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Monday, March 16, 2009
March 16, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:49 AM :: 7560 Views

1,000 rally against Gay Civil Unions, for spending

"We want to turn the focus away from civil unions and focus instead on the needs of the people of the state of Hawai'i," said former state Rep. Dennis Arakaki (D-Kalihi), interim head of the Hawai'i Family Forum.  "It's more of a distraction from the real issues," Arakaki said. "Obviously the economy should be No. 1, but we're also concerned with cuts in services and programs, especially for the homeless, the mentally ill and the physically disabled. And of course, cuts in education. If we could get as much attention focused on these issues as we did on civil unions ... "  (Democrat Arakaki trying to re-focus anti-Gay Civil Unions effort in favor of Democrats' tax increases?) 

PROFILE: Dkosopedia on Arakaki

RELATED: 1,400 testify on Gay civil Unions , 8,000 protest against Gay Civil Unions

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Angling for tax increase, officials warn budget cuts could unleash a litany of social ills

House Speaker Calvin Say predicts layoffs will lead to a "domino effect" of social ills, including domestic abuse and alcoholism.  Yet government contracts for support services offered by small businesses often get chopped first, said Nanci Kreidman, Domestic Violence Action Center chief executive officer.  "More people are coming to us for help, and we're having to turn people away simply because there isn't enough funding," echoed Daniel de Castro of the Salvation Army.

RELATED SALES PITCH: Even in tough times, don't lose clean energy goals, Charities push for funds 

Commentary: At the Hawaii Capitol, Tax and Fee Hikes Loom

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W. Maui Hospital developer ‘ecstatic’

State Health Planning and Development Agency Administrator Ronald Terry faxed his favorable decision to developer Brian Hoyle and Newport Hospital Corp. in California on Friday afternoon.  "We're ecstatic. We're overjoyed," Hoyle said Sunday morning.

Newport Hospital Corp. intends to build a $45 million critical access hospital with 25 acute-care beds and a 40-bed skilled nursing facility on 14.9 acres next to Lahaina Civic Center.  Maui Memorial Medical Center would continue to serve as the primary acute-care facility for the island, and should not, according to Hoyle, be negatively affected by the establishment of a West Maui hospital.  (Which is why this got approved)

RELATED: SHPDA Approves West Maui Hospital

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SB: Tort reform will lure more physicians to Hawaii

Trial Attorney Marty Fritz's commentary "Tort reform is not the cure for isle health care problems" (Star-Bulletin, March 3), says that statistics show that Hawaii had a big increase in licensed doctors; however, he's using figures that include retired and non-practicing doctors. Having a lot of retired doctors registered with the state doesn't help people in need of medical care.

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Residents often kept in the dark by OIP

When the state auditor found sexually explicit e-mails on Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO Rex Johnson's state computer last year, activist Carroll Cox made a formal request for the letter that was sent to lawmakers informing them of the discovery.  But Cox said he was rebuffed by the state Office of Information Practices, which said the disclosure of auditor Marion Higa's letter would frustrate "a legitimate government function" and could impede a possible criminal investigation, which never materialized.

Cox said the odd part about the OIP opinion is that it came in the form of an informal (or memorandum) opinion that is not easily available or accessible to the public.

"The way they handled it was wrong. By not making it a formal opinion, they basically made it confidential," said Cox.  "This contradicts the whole purpose of the OIP."

Carroll Cox's website:

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Akaka bill waiting for breathing room

At a recent press briefing, Obama said, "If Danny gets me a bill, I'll sign it." But he added that for now, the Native Hawaiian bill is far from a priority, underscoring the challenge the Hawai'i delegation faces.  "Now, I won't lie to my former neighbors and friends — with an economy in free-fall, two wars going on, housing foreclosures at record levels — I have not spent a lot of time in these first few weeks focused on that bill," Obama said. 

