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Thursday, January 13, 2011
January 13, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:18 PM :: 8979 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

Anti-gay religious cult tied to torture seeks Charter conversion of Mokapu Elementary

“More Federal Funds?” S&P, Moody's AGAIN Warn On U.S. Credit Rating

LONDON—Two leading rating firms have cautioned the U.S. on its credit rating, expressing concern over a deteriorating fiscal situation that they say needs correction.

Moody's Investors Service said in a report that the U.S. will need to reverse an upward trajectory in the debt ratios to support its triple-A rating.

"We have become increasingly clear about the fact that if there are not offsetting measures to reverse the deterioration in negative fundamentals in the U.S., the likelihood of a negative outlook over the next two years will increase," said Sarah Carlson, senior analyst at Moody's.

NOT ENOUGH: Inouye becomes useless? House, Senate Republicans place moratorium on Earmarks

TOO LITTLE: Taxpayers “far below break even” on GM Bailout

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End run around law: Rail to raid $300M from City General Fund

Honolulu Councilman Ikaika Anderson told transit officials a plan to divert federal bus subsidies in favor of rail is an “end run” against a 2007 ordinance that forbids general fund monies from being used for construction of the controversial project.

“This is a violation of the spirit of the law,” said Anderson, during a hearing of the Council’s Transportation and Transit Planning Committee.

While the administration has stated previously that $300 million in bus subsidies, known as 5307 funds, could be used to build the e$5.5 billion rail system, Wednesday’s hearing was the first time a city officials agreed that general funds would be used to make up the difference

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SA: DoE is cutting Excellence to preserve mediocrity

Mediocrity will get the average high school student a diploma in four years, but a successful encore at college is a jump many are ill-equipped to make. A nationwide program aimed at preparing C-average students for that goal has found success at dozens of Hawaii public schools and should be encouraged for its efforts, not limited due to cost restraints.

(Or maybe this is just the latest version of the Washington Monument Gambit: Furlough negotiations: $50M ransom offered, but unions balk at releasing hostages

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The Chaos Begins: Sierra Club wins right to attack Hawaiian Homelands leasing, finances in Court

A state judge had dismissed their lawsuit, filed by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., ruling that the funding issue is a "political question" that cannot be decided by the courts.

But a three-judge panel of the Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled that the matter can be addressed by the courts (because political questions are their specialty) and sent the case back to Circuit Court.

It was not clear yesterday just how much money the state would have to pay if it loses.

But David Kimo Frankel, a Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. lawyer, (who hired Jack Kelly to attack Hokulia) called the ruling "a very significant decision."  (The Sierra Club has been working diligently to stop DHHL from building Big Box on its lands in Hilo and Kapolei.  The goal to to shut down the State’s largest developer of affordable housing in order to accelerate the environmentalists’ goal of making Hawaii and exclusive enclave for rich environmentalists.)

Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. lawyers are not saying what the sufficient amount of funding should be, but said former department Director Micah Kane predicted it would cost $100 million a year for the department to meet its mission….

Richard Nelson III, the lead client among the six plaintiffs, said the ruling is "great news for those of us who have been waiting for so long."

"The department needs to stop leasing our homelands to generate revenue," he said in a written statement. "Instead, it needs to obtain the funding to which it is entitled. It has stopped asking for the money."

(This lawsuit will be instrumental in returning DHHL to the bad old days of long lists and no leases.)

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Say, Luke: Negotiations about negotiations….

State House Speaker Calvin Say said today that he has agreed to meet privately with state Rep. Sylvia Luke, a leading dissident, to resolve a leadership struggle among majority Democrats.

After speaking privately with his loyalists this evening, Say said he was given the authority to conduct the one-on-one talks.

Luke, (D-Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl), had requested the meeting but Say initially wanted his negotiators to attend. Negotiators from both camps have been meeting privately for several weeks.

Say, (D-St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Wilhelmina Rise), described the negotiations with the dissidents as a stalemate. He said dissidents have not made a counter-proposal to Say’s offer over the weekend of five committee chairmanships and two leadership posts.

In the wings: Stalemate Broken: House Republican Caucus backs Calvin Say for Speaker

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Michael Medved: Hawaii Senate 'Insane' to Ban Invocation

The Senate's proposal follows a disruption by protestors who interrupted a Senate floor session invocation last April. The dramatic incident and the protestors' apprehension by sheriff's deputies was caught on video and sparked a lawsuit against the Senate.

