No New Taxes! Rally April 15--Honolulu, Kona, Hilo, Kahului, Lihue
HGEA Negotiators: Hide furlough days, recoup losses after Legislature adjourns
Birthers thank Abercrombie, Obama Thanks Birthers
Group: Abercrombie using ‘strong arm tactics’ to force Beverage Tax
Marumoto: Pension Tax is a foot in the door towards taxing moderate, low income Pensioners
Balance Budget Summit April 20 at Capitol
How They Voted: SB1329 House passes Motor Vehicle tax Hike
Honolulu Councilmembers reject Berg resolution, cite fear of retaliation
Inspecting his cattle: Jeff Stone Polls Democratic Senate Primary
Hanabusa: Lingering resentment toward Case among “Multi-cultural base”
Good economic news belies Abercrombie’s Tax Hike Pitch
With Legislature in session, Hawaii suffers a spate of good economic news
Democrat ‘Non-Profits” Demand Tax Hikes
Representatives of more than 50 social service agencies rallied at the state Capitol yesterday to urge lawmakers to restore proposed cuts to human services programs.
"Our funding from DHS (the Department of Human Services) used to be $1.4 million, but I think we could scrape by with $1 million," said William Richards, communications director for the Partners in Development Foundation.
Partners in Development is one of the more than 58 social services providers statewide that make up PHOCUSED — Protecting Hawaii's Ohana, Children, Under Served, Elderly and Disabled — a coalition that converged on the Capitol yesterday to defend their programs from the budget ax.
DHS: Social services spending helps all in Hawaii
OHA strengthens grip on Non-Profit sector
Nonprofit organizations and other grant seekers looking for funding sources now have access to a valuable new collection of resources at Hawaii Maoli, which recently has been named the first Hawaii site of the Cooperating Collection of Foundation Center of New York.
The Foundation Center is the nation's leading authority on organized philanthropy, serving grant seekers, grant makers, researchers, policymakers, the media and the general public. Thousands of people visit the center's website daily and are served in its five regional learning centers and its national network of Cooperating Collections.
Legislature proposes welfare for losing contractors
it seems a blatant attempt by lawmakers to give more of their political campaign donors a taste of the action at taxpayer expense — and at a time when the state is strapped for cash and others are in far greater need of a helping hand.
Hopefully this stinker will die in conference committee, where it’s headed after the House disagreed with Senate amendments.
Bombardier: Honolulu Didn't Keep Its Word on Rail Contract
One of the companies rejected in its bid for a lucrative rail contract says the city of Honolulu improperly disqualified it from consideration.
Bombardier says Honolulu officials had committed in writing to notify the company of problems with its proposal and to give it time to correct them. Instead, the company says it learned it was disqualified the day the city announced it would award the contract to a rival.
The company filed a formal protest this week, joining Sumitomo Corp. of America, which is also fighting the city's decision to award a $1.1 billion design, build, operate and maintain contract to Ansaldo Honolulu.
Bombardier argues the city didn't live up to its promise to "advise offerors of weaknesses, significant weaknesses or deficiencies in their proposals" and "resolve any uncertainties concerning the proposals," as well as provide bidders "a reasonable opportunity" to make changes to their proposals as a result.
That complaint is the thrust of Bombardier's protest, as presented by the company's attorneys at Alston, Hunt, Floyd and Ing.
FULL TEXT: Bombardier Protest Letter- April 11, 2011
Breene Harimoto pulls back from Brink in Rail Fight
Honolulu City Council Transportation Chairman Breene Harimoto says God stepped in and helped ease weeks of mounting frustration over the way the administration has handled the city's $5.5 billion rail project.
"Frustrations were building and things were happening — and were not happening — that I wasn't happy with," Harimoto told Civil Beat. "It's just human nature that things just kind of escalate. I don't know how much I should get into this, but I'm a Christian and I'm very spiritual, and I really believe that God intervened."
Harimoto said he has nixed his plan to write a letter to the Federal Transportation Administration detailing his concerns about the administration's lack of transparency. He said he'll still hold a public hearing to vet concerns about the project because he promised to do so, but that he'll try to take some of his dealings with the administration "behind the scenes" going forward.
