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Wednesday, February 9, 2011
February 9, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:35 PM :: 7911 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Transcript: Greta Van Susteren, Tucker Carlson on Hawaii Toy Gun Ban

The transsexual agenda for Hawaii schools

Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

First Morita, now Hooser: Abercrombie appoints another anti-Superferry protester

Sen. Gary Hooser campaign website linked to Holocaust deniers

Rep Pine introduces 18 bills

Fifteen Election-related Bills awaiting consideration

Abercrombie Admin. Blacklist: “It’s a SECURITY ISSUE to invite some media like eTN to a media conference”

Both sides Agree: Civil Unions will lead to Gay Marriage

Opponents argued civil unions would lead to same-sex marriage in Hawaii, going against the 1998 constitutional amendment approved by voters that gave the Legislature the power to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

"Civil unions are a desperate and dishonest attempt to force same-sex marriage in Hawaii," said Allen Cardines Jr., executive director of the Hawaii Family Forum….

Mitch Kahle, a longtime advocate for the separation of church and state, said he opposed civil unions because they did not go far enough to bring about equality.

"Separate but equal is wrong. This is just a half-measure," he said. "I can't support civil unions. What I support is equal rights for all citizens.

"Let's move on. Marriage equality for all."

RELATED: Hooser, Hanabusa predict HB444 will bring gay marriage back before Courts

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House Labor Ctte begins considering Pension Reform

The pension board and Gov. Neil Abercrombie have proposed sweeping changes that increase the contribution of taxpayers by about $40 million per year for the next two years while reducing benefits for employees hired after July 1, 2012.

While the administration and the counties support the changes, representatives of unions for firefighters and university professors opposed reduced benefits because of the potential affect on recruiting in the future.

The package of bills proposed by the governor and ERS board that would increase state and employee contributions to the pension fund, slow down the accumulation of pension benefits, change the formula for calculating a pension to include the highest five years of compensation (instead of the current three years), and raise the retirement age for most employees to age 60 from 55.

The benefits would not change for current employees. It would only affect those hired after June 30, 2012.

RELATED: 2011 Legislative Agenda: ERS benefits to be slashed, “all eligible members to retire”

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Governor names AFL-CIO VP as State’s Chief Labor Negotiator

Neil Dietz, port agent for the Seafarers International Union and a vice president of the Hawaii State AFL-CIO, will serve as chief labor negotiator.

Best Comment: “might as well appoint a bank robber to head up the state's banking regulators......”

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Cayetano: Cost Overruns for Rail Systems Average 40 Percent

"Cost overruns on FTA-approved rail systems (are) averaging about 40 percent," Cayetano said. "Forty percent — if you guys were a private company, you'd be out of business."

Is the former governor correct that cost overruns for FTA approved rail systems average 40 percent?

He is, according to a 2007 report released by the Federal Transit Administration.

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Ex-Director: Charter Schools Need Reform

There's a leadership crisis at the Charter Schools Administrative Office. The office has had six directors in seven years, with Maunalei Love becoming the latest casualty when she was forced to resign last week.

Love told Civil Beat the problem is an ambiguous governance system with no clear line of accountability. The system made it difficult for her to carry out her responsibilities, she said, and reforming that system should be a central priority for her successor.

"I'm really ready to move on, because the position of the executive director at the Charter School Administrative Office is really in the middle of an extremely hostile environment," Love told Civil Beat.

Her resignation followed "disagreement over many months with regards to job scope and performance" with the panel that hired her, she wrote in a letter to the charter school community.

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SA debunks doper lie: Legalizing Marijuana will not empty prisons  

State legislators appear prepared to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, which would result in fewer tax dollars spent on enforcement of the current law. Turning a criminal misdemeanor to a civil violation appears to have worked in the 11 states that made that change in the 1970s -- plus two more since then -- and should be adopted in Hawaii.

The shift would not cause our prisons to be emptied. Some marijuana possession arrests are made in connection with other crimes or at traffic stops. Others stem from a person search prompted by another alleged crime. Rarely is a person arrested by police upon being spotted puffing pakalolo.

About two-thirds of those marijuana-alone cases are dismissed, only a few are prosecuted and, of those convicted, virtually none serve jail time, according to a 2007 study by University of Hawaii economist Lawrence W. Boyd. He estimated that decriminalization of marijuana would save state and county governments $5 million a year, mostly for enforcement rather than the court process.

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The Wages of Welfare: $17.50 an hour

…in 2009, the Department of Human Services’ Benefit, Employment, and Support Services Division spent $158,365,210.09 on Public Assistance–including more than $62 million on “cash support for families pursuing self-sufficiency” and more than $2 million in federal assistance payments….

The study calculated that the hourly wage equivalent of welfare benefits in Hawaii is $17.50 per hour. (And for those who think this is purely because of the high cost of living in Hawaii, consider that similarly expensive New York and California clock in at $13.13 and $11.59, respectively.)

