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Wednesday, May 04, 2011
May 4, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:18 PM :: 9552 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

 

Double-Digit Spending Increase and Taxes to Match: Senate Passes Budget 24-1

The Senate voted to approve House Bill 200, the state operating budget and CIP budget.

The measure calls for spending an additional $800 million a year for each of the next two years. About $600 million in new tax revenue will be combined with cuts to state departments, labor savings and raiding of special funds to balance the budget.

HB 200 also calls for $1.8 billion for capital improvement projects in 2012 and another $1 billion for 2013.

Sam Slom cast the lone vote against the budget. He called it "unfair and unrealistic to talk about cuts to our government when this represents a double-digit increase in spending."

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STATEMENT FROM ABERCROMBIE ON PASSAGE OF LEGISLATIVE BUDGET

Honolulu – This afternoon the state Legislature passed out its budget measure that Governor Neil Abercrombie must sign into law by July 12, 2011. Governor Abercrombie released the following statement on the budget (House Bill 200).

“I’ve always said that we will work with the budget we have. We will seize this opportunity to transform government and move forward with our New Day plan.”

###

Sewer Line Back Up Closes Capitol Toilets

An email alert this afternoon to all offices at the state Capitol warns:  "The Men's Locker room as well as all Women's and Men's restroom facilities on the basement level is experiencing a back up of the sewer line. DAGS is aware of the problem and have plumbers here working to address the situation, please bear with us. Temporarily, use alternative restroom facilities on upper floors."

The House Clerk's office confirms that DAGS is indeed on it.

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Big Victory for Abercrombie’s HSTA/DoE/BoE: Legislature stalls 180 day law

The full Senate passed the bill yesterday with three members voting no, including state Sen. Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai), a member of the Senate Education Committee.

Slom said the measure waters down Act 167 and represents a concession to the Hawaii State Teachers Association at the expense of students.

“This to me is really baloney,” Slom said after the vote yesterday. “I don’t think we have the political backbone to do what we should have done.”

RELATED: Killing the 180 Day School Year: HSTA caught in a lie

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First Item on New BoE Agenda: Take Care of Matayoshi

Less than 10 minutes into its first meeting, the new appointed Hawaii State Board of Education's Human Resource Committee went into executive session to discuss Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi's employment contract, which was never finalized after her hiring last September….

We want to make sure the superintendent is taken care of," Board of Education Chairman Don Horner said at the board's first business meeting April 26, before he handed the matter over to the Human Resource Committee….

REALITY: Abercrombie’s Board of Education: Accountability begins now, and it’s already ugly

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Online shopping tax bills die in Hawaii

 

The Senate promoted a measure that would have enrolled Hawaii in the 24-state Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, which changes state tax codes to make it simpler for Internet retailers to collect the tax.

The House wanted to require out-of-state businesses to provide yearly statements to the government listing customer names and transaction amounts.

Either measure could have seized an estimated $30 million a year.

Amazon Versus States: A Sales Tax Roundup

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ILind Looks at 14 Bills Passed by Legislature

Allows the Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to designate an access organization to oversee public, educational, and governmental channels on cable television…..

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State's Flu-Shot Program Threatened

Its Stop Flu at School program has vaccinated more than 260,000 school children in the past four years, health officials said.

The program costs $1.8 million a year. About 90 percent of it is federally funded, state officials said.

There is enough money to run the program through next fall, but because of decreasing grant money and the state's current fiscal condition, about its future beyond that, that is unclear, state health officials said.

(Isn’t  it a tad late to be pushing for tax increases?)

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Stanley Chang caught lying about Support for Gas Tax Increase

Honolulu City Council Member Stanley Chang, District 4, told two neighborhood boards in his East Oahu district this month that he is opposed to the proposed tax increase to the city’s gasoline tax. The tax is set to rise by 6 cents over the next three years.

The only problem with that story is Chang voted for the tax increase earlier this month.

As reported by Hawaii Reporter, Chang was one of seven council members who voted for the tax hike on the second reading.

