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Tuesday, February 01, 2011
February 1, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:34 PM :: 4248 Views :: Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Hawaii County Plastic Bag Ban? “Stop micro-managing our lives”

Full Text: Obamacare ruled unconstitutional -- Again

Wanna-be Dearborn Mosque bomber was mentally ill Wikileaks supporter

Jan 31, 2011: How Hawaii Congressional Delegation Voted

HB1468 Flagpole Bill will be heard Wednesday

Pension Report puts Hawaii in a Bad Moody

HB48: Mandatory Voter Registration bill deferred

Secrecy, Conflicts of Interest permeate Oregon Assisted Suicide system

Cook Political Report: Lingle vs Akaka is a Toss Up

It seems to be Akaka’s modus operandi to avoid raising money entirely until he is up for re-election. It’s not an especially wise strategy. It’s part of why Case thought that beating him in a primary was even remotely possible. National Democrats, particularly his Senate colleagues, had to do a lot of the heavy lifting to help him raise money in 2006. They will certainly come to his aid again if he gets a serious challenge, but it could be a little more difficult this time because Democrats have 23 seats up and it is a presidential year.

If Akaka has said he’s running on the record, I hadn’t heard that. Democrats are usually quick to tell me such things. I’ll have to do some checking about how certain they are that he will run. There are lots of reasons for him to retire: age, the prospect of being in the minority next Congress, the rigors of travel, etc. I do know that (Former Gov. Linda) Lingle is giving the race serious consideration, but wanted a few months off first (she’s entitled). If she does run, I would likely to move the rating to Toss Up, but without a challenger, it just makes sense to have it in Solid.

(The Star-Advertiser is running this to get Hawaii Democrats mobilized for Akaka.)

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Akaka is not fundraising

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka has not been actively raising money and has just $66,278 in cash for his re-election campaign in 2012.

While Akaka is not known as an aggressive fundraiser — he had $82,565 at a similar point before his 2006 campaign — the nearly empty war chest is a potential warning sign.

Former Gov. Linda Lingle has said she would consider a Senate campaign and would likely get national Republican help to match the record $6 million she raised for her re-election five years ago.

(The Star-Advertiser is running this to get Hawaii Democrats mobilized for Akaka.)

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Senate Bill 953: Medicaid Cuts Up For Discussion At State Capitol

As part of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's plan to fill an $800 million budget shortfall, he proposed cuts to welfare and medicaid.

Just how much would be cut has yet to be decided and that's something on the table at the state Capitol Tuesday.

Senate Bill 953 tackles the difficult task of scaling back state funds for Medicaid to match a lack of federal funds for the free health care for the poor and disabled.

The governor proposed the cuts in his State of the State address a week ago….

Advocates for the poor and elderly have accused the governor of picking on the community's neediest, but the governor defends his position.

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Cayetano turns on Carlisle, leads anti-rail Charge

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano led several groups in blasting Honolulu's rail plans yesterday and then took swipes at Honolulu mayors past and present.

Cayetano, who had supported Mayor Peter Carlisle in the 2010 elections, said, "Transparency went out the window the moment he was sworn in. ... I'm very, very disappointed. I thought he would be a reasonable man. I was mistaken."

Cayetano also suggested that the city was not paying enough concern to the potential discovery of ancient Hawaiian burial grounds when it begins construction along the route.

"But that's the way the former mayor (Mufi Hannemann) ran the city," Cayetano said. "That's the way he ran his despicable (gubernatorial) campaign and that's the way he did business."

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Lawsuit filed against Honolulu Rail Project; Groups Say City Should Reconsider

The city’s $5.5 billion rail transit project has been hit with a lawsuit, while 10 community groups are calling for a rethinking of the proposed 20-mile heavy rail line.

The lawsuit is being filed on the behalf of Paulette Kaanohi Kaleikini, a native Hawaiian who says she is a cultural and lineal descendent of people who lived in areas in Kakaako where the project will be built.

Kaleikini said The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. is filing the lawsuit in state Circuit Court claiming an environmental impact statement on the project was incomplete and did not take fully explore issues surrounding native Hawaiian burial sites.

The lawsuit is the first of what may be several legal challenges to the environmental impact statement for the project. Former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano spoke at the community groups’ press conference at City Hall, saying he believes not enough due diligence was done on the project and that several lawsuits could be filed.

“The one thing that everyone agrees on is that this EIS is flawed,” said Cayetano, flanked by the heads and supporters of the community groups.

