Akaka Tribe “Disenrollment” -- 75% of Hawaiians “will not be acknowledged”
KOS: Open Primary Forces Democrats to Discipline Lawmakers
Rail: The remaining issues still before Judge Tashima
Anti-GMO Activists See December Deadline for County Action
Akaka Tribe: 'Privileged Tribal Leaders' Seek End Run Around Congress
SA: "Congress, as the voice of the people, has made it clear for more than 17 years that Americans do not want to divide our society with the government establishment of an exclusively race-based entity," said Keli‘i Akina, president and chief executive officer of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a group that has consistently opposed federal recognition. "The use of executive action to bypass the will of the people is both unconstitutional and an affront to democracy."
He said federal recognition would only enable a "privileged group of tribal leaders" to exploit resources and entitlements without benefiting Hawaiians....
Under the 1994 Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act, an American Indian group may become federally recognized by an act of Congress, through administrative procedures or by a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether Native Hawaiians could be recognized in a similar fashion is being explored.
"The president is being asked to consider a number of potential executive actions," U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said in a recent interview. "That could take many forms, including something by the Department of Interior, or at the secretary level or something at the presidential level.
"So the mechanics of this are still being considered alongside the really challenging public policy question, but our basic premise is that Native Hawaiians ought to be treated (just as un)fairly when it comes to native groups."...
Sen. Mazie Hirono said the delegation remains committed to Native Hawaiian recognition and is open to pursuing all courses of action with a president from Hawaii who recognizes its importance.
"I think the president is very committed to Native Hawaiian recognition, and he said that he is going to be reviewing the legal basis in which executive action can be taken," Hirono said. "We're not there yet, but the delegation is definitely open to that and that route."
U.S. Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard added their support. Hanabusa said the goal of federal recognition was nothing new for Hawaii members.
"There are several ways the Department of Interior could pursue recognition, as they have with other native peoples in the past, and that is not an unusual process," she said. "We need to work together to decide which path forward is the best for Native Hawaiians, and I stand ready to assist them in making that important decision."
Advocates agree that getting the legislation passed through Congress would be difficult right now....
read ... Other ways explored for Native Hawaiian recognition
Ninth Circuit to hear rail case
KHON: Heading into Thursday's hearing before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, proponents and opponents of the city's $5.3 billion rail system expressed confidence in their positions.
"We look forward to presenting our case and responding to any questions the judges may have," said Dan Grabauskas, CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.
"It's important that we get the project moving again so that we can deliver an efficient transportation system on time and on budget for the people of Oahu."
Cliff Slater of the anti-rail group Honolulutraffic.com said this today:
"Of any appeals court of the United States, the Ninth Circuit is where you want to go. They're very friendly on environmental issues."
read ... Ninth Circuit to hear rail case
Civil Beat: Nobody Reads Us
CB: It's always awkward to write about yourself. But the media landscape in Hawaii has been changing and more change is in store when Civil Beat and Huffington Post launch a new website next month....the new HuffPost Hawaii will be part-owned by Civil Beat, and will share its office space....still I think the general public is not being served. Civil Beat for instance has really valuable stuff but I just don't know what their reach is."
Civil Beat has a well-educated and influential readership, but it still doesn't seem to have a very broad one. Civil Beat declined to share subscription numbers or to specifically characterize its subscriber growth rate other than to say it has "increased a lot," according to editor Patti Epler....
Civil Beat, too, uses a paywall, but its approach has evolved over time. The site has already dismantled its hard paywall — a system that required first-time visitors to the site to pay for access — in favor of a metered paywall that allows visitors to read some Civil Beat articles for free before they're required to register (and eventually subscribe). While it is possible that Civil Beat will one day eliminate its paywall, the site's editor says there are no plans to do so.
"We have talked about (taking down the paywall)," Civil Beat's Epler said. "We're not changing it right now but certainly the Huffington Post Hawaii addition will get us to thinking about how we should do things a little bit differently."....
Civil Beat ... popular reach in Hawaii has so far been limited. I remember making local reporting calls in the site's first few months of existence and hearing the person on the other end of the line ask, "Civil Beach? Civil Beef?"
Briscoe, formerly of the Associated Press, says Civil Beat "badly needs to find better ways to promote itself."
Gene Park, a former Star-Advertiser reporter who has since done stints in public relations and as a multimedia specialist for the state government, says he still gets "puzzled looks" when he mentions Civil Beat around friends who "aren't policy wonks or news junkies."
As a relative newcomer in the Hawaii media scene, Civil Beat has also at times faced criticism for having a young and sometimes malihini staff.