The third and final reading will be at the next council hearing. The only two council members to oppose the tax hike were Ikaika Anderson and Tom Berg.

Neighborhood board members, who are opposed to the tax, didn’t press Chang further to ask him how he actually voted – they just assumed he voted against the measure since he said he opposed it.

RELATED: Djou: Oahu has nation’s Highest Gas Taxes, City may raise higher

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Debt Service on Rail Bonds $380M/year

The city's bond-floating plans are explained in the updated financial plan released last month….

One of the guidelines the city gives itself is that debt service for general obligation bonds should not exceed 20 percent of the City’s total operating budget. The proposed limit would be $380 million based on next year's proposed $1.9 billion budget.

While City Council members advanced Bill 40 yesterday, many of them expressed grave concerns about the city's plans to float bonds.

There was confusion over whether authorizing Bill 40 meant the administration would have to again return to the City Council for approval before floating a bond. Honolulu Managing Director Doug Chin said yes, but a city lawyer called the adoption of Bill 40 "a complete authorization to issue and sell."

City Council member Ikaika Anderson said he worries about borrowing money for a project that isn't yet guaranteed the full $1.55 billion Honolulu is seeking in federal funding. City Council member Ernie Martin said this week he was "very disappointed" in what he saw as "inconsistent" explanations from Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle's administration about financing.

City Council member Ann Kobayashi, a long-time rail critic, was more blunt: "I can't believe the level of insincerity," Kobayashi said. "I just can't put my trust in the testimony that's being given by the administration."

Council members won't have to wait long to continue the conversation about borrowing for rail. The issue comes up again on Wednesday morning in Martin's Budget Committee meeting.

SA: Protection sought for trees along rail route

RELATED: Honolulu 5th most indebted US city

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Hawaii House-Senate committee backs health care reform conformity bill

A Hawaii House-Senate conference committee has agreed on compromise legislation that would enable employers to offer coverage to employees' adult children up to age 26, as they are required to do under federal law, without employees being taxed on the coverage.

The measure, H.B. 1089, which is expected to receive final approval by Hawaii lawmakers this week, would make Hawaii tax law conform with the federal health care reform law.

HB 1134: Legislature putting Prepaid Health Care Act at risk

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FACT CHECK — HGEA: Public Nurse Pay 'Woefully' Behind Private Sector?

Obviously, on the wage front, Perreira is right.

But compensation is more than just wages.

"The problem is that it's apples and oranges," said Joan Craft, president of the Hawaii Nurses Association, a union representing private-sector nurses. "Because your salary is one thing, but then there's your benefits... You've got to look at the whole picture."

In March, Civil Beat reported that the cost of benefits for state employees in Hawaii amounts to about 60 percent of their salaries — double the national average.

Using this average, the total compensation of a public nurse making $60,000 a year in salary would be roughly $96,000.

By comparison, the average private sector employer pays out just an additional 29 percent in benefits. Assuming this average was used, the total compensation of a private nurse at Kapiolani Medical Center earning $73,000 would be about $94,000.

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Hawaii Loses Substitute Teacher Class Action Suit, Could Owe $70 Million

The April 25 ruling comes at a time when the state has little money to spare.

Hawaii lawmakers have spent much of the legislative session grappling over how to make up a $1.3 billion deficit. On Friday, they achieved that goal by passing a series of tax bills and making cuts to state departments.

The exact amount the state will owe has not yet been determined. But plaintiff Dianne Kawashima's attorney told Civil Beat the figure will likely be in the tens of millions.

"We won a summary judgment establishing that the DOE underpaid part-time teachers from 2004-2011," Paul Alston, with the law firm Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, wrote in an email on Friday. "The damages are approximately $54 million."

Alston said he will also seek interest damages, which could amount to as much as $17 million. Including attorney fees, the state could be looking at a final penalty in excess of $70 million.

