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Sunday, March 13, 2011
March 13, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:48 AM :: 7248 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Death toll likely to top 10,000, as 170,000 flee nuclear crisis

Hawaii Family Forum wins vs Suicide, Gambling—Healthcare Right of Conscience still pending

Hawaii Red Cross Helping Local Victims, Taking Donations For Japan

Disaster teams from the Hawaii chapter of the American Red Cross were canvassing the damage to remote areas on the neighbor islands Friday and Saturday, looking for people who need help.

Officials said more than 40 homes were damaged when the tsunami generated by the huge earthquake in Japan struck the Hawaiian Islands early Friday.

Red Cross teams said homes were damaged in Kona on the Big Island, on Maui and in some remote locations on Molokai.

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Pay to Play figure “Will be key in initiating Abercrombie’s Contracts"

A former contract coordinator for one of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's largest campaign and inaugural donors is now a community liaison to the governor who does research on state contracts.

Marvin Wong was a contract coordinator for Mitsunaga & Associates, an architectural, engineering and construction management firm with government and private contracts, for more than six years before leaving in December 2009. He worked in operations for Abercrombie's campaign for governor, helped with the transition after Abercrombie was elected in November, and was hired by the governor as an assistant.

Wong is a community liaison and has an office in the governor's fifth-floor chambers at the state Capitol. Donalyn Dela Cruz, the governor's spokeswoman, said Wong also does research on state contracts and will advise the governor on a rollout strategy for capital improvement projects. "He will be key in initiating the governor's CIPs," she said.

Complete Rundown: Attack ads "coordinated' with alleged Pay-to-Play engineering firm

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Abercrombie & Senate vs Inouye & House over Rail Fund Raid

The biggest part of the House plan to get more money is halting a series of general excise tax exemptions. Just the GET exemption for subcontractors is worth an estimated $120 million a year.

Because each one of those tax exemptions targets a specific group of businesses, it comes with its own set of lobbyists, making it even more difficult to move forward.

The Senate hears the House idea and sees a pyramid.

Sen. David Ige, Ways and Means Committee chairman, says that taxing the subcontractors just adds to the pyramiding effect of the GET.

In other words, if the state gets another 4 percent whenever a sub buys and sells a window, the total tax to the home buyer goes up.

"It is focused on having business pay more; the House proposal is injecting new pyramiding into the system," said Ige.

Instead, the Senate wants to partially balance the budget by taking the next couple of years' worth of tax collections designated for the Honolulu rail project….

"We are not supportive of the Senate plan to take the rail money; we are very skeptical of this," said Rep. Blake Oshiro, House Democratic leader.

"Sen. (Daniel K.) Inouye has indicated strong, strong, strong concerns about doing that. ... We worry that the feds will start questioning why we are taking away the rail's source of funding.

"Playing around with this is extremely dangerous," Oshiro says.

But Ige notes that one of the state's big rail boosters, Gov. Abercrombie, last week told the Senate Democrats that he would not oppose the tax-transfer plan, if the feds don't object.

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Star-Advertiser backs Abercrombie against Inouye

Hikes in taxes and fees should be constrained so that they put the least possible additional burden on business — especially for small business and entrepreneurs, usually the first to start hiring after a downturn. The only way to make that possible is to tamp down any new spending that policymakers aren't compelled to make right now.

That's why taxpayers should take some encouragement in seeing the state House Finance Committee's version of the state budget, which curbs some of Abercrombie's spending plans.

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$21M budgeted for rail authority, Council will not Oversee

The first act of the authority's 10-member board would be to work on the budget. The City Council will not oversee the agency's budget.

"In fiscal year 2012, the budget will not be part of the regular city budget," said city Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka. "They're going to be autonomous by that point, just like the Board of Water Supply is not part of the city budget."

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OHA, Counties, DoE at war over profits from School Closures

Even in tough times, virtually everyone agrees that public education should be among the state's highest priorities when it comes to funding.

So why are the mayors and councils of all four counties, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the state tax director and even the schools superintendent expressing concern over legislation that promises to tap into a potentially lucrative, self-sustaining revenue stream dedicated exclusively to fixing public schools — and to do so without taking so much as a penny from any other existing program?

In a word: land.

Senate Bill 1385 SD2 and House Bill 952 HD1 call for creation of a public schools land trust similar to those in 26 states. If it passes as it is now written, the legislation will be sweeping: On July 1, all land upon which public elementary and secondary schools are situated — except Hawaiian homes land, federal land or privately-owned land — would be designated "public school trust land."

No later than July 2013, all deeds and titles would be transferred to the trust and a governor-appointed commission would be empowered to redevelop, sell or lease unused parcels — perhaps a campus that has been closed — to generate money to pay for public school construction, repairs and upgrades.

