Voting? Hirono Abstains 23 Times, Misses 23%
Report: States' Combined Debt Exceeds $4T
Union Money in Elections-- $4.4B
Usual Crooks, Cronies to attend Democratic National Convention from Hawaii
SA: State Sen. Brickwood “Buzzy G” Galuteria, the Senate majority leader, is among 38 delegates from Hawaii headed to the DNC. The delegation also includes pothead Gov. Neil Abercrombie, state party Chairman Dante “$140M” Carpenter, former Gov. John Waihee (grave robber), state Senate President Shan Tsutsui and House Majority Leader Cindy Evans (see cool pics of her campaigning at home of Larry Mehau).
But the only Hawaii Democrat scheduled to take the stage in Charlotte has not even been elected to the office she is seeking.
Related: To Stop Mufi, Mrs Abercrombie Joins the Chris Butler Cult
read … Your Tax Dollars at Work
Hirono Missed An Important Vote to Protect Our National Forests
NoHiroNo: Day 65: Where’s Hirono? Hirono Missed An Important Vote to Protect Our National Forests. Just this year, Hirono Missed an important vote to protect our national forests. 
read … Hirono Missed An Important Vote to Protect Our National Forests
Privatize Maui Memorial Hospital
MN: …caught right in the middle of the threat of lower reimbursements, but also demand for more and better treatments and services, are hospitals like Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Last week, it was announced that the hospital board and administration were exploring a possible public-private partnership with a large nonprofit corporation, Banner Health. Banner operates some 26 hospitals in the western United States, ranging from Arizona and California to Alaska.
Wesley Lo, chief executive officer of MMMC, was quoted in a Maui News story on the talks as saying such a partnership might help the hospital be "more cost efficient" and "take advantage of economies of scale." Indeed, larger companies who purchase larger quantities often receive massive price breaks from suppliers….
While it was emphasized that talks with Banner are in a very preliminary stage, we applaud the board and the administration for exploring every option to strengthen the hospital.
read … Privatize MMMC
Waipahu HS Gets First-Ever AP Courses
SA: This semester, students at Waipahu High have the option of taking a UH history or speech course without leaving the school grounds. In the spring, the school plans to offer two more courses. That number is expected to grow next year to meet rising student interest.
As part of the program, Waipahu High covers the students' UH tuition and textbooks. Students who pass the class, and who are technically considered "early admissions" to UH, earn three college credits.
Similar classes are planned for Waianae and Nanakuli high schools in the spring, as part of the state's Running Start program.
Meanwhile, there are 10 high school seniors this year participating in a pilot program at community colleges aimed at giving them an early start on an associate's degree.
The Jump Start program was offered for the first time last school year at four participating high schools —Farrington, Kaimuki, Roosevelt and McKinley — and in its first year attracted 13 students.
The work comes amid a statewide initiative to better prepare Hawaii's high school grads for college or careers, and as schools also look to continue to boost the number of students who take Advanced Placement courses. Students who pass AP exams can also earn college credit.
Hawaii debuted the Running Start program, which allows juniors or seniors to enroll in UH classes, as a pilot in 2000.
In 2003, 338 students enrolled in the program. In the 2010-11 school year, that number was up to 861. (Wow 861 students.)
read … About 50 years behind the curve on this
Abercrombie’s DOH Begins Implementing Obama Program to Harass Organic Farmers
KITV: "Most produce vendors are not under a permit or inspection program," said Peter Oshiro from the state Department of Health.
As long as the fruits or vegetables are whole and uncut, they aren't inspected for things like bacteria that can cause sickness, or even death.
"Over the last 10-to-15 years, all these pathogens have caused a great numbers of recalls and illness so we have to be much more diligent," said Oshiro.
Following stricter safety protocols can cost a lot. For a bag of greens, it could add up to 50 cents more a pound.
The federal government recently passed the Food Safety Modernization Act which would require more inspections but delays have kept the program from being implemented.
read … Abercrombie vs Small Business Again
Hawaiians could have a long slog ahead before the Hawaiian Homelands case delivers for them
DN: This is the damage phase. Yet Judge Crandall allowed the state to re-introduce matters that I recalled were settled at trial and should not now be re-opened. The effect of that will be further delays in settling Native Hawaiian claims and possibly more years before those damaged can receive compensation.
