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Thursday, May 19, 2011
May 19, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:44 PM :: 9269 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

Hawaii WW2 vet to Obama: “Shape up and start acting like an American”

FRIDAY Last Day to Vote for Honolulu Neighborhood Board

Larry Mehau Associate Mazie Hirono Announces Campaign for US Senate

Hawaii Judges Cannot Be Impartial About Rail Project

US Census: Hawaii home ownership only 57.7%

DBEDT: State Forecasts Remain Optimistic

RESULTS: Cain tops Hawaii GOP Presidential Straw Poll

Courthouse News: Watchdogs & Ex-Hawaii Officials Aim to Shelve Mass Transit Project

Not to Rule over Hawaii: Obama's 9th Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu heading for Defeat Thursday?

To Rule over Hawaii: Obama nominates former Planned Parenthood Board member for 9th Circuit

Social Security Admin releases Top 100 baby names for Hawaii

Your Private Information Public? HHS Audit finds massive Security Gaps in Electronic Medical Records


Victory: Senate Republicans Save Hawaii from Berkeley Liu


President Barack Obama lost his first vote on a judicial nominee today, as Senate Republicans derailed the nomination of a liberal professor who leveled acerbic attacks against two conservative Supreme Court nominees — both now justices.

Democrats fell short of the 60 votes they need to end a filibuster and give Goodwin Liu an up-or-down vote on his nomination to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Liu, a 40-year-old legal scholar at the University of California's Berkeley law school, could someday be a dream Supreme Court nominee for liberals.

The vote was 52-43 to end debate, leaving Democrats eight votes short.

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Cabanilla, Wooley, English among Least Effective Lawmakers

Rida Cabanilla and Jessica Wooley were singled out by some….

When senators did provide an answer, Kalani English's name came up most….

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Neighborhood Board Voting ends Friday

Time is running out to cast your vote in neighborhood board elections — the deadline for voting is 11:59 p.m. Friday night.

For the second-straight election, the city’s Neighborhood Commission has chosen to hold the elections through online and telephone voting.

Access to the Neighborhood Boards election can be found at or by calling toll-free (888) 907-6717. Voters will need their pass code distributed by mail at the beginning of this month.

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Homelessness Industry Admits 75% would go to shelters if we stop feeding them on the Streets

"In a crude way, we're being told to starve them to the shelters," Chee said. "The strategy is to lure the homeless closer to where the services are located."

About a quarter of the 100 people that Chee's church feeds at the downtown park are older people who won't go to a homeless shelter even for just a meal, Chee said.

But the remaining, chronically homeless people "will go where the food is," he said.

Hawaii's largest emergency homeless shelter, the Institute for Human Services, believes that similar food programs make it more difficult for chronically homeless people to seek help, spokeswoman Kate Record said.

"While we recognize the good intent that people have, we've been advocates for not feeding people in the parks," Record said. "We absolutely feel it's enabling them."

Instead, Record said, individuals and groups that want to help should contribute their food and time "through an existing organization that provides opportunities for medical care, case management, housing and employment."

The identical issue is playing out across the mainland, but it is a particularly hard sell in an isolated, island state with a rich history of helping neighbors in need.

Alexander believes that dozens of churches and nonprofit groups feed homeless people across the islands. On Oahu, Aloha United Way provides funding to about 20 agencies that do so, spokeswoman Jody Shiroma Perreira said.

Shapiro: A homeless solution or just another shuffle?


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Three Weeks After Rail Fact-Finding Trip, Still No Report

Honolulu City Council Transportation Chairman Breene Harimoto and Budget Chairman Ernie Martin returned nearly three weeks ago from a fact-finding rail trip to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Copenhagen, but still haven't produced a report.

Their goal was to visit cities that had done business with Ansaldo — the company Honolulu officials picked for the award of a $1.1 billion rail contract — and report back to the people of Honolulu about what they found.

But when they returned, both Harimoto and Martin said the city's lawyers had warned them about what to say, and even what not to ask while they were out of town. Both council members assured Honolulu Civil Beat that all of their observations — facts, not opinions — would be available to the public in a report about the trip.

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State forecasts increase in jobs

Hawaii's job market is on pace to grow this year for the first time since 2007 and the visitor industry is expected to post solid gains despite a drop in Japanese tourists, according to an upbeat economic forecast the state released yesterday.

Increased economic activity is expected to boost job growth by 1.8 percent, or 10,700 positions, this year as many businesses resume expansion plans put on hold during the recent recession, said the report from the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. That's up from a 1.3 percent rise DBEDT predicted in its most recent forecast just three months ago. The number of jobs had fallen in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

DBEDT said it expects visitor arrivals to grow to 7.35 million this year, up 3.8 percent from 2010. The estimate was revised downward from the 4 percent gain forecast in February before the disasters in Japan sharply reduced the number of tourists from that country.

