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Thursday, March 31, 2011
March 31, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:22 PM :: 7734 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

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

2011 Akaka Bill grants Tribal officials broad immunity from Hawaii Criminal and Civil Laws

2011 Akaka Bill: More than 73% of Hawaiians not "Qualified" for membership in Akaka Tribe

Tax Freedom Day in Hawaii: April 6

Governor renews push for beverage taxes

Palafox Redux? Wildman withdraws over “unresolved situation”

Hawaii Right to Life: Oppose HCR 71 on HPV vaccination

Supreme Courts seeks Six Volunteers to Discipline Lawyers

OBAMA POLL HITS NEW LOW...

...Hillary Nears All Time High

One Dead In Marine Helicopter Crash Off Kaneohe

HONOLULU -- One person died and three others were hospitalized after a Marine helicopter crashed Tuesday night off Kaneohe, according to officials with the city's Emergency Medical Services.  The crash happened at about 7:30 p.m. about 2 miles offshore from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, near the sandbar off Kaneohe, Coast Guard officials said.

SA: Marine killed in helicopter crash identified

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Abercrombie backs GE Tax hike on Shipping, Airlines, Cellphone bills

The Abercrombie administration indicated that it would consider a House proposal to temporarily suspend general excise tax exemptions on certain business activities (Stevedoring operations, Airline repair and maintenance, cellphone roaming charges) and impose a GET on those activities over the next few years. The bill was a significant component of the House's plan to balance the budget, but the Senate Economic Development and Technology Committee voted this month to hold the bill. 

(These taxes on so-called special interests will echo through the economy and hit low income people hardest.)

Oh and the Star-Advertiser’s headline?  “Governor rules out increase in general excise tax”  With media spin like this, Abercrombie doesn’t have to be good.

SA pt. 2: GET exemptions, but no hike, on table

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New Akaka Bill Ignores Lingle Concerns

Instead, the bill that Sen. Daniel Akaka introduced Wednesday in the U.S. Senate and that Rep. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa are sponsoring in the U.S. House, is the same version of the Akaka bill that upset the governor and her attorney general.

Given that the political climate in Washington has changed so dramatically, the latest version could just be Akaka's swan song after 10 years of unsuccessfully pushing a measure that would be his signature achievement.

But the latest version of the bill has the same language Lingle refused to endorse last year, arguing that it could result in a "split society" in Hawaii should it become law — one "almost completely free from state and county regulation."

She further warned it would set up a Native Hawaiian governing entity that could have "almost complete sovereign immunity from lawsuits."…

The 2012 election season has also already begun, and the names of Lingle, Hirono and Hanabusa are possible contenders for Akaka's Senate seat, as are former congressmen Ed Case and Charles Djou.

Djou, a Republican, supported the Lingle version of the Akaka bill. Expect both to weigh in on the new legislation.

SA: Akaka takes to Senate floor in support of native Hawaiian bill

REALITY:

FULL TEXT: http://akaka.senate.gov/upload/S675.pdf

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City's deceptive bidding process for rail contract hid $900M in costs

Chang said the design and build portion of the criteria is weighed as seven times more important than the operations and maintenance portion. Ansaldo Honolulu’s design and build portion of the contract was the cheapest of the three bidders, at $574 million.

“When you look at what it takes to operate each year by year, it’s not a significant portion of our evaluation,” said Toru Hamayasu, chief of the city Rapid Transit Division and one of the six evaluators. “Once you start operating, it’s a repetitive thing. The (design build) portion is much greater.”

Chang also questioned why Ansaldo Honolulu’s design and build price dropped from $679.8 million in June to $574 million in February, yet its operations and maintenance costs went up by about $100 million.

This was also raised by Gino Antoniello, vice president of transportation systems and equipment unit at Sumitomo Corp. of America, one of two losing bidders.

“We can’t render an opinion on why the proposal changed,” Imamura said.

She said the city has scheduled debriefings next week with Sumitomo and Bombardier Transportation, the third bidder, who was also rejected.

Imamura explained that Bombardier Transportation’s officials “conditioned their proposal on a change in the indemnification clauses.” She said the city does not allow bidders to set conditions in their proposals.

Bombardier’s bid, when taking into account the total operations and maintenance costs, came to about $1.2 billion. That was lower than Ansaldo Honolulu’s $1.4 billion proposal, and Sumito­mo’s $1.45 billion proposal.

“If you look at the overall cost, they’re the lowest,” Councilman Romy Cachola said of Bombardier’s offer.

