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Wednesday, March 30, 2011
March 30, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:37 PM :: 6189 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

No New Taxes! Rally April 15--Kona, Hilo, Kahului, Lihue

Daily KOS Polls Hawaii Senate Race: Mufi 47–Lingle 40

CoR: Tsunami effect smallish, Weak February tax receipts major factor

COFA Migrations: Field work complete, GAO Audit report due in September

VIDEO: House debates Retirement, Gambling, Insurance—and frozen Bread

HTA addressing “short-term consolidation of flights” by JAL

State honors sacrifice of 17 with medal

Their lives together were just beginning.

Army Sgt. David J. Luff Jr. and his wife, Katie, had a young son, Aiden, and planned to be in Hawaii a few more years after David got back from Iraq.

Pfc. JR Salvacion and his wife, Joy, also had a son, Zildjian, named after the cymbal company because JR loved music and played guitar and drums.

They had plans and dreams and hopes for the future.

Instead, through blinking tears and barely checked grief, Katie Luff and Joy Salvacion each accepted a state Medal of Honor and the condolences and gratitude of the Legislature yesterday in memory of their husbands, who were killed overseas.

CNN: Marine helicopter lands in Hawaii bay; 1 dead, 3 hurt

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Hawaii Visitors Up 11.8% in Feb—so how are tax receipts down?

The number of Hawaii visitors jumped 11.8 percent last month compared to the year before, but tourism officials responding to the data released Tuesday said they're girding themselves for a drop-off as travelers from Japan increasingly stay home in the wake of this month's devastating earthquake and tsunamis.

HMMMMM: CoR: Tsunami effect smallish, Weak February tax receipts major factor

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Pot, Kettle, Black: Abercrombie calls Trump Bankrupt

"I suppose if he can take time out from trying to explain the various bankruptcies that he's had perhaps we can get into that," said Abercrombie. "I imagine we got a lot more to do than to let Donald Trump make a fool of himself any more than he usually does."

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Forbes: Honolulu most expensive tourist destination, prices up 20% on strong demand

A peek at 2011 shows an early surge in demand and prices. According to Expedia.com, average prices during January, February and early March were up from last year, as much as 20% or so in Honolulu, Boston, Miami and Washington, D.C.

CONFIRMED: Hotwire: Hawaii hotel rates jump 25%, growth tops nation

DEBUNKED: CoR: Tsunami effect smallish, Weak February tax receipts major factor

· Forbes: Best Places For Business And Careers #149 Honolulu HI  (149 out of 200, just ahead of TOLEDO, OHIO)

· Forbes: After the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami: Hawaii — the New Mid-Pacific Business Hub

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Media Portrays Public as supporting Tax Hikes, Lottery

Island businesses like Hawaiian Airlines could also see their tax exemptions cut.

"We gave them an exemption for the general excise tax in the past, but now they're practically a monopoly. We have to examine why we are giving them that reduced rate," added Oshiro.

Cutting tax exemptions was an idea that some resident support. "I think businesses, that are making their fair share of money, have a lot more to cough up than the rest of the people who are middle class and low class citizens," said Makiki resident Leon Geschwind.

But some feel the tough economy should be shouldered by everyone in the state, with each resident paying a little more to balance the budget.

"I think the community as a whole should team up to make a small sacrifice, for the betterment of the whole," said Kapolei resident Lance Motogawa.

"They were trying to make gambling legal here in Hawaii, I don't think that is a good idea. I think they should bring in the lottery -- that would help," said Honolulu resident Jacqueline Ale.

CB: Hawaii Gov. Abercrombie Defines 'Fair Share'

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Cayetano, Slom and Slater plan to sue over rail project

The nonprofit has retained attorney Nicholas Yost with the law firm SNR Denton to file the suit against the City and County and the FTA. Yost was the former general counsel for the President’s Council on Environmental Quality and was the lead draftsman of the federal National Environmental Policy Act.

At a Tuesday press conference, Yost alleged the FTA and the City of Honolulu have not followed all of the applicable environmental laws in handling the rail project. One of the complaints that he said will be addressed in the lawsuit is that alternatives, such as managed lanes, bus transit and light rail, were not fully studied.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit will be former Hawaii Gov. Benjamin Cayetano, the nonprofit corporation Honolulutraffic.com, the nonprofit’s chairman Cliff Slater and state Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai-Diamond Head, according to Yost.

CB: What Should Politicians Be Required to Disclose?

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Akaka Bill Reintroduced to Congress

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, who has said he will retire after his term expires next year, plans to reintroduce today a proposal that would grant federal recognition to native Hawaiians.

Akaka will introduce the measure on the Senate floor, spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono has said she plans to introduce the measure in the House this week.

Details of the bill were to be released upon its introduction. The proposal has been before Congress since 1999 through three administrations.

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Precisely as Predicted: Hawaii's Race To The Top Delayed

Hawaii last week received permission to scale back some of its ambitious Race to the Top goals — or at least push back the timeline for reaching them.

