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Saturday, February 26, 2011
February 26, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:42 AM :: 6737 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Inouye dumps Akaka: Says Hanabusa, Hirono, Hannemann worthy contenders for 2012 Senate race

Gallup: Hawaii is tops in moderates, has fewest conservatives in nation

SB218 passes Senate Judiciary: Would force all Hospitals to provide Abortion Pill

$3.48M sat for 9 years after photo enforcement law repealed

Limbaugh: Did Honolulu Council ever pass resolution condemning Mao’s genocide?

Hawaii Legislature honored Mao Zedong collaborator

Full Text: Maui 2011 State of the County Speech

Some Democrats question Akaka’s ‘Viability’

Linda Estes, a former Kauai Democratic leader, wrote in a letter to the Star-Advertiser that Akaka should retire. She said he has served Hawaii with distinction and should retire with honor. She also said he should announce soon so other Democrats would have time to organize their campaigns.

"I believe that I'm saying what a number of people are thinking," Estes said today.

Dante Carpenter, the Democratic Party of Hawaii chairman, said the party is operating under the assumption Akaka is running. "My understanding from conversations from Senator Akaka himself is that he's running for re-election and has every intention to do that," he said. "And, until I hear otherwise, that's what my understanding is going forward."

HFP: Inouye dumps Akaka: Says Hanabusa, Hirono, Hannemann worthy contenders for 2012 Senate race

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Nonaka: GOP has strong bench for 2012 Senate challenge

"It really seemed to me like Inouye was somewhat throwing Akaka under the bus and looking to put somebody else in to run and wasn't sure if he was going to and didn't give any definitive statement," said Hawaii Republican Party Executive Director Dylan Nonaka, "so it definitely raised a few eyebrows. To show the apprehension definitely was a difference in message that we've seen normally. There was a lot of innuendo and not a clear message of what he wanted, so I think we're going to have to wait and see what comes out of this. I'm sure there were a lot of phone calls. I even got some e-mails 5 minutes after the show aired last night from Republicans saying, 'Did you see what happened? Did you see what Inouye said? So I'm sure it definitely wasn't just on our side."

"We all love and respect Sen. Akaka but being 88-years-old (in 2012), it's hard to run a race. In today's world a political campaign is a 24-7 experience, and I think that's something that everyone's got to take into account, and that's why all this speculation has occurred," Nonaka said. "And the fundraising is a big part of it, only having $66,000 on hand at this point as an incumbent, when you can easily raise money in D.C. from PACs and special interest groups. It just doesn't make sense why he wouldn't have done more fundraising by now. If he had $1.5 million, $2 million in the bank right now, which is possible as an incumbent, people would second-guess whether or not it would be a good idea to challenge him."

Republicans think they can raise the kind of money it will take to run a Senate race that has estimates ranging from $3 million to $6 million or more per candidate.

"We would be looking to field one strong candidate so they could save their money for the general and we could put all our money behind one person and make them as strong as possible," Nonaka said, adding, however, that the GOP has a bench of its own.

"Obviously Gov. Lingle has shown an ability to raise a lot of money," Nonaka said. "Charles Djou also showed an ability to raise a lot of money in a short amount of time. So I think the Republican base definitely will be excited about that race in 2012 and we won't let it go easily. We have folks like Rep. Kym Pine who is very popular, Rep. Aaron Johanson who is very talented, very intelligent. And definitely you can't count out Duke Aiona who just ran a very strong race and has a lot of name recognition, and I think Lynn Finnegan is far from being over in terms of her political career."

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Finance Committee considers 3 pension tax plans

Pension proposals being discussed would only tax individual pension income over $75,000 or tax all income if a retiree makes more than $100,000 overall. The high income thresholds reduce the benefit to the state to $9.1 million and $17 million, respectively.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie proposed taxing all income, including pensions, if a retiree makes more than $37,500.  (Contrary to what Civil Beat sez.) His proposal would raise $112 million annually as the state faces a $700 million deficit over the next two years.

KITV: Marathon Hearings Tackle Health, Retirement Benefits, Tax Breaks

ALSO: $37,500? Abercrombie makes fool of himself during Pension Tax debate

Oooops: Civil Beat Claims Gov Not Taxing Pensions of Retirees With $37,500 Income  (Looks like Abercrombie was not the only one to make a fool of himself.)

