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Wednesday, April 20, 2011
April 20, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:20 PM :: 6821 Views :: Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Slavery: Federal Suit targets Six Hawaii Farms, labor contractor

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How they Voted April 18, 2011

SB99: Preserve Young Bros Monopoly on Inter-Island Shipping

Balance Budget Summit April 20 at Capitol

Shapiro: HSTA drama could win back HGEA Concessions

One remaining wrinkle is the "most favored nation" clause in the HGEA contract that promises its members equity if blue-collar workers, teachers and other unions yet to settle get a better deal.

That puts pressure on Abercrombie to reach similar terms with the others. It could be a challenge with the teachers, who never seem to negotiate a contract without a lot of drama beforehand and arm wrestling afterward over what was agreed to.

Any heat the governor is taking now for the HGEA deal is nothing compared with the burn he'll feel if he has to give back some of the concessions. (Long after the Leg is adjourned and the taxes have been hiked.)   

REALITY: HGEA Negotiators: Hide furlough days, recoup losses after Legislature adjourns

MORE REALITY: Abercrombie’s $100M omission: HGEA settlement tied to other secret labor agreements

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SA: Give DoE an extra $16.4M (more tax hike propaganda)

The state Senate, with the backing of the DOE, wants to include a $16.4 million item that will improve conditions at more than one campus in Ewa. The money would finance the construction of a sixth-grade wing at Ewa Makai Middle School that was postponed when that campus was first developed but ultimately will be needed as the region resumes its pace of population growth.

The sixth-grade classes at three elementary schools — Pohakea, Kaimiloa and Holomua — would move to the new middle school wing. This would free up some classroom space at one or both of the first two schools, which abut the Campbell campus. And it would enable the overcrowded Holomua, now burdened with a multitrack student schedule, to convert back to a single-track school.

This seems enough justification to press for including the $16.4 million, which is absent from the House version of the budget bill, in the final capital improvement budget. Whether the extra classroom space could be used for Campbell needs further discussion to ensure that the elementary schools can operate well without it — and with the older students in close proximity.

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Honolulu Seeks $2B Bond Issue to fund Rail

Honolulu City Council members will consider Bill 15 at a hearing on Wednesday to authorize the city to issue general obligation bonds from the General Improvement Bond Fund, the Highway Improvement Bond Fund, Solid Waste Improvement Bond Fund or the Housing Development Special Fund.

Honolulu City Council Member Ann Kobayashi told Hawaii Reporter she is concerned that the administration also is trying to borrow another $2 billion in bonds to finance the city rail project.

No federal funds have been authorized for the $5.5 billion 20-mile Honolulu rail system because the final design has not been approved.

The city does not have enough funding to cover the three contracts it has already procured.

The city is obligated to get approval from 6 of 9 council members to get authorization to sell bonds.

REALITY: Honolulu 5th most indebted US city

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Berg: Hawaii Profiteering Off Honolulu Taxpayers

Of the $681 million raised by Honolulu's rail tax to date, the state has kept 10 percent, or $68 million.

The money is used by the Legislature to "collect and assess" the tax by the state Department of Taxation, according to 2005's Act 247, which authorized the surcharge.

But some Honolulu officials - or one, anyway - says the state is taking advantage of Oahu taxpayers.

RELATED: Honolulu Councilmembers reject Berg resolution, cite fear of retaliation

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Hawaii Transportation Costs to Climb Again

One pending bill, SB 1329, would add an extra dollar to the state vehicle weight tax. For an average passenger vehicle weighing 3,500 pounds, the current tax is 75 cents per hundred pounds and the weight tax is $26.25. At $1.75, the weight tax would be $61.25 – lightening your wallet by $35.

The weight tax for larger vehicles that weigh 4,001 – 7,000 pounds would rise under the bill to $2 and $2.25 for vehicles that weigh between 7,001 and 10,000 pounds. The largest vehicles are in line for the largest tax increase, from the present $15 per hundred pounds to $300.

The Transportation Department estimates the measure would generate $32.9 million. The Tax Department puts the increase at $34.5 million.

Then there is the state registration fee – also not to be confused with similar fees charged by the counties.

Under SB 1328, the state fee would rise $20 per vehicle, regardless of size, to $45.

