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Sunday, February 06, 2011
February 6, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:15 PM :: 5821 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

VIDEO: 100th Birthday of Ronald Reagan

Djou: Hawaii bets on Machine Politics for the 21st Century

Harvard Study explains how Inouye’s pork kills business

KTA, Safeway, Walgreens: Excessive Amounts of Lead Found in Reusable Grocery Bags

Sen Schumer Demands Investigation: Reusable Bags Contain Harmful Chemicals and Harbor Bacteria

Hawaii's Governor Manipulates Birthers

Tea Party Revival author Leland Baker to speak at Maui Event

Freedomnomics Author John Lott to Speak in Honolulu

Inouye’s Democrat Borreca: Obama is stupid, opportunistic

So how's that "symbolic protest" over earmarks working for you now?  (Wonderfully, thank you.  Perhaps you forget that we have absolutely no part of your system, so your loss is not our loss.)

(Borreca’s blast at the TEA Party and the GOP is just covering fire for the real attack….)

But, for the politically opportunistic, slicing earmarks is easy to understand and easy to make fun of. You call earmarks pork barrel and make oink, oink noises, dress up like pigs and everyone understands that it is bad.

First the GOP-controlled U.S. House took the "no more earmarks" pledge. (That attack on Republicans is predictable, but look what comes next) And while Hawaii's senior Sen. Daniel K. Inouye battled to preserve earmarks, President Barack Obama announced he would veto any bill with earmarks.

Inouye was forced to fold.

Across the country the GOP gloated: "It's getting lonely at the pork trough."

It is also getting a lot stupider.

The federal money not spent on earmarks is not saved, the money is already appropriated -- if Inouye and crew don't spend it, then Obama will. That is why Obama was so willing to side with the symbols. +

(Just to be clear, a column like this from Borreca should be considered as if it were released on Inouye’s letterhead.)

REALITY:  Harvard Study explains how Inouye’s pork kills business

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Abercrombie: Retirees do not ‘make positive contributions in our community’

I have no problem with people who choose to move to Hawaii to retire and make positive contributions in our community.  (He is picking winners and losers here.  Who is he to decide who is making a positive contribution?????) But it is not right for wealthy retirees to pay no state taxes on the pension part of their income while others – (Government employees) people who work in Hawaii and retirees with non-pension income -- pay their state taxes.  (Those who depend on pensions tend to be lower income.  But don’t let a few facts get in the way of an Abercrombie trying to shovel granny’s money to his campaign supporters.)

“The proposal under consideration will not affect individuals with an annual federal adjusted gross income of less than $37,500 for single filers and $75,000 for couples.  (Abercrombie’s definition of wealthy?  Living in Hawaii on $37,501 a year.) The state Tax Department estimates that fewer than half of current pensioners will be affected in any way by this.  (In other words Abercrombie is attacking half of Hawaii’s pensioners.) The proposal does not affect Social Security benefits. 

REVENGE OF THE HIPPIE? When Hawaii was a Territory, proto-hippies were deported back to the Mainland because they “do not make a positive contribution” – apparently the Hippie in Chief has waited all his life to sit in judgment.

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Abercrombie pushes for $200M raid on Rail Funds

State Attempt to Borrow Rail Money May Be "Short-Lived"

They tried it before and they'll try it again. State officials want to borrow $200 million from the city's rail coffers. Senate President Shan Tsutsui introduced Senate Bill 1426 — similar to a failed attempt from last legislative session.

"It's a bill for the state to be able to utilize the cash surplus for rail, and in return, the state would issue bonds for the rail transit system," Tsutsui said. "We realize that the rail project will probably cost more than what they initially anticipated ... We would take $200 million and they would get $300 million back."

Tsutsui said Gov. Neil Abercrombie loved the idea, and called it "a win-win for the city and the state." Not everyone agrees.

