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Thursday, November 18, 2010
November 18, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:05 PM :: 5410 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

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Honolulu Council Special Election: Mel Kahele, Waimanalo Gulch, and other baggage

FULL TEXT: Report on Hawaii Personal Information Breaches -- 479,000 victims in state

Four Loko: Does The FDA Really Need More Power?

Hawaii County seeks nominees for Reapportionment Commission

Excellent news: GOP push to end earmarks could hurt funding for Inouye cronies

And the gravy train for Hawaii Inouye’s cronies, which over the years has received billions of dollars in earmarks, may soon be severely curtailed or even eliminated with the new Congress.

"What Sen. Inouye has provided over the years is a kind of a special sweetheart deal, just because of where he sits and who he is," said Leslie Paige, spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, an anti-earmarks group. "Entities Inouye cronies in Hawaii that still want to receive federal dollars are going to have to compete with everybody else in a normal way, which in our view is a good thing."

(Without “plata” to offer, Inouye’s “plombo” won’t be as effective.  This is a critical step towards smashing the corporatist state and creating a two-party system.  Viva la revolucion!)

RELATED: Inouye becomes useless? House, Senate Republicans place moratorium on Earmarks

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State owes $10.8B for workers' retirement, has nothing

The state has set aside nothing to pay for retiree health benefits for its aging public workers over the next three decades, leaving future taxpayers on the hook for the estimated $10.8 billion cost.

"There's just no money -- the liability for the state is so huge," said Barbara Annis, administrative service officer of the state Department of Budget and Finance and a trustee for the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, which oversees health benefits for state and county workers and retirees. "That liability, especially if we don't contribute, will undoubtedly just get larger." …

By one projection, EUTF's annual benefit payments will soar to $692.8 million in 2022 from $276.1 million in 2008. Using July 2007 data, AON Consulting compiled a report for EUTF that estimated the state's total unfunded liability over the next three decades will reach $10.8 billion.

Hawaii's financial obligation for active and retired workers and their dependents was the second-highest per capita in the nation at $7,636 in 2006, according to a 2009 report by the Center for State & Local Government Excellence, a Washington nonpartisan research group focusing on the effect of aging public workers. The EUTF covers 169,000 active and retired workers and their dependents….

By contrast, the counties have started to put away money to reduce the significant burden on taxpayers in the future. As of June 30, 2009, cumulative pre-funding contributions totaled $93.7 million from the Honolulu Board of Water Supply; County of Hawaii; County of Maui; County of Kauai, including the Department of Water; Hawaii County Board of Water Supply and the City and County of Honolulu, a financial audit report shows.

RELATED: PEW: Hawaii “has failed to sock away any assets” to cover pension liabilities 

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Hawaii physician shortage to grow to 2,000

Current projections show [Hawaii] could be short 1,230 doctors and 2,669 registered nurses to care for an estimated 280,496 baby boomers who will be 65 or older by 2020, according to the Hawaii State Center for Nursing and the Hawaii/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. By 2030, the physician shortage is estimated to grow to 2,071. The insufficient numbers of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals — due to lower pay scales, higher cost of living and fewer choices for quality education, professional development and employment opportunities — have grave repercussions given the wave of Hawaii residents expected to retire in the next 10 to 20 years.

(And Congress will renew the annual “DocFix” this month or next -- once again without the Hawaii Congressional delegation lifting a finger to correct the formulae which leave Hawaii doctors underpaid, thus creating this shortage.  Thank you Neil Abercrombie for ignoring this problem during your 20 years in Congress.)

SA: Services move to technology, team care

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Akaka submits new version of Hawaiian recognition act

"It was just to get it on the record and to show the world that we are going to honor the agreement with Lingle," explained Jesse Broder Van Dyke, an Akaka spokesman….

If the bill clears the Senate, it would have to go back to the House for approval, since the House passed a different version of the bill earlier this year. (Thanks to the bone-headed stupidity of Neil Abercrombie.)

Clearing both chambers would be difficult given the short amount of time left this year. The bill may have an even more difficult road next year, when Republicans take over the House and increase their ranks in the Senate.

(The Star-Advertiser is finally catching up to Hawai’i Free Press.  We had this story two days ago: UPDATE: New version of Akaka Bill introduced in US Senate.)

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Former Advertiser Editor: Average Americans are more of a threat than al-Qaeda

The enemy within

The question, first posed by Plato and ably discussed by Jorn K. Bramann in Educating Rita and other philosophical movies, (By citing Plato, I can make this sound erudite, woo-hoo!) is whether our citizens “are interested and informed enough to participate constructively in the democratic process.” Are Americans as “their own governors” well enough informed, “to be effectively in control of their commonwealth and their lives”?

Do they “really understand why wars are declared, resources committed, debts incurred” or commerce regulated, minorities protected, rights defended? Or do most of us live “in a cognitive haze” that reduces us “to voting on the basis of uninformed convictions and catchy slogans”–not to mention Internet drivel and media that offer propaganda thinly disguised as news?