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HB 1092: Abercrombie administration still pushing for Pension tax at $37,500, Dems likely to boil frog slower

The House Finance Committee, which could vote on the proposal on Monday, heard testimony today on two variations of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s pension tax proposal.  (To boil frog, heat water slowly.)

Proposal A would base the tax on higher federal adjusted gross income thresholds than the Abercrombie administration prefers.

*$100,000 for single or married filing separately;
*$150,000 for head of household or surviving spouse;
*$200,000 for joint returns

Proposal B would exclude pension income from taxation up to these income thresholds:

*$75,000 for individuals
*$112,500 for heads of households
*$150,000 for joint returns

Fred Pablo, the state tax director, said he is open to a hybrid. But both Pablo and Dean Hirata, the deputy director of the state Department of Budget and Finance, told lawmakers they prefer the administration’s original position with these federal adjusted gross income thresholds:

*$37,500 for single or married filing separately;
*$56,250 for head of household or surviving spouse;
*$75,000 for joint returns

ALSO: $37,500? Abercrombie makes fool of himself during Pension Tax debate

Oooops: Civil Beat Claims Gov Not Taxing Pensions of Retirees With $37,500 Income  (Looks like Abercrombie was not the only one to make a fool of himself.)

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HB799 Imposes GE Tax on non-profits, hospitals, churches

A frustrated state House Speaker Calvin Say (D-St. Louis Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, Palolo Valley) lit into several lobbyists and industry representatives tonight for their opposition to a bill that would lift general-excise tax exemptions on certain business activities.

The bill, similar to a proposal discarded at the end of last session, is one of the main options House lawmakers are considering to help reduce a projected two-year deficit of $700 million….

Although a few of the lobbyists were brave enough to push back — including one representative from a nonprofit who told speaker that an end to their exemption could mean a reduction in social services that the state would end up paying for anyway — most simply took their medicine.

(Calvin Say logic: Tax non-profit recipients of State grants to boost General Fund.  Then use General Fund to increase grants.  The only difference is that the politicians have that much more control over the non-profit’s budget.)

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HB 815: Hawaii Could Cut Public Workers' Bargaining Rights

Hawaii lawmakers have proposed stripping employees of collective-bargaining rights on how much the state chips in for their health benefits.

Beyond making these contributions non-negotiable, House Bill 815 would cap the state's contributions at 50 percent of the monthly cost of premiums for active employees. It also would limit the state's benefits fund to providing "not more than the minimum health care benefits required under the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act."

Hawaii's HB 815 bill was introduced by House Speaker Calvin Say. Say himself sat in on Friday's House Finance Committee hearing. Before leaving, he made a point of asking the committee to support the measure along with six others that aim to stabilize the underfunded health benefits fund and the Hawaii Employees' Retirement System.

During the hearing, Rep. Marcus Oshiro, chair of the Finance Committee, still seemed miffed at the fact that Abercrombie made the decision to up the state's contributions for health premiums.

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Arakawa: Tough decisions to be made in tough times

Ending county furlough days, breaking ground on a major new Central Maui park and initiating curbside recycling were among the goals outlined Friday by Mayor Alan Arakawa in the first State of the County address of his second term in office.

Arakawa also said his administration had initiated a study to determine what upgrades are needed to the county water system in order to begin issuing new Upcountry water meters, and how much those improvements will cost.

(Notice that he is not trying to change the world?  How refreshing.)

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Mauna Kea telescope OK'd: Opponents will get one last chance to appeal for the site's cultural significance

Marti Townsend, staff attorney and program director for Kahea, said TMT Observatory is committed to paying a "substantial amount" in exchange for the lease and that those funds would be used for the management of Mauna Kea. "This basically is a pay-to-degrade policy," she said.  (The protesters are angry that the money is not yet going into their pocket, but there is still time.) "There is no pay-to-degrade policy in the state rules. We don't have the option to let somebody pay in order to destroy the conservation district."