"This would have to be something that the city would have to be on board," Tsutsui said. "We know (former Honolulu Mayor) Mufi Hannemann didn't like the idea, but we thought a different administration may have a different view. From what I've heard, they're not too excited about this... This may be a very short-lived bill."

The bill gets a hearing at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 12.

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SA Stepping up in lean times (except for Gov’t unions)

The low-hanging fruit -- in this case, state expenses that could be axed without much pain -- was all harvested during last year's legislative session.  (The word “HGEA” does not occur anywhere in this editorial)

But with the end to stimulus money in sight and further reductions in federal aid on the way, state leaders are facing a tougher challenge squaring up the state budget now.

In his State of the State address, Gov. Neil Abercrombie already telegraphed the plain truth that closing the $844 million hole that exists now through the next fiscal biennium means government downsizing in combination with tax increases.

(Not one word about Abercrombie giving the store away to HGEA, UPW, etal)

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SA Pushes Lottery to feed HGEA

Some gambling legislation moving through the state Capitol puts the onus on voters. Rep. Tom Brower wants to add this question to the 2012 general election ballot: "Shall gambling be permitted within the state in accordance with the law?" Meanwhile, Rep. Joe Souki is seeking a ballot measure that would allow video slot and poker machines in designated areas of Waikiki, "provided that the gambling is not visible from the street."

More to the point, House Speaker Calvin Say and Sen. Clayton Hee are offering companion bills that call for granting a 10-year license for one stand-alone casino in Waikiki that would pay the state a 6.75 percent tax on its gross receipts.

But the most intriguing (Intriguing? Is this an editorial?) proposal might be Sen. Malama Solomon's request for the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to study the feasibility of Hawaii joining the Multi-State Lottery Association.

Solomon says she wants to see if a lottery "would work for Hawaii as a revenue generator" and would wait to see what the study determines before pursuing the matter. If a move is made to create a lottery in Hawaii, it likely won't be until next year.

Given the options for legalized gambling, a lottery might have the best chance of becoming reality in Hawaii. State-run lotteries, many dedicated to funding special projects such as education, have spread across the country in the last two decades.

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State opens de-facto Homeless Tent City at Kakaako Park

The number of homeless encampments in Kakaako has exploded to more than 70 tents and structures in a few short weeks, pressing the Hawaii Community Development Authority to find creative solutions to a problem exacerbated by crackdowns around Oahu….

Over the next three weeks, rather than ask police or sheriff's deputies to sweep the area, Executive Director Anthony Ching plans to increase ongoing outreach services, encourage homeless people to use nearby shelter space and provide security deposits for homeless people trying to rent apartments. 

The area is attractive to homeless people because it offers wide sidewalks and nearby public bathrooms, has few residents, and is outside of major tourist areas, Ching said.

The 200-bed Next Step Homeless Shelter near the UH medical school is generally full, although people regularly move in and out, said Utu Langi, executive director of Hawaii Helping the Hungry Have Hope, a nonprofit group that manages the shelter.

But there are 15 to 20 bed spaces remaining in six buses that H5 set up for homeless people on Forrest Avenue on the Ewa side of the medical school.

(This is exactly how the Homelessness Industry sets up operation.  Thank you Marc Alexander.)

REALITY: Kapiolani Park: Homelessness industry takes Hawaii tourism hostage, Defeating the "homelessness industry" before it gets a grip on Hawaii, Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

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Opposition ‘very troubled’ by ‘big wind’ planned for Lanai  (Corporatist ILWU left flapping in the wind)

LANAI CITY - Lanai residents turned out Saturday to express strong opposition to bringing "big wind" to their island for the benefit of Oahu consumers….

Tony Cuomo of the U.S. Department of Energy said the study was meant to be a "broad, high-level review" of the overall program.

"What we are not here to do is to evaluate the Castle and Cooke proposal," he said.

But Isaac Hall, attorney for the group Friends of Lanai, took issue with that.

