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Saturday, April 16, 2011
April 16, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:05 PM :: 6471 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

HGEA Contract: Government Workers get Paid to Stay Home Three Months

SB756: Satellite TV Tax in omnibus Tax Bill

Creative Accounting 101: Special Fund Raids

Akaka’s Whistleblower Bill cited as example of Over-criminalization

VIDEO: House GOP speaks up on Pension Tax, GE Tax, Internet Tax, Fees, and Special Funds

VIDEO: House GOP debates Prepaid Health Care Act, Billion Dollar Cable, Foreclosures, Marijuana and More

VIDEO: Hawaii Tea Party movement protests slew of tax proposals

The Honolulu rally was organized by the Honolulu Tea Party which is chaired by former Republican Lt. Governor Candidate Adrienne King.

Participants were upset about the legislature's plan to raise alcohol and tobacco taxes, strip certain general excise tax exemptions and perhaps the most controversial measure, a bill to tax those earning pensions.

"First the legislature deliberately defended the government pension system every year," King said. "They didn't put the money in, now we're one of the highest unfunded pension systems in the country. What are they going do about that? Raise taxes on everybody?"

"I don't like the direction my country is going so i want to join my other patriots and stand up for my country," said Kawika Crowley.

"This is about bringing all persuasions together for a common cause, to bring government to us, so that it's typical in nature," said Rep. Tom Berg. "That's the movement that at the end of the day we're all Americans."

Hilo:  Tea Party airs gripes about D.C.

Hilo:  'Restraint' and 'revolt'

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

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HGEA Contract: State creating new haves, have-nots

the governor is working with the Hawaii Government Employees Association, which represents more than 28,000 active state and county employees, on a deal that would end the two-days-per-month furlough (noted as equivalent to approximately a 10 percent pay cut) and is cutting workers' pay by 5 percent. While some characterize this deal as a $124 million budget "savings," the two-days-per-month furloughs had saved nearly $232 million - which means the deal will cost us $100 million plus more.

But wait, the gap widens. The government employees will receive an additional nine days of paid leave per year on top of their paid 21 vacation days, 21 sick days and 13 holidays - equating to 63 paid workdays off per year per public worker.

AP: Unions tested even in labor-friendly Hawaii

RELATED:  HGEA Contract: Government Workers get Paid to Stay Home Three Months

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ILind: Hawaii Taxes are about Average

I was taking another look at those Tax Foundation comparisons of state & local taxes, and noticed that they convert total taxes into a calculated “tax burden” by comparing it to income, then comparing Hawaii to the average of all states.

There’s a chart showing the state/local taxes for each year from 1977 through 2009. Hawaii’s “rate”, the proportion of per capita income paid in state and local taxes, ranged from 9.1% in 1982 to as high as 10.6% in 1994. The U.S. average hit its high and low in the same years, 9.2% in 1982 and 10.2% in 1994. Clearly, we are sailing in the same economic sea.

Overall, Hawaii comfortably tracks the national average. Keep in mind that the Hawaii figures are likely at least somewhat inflated because they include general excise tax paid by visitors….

(Just doing his part to help his comrade, Neil….)

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Hawaii Fires 10 Teachers for Misconduct in 2 Years

Only 10 teachers in the entire Hawaii Department of Education have been fired for misconduct in the last two years. That's 10 out of about 12,000 teachers, or less than one-tenth of 1 percent. The Department also suspended 37 teachers for misconduct over the same period.

Teacher performance and accountability are central to most education reform discussions, and both play a key role in negotiations with the teachers union this year.

A Civil Beat investigation found that over the past two years the district disciplined teachers for misconduct in 42 of its 257 schools, or 16 percent. No teachers were fired on Kauai or the Big Island. Teachers were disciplined on all the islands, with 35 of the cases on Oahu, three on Maui, three on Kauai and six on the Big Island.

Of the 47 misconduct cases, 20 were at elementary schools, nine at middle or intermediate schools, 11 at high schools and seven at schools with multiple levels.