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Price of Tavares: Battle over permits doubles cost of center for Molokai veterans

However, in 2007 the veterans lost a battle with the Maui County Department of Water Supply, which rejected part of its building permit because it believed an existing 4-inch waterline did not provide adequate flow needed for firefighting. The Molokai veterans appealed the decision, pointing out that county fire officials said the site has adequate water pressure.

Frustrated with the repeated delays, the veterans filed a federal lawsuit in September charging that former Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares, in a phone call to Helm in June 2010, not only threatened to withhold the building permit unless he apologized for filing appeals, but also warned him not to lead a protest in Kahului.

SA: Get moving on center for vets

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KIUC Pursues Real Renewable Electricity,  so Enviros Mount Opposition

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative said it has received a petition from some of its members to hold a special meeting to discuss a decision to pursue the development of hydroelectric projects on the island.

The KIUC board of directors on March 29 approved an agreement to partner with Massachusetts-based Free Flow Power Corp. on up to six hydroelectric projects.

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Luddites push Kauai Co to Harass Seed Industry

In response to community concerns, the county has issued multiple notices of violation to two South Shore seed companies for non-permitted grubbing activities in November and December.

“After investigating, the county did determine that unpermitted and unexempt agriculture-related grubbing was taking place,” County Engineer Larry Dill said. “The issuance of violation notices was a legal action taken by the county.”

The Public Works Department issued two notices of violation to Pioneer Hi-Bred International in Waimea and eight notices to Dow AgroSciences in Kaumakani. Each notice is dated March 3 and each cites three Dec. 8 violations: grubbing area exceeding one acre, permit requirement and lack of minimum best practices.

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Homeless Bills Miss Deadline

Three major bills intended to alleviate homelessness did not make Friday's deadline for fiscal bills at the Legislature, despite having been scheduled for multiple meetings among House and Senate conferees last week.

The bills, which technically remain alive for the 2012 legislative session, are:

  • House Bill 70, which would pay for a return-to-home program to fly eligible homeless individuals to their home state.
  • Senate Bill 900, which would convert surplus or available open or vacant state land to establish a Safe Haven for the homeless.
  • Senate Bill 912, which would pay for housing placement programs, spend money to increase the availability of affordable rental housing units and require the state to implement a Housing First program.

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Attorney General Louie confirmed by Hawaii Senate, completing Gov. Abercrombie's Cabinet

Abercrombie's Cabinet includes 16 department heads he appointed, along with Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood.

Louie previously worked on personal injury defense, construction defect litigation and commercial litigation cases for the law firm of Roeca Louie & Hiraoka.

GM510: http://capitol.hawaii.gov/

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Inmate sues state and prison guards fired for beating him

The beating happened June 16, 2009.

The three former prison guards are Puifatu Fiso Jr., Darren Kaneaiakala and Allen Tevaga. All three pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault. None of them was sentenced to any jail time.

The video shows Fiso and Kaneaiakala cornering inmate Joseph Tui in a cell and punching him. It also shows Tevaga kicking Tui in the head while Tui is on the floor.

The state said the prison guards entered Tui's cell after Tui demanded getting a mattress.

(We must immediately bring all of Hawaii’s mainland prisoners back so they too can enjoy this type of first-class treatment!)

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Shapiro: Green on right track to make medicinal pot rules more rigid

The numbers raise troubling suspicions that only a small percentage of medical marijuana in Hawaii is going to patients with the serious conditions that pot is reputed to relieve.

Of the more than 8,000 marijuana permits now in circulation, 57.8 percent are on the Big Island, which has become pakalolo central with 13.6 percent of the state’s population.

Many of the prescriptions, which must be renewed annually, are written by a relatively small group of doctors, some of whom charge up to $300. One Big Island physician had authorized nearly 3,000 marijuana certificates as of last June, according to the state. It’s lucrative enough that doctors are flying in from the West Coast to get in on the action.

There’s little control over what constitutes an illness that benefits from pot, and the Department of Public Safety says most prescriptions are being written for patients in their 20s and 30s, who are demographically the least likely to have the major medical conditions associated with marijuana relief.