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Defending Imiloa Earmark: "DC delegation brings home the bacon"

"I ask the senator from Hawaii," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said to Democrat Daniel Inouye on the Senate floor recently. "Why do we need $2 million to promote astronomy in Hawaii when unemployment is going up and the stock market is tanking?"

But to Kimura, the $2 million "earmark" that Inouye and Rep. Mazie Hirono secured is anything but a throwaway line about profligate spending. Rather, she insists, the money will help create enthusiasm for science among native Hawaiian children who have few educational opportunities outside of school.

RELATED: Why Hawaii needs $2 million “for the promotion of astronomy”

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Red Tape: Some projects get held up in tangles, snags

In the case of the fire station, $10.5 million was originally appropriated in 2007, but bids came in over budget, and the funding expired when it wasn't used by the end of that year. The fire department returned to the Maui County Council for a new appropriation of $12.3 million in early 2008, enough to cover the higher construction costs.

But the project hit another snag when the county started taking steps to separate the 5 acres it wanted to purchase from a larger parcel owned by Molokai Properties Ltd. The subdivision process set off a series of additional requirements and reviews, and the sale stalled in state land court....

Project delayed by a contested construction bid, 2008 funding has lapsed and must be reappropriated. Decision on contested bid expected by the end of the month....

Project went over budget and received an additional $250,000 taken from other projects....

2007 funding lapsed and was reappropriated in 2009. County in negotiations to buy land along the roadway from 12 property owners....

Funding will not be used because project is not ready to be constructed....

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Japan tried 2nd Pearl Harbor attack on March 4, 1942

But the botched March 4, 1942, raid — whose target was again Pearl Harbor — woke up Navy officials to the use of French Frigate Shoals as a spy base early in World War II, and would three months later figure in the turning point for U.S. fortune in the Pacific, the Battle of Midway.

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Former reporter details problems at West Hawaii Today

I wonder when West Hawaii Today publisher Rick Asbach will finally see things for what they are.  It’s like he is in La-La land or something.  All those talented reporters, photographers, city editors and copy editors that have high-tailed it, even without a job lined up, are leaving because, like me, they find that Reed Flickinger is mentally trying and, yes, abusive, hello, Rick?  Don’t you get it?  Reed is machiavellian.  He has no loyalties, not even to you, Rick.  Reed decides for one reason or another to put a writer, photographer, copy editor, or city editor on his shit list and makes work life completely miserable until you can’t take it anymore and you quit for the sake of your sanity.  If that isn’t a hostile work environment, I don’t know what is.

I can understand why Jim Quirk doesn’t want to speak publicly going on with him and Reed.  Right after I quit the West Hawaii Today, both Hunter Bishop and Andrew Walden contacted me to tell them about what happened, and I really didn’t want to air my dirty laundry.  Jim Quirk just wants to get out of here, and he wants to spare himself in last weeks he serves as the West Hawaii Today Hilo Bureau chief.  

(Flickinger has long used his paper to twist County-related stories in an obvious effort to stoke Kona vs. Hilo conflict.)

RELATED: Nancy Cook Lauer named WHT Hilo bureau chief

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Geothermal plant's expansion on track

Executives of Ormat Technologies Inc. earlier this month said the company plans to add 8 megawatts of generating capacity to the existing 30-megawatt capacity at the Big Island facility by the end of the year....Puna Geothermal currently provides 20 percent of Hawai'i County's electricity with its 15-year-old, 30-megawatt plant. The Big Island leads the state when it comes to electricity generated from renewable sources, with almost 40 percent coming from geothermal, wind, hydroelectric and other sources.

Among geothermal's appeals for Hawaii Electric Light Co. is its reliability. The plant draws steam and hot water from beneath the Earth's surface to generate electricity before the fluid is injected back into the ground. Puna Geothermal says the plan has zero emissions because none of the gas or liquid is exposed to the air.  This "firm" power source is more predictable than wind or solar energy and operates 24 hours a day.

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