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AP, ABC Weigh in on Moody’s Hawaii Downgrade

BOE wants single, more rigorous track to earn high school diploma

A month after the elected Board of Education approved new graduation requirements creating two diploma tracks for students starting with the class of 2018, the appointed board is taking up the issue again.

The new board says it wants one diploma — not separate tracks — and agrees with the Department of Education that the new requirements should be more rigorous than existing ones….

Tammi Chun, the governor's education adviser, told the BOE committee yesterday that higher graduation standards are needed to make sure Hawaii students are ready for college and competitive careers.

She pointed to a number of studies that raise questions about the amount of preparation Hawaii high-schoolers are getting: About one-third of Hawaii public school students who go to University of Hawaii community colleges needed remedial instruction in math and English in 2009; and 38 percent of Hawaii students fail the U.S. Army's aptitude test, which is required for enlistment. That's the highest failure rate in the nation.

Don Horner, BOE chairman, said he's "not quarreling" with the department's push to "use rigor as a default."

But he did have questions, including what alternatives the department would offer for algebra 2.

BOE member Nancy Budd said she was wary of the potential "unintended consequences" of the tougher diploma.

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Common Cause Targets Instant Runoff Voting for a Comeback Next Year

The 2011 legislative session may have been dominated by budget issues, but there was opportunity for important discussions on topics of voting, money in politics, ethics, and transparency. Here are a few key democracy issues that Common Cause Hawaii and other citizen groups were watching closely during this session—good bills that passed, bad bills that were blocked, and important bills that deserve another look next year….

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Kauai Resort property tax hike fails

Hotels and resorts on Kaua‘i pay $7.53 per $1,000 of assessed value for their property taxes. On Maui the rate is $9.10, on the Big Island it is $9.85, and on O‘ahu it is $12.40.

Bynum proposed to increase Kaua‘i’s RPT rates for hotels and resorts by 60 cents, which would still keep the island with the state’s lowest tax rates, while bringing in an extra $1.19 million to county coffers.

Bynum was concerned that since 2005, property taxes for homesteads have been growing, thanks to a 2 percent cap put in to protect homeowners against ballooning property prices then.

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Kau: Modest version of Hawaiian Riviera Resort envisioned

Ka'u acreage that for eight years was a battleground between developers and residents is again being eyed for development.
The plan this time is to build 1,600 homes on about 2,000 acres on Kahuku land where the Hawaiian Riviera Resort was once envisioned.
That's scaled down from what was announced in a 2009 environmental impact statement preparation notice, thanks to feedback from Ka'u residents, said Nani Kahuku Aina Project Manager Aaron Eberhardt.

Project partners are Valentine Peroff and Geoff Palmer, Eberhardt said. Peroff has an extensive development history, he added, and has worked on Maui, Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island. Eberhardt wasn't able to give examples Tuesday of some of Peroff's large-scale projects….  (Because this is all a show to get the National Parks Service to buy up their oversized pile of lava rocks.)

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Council to chop W. Hawaii golf subsidy

Former Mayor Harry Kim was among the many testifiers coming to council chambers to support the 128-year old Hawaii County Band, whose $285,256 budget survived budget-cutting council members.

"I think this is way beyond monetary. This is about Hawaii," said Kim. "Look beyond the dollars and cents, and look at what's important to Hawaii's people."

The council, by a 5-4 vote, killed a measure to eliminate a $315,666 subsidy from the Hilo Municipal Golf Course, which would have forced the program to raise its $12 weekday, $15 weekend, fees. Hilo Councilmen Donald Ikeda, Dennis Onishi and J Yoshimoto joined with Puna Councilman Fred Blas and Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong to kill the bill after learning Hilo Muni is subsidized only 28 percent by county coffers, compared to 90 percent to 100 percent for other county rec programs.

But the council agreed 5-3 to eliminate the $500,000 subsidy for $25 golf coupons to private courses in West Hawaii. Ikeda, Yagong and Blas opposed that measure. Yoshimoto said the two situations were different, because one supported a county recreational function, while the other, as bill sponsor Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann said, paid people to play golf.

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Oi: Bill to ban texting in crosswalks won't work, but changed attitudes would

…there's no way to completely legislate attitude….

Councilwoman Kobayashi did not say why the constituent asked that the e-device ban be extended to pedestrians (and bicyclists, by the way), but I don't think it was because the Council is trying to control people's lives, as one resident asserted at a meeting last week. More likely the constituent encountered an environment in which distraction created danger or just plain irritation.

Whatever the reason, the result is the impractical, unenforceable bill that will not solve the problem where courtesy and being mindful of others will. Though Honolulu is changing into a city of carelessly indifferent citizens, there remains a sense of solicitude that needs to be revitalized.