Transportation officials say the measure would raise an extra $22.9 million, mostly for the state Highway Fund, which lawmakers and elected officials have periodically tapped over the years for other fiscal needs.

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Arts Support may dull budget blades

The reductions are being considered along with increase in specific taxes and various user fees as the Council crafts its budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Up for consideration are cuts of $337,979 from the Office of Economic Development's $476,156 budget and $303,536 from Culture and the Arts' $345,188 budget.

"At this point I would say that there will be some degree of cuts," Council Budget Chairman Ernie Martin said yesterday. "There will probably be some restoration, based on testimony received (today) and when we go back to committee, but what I've seen thus far, it'd be very hard to justify full restoration."

Members of the local arts community are expected to show up in force today to support the Mayor's Office of Culture and Arts, known as MOCA.

(And that is exactly is why they were targeted.  Cutting arts guarantees a reaction thus boosting the chance for tax increases.)

The Carlisle administration has proposed increases in public golf course greens fees, zoo admission, public employee parking, sewer fees and other user-fee items to help the city cover the cost of providing those services.

Carlisle also has proposed a 1-cent increase in the city's 16.5-cents-per-gallon fuel tax this year as part of a 6-cents-per-gallon increase phased in over three years.

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Crisis? Kauai county Agency on Elderly Affairs seeks more spending

The agency is seeking $1.31 million to fund its operations in Fiscal Year 2012, which starts July 1, reflecting an increase of $111,000 from the current fiscal year’s funding.

The vast majority of the increase is in wages and benefits, mostly because of the end of furloughs. The agency’s request for its daily operations — $315,581 — is up $600 from the current fiscal year.

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Tax Increases: Payback Time for the Environment

(Actually this is Suzanne Case paying Dan Inouye back for all those earmarks.  The following is a list of reasons why we should continue mortgaging the US to China.)

When it comes to the health of the natural systems we rely on, ignorance is not an option. Currently, national public funding for conservation is on the chopping block, with some in Congress — the Hawaii delegation excluded — proposing cuts of more than 85 percent to programs. One of those, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, helps create national, state and local parks, restore our coasts and wetlands, and protect our forests for the many benefits they provide, including fresh water.

Recent congressional action on this year's budget cut this fund by 33 percent. While that is far better than 85 percent, it is still severe, and could get worse as Congress works to reduce the long-term deficit. For Hawaii, federal funding to protect 18,000 acres of prime native forest on the Big Island is at risk, opening up the possibility that those lands could be developed or logged.

The recent decision to end congressional earmarks could also affect the state's environment. Earmarks funded a $1.3 million U.S. Department of Agriculture appropriation for brown tree snake control on Guam — money that leveraged an additional $8 million from other federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense and Interior.

Loss of the USDA earmark jeopardizes the operation's ability to provide the base services needed to secure the additional millions that help keep snakes on Guam from getting to Hawaii.

Finally, a congressional earmark to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provided $1 million for invasive species control, most of which helped fight weeds and other pests in forested watersheds. That money loss could severely limit those programs, putting our already endangered native forests, and in turn our water supply, further at risk.

(Well Dan?  Does this column make it all worthwhile?)

(Oh, and sorry Suzanne, Dan still hates your brother Ed.)

Ignore This: OHA Trustees claim ownership of your drinking water

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Arakawa reduces Tax Hike Request

Mayor Alan Arakawa is calling for a smaller increase in property tax rates than he originally proposed.

Arakawa said Tuesday that he was recommending the adjustment because fewer people than expected filed property tax assessment appeals. That meant the county needed to hold less money in reserve for settlements and could return the balance to taxpayers, he said.

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Matsuoka, Cayetano’s Director of troubled Office of Youth Services, approved to Head Hawaii Paroling Authority

Gov. Neil Abercrombie withdrew his nominee to run the state's Office of Youth Services, but a Senate panel Tuesday confirmed him for a position on the Hawaii Paroling Authority.

Bert Matsuoka ran youth services prior to an investigation of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility that began in 2003. Youth services, housed within the Department of Human Services, oversees the correctional facility.

The separate investigations by the ACLU of Hawaii and the Office of the Attorney General involved allegations of physical and sexual abuse of wards by youth correctional officers.

The facility — essentially the state's prison for people under 18 — had long been plagued with problems of mismanagement. The youth correctional officers are also members of the United Public Workers, which resisted the ACLU's investigation into the facility.