"One idiot demonstrator who interrupts, gets arrested, sues and makes a fuss, and all of a sudden the state Legislature says you can't begin with an invocation?" Medved said. "The Supreme Court says you can do it, that it is not a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendement. It is normal and American to bow your head and praise God."

Medved, who is Jewish, says it is a "lie" that America was founded as a secular nation.

"It was founded as a secular government, but the founders believed only if we we remain a deeply Christian nation," he said. "Those who want to ban the invocation in the state Senate, they don't return to the vision of the founders."

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Shapiro: Church-State concerns target Christianity, rather than religion in general

many church-and-state concerns expressed lately in Hawai‘i seem targeted specifically at Christianity rather than generally at religion in public life….

In the wake of the Arizona tragedy, many of us have asked those who engage in inflammatory talk about guns and violence to please think about the consequences.

Insulting a person’s religion has the same potential to inflame, and we must be equally careful to choose our words with the consequences in mind.

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Kamehameha Parents fear retaliation more than lunatic with guns

Hawaii News Now obtained a copy of an internal memo that highlighted concerns about a Kamehameha Schools graduate, who was recently denied permission to speak at an assembly. The 20-year-old man was arrested last month for alleged firearms offenses.

The memo from the schools' risk management director said, in part, "Given the possibility of this denial triggering a negative, possibly violent response from him, several preventative and protective measures have been put into place."  (Apparently locking the nut in the loony bin, is not among them.  Thanks, ACLU.)

Schools officials call the media coverage "inflammatory."

"How much do you think parents should be told about what's going on?" this reporter asked….

Schools president Michael Chun sent an e-mail to parents about the increased security Wednesday. Some parents who were upset about the notification delay declined on-camera interviews, saying they fear retaliation.

RELATED: Judge: Federal Court ruling “leaves Honolulu police officers no safe course” to detain mentally ill persons with guns

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Prison Probe Of Suicide Finds Guards Falsified Records, Neglected Bed Checks

(Be sure to ask Kat Brady and Neil Abercrombie about this next time you see them….)

When arrested last May and while being held at OCCC, Webster slashed his left arm with a razor. After several days in Queens Medical Center psychiatric ward, he was returned to OCCC, where the prison psychiatrist took him off suicide watch after just one day. He was placed in the general population, which his family’s attorney, Michael Green, said is unusual for a former law enforcement officer, let alone a person with a recent suicide attempt.

“He knows everything about what goes on in there and I have no doubt there are people really happy he is gone,” Green said. “Those lips are sealed forever.”

Although the psychiatrist told investigators Webster wanted out of the suicide tank, and did not show signs of being suicidal, Webster told his cellmate Charles Cocklin that he should have been kept on suicide watch. Cocklin’s also said he did not make those allegations in his initial interview because he was threatened by guards.

In a letter to investigators, Cocklin said Webster claimed the guards told him either “Kill yourself or we will do it.” Cocklin said a sergeant even brought a chair into the cell and ignored a shredded sheet. Sometime, after ten p.m, Webster used the sheet to hang himself.

The prison investigators used surveillance video to confirm that for the next six hours guards stayed at the guard post and did not perform the required half-hour bedchecks. The nightly log was falsified, apparently before the suicide, to make it look like the bed checks had taken place as scheduled.

“This is unspeakable,” said Green, who said there are grounds for a lawsuit both against the state, but against the guards and potentially the prison psychiatrist.

(So Abercrombie sez for the welfare of Hawaii prisoners, we must…uh…immediately bring them back to this prison.)

TOTALLY RELATED:  Theme of Prison Audit lifted from Kat Brady commentary

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SA: Big Island prosecutor to retire after 19 years

Words which do not occur in this miserable Star-Advertiser fluff piece: “Ponzi Scheme” and “Peter Boy”

REALITY: Robert Iwamoto trust sued over Maui Ponzi scheme

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UH Seeks Extra $170M as Stimulus, furlough end approach

The University of Hawaii is asking the state for an additional $41 million in each of the next two fiscal years for operations, citing a looming budget gap come June when both federal stimulus money and furloughs end.

During its hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, the 10-campus system also submitted an $88-million "wish list" that covers everything from expanding degree programs on the Big Island to reducing the university's repair and maintenance backlog.

