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Thursday, April 28, 2011
April 28, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:20 AM :: 7905 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Hawaii Rated Worst State to Earn a Living

Hawaii Anti-Trust Adventures: Investigating Big Five Control of Matson

VIDEO: House GOP Caucus Hosts Balanced Budget Summit

Abercrombie signs Six More Bills into law

House saves the day after Senate votes 24-1 to dishonor Polynesian Discoverers of Hawaiian Isles

Profitable Rhetoric: Mililani Trask signs Geothermal Deal

Senate Run?  Hanabusa’s got her hand out again

March 30th, she had a one hour breakfast with tickets between $1,000 and $5,000.

Somebody said “Let’s to it again” and here we go.

May 3rd at Johnny’s Halfshell, come and spend a quick 60 minutes meeting Colleen Hanabusa, “New Member of Armed Services and natural Resources Committees.”  Contribution’s are $5,000 Host; $2,500 Sponsor; $1,000 Patron.

That’s two of these in five weeks.  Sounds like the lady is looking for a run at retiring Senator Dan Akaka’s seat.

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Start over on Big Wind Bidding, group tells state

A community group that opposes the development of large-scale wind farms on Lanai and Molokai is asking state regulators to reopen the bidding process for the projects, saying the original agreement is no longer valid because one of the developers dropped out.

An attorney for Friends of Lanai said a decision by First Wind LLC not to pursue the Molokai portion of the proposed project triggered a series of events that were not authorized under the original approval granted by the Public Utilities Commission last fall.

First Wind withdrew from the project after missing a key March 18 deadline set by the PUC to show that it was making progress on its planned 200-megawatt Molokai wind project. Castle & Cooke Resorts, which is pursuing a 200-megawatt wind project on Lanai, met the deadline. The two projects, dubbed "Big Wind," would transmit electricity to Oahu via an undersea cable under a plan that is still in the preliminary stages.

Friends of Lanai attorney Isaac Hall noted that the PUC had to grant a waiver for the Big Wind project to proceed because its proposed size exceeded Hawaiian Electric Co.'s original request for proposals of up to 100 megawatts of renewable energy.

"Since only one party timely complied (with the PUC deadline), Friends of Lanai believes that the waiver is no longer valid and the competitive bidding process needs to start over," Hall said.

(Great Idea.  Soon Congress will kill the subsidies for this nonsense and the project will die.)

MN: Energy program EIS comments available

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Legislators May Finish Spending this Morning, Taxing Next

State Sen. David Ige, the lead Senate negotiator on the budget, said tonight that the conference committee hopes to vote at 9 a.m. Thursday on a final two-year spending blueprint.

If lawmakers do close the budget early Thursday, it would provide greater clarity on how much money is necessary from the separate revenue-generating bills to balance the budget and erase the state’s projected $1.3 billion deficit….

State Rep. Marcus Oshiro, the lead House negotiator, said lawmakers are operating under the presumption that state tax collections will decline this fiscal year by at least 2 percent, lower than the 1.6 percent projected by the state Council on Revenues.

Using a more pessimistic forecast, he said, could leave a cushion in the event the council lowers the forecast when it meets again in late May. It may also help give Gov. Neil Abercrombie some flexibility in implementing the budget.

“We’re trying to create some space in the budget,” Oshiro said.

Others, speaking privately, worry that lawmakers will not approve enough revenue-generating bills — or the bills will fall short of revenue projections — leaving the Abercrombie administration to fill the hole.

The big-ticket bills on the table would suspend general excise tax exemptions on targeted business activities, divert money from a rental car surcharge to the general fund, cap itemized deductions on higher-income taxpayers, repeal a state tax deduction on higher-income taxpayers, and impose a pension tax on higher-income retirees.

AP: Hawaii lawmakers push back decisions on raising taxes and cutting government spending

CB: Hawaii Legislature Stalemated Over Budget

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Will Hawaii Legislators Take 5% Pay Hike???