In late March, Harimoto told Civil Beat he had a meeting about his serious concerns with Mayor Peter Carlisle, but the mayor told Civil Beat he couldn't remember what they had discussed.
NYT: Hawaii Doubles Down on 'Big Wind’
But not everyone in Hawaii is enthusiastic about Big Wind. The project faces stiff opposition from Lanai and Molokai residents, who argue the large wind farms will destroy their islands' remote character, breathtaking vistas, hunting grounds and sacred native Hawaiian sites. Opponents also say the two islands should not have to shoulder the project's most significant impacts while the clean energy is enjoyed by cosmopolitan Oahu, home to nearly 1 million people and the capital city and deep-draft port, Honolulu.
Greenwire: Big Wind is Big Hawaii Bird Killer
Online Poker Sites which lobbied Hawaii Legislature Indicted by FBI
The founders of the three largest online poker sites were indicted by the FBI on Friday in what could serve as a death blow to the thriving industry.
Eleven executives at PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were charged with bank fraud and money laundering in an indictment unsealed in a Manhattan court. Two of the executives were arrested on Friday morning in Utah and Nevada. Federal agents are searching for the others.
Prosecutors are seeking to shut down the sites and eventually to send the executives to jail and to recover $3 billion from the companies. By Friday afternoon Full Tilt Poker's site displayed a message explaining that "this domain name has been seized by the F.B.I. pursuant to an Arrest Warrant."
The case is U.S. v. Scheinberg, 10-CR-336, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
PRECISELY AS PREDICTED: Hawaii Internet Poker Bill part of nationwide effort by illegal Gambling Sites
Abercrombie’s Priest rejects Homeless Tent Cities, looks to River Street as model
Alexander is at work developing a "90-day plan" — a series of short- and medium-term initiatives that will be unveiled in a few weeks — and he's excited about many of the new initiatives being fired up now. One is a partnership between the Next Step shelter and the Hawaii Community Development Authority that enlists residents of the Kakaako shelter in area cleaning and beautification. They earn money to go toward a deposit on their own home.
QUESTION: Some advocates say that outdoor “tent cities” are needed, because some homeless people can’t adapt to shelter regimentation. Do you buy that?
ANSWER: Bottom line is, no, I don’t buy that. I think that may be the easy solution, that may be the quick solution that people have in mind, but I think in the long run it creates more problems for us….
Q: There’s a big push for “housing first” programs. How do you deal with the opposition from neighbors?
A: I think part of it is education, because I think the whole thing of “housing first” is still very new to us here in Hawaii, and it goes against intuition. … Starting back in New York with the Jericho Project, and now throughout the country, they have found that when you give people housing first, provide that stable shelter, then these people are more open, more willing and able to receive the services that get them off drugs or provide the mental health services, job training, etcetera. It’s counterintuitive, but sometimes that’s how life works.
Q: But there was outreach with the proposal for the River Street project that the community opposed, right?
A: Well, I don’t want to judge that particular experience, but I do think one of the other things that has to be done, besides educating people in general about how “housing first” works — and I think this is a key strategy for dealing with homelessness — I think also when we start looking at specific locations, even before that, we need to involve communities. … When it comes from the community, then it’s a lot easier to work with that community.
RELATED: Housing First, comes from a Harlem-based group, Pathways to Housing, HUD: The Applicability of Housing First Models to Homeless Persons with Serious Mental Illness
Times have changed for the Big Five, big labor
Hawaii was a far different place when Unity House Inc., the nonprofit benefiting union members and retirees, was founded in 1951. Back in that day, the islands were ruled by the Big Five and, two years after a major dock strike, the labor movement had unified.
How the mighty have fallen. There are rumblings of a takeover of Alexander & Baldwin Inc., considered the last standing of the Big Five. Organized labor has persisted but is diminished in power. Now the debt-ridden Unity House has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
It's been a long transition to a new era, though it's anybody's guess exactly what's on the other side.