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Save our Jobs Hawaii: Higher alcohol tax will destroy restaurant and hospitality jobs

By now, it's old news that Hawaii's economy is hurting — one in every 16 people is unemployed, visitor arrivals remain inconsistent and state experts forecast the recovery phase as at least a year away. As Hawaii's people wither, Hawaii's government follows.

As taxpayers, we can understand the desperation of our state government and its leaders as they struggle to find funding for its programs, but generating revenue by levying more taxes upon Hawaii's businesses now, when we are just starting to recover, is both socially and fiscally irresponsible.

The proposed increased tax on alcohol currently making its way through the Legislature will bleed restaurant and hospitality industries that are already strained under the burden of decreased spending and tourism while trying to manage increased operational costs such as electricity and water.

It will undoubtedly drive down visitor spending, just as it is beginning to show signs of revitalization. Visitors on thin budgets will have to plan more frugally to account for the increased duties; some may avoid Hawaii altogether and opt for a cheaper version of paradise somewhere else.

Hotel and restaurant staff, managers and owners have come out to oppose the tax and the adverse effects it will have on the industry's ability to survive.

All restaurants, especially smaller ones, stay afloat on razor-thin profits, and such a tax would have to be passed on to the consumer. A $10 drink becomes a $13 or $14 drink.

To join the coalition or for more information, see www.SaveOurJobsHawaii.com.

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Solid Waste overtime raises red flags

Kaua‘i County Council members are demanding answers from Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s administration over the hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime and sick leave incurred by the Solid Waste Division.

County Engineer Larry Dill told the council Wednesday that the division’s workers made $12,237 on average in overtime during Fiscal Year 2010, which started July 1, 2009. Two employees made almost $40,000 each in overtime alone during that period.

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Nonprofits squeezed by Spending Cuts, Obama Attack

The first few months of 2011 have not been good ones for the nonprofit sector in Hawaii. As part of his call for tax reform in the State of the Union address, President Barack Obama proposed lowering the charitable deduction for itemizers by more than half. And in his State of the State address, our governor announced cuts in social services, starting with the elimination of millions of dollars in contracts to some 41 nonprofit agencies from the Department of Human Services.

The budget before Congress proposes to slash funding in half for the community development block grant program that supports community groups in poor neighborhoods. And our Legislature is considering eliminating exemptions from taxation for nonprofit organizations.

REALITY: Nonprofit Boards: Confused or M.I.A. (this is what happens when non-profits rely on welfare instead of fundraising)

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Meth Project captures attention of Teens

At the end a long day at Waiakea High School, Jennifer Phakoom, program manager for the Hawaii Meth Project, had pulled off an impressive feat.
She had captured and held the attention of a group of high school seniors, after lunch, and a few minutes before class let out for spring break. This was the fourth 50-minute presentation of the day, in addition to a lunchtime rally in the quad. She asked if anybody had questions.

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Reimbursements control mental health services

Nevertheless, New Mexico approved prescriptive rights for psychologists in 2002, and Louisiana, in 2004. Psychologists also have the ability to prescribe medication in the military and in the Indian Health Service.

A current proposal in Hawaii would require psychologists to earn a master's degree in clinical psychopharmacology, pass a national examination and meet specific requirements for clinical experience. They would also have to maintain a collaborative agreement with a physician. A bill just passed the state Senate for a pilot study with these parameters and is awaiting consideration by the House.

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Hawaii Medical Marijuana License Bill Faces Tuesday Hearing

A Hawaii Senate committee hearing for SB1458 SD2 has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Interested parties must submit testimony by Monday.

SB 1458 SD 2 Creates three classes of medical marijuana licenses:

  • class 1 – medical marijuana compassion centers license for the sale of medical marijuana to qualified patients;
  • class 2 – medical marijuana cultivation license;
  • class 3 medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing license

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Coast Guard: Kailua Pier condemned

Plastic bottles and other debris were piled against the gated entrance to Hulihee Palace, pushed there by the waves. Palace Administrator Fanny Au Hoy issued a statement Friday afternoon, reporting three vehicles' worth of artifacts were removed from the palace. The basement had been flooded, she said. She had been unable to enter the palace to fully assess the damage, however. Hulihee reopened in September 2009, nearly three years after it sustained $1.5 million in damage in the October 2006 earthquakes.

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Sopogy thrives by thinking biga (With our ACT 221 Dollars)

Sopogy's patented system is a variation on an older solar energy technology first tested 30 years ago in the Mojave Desert. The Department of Energy oversaw the project near Barstow, Calif., that featured huge mirrored troughs used to concentrate solar energy and create steam that turned a turbine to generate electricity.

FAILED California Project>>>PHOTOS

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