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UH Board of Regents To Vote on Major Research Center's Closure

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is considering Thursday whether to close a major biosciences research unit that has been an incubator for major medical centers on campus.

The Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC) spawned major UH institutions, including the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii.

The center brings in $6 million in competitive federal research grants, but that money doesn't cover all of the center's costs. Operating the center and supporting PRBC's 30 permanent faculty and staff costs the university about $3 million a year. UH officials say they want to close the center because it is no longer the unique research center it once was — it does a lot of the same research as other departments.

The decision to maintain or close the center lies with the Board of Regents, which received 16 letters in support of keeping it open. Nearly three dozen people signed up to testify in person.

Testimony on the issue wrapped up around 11 a.m. with overwhelming support to keep the PBRC open. The board will not make a decision until later in its meeting agenda.

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"Interim" is the Title for 8 of 19 Deans at UH Manoa

University officials say the prevalence of interim deans is in part the byproduct of a failed plan to merge four schools under one dean. The search is on to fill one of those positions with a permanent hire.

But interviews with past interim deans and outside experts indicate that a dean's temporary status can sometimes hinder their ability to make staffing decisions and set longterm agendas. In one case, one interim dean at UH held his post for eight years.

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Daily KOS Claims Lingle has no future

Leftist whackjob site Daily KOS claims Lingle has no future. 

Dylan Nonaka, executive director for the Hawaii Republican Party, said: “In response to this early polling in general, early Special Election polling had Charles Djou down by 17 points and he he ended up winning by 10. This early hypothetical polling rarely reflects the results on election day.”


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Bank Lobbyist Served on Hawaii Fore closure Task Force

Attorney Marvin S.C. Dang, a former state legislator, has served as the attorney for the Hawaii Financial Services Association (HFSA), a local trade association for local and Mainland lenders. He was also named vice chair of the state’s Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force last year. Dang is listed with the Hawaii State Ethics Commission as a “registered lobbyist” for “Mr. Marvin S.C. Dang Law Offices of Marvin S.C. Dang, LLC, the Hawaii Financial Services Association and Visa, Inc.” The HFSA and Dang opposed HB 894 (on mortgage foreclosures). The provisions in this bill were not part of the Task Force’s recommendations, and the HFSA recommended that HB 894 be dropped.

“Bank of America [BofA] told us that Dang is lobbying the state House and Senate for them, and we have copies of letters he walked around to give the legislators,” says Kim Harmon, policy director for FACE. “Through all of this, he claimed, even when testifying, that he represented ‘local interests.’”

A few weeks ago, Dang invited BofA’s Senior Vice President and Government Relations person David R. Swartley to Hawaii to speak personally to each legislator. Dang accompanied Swartley to all 76 legislative offices, while Swartley passed out cards listing a hotline only available to attorneys general offices throughout the nation. To date, no hotline exists for borrowers to speak directly with a BofA executive.

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Big Save stores sold to Times

Big Save is one of Kauai's largest and oldest retailers. The business dates back to 1926 when brothers Saburo and Furutaro Kawakami and their spouses established stores in Waimea and Hanapepe. The enterprise grew, and in 1958 incorporated as Big Save Inc. after being consolidated with a business owned by Minoru Furugen.

Big Save shareholders tied to the Kawakami and Furugen families disagreed about whether to continue operating what they described as a successful chain. Shareholders with no family members involved running Big Save wanted to divest the business, which led to a reluctant decision by Kawakami family members holding majority ownership.

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Hawaii Libertarian Party Convention to meet Saturday

When: Saturday, May 21, 2011, from 2:00PM to 6:45PM
Where: Unitarian Church 2500 Pali Highway Honolulu, HI
Cost: $35 (includes 1year dues with the Libertarian Party of Hawaii)

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Accused Murderer Walks after Two Mistrials 

Patrick W. Deguair Jr., 33, stood trial twice for the March 27, 2008, abduction and murder of 24-year-old Duckworth. Both trials ended with the juries deadlocked 6-6.

Circuit Judge Glenn Kim dismissed the murder charge under Hawaii case law that prevents the state from taking a defendant to trial repeatedly using the same evidence until it gets a guilty verdict.

Kim said he is mindful of and regrets the ramifications of his decision.

"It's almost certain that nobody is going to be held accountable for the murder of Jermaine Duckworth," whom he said was killed in a cold, callous manner.

He said the prosecutor presented fairly persuasive evidence for motive and two witnesses testified they saw Deguair shoot Duckworth in the back of the head. But he said those same two witnesses were also the state's worst problem because their statements conflicted. He said the state also has some real problems with certain evidence.

"The chances of the state in convincing (Deguair's guilt) beyond a reasonable doubt are virtually nil," Kim said.

He said if the case were to go to trial a third, fourth and fifth time, even with a different prosecutor, they would all end the same as the first two, with hung juries.

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