What? MRC Greenwood an empire builder? Who’d have thought? MRC Greenwood and "A Powerful Coterie of larcenous. . . ." (UH's next system President?), Engineered choice: How to pick a Greenwood , Executive compensation at UC: MRC Greenwood and the $871 million dollar secret, Greenwood Mafia grabs two power positions in UH system

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Kokubun puts Barrel Tax back on the Agenda

Kokubun highlighted legislative initiatives he hopes the Legislature will move forward. They include:

  • A "new farmer loan" program to encourage more people to work the land;
  • The proposed lease of six Halawa acres to help fund the Animal Industry Division; and
  • A capital improvement request for some $15 million in bonds to maintain and repair reservoirs and dams.

Kokubun, who chaired the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Task Force, also said that agriculture and energy should go hand-in-hand as the state tries to increase its independence.

He said he wants to expand the Agribusiness Development Corporation's scope to include energy projects. Kokubun also wants the Legislature to consider redistributing the barrel tax that was passed in 2010. Currently, 60 cents are allocated to the general fund. He'd like half of that to go to clean energy and the other half to growing local food.

RELATED: Furloughs: Advertiser sides with “sustainability” billionaires

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Kenoi: 'We now have a county government we cannot afford' (So he asks for $35M more)

Mayor Billy Kenoi acknowledged Wednesday what some county residents have been saying for years.

"The unavoidable truth is we now have a county government that we cannot afford," Kenoi said (after spending the last 10 years building that government) in a five-page letter to members of the state Legislature. "Government must do more with less, and programs that are not essential to our core county mission must be set aside."….

"Having the mayor express his concern is a good thing," Yagong said. "Unless you're dealing in reality, it's hard to make good decisions. We are at rock bottom. The responsibility lies with the 10 of us to make those decisions."

HTH: Mayor seeks $35M for Big Isle

Kenoi push back:  Ford to face formal hearing, Yagong decision postponed

Kauai wants some, too: Carvalho to ask Abercrombie for Wailua Bypass funds

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream: Mayors unite against tax grab

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Judicial Selection Commission meets to consider Supreme Court Nominees

(Now that a Democrat is in office) The Judicial Selection Commission met today to come up with a list of nominees for the vacant seat on the Hawaii Supreme Court.

The vacancy was created when Associate Justice Mark Recktenwald was elevated to Chief Justice last fall.  (And of course, the Judicial Selection Commission waited until Lingle was out of office to prepare the list of nominees.)

When Linda Lingle was considering a CJ last summer, the JSC suggested Recktenwald, 1st Circuit Court Judges Bert Ayabe and Richard W. Pollack, and Intermediate Court of Appeals Judges Dan Foley, Craig Nakamura and — ahem — Katherine Leonard.

The position pays $151,118 and offers employment up to age 70. It was unclear when the list of candidates will be forwarded to Neil Abercrombie.

(Eric Seitz?)

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Walter Ritte opposes wind on Molokai

Martha Evans of Friends of Lanai said while the goal of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative is noble, those ends don't justify the means.

"This development is forever. Lanai will never be the same," said Robin Kaye, one of Evans' colleagues on Friends of Lanai.

Walter Ritte of Hui Hoopakele Aina, a Molokai group opposed to the windmills, asked rhetorically if wind would become just another commodity instead of the cultural resource it is to the Hawaiian people.

He said the community benefits package offered to Lanai reminded him of Captain Cook offering the first Hawaiians he encountered one nail at a time as they provided his men with supplies. He said the community needs to be treated as an equal partner and that merely sharing 1 percent of profits is not going to cut it.

The Molokai half of the equation seems much less settled, and the developer seems to be playing its hand less aggressively. Unlike Castle and Cooke, First Wind does not own the land it would build on, is still working with Molokai Ranch on terms, and might end up somewhere else if the sides can't reach an agreement. (In other words, if Ritte is against it, it isn’t gonna happen.  This is hilarious because in 2008, Ritte was trying to take over Molokai Ranch with $50M in backing from First Wind.  Obviously he is all about the money.  But hey, if that;’s what it takes to stop wind, so be it.)

Not too long ago: Molokai Ranch: Protesters to Cash in with Takeover Plan?

