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Tuesday, March 08, 2011
March 8, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:51 PM :: 6106 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Contract Settlement: HECO and IBEW put the people first

Senate Finance Ctte: Obamacare will cost Hawaii $30M

Yoshioka Confirmation: The Missing $700M, screaming, lying, and slander

Gallup: Hawaii No. 1 in U.S. for Wellbeing

Congress to Investigate Islamic Radicalization in the US

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How they voted March 7

Star-Advertiser: Kym Pine was right

Stanford Ito, the IBEW strike captain, claimed that calling the strike last Friday afternoon, after an early-morning storm had toppled about 20 utility poles along Fort Weaver and Old Fort Weaver roads, was "just circumstance." He added, "It wasn't like a strategic plan to say, 'Yeah, we're going to strike now because the power lines are down.'"

This is disingenuous; it is difficult to conclude otherwise. The two sides had been negotiating since September, and Ito said the union called the strike following Friday's negotiating session because HECO President and CEO Richard Rosenblulm did not show up for it. At HECO's instigation, the two sides, including Rosenblum, met with a federal mediator on Sunday, and they reached tentative agreement on a contract yesterday.

Meanwhile, more than 6,000 Oahu residents, including those who rely on medical equipment or refrigerated medicine, coped with being without electricity through most of Friday, and 2,000 went without power a second straight night. A few residents were taken to the hospital for medical treatment….

Public officials crossed party lines in outrage of the union's conduct.

Republican state Rep. Kimberly Pine, who represents Ewa Beach, called the union "completely unacceptable and selfish to walk off during a crisis in my community. There is a time and place to negotiate salary, and now is not the time." Gov. Neil Abercrombie called the timing of the strike "unacceptable and avoidable." He said during the strike that the two sides should "set aside their respective positions during the emergency situation until the public's safety is taken care of."

Most perceptive was retired sugar worker Gabe Silva, 80, who recalled that when he was an ILWU member, both the union and company made sure families were not hurt too severely during a strike.

"Our main concern was taking care of the people while we were on strike," Silva told the Star-Advertiser. "There was a verbal agreement with the company."

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Nine Tax Measures to be voted by House Today

A number of tax measures will come up for a floor vote on Tuesday, including HB1270, which proposes to repeal more than two dozen tax exemptions and credits in future years after studies are done on their effectiveness in producing jobs and other income.  Other measures to be voted on include….

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Move Afoot To Raise Taxes

While business after business rose during a recent hearing on the bill, when it came time for questions and answers, the point made by the Speaker of the House is that while all of these "special interests" ask that their exemptions not be suspended or taxed, none of the "special interests" offered alternatives to help lawmakers address the more than $850 million shortfall. This left many of those witnesses speechless….

Again the problem of spending really takes its genesis in the fact that lawmakers love to spend tax dollars to keep their constituents happy and now cutting that spending is one option to balance the budget….

…raising taxes is not the only viable option. Bills heard earlier this session to collapse many special funds back into the general fund would not only make more than a half billion dollars of cash balances in these funds available to underwrite other general fund programs, but it would return fiscal control to lawmakers who currently are not able to utilize these special fund surpluses to fund general fund programs.

How would you like paying more taxes while some agencies sit on over a half billion dollars in idle funds?

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Its Baaack: Legislators amend bill to allow $200 “gifts” from unions, business orgs, HIPA

A Senate committee first tried gutting an ethics reform bill, turning it on its head to make it easier for lawmakers to receive gifts, including tickets to nonprofit dinners.

That bill was eviscerated, but one idea wouldn't die.

On Tuesday, the Senate will vote on an amended bill that would permit lawmakers and state employees to accept free tickets for charitable events from a "charitable entity."

At least one open government group, Common Cause Hawaii, says the bill has "serious issues".