KHON: Lawsuit filed to stop rail construction

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Hawaii's 'Big Wind' Power Project Stirs Up Fans, Foes

But, similar to the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts, not everyone here is welcoming the windmills.

Protesters gathered at a recent informal legislative meeting at the state capital.

Robin Kaye, with a group called Friends of Lanai, stood next to a scale model of the island. He pointed to the hundreds of miniature windmills that cover an area called Garden of the Gods.

"So you tell me, if that was in your backyard whether you'd object or not," Kaye said. "NIMBY is relative." Kaye and others are unwavering in their opposition, despite an effort to assemble a generous public benefits package — including a share of the wind farm's profits, not unlike the oil payments Alaskans get.

Walter Rittie, a longtime activist on Molokai, says that for native Hawaiians like himself, the wind is a revered god. "So until the state realizes what they're dealing with, that it's not a commodity, it's a cultural resource that Hawaiians have high regard for, part of our heritage, then we're in for a train wreck here," Rittie says.

Lanai’s Future: Wind Energy's Ghosts

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Business, health officials react to proposed soda tax

A lengthy article dedicated to convincing you that you should be taxed for your own good.

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Civil unions are not good enough

While I applaud the Hawaii Legislature for trying to pass civil unions and deliver more rights to the gay community, the reality is they are simply creating a different (and inferior) class of citizenship. Despite the Legislature's best attempt, there are still substantial differences between marriage and civiil unions, especially as it relates to health care, taxes, estate planning and child care. The state of Vermont repealed its civil unions in 2009 for this very reason.

Precisely as Predicted: Hooser, Hanabusa predict HB444 will bring gay marriage back before Courts

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Hawaii: Celebrating Christianity is Verboten

"I'm told from a friend who lives in Hawaii that paganism has made a big comeback in Hawaii [and] that you don't go around knocking the native gods," reports Robert Knight, senior writer for Coral Ridge Ministries and senior fellow at The American Civil Rights Union. "I had thought that Christian missionaries had pretty much Christianized Hawaii, and I know there are a lot of good Christians there, but I think this is still shocking that they'd go this far."

And Knight laments that while the Hawaii Senate has bought into the "separation of church and state argument," it does not seem to have any trouble promoting Islam.
"In 2009, the Hawaii Senate chamber approved an Islam Day resolution, and it shows that there's a double standard here," the senior writer decides. "Something that celebrates or acknowledges Christianity, it's verboten. But when you celebrate Islam or anything else, then it's OK. That's multiculturalism; that means anything but Christianity."

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Muslim with guns, taken in for psych evaluation, to get $240K from Honolulu

The city has agreed to pay $240,000 in a tentative out-of-court settlement of a civil rights lawsuit by a Kuwaiti-born Honolulu man over his 2003 arrest under the state's emergency mental health law.

Attorney Eric Seitz contended his client, Mansour Arekat, was arrested after he unjustly came under suspicion of being a terrorist. The settlement is subject to City Council approval.

Seitz said he would get $190,000 for fees and costs and his client would get $50,000.

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

JUST IGNORE THIS: Wanna-be Dearborn Mosque bomber was Muslim convert and mentally ill Wikileaks supporter

REALITY: Supreme Court reversals deliver a dressing-down to the inferior judges of the liberal 9th Circuit WaPo: “But the pointed language came in criminal cases, where the justices said 9th Circuit judges were inserting themselves into cases where they had no business.”

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State Senate Unanimously Approves Appointed BOE

A measure creating a school board directly appointed by the governor unanimously passed a vote in the full Senate on Monday.

The bill passed the Ways and Means Committee 11-0 Friday.

The proposal would allow Gov. Neil Abercrombie to nominate 11 voting members to the board -- six representing the entire state, one each from Hawaii's four major islands and one high school student. The governor's appointees would be subject to Senate confirmation.

SA: Senate OKs BOE appointment bill

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Crooks form new Hui to milk DoE

Monday's meeting at the state Capitol was a virtual who's who of Hawaii education. Gov. Neil Abercrombie ate lunch at the sign-in table next to Hawaii P-20 Council director Tammi Chun. House Education Chairman Roy Takumi and Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Jill Tokuda talked with Hawaii schools superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, who popped in during the last few minutes.