He noted that critical details of the plan, including basic facts like the location of wind turbines, are listed as unknown in the proposal, even though Castle & Cooke has already offered those specifics. The proposal also doesn't disclose whether or not the U.S. military is involved in the project, even though some drafts have indicated the undersea cables could make landfall at Kaneohe Marine Base on Oahu.

"I don't think this scoping project can work until they satisfy their first obligation to disclose what they know," he said.

Two testifiers spoke in favor of the project. Joseph and Priscilla Felipe said the island needed another alternative to boost its flagging economy and generate jobs.

"We need help to keep our economy on Lanai," said Priscilla Felipe. "If we don't do something, what's going to happen to our people?"

Joseph Felipe, unit chairman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union on Lanai…"If that will strengthen the Castle and Cooke financial picture and help to stabilize the expenses and keep the Four Seasons operating, then by all means we need to do that," he said.

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State must save, not end, open-ocean fish farming

HB 221 would stop open-ocean fish farming (mariculture) with a moratorium on permits and expansions. SB 626 would require an environmental impact statement (beyond the already rigorous environmental assessment) and codify a percentage rent on revenues in addition to lease rent….

We're Hawaii, surrounded by millions of miles of ocean, the only state with a regulatory process that allows entrepreneurs to pursue mariculture. We should be world leaders in that, but we're too busy shooting ourselves in the foot.

The two bills ignore the economy and forget our long-standing state policy favoring mariculture. While we equivocate, mariculture has become a $100 billion dollar industry, dominated by Asia, supplying half the seafood consumed globally.

One-third of ocean species are in decline. Modern fishing methods are destructive and fuel-inefficient. Bycatch and indiscriminate capture of immature fish are taking an incalculable toll on our oceans. They're being fished out.

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UPW Legislators demand Big Island School, Nature Preserve be converted to State Prison

the measure introduced by state Rep. Faye “Islam Day” Hanohano, D-Puna, a former Kulani prison guard.

Rick Campbell, Youth ChalleNGe Academy statewide director, said Friday when asked about legislation. "I think the program will speak for itself."  Campbell said it has the support of both Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi.  At-risk teens participating in the program could be asked to tell lawmakers why they like attending the youth camp, he said.

The legislation also opposes the decision by former Gov. Linda Lingle to set aside 6,600 acres of the old prison site for inclusion in the Puu Makaala Natural Area Reserve system.

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School to put it all online: Kapolei Middle kids will be able to learn from home next year (DoE embraces Homeschooling?)

Next school year, Kapolei Middle School will be the first traditional public school campus in the state to offer all of its classes for seventh- and eighth-graders online.

For now, enrollment for the online academy is limited to 15 students in each grade level.

But school administrators believe the program eventually could enroll a chunk of students large enough to potentially ease longtime overcrowding -- or at least help to stave off bigger problems as the number of students at the campus continues to grow with new families moving in.

INFO: http://www.kapoleims.k12.hi.us/campuslife/depts/registrar/KOLA/KOLA_Pamphlet.pdf

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Read Aloud Program is a proud product of Hawaii

In Hawaii, there's a popular program called RAP, the Read Aloud Program. RAP is the brainchild of local businessman Jed Gaines, founder of the nonprofit Read Aloud America, whose mission is to build communities of lifetime readers.

Every other week during a school semester, RAP brings out an average of 350 adults and children to socialize, play games, listen to stories and share pizza. But what they're mostly doing is learning about the joy and power of reading. Yes, reading.

At some schools, where back-to-school nights attract only a handful of parents, RAP brings in standing-room-only crowds. At one Leeward school, parents brought beach chairs to sit outside the windows of an overstuffed cafeteria so they could hear the RAP trainer talk. At another school, families spread blankets and sat on the school lawn because the cafeteria was too small to hold the 700-plus audience. Since its creation in 1999, RAP has served a cumulative audience of more than 240,000 adults and children.

