Civil-unions bill stuck, likely dead
Robert Bunda, Will Espero, Mike Gabbard, Brickwood Galuteria, Josh Green, Colleen Hanabusa, Clayton Hee, Fred Hemmings, David Ige, Donna Mercado Kim, Russell Kokubun, Clarence Nishihara, Norman Sakamoto, Sam Slom, Dwight Takamine, Brian Taniguchi, Jill Tokuda, Shan Tsutsui
Suzanne Chun Oakland, Carol Fukunaga, Gary Hooser, Les Ihara Jr., Rosalyn Baker, Michelle Kidani
J. Kalani English
RELATED: Senate rejects hearing Gay Civil Unions bill
Gambling: Akaka Bill amended (again)
(Earlier this year, Dan Akaka's staffers re-wrote the Akaka Bill to remove the amendments negotiated with the Bush Justice Department. Now, after making zero progress in getting a hearing for the Akaka Bill, they have had to go back and replace some of them.)
Jesse Broder Van Dyke, Akaka's spokesman (spinning as fast as he could) , said the bill was not changed to appease any particular individuals or groups.
Media outlets, including The Honolulu Advertiser, "highlighted the gambling issue and a number of other people raised that concern," Van Dyke said. "We just wanted to clarify that the point of the bill is not to have gambling." (Getting dizzy?)
Akaka's office, on its Web site, also pointed out that despite "misinformation" spread by bill opponents, the bill also does not: allow Hawai'i to secede, create a reservation in Hawai'i or allow private lands to be taken.
(No, it creates a process for creation of a Hawaiian Tribal government which may decide to create a reservation on the lands owned by OHA and on whatever portion 100%??? of the ceded lands it snags. Akaka insults any reader by pretending that they are too stupid to know the word game he is playing with this distinction. As for private property being seized, we need not wait for the Tribe to begin that process. Confused? Google: "Hokulia", "Punaluu, Kau" or "Molokai Ranch". As for secession apparently it was Akaka himself who was earlier spreading what he now calls "misinformation.")
Obama earlier this month said he supports the bill but was not sure when it would be taken up by Congress given the present focus in Washington on the economic situation.
Akaka's Statement: "On March 25, 2009, Senator Akaka along with the other members of the Hawaii Congressional Delegation introduced the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009. The bill text is identical to S. 381/H.R. 862 introduced on February 4, 2009, with the inclusion of language explicitly prohibiting gaming."
Akaka's news release: "All forms of gambling are illegal in Hawaii and the Native Hawaiian Government will be subject to all state and federal laws." (Really??? Then put the clause forswearing formation of a separate legal jurisdiction back into the latest version of the Akaka Bill. Otherwise this is empty talk.)
Hawaii budget move could end school year 24 days early
(Latest blast of propaganda in the Democrats' war on taxpayers....) Gov. Linda Lingle's plan to close a $90 million deficit by restricting public school funds in anticipation that federal stimulus money for education is on the way drew a warning from Superintendent Pat Hamamoto yesterday:
If the stimulus money is not received by May 6, public schools may be forced to shut down 24 days early this year. (Because the one thing the DoE CAN'T do is lay off its useless bureaucrats.)
Star Bulletin: Lingle plan to use BOE funds attacked
Hawaii DOE's Special Education Report Raises Questions
The report shows that Hawaii's schools are still grossly out of compliance with the federal special education law, the IDEA. All of the DOE's annual reports, since it started reporting in 2006, have shown the same large degree of noncompliance. For instance, over 80% of Hawaii's children with disabilities are still improperly segregated for a significant portion of their school day; only 16% are proficient in reading and 8% proficient in math, not due to their disabilities but due to the DOE's poor special education programs; and only 30% of parents feel the DOE includes them in decision making as they are legally required to do.
But on page one, the first big question is raised - the DOE claims that it has met all federal requirements since it started reporting. How can that possibly be true when the rest of the report chronicles huge instances of noncompliance?
The DOE states that it is required to make progress on its state-wide plan to improve compliance. So does "meets requirements" mean they are making progress on their plan, or does it mean the schools in our state are complying with the IDEA? Our governor, legislators, and the media have all been confused by this word game.....
Hawaii students prepare to face off in fierce robot competition
Crews have started setting it up for the 2009 NASA/BAE Systems FIRST in Hawaii Regional Robotics Competition where 1,000 students from Hawaii and all over the world will face off.
Practice is on Thursday, game day is Friday and Saturday. The Governor's office says March Madness has nothing on this competition. (The DoE did not comment for this story....)
24 of the 34 teams are from Hawaii. Most of them have robotics experience, although there is one rookie - Kalani High School.
RELATED: Big Island Robotics Teams head for international competition this weekend
Governor plans to cut state workers' pay to ease Hawaii deficit
Cuts to wages and benefits of state workers would have to be negotiated through collective-bargaining with public-worker labor unions. Lingle said she wanted to work with state lawmakers and labor leaders on the budget and noted that New York Gov. David Paterson ordered 8,900 layoffs of state workers after unions fought concessions.
Roger Takabayashi, president of the Hawai'i State Teachers Association, said he had yet to hear details of the governor's proposal.