Matsuoka was not implicated in the ACLU's or AG's investigations. The U.S. Department of Justice was eventually called in to monitor the Kailua facility.

Matsuoka's appointment by Abercrombie to run youth services a second time was announced in January.

By February, however, the governor reappointed David Hipp, former Gov. Linda Lingle's appointee, to a second one-year term. The appointment does not require state Senate confirmation.

On April 1, Matsuoka was nominated by Abercrombie to serve on the Hawaii Paroling Authority.

(Why?  Because Matsuoka can be counted on to release lots of crooks early.)

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Inouye:  USDA-UH research aims to rein in child obesity

At the end of the day, our goal is simple: We want the next generation to be the healthiest and best educated in our history. Our work in schools and communities, and the research conducted around the country, is designed to help get us there.

(And we hope to open up huge new avenues for megabucks litigation by the same trial lawyers who contribute to our campaigns.)

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CB to Carlisle: Make HPD Obey Open Records Law

Simply put: You have a department in your government that is not obeying the law.

What's worse, that department is the Honolulu Police Department.

The Police Department for eight months1 has refused to to do what every other city agency and every state agency has already done — abide by Hawaii open records law when it comes to making public the names, job titles and salaries of its employees.  We're running out of options to resolve this. ….

When the Police Department in February issued a press release announcing award recipients, I was surprised to see the names of all the members of the District 7 Crime Reduction Unit — especially because the chief had told me that Crime Reduction officers were clearly covered by the undercover exemption to the open records law. Yet here the chief ignored the exemption. The department provided the information about these exemplary officers that it refused to provide about the two members of the department in deep trouble with the law, even though in both cases the department has said the officers work or have worked undercover.

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Hawaii's first female narcotics undercover officer shares memories, hardships in world of narcotics trafficking

As the first female narcotics officer in the Honolulu Police Department during the 1980s, that achievement alone could be one of Joanne Takasato's most interesting stories, but the real story lies in what she saw during her undercover assignments, and how it deeply affected her life outside of work. Takasato's memoir "In Search of Truth and Honor: Reflections of an Undercover Journey through the Dark Side of the Badge" (ISBN 1439258848) provides readers with her depiction of what law enforcement officers face on a daily basis, both inside and outside police headquarters.

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Hawaii Legislature grants legal protection to any man willing to put on a dress

The House, in a 45-4 vote on Monday, agreed to accept the Senate’s amended draft of the bill, allowing the proposal to skip the conference committee process and move directly to the Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature.

The bill drew support from the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission as well as many LGBT advocacy groups because it would codify explicit protections against discrimination based on gender expression, rather than relying on judicial interpretation of civil rights statutes.

“Today is a great day for all residents of Hawaii,” said Alan Spector, co-chairman of Equality Hawaii. “Providing employment protections to transgender people in Hawaii is a victory for civil rights. The people of this state should be judged on the quality of work they do and not on who they are — that’s what this legislation guarantees.”

A similar proposal was passed by the Legislature two years ago but was vetoed by then-Gov. Linda Lingle

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Enhanced solar water heater rebate program ends

A program that temporarily doubled the rebate for solar water heating systems to $1,500 for Hawaiian Electric Co. customers has ended after overwhelming demand from homeowners depleted its funding in less than a month.

Homeowners will continue to be able to claim the standard rebate of $750 as long as they finance the system through an interest rate buy-down program, according to Hawaii Energy, which administers the energy efficiency program for the state

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Team of UH West Oahu students to compete in national free enterprise competition

A team of business and finance students are to represent University of Hawaii West Oahu at a national event after winning a regional competition.

The university said Tuesday the West Oahu team heads to Minnesota to compete in the Students in Free Enterprise competition next month.

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Hawaii Patient Info to go online

Hawaii Health Information Exchange, a nonprofit that aims to connect Hawaii's medical providers through electronic health rec­ords, said yesterday it has secured a $5.6 million federal grant to pursue the proj­ect.

The goal of the exchange is to make it possible for doctors, hospitals, laboratories, health plans and pharmacies to share patient information electronically. Sharing information could reduce duplicate diagnostic procedures and medical errors, Hawaii HIE says.

