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Monday, March 28, 2011
March 28, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:45 PM :: 6343 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

SB605: Legislators to raise Salary Caps for DoE Bureaucrats?

Redistricting for A Republican Hawaii

Abercrombie to Petty, Bogged Down Legislature: Stop bickering and pointing fingers

Hawaii Wind Developer tied to Largest-ever asset seizure by anti-Mafia police

SB1363 Bag Tax: Greens, Big Business, Big Government team up to Rip Off Consumers

CB: Raising GE Tax “looks increasingly plausible”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie hasn't shared specifics on how he plans to balance this year's budget. He's asked the Council on Revenues to revise its forecast to more "adequately reflect the financial picture for the state" given the recent catastrophes in Japan. The group is scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon.

Keep in mind the shortfall through June is on top of an additional $1.07 billion deficit projected for the next two years. And an option that was once regarded a last resort — raising the general excise tax — looks increasingly plausible, with Abercrombie telling reporters he's "flexible" on the idea.

Kalbert Young, director of the state's Department of Budget and Finance, previously told Civil Beat the state's priority is to address the current budget year. "We have to get through this first budget year first before we can even think about the upcoming biennium," Young said.

The Senate Ways and Means committee will hold its first public hearing on the state budget Monday, using House Bill 200 as the starting point. That version calls for $10.98 billion in spending in fiscal 2012 and $10.97 billion in fiscal 2013.

Precisely As Predicted: Abercrombie: GE Tax hike will be People's Will

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ACT 221 Scammers Push for Hawaii Stock Exchange Formation

Introduced by Maui Sen. Roz Baker, resolution SCR 134 would form a working group to report on the feasibility of establishing a local stock exchange….

On December 6, 2010, members of the HVCA, Hawaii Angel, a Hawaii-based investment network, and others put forward a white paper/proposal that outlined the reasons a local stock exchange would bring investors and investment opportunities to Hawaii business and suggested the formation of a working group as the next step.

SCR 134 will be heard on Tuesday, March 29 by the State Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.

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OHA Homeless Tent City , Akaka Tribe Bills nearing final approval

…a hearing notice for a resolution to be heard Monday in House Hawaiian Affairs. The resolution asks the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to consider the idea of "kanaka villages" for homeless Native Hawaiians….

Two other bills — Senate Bill 1520 and Senate Bill 1 — recognize Hawaiians as "the only indigenous, aboriginal, maoli people of Hawaii," and establish a commission to "prepare and maintain a roll of qualified Native Hawaiians" for the purpose of organizing a convention of qualified Native Hawaiians, respectively.

Both measures have already comfortably passed the state Senate. Last week, both cleared House Judiciary and were sent to House Finance, the final hurdle before making it to the full House for a floor vote.

Both measures have been amended, and final language will have to be agreed upon in conference committee and floor votes before heading to the governor's desk.

But, if they do survive and become law, they would accomplish some of the same goals as the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, more commonly known as the Akaka bill.

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SA: Poker Bill violates Federal Law

Facing fierce opposition to a bill that would remove tax exemptions for purchases of school supplies (HUH???), state House members have drawn new cards for Senate Bill 755: exempting a version of poker from Hawaii's gambling prohibition.

The sly move comes too late in the Legislature to be subjected to sufficient debate and should be folded for this session….

However, the issue might come into play in long-range, online poker proposed in the bill, with players sitting in Hawaii poised against players elsewhere. Those sessions would not require the huge entry fees in televised events but the problem is that online gambling violates the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. Casino companies failed last year to get Congress to legalize gambling across state lines.

Here’s Why: Hawaii Internet Poker Bill part of nationwide effort by illegal Gambling Sites

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Poker Alliance “dubious” about State regulation of Internet Poker

John Pappas, executive director for the Washington-based Poker Players Alliance said, "The popularity of poker has made hosting live tournaments an attractive opportunity for many locales," adding, "But we are dubious about the efforts to 'regulate' Internet poker in the state."

Here’s Why: Hawaii Internet Poker Bill part of nationwide effort by illegal Gambling Sites

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Alaska looks at Tourism: “Hawaii’s success story”

“The industry reached this position and is contributing so much to Hawaii’s economic stability and growth only because the travel interests, government and the business community aggressively sought to assess potential earnings through intensive economic analysis, forward projection, wise investment and sound travel promotion.”

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Japan Airlines cuts flights to Hawaii and other destinations

Japan Airlines slashed flights to Hawaii, China, and South Korea after an earthquake and nuclear crisis caused a 25 percent drop in its international passenger numbers.

