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Tuesday, April 05, 2011
April 5, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:15 PM :: 8135 Views :: Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

Todd Apo and KoOlina: Ethics Violation kept secret since 2007

VIDEO: GOP balances budget without Tax Hikes

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

Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation: How They Voted April 4, 2011

Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders own 11,383 Hawaii businesses

Abercrombie gets around to announcing appointment of Kawakami to State House

Abercrombie Appoints Judge Loo to Maui Circuit Court

Hawaii Gun Permits hit new record in 2010

Kaauwai: Are you better off now than you were 2 1/2 years ago?

Senate Dems to Force choice between two types of GE Tax hike

Treading into politically sensitive territory, state Senate Democrats are asking the public to choose between raising the general excise tax or temporarily suspending a tax exemption on certain business activities to help balance the budget.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state House leaders have sought to take a GET increase off the table, warning that a broad-based tax increase could damage the state’s economic recovery, and have tried to guide the Senate toward suspending exemptions.

But Senate Democrats have insisted that a general excise tax increase be part of the debate, arguing that lifting GET exemptions might be worse for business.

PRECISELY AS PREDICTED: Abercrombie: GE Tax hike will be People's Will

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GE Tax Hike: Tell them what you think

Now Where Will They Find The Money?

What is scary is the immediacy of the need to shore up resources. Enacting a tax increase won’t help this immediate problem as a tax increase would not produce the needed revenues soon enough. (THEREFORE THE TSUNAMI IS NOT A VALID ARGUMENT FOR TAX INCREASES--AW) Thus, lawmakers and the state administration must resort to scraping the bottom of every barrel in the state’s vault for whatever idle cash is lying around. Although department and agency heads dug their heels in earlier this session opposing the legislature’s proposal to raid or eliminate special funds, lawmakers may have no alternative but to do so. Perhaps now lawmakers will have a better accounting of what special funds have been sitting around with cash balances and how they have been able to keep those funds out of the sight of the public.

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Unions Rally at Capitol, Demand more Spending

“We are here to make sure that everybody shares in the pain….” -- Randy Perriera

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Ethically Challenged Apo among picks for Transit Authority

The mayor's office did not respond to requests for confirmation about his possible picks of Todd Apo and Don Horner to the authority. Apo confirmed he has been approached by city officials about the job, which he is interested in taking. Horner, who was just named to the state Board of Education, declined to comment.

The most political pick so far: vocal rail critic Panos Prevedouros told Civil Beat he accepted a nomination by Tom Berg.

City Council member Ann Kobayashi said she didn't ask her nominee, Donald Takiki, whether he is a rail supporter.

"He's been around a long time, in the transportation business," Kobayashi said. "I don't know whether he's pro-rail or against rail. I've never asked him. I think he probably is pro-rail but I think he would want the best system."

City Council member Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo nominated Ivan Lui-Kwan, who was the city's budget director under former Mayor Jeremy Harris.

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A State Indian Tribe for OHA Cronies

House Finance is scheduled to decide the fate of two bills — Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 1520 — that essential begin a process at the state level that could lead to recognition of a Native Hawaiian governing entity.

The measures have support from several Hawaiian political crony organizations, including OHA.

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Loser Van Dyke on New Akaka Bill: Nothing to see here, just move along

During this interim period, under the Justice Department version, the governing entity could exercise some authority over those on the roll of qualified native Hawaiian constituents, involving, for instance, marriages, adoptions, and custody. It might also engage in some economic activities (mortgage scams and meth sales, for instance) and administer some lands that it has gained through purchase or other transfer….

The Star-Advertiser editorial complains that the Justice Department version “would give the native governing entity broad power from the outset, before even beginning negotiations with the state.”

That appears to be an overstatement, because the governing entity will lack land and resources and will only be able to govern the activities of its members.