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Nation of Islam Visits Hawaii

These are two of the most beautiful sisters we met. These sisters are the sisters and friends of Mother Tynnetta, and the Nation; their names are Sister Jewel and Sister Lou. We were all given a necklace called a lei (wreath) made of flowers into a necklace which is part of their culture when greeting new tourists arrivals, and given upon their departure as a symbol to show their love, friendship, and affection. While in Honolulu, we attended the Polynesian Culture Center where different Islanders presented themselves such as New Zealand, Somoa (sic), Fiji, and other islands in the South Pacific. On February 10, we were escorted on a tour by Sister Lou, and we visited the statue of a king in Hawaii whose name was Kamehameha. A special note that was pointed out to us by Mother Tynnetta was intertwined in his name; rearranging some of the letters was the name Muhammad. More confirmation and validation!

On February 11, we departed Honolulu by plane traveling to Maui which was the location of the Health Seminar that was being held. We resided at one of the top hotels the “Ohana” with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean wherein lives the hump back whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine creatures. Here again we were greeted with two more beautiful sisters, Sister Dr. Ayin, Sister Terri, and her husband brother George who started their very own African Culture Pageant while living there! On February 12, we attended the health conference, and the attendees there thought we were from another planet (smile) or country based on how different we looked, in our modest dress style of clothing designed by Mother Tynnetta Muhammad.

Footnote: The NOI was founded in Detroit by an Afghan drug dealer named Wallace Dodd Ford or Fard.  Ford/Fard may have entered the US from New Zealand via Hawaii about 1910.

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Trump, Abercrombie team up to promote Birtherism

When Isakoff asked Trump if he thinks officials in Hawaii are lying about the birth certificate, Trump answered, "The governor of Hawaii said he was there when he was born. Now do you really believe that the governor of Hawaii was there when he was born? I don't."

Hawaii News Now caught up to Governor Neil Abercrombie and asked him to clarify what he meant when he said he was "there."

"Of course here in Hawaii," Abercrombie said.

"Not in the room?" we asked.

Abercrombie told Hawaii News Now he first laid eyes on baby Barack Obama a few days after he was born. Abercrombie said Obama's parents introduced their newborn to friends at the University of Hawaii where Abercrombie was going to college with the president's father.

"We not only saw him and were with them, but were introduced to him of course at our gatherings, our student gatherings. And of course over the years then as he was raised by his mother and his grandparents we of course saw him frequently because he was with his grandfather all the time," Abercrombie added….

(Obama appreciates this fine work being done on behalf of his reelection by both Abercrombie and Trump.)

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Media doing excellent Job Promoting Birther Candidate

A Pew Research poll released Wednesday showed that among all the potential GOP candidates, 26% of respondents had “heard the most” about Mr. Trump. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came in a distant second, at 9%, followed by former GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, at 4%.

Obamabots Launch Cult of The Mother: Obama’s Young Mother Abroad

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Should Radiation from Japan Scuttle Spring Break in Hawaii? A Mom Agonizes

(How long until Abercrombie uses this as an excuse for tax increases?)

(After paragraph after paragraph of free-floating anxiety, we get to a little reality…)

“The problem with radioactivity is we don't understand it as a population,” says Ring. “We know it's connected to the bomb and therefore it's scary. My advice I give to people on the West Coast who have bought potassium iodide is put it in a box and mail it to someone in Japan.”

Henrietta Dulaiova, a professor of geography and geophysics with masters in nuclear engineering and PHD in oceanography at the University of Hawaii Manoa made me feel better. She uses naturally occurring radioactive isotopes to study ocean processes — how water mixes, for example. By the time radioactivity is carried on currents to Hawaii, she said, it would be at “negligible” levels compared to the vast volume of water in the Pacific. Who knew ocean water was radioactive, infused with potassium uranium? “The ocean has so much radioactivity in it, and it's normal,” she says. “That's how the ocean has existed for many millions of years, and we know it's not harmful for the fish or for us.”

In the end, my 6-year-old daughter had the last word. When she heard we were considering canceling our trip, she shot me a withering look and, arms akimbo, said, “Hello? Japan is not Hawaii!”

(Thus proving that 6-year-olds are far more intelligent than  the average Chemophobe.)

BIW: Rads in the milk—Probably Not a Problem say Anti-DU Scammers

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