Lawmakers are still pondering a bill that would extend until Dec. 31, 2013, the 5 percent cut in their own pay that's been in effect for two years. Conferees were meeting yesterday on House Bill 575; without this measure, their salary goes back up on July 1.

Considering that most units in the Hawaii Government Employees Association have accepted the same cut, this would be equitable.

Of course, would the legislators also get the HGEA's extra vacation hours? Not that they need any more time off.

Shapiro: Legislative salaries redux

REALITY: Hawaii Legislators’ pay tops nation

HN: Massachussets to Strip Gov't Unions of Collective Bargaining

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Bag Tax: Enviros Fight Amongst Themselves over how much to steal from Consumers

The Senate originally proposed a 25-cent fee for each single-use checkout bag provided to a customer, and the draft CD1 Gabbard offered Wednesday suggested 20 cents per bag. But Coffman — who actually knocked the fee down to a nickel in his committee before House Finance pumped it back up to a dime — shot back that 10 cents is the House position.

"That's why we'd be willing to bite the bullet at 15," Gabbard said, smiling as others assembled in Room 225 chuckled. One person blurted out that 12-and-a-half cents per bag might be preferable.

The 20-cent fee was just one of nearly a dozen noteworthy changes that Gabbard made to the version that passed the House two weeks ago.

Another key adjustment was giving retailers 10 percent of fee revenues after the first year. The Senate had originally suggested a permanent 20-percent cut for retailers, while the House-approved version would have ended the 20-percent share after one year and given zero thereafter.

Gabbard's version, if approved, would also remove the preemption clause passed by the House that would have allowed Kauai's and Maui's plastic bag bans to stand but would have prevented Honolulu and Hawaii Counties from passing their own bans after the fee takes effect. Under Gabbard's bill, all counties will be allowed to enact bans.

EXPLAINED: SB1363 Bag Tax: Greens, Big Business, Big Government team up to Rip Off Consumers

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Golden Week Travel Falls 5% to 30% after Quake

Hawaii’s visitor numbers from Japan have slumped 28 percent this month, according to the state tourism agency.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, the state’s largest hotel, has had a decline in Golden Week bookings of as much as 30 percent from last year, said Jerry Gibson, area vice president of Hilton Hawaii. A pick-up in domestic bookings has offset some of this decline, ensuring that the hotel doesn’t need to shed staff, he said.

Starwood’s hotels in Waikiki, Hawaii’s main tourist hub, have seen a 5 percent drop in bookings from Japan, said Keith Vieira, the chain’s senior vice president and director of operations for Hawaii and French Polynesia. The hotels get about 40 percent of business from the Asian nation, he said.

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Caldwell/FACE: Mortgage legislation should address only 'bad actor' lenders

The problem is that "one-size legislation" does not fit all. There is a world of difference between local community lenders like First Hawaiian Bank, Bank of Hawaii and credit unions and trillion-dollar national banks tied to Wall Street.  (Our sources indicate they actually wrote this crap without falling on the floor in fits of uncontrollable laughter.)

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Court dismisses challenge of Hawaiian Homes exemption

The Hawaii Supreme Court yesterday rejected a taxpayer lawsuit by non-Native Hawaiians seeking the same tax exemptions given to Native Hawaiian lessees under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.

The lawyer for the taxpayers, who has filed other challenges alleging race discrimination against non-Hawaiians, said they will now ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

The Hawaii high court ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by John M. Corboy, Earl Arakaki and three others. They argued that the exemptions for the lessees who must be Native Hawaiians constitute racial discrimination in violation of the U.S. Constitution and federal civil rights laws.

RELATED: Supreme Court ruling shields Hawaiian Homelands and ceded lands revenue

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Suspect Killed by Police had long record: Would be alive today if he were in prison where he belonged

The armed robbery suspect shot and killed by a police officer Tuesday behind Waimalu Shopping Center was identified yesterday as Herbden Gabriel, a 46-year-old from Pearl City with an extensive criminal record.