But it should be given a chance to start exercising some governing authority, and should have the limited sovereign immunity that all autonomous governments enjoy. That, after all, is the point of this important bill: to recognize the unique status of our host culture and to help rectify the injuries caused by the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893 and the uncompensated takings of the kingdom’s lands by the United States in 1898 (This claim was rejected by SCOTUS 9-0) by permitting native Hawaiians to govern themselves once again. (There has never been a Native Hawaiian government ever.  The Hawaiian Kingdom was not an ethnic state.  It was overthrown by its own haole ministers, not by the US.)

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Judiciary to Vote on AG Louie

Senate Judiciary and Labor is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Attorney General David Louie.

Testimony on the nomination was overwhelmingly in favor of Louie, but Chair Clayton Hee said the committee was examining some complaints against Louie. Hee did not explain the nature of the complaints but said Louie would have the chance to respond to them.

Louie is the last of Neil Abercrombie's 16 Cabinet nominees to await Senate confirmation.

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Senate Hearings for BoE Nominees to Begin Tomorrow

Tokuda gave each of the nominees a questionnaire of her when Abercrombie announced his appointments last Wednesday. Those questionnaires will be published with the public testimony from the hearings. She said she did not see the nominees' applications to the governor.

"The questionnaires dealt with the role and responsibility of board members, especially in relation to the Department of Education, and given the new process they're going through," Tokuda said.

The form also asked the nominees how their skill sets and life experiences would serve as assets in establishing and defining the new board's role.

The hearings are scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. on both Wednesday and Friday in Room 225 at the Hawaii State Capitol.

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Japan Airline Cuts countered by increases elsewhere, Charters planned for Golden Week

Overall air capacity for April, May and June will be down 0.4 percent, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported Monday, despite Japan air connections down 10.5 percent.

Offsetting this almost entirely is additional airlift from the U.S. West Coast, Australia, and South Korea.

Hawaiian Airlines has doubled Seoul airlift with its own service in competition with KAL. Sydney seats are up more than 43 percent because of additional Hawaiian Airlines service. Canadian airlift will be up almost 14 percent from last year due to more flights by Air Canada and the discount carrier WestJet.

Even now, there is a possibility of a net increase in capacity due to charter flights. Both JAL and Korean Air plan charters from Japan to Hawaii during Golden Week, confluence of national holidays in Japan when many people schedule their vacations. This year, Golden Week occurs at the end of April and the first week of May.

(Meanwhile Abercrombie and the Godless Senate claim we need more taxes)

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Timeshare in Hawaii: Build it and They Will Come

Hawaii now has 87 timeshare resorts and that number keeps growing in a time when no one is building stand-alone hotels. Almost every major hospitality company in Hawaii is developing new timeshare properties, converting existing hotels into timeshare, or rehabilitating the timeshare they have.

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Movie stars, billionaires and corporate execs are arriving more often in private jets

Travel by private jet – a leading economic indicator for lifestyles of the rich and famous – increased by double digits at key Hawaii airports last year, which was great news for dozens of local companies that fuel, feed and ferry these wealthy fliers.

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Lawmakers give men wearing dresses a chance to strike it rich

A proposal that would ban discrimination against people based on how they express their gender identity is moving toward passage, despite objections from some religious groups.

The Senate Judiciary Committee Monday approved the bill, which was previously passed in the House. The vote was 3-2 with Sens. Mike Gabbard and Sam Slom opposed.

Discrimination against transgender individuals and others based on their expression of gender is already illegal in Hawaii for housing, public accommodations and employment, but the ban on employment discrimination has been establish by rulings of the Civil Rights Commission and has not been written into the state statute. The bill approved Monday by the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, HB 546, would write the anti-discrimination language into labor law.

(So guys, if you’re going to get fired, put on a dress and you’ll make millions!)

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Shapiro: Where was the vetting on Maui judge appointment?

Wildman, a longtime friend of Abercrombie’s and once his legislative aide, stepped down because of more than $140,000 in federal tax liens against his former Honolulu law firm, where he is still an officer.