Most of these prescriptions are for pain and nausea from common injuries, Green says, citing potential abuses in which more than 500 people under age 21 on the Big Island have been prescribed marijuana.

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Trailer Parks for Homeless on Ag land?

The City Council's Zoning Committee voted to move the measure to the full Council, although committee members acknowledged that the bill is flawed and requires more discussion.

Councilman Tom Berg, who authored the resolution to amend land use rules governing temporary shelters, said it was designed to ease Oahu's homeless problem by allowing landowners to house people in temporary shelters.

But Berg amended the resolution yesterday so it now applies only to land zoned for agricultural use.

Berg said the changes would also allow farmers to use portable structures to house farm laborers cheaply.

PBN: Carlisle signs North Shore Sustainable Communities plan

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Kahuku Village managers Ousted

Some village residents have expressed support for the planned change, according to Schiel.

Junior Primacio, a fourth-generation Kahuku Village resident, said the association hasn’t done a good job maintaining the property, negotiating rents or communicating with residents. “KVA is supposed to represent Kahuku Village and its residents, but they’re not,” he said. “I lost confidence in KVA.”

Primacio said replacing KVA with a private management company and having residents negotiate lease terms directly with Continental Pacific could be good, though he acknowledges there is some uncertainty about how that will play out.

There appears little the association can do to avoid being removed. The association also is on a month-to-month lease, and owns close to 60 of the homes, excluding the land. Continental Pacific, in its letter to the association, said tenants in homes owned by the association must agree to direct lease negotiations, or those homes must be removed from the land.

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Developers may be shut out of cash for affordable housing

The Hawaii County Housing Agency took a step toward eliminating cash payments as a way for developers to earn affordable housing credits.

The unanimous vote sending the affordable full council with a positive recommendation took place during the agency's meeting Tuesday morning at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann, who is housing agency chairman, brought the amendment forward. The amendment addressed only cash in-lieu fees, or cash payments developers may make instead of building affordable housing units, providing land for affordable housing or several other options.

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Mid Pacific Institute Enviros brainwash Preschoolers

It all began last September, when the 3- to 5-year-olds were making weekly visits to Waialae Beach Park in Kahala as part of an ongoing project learning about the coastal environment. One day, they saw city bulldozers at the site when they arrived. Their lead teacher, Leslie Gleim, said workers had removed a berm in a nearby stream. Gleim said the berm removal sent a flood of long-stagnant water into nearshore waters, but there were no signs warning swimmers about poor water quality.

"The children became concerned because what they did see there was a grandmother and baby playing in the sand, and there were no signs," Gleim said.

"It was dirty water," one boy in the class told Civil Beat.

"Yucky poisonous water!" one of his classmates clarified.

"First we started to think about the yucky poisonous water, and then we saw people, and then we wanted to put the sign," another girl explained. "We tried to put the sign because we don't want (people) to be dead."

So Gleim helped her class take action. First, they talked about who would be responsible for placing warning signs near the water, and decided to contact Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle. Then, the class scheduled an appointment with the school's principal, to ask if she would be the official contact between the school and the city. Finally, they got to work drafting a letter.

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HPD Releases Cost for President’s Hawaii Security Detail

The Honolulu Police Department spent $228,247 on overtime pay during President Barack Obama’s most recent nearly two week visit to Oahu over the Christmas and New Years holiday. That figure was just released to Hawaii Reporter by the Honolulu Police Department after repeated FOIA requests since January 2011.

The city also paid $10,000 for the medics’ overtime to escort the President on his outings with his family and his friends on outings around Oahu.

This is the third year that Oahu taxpayers have covered the HPD escort services for Obama’s vacation.

In 2009, his police security cost taxpayers $250,000, and in 2008, when Obama was president elect, $107,000 was charged to the city taxpayers.

The nearly $600,000 over three years is not reimbursed by the federal government, despite the city’s attempt to recoup the funding.

