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Wednesday, March 18, 2009
March 18, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:57 AM :: 9559 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, Maui County News, Honolulu County News, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News

Hawaii Superferry to start laying off workers as of tomorrow: Leaving for Guam?

Hawaii Superferry yesterday announced it would start laying off its 236 employees after tomorrow's final sailing, as it appears more likely the company will leave the state for good.

(WHY?  Here is the answer:)

Hanabusa said the Senate also is not interested in revamping the state's environmental review law, known as Chapter 343, to ease the rules. Although the Legislature last year allocated money for a Legislative Reference Bureau study of the law, "we are not going to do anything to it piecemeal to help Hawaii Superferry. That's not going to happen."

(And the AG?) 

The state is reviewing Monday's ruling to decide whether to file a motion asking the Supreme Court to reconsider, (Mark Bennett) said.  "It's a long decision. We want to carefully study it," Bennett said. "We want to make sure our motion is on appropriate grounds. We have one shot to do this. ... If we don't succeed, then we have to accept it and move on."

KHON: "Several sources confirm the ship owners are looking for a new home for the first vessel, eyeing places including Guam. The state meanwhile gets ready to take hundreds more onto the unemployment rolls....Whether the second ship current assigned elsewhere could make a go of it here remains up in the air. That ship does not need the ramps that triggered the environmental hurdles."  

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    Ending Superferry service would be a blow to Hawaii

    This ruinous situation that began four years ago with the exemption came to a head with a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that the law known as Act 2 is unconstitutional because it favors a specific entity, violating "a fundamental principle of the democratic nature of our government: equal rights and treatment for all persons under the law."

    The court found that although the legislation appeared to encompass a generic "large capacity ferry vessel company," its effects were "illusory" because specifics in the law could apply only to the Superferry.

    Further, the time frame of 21 months for applying Act 2 realistically limited the benefits to the Superferry because entry by another entity would have been impossible when building a similar vessel alone would have taken three years, as did the Superferry.  (And so why did the Leg have to write that 21 month time frame into Act 2?  Because they are unwilling to give up even a little of the power that comes from Chapter 343.)

    How the state and the company will proceed is unclear. The unconstitutional legislation allowed a less stringent environmental review than long-standing law requires and that evaluation has yet to be completed.

    RELATED POINOGRAPHY: "(T)here are at least two bills with suitable titles, should legislators insist on lacing up their gloves again on behalf of HSF."

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    Hawaiian recognition bill slipping into obscurity

    The Akaka bill made its best progress several years ago when it was below the political radar. Since then, groups concerned about racially preferential legislation and other Constitutional issues have given it a much higher profile.  If the idea slips back to a back-list matter, it might indeed have a better chance to getting through the Congressional process.

    RELATED: Akaka Bill waiting for breathing room

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    Trustee Pay Revisited

    Gov. Ben Cayetano believe the way trustee pay is set is still out of whack and opens the trust to the type of abuses that haunted the estate during the late 1990s.

    Previously, trustee pay was based on a formula set by law which entitled them to up to 2 percent of the estate’s annual gross. That resulted in $1 million-a-year trustee pay checks that nearly got the trust's tax-exempt status revoked by the Internal Revenue Service.

    Now, trustee pay is supposed to be set at reasonable levels. Every several years, a Probate Court-appointed panel is supposed to come up with recommendations on what those reasonable levels are.

    In 2004, the panel approved raising trustees maximum pay by more than 69 percent, generating much criticism among the schools’ ohana and the state Attorney General.

    Probate Judge Colleen Hirai approved that  increase but trustees turned it down.

    Last year, the panel approved a similar plan before trustees decided to take  their pay cut. The increase was again opposed by some members of the Kamehameha ohana as well as by the Attorney General’s office.

    According to Cayetano, the lack of a more permanent trustee compensation schedule exposes the trust to future controversies.

    read more

    KSBE announces Hawaii Executive Conference canceled

    The conference has been held annually since 1963 and is an invitation-only event limited to about 300 people, including spouses. Attendees are charged a significant fee that covers the cost of rooms and meals but not transportation. High-profile speakers from around the world are brought in to help facilitate discussions over four days....conference chairman Dee Jay Mailer, CEO of Kamehameha Schools....   (Just a little peek into how the inner functioning of corporatism, Hawaii-style.)

