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Tuesday, January 25, 2011
January 25, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:09 PM :: 8393 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Full Text: Abercrombie’s State of the State Speech 2011

National School Choice Week is Underway

Obamacare: How Hawaii’s Congressional delegation voted

Intimidated by ACLU, Hawaii Senate prohibits itself free exercise of Religion

State of the Union? Denial

Abercrombie Lied: "We Will Not Be Raising Any Taxes" VIDEO

On Oct. 5, then-governor candidate Neil Abercrombie held a news conference to unveil a 12-page plan on how his administration would implement his 43-page "A New Day in Hawaii" plan.

He told reporters that he would "not be raising any (emphasis added) taxes."

"We intend to work with the existing numbers," he said. "We intend to make maximum use of the public dollars. We intend to make maximum use of the capacity to restructure, reorient, re-prioritize what we're doing with state government. We will not be raising any taxes. What we will be doing is utilizing state government in a way that brings the hope and change that people want."

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State of the State:  Democrat Borreca still can’t say “capsize”

Jan 18 Abercrombie interview:   It is not a matter of the boat sinking -- it is a question of whether it is going to huli (Borreca falsifies translation as "turn, reverse or change," but Abercrombie means “capsize”). If it is sinking, you just keep bailing, but we are at the point of whether the boat is going to huli.

Jan 24 Abercrombie State of the State:  “As Governor, I will take full responsibility for our current situation. But with that responsibility comes an obligation to tell the truth. The truth is that the canoe, which is our beloved Hawaii, could capsize. We are in that unnerving moment when we could all huli.”

Jan 25 Borreca quotes Abercrombie: "We are in that unnerving moment when we could all huli (flip). All of us are at risk and we have to face this," Abercrombie said in his State of the State speech yesterday.

Yes, sometimes even Democrat politicians get annoyed with their minion's constant efforts to make them look good.

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Star-Advertiser lines up behind Boss of Corporatist State 

Abercrombie: Steal $100M from granny to feed State

Abercrombie proposed taxing most retirees by phasing out the state tax exemption on pension income. It would raise an estimated $100 million in fiscal year 2012.

But it would also outrage the state’s older population, said House Minority Leader Rep. Gene Ward.  “I know I‘ve got a lot of gray panthers in my district, as a lot of my colleagues have a lot of gray panthers, and that's a call to arms,” Ward said.

The governor also proposed that he and other state retirees should pay for their Medicare B premium, which would save $42 million.

He also proposed an end to the current state tax deduction for state taxes, which would bring in $99 million.

Abercrombie hopes to get another $40 million by taxing timeshare units and would redirect as much as $10 million of tourism marketing money to culture, the environment and public facilities.

…his speech didn’t mention what sacrifice he expects from state workers… (just retirees).

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Gov: Create Soda Tax, Raise Alcohol Taxes

Abercrombie's proposal would create a 10-cent tax for each can or bottle 12 ounces or smaller filled with soda, juice or non-alcoholic beverages containing sugar. Containers with drinks containing sugar 12 ounces or larger would be assessed a 25-cent tax each.

Diet sodas and other drinks without sugar in them would not be subject to the new tax.

People shopping at the Aina Haina Foodland last night weren't happy with the idea.

"We're balancing the budget on the backs of consumers and those that want to have simply a soft drink in the hot sun," said Wailupe resident Todd Williams.

Taxes on alcohol, beer and wine would increase by 50 percent, their first hike since 1998.

Lyons said state wine and alcohol taxes paid by wholesalers -- already about $6 a gallon -- are among the top three highest in the country.

CB: Abercrombie Plan Raises Taxes, Cuts Services

Type of Alcohol Tax per gallon
Beer 93 cents
Draft beer 54 cents
Cooler beverages 85 cents
Still wines $1.38
Sparkling wines $2.12
Distilled spirits $5.98

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HGEA, HTA denounce Abercrombie plan

The governor wants to end the current practice of state funded reimbursements for federal Medicare Part B benefits for Hawaii government workers -- a benefit he also enjoys.

"I did not earn this benefit and I cannot justify asking taxpayers public or private to pay for it," he said.

"Obviously, on our part there would be grave concern if applied now because we have people out there who are in their 80s, who are on fixed incomes, who rely on this reimbursement," Hawaii Government Employees Association executive director Randy Perreira said.

Abercrombie said the amount of money the state spends to market Hawaii is disproportionate to the amount needed for Hawaii's infrastructure. He wants to reallocate funds that go to the Hawaii Tourism Authority to pay for government services.  

Reaction from HTA was swift.  "We will be asking that our budget, fully funded through the collection of the transient accommodation tax (TAT), remain intact," HTA president and CEO Mike McCartney said in a statement.