Reality: Pierre Omidyar: The Secret Empire of a Resort Developer
read ... Civil Beat for Solitude
Fishing Showdown Set for Abercrombie's Kona Meeting
WHT: A series of amendments that would ban scuba spearfishing and limit aquarium fish collecting in West Hawaii waters is set to go to Gov. Neil Abercrombie next week, Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman William Aila said Friday.
The Attorney General’s Office reviewed and approved the contentious rules package, which Big Island residents and fishermen wrestled with for a decade before agreeing to the final version in December, sending it back to his department to forward to the governor.
Aila said he expects to pass the package on to Abercrombie before the governor and his cabinet appear in Kailua-Kona Thursday, at a 6 p.m. event at Kealakehe Intermediate School. The chairman said he has heard a number of rumors and “conspiracy theories” circulating about the rules package, parts of which, including the scuba spearfishing ban, he opposed.
Tina Owens, of the LOST FISH Coalition, said a deputy attorney general and other DLNR sources contradicted Aila’s comments, saying the rules had not been processed by the Attorney General’s Office yet. The Attorney General’s Office was unable to provide any information on the situation late Friday.
read ... Be Sure to Bring Your Video Cameras. Abercrombie will explode and this always makes for good Youtube
Ige vs Abercrombie: Serious Guy vs Serious Case
CB: Senator Ige currently serves as Chair of the Ways and Means Committee (this generally means he really understands how money works and his fellow Senators also really like and trust him a lot) and seems a self-effacing and humble man. An engineer by training. Overall a “serious” man.
Contrast this with Neil’s campaign propaganda in 1970 when he told prospective voters, “I have maintained all along that I am the only serious candidate for the Democratic nomination. Why? Because I am challenging the definition of serious.”
But that was then. No one could argue that Neil hasn’t gotten quite serious: remember when he thought so little of community sentiment he threatened to use eminent domain to condemn land for a wind industrial power plant on Molokai back in 2011?
Senator Ige, on the other hand, insists: "I really do believe in engaging the community as part of the solution, and we'll be working to that end."
read ... Serious?
Hawaii Congressional Delegation Bought and Paid for by Big Sugar
CB: The fight in Congress over eliminating sugar subsidies has been good to members from Hawaii.
The delegation has raked in tens of thousands of dollars in the past couple years as the U.S. sugar industry spends millions to convince Congress that it needs help in order to compete with foreign producers.
This year, the industry has been especially sweet to Sen. Brian Schatz. Sugar interests are playing catch up to support Schatz, who did not run a federal election last year.
According to Schatz' federal campaign finance records, sugar-related political action committees have given Schatz $12,000 since the beginning of the election cycle.
That’s more than anyone else in the delegation this year. But it comes on top of other large donations to Hawaii’s delegation, including the $25,000 to Sen. Mazie Hirono and the $19,000 to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the 2012 election.
read ... Sugar Subsidy Fight Has Paid Off for Hawaii Delegation
Council delays move on water board plan
SA: Council Vice Chairman Ikaika Anderson, who introduced the plan, said he will request the matter be discussed at the Council's meeting next month.
The Council had intended to give the measure its first airing Wednesday but opted not to because the matter had not been placed on the agenda soon enough to comply with state law.
"There is definitely a lack of oversight of the Board of Water Supply and of direct accountability to the ratepayer and the voter of the City and County of Honolulu," Anderson said last week.
But the chief of the agency said he sees no need for additional oversight.
The board is already "under severe scrutiny by the (Environmental Protection Agency) and the state Department of Health to run a reliable, safe, affordable water system," said Ernest Lau, Board of Water Supply manager and chief engineer,.
The Council decided not to take up Resolution 13-177 Wednesday after concerns were raised by agency leaders and several Council members that not enough public notification time had been given. It was not placed on the formal agenda at least six days in advance, as required by the state open meetings law.
read ... Water Board
Animal Control Budget Cuts Setup for Fee Hikes
SA: The nonprofit Humane Society last week announced that, without an additional $800,000 in its city contract, it would be unable to shoulder all the chores it's done in the past. Officials of the organization have agreed to a $2.1 million payment for an 11-month service term. However, they have said it will be unable to pick up strays, deal with complaints on cats and barking dogs, or provide law-enforcement information, except in cases of animal cruelty....
Looking ahead, Leblanc said, there are likely to be discussions with city and state lawmakers about whether the current requirements for pet licensing and tagging, as well as their penalties, are sufficient. That would be an important step. The lack of compliance is what causes much of the animal-control workload, so it may be time to revisit the laws intended to maintain that control.