SA: New Age Education Failures Attack Tiger Mom

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Space centers need cash to stay aloft

Senate Bill 1173 was recently introduced requesting money to support the Challenger Center Hawaii at Barbers Point Elementary. The bill requests appropriations of $120,000 for the 2011-2012 school year and $100,000 for the 2012-2013 school year, providing that the center has matching funds.

Education Committee Chairwoman Sen. Jill Tokuda said the measure aims to shift the center toward a higher level of self-sufficiency, whether it be through admission fees from participating schools, private funding or donations.

Approximately 5,000 students visit the Challenger Center annually.

In July 2010, the Challenger Center started charging admission fees to schools -- $250 for public schools and $500 for private schools -- to help keep the program afloat.

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33 cameras sit idle as Hawaii County government tries to figure out how to plug them in

Only nine of the 42 surveillance cameras officials have planned to keep watch on the Big Island have been installed as authorities figure out how to pay for the electricity that will power them.

The cameras were installed on utility poles jointly owned by Hawaii County, Hawaiian Electric Light Co. and Hawaiian Telcom.

The police could pay the same rate the county pays to power its streetlights, but this would require the state Public Utilities Commission's approval. Another option would be to install individual meters on the poles, which wouldn't require PUC approval. Traffic signals are powered this way.  (Your government at work.)

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Nonprofits given funds should report to public

Information such as measurable goals and objectives, percentage of budget spent on overhead, fundraising expenditures, compensation of president, percentage of budget raised privately, and number of clients served are examples of information that should be made available to the taxpayer.

Additionally, in the last budget ordinance many of the grants are lumped under a generic term such as "grants for community partnership grants" - $1,110,845 that taxpayers are unaware of who got the grant. Another example would be "homeless program" - $500,000 without any notation of who got the grant. There were a number of such generic notations in the budget ordinance. Other recipients of interest include the Maui Visitors Bureau - $3 million (what about the hotel association's share?); animal management program (Is this the Humane Society?) - $1,197,224.

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Cold water plagues Mayor Wright residents

"It's like ice. It's unhealthy. Sometimes, the kids get sick if they shower with cold water," said Gina Nikichiw-Spell as she helped watch Mayreen, her niece's daughter, and a handful of other children. "The government shouldn't focus on the high-class people. Be even to everybody."…

Unless the government pays up soon, Mayor Wright residents may file a lawsuit to force the issue, said Victor Geminiani of Lawyers for Equal Justice.

"It's immoral in this country to maintain facilities that year after year don't have hot water," he said. "We're not supposed to treat people this way." Federal housing authorities require safe, decent and sanitary housing for families, and that includes providing hot water, said Donna White, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD officials this week urged the Hawaii Public Housing Authority to make the Mayor Wright hot water issue a priority, White said.

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Maui enviros cheer Obama’s Misanthropic Poet Laureate

Merwin shared the McCoy Studio Theater stage with research biologist Art Medeiros and Maui Coastal Land Trust project Manager Scott Fisher in the free presentation, "Imagination and the Natural World,"

Working with his palm trees, is an essential part of Merwin's life. "Not to want to be among other species is unnatural,"?he said. "The result is an attitude of feeling cut off and superior. We have made unnatural circumstances for ourselves, and they are not good for us in the long run."  (But oddly, our eco-initiatives never seem to prevent us environmental elites from living high, it is only the poor and the middle class who will suffer.)

"I think the thing that distinguishes our species is not intelligence," he said. "I'm not sure we're the most intelligent - I'm certainly not sure when I read the papers. Nor is it language. No other species has human language, but we don't have mynah language. Every species has a language. They can communicate what they need to.  (He means YOU are not the most intelligent.)

"What we do have is the central importance of imagination to our lives. The need to imagine how other people feel, how other forms of life experience life is always inadequate, but we need to do it. It's what we've got, and it's the basis for compassion and for the arts."  (In other words, if I can manipulate your mind, I can convince you to abandon all forms of modernity.)

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