So I don’t think it’s radical Islam or any other foreign powers that constitute the greatest threat to America’s leading place in the world, although I’d suggest we take a closer look at what makes them so mad at us. I’d have to say it’s American hubris, ignorance and an utterly selfish domestic policy that threaten us.

“We have met the enemy,” Pogo said, “and he is us.” 

(This is what they think of YOU, dear reader.  In the eyes of Hawaii’s liberal elites, YOU are more dangerous than baby killing 8th Century head-choppers.  Oh yes, the title of this revealing diatribe is “The Audacity of Ignorance”  and no that doesn’t mean the author is recognizing the truth about himself.  We have met the enemy, and he is Pogo.)

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Hawaii Election Commission releases updated results

Last Updated: November 16, 2010, 5:23 PM. UNCERTIFIED FINAL RESULTS INCLUDING PROVISIONAL BALLOTS

Files to be imported into a database program

Abercrombie insists on having BoE Albatross hung around his neck

Shapiro: I’m glad Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie told Democratic senators that he wants to directly appoint members to the Board of Education, subject to Senate confirmation, rather than be narrowly limited to candidates given him by an advisory council.

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McCully Homeless Tent City: 15 arrested on drug charges

Ron Lockwood, chairman of the McCully/Moiliili Neighborhood Board, said residents were complaining about the drug activity around the McCully Library. People staying on the sidewalk were offering middle and high school students drugs, mothers were afraid to bring their preschoolers to the library because of the people, and the sidewalks were difficult to walk along because of the tents.

He said the homeless population near the library had been there for about two years but suddenly grew when the city outlawed tents at public parks in April.

He's been getting 300 complaints a week by phone or e-mail from residents about the drug activity among in the area. Earlier this month, 400 people signed a petition in two hours to do something about the homeless around McCully Library, he said. Usually about 40 people stay on the sidewalk, but after the arrests, there was no one on the sidewalk about 8 p.m. today, Lockwood said, adding "I love it."

REALITY:

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Wisconsin Gov aims to cancel rail “boondoggle”

In Wisconsin, with an estimated $2.7 billion shortfall, Gov.-elect Scott Walker wants to cancel a federally financed rail project that he calls a boondoggle.

RELATED: Inouye becomes useless? House, Senate Republicans place moratorium on Earmarks, Rail funding in jeopardy as key House sponsor ousted

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After 8 years in public eye, Lingle deserves time to herself

As governor, Lingle has had to go toe to toe with legislators, those cunning gangs of men and women with agendas counter to her own for political, philosophical and just plain ornery reasons.

She has had to weather conflicts with public employees and their unions, teachers and their union, business groups and their lobbyists, conservationists, environmentalists, Hawaiian rights organizations, university professors and their union, social services leagues, gay rights groups, anti-gay rights congregations, the Board of Education -- almost every representative party you can think of save the Girl Scouts.

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Kalihi, Puuhale Elementary Facing Possible Consolidation

Parents are being urged to work with their kids to help them prepare for state standardized testing. So Puuhale will continue to show improvements in math and reading. And hopefully make an impact on the DOE's decision.

"To show them, that the money they spend on educating each child here is worth it. It's meeting the goal of what the department is all about, we raise the benchmark and standards," said Puuhale Principal Lorelei Karasaki.

Closing Kalihi and Puuhale elementary schools would save the state $1.5 million a year but the recommendation does not mean it is a done deal. A public hearing on the school closures will take place on Dec. 16th.

Here’s a list of thing’s the DoE/BoE is NOT cutting back on: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year

And Abercrombie campaigned hard to prevent the DoE from being audited.

CB: Restructuring Becoming A Model For Hawaii Schools  (The higher the standards, the greater the failure.  The greater the failure, the more federal money flows.  Ca-ching!)

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State Tax Crackdown Has Market Vendors On Edge: Vendors Say State 'Picking On The Little Guy'

Small shopkeepers are concerned because one vendor from a farm in Waianae was fined $670 by state tax investigators at the Kailua Open Market last month. That happened because state officials said the vendor failed to produce records of transactions, as required by law.

At the farmer's market on the grounds of the Blaisdell Center Wednesday night, vendors were abuzz about the crackdown on businesses at other sites accused of not keeping adequate records and not paying enough taxes.

Josh Welch runs Ono Pops, which sells gourmet hand-made local popsicles. He said the state tax department is picking on the little guys during a recession.

NOT being targeted for tax collection: drug dealers, gambling dens, hostess bars, brothels….

SA: Tax crackdown frustrates sellers

SA: Tax crackdown going awry

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Allegiant puts off Hawaii to 2012

Regulatory issues have delayed Allegiant Air's planned start of service to Hawaii until 2012, Allegiant Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Maury Gallagher said in an investor presentation Tuesday.

But the airline still is working on regulatory approvals, specifically a certificate to operate 757s, flag status so it can fly to Hawaii and ETOPS certification needed for the long two-engine flight over the Pacific.

The Cranky Flier blog, which gets a hat tip for the news, has more.

