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Saturday, November 02, 2013
November 2, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:12 PM :: 2414 Views

Anti-GMO Crowd ‘Unable to Control their Emotions’ -- Kauai PD Investigate Threats Against Mayor

VIDEO: Dangerous Situation as Kauai Mayor Attempts to Address Anti-GMO Crowd After Veto

Hearing Continues Saturday, 80% Testify Against Changing Family Structure

Special Session Update: All registered testifiers can still be heard, but should be ready

Testimony & Invocations: Sakamoto, Thielen, Cheape, Lees, Hochberg

Obama Sticks Abercrombie on 'Climate Preparedness' Taskforce

CANCELLED: Oversight Hearing to Evaluate Foster Homes, Adult Residential Care Homes

LINK: 15,000 Testify on Gay Marriage

Levinson Won’t Bet on Legality of Religious Freedom Clauses in SB1

AP: With two minutes allotted for each speaker, the rest of public testimony could take 139 hours — nearly six days if the hearing were to run continuously.

Lawmakers spent part of the hearing questioning Steve Levinson, a retired Hawaii Supreme Court justice who wrote a 1993 opinion saying not allowing marriage violates discrimination laws in the Hawaii Constitution.

Levinson, who supports the bill, was asked about everything from that opinion to hypothetical challenges should lawmakers pass the bill.

"I would bet my house that if there were a legal challenge to the sufficiency afforded clergy that that challenge would fail," Levinson said when asked about a religious exemption clause that would prevent ministers from having to solemnize gay weddings….

(Clergy, sure: But he won’t bet on the religious freedom of churches or individuals—which is what the debate is about.  Typical lawyer trick.)

read … Won’t Bet His House

House Leaders Plan to Amend SB1 based on Connecticut Law

SA: The flood of testimony, dominated by people who oppose the bill for religious reasons (that the Star-Atheist believes are therefore inconsequential), is the result of a coordinated drive by opponents to get as many people as possible to sign up to speak and force an extended hearing. House leaders agreed to hear from anyone who had signed up on time, and 5,181 people registered.

State Rep. Karl Rhoads (D, Chinatown-Iwilei-Kalihi), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is conducting the joint hearing with the House Finance Committee, said the committees will not vote on the bill any sooner than Monday.

Several House sources said privately that the religious exemption in the Senate's version of the bill will likely be expanded and could mirror a broad exemption found in Connecticut's marriage equality law.

If the two committees advance the bill, the full House would consider the measure on second reading, which will reveal the degree of support in the chamber. House lawmakers who oppose or are undecided on the bill, aided by pastors and other religious leaders who have mobilized their congregations, have interrupted the House's initial schedule and will likely attempt additional procedural delays....

Har and state Rep. Jo Jordan (D, Wai­anae-Makaha-Makua) suggested that Hawaii may need a version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which restored a legal standard that government must show a compelling interest to substantially burden religious freedom. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the federal law was unconstitutional for use in the states — upholding it for the federal government — but several states have responded by adopting state versions of the law to better protect religious liberty.

Levinson — like state Attorney General David Louie and William Hoshijo, executive director of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, did Thursday — appealed to lawmakers not to weaken the state's public accommodations law with an overly broad religious exemption (thereby missing out on the chance to create government-controlled religion).

"I think the public accommodations law is a real model for the country at large, and it would be a shame to dilute it," he said. "But that's ultimately a policy determination for the Legislature to make."

Connecticut Law: First Amendment: 14 Gay Marriage Laws vs Abercrombie

read ... Amendments

1990: Lesbians Together only 6mos when they Decided to Sue for 'Marriage'

HNN: In December 1990, three same-sex couples walked into the State Health Department in Honolulu and applied for marriage licenses.  Ninia Baehr, then 30 years old, was one of them.

"I was so excited 20-some years ago when I thought that Hawaii really was going to be the first to give same-sex couples really what we deserve, equality," said Baehr, who now lives in Montana.

She had been with her partner Genora Dancel, 30, for six months and "we were deeply in love," Baehr said.  When they applied to get married in 1990, Baehr had recently moved back home to Hawaii from New York City, where she had worked at a rape crisis center.  She was taking chemistry classes and planned to go to medical school.

Reality:  And Already Separated by 1998

read ...  About people who demand you be more serious about their relationship than they were

Star-Adv: State owes city millions from rail surcharge

SA: The recent good news as rail construction ramps up is that the project will receive an influx of $63.8 million in GET revenues for the quarter ended Sept. 30, a record amount of quarterly revenues to date. With officials relying on this local source to eventually fund nearly 70 percent of rail's cost — the other $1.55 billion in federal funds has been secured in a recent agreement — this is welcome news indeed.

That's especially so since the project earlier this year got tens of millions of dollars less than rail officials had expected, despite tax collections being up across the state.