SA: Council chairman late to reveal conflict

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Legislators want to accept $200 bribes from unions, business, pension funds

Judging by the proposed draft of the bill, lawmakers don't want to work too hard at justifying their actions to the commission or the public. Here are some of the current bill's worst attributes:

» The latest version quietly widens the definition of "charitable entity" by dropping the final numeral in the "501(c)3" citation in the earlier draft. This is the section of the Internal Revenue Service code that includes what people understand as charities: those with defined religious, educational, charitable, scientific and literary purposes, among a few others.

But the 501(c) includes a wide range of other nonprofits, among them some not ordinarily thought of as charities, such as credit unions, labor unions, chambers of commerce, employee funded pension trusts, mutual insurance companies or associations and teachers retirement fund associations.

» The measure now adds to the "charitable" category all entities filing with the state under the Hawaii Nonprofit Corporation Act (Chapter 414D). This also can cover a wide range of organizations including foreign nonprofit corporations.

» It creates a new exception that would allow lawmakers and state employees to accept event invitations from any government entity, regardless of cost or whether there is any legitimate state purpose.

INFO: SB671

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Abercrombie’s New BoE to do Policy Audit, NOT Financial Audit

First Hawaiian Bank Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Don Horner, who will serve as the Board of Education’s chairman, said he intends to begin work quickly to conduct a “policy audit” to determine what the BOE does — and, potentially, what it shouldn’t do. He said the board will assess what responsibilities and authority could be transferred to schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, though he declined to identify what duties might be turned over until the audit is completed.  He expects to have the audit completed by early June.

CB: Abercrombie names BoE Nominees

The chairman-to-be said his top priority is student achievement. In order to address that, he plans to streamline the board's policymaking and oversight processes and establish an internal audit committee that will ensure taxpayer dollars are being put to their most effective use in the Department of Education.  (THIS IS A POLICY AUDIT, NOT A FINANCIAL AUDIT.)

CB: Hawaii Governor Appoints Board of Education

Shapiro beats Neil’s Drum: New BOE represents hope for public schools

Maui News: MMMC chief to join education board

He said he was asked by the Abercrombie administration to apply for the board position and did so out of support for the public school system.  "It's not that I have any complaints about the Department of Education," he said.

Lo's wife, Nadine Gushi-Lo, works as a DOE outreach counselor at Maui High School. Their son, Reggie, attends Baldwin High School as a junior; and daughter, Noelle, is a 1st-grader at Pomaikai Elementary School in Kahului.  "Frankly, I'm just delighted with my kids' education," Lo said. "I certainly wish all kids would be given the opportunity to reach their potential."

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SB1284 Designed to force Disabled children back into DoE Schools

It is no secret that the DOE continues to have an adversarial relationship with a handful of privately owned special education schools. For the DOE, the issue has always been about the cost of tuition, fees and services that these schools charge. However, when a court determines that a special education school is an appropriate placement that addresses a child’s specific learning needs, the DOE really does not have much say in this matter except to pay for these services.

SB 1284 SD2 HD1 would create a loophole allowing the DOE to withhold payment to these private special education schools for whatever reason they may deem suitable under the guise of monitoring. The DOE’s decision not to pay could be randomly decided with the child’s education hanging in the balance. This refusal will most likely severely disrupt a child’s education resulting in additional lawsuits.

(These criminals will even attack disabled children to line the DoE’s pockets.)

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Shapiro: Dope Bills all about Money, not ‘Compassion’

Clearly, the effort to expand the availability of medical marijuana has become less about compassion and more about filling state coffers by taxing it and opening a back door to legalizing pot for recreational use.

Kristen Consillio had an eye-opening piece in the Star-Advertiser about how lucrative the medical marijuana trade has become for some, even on its current limited scale.

Hawaii certificates for legal medical marijuana use are now at over 8,000, with more than half of the permits issued on the Big Island. The bulk of the prescriptions are written by a relatively small group of physicians, some of whom charge up to $300 for the service. It’s lucrative enough that doctors are flying in from the West Coast to get in on the action.

There’s little control over what constitutes an illness that benefits from pot, and the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the program, says the bulk of prescriptions are being written for patients in their 20s and 30s, who are demographically the least likely to have the kinds of medical conditions associated with marijuana relief.

It adds up to strongly suggest that a large amount of supposedly medical marijuana ends up in recreational use.

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Painters’ Union leader arrested at rally

The union leaders said one year ago, the “Local Jobs for Local People” bill became law after the legislature overrode Lingle’s veto, but the $11 million renovation of Aloha Stadium, awarded after the law was passed, was awarded to a mainland company.

