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April 4, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:10 PM :: 7122 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

HB793: Hikes GE Tax 25%, eliminates exemptions, Hearing Wednesday

Save Our Jobs—Stop SB741 Alcohol Tax

Abercrombie’s Board of Education: Accountability begins now, and it’s already ugly

U.S. Supreme Court Won't Hear Nader Hawaii Ballot Access Case

Abercrombie Administration delays endangering lives of Combat Pilots, soldiers

The high-altitude flights are not only required by the Army, but also represent “very important lifesaving training,” said Col. Frank Tate, brigade commander.

Helicopters frequently deliver combat soldiers to high-altitude locations in Af­ghani­stan, where aerodynamics and terrain make flying extra challenging.

“All of the lives of those soldiers, not only in the air crew but certainly riding in the back, depend on the proficiency of these air crews coming from Hawaii, showing up in Af­ghani­stan and, on day one when they arrive, being able to safely insert and/or extract those people off those kinds of mountaintops,” Tate said.

The Army needs a conservation district use permit from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to use six pre-existing landing zones high on the slopes on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

Absent that permit, Tate said he’s had to send about 30 pilots to Colo­rado for training, and that number is likely to increase.

DLNR Director William Aila Jr. said Friday he is hopeful the new contractor for the environmental assessment “will address the native Hawaiian community’s concerns as well as the general public’s concerns about the (high-altitude) activity and its impacts on the area.”

The Army noted 16,000 civilian helicopter flights passed along Mauna Kea last year….  but sanctimonious activist trash insist on crossing every t and dotting every I because they want to defeat the US.

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Hawaii Hotels posting strong revenue and occupancy rates

February was a month to love for Hawaii hotels.

(But this  could obstruct efforts to raise the GE Tax so we at the Star-Advertiser will interject the following one-line conjecture as if it were equal to the facts in the rest of the article.  We think lots of people will be fooled.  Drumroll please … “However, the gains might prove short-lived as the industry grapples with the tourism-dampening effects of the earthquake, tsunami and radiation scare in Japan.” … clash cymbals.  Yes, with our pen we can turn day into night.  Pretty cool, huh?)

Hawaii hotels saw occupancy in February rise 6.1 percentage points to 81.7 percent, a high-enough volume to begin raising room rates, according to a hotel flash report released today by hotel consultancy Hospitality Advisors LLC.

Statewide average daily rate, or ADR, also improved by 9.9 percent to $192.38, a value based on the largest monthly gain since August of 2006. Meanwhile, revenue per available room (rev­PAR), which is considered the best measure of hotel performance, rose 18.8 percent to $157.17.

“The ongoing recovery for Hawaii’s lodging industry started in late 2009, when statewide occupancy levels began to increase, and gained momentum last summer when ADRs began to increase,” said Joseph Toy, president and chief executive of Hospitality Advisors.

MORE OF THE SAME: February visitor count goes up again

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Prudential: Worst may be over for Oahu Real Estate Market

"Our 2011 'State of Hawaii Real Estate' report reveals that the worst may be over for Oahu's housing market," said Prudential Locations' president and chief executive officer, Bill Chee.  "We view 2011 as a year of recovery and stabilization; this sideways market offers incredible opportunity for the buyers and sellers that understand the full spectrum of influencers on Hawaii's real estate market."

(But Abercrombie is preaching doom and gloom.)

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Senate to Hear Testimony against both kinds of GE Tax hikes Wednesday

State lawmakers want to hear from the public on proposals to raise the general excise tax or temporarily suspend the tax on certain business activities.

Either or both proposals, combined with various spending cuts, may be needed by lawmakers to close a $1.3 billion budget deficit.

Both proposals will be included in a bill scheduled to be taken up by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

“We’re going to see what the public says and get some comments and whatever suggestions we can and try to make the decision,” said Ways and Means Chairman Sen. David Ige (D, Aiea-Pearl City). “We haven’t decided at this point.”  (We want to see if the public has been fooled into the false choice of one tax hike over another.)