An off-duty police officer who was directing traffic as part of a special duty job responded to a call for help at the strip mall about 3:20 p.m. A chase ensued to a service road on the mauka side of the center, where Gabriel was shot.

Police said Gabriel was holding a handgun and refused to drop it. He was shot at least once in the torso and taken in critical condition to a hospital where he died a short time later, police said.

According to state records, Gabriel had been convicted of 11 criminal counts from 1984 to 2001, including kidnapping, robbery and assault. Most recently, prison records showed, Gabriel was paroled on March 16, 2006, after serving nearly five years on forgery charges.  (So the soft-on-crime crowd is responsible for putting this guy back out on the streets where he was killed.) 

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Helping the homeless is byproduct of preparing for APEC

authorities have turned to dealing with another problem — the thousands of homeless people that populate parks, beaches and open spaces across the islands.

Spiffed up sidewalks and smooth streets occupied by tents, shopping carts, bulging plastic trash bags and their owners don't present a portrait of Hawaii attractive to businesses and financiers.

Homelessness has been an intractable situation here for a long, long time, made even more difficult by the range of reasons people live on the streets, whether it be poverty, misfortune, physical and mental troubles or the desire to be free of responsibility.

The Abercrombie administration's effort to get help to homeless people by reporting them to agencies and centers that offer services seems on the surface to be callous cleansing of an unpleasant scene….

Though the governor and his team acknowledge the plan's limitations and that APEC is part of the motivation, the start of a multidimensional endeavor to lend a hand to those who want and need one is an honorable investment, as beneficial to the state and its people as repaired roads, sidewalks and airports. The expense should not be begrudged.

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Insurers, Contractors still arguing over who will pay Trial Lawyers

BY BUILDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION - On April 15, 2011, Hawaii Reporter published an op-ed by insurance attorney Allen R. Wolff, entitled “Legislation in Hawaii Invades the Separation of Powers, Changes the Meaning of Words in Private Contracts and Hurts Consumers.”

Mr. Wolff’s piece relates to HB 924, and contains numerous misstatements of fact.  Fortunately, the Hawaii Legislature was not deterred by these same misleading arguments when insurance companies in opposition to HB924 made them.

The article misleads the reader into thinking that contractors were claiming Commercial General Liability (CGL) policies cover their own shoddy work.

On the contrary, contractors understood all along that fixing the construction defects are not covered by the policies.  The coverage purchased were claims of bodily injury and property damage arising out of those construction defects.

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Hawaii Kai residents upset over proposed sewer rate hikes

The Hawaii Kai community is unique in the fact that its more than 65 miles of sewer lines are run not by the City but by privately owned Hawaii American Water. This February the company filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to raise current rates.

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St Francis Medical center confronts Chapter 11 Again

Hawaii Medical Center's nine-member board of directors is scheduled to meet tomorrow to decide the fate of the Li­liha and Ewa hospitals just eight months after HMC emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization.

The board will likely approve a second Chapter 11 filing, which could come as soon as next week, according to sources involved in the matter who requested anonymity because the board has not yet voted.

As part of a bankruptcy, HMC would relinquish ownership of the hospitals to lender and former owner St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii, the sources said. It would then be up to St. Francis to reorganize the hospitals and bring them out of bankruptcy.

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Bill would add teeth to domestic violence law

Law enforcement officials are pushing for a bill moving through the state Legislature aiming to increase protection for domestic violence victims.

House Bill 1003 proposes to amend “certain criminal offenses to include conduct committed against domestic violence victims covered by protective orders or restraining orders.”

The bill in its current form would lengthen sentences for offenders, and would go into effect as early as July 1.

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Peter Boy is still missing, and his case remains inactive

It is up to prosecutors to decide whether to pursue prosecution. Deputy Prosecutor Mike Kagami said the case remains inactive.

In 2005, a temporary restraining order was taken out by Adult Protective Services against Peter Kema Sr. to protect Jaylin Kema, state court records show. The Kemas have divorced.