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Homeless Tent City: Hawaii County grovels before Sovereignty Activist/convicted  murderer, could lose $2.5M Federal Grant

Hawaii County could lose $2.5 million in state and federal grants to purchase Kawa Bay property because of a battle with (one) Native Hawaiian (ex-con squatter) claiming ownership there….

Lui's dispute with the county has escalated to blows; he faces a one-week jail term and fines for an assault charge and two harassment charges stemming from an altercation last year with county parks workers and police.
Lui, who served time on a manslaughter conviction after shooting a Honolulu man following a 1976 fist fight, was convicted of the new crimes Jan. 26 in Kona District Court. An appeal hearing is set for Feb. 25.

He questions why the county lets the ever-growing group of inhabitants continue to live in tents, against the county code. He wonders why the signs are allowed contrary to state and local sign ordinances.
"There's this little nest down here that's like lawless land," Riordan said. "It's a slum."

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED: Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

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Homeless Tent City in Aala Park “intolerable”

By day, the homeless camp out at nearby Aala park or on the sidewalks skirting the neighborhood. At night, they wander back into Chinatown - usually until daybreak. Some clean up after themselves, but others leave bedding, food, and foul things behind.

"I don't know how many times I've had somebody right in front of this door right here, just feces sitting right in the front," says Ed Broman. Broman helps manage shops along Hotel street and says it happens at least two to three times a week - in that storefront alone. The CBCA says merchants are becoming resentful of this long-standing problem, and they want a solution now.

The Lung Doo Benevolent Society building sits right on the corner of Kekaulike mall and Hotel street. Workers are afraid to report to police about the sleeping, loitering, drug dealing, and littering that goes on.

"We cannot have them arrested them unless we complain, make a formal complaint, and the people, the president don't want to do that," says society member, Joseph Young. Why? Young replies, "Because they don't want reprisal. They don't want people to come by and do something to the building."

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED: Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

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Homeless Man Names Every Nation Alphabetically

Hawaii — A homeless Hawaii man, Douglas King, lives in a tent city near Kakaako Park which police have told the inhabitants to evacuate by the end of the month.

King moved to Hawaii from Atlanta six weeks ago and has used the last of his Social Security disability checks.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED: Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

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Global Horizon Founder Disputes Trafficking Charges

As far as Orian knows, no workers in Hawaii were threatened with physical harm or hurt in any way and that a fight in Maui came after his manager was stabbed by an intoxicated worker.

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Desperate, Deserted and Destitute, Thai Laborers Tell Their Stories About Their Journey to America

Everything was relatively smooth at Aloun Farms for two months, but the third month problems arose. The 11 men were told while by a Global manager that their visas had expired and they were to be sent back to Thailand. They saw Orian visit Aloun, but he did not speak to them. The workers had not been paid in full for their third month and were concerned about returning home with so much debt. But the Global manager assured them they would return to American as soon as the visas could be worked out.

“Soon” was almost a year, and all the while, the 11 workers looked for odd jobs and farm work to keep them employed so they could pay down the interest. They tried to get their money back from the recruiting agency, but they were turned down.

In Jainukul’s case, his debt went from 650,000 baht to 1.3 million baht, because he had to borrow money from a local wealthy family to pay the interest on the other loans. He was afraid he was going to lose his family’s land because the interest kept multiplying.

One year later, he came back to the United States via Global Horizons. During these last few years in America, Jainukul worked at farms in Mississippi and Georgia.

While Jainukul was gone, his wife left him for another man and took their children. He misses them very much. His father and mother died and he could not go home while they were ill or for the funerals.

Jainukul eventually ran away from the Georgia farm because he heard he was to be removed to Thailand again, and he had not paid off the debt.

Returning to Hawaii, Jainukul had no home and no place to live, but he had friends. In Hawaii, he continues to work, but he is doing so illegally. As soon as he pays off 500,000 baht, he wants to return home to see his children.

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Case not made on secrecy of judicial selection process

Mr. Case argues one primary point. He believes top attorneys in private practice are unlikely to apply for judgeships, or agree to be considered, if the names of unsuccessful candidates are made public.

But there is, at best, disagreement on this point. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a viewpoint that has been rejected by the Hawaii Supreme Court, at least in the case of the “short list” of nominees put forward by the commission (see Pray v. Judicial Selection Commission), an argument discussed here earlier.

Finally, Case does not address the significant opening of the selection process in many mainland jurisdictions, a clear indication that public views are changing towards the older tradition of a closed, cloistered bar.

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Public Access at the Legislature: Equal for All?

On opening day of the Hawaii Legislature last month, a long power struggle meant that the House of Representatives still hadn't picked its leader. But when it came time for a voice vote, the cameras that had been on all day were inexplicably turned off.

The Hawaii public, unless they were in the room, couldn't witness the events on the floor, but staffers and legislators who were in the Capitol could see it on a closed-circuit TV network.

A local website showed footage of the vote, recorded off a TV in a lawmaker's office.

The incident raised questions about why there's one standard of access for lawmakers and another standard for the public.