Gov. Neil Abercrombie told senators on Wednesday he does not support a general excise tax increase. He indicated he would consider a House proposal to temporarily suspend the GET exemptions on certain business activities, which is unpopular among some in the Senate.

…the Senate’s lone Republican argued neither option should advance.

“What we have to do is significantly cut this government,” said Sen. Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai), who sits on all Senate committees. “It’s not a question of where we’re going to find additional revenue.

“We’ve got to put a rein on the way that government is operating right now. Period.”

REALITY: HB793: Hikes GE Tax 25%, eliminates exemptions, Hearing Wednesday

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Unions, Non-profits to push for more spending at Rally today

We Are One Hawaii, a new coalition of nonprofits, public and private sector unions and other groups, will gather at the Capitol Rotunda at 4:30 p.m. to raise concerns about "economic and social justice issues impacting Hawaii," according to a press release.

Speakers will include Randy Perreira, Eric Gill, the Rev. Bob Nakata, Alex Santiago, Dayton Nakanelua and Tambry Young.

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Governor has no clue on balancing budget

We have heard it all before; when he was campaigning for his job. I remember his opponent asking how he would pay for all his proposed programs. His answer? He would magically find federal money to pay for all his new ideas. Now reality sets in and he wants to raise the general excise tax, the most regressive taxation system ever invented.

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Tax Hikes Pending in Hawaii Legislature Might Require Cigar Smokers to Take Out a Second Mortgage

Take, for example, HB 273.  This little bill raises the excise tax on all tobacco except for cigarettes–and at a fairly steep rate.  Put aside for a moment the question of whether this will actually raise revenue (as opposed to depressing sales of such products to such an extent that no real benefit is realized), and ask yourself why would the legislature create a new tax on cigars (and chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco and such).  It isn’t a health-based impetus (much as I dislike them in general), as it’s ludicrous in such a case to leave out the most popular tobacco product and the one most commonly tied to health problems.

And if they really wanted to raise a lot of money, why not include cigarettes in the tax increase?  It seems likely that they

a.) perceive it as easier to pass a tax on tobacco without going up against cigarette companies or consumers and

b.) know that the public would be a lot more interested in hearing about a big tax on cigarettes than they would be about cigars.

In other words, it’s a stealthy little tax, crafted to slip by without much notice and add to the ever-growing state tax burden.

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HD 14 Nomination raises ethical questions

Steven Nishimura, Kaua‘i’s Democratic party chair, said Foster Ducker, one of the applicants for the party’s nomination, was also in the voting committee that chose the three nominees.

Nishimura said that it has been the Democratic Party’s long “understanding and general acceptance” that there are no rules prohibiting precinct officers from participating in the selection process.

On March 26, the presidents of the five District 14 precincts, plus two district councils and Wilson, the district’s chair, interviewed and voted on a list of eight applicants.

Ducker, Precinct 14-2 president, sat as a voting member and as an applicant.

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Bill: Instant Runoff Voting

Senate Judiciary and Labor is scheduled to hear a bill that provides for instant runoff voting for all elections in which no primary election is held.

Instant Runoff Voting — IRV — allows voters the option to rank candidates by first, second and subsequent choices.

The bill states, "If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated and the votes for the eliminated candidate are automatically transferred to those voters' second choice candidate, as if the votes were cast in a traditional election runoff."

Common Cause Hawaii and the Hawaii chapter of Americans for Democratic Action like the bill. The state Office of Elections takes no position.

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Rail:  Council grills Carlisle Admin on Billion Dollar Deception

The council's Transportation Committee chairman, Breene Harimoto, told Civil Beat last month that his loss of confidence in the administration was serious enough to jeopardize his strong support of the rail project. That level of concern is what led Harimoto to encourage his colleagues to interrogate the administration on rail. While hours of questioning covered a lot of ground, council members largely focused on the two new rail contracts Carlisle announced on March 21.