The cuts, mainly affecting Tokyo Narita Airport services, will run from April 6 to about April 27, the carrier said in an e-mailed statement today. Skymark Airlines Inc., Japan’s largest low-cost carrier, will halt flights at Ibaraki airport, northeast of Tokyo, for five days from March 30 to wash plane engines as a precaution, spokesman Yusuke Tanaka said by phone.

JAL’s domestic loads have also fallen 28 percent since the March 11 quake compared with a year earlier

AP: Latest airfare increase fails over weekend

CB: How to Make Hawaii APEC Conference Have Long-Term Benefits for State

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SA: Palolo Elementary a model for improvement

Silberstein said her school's dem­o­graph­ics have created challenges.

But Palolo has been able to overcome them through teacher training and intervention programs to help struggling students.

Over the last four years, the school has seen student proficiency rise by double-digit percentage points. Last school year, 57 percent of students were proficient in reading, up from 38 percent in 2007. About 58 percent of students were proficient in math, from 41 percent in 2007.

Silberstein, who became principal of Palolo in 2001, attributes the growth to a total shift in attitude at the school: Everybody agreed something needed to be done, and everybody agreed to help do it.

Silberstein said she's changed, too. Today she's much more involved than ever in the day-to-day education of students.

She wants to know where students aren't doing well and where they're excelling. She wants her teachers always striving to improve, and she wants to continue getting better.

(So you mean they didn’t get there by blaming the parents and the students?  Amazing.)

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Isle food stamp use rises As state gives them to families making over $48K/year

The increased participation in Hawaii was due to a combination of factors, including a push last year by the state Department of Human Services to get more people into the program as well as the continuing effects of the recession, officials said.

"We started doing more outreach last year in the community, working with our contacts who helped us by letting people know about the SNAP program," said Toni Schwartz, DHS spokeswoman.

DHS also increased the qualifying income threshold in October, making the program available to more people.

Before October the qualifying gross income for a family of four was capped at 130 percent of the federal poverty level, or $2,748. That was changed to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $4,228, on Oct. 1.

The average monthly benefit for Hawaii residents for fiscal year 2010 under the SNAP program was $218.22, the highest of any state, according to the USDA.

Food stamp benefits are paid with federal funds, while the cost to administer the program is split evenly between the state and federal governments. The share of Hawaii's population using food stamps nearly doubled from 6.7 percent in 2006 to 12.1 percent at the end of 2010. The 12.1 percent participation rate was the 14th highest out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

(“More Federal Funds”)

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Keeping Hawaii Inmates' IDs Out of The Trash

The Hawaii Department of Public Safety is modifying an old policy of throwing away inmates' belongings — including forms of identification. Now, they'll at least keep identification on file.

“The plan is to have their identification placed in their files so it is accessible (for the offenders) and will be accessible to them when they get ready to leave the facilities,” said Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, director of the Department of Public Safety, which oversees jails and prisons.

Under the old policy, inmates who were incarcerated for more than 30 days lost all their belongings. This was a particular problem for homeless who were arrested carrying all of their identification with them, including state-issued IDs, birth certificates, social security cards and immigration paperwork, among other documents.

(We must immediately bring all the prisoners back from the mainland to be in this magnificent institution!)

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Haleiwa businesses rally around shark tour owner

"Someone's taking the law into their own hands," said state Rep. Gil Riviere (R-North Shore/Haleiwa/Waialua/Kahuku/Laie). "They have a beef with a certain business, and they're burning boats down. And that's clearly crossing the line of a civil society.

Rep. Riviere was joined by businesses, the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, Honolulu Police, members of the Haleiwa station of the Honolulu Fire Department, and others with the same concern.

"We really are concerned because this is not a good thing that's happening in the community," said the chamber's Susan Matsushima. "It is something that is actually lawlessness, and if we don't get a handle on this, I think we are all going to lose."

"I've never been threatened here once," said Joe Pavsek. "The worst I ever get is from people like (state Rep.) Gene Ward saying things that's not true, you know?"

But even Ward, who opposes shark tours, came from east Honolulu to the press conference at the boat harbor to show his support.

"We've had some concern in Hawaii Kai about shark tours, but this is not the way to resolve the situation," he said.

SA: Community members speak out against Haleiwa boat arsons

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Senate Judiciary Committee Sitting on Human Trafficking Bill

Last week Representative John Mizuno and Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland resurrected a labor trafficking bill that was thought to have had no chance of passing. In the Human Services Committee, Chaired by Senator Chun Oakland, legislators voted to amend House Bill 1003 to include provisions criminalizing labor trafficking and giving victims the right to restitution. With new life breathed into the bill, all eyes now turn to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, which has until Thursday, March 31, 2011, to hear the bill and decide its fate.