The governor also wants to divert capital improvement dollars for Aloha Stadium to other projects.

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Granny Taxes: Abercrombie steps into radioactive buzzsaw

Instead, Abercrombie stepped boldly, if not dangerously, into a political buzzsaw by proposing tax increases for some of the state’s most politically powerful constituencies – government employees and retirees.

He would:

  • Eliminate the state’s reimbursement for federal Part B Medicaid benefits for Hawaii government employees.
  • Eliminate the deduction used by state taxpayers for state taxes paid the previous year.
  • Begin taxing pension income.

Abercrombie can claim a little high ground by pointing out that he is of an age and background that enjoys such benefits. So he is not asking anyone to take a hit he is not willing to take for himself. But still, these proposals, while sensible on a theoretical level, are politically radioactive.

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Civil Unions Hearing: Clayton Hee wants to wear Kevlar Vest

With passionate supporters and opponents of the proposed civil union measure expected to show up in force Tuesday at the Hawaii State Capitol for the 9 a.m. hearing of SB232, Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kahaluu, is preparing for the worst.

The chair of the Hawaii State Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor has asked the Senate president for security at the hearing and the option for each of the Senators on the committee to wear a Kevlar jacket for additional protection.

Hee, in a memo to fellow senators, says violence has become too common an occurrence in the political forums and public hearings at the state capitol.

Another member of Hee’s committee, Sen. Mike Gabbard, D-Waianae, a vocal opponent of same sex marriage and civil unions, was punched in the chest last year by a proponent. The assault led Gabbard to successfully obtain a 3-year restraining order against his attacker.

So far the committee has received 300 testimonies both for and against the legislation that would grant unmarried couples more privileges and benefits.

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Senators Vote On School Board Appointment Bill

Senators in the Education Committee met Monday to take the first vote on the measure to allow Governor Neil Abercrombie to appoint school board members.

That bill would also give state senators the final say on the appointments.

Senators on the Education Committee voted unanimously to pass the governor appointed school board bill but also made some changes along the way….

"When you do have well-educated citizens we receive a healthy work force, so we support the education system," said Max Sword, with Outrigger Hotels Hawaii.

But not all were in support of the governor appointing a school board.

"The governor already has too much power over education, Gov. Linda Lingle was able to institute furloughs over objections of every groups, every body's objections, why would we want to give the governor more power," asked Marguerite Higa, with Save Our Schools (a group of HSTA operatives who occupied the Governor’s office to create an agit-prop show).

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CB:  Abercrombie Backs Off Campaign Energy Plan

“We will also move to ensure energy and food security for Hawaii. I have spoken of and sustained my interest in an independent Hawaii Energy Authority to move the clean energy agenda. However, I am encouraged by the ideas put forward by legislators and the energy community that propose a significant restructuring of the Public Utilities Commission to move energy projects and better connect our islands with the information and transportation infrastructure that is needed to make us more self-sufficient. I look forward to working with the legislature to come up with a solution so we can move on these matters with dispatch.”

The section makes clear Abercrombie is no longer insisting upon the independent energy authority he made the cornerstone of his campaign platform on energy. Perhaps he's just playing nice and striking a tone of collaboration as the legislative session starts, but it sounds like he's ready to deal.

Jeff Mikulina of Blue Planet Foundation said he continues to believe an independent authority would accelerate the state's move to a clean energy future….

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Alito in Hawaii, Other Supremes skipping “juvenile spectacle” State of the Union

Some Supreme Court justices may boycott the State of the Union speech tonight after being targetted in a stinging rebuke from President Obama a year ago.

Judge Samuel Alito is skipping the address to lecture students in Hawaii and Chief Justice John Roberts was leaving his decision over whether to attend to the very last minute.

Both justices admit the partisanship nature of the annual address has left them feeling increasingly uncomfortable.

What its all about: 5-4: Supreme Court rejects FEC bans of books, movies critical of candidates

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US spy for China Noshir Gowadia jailed for 32 years

A US engineer who sold military secrets to China has been sentenced to 32 years in prison.

Indian-born Noshir Gowadia, 66, had helped to design the propulsion system for the B-2 bomber.

A court in Hawaii found guilty in August of passing on information which helped China to design a stealth cruise missile.

Prosecutors had hoped for a life sentence but said 32 years was "in many ways appropriate".

Gowadia was accused of travelling to China between 2003 and 2005 while designing the missile.

He was said to have been paid $110,000 (£69,000) - money that was used to pay off a mortgage on a luxury home on the island of Maui.

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SB 624: Bill to Hide public employee Salaries

Last year, Civil Beat shared the names and salaries of thousands of public sector employees. This year, the state government is working to make sure that such sharing never happens again.