At the heart of the problem is the state Tax Department taking more than its fair share of the 0.5 percent surcharge levied on Oahu on top of the statewide 4 percent general excise tax. This "rail tax" was created six years ago explicitly to help fund the project, minus a small, fair cut to the Tax Department for administering the surcharge. But since collection began in 2007, the state has kept more than $100 million of it, amounting to a 10 percent take that is wholly excessive for what was supposed to be a handling fee. Consider that in 2012, the state kept $21.2 million to administer the tax when the Tax Department's entire budget that year was $23.7 million.

read ... State owes city millions from rail surcharge

State buying frozen as oversight chief exits

KHON: State chief procurement officer Aaron Fujioka has left the post in which he was in charge of how most goods and services are bought by the state. Always Investigating found out that when Fujioka departed this week, he issued a directive that stripped most executive departments' authority to buy goods and services.

The state's accounting department, DAGS, has confirmed to KHON2 that "State executive agencies cannot make purchases as a result of Aaron's rescission."

That means a department like Health couldn't buy more new flu vaccines if they needed them. Health told KHON2 they should have enough on hand already. Other big buys such as contracts for new repair, maintenance or building jobs cannot be approved.

A handful of departments are exempt and can keep on buying, such as Education where the superintendent serves as the chief procurement officer; similarly, purchasing and contracting can continue at the University of Hawaii, and the legislative and judicial branches, as well as Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Hawaii Health Systems Corporation….

the governor plans to appoint an interim person into the chief-buying job by Monday….Aaron Fujioka was known for strict adherence to procurement code….

read … No Crooked Procurement til the New Guy Arrives

Board Manipulating Selection of Chief Procurement Officer

CB: In August, Fujioka raised concerns over the board manipulating the hiring process for a new administrator by withholding the names of two of the four applicants.

He told Civil Beat at the time that he didn’t think the board was trying to oust him. He just thought the process was less than transparent.

Abercrombie’s spokeswoman, Louise Kim McCoy, said last week that the names of the applicants are confidential. She cited an opinion from the state Office of Information Practices that says the names cannot be disclosed due to privacy reasons.

Abercrombie is supposed to select one name and send it to the Senate for approval.

"There will be an interim until the Governor makes a decision on a permanent administrator, which will be soon," Keith DeMello, the governor's communications manager, said in an email late Friday morning.

read .. Gang of Thieves at the Door

Flood Insurance Jumps 850%—$23,000 Premium

HNN:  The Clearwater's annual flood insurance bill was $2,700. Their new annual premium has soared to $23,000. When they did the math, the couple was floored.

"We wanted to get rid of our house. We did not want to stay in the house anymore. We were stressed out and very depressed," she said.

Stories like the Clearwater's are happening everywhere to homeowners and business owners. Flood insurance rates across the nation are rising as Congress revamps the National Flood Insurance Program. In Hawaii, 43,000 policy holders are being affected.

"Coastal is obviously the greater risk and that's where the rates are the highest. But we see them along river main situations. We have them in low-lying areas and areas that have poor drainage," state NFIP coordinator Carol Tyau-Beam said.

FEMA is basing the new insurance rates on new flood maps. In Hawaii, properties hit hardest by premium spikes are on the north shores of the islands.

September 2013: Rate Hike Coming? New Prelim Flood Insurance Maps Released

read … Flood insurance hike hits Haleiwa couple hard

Protestor chains himself to HELCO’s doors (again)

HTH: Wade Kalili protests his Hawaii Electric Light Co. bill by chaining himself to the doors of HELCO’s offices on Kilauea Avenue on Friday afternoon. After police arrived, Kalili unlocked himself willingly. This isn’t the first time....

September 2013: VIDEO: Angered by Electric Bill, Hilo Man Chains Himself to HELCO Front Door

read ... Again

The Lack of Science Behind Hawaii Island GMO Bill 113

CB: We all want healthy, safe, nutritious, and affordable food to feed our families. Working together, we can make headway toward this common goal of obtaining food security for our Islands.

Hawaii County Bill 113 divides us rather than unites us, because it proposes to ban all new genetically engineered (GE) crops on the Big Island. It is not based on scientific evidence, despite Dr. Hector Valenzuela’s claims that were published recently in Honolulu Civil Beat.

read ... Lack of Science

Anti-GMO Luddites Still Crying About Kauai Mayor's Veto

CB: ...supporters of the bill expressed mounting anger for another step he took. He unsealed a legal document that could underscore the island's courtroom defense of Bill 2491 if the county has to defend it from legal challenges threatened by the biotech industry.

The document offers the county attorney's assessment of the legal challenges facing the bill. Releasing the document, supporters of the bill say, amounts to leaking a possible roadmap to the county's legal strategy in case the biotech industry follows through on threats to sue.

The county counsel would represent the county in possible legal proceedings. Critics say that the mayor released information that jeopardizes the county's chances of winning a court battle....  (Good work, Mr Mayor!)

VIDEO: Kauai Mayor Attempts to Speak to Anti-GMO Idiots Friday

read ... Too bad, so sad

Youth groups report lower enrollment because of new DOE policy

HNN: For years, the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii has sent flyers to public schools, asking school staff to help them get the word out about its programs.

