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Saturday, April 23, 2011
April 23, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:22 PM :: 8985 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

About the Birth Certificate

Newsflash: DAGS releases comprehensive fiscal report for 2009

SA: Feds need to ensure integrity of Hawaii's health care law

The state Legislature has prudently altered Hawaii's 36-year-old trailblazing health care law to protect it from termination when the federal law takes full effect in 2014.

Congressional action now may be needed to fully assure the continuation of the state law, which would be enhanced by the federal statute.

The state law's termination provision followed a court ruling that it violated the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the regulation of employment benefit plans.

Hawaii's congressional delegation secured an exemption from ERISA in 1974 on condition that the new state health care law would disappear upon enactment of a federal health insurance mandate proposed by then-President Richard Nixon.  Nixon's proposal collapsed amid Watergate and the Hawaii's health care law's existence remained.

A year after then-President Bill Clinton proposed a federal health care act in 1993, the state Legislature approved an amendment aimed at removing the termination clause in the event of the specific federal law that was expected, but Clinton's proposal also died.

U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka have said they amended the present federal health care law to preserve Hawaii's ERISA waiver. However, the Abercrombie administration is not sure about its effectiveness. Deputy Attorney General Gary S. Ige testified to a state House committee in February that his office opposed erasing the termination provision because such a move would be "subject to preemption by ERISA."

A week later, Ige submitted written testimony backing away from opposition to the proposal although continuing to express concern that it "would likely be subject to preemption by ERISA."

That being the case, Hawaii's congressional delegation needs to make sure that the ERISA exemption would survive application of the federal health care law.

BEHIND THIS STORY: GOP: Legislature putting Prepaid Health Care Act at risk, Health Insurance? No need: Abercrombie promises to dump Prepaid Health Care Act

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HHSC Nurses rejecting HGEA Contract

Employees at Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is operated by HHSC, held a rally on Thursday to protest the terms of the contract.
And on Facebook, at least one group is providing disgruntled workers a forum to air their grievances.
The Facebook group "
Unit 9 RNs Standing Together Moving Forward" listed more than 500 members by Friday afternoon.

YouTube:  VIDEO Signs: “Professional Nurses are Leaving Maui State Hospital Due to HGEA Union Demands”  “HGEA: Forcing Nurses to Relocate” “Fooled me twice, shame on you” and “Nurses don’t Neil”

FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_122120594531793

Note: If nurses hold a representation election, decertify the HGEA, and replace it with a nurses union, this would go a long way toward making it possible to privatize the HHSC.  Read the comments on Facebook and you will see why this might be a possible scenario.

RELATED: Legislative Report: Convert HHSC to non-profit, dump civil service (full text)

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Hawaii lawmakers to decide on taxes and spending to balance projected $1.3B deficit

By a late Friday night deadline next week, House and Senate conference committees must agree on enough tax hikes and spending reductions to pay for a $1.3 billion government deficit projected over the next two years. Final votes would occur the following week before this year's legislative session adjourns May 5.

Besides taxing and spending, a variety of other proposals have so far survived the legislative process, including measures for a marijuana dispensary test-run, Native Hawaiian recognition by the state, financing to pay for solar power installations and school class time amounts.

But legislators prepared for the biggest battle to be over taxes, which they're counting on to raise up to $700 million toward the $1.3 billion shortfall. About $400 million would come by reducing government spending, and the remaining more than $200 million would largely be paid by exhausting the state's emergency hurricane and safety net savings.

Shapiro: Alongside budget butchery, an abattoir would be humane

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Maui Chamber of Commerce: We’re TEA (taxed enough already); cut government instead

Regardless of political party or affiliation, an overwhelming majority of our business members feel they are "taxed enough already (TEA)" and that it is time to cut the size of government instead of strangling businesses and residents with higher taxes.

However, much discussion this legislative session explored new and additional taxes on alcohol, car registrations, Internet purchases, pensions, rental cars and more - including a general excise tax (GET) increase, limiting deductions and removing exemptions.

Rather than cut back to essential core services - which must happen to reduce our massive debt and not pass it on to future generations - some seek to raise revenue in the most awful way at the worst time - taxes….

We fund government, and they are in place to serve us. Therefore, we need to set the direction and stop accepting unsatisfactory work, just as we would in our places of business. Government can bleed us dry only if we let it.

If you are "Taxed Enough Already," speak up now. Contact every elected official and say, "No tax increase."

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High Gas Prices: Just one more excuse to raise taxes

How long oil prices stay high will determine how much damage is done.

In June 2008 the price of oil peaked at $134 per barrel, retreated before the end of the year to $42 per barrel, and consumption increased the following year.

