prohibiting most employees from taking home county fleet cars.

Among other things, Kenoi's proposed budget -- which would go into effect July 1 and run through June 30, 2010 -- calls for selling about 3,400 acres in Hamakua the county obtained in 1995 in lieu of taxes from the Hamakua Sugar Co. to raise an estimated $8.2 million.

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SB Editorial reflects HSTA push back on Obama Ed reform 

Congress also should revise the No Child Left Behind law to expand measures of achievement beyond stringent test-score benchmarks, establish a wider range of corrective actions school districts can take and set up a framework to eliminate weak tests some states have adopted to prop up poor achievement numbers.  (Gut the tests so no one can tell how badly the school is doing)

Most controversial is Obama's proposal for merit pay for good teachers and for removing unmotivated and ineffective teachers. Unions, which have largely supported his party, were predictably lukewarm to the proposal.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association opposes tying pay of individual teachers to student test scores. Test scores should be part of evaluating teachers, but need not be the exclusive measure. Student response, classroom conduct, professional improvement and other gauges also should be factors. In addition, evaluations should be seen through grade-level achievements as well as through an entire campus.  (Create phony but warm and fuzzy reasons for rewarding teachers)

Assessments should be made collaboratively, among teachers and administrators, and should take in to account the makeup of the student population, such as the numbers of poverty-level, special needs and English-speaking students.  (Ensure that everyone has plenty of the same old excuses for failure.)

Schools also can be rewarded for creative programs that succeed and that can be duplicated on other campuses. The government can then set up a bank of models for schools to explore.  (In other words, teachers performance and pay should be judged on how well they continue the "creative" practices which are now failing our schools.)

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