What’s a good protest without at least one arrest? Union leader Lynn Kinney did not disappoint. He was arrested by state sheriffs after he entered the Department of Accounting and General Services “to protest the fact that former Gov. Linda Lingle gave local jobs away to out-of-state workers.”

Union member Aaron Ho said, “Justice has not been served under the Lingle administration. Local jobs are not being done by local people. We are hurting. Stop giving local jobs away! This state needs to uphold the law that was passed, not arrest our business manager, Lynn Kinney. That’s not pono.”

SA:  Union Leader Arrested at Rally

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APEC planners: Hawaii will be ready

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who is also an active member of the committee, said roadwork has been accelerated between Honolulu airport and the Waikiki tourist district, working on what he described as "the Nimitz experience."

Tim Johns, head of Bishop Museum and co-chairman of the committee, said they will need 1,000 to 2,000 volunteers and have lined up hundreds already, including translators and customer service sorts who will help people navigate the airport.

(In any other city, they would have bulldozed all the strip clubs around the Hon.  Conv. Ctr.)

REALITY:  Complacent Honolulu out of its league, not ready for APEC

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Hawaii could be fallback site for firms in Japan

Barely a week after the quake, the Hong Kong government created an expedited work permit program allowing staff of multinational financial institutions in Japan to transfer to Hong Kong.

In other words, a Goldman Sachs Tokyo office manager could relocate hassle-free to Hong Kong and hire local people (and pay Hong Kong taxes).

If the Hawaii state government acted along similar lines…  

(But then this would not be a socialist state, would it?)

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Hurricane Fund, Rainy Day Fund wiped out  Just to get thru June

Effective immediately, state departments must cut spending by ten percent to meet this year's $230 million shortfall.

Budget and Finance Director Kalbert Young said the cuts will add up.

"The ten percent right now would mean about $16 million just over the last four months of this year," he said.

The governor also wants to scoop money from the Hurricane Relief fund and the Rainy Day fund.

"We would want to have available as a tool the entire funds -- $117 million and the $46 million -- $163 million in total," Young said.

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While Abercrombie preaches Doom and Gloom, Stalled condo projects on Oahu move forward

A couple of stalled condominium projects on Oahu are finally moving forward again. The developers have dropped their prices to help boost sales.

The Holomua condominium project has been on hold for about a year. Holomua means "progress" in Hawaiian, and now sales will start again this Saturday at 8 a.m. at 1315 Kalakaua Avenue.

Another project that ran into trouble finally opened its sales center last month. Hale Ka Lae is a luxury condo with 242 units that will be built at 7000 Hawaii Kai Drive.

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Effort to Amend Kauai Plastic Bag Ban becomes entangled in procedure

Disagreement over Kaua‘i County Council rules of procedure took center stage Wednesday after committee members learned their vote not to approve an amendment to the plastic bag ban may have killed the bill.

“This whole thing for me has been rather embarrassing,” Council Chair Jay Furfaro said.

Councilman Mel Rapozo on Feb. 9 introduced Bill 2400 after receiving complaints that the bill banning plastic bags from points of sale could be posing a health threat to customers at ready-to-eat food establishments.

The council approved Ordinance 885 on Oct. 12, 2009. The bill took effect Jan. 11 of this year.

Since the bill became law, restaurant owners and industry workers have come forward, saying contamination from bacteria in reusable bags poses a health risk, plus spilled food is causing paper bags to rip open.

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Study: Big Isle least healthy in State

Only in one area did the Big Island convincingly outperform its neighbors: violent crime. Hawaii's violent crime rate was the lowest in the state with 174 violent crimes committed per 100,000 people. By comparison, Honolulu had 292 and Maui had 204. Kauai's numbers were not available.

http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/

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FERC approves Wailua hydro

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s application for a preliminary permit to develop 2 megawatts of hydroelectric power on Wailua Reservoir.

Filed by energy developer Free Flow Power on behalf of KIUC, the Wailua Reservoir Water Power Project permit calls for utilizing the existing Wailua Reservoir and dam owned by the State of Hawai‘i.

Not to be confused with the Wailua River Hydroelectric Project, the Wailua Reservoir Project would utilize an existing 1,400-foot-long, earth-fill structure built in the 1920s as part of the East Kaua‘i Irrigation System, according to the FERC application.

The permit application is one of six filed within the last five months. Others include: Hanalei River Hydroelectric Project, Kitano Water Power Project, Makaweli River Power Project and Kekaha Waimea Water Power Project. All applications were filed by Free Flow on behalf of KIUC, and all but the Wailua Reservoir permit are yet to be approved.

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