In some cases, the extension requests are significant — one deadline was pushed back a year and a half.

Interestingly, the Department of Education built a website specifically to keep Hawaii residents informed about Race to the Top, but most recent Race developments — including this one — have not been posted there.

The reasons behind Hawaii's request for delays vary. Some of the delays are the result of the imminent transition from the elected Board of Education to one appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, according to the department's amendment request. Others have been caused by reorganization and restructuring within the department.

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ABERCROMBIE TO ANNOUNCE HIS PICKS FOR BOARD OF EDUCATION

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said that today he will announce his appointments to the 9-member Board of Education at a 10:30 a.m. press conference on Wednesday at the Hawaii State Capitol. The nominees must be confirmed by the majority of the 25 State Senators.

(Key qualification, they will agree not to AUDIT THE DoE.)

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Kauai Dems Name three to Replace Rep Morita

The nominees to replace former state Rep. Hermina Morita are in, now that she's moved on to her Public Utilities Commission job.

They are: Dr. Neil Clendeninn, a Kauai internist and biotechnology expert; Realtor Foster Ducker; and Kauai County Councilman Derek Kawakami.

The Kauai Democratic Party picked them from a field of eight applicants ….

(And the only reason we know this is that Kauai Dems chose to release the info.  The secretive and increasingly Nixonian Abercrombie admin refuses to make the names of nominees public.)

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AARP Rallies against Pension Tax, for more spending

The march and rally was organized by AARP and Lanakila Meals on Wheels, which want the state to continue spending nearly $5 million a year for programs including home-delivered meals, bathing services, transportation, grocery shopping and adult day care.  (This is the real message.)

The AARP is opposing proposals to start taxing retiree pension income. (This is the fake message.)

KITV: Dozens Rally For Elderly At Capitol

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Last Appointment: Hee v. Louie

David Louie's nomination to be Hawaii attorney general does not appear to be in trouble, but Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee is not quite ready to sign off on a top appointment for Gov. Neil Abercrombie….

But Hee did not schedule a confirmation hearing in Senate Judiciary and Labor until three months after the governor announced his AG pick. Louie is the last to get a hearing.

Even now Louie will have to wait until Tuesday — April 5, just a month before session ends — at the earliest to learn whether he has majority support in Judiciary, and a few more days after that, if all goes well, to see how he fares in a full Senate confirmation vote.

What's holding up Louie's nomination is, as Hee explained at Tuesday's hearing at the state Capitol, is that the senator has received telephone calls from people who oppose Louie.

Hee did not say who the calls were from. Nor did he explain the nature of the opposition.

But Hee did say his committee was looking into the concerns, and that Louie would have the opportunity to respond to them.

After the hearing, Hee spoke privately with Louie and Louise Ing, president of the Hawaii State Bar Association, which gave Louie a "qualified" rating to be AG.

For those who have followed Hee over the years, especially as Judiciary chair, it's "classic Clayton" to delay a nomination, as one government attorney who supports Louie muttered in the committee room.

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Two Hawaii Labor Trafficking Bills Still Alive

But what started out as a routine hearing quickly turned into a grilling of Deputy Attorney General Lance Goto, who showed up to oppose the human trafficking portion of SB 1025. Lawmakers wanted to know if existing laws are in fact adequate given two recent federal human trafficking cases filed in Hawaii.

"You're sitting there and saying everything's hunky dory, and in the case with the Aloun Farms, it was the feds who had to come in," said Rep. Cynthia Thielen.

"I'm not saying everything is hunky dory," Goto replied.

"But you're saying we don't need to do anything," Thielen said.

"I'm not saying there's not a problem — there may be a problem there — what I'm saying is trying to create a law that doesn't work doesn't help," Goto said.

"Instead of just opposing the bill it would have been a lot more helpful if you'd come in to say 'Here's what I have to recommend,'" Thielen said.

Both the public defender's office and the attorney general's office had turned out to oppose the human trafficking language added to the bill.

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Gay Marriage: Invented in Hawaii for first time in history of human race

DOMA was enacted in response to attacks on marriage and to threats to State legislative authority to enact and maintain marriage laws through the legislative process.  The Hawaii case, Baehr v. Miike (1996), served as the catalyst for passing DOMA.  That case held that same-sex marriage is protected in the Hawaii Constitution.  However, this decision was ultimately mooted (i.e., rendered ineffective) by the people of Hawaii when they voted for a constitutional amendment in 1998 stating that: “The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

DOMA was signed into law by President Clinton on September 21, 1996.  It passed in the Senate by a vote of 85-14, and in the House by a vote of 342-67.  Prior to voting, the proper and full committee hearings and floor debates took place.  Since DOMA was passed, the vast majority of states have followed suit, adding their own marriage protections in their State constitutions and laws.

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Medicaid for non-American non-immigrants?

Liberals just love spending tax money taken from you, and call it "compassion." The latest example is a proposal by Hawaii Congresswoman Mazie Hirono to add Medicaid coverage for Pacific Islanders whose nations voluntarily made the decision to sever ties with the United States, and which are now linked to us in a relationship called "free association."

