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Thursday, June 18, 2009
June 18, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:22 AM :: 9000 Views

Lingle rejects unions' latest trick


Lingle will outline in more detail her plan to furlough state workers at a news conference this afternoon.... 

Lingle, in her response to Astrue, said her administration would monitor the workload in the disability determination branch and could add workers if demand increases, using some of the savings from furloughs to help cover the costs....

"Furloughs are the most cost effective, the least painful, and nobody loses their job, nobody loses their tenure, nobody loses their seniority, nobody loses their benefits," said state Rep. Gene Ward, R-17th (Kalama Valley, Queen's Gate, Hawai'i Kai).

(This dog and pony show is front page on the Star-Bulletin)

Hawaii's congressional delegation is asking Gov. Linda Lingle to reconsider her decision to furlough state workers who are paid with federal funds, especially those who process claims for disabled residents and military personnel.

Possible furloughs for 37 state employees and 16 medical consultants -- all federally funded -- under contract to the Disability Determination Branch of the state Department of Human Services prompted a letter to the governor yesterday from U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka and Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono. (Who see this as a talking point in next years gubernatorial election.)

University of Hawaii researchers expressed concerns last week about adverse effects of the governor's proposed furloughs for an estimated 3,000 research staff members who are also paid with federal funds.

Lowell Kepke, Social Security spokesman in the San Francisco office, said by telephone (screamed) that the proposed furloughs are "an anti-stimulus action."  (He then began muttering, repeating "anti-stimulus", until muffled sounds of a struggle were heard in the background and the line went dead.)

Lingle responded, "Failure to institute furloughs will leave Hawaii with little choice but to start massive layoffs of state personnel that could result in the shutdown of entire programs." 

(And all of this is moot because it is now in the hands of the Judiciary union servants--do they want furloughs or layoffs?  How can they use this to win in 2010?)

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County workers to be spared furloughs

HILO -- Hawaii County employees will avoid furloughs or layoffs threatened against their state counterparts under unprecedented action announced Tuesday by the state Council of Mayors.
For the first time ever, the four mayors are presenting their own package for collective bargaining, instead of lumping all state and county employees together.
"While we have areas of agreement with the governor, it is important that during this round of negotiations, we handle certain issues differently from the state," said Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi in a statement. "We appreciate the governor's willingness to be flexible and to work collaboratively with the counties as we navigate the economic challenges that confront all of us."

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Honolulu prosecutor, chairman of city council may run for mayor

Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle and City Council Chairman Todd Apo are seriously looking at the possibility of running for Honolulu mayor if Mayor Mufi Hannemann steps down to run for governor.

Hannemann last week authorized the formation of a committee to explore the possibility of a gubernatorial run in 2010. Hannemann would need to resign by July 2010 to do so, leaving two years on his term and triggering a special election.

"I'm seriously considering running for the office of mayor," Carlisle told The Advertiser yesterday.

Apo said "a lot of people" from the government sector and the business community have asked him to think about a mayoral run if Hannemann steps down. "So I'm considering it."

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Joe Bertram not to seek reelection???

Bertram: "I will continue to work behind the scenes but in a more limited capacity until the end of my term in 2010."  (But who will stand up for the poor misbegotten pedophiles if Bertram isn't in the Leg?  Rida Cabanilla?  Roz Baker?) 

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Hawaii public housing director urges veto of fees, limited stays

The bill aimed at capping the number of years people can live in state public housing would set up a pilot project at one housing development. Under the bill, those who are living in the housing project chosen for the pilot as of July 1 would have to leave after five years. Those who enter after July 1 would be allowed to live there for seven years.

The cap would not apply to the elderly or the disabled.

On the Mainland, 32 housing authorities also participate in the Moving to Work program, which limits the amount of time people can stay in federal public housing to five years. The federal program is not taking any other housing authorities as participants, so it can't be expanded here.

The average stay for tenants in state public housing projects was not available yesterday. But 2008 federal figures show more than one-third of the families who live in Hawai'i's federal public housing projects have been there for 10 years or more.

RELATED: Public housing bills lack workable solutions

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Unions to pick new Honolulu chief

A five-member committee will help the Honolulu Police Commission search for a new chief of police to replace Boisse Correa whose five-year term will end Aug. 31.

» Ron Taketa, financial secretary and business representative of the Hawaii Carpenters Union, Local 745. Taketa, a three-term former commissioner, represents the labor sector and was involved in selecting the last three chiefs.

» Ed Hubenette, Marriott Hotels, international area vice president for North Asia, Hawaii and the South Pacific, member of the Hawaii Business Roundtable.

» Linda Wong, small business owner who owns World of Aloha. Wong was chief of staff under former Mayor Frank Fasi for more than 10 years and held positions in the state Senate and the lieutenant governor's office.

» William "Buzzy" Hong, executive director of Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council, former chairman of the Honolulu Fire Commission. He helped oversee the selection of the current fire chief.

» Tim Johns, president and chief executive officer of Bishop Museum and former Department of Land and Natural Resources director.

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Highway revamp faces roadblocks

Gov. Linda Lingle has been trying to advance the concept of public-private-partnerships that would bring our economy into the 21st century using highway technology that is currently thriving across the globe. The Highways Modernization Plan, SB1611 that stalled in conference committee this past legislative session, was another approach devised by Lingle to tackle our transportation crisis. No other governor has better sought to prepare us for the day when cars run "green" and the need for more roads to accommodate their popularity and efficiency is a must-have in order to preserve our quality of life.