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A 25-Year Legal Odyssey for Dictator's Victims

But the fight for justice for the victims of Ferdinand Marcos' bloody regime is only culminating this week in Honolulu.

U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real on Thursday is expected to finalize the distribution of $10 million into the hands of nearly 10,000 human rights victims and their family members. The plaintiffs' lawyers say the landmark case represents the first class-action human-rights case in which money will be distributed to a class of victims.

"We're finally able to provide some money," said Honolulu attorney Jon Van Dyke, who has worked on the case with a handful of other attorneys for two-and-a-half decades. "It's extremely important, symbolically, to have actual payments."

"The goal is to get $1,000 to each of the victims," Van Dyke said. "That's not nearly enough money, but it's significant, and $1,000 will certainly help people."

The ousted Philippine president finished his life exiled to a multimillion-dollar Makiki Heights property. American attorneys set in motion human rights lawsuits against him in 1986, the same year he left Manila for Honolulu.

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State names interim energy administrator

State Energy Administrator Ted Peck’s departure last week to join Kuokoa Inc. has left the top post vacant for guiding the policy side of Hawaii’s transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Estrella Seese will assume the position on an interim basis, while the Department of Human Resources conducts a search for the civil service position. If Seese was to assume the nonappointed position permanently, state regulations require that she would have to go through the application process.

(No Notice resignation? Message from Peck’s email Jan 7: “Thank you for your email. As of 7 Jan 2011 I have resigned my position as the Energy Administrator of the State of Hawaii, and taken a position as the President of Kū‘oko‘a.”)

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Oahu loads up with guns: Gun deaths are among the lowest in the U.S., but ownership is growing

Rogers is among an increasing number of island residents who own guns. On Oahu the number of new weapons registered each year has more than doubled in the past five years, from 5,219 in 2005 to 10,952 in 2010. It topped out at 13,182 newly registered guns in 2009.

And yet, Hawaii has relative low levels of gun ownership and firearms-related fatalities. The Washington-based Violence Policy Center said last year that in 2007, Hawaii had a gun death rate of 2.82 per 100,000 residents, the lowest in the country. (And there is no correlation between the increase in gun ownership and the rate of gun-related deaths.  Amazing.)

RELATED:  Judge: Federal Court ruling “leaves Honolulu police officers no safe course” to detain mentally ill persons with guns, Hawaii Concealed Carry: More Guns, Less Crime

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Rat Lungworm Disease Anyone? Enviro Cult renews raw foods hype

Food is our main source of energy, but consuming cooked and processed foods can drain and waste energy rather than strengthen your life force.
The answer? Consume foods as close to their natural state as possible, eating mostly raw foods for their natural life force and the enzyme stores they contain.

Once enzymes are exposed to heat from cooking, they no longer provide the function for which they were designed, to process the food. Proponents of raw foods say it is so much more easily digested that it passes through the digestive tract in half of the time it takes for cooked food.

Here’s something else cooked food doesn’t provide: News to Puna: Raw Food=Rat Lungworm

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Army ends live-fire training at Makua

After battling environmentalists and Hawaiian cultural practitioners since at least the late 1980s, the Army said this week it is acceding to community concerns and no longer will use the heavy firepower in Makua that started multiple fires in the 4,190-acre Waianae Coast valley and fueled a number of lawsuits.

In place of the company Combined Arms Live-Fire Exercises, known as CALFEXes, the Army said it is moving ahead with a plan to turn Makua into a "world class" roadside-bomb and counterinsurgency training center with convoys along hillside roads, simulated explosions and multiple "villages" to replicate Afghanistan.

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Lack of REAL ID could shut Hawaii residents out of air travel starting May 11

Hawaii continues to be among states that have not yet complied with all the other requirements of the federal REAL ID Act.

So whether Hawaii driver's licenses and state ID cards will be accepted for airline travel beyond the current compliance deadline of May 11 remains uncertain, although officials are hopeful the deadline will be extended again. ( La-te-dah, air travel isn’t that important to Hawaii tourism or anything, right?)

It is impossible for Hawaii to become compliant by the May deadline, Donalyn Dela Cruz, spokeswoman for Gov. Neil Abercrombie, said yesterday.

She noted that 16 states have passed laws prohibiting compliance with REAL ID, while 10 states, including Hawaii, have passed resolutions criticizing or denouncing the act.

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