So when asked after the meeting to acknowledge that a press release the city issued about a $574 million core systems contract could be seen as misleading — Civil Beat found the contract would actually cost the city more than $1 billion — the managing director sighed.

"If you want me to cop to that, let me read it really closely," he said. "Then I can give you a more measured response."

SA: Cities frustrated by rail car maker

CB: Berg Wants Prevedouros on Transit Agency Board

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Berg Cheapest On Honolulu City Council

In the first three months of 2011, the self-identified fiscal conservative from Ewa is the council member who has spent the least of his yearly allotment. However, Pearl City representative Breene Harimoto has a slightly lower per day average.

The nine-members of the council receive a $14,000 annual office contingency account for work-related expenses. Freshman council members who took office in January received only $7,000, because the fiscal year ends June 30.

Berg had $6,368 at his disposal, because he replaced former council chair Todd Apo midway through January after winning a special election. His expense report details purchases from Jan. 18 to March 29, showing that he spent a total of $952, or about $13.41 per day.

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Former news anchor ready to give her all for schools  (Another one who did not apply)

She didn’t apply for the BOE position, but says her name came up because she has been an active volunteer in her children’s school and on an advisory council.

“I was honored to get ‘the call’ to be considered,” she said. “During the interview process we talked in depth about my passion for education, why I got involved in the effort to begin with, what my hopes are for the future for my children, and what I thought was realistically possible in the near future. The governor also asked me for ideas of ways to work directly with students in this effort, via social networking, video and other venues.”

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Council to consider county furloughs, wage cuts

Hawaii County employees could be asked to continue twice-monthly furloughs or endure 5 percent wage cuts expected to save taxpayers a combined $10 million annually.

Those are among the cost-cutting measures County Council members are scheduled to consider during their 9 a.m. meeting Wednesday in Hilo.

Leery of Mayor Billy Kenoi's proposal to defer $29.1 million in known expenses to achieve a balanced budget, some majority lawmakers say they're ready to tackle the county's so-called sacred cow -- its 2,600-member workforce, and in particular police officers and firefighters.

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SA: Turtle Bay reset welcome

the development process already is revived. Last week the project’s new owners — a group of 20 investment firms still operating under the banner of its predecessor, Kuilima Resort Co. — made a concession to community opponents by scaling down the proposed expansion. Instead of the 3,500 rooms and condominium units, Kuilima is now proposing a total of 2,345, eliminating units especially around the sensitive Kawela Bay area as well as those planned near Kahuku Point.

This is an auspicious beginning, but not an end, of course. A robust conversation must continue with the community over how the development should proceed, and, encouragingly, the developers seem willing to do that. Drew Stotesbury, asset manager for the property, told Star-Advertiser writer Andrew Gomes that further reductions could follow.

(Which is great because the lawyers will rake in megabucks for years until we finally kill this turkey.  It all depends on having outside investors who don’t know how it works in Hawaii.)

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California firm joins Molokai wind project: Pattern Energy Group is expected to “engage all of the community”

In a letter to the Molokai Land Trust published in the Molokai Dispatch newspaper last July, Nicholas said First Wind’s offer to buy the land did not meet MPL’s requirements.

The developer for the proposed Lanai wind proj­ect is Castle & Cooke Inc., which owns most of the 141-square-mile island. The state Public Utilities Commission gave Hawaiian Electric Co. approval last fall to negotiate with both Castle & Cooke and First Wind to buy electricity from the respective wind proj­ects.

Castle & Cooke met a March 21 deadline imposed by the PUC to submit details of the proj­ect laying the groundwork for an eventual power purchase agreement with HECO.

First Wind missed the deadline, citing its inability to secure land for the wind proj­ect. First Wind, which is not an official party in the case before the PUC, asked HECO to petition the commission for a deadline extension on its behalf. When HECO declined, First Wind appealed directly to the PUC in a March 17 letter. The PUC has yet to decide whether it will consider First Wind’s request.

HECO would not comment on the status of its talks with First Wind or Pattern Energy….