"The new SD 1 allows legislators and employees to accept invitations and tickets for charitable events from a 'charitable entity,' whether or not that entity is the host of the event," Common Cause Hawaii's Executive Director Nikki Love told Civil Beat in an e-mail. "The new bill defines 'charitable entity' to include a wide range of IRS categorizations, 501(c)(3) through 501(c)(6). This includes much more than what is normally considered a 'charitable' organization - for example, these categories include chambers of commerce and labor unions."

Shapiro: Senators fight for the right to freeload

HR: SB 671 Gets Gutted and Replaced Again (For the better?  Huh?)

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Clayton Hee stalling as Five Abercrombie Cabinet appointments await hearings

Acting Attorney General David Louie's confirmation won't be considered until next month, said Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee.

The Judiciary Committee will weigh acting Human Resources Development Director Sunshine Topping's nomination Wednesday.

Loretta Fuddy was appointed acting Health Department Director last week, and her confirmation hearings haven't been scheduled. She replaces Neal Palafox, whom Abercrombie removed without explanation.

Full Senate votes are pending for acting Department of Human Services Director Patricia McManaman and acting Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director Richard Lim.

(Hee is slow-walking these nominations to provide Inouye with leverage over Abercrombie.)

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More money for them: Green Energy Scammers fight against counting residential installations toward goal

A bill the full Senate will take up Tuesday, if adopted as currently written, would clarify that the utilities can count things like residential rooftop solar toward their goals — a step that might help the utilities hit their marks, and avoid fines.

Senate Bill 1346 would ensure that customer-sited, grid-connected electricity generation will continue to be part of Renewable Portfolio Standards ("RPS") — the section of state law that established the targets for the utility companies….

Hawaii Solar Energy Association President Mark Duda (desperately seeking an excuse) testified that gifting the utilities the right to count customer-sited energy generation toward its goals would (uhh…uhh…) foreclose the possibility of customers selling those green credits in a yet-to-be-created market.  (How long did it take home to come up with this whopper?) He told Civil Beat he expects either the federal or state government will consider those types of renewable energy incentives in coming years, and Hawaii citizens will be left out in the cold.  (More importantly, if these installations are counted, there will be less pressure to force industrial scale windfarms and solar installations.)

The Blue Planet Foundation cited similar concerns and opposed a similar proposal last year, Executive Director Jeff Mikulina said. This year, the organization didn't provide testimony — a conspicuous absence for an entity that weighs in on energy legislation regularly….  (Must not have gotten the grant.)

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Nothing escapes the unwavering gaze of our legislators

the Senate's Human Services Committee wants a new law saying that disabled parking tags shall hang from the rearview mirror, unless you don't have a rearview mirror, then you put it on the dashboard.  Of course this is already what the state rules for using disabled tags say -- but now the committee held meetings about it, people from the state testified, and now the Senate may set it on its way to becoming a new law….

Sens. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Mike Gabbard and Josh Green are urging that leaf blowers be used for only 15 minutes per day per one-quarter acre parcel of property. The Abercrombie administration's health director and land and natural resources director both essentially said, "Are you kidding? You want us to send out a deputy sheriff with a stop watch and time how long someone is running a leaf blower and then get a tape measure to make sure the lot is just one-quarter acre? No way, buddy."…

In the "Will wonders never cease?" category, there is a Senate bill that would prohibit nepotism in state hiring. The state Ethics Commission said it regularly gets complaints about state officials hiring relatives or family members. About half the states already say you can't hire cousin Bobby, but Hawaii is silent on the issue….

Finally, consider what to do about Moku o Loe, also known as Coconut Island, which was used as the location shot of "Gilligan's Island" in the famed TV show. The place, controlled by the University of Hawaii, is falling apart, and UH wants to make repairs to its marine laboratory on the island.

Because it is in a marine and conservation district, the last time UH wanted to put up a new lab on the island, it says, it took 13 years to get the permits and cost more than $600,000 in consulting fees.

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UH Perfesser complains not enough dopers among student body, Demands Legislative action

in Hawaii, possession of any amount of marijuana, except by those who are certified as having a "debilitating condition" under our medical marijuana law or their "caregivers'" is a crime, with potentially serious consequences, including fine or imprisonment and for young people the possible loss of vital federal education loans, good jobs, and/or admission to good colleges or jobs.