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State sued for food stamp delays

A non-profit law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against the state alleging the department of human services doesn't deliver food stamps to those in need on a timely basis.

The group says the problem is getting worse.

According to Lawyers for Equal Justice, nearly 140,000 people in Hawaii are on food stamps.

Geee.  We DID have an opportunity to do something about this problem, but the legislative Democrats and their HGEA overlords got in the way:

Koller: State’s “horse-and-buggy” system is labor-intensive, costly and slow

Finnegan: Eliminate four agencies for $87M in savings

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Some in isles could run out of federal jobless benefits

State officials cautioned yesterday that federally funded extended unemployment benefits will run out for some of Hawaii's jobless unless Congress takes action this week.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program that provides up to 47 additional weeks of benefits on top of 26 weeks of regular state unemployment insurance payments is set to expire Nov. 30.

If Congress doesn't extend the program, then residents who exhaust their regular benefits after Saturday will not qualify to receive EUC benefits, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

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Mentor brings meaning to Koloa Technos

KOLOA — Nine Koloa School Technos have real life inspiration for the FIRST LEGO League Body Forward Challenge at this Saturday’s Robotic Expo.

Keoni Pau — described by team parent Marianne Thesken as “El Capitan” and “General” of the nine-student team — had to have knee replacement. After the students learned of this, the Body Forward Challenge took on a new meaning.

The Challenge gives teams the opportunity to explore the cutting-edge world of biomedical engineering, to discover innovative ways to repair injuries, overcome genetic predispositions, and maximize the body’s potential, with the intended purpose of leading happier and healthier lives.

(The initiative for Robotics came almost entirely from Gov Lingle’s office.  What will happen to these programs under the new administration?)

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Isle seed crop value jumps 26 percent

Last year marked a sixth consecutive year of dramatic growth for Hawaii seed crop producers, according to a recent government estimate, though the industry dominated by seed corn may be nearing maturity.

The Hawaii office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported the value of the local seed crop industry rose 26 percent to $223 million in 2009 from $177 million the year before.

The gain further ingrains seeds as Hawaii's largest crop by value, a spot seeds have held since pineapple was dethroned in 2006, though other crops contribute more to the local food supply and commercial sales.

(And the enviros are doing everything they can to shut this business down all the while shouting about saving agriculture or something.  See next article for information on the enviros favored form of agricultural production.)

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Colorado dope dealers come to Hawaii Capitol

To make police and the federal government comfortable with what's happening in the dispensaries; they are required to stay online 24 hours a day with surveillance cameras that police can look at any time.

“They can come into our dispensary at any time. They audit us. So we have to have a good CPA,” Bullard said.

Bullard and partners were at the Hawaii state Capitol building Wednesday, promoting the Colorado model for medical marijuana, which they say would be an improvement for law enforcement, growers, patients and the economy.

Law enforcement officials said earlier this year that Hawaii's 10-year-old medical marijuana law is already being widely abused by people who are not seriously ill and don’t really use marijuana as medicine. They said dispensary sales would increase abuse and attract organize crime.

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Akaka Bill supporter Murkowski wins reelection

As a Washington, D.C., aide put it tonight:  “Yes, we are very happy about Murkowski. That helps because, one, she can be in DC from now on when we are voting as she is not litigating in Alaska. And, two, she’ll hopefully be a Senate supporter of Native Hawaiians for the next six years regardless of what happens between now and end of year.”

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Recession reduces rents, homelessness

In Lahaina, the homeless resource center has openings. There currently are 300 people at the facility, which can handle 400, Woods said.

At the Family Life Center in Kahului, Cummings surmised that the number of homeless on Maui was affected by the overall economic downturn.

"Typically, when the economy goes bad, the numbers of homeless go down," she said. She said landlords have lowered their prices "so that people who cannot afford rent, can afford it now."

The same landlords, who a few years ago would not accept tenants on rental assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program, have changed their policies, Cummings said.

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Attention Rida Cabanilla & Roz Baker, another potential staffer:

NYT: Stepfamilies are rethinking post-divorce living arrangements

Star-Advertiser editors were thrilled to be able to re-print this NYT attack on the nuclear family:

Begin with one formerly married couple and an amicable divorce (don’t snort, it happens). Add children, maybe two or three. Give each former spouse a new partner. Perhaps the new partners have children, too. Add them. Oh, and the new partners’ exes. Factor in an equitable (say, nearly 50-50) physical custody arrangement for all the parties.

What do you have? For many couples, it’s a complex data set in search of an equally complex algorithm to tame it. Do they move in together, mixing developing, separating teenagers like snarling cats in a bag? Or are they risk-averse, maintaining separate households and seeing one another on the odd weekend?

Or perhaps they are fortunate enough to establish some sort of contiguous living arrangement, like the members of the Curtis-Hetfield-Petrini household, who have as irresistible a scenario as anyone could devise.

Uh huh.  Now read this—it is exactly the same thing: Beyond Marriage The Confession: Hawaii Gay marriage advocates let the polyamorous cat out of the bag

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