Parquet said the company has taken steps to alleviate community concerns that the wind turbines would be abandoned at the end of their useful life. Pattern Energy would provide a “decommissioning bond” that would cover the cost of removing the turbines should that be necessary, he said.

END TIMES FOR WIND: Wind Energy's Ghosts

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

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Ocean AC project is safe, firm says

Backed by some $145 million in tax-exempt, special-purpose revenue bonds from the state, the company proposes placing a 63-inch-diameter sea-water intake pipe extending four miles offshore to a depth of 1,600 feet to 1,800 feet, and a 54-inch diameter sea-water return pipe extending 3,500 feet offshore to a depth of 150 feet.

The system would pump about 50.4 million gallons of sea water a day to cool a network of freshwater air-conditioning pipes.

Sea water with a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit would be pumped to a cooling station makai of Ala Moana Boulevard along Keawe Street, where it would undergo a heat exchange with fresh water circulating in a network of pipes to various buildings.

On land the proj­ect would involve digging and laying freshwater air-conditioning ducts along a number of streets in downtown Hono­lulu and extending into historic districts, including Chinatown,Merchant Street and the state Capitol.

The draft statement is available for review at the Army Corps of Engineers website at www.poh.usace.army.mil/PA/pa-NRPNarchive.htm

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US Rep. Hirono says she advanced measure granting $6M Hawaii airport improvement pork

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono says she has advanced an amendment to pending legislation that would result in $6 million in federal money to improve Hawaii airports.

The Democrat representing Hawaii said her amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011 passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, and now the bill heads to the Senate

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Brockovich still pushing Hexavalent Chromium Scam

EWG reported a few months ago that laboratory tests found high levels of suspected carcinogen chromium-6 in the drinking water of 31 U.S. cities. Norman, Oklahoma; Honolulu, Hawaii; Riverside, California; and Madison, Wisconsin reported the highest levels of contamination. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson responded quickly to the report, launching a risk assessment of the chemical found in drinking water….

While EWG’s report came out just a few months ago, it turns out that the tap water industry may have found clear evidence of chromium-6 pollution in untreated water back in 2004 (although pollution levels in untreated and treated water cannot be directly compared). EWG claims that the industry’s survey, conducted by the Awwa Research Foundation, studied data on 189 utilities in 41 states, and concluded that chromium-6 was common in American groundwater….

(Now Brockovich will use the AWWA report to claim for-knowledge and coverup of the non-problem known as Hexavalent Chromium.)

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175 years of boarding at LHS celebrated at David Malo Day

LAHAINA - The 175th anniversary of the Lahainaluna High School boarding program will take center stage April 16 at the 42nd annual David Malo Day Ho'olaulea.

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The quiet Draft of Tammy Duckworth?

Now, some folks are gently pushing for her to jump in.

A Draft Tammy Duckworth website has popped up.
Nothing fancy – just her picture and it states it’s not affiliated or paid for by Duckworth.

But there’s something everyone else missed.
Looking through the source code for the site shows a hidden Facebook page address for drafting her.
You can
see it here.

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Samantha Power to be the next Secretary of State?

Power won a Pulitzer Prize for her 2002 book on genocide, entitled “A Problem from Hell,” which examined the U.S. foreign policy response to genocide.  The book argues that the Armenia, Nazi Germany, Cambodia and Rwanda genocides occurred because of government authorities averted their eyes and individuals made the choice not to intervene. (That’s soooo profound.)

…Some of her critics say that she could be pushing the U.S. into another Iraq. The conservative blog American Thinker says that Obama has “outsourced foreign policy” to the Dublin woman. She has also drawn the ire of the Israeli lobby for her pro-Palestinian positions.

Power attempts to keep a low profile after she described Hillary Rodham Clinton as "a monster" during the 2008 presidential election campaign. Her remarks saw her step down from her position as an advisor on Obama’s campaign. Since then, the women have reconciled.

Obama initially headhunted Power in 2005, after reading her book.

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