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Wednesday, June 24, 2009
June 24, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:12 AM :: 8509 Views

NKorea threatens to "wipe U.S. off the map"

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea threatened Wednesday to wipe the United States off the map as Washington and its allies watched for signs the regime will launch a series of missiles in the coming days. 

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Hawaii court sets July 2 hearing on state's worker furloughs (Unions demand layoffs)

Following a closed-door status conference yesterday morning with Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto  (so this is who the unions got when they went Judge-shopping), state Attorney General Mark Bennett and union lawyer Herbert Takahashi said the judge had expedited the hearing date but only to July 2....

The unions' legal paperwork made public yesterday repeats many of the arguments already raised against the governor's furlough plans.

Principal among them is the contention that unilaterally imposing furloughs violates protections of the collective bargaining process written into the state Constitution.

"Hawaii is one of five states in the nation which affords constitutional protection for collective bargaining," the motion said, adding that the others are New York, Florida, Missouri and New Jersey.

The motion cited a 2002 state Supreme Court decision which ruled that a unilateral pay freeze for public workers ordered by the state Legislature in 1999 was unconstitutional.  (And so furloughs are now part of the contract to be negotiated like pay rates?  Maybe they really want those layoffs.) 

"Here, Gov. Lingle seeks to accomplish by unilateral action precisely what the Supreme Court held was unconstitutional in (another) case that involved a fiscal crisis," the TRO motion said.

After the meeting with Sakamoto yesterday, Bennett said he believes the courts can't be asked to intervene in the dispute until the Hawaii Labor Relations Board first addresses it.

But the HSTA-UPW position is that the issue belongs before the courts "rather than the Hawaii Labor Relations Board because the governor's decision and actions present a constitutional question."

SB: Motion to block furloughs to be heard in court July 2

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Borreca: Measure of victory will be how little is lost (union strategy outlined)

Absent finding $733 million in the bottom of Honolulu Harbor, the state will move ahead with furloughs and the unions will go to court to forestall the furloughs.

In a grim sign of movement last week, state managers at Lingle's direction started writing down the names of state workers to be laid off if the courts halt the furloughs.

If that worst-case option takes place, the damage could be union solidarity, besides just workers' lives and families. If the rank and file feel they are being sacrificed for some unionwide bargaining strategy, the unions themselves will be damaged. (A WIN!)

What if the unions are able to take the time between furloughs and layoffs and use it to forge agreement among legislative Democrats to raid more special funds or raise taxes to solve the budget shortfall? 

The mechanics of that would mean the Democrats would have to call themselves into session, draft a tax increase plan, send it to an inevitable veto by Lingle and then have the supermajority needed to override the Lingle rejection.  (But they won't.)

It is doable, but it comes perilously close to next year's elections, not a time of tax-raising courage.  (And we don't want to do anything to shake the one-party system.)

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Unions take their case to the public

The unions have launched a person-to-person campaign with union members giving merchants a business card explaining that their purchases are possible because of their state paychecks.  (I taxed you and now I am spending some of your money.  Thank me.)  

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Funds give green light to electric-car operation

How will they loot this thing?

Better Place Hawaii Inc. has access to $45 million in special purpose revenue bond money for the planning, design, building and development of transportation infrastructure, equipment and apparatus to support electric vehicles now that Gov. Linda Lingle has signed House Bill 1483 into law as Act 114.  (Local banks profit)

The company is lining up financing, has signed a memorandum of agreement with Hawaiian Electric Co. to buy electricity and is moving ahead with its Hawaii plans. (KSBE/HECO ca-ching!)

The company has made the most progress in Israel, where it has installed 900 charging stations in public parking lots, ready to power cars that have not been built yet but are being developed by automobile companies, Cooper said.  (What?  No cars???)

The Hawaii subsidiary continues to raise money to pay for its initiative (ACT215/221 tax credits galore for local 'investors') and is examining how best to go about using the bond money, he said.

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Hawaii Superferry wants to transfer catamarans to creditors

A significant issue in the bankruptcy case is Superferry's contention that it does not have to make payments toward the harbor improvements because an operating agreement with the state is void. The state Department of Transportation maintains that the operating agreement is still in effect.

The federal Maritime Administration, which guaranteed construction loans for the catamarans; Austal USA, the Alabama shipbuilder that built the vessels; and the state of Hawaii, which provided harbor improvements, are secured creditors with mortgage rights.

The Maritime Administration, which holds first priority on the mortgages and is owed $135.7 million, would likely take possession of the catamarans for charter if the bankruptcy court approves Superferry's request. Austal USA, which holds the second mortgage, announced last week that it is writing off the $22.9 million it is owed for construction loans.

A hearing on Superferry's request is set for July 1.

The state of Hawaii, meanwhile, has asked the bankruptcy court to move the proceedings from Delaware to Hawaii. An attorney for the state argues that a change of venue is necessary to protect the state's strong interest in the project — $40 million worth of harbor improvements — and for the justice and convenience of many local creditors.  (If HI Super has any brains they will fight this change in venue to the death)

Hawaiian Telcom Communications, the state's largest telephone company, initially filed for bankruptcy in Delaware last December but asked for and received a change of venue to Hawaii because of local concerns the old boys who looted the company own the courts here.

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Kobayashi to seek Council seat (filing ends Thurs)

So far, 10 candidates have filed to replace Bainum, who died June 9 of an aneurysm.

The deadline for potential candidates to file is by the end of the business day tomorrow. Others who filed papers yesterday were: Michael Cain and Nathaniel Kinney, an attorney for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 50.

At least one candidate plans to file today: Heidi Bornhorst, a landscaping consultant and daughter of former City Councilwoman Marilyn Bornhorst.

Those filing prior to yesterday were: Wendell S.L. Ching, Gladys Gerlich Hayes, Philmund "Phil" Lee, Keolu Jacob Peralto, Phillip "Rocky" Rockwell, George "G.W." Waialeale and Earl Winfree.

The special election is being conducted by mail and walk-in absentee voting, with results to be released Aug. 7.

Kobayashi was joined by a handful of supporters yesterday as she filed her application at City Hall.

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"Expert" touts rail's side benefits

"If you can begin building a train to nowhere that won't be finished, Mufia has a better chance of beating Neil in the primary."

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An island divided: Call for 2 Big Island counties resurfaces

As a result of last week's Hawaii County Council 5-4 reorganization, the West Hawaii County split movement has been re-started by the supporters of the 4 losing councilmen.  Obvious 2010 electoral targets of the losing side: Guy Enriques and Emily Naeole. 

Clearly neither Enriques nor Naeole know how to count the votes in their own districts.  They had no business going along with Malu Motta fundraiser Mayor Billy Kenoi in his revenge attack on Dominic Yagong for Yagong's daring to question the County budget and challenge wasteful spending.  Thanks to an act which provides Enriques no apparent benefit, the chances of eco-extortionist funder Bob Jacobson being returned to the Council has increased sharply.

It wasn't easy removing the eco-extortionist funder Jacobson from office.  It is particularly galling that he is being handed the keys to retake the council seat at the behest of Hawaii County's mafia fundraiser mayor.  There are a lot of happy people at Kau Preservation Inc, today.

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S. Korea quarantines students from Hawaii (swine flu paranoia)

The five students had temperatures in the range of 100 degrees when screened via thermal scans that are given to all passengers to prevent the spread of swine flu, or the H1N1 virus.

PAAC Executive Director Jill Takasaki Canfield said, "Everyone is fine and they're just waiting for the test results."

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