"They would then take those flyers and make sure they got into each of the kids' backpacks that went home that day," said Tim Motts, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Hawaii, which serves about 15,000 kids at 15 clubhouses across the state. "That way we could ensure every kid in the school understood exactly what the Boys and Girls Club was able to offer for those kids."

But at the end of last school year, the Department of Education issued a new policy, prohibiting school staff from helping third-party organizations distribute their flyers and pamphlets. …

The Boy Scouts of America Aloha Council has seen about a ten percent drop in registration of boys becoming Cub Scouts this year, that's about 500 fewer new scouts in the state.

The new policy has forced the Boy Scouts to recruit in different ways, according to Jeff Sulzbach, scout executive and CEO of scouting operations on Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii island.

"We've done a lot of more person-to-person type marketing," Sulzbach said. "We've asked current members of cub scouts to bring little buddy cards to their friends at school and invite their friend to join Cub Scouts on a one-on-one basis.  We've put bulletins in businesses and churches."

Sulzbach of the Boy Scouts is pleased that a revised DOE policy came out last month that gives principals and complex area superintendents the discretion to distribute materials in certain cases.

"We're very hopeful we can work with those leaders in the schools to recruit and to share information about scouting in the future," Sulzbach said.

The Aloha Council has about 12,000 scouts across the state with about 4,500 volunteers.  Roughly 1,000 scouts in Maui County come under a separate organization.

read … Youth groups report lower enrollment because of new DOE policy

Koa Ridge poised for final Council vote

SA: Castle and Cooke Hawaii's rezoning request to build its 3,500-unit Koa Ridge housing project between Waipio and Mililani was given a 5-0 approval by the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee this afternoon.

The full Council is expected to take a final vote on the long-planned and hotly debated project on Nov. 13.

Councilman Ron Menor, who represents the area, proposed a slew of conditions to Bill 48 designed to mitigate concerns raised about traffic and affordability of the units.

Most appeared to fall by the wayside….

read …  Koa Ridge

Counties may put a lid on Sunshine Law

WHT: A bill allowing county council members to discuss issues at meetings and events without public notice will be considered for the second time Tuesday, when a Hawaii County Council committee takes up a package of 14 measures some counties want the state Legislature to pass.

The bill, sponsored by the Maui County Council, is part of the Hawaii State Association of Counties package to be presented to the Legislature for the regular 2014 session that starts in January.

It would create an exemption to the state Sunshine Law so that more than two council members could attend meetings and discuss issues that could come up on future council agendas, as long as the meeting is open to the public. The Maui Council unanimously approved the measure, with one council member absent, on Aug. 20.

read ... Sunshine Law

Emergency funds for Kauai health system clear committee hurdle

SA: The state Senate Health and Ways and Means committees today approved $7.3 million in emergency funding to sustain two Kauai rural hospitals through next spring.

House lawmakers passed House Bill 3 earlier this week and increased the appropriation to $7.3 million from $2.5 million after Hawaii Health Systems Corp. officials testified that more money is needed for services on Kauai.

The bill, which the Senate committees did not amend, now goes before the full Senate for final approval.

read … Latest Emergency

Kona: State Debunks Federal Water Grab

EH: Given the current level of pumping, “we don’t feel like the sustainable yield is a problem in this area,” staffer Paul Eyre told the Water Commission. A recent well measurement by CWRM staff revealed that water levels are not dropping but do fluctuate with rainfall. An observation well within the park also suggests water salinity hasn’t changed much, he said. “If it has, the water has become a bit fresher,” he added.

With regard to future withdrawals, he said that pumpage of 175 mgd “equates to serving a population of about a million people. I don’t know how reasonable this projection is.” (The entire island of O`ahu has fewer than 1 million people.)

To this, commissioner Kamana Beamer interrupted, “I’m sorry, but it is in a county plan that came to your commission.”

Still, Eyre said, “if the National Park case is sufficient to designate the Keauhou aquifer, the same case ... will apply to all aquifers along the ocean.”

read ... Water Grab

Accused man asks to be charged with Illegal gambling, compares Prosecutor to mob boss

HNN: Tracy Yoshimura is beyond frustrated because he says there have been 20 raids in the past 13 months and 190 of his Products Direct Sweepstakes machines worth more than $800,000 have been confiscated and held by Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.

"I compare him to the gangster John Gotti wherein John didn't like somebody he would go in and shoot up the place and destroy everything in the business and walk away hoping that's the end of you. In this case Keith comes in, takes our equipment and claims he's doing it in conjunction with an ongoing investigation," said Yoshimura….

"I would actually beg him to give me my day in court by charging me," said Yoshimura.

Yoshimura says he went to law enforcement before starting his business but no one responded. Then he got approvals from the Liquor Commission to use the machines at 40 locations, which he says is more than any of the other companies who have similar machines have done.

"However he's elected to come after me the only one that does have that type of approval to operate," said Yoshimura.

KHON: Distributor: Confiscated machines are legal

June, 2013: Lawsuit: Hawaii Gambling Machine Contract Guaranteed ‘No problem from Vice-Squad’

read … mob boss

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