Time is quickly running out for the Senate to act and House Bill 1003 cannot advance unless it is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee before the end of this week. We hope that the Hawaii legislature will act to criminalize labor trafficking with the fierce urgency of now.

Community members can help get this bill passed by contacting their state legislator and asking him or her to support House Bill 1003 and bring Hawaii one step closer to eliminating human trafficking. For more information on House Bill 1003 and how you can help, please visit Polaris Project’s website at: polarisproject.org

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9th Circuit Panel Upholds decision in suit against Hawaii's State Historic Preservation Division

David Brown appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to the State of Hawaii, Melanie Chinen, and various defendants in their official capacities. We affirm.

Brown argues that Hawaii's State Historic Preservation Division ("SHPD") is violating the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 24 U.S.C. § 3001 et seq., by failing to properly inventory and care for Native Hawaiian human remains under its control. We agree with the district court that Brown did not meet the requirements for permanent injunctive relief because he did not demonstrate that he faced immediate or irreparable injury.

Brown also argues that the State, and Chinen in her individual capacity, decided not to renew his contract in retaliation for his criticisms of the SHPD. Most of Brown's speech was made "pursuant to his official duties" and was therefore unprotected …

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2 Big Island resorts still closed because of tsunami damage

The popular 45-year-old Kona Village Resort, on the Kohala Coast, sustained extensive damage to its 82-acre beachfront site and will be closed indefinitely, spokeswoman Karine Joret said. The resort planned to lay off more than 200 employees, leaving only a small group to handle the shutdown. The resort's future was unclear.

"We're canceling all reservations, regardless of the time period," Joret said. "There was pretty severe damage done to the resort. Over 20 bungalows were destroyed, as well as damage to our restaurants, gift shop, office and reception areas, bars and pools." The resort has a total of 125 bungalows.

Some of the thatched-roof bungalows, known as hale, were lifted off their foundations by the water's force. Sewer lines, electrical and other services were also affected, said Joret.

The luxury Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, in Kailua-Kona, will be closed until April 30 after sustaining damage from water, sand and debris that flowed onto the grounds. The surge affected mainly the pool areas, landscaping and a restaurant, plus 12 of the 243 guest rooms, the resort said in a statement. General manager Robert Whitfield said there was "no significant structural damage" but that the resort's managers wanted to take time to "polish the property in the fashion it is known for."

SA: Hawaii Civil Defense will set up disaster assistance center in Kona

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Bill seeks end to city subsidy for recycling

Bill 47-10, being heard by the Council's Public Works Committee today, would end the practice of giving private companies an 80 percent discount on "tipping fees" charged by the city when they deliver recycling residue to the Wai­ma­nalo Gulch landfill. The subsidy would continue for charitable organizations such as Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army, which are exempt from paying the fees.

Although the ordinance is applied equally to companies that qualify, the overwhelming majority of it goes to Schnitzer Steel, which does the most recycling in Hono­lulu more than 100,00 tons of metal a year from automobiles, appliances and other bulky metal items.

SA: HPU project tries to get handle on disposables' impact on landfills

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Revisionist History: Godless Senators now consider abolishing Columbus Day

Maile Shimabukuro has introduced a resolution requesting the governor support legislation that renames Discovers' Day in Hawaii (the second Monday in October, known to some as Columbus Day) to Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Among other things, the "reso" reads:

WHEREAS, on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus did not discover America because it had been previously inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years and because after four voyages to the Caribbean, Columbus believed until his death in 1506 that he had landed in Asia; and

WHEREAS, in his famous letter to the Spanish Crown in 1493, Christopher Columbus was the first to suggest the enslavement of the native inhabitants that he had encountered; and

WHEREAS, on January 19, 1778, British captain James Cook did not discover the Hawaiian Islands, or Ka Paeaina, because the islands had been inhabited by the native Hawaiian people, or Kanaka Maoli, for hundreds of years prior to Cook's arrival; and

WHEREAS, as a result of the crusading concept of discovery and European colonization of native lands, indigenous people perished worldwide.

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Prominent Chinese blogger charged as crackdown deepens

The authorities have detained dozens of lawyers, bloggers and dissidents in what rights groups say is China's harshest crackdown on dissent in recent years.

More than 100 activists, many of them active on Twitter and blogging sites, have been detained, subjected to monitoring and intimidation by the security forces or have gone missing since late February, particularly after the online calls for "Jasmine" gatherings, according to Amnesty International.

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Birther Trump: I want Hawaii governor 'investigated'

Speaking on "Fox and Friends" Monday, Trump said that Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) was just trying to help fellow Democrats defend accusations that Obama was born outside the United States and therefore is ineligible to be president.

“I think this guy should be investigated," Trump said. "He remembers when Obama was born, give me a break. He is just trying to do something for his party.”

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