Still Coming: Thirty Meter Telescope Selects Mauna Kea -- Let the looting begin!, Telescope: The Shakedown begins

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Hawaii jobless rate averaged 6.6% in 2010, nation's 7th lowest

Hawaii’s unemployment rate averaged 6.6 percent in 2010, the seventh lowest rate in the country, according to a report released today.

The rate for Hawaii was down from 6.8 percent in 2009 but up from 4.1 percent in 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

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MoveOn.org, Hiding behind new name, demands tax increases in Honolulu

UPDATE for Tomorrow! We are planning a creative, peaceful protest to say NO to the cuts, and demand an END to corporate tax avoidance. This will be an approachable protest, all in good humor and respect for all. We will meet on the morning of the 26th (11:30 am) at the State Capitol. We are combining our protest and demonstration with the folks from MOveOn.org, but let's keep our message about USUncut.org.

(Notice they are not demanding an end to the stimulus payments to banks.  They want to pay the banks and then tax the banks on what they were paid in order to strengthen the power of the Federal government.)

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Hawaii Activists protest at Kawaiahao Construction site

Edward Halealoha Ayau, executive director of Hui Malama I Na Kupuna 'O Hawaii Nei (Group Caring For the Ancestors of Hawaii), said his organization opposes disturbing the iwi.

"The main question is why was the church allowed to develop in the middle of a cemetery" considered one of the most sacred places in Honolulu by old Hawaiians, Ayau said. "This is corporate Christianity at is finest."

Ayau says on the group's website (http://huimalama .tripod.com): "Foremostly, ancestral burials sites must be left in place and undisturbed."

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Gays looking forward to hundreds “getting married” in Hawaii

"We are looking forward to having hundreds of gay and lesbian couples come to Hawaii to get married." These guys even admit to performing bogus wedding ceremonies since 1994 for profit. Could it be they are more concerned with padding their own pocketbooks than they are with benefitting Hawaii?

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State has Thousands of Dollars Owed to Itself in Unclaimed Property Program

The state of Hawaii should maybe take a look into its own unclaimed property program for lost cash as it scratches for more funding.

A review of its unclaimed property website shows the state has thousands of dollars of checks it either didn’t know about or has failed to cash. The Department of Education, its various offices and schools can possibly collect more than $20,000, while the Department of Taxation shows up having more than $5,000 of unclaimed checks.

Moreover, the state Department of Budget and Finance, the department that administers the unclaimed property program, appears to have more than a couple thousand dollars of money awaiting it between its various offices and director.

Even some of the state’s top government officials have property awaiting them, including Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz. Former Gov. Linda Lingle is among those with money pending.

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Day 2: Birthers focus in on Palafox termination

The blogosphere is rife with speculation that Abercrombie dispatched Palafox as health director because he was unable to produce evidence supporting Abercrombie's repeated claims Obama was born at Kapi'olani Medical Center.

(Thanks, Neil.  You did it again.)

Village Voice: Abercrombie, by the way, was a friend Obama's parents, and his recent ham-fisted attempt to put the the birther controversy to rest recently fanned the flames more.  LINK

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Hot water in works for Mayor Wright

Tenant association president Fetu Kolio led a groups of more than 25 tenants at the state low income housing development from office to office asking lawmakers for financial support so hot water can be provided to all Mayor Wright residents.  At noon they made an unannounced visit to governor Neil Abercrombie's office.  Abercrombie was at home nursing inner ear inflammation, but members of his staff met with the residents.

Spokesperson Donalyn Dela Cruz said Abercrombie not only wants to allocate funding for fix the water problems at Mayor Wright, he would like to speed up the procurement process so the work gets done as soon as possible.

(Really? Then why do the emergency procurement requests keep getting denied?  More kabuki.)

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Arun Gandhi: Hawaii Progressives play host to yet another anti-Semite

Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi of India, will give a series of lectures in Honolulu on peace in relation to the continuing unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

The talks, Wednesday to March 7, are sponsored by the Gandhi International Institute for Peace and We Are One Foundation.

He will speak on "Creating World Peace" at a ceremony at the Gandhi statue in front of the Honolulu Zoo from 9:30 to 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Arun Ghandi: "Israel and the Jews are the biggest players" in promoting a "culture of violence that is eventually going to destroy humanity."  LINK

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