Four schools had more than one case of discipline for misconduct. Hauula Elementary School fired one teacher and suspended another. At Farrington High School, three teachers were suspended. And Kaahumanu Elementary School and Kahuku Intermediate and High School both suspended two teachers.

View the complete list of teachers fired or suspended for misconduct.

SA: Police investigate whether Kailua High teacher hit boy with hammer

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Crisis? Hawaii jobless rate holds at 6.3 percent

The trade, transportation and utilities grouping comprised the greatest job growth, expanding by 900 jobs from February. Government jobs fell by 1,100.

Hawaii's labor force grew to 633,950 from 631,900 in the previous month with those employed rising to 594,000 from 591,950 and those unemployed remaining flat at 39,950.

A year earlier, Hawaii's unemployment rate was at 6.8 percent.

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Hawaii’s Instant Runoff Voting Legislation – Veto Needed

Your legislators voted to pass H.B. 638 because they believed that somehow this method would make elections “more fair.” The rogue that falsely convinced them of this is Rob Richie, Executive Director of the coyly-named FairVote, a well-funded, tax-exempt group that would like to add your state to their list of conquests, so that they can continue to hawk this nonsense to others.

Quite deceptively, H.B. 638 mentions locations in which IRV (sometimes in variations known as “ranked choice” or “proportional representation”) has been adopted, but fails to cite the places where it has been rescinded after proving problematic.

Governor Neil Abercrombie needs to follow the lead of Governor Jim Douglas who last year repealed IRV in Burlington VT. As well, IRV has been repealed or rejected in Pierce County WA, Aspen CO, and Cary NC.

IRV actually does not accomplish what H.B. 638 suggests, that it somehow “allows all voters to vote for their favorite candidate without fear of helping to elect their least favorite candidate.” Not only can the least favorite candidate be elected with this method, but it will be completely non-obvious why this has happened when indeed it does occur. This is because complicated rules will be applied, such as the ones described in the Bill….

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More Federal Funds? Not!  Reality begins to settle in for pork-fed Hawaii Politicos

One specific area targeted by the continuing resolution was environmental protection, Hirono said, noting it cuts almost $1 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Hawaii's Clean Water State Revolving Fund would be reduced by $4.4 million, she said….

Hanabusa called it unfair to turn Medicaid into a block grant program, saying it would transfer the burden of a federal program to the states. An estimated 84,000 Hawaii residents would be cut off from Medicaid under the Republican budget plan, she said.  (Really?  And the SA just reprints Hanabusa’s bs without any contrary view.  Under a block grant, it would be a Hawaii choice how to use the Medicaid funds.  Everbody knows Medicaid is overworked and underfunded.  Many MDs refuse Medicaid patients.  Maybe Hanabusa could get them a $75M tax credit.  Maybe not.)

As state House and Senate lawmakers head into conference committee to work out the biennium budget, Oshiro said the state "should not expect nor wait for much federal assistance, if any."

"Health and human services, education, environmental protection services, telecommunications, (Is he talking about Sandwich Isles Communications? So sad.  Pity poor Al Hee.)  broadband, waste water, you name it," he said. "There are going to be some big changes."

NYT: Republicans poisoning Children’s Sippy Cups (No propaganda here, eh?)

Maui News: Tri-Isle Resource loses only office in federal budget deal  (No! no! no! We must sell our country to China so they can have an office!)

One way to get money: Tsunami aid briefings set for Hawaii

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Big Wind and Big Solar continue to resist residential installations

After striking out with a proposal to use state bonds to finance loans to get consumers and business to convert to solar, conservationists want consumers to be able to pay off their solar investments on their electricity bills.

A bill heading to conference committee would direct the state Public Utilities Commission to implement an on-bill financing program….

PUC and HECO are opposed, natch!  (Only so much of the grid can be fed by intermittent sources such as wind and solar.  The resistance from HECO/PUC comes from the fact that HECO profits from its investments in corporate-scale wind and solar projects because of guaranteed returns on investment under “decoupling.”  But residential installations are not a HECO investment so they count to the limit on destabilizing the grid without adding to HECO’s bottom line.) 