For example, one issue that was raised by the state today was the matter of financing of homes to be built on the land. The attorneys held that claims for damages should be cut off at the point a beneficiary was offered an award but could not qualify for a mortgage, for example.
If I recall correctly, one of the witnesses three years ago testified that she could have qualified for a mortgage while she was working, but she was held so long on the waiting list that she was no longer working when she got her offer and could not qualify for a loan. Clearly, she was damaged by the long delay on the part of the state in granting her an award. In any case, the trial established that there was no requirement that a beneficiary take out a loan. Any beneficiary could have sold the land or passed it on to other beneficiaries, for example, to their benefit.
Still, Judge Crandall allowed this matter to be re-argued. It must have been frustrating for the plaintiffs present in the room and for their attorneys.
read … Hawaiians could have a long slog ahead before the Hawaiian Homelands case delivers for them
Takamine: More Effort Needed to get Long Term Unemployed onto Welfare
SA: Dwight Takamine, director of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, told the Star-Advertiser last week that even with the comparatively mild unemployment rate, a group numbering approaching 40,000 are unemployed here — not counting those who have not replaced the wage of the job they lost or who need more hours on their time sheet. And among those are an untold number that qualify for inclusion in the "long-term unemployed" class.
"Long-term unemployment has been a particularly damaging feature of the recent recession and sluggish recovery," wrote Inna Cintina, an economist at the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. "Providing a financial safety net for these workers both supports families individually and supports overall spending and economic growth. If we are lucky Congress will find a way to come to an agreement that saves the extended benefit program until the economy is on a firmer footing."
Cintina was writing at the end of last year about the benefits program that was about to expire, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which fortunately was extended until Jan. 3, 2013, in a flurry of year-end deal-making on Capitol Hill. Further extensions are at least in doubt regardless of the outcome of the November national elections, considering the mounting worries about the federal deficit and debt.
Those who had already exhausted their extended benefits aren't helped by extensions, of course. The consequences of long-term unemployment have been homelessness for some, doubling up with family for others. Some who are nearing conventional retirement age have simply found themselves in early retirement, at income levels that are unsustainable for very long.
This persistent problem is one that should continue to inform policy in the coming years, underscoring the importance of retraining programs in educational institutions and the likelihood that the social safety net will need shoring up, both through public funding and charitable nonprofit support.
CB: U.S. Labor Secretary: Our Impact on Hawaii Has Been Significant
read … More Welfare Recipients
Slow Condo Sales Lead to Lawsuit at ML&P Ritz Carlton
MN: Only one-third of the 84 residences had been sold as of June 30, leaving the developer responsible for the common area maintenance fees for the 56 unsold units, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that the developer stopped paying its share of the maintenance fees earlier this year, "thereby rendering the (apartment owners' association) and the project woefully underfunded."
The association's board of directors, according to the lawsuit, has "indicated that . . . all maintenance costs and responsibilities will fall on the few independent owners, including plaintiffs, to the tune of millions of dollars per year."
The situation "places the project in grave danger and without funds to pay for even basic safety, health and general maintenance items," the lawsuit says.
The lack of operating funds for the homeowners association triggered The Ritz-Carlton's termination notice, according to documents Maui Land & Pineapple filed on Aug. 3 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
"On July 10, 2012, the Ritz-Carlton Management Co. issued a notice of default and termination to the Association of Apartment Owners effective Sept. 10, 2012 as a result of insufficient funding of the ongoing operating costs of the AOAO," the filing said. "(Maui Land & Pineapple) is presently unable to reasonably determine the impact, if any, of these matters."
Maui Land & Pineapple said it has invested $53.2 million in cash contributions and $25 million worth of land for the project.
read … More ML&P Troubles
Chinese vessel's stop will be a first for U.S.
SA: The Haixun 31 will be escorted to Aloha Tower at 3 p.m. by a parade of ships that will include the Coast Guard cutter Galveston Island and the Honolulu Fire Department fireboat Moku Ahi.
The Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Safety Administration are scheduled to conduct a joint search-and-rescue exercise in Honolulu.
The exercises will serve as building blocks toward a cooperative partnership and aid discussions of maritime search-and-rescue and environmental protection measures — issues of interest for both countries, the Coast Guard said.
read … Coast Guard