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Abercrombie looks in Mirror: “We have become all too used to a style of dealing with our problems that does not reflect Hawai‘i”

“We have become all too used to a style of dealing with our problems that does not reflect Hawai‘i,” Governor Abercrombie said. “It is a negative approach that is tainting our discourse and actions toward one another.... The way to solve our problems is listening to each other with respect and working toward common goals.”  (Unless your name is Takase or Palafox, in which case I will make you disappear.)

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HECO: Tentative labor deal reached--A vote on the contract could come by week's end

Roughly 1,300 striking Hawaiian Electric Co. workers could be back to work by the end of this week if they approve a tentative agreement reached yesterday by negotiators for the company and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260.

Hawaiian Electric President and CEO Richard Rosenblum and union business manager Lance Miyake announced the agreement yesterday evening but declined to disclose terms of the deal or the chances a majority of IBEW members will vote to accept the terms.

A previous agreement reached on Jan. 31 was voted down by union members on Feb. 18.

Miyake said it could take until the end of the week for neighbor island members to vote on the agreement, which means the 4-day-old strike could last several more days.

Striking employees disbanded pickets but won't return to work unless the agreement is ratified.

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United, Continental scrap expansion plans because of oil

United Continental Holdings Inc. is scrapping plans to add flights this year, and says it will drop unprofitable routes because of rising fuel prices.

The announcement from the world's largest airline company on Monday is the latest example of airlines shifting plans because of the run-up in oil prices. Southwest Airlines matched an industry-wide fare hike, and the smaller Frontier Airlines said it would reduce growth plans….

SA: Eruptive display draws new crowds to Kilauea

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Hilton Worldwide reaches tentative deal with Unite Here locals

The agreements, which still have to be ratified by union members, cap off an 18-month-long dispute in San Francisco and Chicago. In Hawaii, it wraps up an eight-month-long dispute with Unite Here Local 5, which still has negotiations pending with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels and other chains. ...

SA: Union workers with Unite Here Local 5 will vote today on the tentative agreement

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Homelessness Industry: Meth Addicts being used to grab land in Kakaako, Cooke Street

On the list of possibilities is a vacant lot on Cooke Street which sits between Karen’s Kitchen and Sunshine Scuba. But building a facility there would mean acquiring the lot and investing money to design and construct a new structure. (Pressure on local businesses)

The HCDA is also looking at land now in state hands. It includes the old brewery which was initially envisioned as retail space, as well as renovating the old Alder Street detention center which used to house troubled teens.

“It certainly makes a lot of sense,” said Anthony Ching, executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

But lawmakers say the Judiciary is not about to let the parcel go up for grabs. (Pressure on Judiciary…now leading to what the business community and the Judiciary will suddenly be ‘relieved’ to accept)

The HCDA is also weighing a proposal from lawmakers that would provide a short term fix for Kakaako's homeless. One idea would turn the parking lot at the Kakaako waterfront into a safe zone for working homeless between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

“The crisis is now. Any long term solution is going to cost a lot of money (Ahhh, did she mention money???) and it’s going to take years, maybe 5 to 6 years. We don’t have that time. We have to look for an immediate solution now,” said Rep. Rida Cabanilla.

PRECISELY AS PREDICTED RIGHT DOWN TO THE TACTICS: Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

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Judge: Officer ‘coerced’ accused child predator into statement

The Feb. 23 ruling was in the case of Matthew Goodman, 32, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree electronic enticement of a child.

He was arrested April 25, 2007, at Kalama Park in Kihei, where he allegedly had gone to meet someone he met online and thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Former Maui police Detective Ken Prather, who was posing as the girl, had documented online chats with Goodman and videos of him performing sexual acts, according to court records.