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Heir to Vanderbilt Fortune to Represent Molokai?

The critics of the nomination included Dr. John M. Corboy of Kaunakakai.

"Mr. Vanderbilt has clearly demonstrated an anti-job, anti-visitor bias that is at odds with Molokai's needs," Corboy wrote in a letter to the council.

In letters to the committee, Molokai business owners Carol and Jim Gartland and Molokai resident Lisa Weiland Foster all questioned Vanderbilt's residency status and expressed concern about his understanding of current Molokai issues and how they affect the island economically.

Foster also made negative comments about Vanderbilt's character.

"Mr. Vanderbilt has on more than one occasion displayed volatile behavior that has resulted in physical altercations, which demonstrates questionable judgment," she wrote….

Maui Chamber of Commerce President Pamela Tumpap submitted written testimony that indicated her office received calls for help from residents who wanted to oppose Vanderbilt's nomination. She said the request had never happened before. Tumpap also pushed for a deferral until the matter is looked at more closely.

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Cachola: Don’t Piss off the Legislature

And the quote of the week … from Hono­lulu Councilman Romy Cachola: "Don't p--- off the Legislature. They can make our life … miserable."

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SA: Tighten historic homes rules

About half of the Oahu property owners who get tax exemptions on their historic-designated homes are not complying with requirements. The City Council should approve legislation clarifying those requirements then vigilantly enforce them, sending a strong message that noncompliance will eliminate the tax break.

The owners of historic homes pay only $300 a year in property taxes, which is a great deal when considering that many of the dwellings are valued at $1 million or more. All they have to do now is to keep the house well-maintained and visible to the public.

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Hawaii Dopers giving up on Fake Urine

Diagnostic Laboratory Services officials said Friday synthetic urine use was down 35 percent from the end of last year. The data is from a sampling of 7,000 to 10,000 tests.

The company says they announced in September that they developed a way to detect fake urine.

SA: Pot and cocaine use up among workers, drug tests show

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Aina Haina gunman released from Prison in January

According to the Hawaii Paroling Authority, Mark Ah Nee's minimum sentence in his mainland incarceration would have ended November 2004 at the earliest. Ah Nee came before the parole board in 2004, 2005, 02006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 -- denied parole six consecutive times. Then he was released January 20, 2011.

"If somebody has a record that long and has been incarcerated that long, and hasn't received the treatment that he needs, there is something wrong," said Kat Brady, prison reform advocate. "Longer incarceration increases somebody's criminological thinking."  (This is the ‘thinking’ that is driving the Abercrombie administration's policy.)

Authorities disagree.  "The people who in prison are there because they have been found by the courts and the parole board to be dangerous and not to be in the community," Kaneshiro explained.

SA: Car break-in set off melee

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Crisis: Hawaii County Unveils $50M Government Building

It was a joyous day for government ….

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Contractors lobby for Insurers to Cover Shoddy Workmanship

Legislation has been introduced (HB 839 and HB 924) in the Hawaii State Legislature, aggressively supported by contractors and their lobbyists, that would statutorily change the definition of an “occurrence” in an insurance contract.  The proposed legislation would require that the definitions contained in the insurance contract, a private contract between two parties, be ignored if they exclude coverage for a contractor’s poor workmanship.  Such definitions have been included in insurance contracts for many years because insurance policies are not, and never have been, intended to pay liability because a contractor cut corners or performed shoddy work.  Insurance policies are intended to cover accidents– true and bona fide unforeseeable events that cause injury or harm to others.

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NYT: Waikiki Hotel using RFID Chips to track Stolen Towels

So far, three hotels  —  in Honolulu, Miami and Manhattan  —  are using the chip, said Linen Technology Tracking’s executive vice president, William Serbin. He said the hotels did not want their names used.

Mr. Serbin added that rising cotton prices were a motivation: “A bath towel that might have cost $5 last year could cost $8  or $9 now. High-end hotels want to watch those assets.”

The Honolulu property, which introduced the technology last summer, has reduced theft of its pool towels from 4,000 a month to just 750, saving more than $16,000 a month, Mr. Serbin said.

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