VIDEO: MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo Assaulted By MPD, “Dog the Bounty Hunter” team
On the evening of April 12, I was assaulted by a member of reality star Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman's security team. Soon after, I was assaulted again, and had my First Amendment rights violated, by a member of the Maui Police Department.
Maui Bag Ban: 75% Now Use Paper Bags as tree-huggers become tree-choppers
On January 11, I forgot my reusable shopping bags. I'd seen the ominous "1-11-11" signs and the "B.Y.O. Bag" posters announcing the impending arrival of the countywide plastic bag ban, so I was nervous I'd be scolded or at least given a dirty look. (Brainwashing is effective) Instead, the K-mart cashier loaded my items into a large brown paper bag without a word. I was initially relieved, but that quickly faded to disappointment. (Stockholm Syndrome)
MauiTime conducted its own unscientific poll at stores in Kahului, Kihei and Upcountry and found that only about one-quarter of shoppers brought their own bags.
Bonnie, a K-Mart employee who asked that we not use her last name, isn't a fan of the plastic bag ban as a cashier or as a consumer. "I don't like to put cold wet stuff in paper bags," she said. "I guess it's better for the environment, but paper is not so good either." (Thus proving she is smarter than the Maui County Council.)
"I'm not a visionary, but I saw the ban coming," said Arthur Blaquiere, a shopper at Pukalani Superette who was sporting a Foodland-brand reusable bag when we spoke to him. He said his friends used to laugh at the enormous stash of plastic bags he was saving. "I told 'em, 'You're gonna be asking me for those bags someday.' They fit the trash bin so perfectly.'"
Auwahi Wind, Sempra proposes Wind Farm on 18,000 acre Maui Cattle Ranch
Sempra officials said that the company has made an agreement with Maui Electric Co to construct a wind-generation project.
The construction is for a 21-megawatt wind-generation project with 12 megawatt-hour battery storage on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Sempra Generation is held by the same company that owns San Diego Gas & Electric Co and Southern California Gas Co. Sempra will construct Auwahi Wind on an 18,000-acre cattle ranch. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission should approve the project.
Senate's approval of appointed members marks a major change for school governance
Horner has said the board has a short-term to-do list that includes shifting more power to the superintendent, conducting a policy audit and paring down the number of board committees.
The new board will meet for the first time April 26, and Horner is promising a "full agenda," including a vote on new bylaws.
REALITY: Abercrombie’s Board of Education: Accountability begins now, and it’s already ugly
SA: Reconsider diploma decision
But what the old board did was simply lay down two alternative tracks, leaving it to the kids to choose.
Clearly, public school students need a firmer nudge than that. Members of the Hawaii P-20 Council, the coalition of educational leaders and institutions aiming to enhance student chances for success, have voiced concern about recent anecdotal and test data. Even students who don't plan to pursue a college career are finding it harder to pass apprenticeship tests for blue-collar jobs that pay a livable wage.
And the military track, always considered a viable employment option with a high school diploma, may be closed off to Hawaii kids as well. According to a report by The Education Trust, Hawaii high school graduates had the highest failure rate nationwide on the Army's entrance exam: 38.3 percent.
Students who would like to get post-secondary credentials by following the community college route also can be frustrated. John Morton, the University of Hawaii vice president for community colleges, said increasingly students find themselves scoring low on placement exams and then routed to remedial courses instead of the college-level study they want to pursue. That's discouraging, he said, and many abandon that ambition.
All of these observations should suffice as red, flashing warning signals that a course correction is needed. Unfortunately, the recent BOE action was insufficient and should be revisited.
3 foreclosure reform bills could pass
Two bills — Senate Bill 651 and House Bill 1411 — would allow homeowners to force mortgage holders to engage in face-to-face dispute resolution overseen by a professional facilitator before a foreclosure could be completed….
Trade groups representing Hawaii lenders oppose SB 651 and HB 1411, and say the bills will make loans harder to obtain and hurt home sales in a recovering market.
The Hawaii Bankers Association testified that the bills will force lenders to raise interest rates and down-payment requirements. The association has, along with the Hawaii Credit Union League, asked that local lenders be excluded from the legislation.