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    State educators favor longer school day for students

    But more time in class means more pay, officials say. (Tax-increase propaganda article, note photo of Dan Inouye teaching class....)

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    Pork Dreams: Bill in Legislature pushes to put Hawaii medical records online

    Lawmakers estimate that with more than $20 billion appropriated for health information technology in the federal stimulus plan, building a system in Hawai'i could bring more money to the state than any other project save for rail transit.

    "This particular initiative would be a tremendous boost to the state," said State House Speaker Calvin Say, D-20th (St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Wilhelmina Rise), a supporter of the initiative.

    A House bill introduced by state Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, D-41st (Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele) would create an office of state coordinator of health information exchange to assist in developing a health information exchange program.

    (Pork.  But what about privacy?)

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    ML&P loses more than $70 million in 4th quarter

    Will sell golf course to improve balance sheet.  (A concept the State is prevented from applying because of OHA's ceded lands suit.)

    RELATED COVERAGE: Star-Bulletin , Maui News

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    Big Island Stimulus list released

    HILO -- Hawaii County is expected to receive $11 million in federal stimulus dollars immediately for bridge projects in East Hawaii and is likely to receive $35.6 million later this year for a proposed midlevel road project in Kona and the first increment of the five-mile-long Waimea Trails and Greenway project.

    Kenoi said Monday this is "really good" for the Big Island because it is set to receive the highest percentage of stimulus funds for road projects.
    "We're going to get our fair share," he said.  (No thanks to Billy K who completely failed in his efforts to nab stimulus money.)
    Managing Director Bill Takaba said recently the administration doesn't expect to receive anything near $487.1 million that was initially sought.  (In fact not one penny)
    County Council Chairman J Yoshimoto said Monday he is appreciative of the efforts of the administration and the island's congressional delegation for securing stimulus money for county projects.  (Actually the Lingle Administration got that money)

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    Hawaii County Public Works PIO criticized

    The Big Island Press Club has selected Noelani Whittington, public information officer for the Hawaii County Department of Public Works, as the unfavorable recipient of the Big Island Press Club's Lava Tube Award, given annually to highlight the worst violation of government openness in the state.
    The Torch of Light Award, awarded for the best example of open government, goes to Gov. Linda Lingle and the Hawaii State Legislature for passing a law to protect newsgatherers from revealing confidential sources.

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    Hawaii County Budget: "Spend $2M now"

    Yagong also suggests the administration figure out a way to cut costs for janitorial services.
    He said the county is spending $556,909 for janitorial services this year, and mostly in the Public Works Department, the Police Department and Wastewater Department.
    Yagong wonders whether these departments could reduce the number of days they are served with janitorial service and suggests county employees can help by "cleaning and monitoring their own area or office."
    Yagong also suggests the administration may be able to save by budgeting less for employee cell phones and pagers. The county this year is spending $174,847 on employee cell phones and $3,876 for pagers.

    RELATED: WHT Greenwell calls for massive park expansion

    North Kona Councilman Kelly Greenwell returned to the Big Island following the National Association of Counties conference with a renewed belief that the county can qualify for more federal stimulus money.
    The belief comes despite the decision by Congress to have the money filtered through state governments and counties' inability to submit projects directly to the federal government, Greenwell's disagreement about what projects would qualify and long-standing protests against state and county departments that try to move projects beyond the planning stages.

    Further, Greenwell lauded the effects of civil disobedience. Were he mayor, he would be grading and grubbing the site for the Alii Highway, he said. Those actions are acceptable if the civil disobedient doesn't personally profit, he added.

    "The practical application is talking to people in much higher levels of government who understand what we have to do to get out of this predicament," he said. "We have our fingers on the pulse of what needs to happen a lot better than Neil Abercrombie or Mazie Hirono."

    read more

    Ilind: Army reports describe gang-related incidents at Schofield

    U.S. Army had more gang-related incidents in Hawaii during 2004-2005 than in any other part of the world, according to a September 2005 report of gang activity compiled by the Army’s Crime Records Center.

    read more


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