A bill introduced Friday would make private names and other data currently part of the public record. That data is public under the state's open records law — the Uniform Information Practices Act.

"I'm not saying the public shouldn't know ... but public employees should not be subject to exposure any more than the private sector," said Sen. Pohai Ryan, Senate Bill 624's primary introducer. She cited potential identity theft and the right to privacy as her rationale for the proposal. "They should not be second-class citizens."

But University of Hawaii media law professor Gerald Kato said there are sometimes good reasons for open records that trump workers' right to privacy. Nepotism and corruption are harder to spot when names are private.

The bill threatens to "chip away at the edges" of the state's public records law, he said.

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State greenlights Kawaiaha’o: Christian burials can be unearthed, pre-Christian burials cannot

The Honolulu church known as "the Westminster Abbey of Hawaii" plans to restart construction in the first week of February and hopes to complete the project by the end of next year.

However, not everyone is supportive, and one lawsuit challenging the treatment of disturbed burials is pending.

Resumption of work largely hinged on state officials making a distinction between unmarked Christian burials of native Hawaiians in a cemetery and traditional native Hawaiian burials, typically in secret locations.

Kawaiaha'o officials contended that its burial discoveries were exempt from the state's native Hawaiian burial law because the remains were Christian burials of native Hawaiians in coffins on the grounds of a church cemetery.

The state Department of Health did not exactly side with the church on that issue, but issued a permit in October allowing the church to dig up and rebury any unidentified remains on its property. The approval reversed an earlier decision by the department and was key to construction moving forward.

(Remember this next time some activi$t looking for a $ettlement demand$ that burials be pre$erved in place.)

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Interview: William Harrison of the Hawaii Innocence Project

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Here now to talk about the case of a Maui man set free after 20 years in prison because of new DNA evidence and the group that represented him, the Hawaii Innocence Project, is attorney William Harrison.

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Sunshine Market vendors frustrated with plastic bag ban

“There was a lot of confusion when the ordinance took effect,” Harmony said. “Some said the Sunshine Market was exempt, but we just got the copies delivered by Terry Phillips, the Sunshine Market monitor, and it affects us.”

Almost two weeks after  the ordinance took effect,  most the vendors were already holding back on plastic bags, although many started prepacking items for shoppers.

Vendors also needed to fill out forms, distributed by Phillips, stating the origins of the produce.

“Pre-packaging is okay,” Trask said. “But putting the packages into checkout plastic bags is not.”

There were several inquiries into specific types of bags, but Trask assured the vendors there would be a transition period in which they would be working with them as concerns were raised.

“The vendors are really stressed right now,” Phillips said. “Not only are they coming from bad weather that ruined a lot of their crops, they have to contend with this new law.”

A vendor said a customer who used to bring plastic checkout bags for her to use at the market was exasperated when she was told the vendors couldn’t use the bags anymore.

“What am I going to do with all my plastic bags?” the vendor said. “The law was designed to keep them out of the landfill, so initially, the county should have designed a take-back period where people could bring their unneeded plastic bags. Now, it’s just going to end up in the landfill.”

Vendors were visibly frustrated with trying to cope with the new law, and in an effort to comply, had more offerings of pre-packaged produce, reducing choices for some shoppers who wanted just one tangelo or one naval orange.

“Every time they pass a law, we lose a right,” said another vendor.

The purpose of the plastic bag reduction law is to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags when shopping, the ordinance states.

Steeped in the environment and sustainability, (Huh???) the production and use of plastic checkout bags have significant impacts on the environment, including, but not limited to: contributing to unsightly litter (and paper bags don’t cause litter?); creating an additional burden on the landfill  (paper bags cause a greater burden); contributing to potential death of marine animals through ingestion and entanglement (pure bulls***); and requiring the use of millions of barrels of crude oil for its manufacture (WRONG: Plastic bags are made from natural gas), Trask read from the ordinance.

REALITY: Calif. EIS shows plastic bag ban harms environment

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Yagong: Time to cut costs

Hawaii County can't borrow its way out of debt, which is why local government should shrink, cut labor costs and end its "culture of entitlement," County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong said Sunday.
"We owe it to the public to scrutinize every single expenditure," the Hamakua lawmaker told about 50 members of the Conservative Forum for Hawaii.
The featured speaker for the group's monthly meeting, Yagong titled his speech "The County of Hawaii at a Budgetary Crossroads: Where Do We Go From Here?"

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Iran: Abercrombie has been thwarted

IranTV: Earlier this month Governor Abercrombie announced the initiation of a process to make policy changes that would allow Hawaii to release additional evidence that Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961.

After Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie announced he was on a mission to end the Birther controversy once and for all, it appears his good intentions have been thwarted.

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