The $600,000, however, pales in comparison to the federal costs to taxpayers for the President’s vacations to the islands, which Hawaii Reporter research shows is about $2 million per trip.

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Book Reviews of Biography of Obama’s Mother

CBS chief calls 'Hawaii Five-0' next billion-dollar franchise

"Hawaii Five-0," the CBS crime-fighting drama that has consistently won its Monday night time slot in its inaugural season, was hailed today by the network's chief executive as CBS' next billion-dollar franchise.

"This is only 'Hawaii Five-0's first year and it's already on its way to being another billion-dollars franchise for us, joining 'NCIS' and 'CSI,' which both remain strong on our network as well," Leslie Moonves, CBS' CEO and president," said on a conference call following the release of the company's earnings.

Moonves also said that the international and domestic syndication commitments for "Hawaii Five-0" are now nearly $5 million per episode, "meaning that it is already extremely profitable."

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Hawaii attorney general may join BCS lawsuit

 

(Bowl Championship Series)  Hawaii attorney general David M. Louie may join Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff, who plans to file suit against the BCS, spokesman Joshua Wisch confirmed Tuesday.

"We're still taking a look," said Wisch of the Hawaii attorney general's office, adding there was no timetable for the decision….

Shurtleff contends the BCS is an illegal monopoly that violates antitrust regulations since it deprives schools in conferences without an automatic BCS bids, such as the University of Hawaii, equal access.

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The Oracle Nation Of Islam Answers The Call To Hawaii

 

Within a week's time of preparing this article for publication, I was in contact with one of our elegant hosts on the island of Maui, Dr. Ayin, who shared with me some further information about our visit to Hawaii and the affect it has had on the people living there. She confirmed that the vibration we felt was part of the sensitivity that some people are able to pickup from the frequency in their environment and that sensation of motion was real. She also stated that she sincerely believed that our presence on the island, along with our prayers, prevented further damage to the islands that were in the path of the destructive tsunami that overwhelmed Japan on March 11.

She spoke about the importance of our return to share more pertinent information to the islanders about the future state of affairs to come. She further stated that she was in the process of preparing a place for us to setup a center of information concerning the Nation's work on the island. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad spoke both in the public and in private about the signifi cance of the Pacific Islands all the way to Australia and New Zealand and their future role in helping and uniting with our people. He spoke about healing and regeneration treatments that would also be given to some of us on the Pacifi c Islands in the near future.

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“Khalid Shaikh Mohammed basically gave up nothing until after he had been waterboarded”

The debate over the use of harsh interrogation techniques during the Bush administration is being rekindled by the successful operation against Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, which was based on information about the courier extracted from detained terror suspects.

Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said initial clues to bin Laden’s location can be traced to the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the interrogations of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former No. 3 al Qaeda leader captured in 2005.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed basically gave up nothing until after he had been waterboarded,” Mr. King, New York Republican, said in an interview Tuesday. “It was after that that he first mentioned the courier, he identified him by his nom de guerre, and after that … al Libbi also gave us additional information on the courier.”

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Tight security at Obama granny's Kenya home

More police officers have been deployed to man Mama Sarah Obama's in homestead western Kenya following fears of a terrorist attack in retaliation for the killing of Osama by US special forces.

According to the local Siaya police boss Stephen Cheteka, they decided to beef-up security for the relatives of the US President after receiving threats of a planned terrorist attack three days ago.

“We received reports of plans to attack the home of Mama Sarah Obama three days ago and we immediately put in place adequate security measures,” Mr Cheteka said.

The police boss added that the home would be under round-the-clock surveillance, adding that all visitors would be subjected to a thorough screening….

Local leaders, led by former Siaya Mayor Obiero Otare, expressed fears that the Kogelo home of the Obama granny could be the target of terrorist attack, especially now that reports indicated that terrorists had penetrated into Kenyan territory.

“Security must be beefed up at the home and the surrounding environs lest we become the next target of terrorists,” observed Mlr Otare.

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