The former president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association talked story with a professor from the University of Hawaii, and representatives from more than a dozen grassroots and nonprofit education organizations mingled for more than an hour. Meanwhile, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation director Terry George met Darren Dean from the military's Joint Venture Education Forum for the first time.

Also well-represented were Hawaii Education Matters and Save Our Schools Hawaii, both of which played central roles in ending last year's Furlough Fridays.

The luncheon was a microcosm of what HE'E aims to do: Gather all of the state's education stakeholders in one place so they can work conspire together.

SA: Education coalition unites reform backers

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Gaming Lobbyist Radcliffe describes deep involvement in Abercrombie Cabinet Selection

An influential lobbyist who was involved in vetting Neal Palafox before he was nominated by Gov. Neil Abercrombie as director of the state Department of Health believes the doctor had nothing in his past that would have jeopardized his post.

"I'll tell you this: We vetted him as carefully as anybody could be vetted and looked into his background, his family, his relationships," said John Radcliffe, a lobbyist who was part of the transition team that reviewed Abercrombie's Cabinet picks. "This guy is a good guy."

Radcliffe said he also asked Palafox if he had anything potentially controversial to disclose. "Nothing," he said. "And I believed him. And I've talked to him subsequently, and I believe him now."…

"We couldn't find anything that this guy was anything but what he purported to be, which is chairman of the department of family practice at the University of Hawaii and one of life's good guys," Radcliffe said.

RELATED: Abercrombie Administration admits lying about Palafox withdrawal, Gaming Industry Lobbyist, Progressive activist screen Abercrombie cabinet picks

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Gaming Lobbyist: Abercrombie will sign Gambling bill

He recalls that 20 years ago when now-Gov. Neil Abercrombie and former Gov. Ben Cayetano were in the Senate with him, they had helped to push out bills supporting off-track betting, bingo and shipboard gambling.

The history is not to suggest that those are the sorts of things he favors this year, but Hee explained it shows that the Legislature is always against gambling.

If there is something of a semi-chance with the Legislature, what about upstairs? Will Abercrombie veto a gambling bill?

"I am virtually certain the governor would sign it. He is not opposed to gambling; he has no moral stand on the issue," says John Radcliffe, lobbyist, former union official and Abercrombie confidant.

A decade ago Radcliffe was actively lobbying for a casino here; today, he says that he has no paying gambling clients but still is campaigning for gambling.

Radcliffe says Abercrombie is looking to see how the public policy debate about gambling unfolds. If the Legislature passes a gambling bill, it would go a long way toward showing that there is public support.

"If they pass it, he will sign it, he is not going to substitute his thinking for that of the Legislature," Radcliffe figures.

In the past, gambling has been opposed by both former Gov. Linda Lingle and U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

RELATED: Gaming Industry Lobbyist, Progressive activist screen Abercrombie cabinet picks

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Gambling bill's delay could signal tough row

Only one person submitted testimony on the proposed constitutional amendment. Reg White of Paradise Cruise Ltd. warned that slot machines and video poker booths could have an adverse effect on tourism by keeping visitors indoors and away from other island activities such as beach and boat outings.

"Slot machines and poker are a lot like video games, except even more addicting because they promise monetary rewards," White said. "It takes people and occupies them for long periods of time, which will hurt our optional tour market because then people are not out, spending money, going on tours to see Hawaii and appreciate the things we have to offer."

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Time-Share Developers Oppose New Taxes

The House Tourism Committee heard from several of Hawaii's biggest hotel and resort developers, who have shifted significant numbers of rooms to time-share in recent years….

The governor proposed that the tax be 150 percent of the fee times 9.25 percent (the current tax rate on regular hotel rooms).

Robin Suarez, vice president for Starwood Vacation Ownership, said the measure would increase the tax on a $2,000 maintenance fee from $72.50 to $277.50 -- a 285-percent increase.

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Senate Transportation Cttee passes Vehicle Weight Tax Increases

Under two measures that were passed today by the state Senate Transportation and International Affairs Committee, the state would double the vehicle weight tax and impose an 80 per cent increase in the annual motor vehicle registration fee.

The levies would come on top of vehicle fees already collected by the counties.

Interim Transportation Department director Glenn Okimoto said the state portion of the vehicle registration fee would increase from $25 to $45 dollars and would raise $34 million for maintenance of highways.

Weight taxes would double, depending on the size of the car or truck, with the extra income also flowing in to the highway fund.

All told, the “revenue enhancements” would add between $50 and $60 million to the fund.