An Abercrombie spokesperson told the Maui News that the governor’s office didn’t do any significant background check on Wildman, relying on the vetting of the Judicial Selection Commission, which gives the governor four to six candidates to choose from.

The selection panel obviously didn’t do much vetting either; the person who first told me about Wildman’s tax problem said it took him 10 minutes to find it online when he became curious about the candidate’s background.

The quickness in naming a replacement suggests the governor’s office didn’t do much vetting of Loo, either….

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Wildman: A DISTURBING PATTERN? 

From www.GOPHawaii.com After Governor Abercrombie’s nominee for Health Director withdrew under a cloud of unclear circumstances which have never been explained, now his choice for the Circuit Court on Maui has withdrawn.  Joe Wildman is quoted in a statement from the Governor’s office saying, “However, because of an unresolved situation with my law firm I have decided to withdraw my nomination to prevent any distraction for the Abercrombie Administration and disruption for my family.”  Now, according to the Maui News, it turns out, it was not an issue with his current law firm but $144,000 in unpaid taxes and a federal tax lien from his previous law firm that caused the withdrawal.  

For the Governor who told us he would be “ready on day one,” how did he miss this?  Did nominating a friend and long time political ally take the place of a thorough vetting process?  The Governor’s refusal to release the names of judicial nominees has already put a cloud on this process and developments like this only make that could darker.  As transparency in government fades by the day, the people get left asking themselves hmmmm….*Wailuku attorney opts out of shot at judge position

Kalapa, Milks win majority on Credit Union Board

Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, and Bill Milks, a local attorney, were the two top vote-getters, respectively, for the three board seats up for election at Saturday’s annual meeting of the Hawaii State Federal Credit Union, a $1 billion nonprofit institution with 75,000 members.  (Mostly State Employees!)

Retired state administrator David Shimabukuro, an incumbent, picked up the third seat. Failing to get re-elected was Beverly Ing Lee, who headed the board. Peter Leong, former credit union president, did not seek re-election.

The previous directors came under heavy criticism after the Honolulu Star-Advertiser published a January front-page article that revealed an unusually generous board-approved benefits package and multiple examples in which federal regulators questioned their actions in recent years.

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Kamehameha headmaster to retire after 23 years

Chun, a 1961 graduate of Kamehameha, said he is proud he got to see the redevelopment work begin and to have been at the helm during some immense changes for the school.

Chief among them, he said, was a shift for the school into a college preparatory campus — and one that taught students to embrace their Hawaiian culture.

Chun said Kamehameha students know they will be successful "not despite their Hawaiian ancestry, but because they're Hawaiian."

Under Chun's leadership, Mailer added, Kamehameha "became a Hawaiian school rather than a school for Hawaiians."

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Clayton Hee about to Kill Shield law

The Hawaii “shield law” — a statute that protects journalists from being forced to turn over notes, materials or sources to government authorities — has won praise for its forward-looking protections enabling more robust reporting in the islands.

If only that view was dominant among this state’s lawmakers as well.

Unfortunately, House Bill 1376 — which would make the law permanent — passed the House but now seems stalled in the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, chaired by Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Kahuku-Kaneohe). The bill would delete the June 30 sunset date for the law, so unless the measure gets a hearing by Friday, it will miss a legislative deadline and be dead for the session.

In short: Failure to get a hearing scheduled in the next day or so means the shield law is dead, period.

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It's Too Early For Law Regulating Undersea Cable

On Tuesday, the House Finance Committee will be reviewing SB367, HD1. This legislation, written and pushed by Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and the State's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), would establish a regulatory system for a proposed undersea cable. Once laid, this cable would then carry the intermittent electricity produced on Lāna‛i by up to 170 wind turbines.