RELATED?   Robert Iwamoto Trust sued over Maui Ponzi Scheme

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Dopers in Frenzy over Elimination of “Medical” marijuana for those who just want to feel medicated

Hawaii: Hawaii’s decade-plus medical marijuana law is under fire. The chairman of the Senate Health Committee, Sen. Josh Green (District 3, West Hawaii), is pushing for additional amendments to SB 1458 (which NORML already opposed) that would eliminate chronic pain, nausea, and Crohn’s disease as qualifying conditions under the state’s medical marijuana program. Lawmakers will decide on these draconian proposals this Thursday.

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State driver’s licenses, ID cards do not conform to federal rules

Question: Regarding the Department of Homeland Security giving states until January 2013 to comply with the REAL ID Act (Kokua Line, April 21): Does any Hawaii license issued so far comply? I got my driver’s license in March, but I can’t tell the new one from the old one. (Combination of two questions.)

Answer: No Hawaii driver’s license or state ID card is fully compliant with security features required under the REAL ID Act, according to the city Motor Vehicles & Licensing Division and state ID Office.

Under the Department of Homeland Security’s REAL ID mark guidelines, a fully compliant card will feature a gold circle with a star cut out to reveal the background. That mark will be placed on the front top third of the license or ID.

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Big Foot: Hawaii County carbon footprint report released

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi.  (Which is the best argument ever for not measuring this fantasy problem.)

The study found that in Fiscal Year 2007-2008, providing services such as public safety, parks and recreation, water delivery, solid waste disposal and wastewater services produced 134,130 metric tons of carbon emissions or the equivalent to using 311,930 barrels of oil.

Delivery of water to residents via electric pumps was the largest contributor of greenhouse gases emissions, representing 40 percent of the county’s total carbon footprint. The county’s solid waste facilities released 31 percent of direct greenhouse gases, (an argument for waste-to-energy--AW)   followed by County Mass Transit and fleets (12 percent of total direct emissions) and county buildings and facilities (5 percent).

When combined, wastewater, streetlights and commuting employees accounted for the remaining 12 percent. Overall, the county spent $33 million to pay for electricity and fuel in Fiscal Year 2007-2008. This represents 7 percent of the island’s usage of electricity.

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Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program Recognized For Propagation Achievements

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has received the 2011 Plume Award for long-term avian propagation programs for its work with critically endangered Hawaiian birds. The award was given in March by the Avian Scientific Advisory Group (ASAG) during a session at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) conference.

The Zoo's Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program (HEBCP) is a species recovery effort in collaboration with the State of Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service….

Meanwhile: Hawaii Windfarms killing endangered Birds: After five years Mitigation Lags

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Kill The Frogs?

Feeling overwhelmed by civilization? Dreaming of getting away from it all? Before embarking on your great escape, you should know that these days we intensively manage all our "wilderness" areas, the wildlife you encounter out there will undoubtedly include exotic species that are wreaking ecological havoc, and that some natural resource managers now believe there is nothing we can or should do about these increasingly human-dominated "novel ecosystems."

Welcome to the Brave New Eco-World….

To the horror of the mainstream conservation community, some of its own intrepid foot soldiers have begun to give up the good fight for more practical reasons. For example, after 20 years of fighting nonnative species in the Galápagos, Mark Gardener, the leader of the islands' restoration team, recently said "As scientists and conservationists, we need to recognize that we've failed: Galápagos will never be pristine... it's time to embrace the aliens." He joins a growing band of ecologists who believe that while such novel or hybrid ecosystems are obviously not "natural," they may nevertheless have their own unique ecological value. Gardener pointed out that with 30,000 people now living in the Galápagos, effective conservation must also integrate local economic activities such as nonnative forest and coffee plantations. …

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3 Hawaii employers among semifinalists for award recognizing support for Guard, reserve troops

The Honolulu Police Department, Tesoro Hawaii and Kaiulani of Princeville are semifinalists for the 2011 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

The Pentagon said Tuesday the three were picked from than 4,000 employers nominated by service members.

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