Representatives from the trucking and car rental industries testified against the measures.

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Media ‘Shield Law” up for renewal

Two measures that would make permanent the news media “shield law” enacted last year have been introduced in the state House of Representatives.

The law, now due to expire June 30, protects news reporters from disclosing sources of information used in the gathering of  stories.

State Rep. Gene Ward, R-17th (Kalama Valley, Queen’s Gate, Hawaii Kai) urged the House Judiciary Committee to hold a public hearing on the shield law bill he has introduced.

“The ‘shield’ law for journalists is a necessary part of democracy and helps bring investigated stories to the public. This protection must be continued,” said Ward.

A second measure with the same purpose, introduced by House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, D-33rd (Aiea, Halawa Valley, Halawa Heights, Aiea Heights) has also been referred to the Judiciary Committee.

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Arakawa adds a third ex-Council member to staff

WAILUKU - Mayor Alan Arakawa has appointed Bill Medeiros to his executive staff, making him the third former Maui County Council member to get a post in the new administration.

Medeiros was named an executive assistant earlier this month, joining former Maui County Council Member Mike Molina in the Mayor's Office, and former Council Member Jo Anne Johnson, who was appointed director of the Transportation Department.

Also joining the mayor's staff is John Buck, who served as deputy director of the Department of Parks and Recreation during Arakawa's previous term as mayor.

Buck was named executive assistant.

In November, Medeiros narrowly lost his bid for re-election to former Council Member Robert Carroll.

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Fading NIMBYs continue to harass Kailua Target

"Kaneohe Ranch and Target would like to think this (opposition) is dying away and people are forgetting about it and that's not so," said Lanikai resident Mollie Foti, a member of Keep it Kailua, which she said will continue to lobby the city to delay building permits.

In quite a few cases, these properties have deteriorated substantially in the final years of these leases, and the current leaseholders cannot or do not want to negotiate a new lease. Don Quijote was looking to sell its lease and therefore was not interested in maintaining or upgrading the property. Target will invest millions in one of the most run-down properties in the center of Kailua town."

Of about 50,000 Kailua residents, opponents estimate at least 4,000 oppose Target, said David Kim, owner of Oiwi Ocean Gear in Kailua, and an organizer of Choose Kailua, one of three groups opposed to Target.

Kim said he was disappointed that Target did not take community concerns into account as much as he would have liked. But now that the sale is finalized, his group will focus on the bigger master plan for Kailua, including traffic issues, he said.

"Target should partner with small businesses in Kailua," Kim said. "So they do become a partner in the community rather than what seems like a threat to small businesses."

PBN: Target closes on Kailua land buy

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Army says environmental assessment exaggerated flight plans

HILO -- The U.S. Army is taking responsibility for "miscommunication" it said fueled the recent public outcry over its proposal to conduct high-altitude helicopter training on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.
Still, comments opposing usage of multiple landing zones between the 8,000- and 12,000-foot elevations have prompted the Army to review its training plan, the U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii said in a statement issued Friday.
Its own environmental assessment contained misleading graphics and descriptions, giving the impression of more flights and a bigger impact area than are being sought, according to military officials quoted in the three-page statement.

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Northern California Minority Supplier Development Council seeks Hawaii businesses

Wanted: minority-owned businesses to bid on contracts offered by large national companies.

That’s the marketing pitch of the Northern California Minority Supplier Development Council, which, among its responsibilities, is helping Hawaii’s minority-owned companies gain access to contracts offered by about 3,500 corporations and public institutions.

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Lawmakers aim to ban aquarium fish collecting

The bill hasn't been scheduled for a hearing yet, which is an essential step if it is to become law.

Baker and two other lawmakers from Maui County — where the county council recently passed new aquarium fish trade regulations — introduced the legislation: Senate President Shan Tsutsui, D-Wailuku-Kahului, and Sen. Kalani English, D-East Maui-Lanai-Molokai.

REALITY: Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

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Hawaii Supreme Court Nominee Target of Facebook Fraud

The Facebook page contained substantial false information about her. That included her interests in “women” and a band she does not listen to. The long list of groups she “likes” included gay and lesbian groups, certain Hawaii media outlets including Honolulu Civil Beat, and Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle.

The person who set up the page sent friend requests to several high profile politicians, including legislators who she will have to appear before during her upcoming confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. Friend requests were also sent to a number of reporters and media outlets including Hawaii Reporter.