Yesterday oil traded at $112 a barrel. That level "is definitely something that changes the outlook and will be of greater concern should it prove to be more persistent than a one- or two-month pain in the gas," said Paul Brewbaker, principal of TZ Economics and chairman of the state Council on Revenues.

"These things tend to shave a fraction of a percentage point, maybe a percentage point, off an underlying real economic growth rate that could have been 2-3 percent this year," Brewbaker said.

Before the recent rise in oil prices, the state had forecast Hawaii's economy, or real GDP (gross domestic product), would grow by 2 percent in 2011.

The jump in oil prices could cut into that growth but not take it down to zero, said Brewbaker.

KITV: Record Fuel Prices Challenge Companies Who Deliver

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Measure seeks instant runoffs

If a candidate doesn't win the election with an outright majority, elections officials discard the candidate with the fewest first-place votes, and any candidates receiving less than 1 percent of the total vote. Those votes are transferred to the next highest ranking candidate on each ballot. That process continues, the bill said, until a candidate receives the majority of the vote or after four tabulation cycles, at which point the candidate with the most first choice votes is declared the winner….

In looking at the bill, Coffman said it could have come up after the early 2010 special election to replace then U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie. Abercrombie had resigned from his House seat to run for governor, prompting a special election in House District 1 that split Democratic voters between Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case. That split, analysts noted at the time, allowed Republican Charles Djou to prevail. Djou lost a reelection bid several months later.
"That was a situation that didn't require a majority (of more than 50 percent of the vote)," Coffman said.

Shapiro: “Legislators are pushing a bill to require "instant runoff" voting in some county elections. It's a ranking system in which voters' second and third choices are taken into account until a Dem­o­crat wins.”

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Real Clean Energy: KIUC Pushes Hydro Power

KIUC performed no community outreach prior to contracting with energy developer Free Flow Power to file Federal Energy Regulatory Commission applications for preliminary permits to explore hydropower development on six Kaua‘i waterways.

FERC preliminary permits allow a developer exclusive rights to explore the viability of an energy resource prior to development.

Bissell said the co-op did not wish to publicly announce its intent to file permit applications out of concern that outside energy developers would also try file permit applications for the same resources and squeeze KIUC out.

Now, with two of the six permit requests approved, KIUC is ready to reach out to the community for feedback.

“Of all the potential renewable technologies, hydroelectric power looks at this point to be the lowest cost and long-term best value for KIUC’s members,” Bissell said, adding that hydropower projects last essentially forever, using technology that has changed little in more than 100 years.

Fake clean Energy: Wind Energy’s Ghosts

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Nonprofit Directors ask for maintained funding, restoration of grants

Producer Kenneth Martinez Burgmaier said he was distressed the county had proposed cutting a small grant for his Maui Fest program, which brings film and cultural festivals to remote communities including Hana, Molokai and Lanai.

Sharing the pain, eh?

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Moana Surfrider:  Two Honolulu Zoning Board Members have hidden Conflicts of Interest

HTF is one of four environmental groups appealing a partial zoning variance that would allow Kyo-ya to proceed with its proposed oceanfront highrise next to the Moana Surfrider Hotel.

Donna had a question stemming from a meeting of Honolulu’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday. She said two members of the board announced they had possible conflicts, and that they would be submitting written statements to the Honolulu Ethics Commission for a ruling.

Donna said she later asked the deputy corporation counsel assigned to the board whether she could get a copy of the disclosures that were being submitted for review. She was told that the documents were not public, but that she would be told when the Ethics Commission made its ruling.

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Nanakuli industrial park dead

The 96-acre proj­ect in Lua­lua­lei Valley had drawn some opposition for furthering conversion of farmland in the area but also had won praise for its promise to create jobs and business opportunities in an economically disadvantaged region.

The commission voted 5-3 to urbanize the land for the industrial park proposed by Tropic Land LLC, but six affirmative votes were necessary for approval. One commissioner was absent….

"We support maintaining Wai­anae as a rural community and agricultural center for Oahu," the nonprofit environmental and native Hawaiian group KAHEA said in petition drive materials against the proj­ect. "We can say NO to new potential toxic sites, and NO to further loss of agricultural lands in Wai­anae."

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Police officer arrested after Kona Street crash

William Suarez, 40, was booked on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant and failure to remain at the scene of an accident.

Sources confirmed that Suarez is an officer assigned to the Waikiki district.

Suarez was arrested about 5:30 a.m. at the 1100 block of Kona Street and released that morning on $500 bail.