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Bishop Street Trial lawyer found in Contempt, pays $300K Bail

The divorce of former soap opera star Brenda Dickson and prominent personal injury attorney Jan Weinberg first made headlines when Judge Darryl Choy jailed Dickson after she refused to follow his orders to allow the sale of a California apartment as part of the property division after the first divorce trial four years ago. Dickson's defiance in court was covered on national television because of her fame as a former star of the popular soap opera "The Young and the Restless."

It was the first time, experts said, that they were aware of a person being jailed to enforce a property dispute in Hawaii family court.

The Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals later ruled that Dickson was denied due process in the divorce case and ordered a retrial.

Three weeks before trial, after Judge Paul Murakami ordered Weinberg to pay Dickson several hundred thousand dollars, Weinberg missed a court hearing and told his attorney that he was in another country, which he would not name. Judge Murakami issued an arrest warrant with $300,000 bail.

Monday, after several days of trial in which Dickson's attorneys struggled to put on a case without Weinberg's testimony, Weinberg showed up at Kapolei family court. He told Murakami he had returned as an example to his son, from a prior marriage, who he said is a graduate student. Weinberg said he wanted to be an example to his son and "face up to his problems." Weinberg also said he intentionally fled the state, rather than "lose everything I have."

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On Trial: Kona woman accused of theft from Hospital Foundation

During the hearing, Hart argued the state relied too heavily on hearsay evidence during the grand jury proceedings, when the lead complainant, Kona Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees Chairman James W. Higgins, was apparently on the mainland and unable to testify.

However, Higgins on Monday testified he had long planned to be off island during mid-September 2010 in order to catch a University of Hawaii football game and a National Football League game in Colorado. Further, he said, the case was slated to go to grand jury in early August, but was pushed back to mid-September after he had already purchased tickets for the trip and games.

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Animal Liberation Activist Sued for Fraud

After a five month investigation, on March 1, 2011, Attorney General David M. Louie filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court, Third Circuit, against Anthony M. Marasia, dba “Love the Animals.”  The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, an accounting, restitution, civil penalties, and other equitable relief.  Marasia resides in Honomu, Hawaii.  The lawsuit alleges that:

  • Marasia solicited contributions from donors via the Internet, including Facebook and other sites, seeking donations to care and provide for animals, and other humane purposes;
  • Donors were led to believe that their donations were tax deductible;
  • Love the Animals was not registered, as required by Hawaii’s charitable solicitation law, nor is it a tax exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code;
  • All funds donated through the Internet were deposited into Marasia’s personal bank account; and
  • Marasia cannot account for the expenditure of the funds for humane purposes

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Happiest Man in America: "Religion is very important. It grounds you. It makes you humble."

RELIGION: On average, Jews have higher levels of well-being than their counterparts of every other major faith in America. Muslims have the lowest levels of well-being. In between, from happiest to least happy, are Mormons, atheists/agnostics, Roman Catholics, “other non-Christians” and then Protestants. For people of most religions, greater levels of religiosity (like frequent church or synagogue attendance) are associated with higher levels of happiness.

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Tautofi Escapes Hawaii: “If I stay here, I can never get out of this dump”

Tautofi, who lived in a Honolulu housing project and thought getting into fistfights was as natural as the sun rising over Diamond Head, knew what to do next.

Football, Tautofi thought, was never a way out of his dangerous neighborhood anyway. His grade-point average always hovered close to 2.0, and he figured those excited college recruiters calling his number were wasting their time.

But that view changed after Tautofi did what came naturally, delivering an uppercut to the offending offensive tackle, igniting a brawl in what should have been a meaningless 2009 preseason scrimmage. Tautofi was kicked off the team, transferred to another Hawaii school, then realized what he needed most was to leave the Islands.

"I thought to myself, 'If I stay here, I can never get out of this dump,' " Tautofi said.

He left for Las Vegas, often called Hawaii's ninth island. His brother David, who played football at UCLA, and an uncle live in the valley and are involved with the Calvary Chapel Christian School worship team.

Tautofi enrolled and was forced to concentrate solely on academics after he was ruled ineligible for sports because of Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association transfer rules….

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