"We haven't heard it at the table, so basically she's bargaining in the media again," he said.
Takabayashi was also critical of Lingle's plan to use $157.2 million in state fiscal stabilization funds meant for public education to help close the deficit. Lingle said she would use the remaining $35 million of the total $192 million in stabilization money for Hawai'i on a joint education plan for kindergarten-through-12th grade public schools and the University of Hawai'i. (Anything is better than pouring it into the DoE cesspool.)
In addition, the governor would take $10 million of the Medicaid money for adult mental health services. Social-service providers have warned about the dangers of cuts to mental health programs, citing the stabbing death last month of Wai'anae High School teacher Asa Yamashita at an 'Ewa shopping center by a man with a long history of mental illness. Lingle said state spending on mental health services had more than doubled since she took office, but she wanted to increase spending to show that it remains a priority
Related: Governor's plan to balance budget without layoffs or tax increases
SB: Economic recovery requires affordable health care system (Hawaii HHSC & HMSA is Obama's model)
Hawaii became the first state to require minimum mandatory employer-based health insurance 35 years ago. As a result, a study released this week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed that one in seven adult workers in Hawaii are insured, compared with one in five nationally.
(And the hospitals on sister islands are going broke. Private hospitals are blocked. When sister island residents need anything serious they fly to Oahu. Universal coverage but no service. Typical socialist result--and THIS is Obama's model for the US health care system.)
refutes challenges Superferry claims
The Young Brothers officials said it's not correct to say that their company and others have not undergone environmental review for harbor projects. The 109-year-old Young Brothers has in the past and is today undergoing environmental reviews consistent with the same environmental review laws that apply to Superferry. The requirements kick in whenever the Hawaii Department of Transportation makes harbor improvements, including those laid out in the current Kahului Harbor 2020 master plan and proposed 2030 master plan.
(And their monopoly is the prime beneficiary of the Superferry's departure.)
New law opens up possibilities near rail transit stations
A bill that would permit new land uses around rail transit stations was signed into law yesterday by Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann. Hannemann, who has favored developing a rail system from Kapolei to Ala Moana, said the transit bill will allow greater flexibility in planning a "vibrant transportation system that will help all of us."
(It will also tie the prosperity of nearby landowners to construction of the rail system. No rail = No up-zoning)
Water supply uses its resources to pay the bills
Hawaii County Department of Water Supply is using the power of water flowing naturally downhill from its Waikoloa Reservoirs to generate electricity, enough to power its entire Waimea Treatment Plant and sell the excess to the Hawaii Electric Light Co., said Julie Myhre, engineer and energy management analyst for the water department's Operations Division.
(What??? They aren't begging for more tax dollars from the Legislature? Somebody better fix this mess before others find out!)
In face of cuts, nonprofits lobbying to protect grants
Hundreds of people packed the Maui Waena Intermediate School cafeteria for the latest in the Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee's series of community hearings. Last year, Mayor Charmaine Tavares asked nonprofits to reduce their grant requests to the county by 10 percent, due to reduced revenues. The budget she proposed earlier this month included reductions in varying sizes to nearly all grants.
Maui Community College student and single mother Janis Opiana pleaded for Maui Economic Opportunity's child-care program Head Start to get the same funding it received last year.
Funding for Head Start's after-school program would be cut from $219,975 to $174,775 in Tavares' budget, while the summer program would be cut from $123,900 to $95,760.
Pork Dreams: Hawaii receiving $15M in stimulus money for energy, conservation
Activities the money can support include energy audits and making residential and commercial buildings more energy efficient, improving building codes and inspections, creating financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements. It can also go for transportation programs that conserve energy, projects that reduce or capture greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, and making traffic signals and street lights more energy efficient.
Funding is based on a formula that accounts for population and energy use. States will administer funds for counties and cities not large enough to qualify directly for the grants. States and local governments will also be able to compete for additional dollars.
The state and local governments getting the money have to report on the number of jobs they create through the program, energy saved, greenhouse gas emissions reduced and other measurements.
RELATED: $2M for 'rural bus program' , Military Facilities in Hawaii to Receive $184 Million in Stimulus Funding for Renovations
(Borrowed from China and Saudi Arabia. We'll find something to spend it on somewhere....)
RELATED: Obama to propose over $1.3 Trillion in new taxes
Hawaii County Council considers delaying raid on 2 percent fund
The fund was established in 2004 through a voter-approved initiative led by Hecht, and it requires the county to set aside 2 percent of all real property taxes collected annually to buy properties residents believe should be spared from development.
Kenoi's proposed two-year suspension of the fund is projected to save $4.5 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year. However, his request also calls for raiding more than $2 million from the fund this fiscal year to balance county expenses.
Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann said he will introduce an amendment to Kenoi's request during an April 7 council Finance Committee meeting that calls for keeping the fund intact for the balance of this fiscal year.
By keeping the money in the fund, the county will have more than $11 million set aside with which to buy properties, Hoffmann said.
Honolulu Council candidates profiled
Wilson Kekoa Ho , Steve Holmes , Tom Pico Jr. , Ikaika Anderson , Keoki Leong , John Henry Felix , Tracy Nakano Bean , Pohai Ryan