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Japan's tsunami debris headed for West Coast, then Hawaii

Curt Ebbesmeyer says how fast the flotsam arrives depends on the material. A derelict vessel could take 12 months, while a rubber ducky may take two to three years.

He says the floating debris will likely flow in a big circle, carried by currents from Japan to Washington, Oregon and British Columbia before turning toward Hawaii and back toward Asia.

Most of the debris will be plastic items.  (What?  No mention of plastic bags??? They’re slipping!)

CB SLIDESHOW: Tsunami Damages Northwest Hawaiian Islands Refuge

Abercrombie: SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center To Open In Kona

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Abercrombie Fundraiser to be sentenced on Dope Charges

A Texas prosecutor says Willie Nelson can resolve marijuana possession charges by agreeing to plead guilty, pay a fine - and sing "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" for the court.

County Attorney Kit Bramblett says he recommended the penalties to Hudspeth County's judge Becky Dean-Walker. Bramblett says the judge specifically demanded Nelson appear in court instead of pleading by mail, which is a common procedure in such cases

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Punatic Dopers Sue County, demand $5M

Eight Puna residents have filed a lawsuit alleging that police, prosecutors and other county officials have failed to abide by the voter initiative making adult personal use of marijuana the "lowest law enforcement priority."

The plaintiffs, Michael Doyle Ruggles, the Rev. Nancy Waite Harris, Kenneth Miyamoto-Slaughter, David and Wendy Tatum, George "Greywolf" Klare, Barbara Jean Lang and Robert S. Murray, seek $5 million in punitive damages.

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Kakaako homeless: where are they now?

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two weeks ago today, dozens of homeless left the tent city they'd created in Kakaako - after directives from the state to pack up and go. Hawaii News now went back to the area to see if anyone has tried to return, and if not, where they've moved to.

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Hi Co Furloughs: Council Pressures Kenoi on bargaining position

Three Hawaii County Council leaders said Monday during an hour-long back-and-forth with Mayor Billy Kenoi they think employee furloughs should continue, with Finance Committee Chairwoman Brenda Ford calling for a 4 percent reduction in force if they don't.

Kenoi, one of eight government votes on a statewide collective bargaining team, bristled at council members' suggestions he stand firm in the county's best interest, even though others at the bargaining table seem ready to forgo the furloughs. Each of the state's four mayors hold one vote, while Gov. Neil Abercrombie holds four.

VIDEO: Hawaii Mayor faces County Council on proposed budget

VIDEO: Yagong Kenoi II? Not this year, so much.

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Zoo accreditation in jeopardy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Zoo is in danger of losing accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

According to Sidney Quintal, who oversees the zoo as Director of the city Department of Enterprise Services, the AZA is concerned about zoo staffing, the absence of a second veterinarian, inadequate signage, and a substandard elephant exhibit.

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Tsutsui on Akaka: New definition of Obsequious

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka's recent announcement not to seek re-election in 2012 has made me reflect greatly on his impact on past, present, and future politicians in Hawaii and his impact on our residents. We have been so fortunate to have been represented in Congress by a man such as Akaka. He is a man who has continually dedicated himself to initiatives that benefit his constituency, a man who has won the hearts of those in Hawaii as well as Washington, D.C., due to his affable nature and genuine concern for people, a man who epitomizes humility, a rare characteristic for many politicians.  (It goes downhill from there….)

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Pawlenty Calls Out Trump’s Birtherism

Donald Trump should quit questioning President Obama’s birthplace, says Tim Pawlenty, a potential future opponent of Trump’s for the Republican presidential nomination.

Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Pawlenty said he doesn’t doubt Obama was, in fact, born in Hawaii and says members of his party should stop pushing the issue.

“I, for one, do not believe we should be raising that issue,” the ex-Minnesota governor said. “I think President Obama was born in the United States.”

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Why Liberals Love the Birthers

Donald Trump has joined the "birthers," the odd movement that questions President Barack Obama's Hawaii birth certificate. That's a good way for the celebrity billionaire to appear as though he's making a serious run for the Republican presidential nomination, which he says he is considering. It also makes him sound like a secret agent for the Democrats.

That oddly credible possibility has been raised by frustrated conservatives like radio talk-show host John Gibson, who sounded furious earlier this week at the way birthers make Republicans look like the crazy party.

That unfortunate image only hurts the party's chances with the sensible independent swing voters it needs to win general elections. Now Trump is bringing even more attention to the birthers. Surely, Gibson speculated, tongue only partly in cheek, Trump sounds like some sort of RINO, a Republican-in-name-only who's secretly trying to help Obama.

Robert Schlesinger, opinion editor at U.S. News and World Report, similarly asked in a blog whether Trump is "really an Obama sleeper agent."

Indeed, if Obama is not directly supporting Trump, he has good reason to root secretly for the birther movement, whose backing Trump seeks.

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