Particularly troubling to the association is the dispute resolution provision. The association said the process similar to mediation shouldn't be available to borrowers who have sought pre-foreclosure loan modifications because most borrowers are denied a loan modification based on insufficient income.
"Mediation does not solve the problem of lack of income," the association said in written testimony.
Advocates of dispute resolution and court oversight expect that only some borrowers — those who believe lenders are improperly pursuing foreclosure — will use the options.
The option to convert nonjudicial foreclosures to judicial cases is a recommendation made in December by a state task force representing borrower and lender interests.
Senate Bill 652 proposes implementing task force recommendations, which don't include dispute resolution.
King of Pork Inouye appointed to serve on bipartisan federal deficit reduction team
He’s there to sabotage it.
News Release: U.S. Senator Inouye on Deficit Reduction
REALITY: “He treats the anti-earmark, deficit-cutting enthusiasm of the current Congress like a passing fad.”
U.S. stages "most challenging" missile-defense test
The U.S. military said it shot down an intermediate-range ballistic missile target over the Pacific on Friday in the "most challenging" test yet of its work on a planned antimissile shield for Europe against Iran.
The Pentagon said the successful test of Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co hardware showed it is on track to wrap up this year the first phase of a layered, multibillion-dollar antimissile defense in Europe.
It also may be adapted to defend against North Korea, another focus of U.S. antimissile efforts, and ultimately to add to the existing U.S. ground-based defenses.
The test west of Hawaii marked the first time that Lockheed's shipboard Aegis combat system had been used to intercept a target with a range greater than 3,000 kms (1,864 miles), the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency said.
Hawaii, Other States, Form Caucus to Oppose TSA Intrusions
Sen Sam Slom: Believing that the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has gone too far in an assault on individual and states rights, a new, national, bipartisan legislative caucus is emerging to take action.
Dubbed tentatively the “United States for Travel Freedom” caucus, it officially convened on April 14, 2011 via teleconference and video live streaming (http//alaskalegislatrure.tv/).
The mission of the caucus is to, “establish a centralized location to share information regarding
- detailed information of federal security policies as they pertain to the right to travel freely
- detailed information on how these policies affect the citizens of the United States of America
- detailed information on methods of screening and the accumulative costs of these procedures.
In Hawaii, I introduced SB 1150 in January, 2011, “Relating to the use of Body Imaging Scanners at Airports.” The bill would make it illegal to use non-consensual full body imaging devices at Hawaii airports. There were four Democrat co-signatories. The bill was referred to three separate committees but never given a hearing.It will be back in 2012.
Hawaii blast came as workers dismantled fireworks
A team of U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigators from Denver inspected the Waikele site this week. Lead investigator Don Holmstrom said Thursday his team is trying to determine exactly what the workers were doing when the blast occurred.
The investigators interviewed personnel of Donaldson Enterprises, Holmstrom said, and found that the workers "were in the process of dismantling some of the pyrotechnic devices that were in the storage area."
Holmstrom and his team are working on a plan to take samples from the explosives.
Federal Pork: Bill Kills Off Program on Hawaii Whaling Industry
A decade-old program to educate students about the history of the whaling industry found itself beached on Thursday when Congress passed its 2011 spending bill.
Known as the "Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners," the program is an $8.8 million earmark that was inserted in the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. A portion of the money for the Education Department initiative goes to museums and student internships in Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi and Massachusetts, states with historic ties to the whaling industry.
The whaling program, which has long drawn the ire of fiscal hawks, "reeked not so much of decaying whale carcass as stinking pork," said Neal McCluskey, an associate director at the libertarian Cato Institute.
Forums to be held on 4 candidates for chancellor of Hawaii Community College
The candidates are Alexander Capdeville, a professor in the adult and higher education programs at Montana State University; Daniel Bain, president of Independence Community College in Kansas; Noreen Yamane, Hawaii Community College's interim chancellor; and Kathleen Curphy, most recently provost for Minnesota State Community and Technical College.
Public forums for the candidates are to be held at the Manono campus in Hilo on Tuesday and at the West Hawaii campus in Kona on Wednesday.
RELATED: Greenwood Mafia grabs two power positions in UH system