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Herb Kane’s Wisconsin Roots

Even though Kane's parents continued to reside in Marshfield (his father died in 1970 and his mother in 1998), it was his father who convinced him to return to Hawaii.

"(He had) suggested that if I now wanted to make any worthwhile contribution beyond raising his grandchildren, I should consider returning to Hawaii," wrote Kane in 1991….

Encouraged by his father, the younger Kane discovered a natural ability to paint. In high school, he realized he could tell stories through painting and his favorite subjects including planes and automobiles. Too young to serve in World War II, like many Wisconsin boys of a similar age, he had idolized ace pilot Richard Bong. During the war, Kane, who spoke German, worked alongside German prisoners-of-war in a cannery.

After a two-year stint in the U.S. Navy, Kane traveled to Chicago where he attended the School of the Art Institute and the University of Chicago. Kane spent nearly two decades as a successful graphic-illustrator in the city, but his interest in the history and legends of his ancestors remained. In 1970, he honored the request made by his father and moved to Hawaii.

"A United Airlines jet may have transported me to Hawaii, but it was (a) sailing canoe that brought me home," Kane wrote in 1991.

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Gay-Atheists hijack “Aloha Spirit” Resolution

Thursday, April 21, 2011, HCR 135, HD 1, came before the Senate Committee on Human Services, chaired by Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, D-Nuuanu.

The proposed version was further amended to read: “Urging the continued support of the Aloha Spirit of all people of the state of Hawaii by displaying mutual respect and affection toward others with no obligation in return without use of derogatory words with regard to a person’s race, gender, disability or sexual orientation.”

Embedded in the newest version of the resolution was the following: “Whereas legal and social inequality is also a form of denigration that corrupts the meaning of Aloha and gives us permission to speak and act with violence toward others because of their race, gender, gender identity, disability or sexual orientation.”

Yet another part of this Aloha resolution said “be it further resolved that it is urged that people follow a general boycott from the purchasing of any product which uses hateful words to intimidate or degrade people based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation in any form, be heavily promoted and be practiced by wholesalers, retailers and consumers throughout the state.”

These additions were submitted by Equality Hawaii, the group in the news most recently in the battle over same sex marriage. Rep. John Mizuno, D-Kalihi, gave the testimony in support of the changes.

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Chemophobia: Increasing levels of mercury found in rare Pacific albatross

Levels of mercury in an endangered Pacific seabird species have increased substantially in recent decades largely due to industrial emissions from Asia, Harvard University researchers have found.

The novel study examined breast feathers from 54 black-footed albatrosses collected at U.S. natural history museums from 1880 to 2002.

The results, published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show an alarming rise in methylmercury, a neurotoxin that accumulates in the birds' bodies from a diet of fish.

(The oceans are full of natural mercury.  Natural concentrations of mercury in fish are so high that it is not credible to suggest that coal emissions are adding to them in a measurable way.  To do so is obviously to cross the line between science and polemic.)

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Birtherism: Where it all began

The answer lies in Democratic, not Republican politics, and in the bitter, exhausting spring of 2008. At the time, the Democratic presidential primary was slipping away from Hillary Clinton and some of her most passionate supporters grasped for something, anything that would deal a final reversal to Barack Obama.

The theory's proponents are a mix of hucksters and earnest conspiracy theorists, including prominently a lawyer who previously devoted himself to 'proving' that the Sept. 11 attacks were an inside job….

"It makes us look weird. It makes us look crazy. It makes us look demented. It makes us look sick, troubled, and not suitable for civilized company," one of the first conservatives to turn against the birthers, talk show host Michael Medved, said in 2009. "I'm not a conspiracist, but this could be a very big conspiracy to make conservatives disgrace themselves."

Precisely As Predicted: As campaign heats up, so does focus on 'birthers'

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Perfesser: Obama provides glimpse of future U.S. leaders

However, something more of Obama's own doing — his demeanor — also renders him somewhat exotic. I am referring to his hesitation to confront dictatorial regimes and ideologies in Asia and the Middle East head on.

An example: A few months ago, when a young Hindu woman in India asked Obama "what do you think about jihad (holy war)," he truthfully answered that "jihad has many meanings." However, by failing to make a confrontational statement like Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall," Obama lost the opportunity to invite/challenge all Muslims to condemn radical Islamist ideology. At that moment, Obama's lithe form, gentle mannerisms and overt pacifism made him seem more like a Buddhist monk than an American president.

Yet, although "cowboy" presidents like George W. Bush and Reagan may seem more American, that is deceiving. Like Reagan and Bush, our current president also represents a frontier, but this one is new.

Look at the Brave New World: About the Birth Certificate, Antonio Gramsci Reading List,

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