At McKenna’s request, Facebook removed the page. She does not know if the person who set up the page did so maliciously or not.

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Hawaii Heats Up Again Over Proposed Foie Gras Ban

…the bill has been re-proposed this year. Hawaiian Rep. Angus McKelvey and Sens. Mike Gabbard, Chun Oakland and Clayton Hee have co-sponsored a bill to ban the production and sale of foie gras in the Aloha State. But it still may prove an uphill battle, as last year's anti-foie gras bill was met with opposition from the Hawaii Restaurant Association, who stated that animal cruelty concerns didn't warrant a ban on diseased (delicious) duck liver.

Gerard's Restaurant on the island of Maui is one of the Hawaiian restaurants that chooses duck poutine over animal welfare (self righteous animal liberation fanatics). Chef Gerard Reversade was featured on the Discovery Channel's "Great Chefs of America" and is considered one of the best chefs in Hawaii.

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After all the hype…a single Leaf falls on Hawaii

Nissan had been promising for months that it would roll out its long-awaited, all-electric Nissan Leaf in Hawaii starting in January.

The company met its commitment yesterday -- just barely -- delivering a single car to a Honolulu man on the last day of the month.  (Did they fly it in?)

Nissan executives have said initial production of the Leaf was insufficient to meet the strong demand for the car in the U.S. Nissan capped its reservations at 300 in Hawaii and 20,000 nationally after realizing it might not be able to meet demand.

Hawaii had the highest number of reservations per capita of any market, according to Nissan.

There is no firm timetable for delivery of the remaining vehicles that have been reserved, a company spokeswoman said yesterday.

"We are at full capacity at our plant in Yokohama and by spring expect to be delivering Leafs in volume in all markets, including Hawaii," said Katherine Zachary, a company spokeswoman at the company's North America headquarters in Tennessee.

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Abercrombie’s Incompetent DoH falsely blames EPA for Waimanalo Gulch spill

Deputy Director of Health Gary Gill told Civil Beat last week that the state released stormwater from Waimanalo Gulch Landfill with the approval of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

While the state Department of Health didn't need EPA approval for such a decision, the statement was important because it implied there was consensus about the threat of catastrophic failure of the landfill and the need to pour contaminated water into the ocean.

Pumping untreated stormwater "was done with the approval of the Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency to avoid the potential of a greater disaster," Gill told Civil Beat. The comment came in response to a question about the the likelihood of enforcement action against the city or landfill operator Waste Management for stormwater permit violations.

"It's not likely that we would enforce against a permit violation for something we authorized," Gill said.

On Monday, an EPA spokesman called Civil Beat to say the agency had given no such approval because it had not been consulted before the decision was made. A second EPA official said it's unlikely the state will be punished for its decision, however.

"We weren't involved in that. We didn't have a hand in that decision," said Dean Higuchi, EPA press officer for Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. "That kind of just happened. When we got there, it was happening, and it's what we had to react to."

HNN: Landfill committee to seek unbiased recommendation for new dump site

KITV: City Council Mulls Landfill Options

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Abercrombie’s incompetent DoH issues Revised, revised list of recalled foods from health department

The DOH is aware that records provided by First Commercial Kitchen LLC may include inaccurate and outdated information due to the company's questionable record keeping practices.  (Of course the DoH is in no way responsible for its own questionable record keeping.)

DOH is providing the opportunity for businesses to have their products removed from the recall list if they can provide sufficient documentation and evidence of product safety.

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Director of 9-11 Conspiracy Movie “Loose Change” Busted Selling Heroin

Oneonta police tell the Daily Star of Oneonta that 27-year-old Korey Rowe and a 19-year-old Bronx man were arrested after selling packets of heroin to an undercover officer.

Rowe was arraigned last Friday on a felony count of criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Authorities say the Oneonta resident was released from Otsego County Jail after posting $10,000 cash bail.

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ABERCROMBIE BIG SPENDING PLANS FOR HIS OFFICE

From www.GOPHawaii.com: Governor Abercrombie is taking labor costs off the table as a means to reduce the State’s deficit and instead proposes numerous tax increases to balance the budget.  In addition, the State has almost $5.2 billion in unfunded liabilities for the Employees Retirement System and $5.2 billion in bonded debt (the highest state debt in the nation).  As the state faces these challenges Governor Abercrombie wants to increase the budget for his and the LG's office by $1.3 million?  Kind of makes you go hmmmmm......  

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