House Energy and Environmental Protection and Consumer Protection and Commerce reviewed this bill. When they sent it on to Finance for Tuesday's hearing, they included their "Committees Report." In my testimony below, I am trying to show my testimony in direct relation to specific pieces of the Committees' report.

This is my testimony against the bill. Please, submit your testimony as well: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/emailtestimony/

Let's not be rushed into Big Wind before we know its financial and environmental costs.

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Borreca: Global warming should be on governor’s agenda

While Hawaii is making efforts to cut fossil fuel consumption, produce our own energy and contribute less to global warming, there seems little recognition that our climate has already changed.

Chip Fletcher is a 20-year veteran of the University of Hawaii and past chairman of the geology and geophysics department at UH-Manoa. Last year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored Fletcher for his work in climate change science with the UH Center for Island Climate Adaption and Policy.  (This is because he is one of the only geologists willing to embarrass himself by associating with the Global Warming Cult.)

“Global warming is front and center in Hawaii, it is here and we are living with it — it is absolutely present,” Fletcher says.  Asked how Hawaii is coping, Fletcher adds: “There is no formal governmental plan of any sort related to global warming in Hawaii.”  (In other words, this could be an excuse to shake all kinds of grant money out of the feds)

Last year he put together a briefing sheet on how Hawaii’s climate is changing. You should read it at http://goo.gl/tVSQJ because, as Fletcher explains, global warming is already changing Hawaii.  (For instance, lots of eco-scammers have jobs now.)

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Superferry Redux: Pasha Line new vessel to offer roll on-roll off service

The new vessel will allow Pasha to sail once a week to the Islands and provide direct service to Kahului and Hilo, the company said. The new $144 million ship, the Marjorie C, is expected to begin service in the fall of 2013.  (Shortly thereafter, the Pasha service will be banned from inter-island shipping.)

With the addition of the Marjorie C, Pasha will be stepping up its competition against Matson Navigation and Horizon Lines, the two biggest shippers to Hawaii, and Young Brothers Ltd., the dominant interisland shipping provider.  (And this cannot be allowed!)

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State held responsible for deaths of 2 women

The state is liable in the deaths of two visiting hikers who fell 300 feet to their deaths at Kauai’s Opaekaa Falls because it failed to post warnings about the dangerous conditions there, a Kauai judge has ruled.

Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe’s 44-page decision last week found that the state had a duty to warn or protect Elizabeth Brem and her cousin Paula Gonzalez Ramirez, who fell Dec. 19, 2006.

The falls is within the Wailua River State Park.

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ABC News: Duckworth for Hawaiian Senator?

A Draft Tammy Duckworth website has popped up in Hawaii where Duckworth graduated from high school.

She's not yet said if she's interested. Duckworth is currently the Assistant Secretary for Public And Intergovernmental Affairs with the US Dept of Veterans Affairs.

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Bill Clinton: 'Birthers' will hurt GOP

“…but I think one of the elementary rules of combat is you don't want to get in your opponent's way if he's shooting himself in the foot ... “

(And Bill Clinton should know, after all Birtherism was INVENTED by Hillary Clinton supporters.)

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LA Times: Why Hillary Clinton must run in 2012

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows President Obama's approval rating at....

...a pathetic 42% –- down four points from early March. The American public isn't impressed with his handling of the crisis in Libya either -– with 47% of the public against the war and 58% of registered voters saying the president has not clearly stated U.S. goals for the mission. 

These numbers are bad –- really bad –- CNN prime time ratings bad.

To put them into context, according to Gallup, 76% of Americans supported military action against Iraq in 2003, 90% gave the A-OK for strikes against Afghanistan in 2001, and 65% approved of putting boots on the ground in Somalia in 1993. 

It's also important to state that this isn't part of a "throw all the bums out" mood directed at Washington.

The approval numbers for Hillary are nearing an all-time high –- with Gallup showing 66% of Americans giving "Hill the Thrill" a big thumbs up –- up from 61% in July.

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