And, if budget shortfalls persist, the city also might want to consider whether additional pet fees could help offset costs.
read ... All can help in cost of animal control
Enviros Preparing to Sue over Ala Wai Canal?
CB: Bradley is a senior at Punahou. She is also fed up with lawmakers and state officials who she believes are shirking their responsibility to clean up the perpetually polluted waterway. The issue is personal because Bradley treasures the canal that she and friends regularly canoe paddle on.
That is why she formed the Save the Ala Wai Coalition last year. Along with her collaborators, she is lobbying lawmakers and health officials to comply with the federal Clean Water Act and clean up the the canal.
It is personal for the teenager, but it isn't just about her. Bradley is one of about 1,200 local residents — adults and children — who paddle on the canal in the course of any given year.
Those who regularly spend time on and around the canal bear witness to some troubling sights. "We see everything," Bradley explained, "from shopping carts and tires — one time we saw a boar's head float by. We see cans, bottles, just brown water."
That brown water hides other problems. Bradley says her coach and three of her teammates contracted skin infections last season.
Under the federal Clean Water Act — a landmark piece of legislation passed in 1972 that aimed to clean up such polluted waterways around the nation — state officials must implement a plan to reduce the canal's pollution levels because they far exceed state and federal limits.
But officials at Hawaii's Department of Health have said that cleaning the canal is not a priority given their limited resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hasn't required the agency to comply with the law.
read ... Rather Obvious Setup for Coming Litigation
Kauai Property tax bill deferred Two Weeks
KGI: The Kauai County Council’s Finance Committee deferred for two weeks a proposal that represents the last stage of a three-year property tax reform to address inequities and create a fair system going forward.
“Bill 2495 really is an attempt to bring back some equity to how real property taxes are distributed, particularly to the homeowner,” Finance Director Steve Hunt said at a council meeting Wednesday. He added the bill is intended to be revenue neutral — the proposal is not supposed to bring more money to the county.
The bill increases the exemption for the homestead class to $100,000 from the current $48,000. For seniors age 60 and older, the exemption would be $120,000, and for seniors age 70 or older the exemption would be $140,000.
According to his latest estimates, Hunt said the exemptions for resident homeowners, including seniors, may have to be increased another $30,000 to keep the bill revenue-neutral.
The bill exempts properties leased by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands from any taxes. Currently, Hawaiian homesteaders pay zero for the first seven years of their lease and then pay $25 annually. Altogether, the county collects $3,125 annually from 125 DHHL leaseholders.
But the county has had problems collecting taxes from DHHL leaseholders and spends too much time doing it, so the administration is asking the council to eliminate the minimum tax for Hawaiian homesteaders, Hunt said.
Many representatives from credit unions were present at the meeting. The proposal raises the $25 minimum tax that credit unions pay for being a nonprofit to $1,500.
Read ... Two Weeks
High Court Rules on state open meetings law
SA: The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Maui County Council violated the state open meetings "Sunshine Law" in approving a Wailea development, but declined to invalidate the county's approval for the residential community.
The court instead sent the case back to Maui Circuit Court to determine the amount of attorney fees for the five residents who filed the lawsuit contending the law was violated.
Lance Collins, attorney for the residents, estimated he might be seeking about $150,000 to $200,000 in fees from Maui County and the developer, Honuaula Partners LLC.
Jonathan Steiner, Honuaula Partners' attorney, said they were "pleased that the court found the change in the zoning ordinance remains valid."
Collins called the decision a "watershed" ruling. He said it was the first time the high court directly interpreted the state's Sunshine Law....
Mary Blaine Johnston, Maui deputy corporation counsel, said the Council and county did not think circulating the memos was a violation of the Sunshine Law, but she called the ruling "fair" and "well thought out." She said the decision provides guidelines in dealing with the law in the future.
read ... High court's ruling
EV charging space required but statute not enforceable
SA: Section 291-71 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes does say, “Places of public accommodation with at least one hundred parking spaces available for use by the general public shall have at least one parking space exclusively for electric vehicles and equipped with an electric vehicle charging system located anywhere in the parking structure or lot by July 1, 2012.”
However, we couldn’t find any references as to who is supposed to enforce that law. And that’s the rub.
Because there are no provisions for enforcement or penalties, the law is “not enforceable,” said state Rep. K. Mark Takai, an electric vehicle owner and advocate.
MN: Bankruptcy leads to minor jolt for island’s EV drivers
read ... EV charging space required but statute not enforceable