The internal broadcast is only available at the Capitol and goes directly into lawmakers' offices so they can keep tabs on hearings or meetings. That feed could be distributed via the web to the public, but isn't….

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Surf Nazis: North Shore 'enforcer' found not guilty of assault

A North Shore surfer who cultivated his image as an enforcer and parlayed it into movie and television roles was found not guilty Tuesday of assaulting a visitor at Velzyland beach three years ago.

Kala Alexander, 42, who appeared in "Blue Crush," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Hawaii Five-0" and other movies and television shows was facing up to 10 years in prison for first-degree assault for injuries he inflicted on a California man Feb. 18, 2008….

King, 47, suffered a concussion and partial loss of vision in his right eye in what prosecutor Scott Bell said was an "unprovoked beating, a one-sided pummeling" at the hands of Alexander.

Alexander has in the past played up his role as the leader of the Wolf Pack surf tribe and enforcer of North Shore beach etiquette.

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Isle leaders don't have even a prayer to calm media riot

It's OK for the Legislature to declare Islam Day in Hawaii, it's OK for our new governor to invoke the Dalai Lama at his inauguration and it's OK for a Hawaiian activist on Molokai to claim ownership of the wind based on his native religious beliefs.

But a preacher mentions Jesus in his invocation to the Senate, one demonstrator in the gallery throws a tizzy fit and, shazam, senators make national headlines by becoming the first legislative body in the country to ban opening prayers.

"You all are looking ridiculous out there," says Buck Donham, a longtime Hawaii legislative reporter and editor who has retired to Arkansas.

RELATED: Hawaii's Governor Manipulates Birthers

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Things that make you go hmmmm...WHERE ARE OUR PRIORITIES?

 

With an $800 million budget crisis, why is our legislature today focused on civil unions, assisted suicide, making marijuana legal and ending prayer before legislative sessions?  Shouldn’t we get our priorities straight and focus on solving our budget problems?  Makes you go hmmmm…..

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Hawaii May Buy Into the Plastic Bag Ban Trend

Maui county was the first to ban the use in 2008, followed by Kauai in 2009, with the bans taking place starting January of this year. Now, Hawai'i island is poised to join the burgeoning ranks of governments helping to protect the land and sea from needless plastic pollution. On Tuesday, the Environment Management Committee of the county council voted 5-3 in favor of Bill 17, which would forbid businesses from passing out plastic bags to customers or face fines.

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Comment period for wind farm reopened

HONOLULU - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the comment period on the Habitat Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Kaheawa Wind Power II project, the expansion of the wind farm above Maalaea.

The first comment period closed Dec. 9. A citizen asked for reopening, which is routinely granted. The new deadline is March 10….

Documents relating to the application can be found at www.fws.gov/pacificislands. For additional questions, contact Dawne Greenlee at (808)792-9400.

Correspondence may be sent to: Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 3-122, Honolulu 96850. Comments also can be faxed to (808) 792-9580.

REALITY: Wind Energy's Ghosts

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More than 3,000 bills introduced at Legislature

A total of 3,224 bills was introduced this year. Fewer than one-tenth of bills introduced generally become law.

The number of bills is up from the 2,112 considered last year, but it falls short of the 3,843 bills proposed at the beginning of the 2009 session.

There were 1,559 bills filed in the Senate and 1,665 in the House.

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Censorship: Legislation holding publishers liable for trespassing accidents passes committee

A controversial bill dealing with liability in injuries and deaths of tourists while trespassing private property advanced Tuesday after passing the Tourism Committee in the state House of Representatives.

“We’ve been talking about this for many years,” said Committee Vice Chair Rep. Jimmy Tokioka, D-Kapa‘a-Lihu‘e. “People should be responsible when they make money off of other people.”

House Bill 548 holds authors and publishers of visitor websites and publications liable for readers who suffer injury or death as a result of being enticed to trespass. The bill also frees property owners from liability.

Tokioka said an amendment introduced Tuesday to the bill removed the criminal part of it. The bill will now go through the Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Ron Kouchi, D-Kaua‘i-Ni‘ihau, co-introduced Senate Bill 1207, a bill almost identical to HB 548. SB 1207 will be heard at 1:15 p.m. today by the Economic Development and Technology Committee.

Written testimony submitted by the Media Coalition and the Association of American Publishers called SB 1207 and its companion bills unconstitutional.

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Honolulu City Council Establishes Working Committee on Humor Review (satire)

Honolulu’s City Council recently took time away from other pressing problems, like dilapidated water lines, sewer breaks, rail transit and a looming budget deficit, to reprimand national talk show host Rush Limbaugh for what it deemed politically incorrect activities. Last weekend Rush was heavily criticized for an outburst of fake Chinese dialect.

The Council said it was merely doing what the public wants, which is to set acceptable standards for humor, politically correct speech and satire….

AP: Limbaugh asked to apologize for Chinese impression

HFP: Don’t Mock Hu Jintao: Honolulu Councilmembers demand Rush Limbaugh be censored

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