For a glimpse into the highways plan, go to the Web site: dot/highways/modernization. In a nutshell: The plan would dedicate funds to specific transportation projects. Another opportunity to learn more on the topic is offered on Fridays this month, at 8 p.m. on channel 54, on a TV program featuring Panos Prevedouros, professor of civil engineering at UH-Manoa, and Rep. Cynthia Thielen, a leader promoting energy independence. They discuss the plight of the state's Highways Modernization Plan going nowhere, for now.

RELATED: Honolulu Council Members Take Concerns Over Mayor's Rail Plan to US DOT

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Hawaii County Eastern bloc flexes voting power (back to 5-4 again)

"This is not about Mayor (Billy) Kenoi," Enriques said during the meeting at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa. "This is not
about East Hawaii/West Hawaii. This is not a power play."  (You can always tell what's up by what they deny)

Yagong, Ford, Hoffmann and North Kona's Kelly Greenwell voted against the reorganizations. Yagong and Greenwell in particular questioned Naeole's qualifications to serve as vice chair.

In other business, potential Windward Planning Commission member Christopher Manfredi withdrew himself from consideration, citing repeatedly voiced concerns about actual or perceived conflicts of interest (Which have divided community members backing Enriques).

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Bigger role for Naeole

At one point, Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi sought postponement of his resolution promoting Naeole, only to be quickly convinced otherwise by Naeole herself.
"I just feel a little offended," Naeole said of Onishi's surprise motion made when lawmakers appeared ready to vote on the matter. "I have put myself on the line, and now you're going to shoot it down."
Naeole then started crying, needing several tissues to wipe away the tears following her passionate speech.

Enriques said Yagong and Ford are not "team players."
But the council can't simply rubber stamp the mayor's initiatives, Yagong said.
Yagong said he'll accept the demotion, but that won't reduce his effectiveness and might even increase his aggressiveness.
"I certainly won't cry over it," he said. "I saw this thing coming two months ago."
Others predicted it even earlier.
Ikeda, for example, told the Tribune-Herald the day after the Nov. 4 election that the council's unity approach would "definitely" fail.
During his Dec. 1 inauguration speech, Yoshimoto said he has a "good man, a good leader by my side" in Hoffmann. On Tuesday, however, Yoshimoto cast the swing vote to replace Hoffmann.
A couple dozen people testified on the resolutions from Hilo, Waimea and Kona. Nearly every speaker opposed the measures. Words such as "irresponsible," "ridiculous," "shameful" and "despicable" were used.
"We're all here to tell you this is a mistake in your leadership, and we're asking you to make a correction," said Megan Isaac-Magdalene. "There are a lot of people out here who are very upset with what you're doing."

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Maui Co. Curbside recycling is sought

After the island's only scrap yard closed (by environmental regs.) in 2005, the county became littered with abandoned vehicles with no means to get rid of them  (eco-socialism in action). In 2007, the county forwarded a final proposal to build an almost 15-acre scrap yard for the vehicles.

However, in the interim, private companies such as Kitagawa's Towing & Transport and SOS Metals Recycling have stepped in with facilities that handle not only abandoned cars but also appliances and scrap metal, most of which is compacted and sold off island. The county also contracts with the companies for their services.

The county's new plan goes in another direction completely. It calls for a materials recovery facility, which sorts out small-sized recyclables, as part of the recently approved Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, said Environmental Management Director Cheryl Okuma.  (Putting the private companies out of business again)

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Respected professor accused of arson

An Oahu grand jury indicted a tenured math professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa yesterday for arson in a case that his colleagues call a tragedy reminiscent of the movie "A Beautiful Mind."  David Bleecker, 61, has taught and conducted research at UH-Manoa for more than 35 years and co-wrote a textbook on "Basic Partial Differential Equations" that is still used by undergraduates on campus.

Bleecker did not show any obvious symptoms of mental illness, colleagues said, until last year, about the time he was relieved of his teaching duties.

A spokeswoman for UH-Manoa confirmed that Bleecker is no longer teaching, but she said he is still receiving his salary.

Prosecutors yesterday said Bleecker is homeless. A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety said he remains in custody at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, apparently unable or unwilling to post $15,000 bail.

Police arrested Bleecker about 4 p.m. June 11 at a bus stop across the street from campus after someone attempted to set fire to his office on the third floor of the Physical Sciences Building.

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Chemopobia: Fluoridation of Water- An Ongoing Contentious Issue in Hawaii

Honolulu remains one of the few cities among the nation’s largest to not have fluoridated water, report R. Allan Freeze and Jay Lehr in their new book, The Fluoride Wars (Wiley).  Certainly this is not news to Hawaii residents, but if you want to get an update and overview of this controversial topic, this book is a must read. 

(Obviously the Leg is refusing to fluoridate water as a joke on the remnants of the anti-communist opposition to the ILWU.  By the early 1960s the union's opponents had degenerated into an anti-fluoridation group.  That's the same sense of humor displayed in the naming of Stainback Highway--which leads directly to Kulani prison--as compared to John A. Burns Way which leads to the top of Mauna Kea, to the stars.)  

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Kauai: Ceremony today to honor shot Hawaiian monk seals

LIHU‘E — A ceremony in memory of two Hawaiian monk seals shot to death in April and May on Kaua‘i will be held this morning at Po‘ipu Beach Park.
The Hawaiian service will begin at 9:30 a.m. and include the release of the seals’ ashes and a ceremony conducted by Kumu Sabra Kauka, a Kaua‘i native practitioner.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, along with NOAA Fisheries Service and the Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation, will be acknowledging the monk seal and its importance in the “whole realm” of life, Kauka said in an interview Wednesday.

[The ancient Hawaiians called the delicious monk seal 'Ilio holo I ka uaua (dog that runs in rough water)....]

[No word yet on the Obama Admin's response to Kauai eco-activists request to house GTMO detainees]

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