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Friday, May 27, 2011
May 27, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:48 PM :: 8409 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

Naming names: Who are the alleged Sovereignty-mortgage scammers?

Maui Victims of Sovereignty Mortgage Scammers may lose home

Study: Hawaii Drivers rank 50th in Driving Skills

$600 million in New Taxes

Hawaii Government agencies are tops in DC lobbying

Tulsi Gabbard announces Democratic campaign for CD2

DLNR to step up enforcement against Fishermen

Abercrombie on CoR: No plans to call for Special Session

Attorney: Seizure of Molokai Ranch for Windfarm may be illegal

189 Properties in Rail’s Path: Myths about Eminent Domain

Gov. Ariyoshi Schools Abercrombie on how to balance a Budget

A: …When I became governor (in 1974), we had a huge deficit and I had to work that out. ... I didn’t feel that I had to balance it in this one year; I was going to take two years to work it out. I made a decision that I was not going to take any pay cut or lay off anybody. I told the unions I planned to do that, and I told them I believed I had enough time to do it if I had two years and if I don’t hire new people.

Q: So there was no pay cut but there was a hiring freeze. Was that enough savings for the budget?

A: You get between 10 and 15 percent turnover of people. People retire, leave employment for whatever reason. And that’s what I wanted to do, not hire those people. …But I also felt that government had to continue to exist, all the services it provided must continue. So I talked to the union and they told me, yeah, they believed they could be very helpful … and I said, “Wait now, you’ve got to understand what I’m asking of you. It’s not just that I’m not going to hire any new people. If there were five people working in a place and one retires or leaves employment, and I don’t fill the position, I don’t want the four to do what four were doing, I want the four to do what five were doing.” And they all agreed, and that’s the kind of performance I got. … Politicians are almost ashamed to ask for help, and they don’t ask for help, but I thought it was important for me to ask for help.

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State to sell piles of junk to fill General Fund

Five state agencies are cleaning out their offices Friday as part of a recycling drive.

Tax Director Fred Pablo said the effort will remove clutter from state offices, keep trash out of landfills and help the environment.

State employees are being encouraged to get rid of items including old computer printers, scanners, newspapers, telephone books, televisions, batteries, plastic and bottle caps.

Money collected from the recycled materials will be donated to the state's general fund.

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Obamacare: Medicaid cuts will cost Hawaii $150 million over two years

From doctors and hospitals to community clinics and health insurance companies, the cuts are expected to have a ripple effect throughout the sector, leading to reduced profits, possible layoffs and a greater strain on the resources of health care providers.

Officials at the state Department of Human Services, who oversee Medicaid, have said that the cuts are necessary to stem the department’s hemorrhaging budget. During the 2010 fiscal year, the department struggled with a $40 million deficit. Beginning in January, the department is planning to cut $75 million in funding during the course of two years, which is matched nearly dollar for dollar by the federal government, resulting in a reduction of about $150 million from the economy.

Despite receiving $330 million during the course of two years from the federal government to help shore up Medicaid in the midst of the recent recession, Toni Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the department, said that the funding only helped plug the holes. And with its discontinuation this year, the department is now facing harsh budget realities.

Proposed Medicaid cuts
• Decrease eligibility for adults from 200 percent to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, cutting an estimated 4,500 enrollees.
• Reduce benefits, including fewer medical visits for healthy adults and more limited non-emergency transportation services for seniors and the disabled.
• Decrease payments to providers by 3 percent.
• Decrease administrative payments to health insurance companies by 3 percent.
SOURCE: Hawaii Department of Human Services

DHS: Proposed Medicaid Eligibility & Benefits Changes

VIDEO Abercrombie Speech:

In$urer $ays: Health care reform will lower costs and improve care

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County Mayors Meet With Governor Over Contract Talks

County mayors as they are under the gun to put their budgets to bed and they were hoping for assurance that they would have some flexibility to negotiate supplemental agreements under the deal made with HGEA.

The members ratified a contract that calls for a 5 percent pay cut, and a 50-50 split on health premiums but also gives workers more paid time off in exchange for eliminating furlough days.

“Every county runs differently and we want to make sure the master agreement had some flexibility based on our individual situations,” said Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho.

“We are trying to get clarification on that. The law does allow for it, but we will have to get clarification from the HGEA union as to whether they are going to be willing to do this,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa.

Arakawa says on Maui where 80 percent of construction trades have been on the bench for the past year, now is not time to give government workers more paid time off.

“If you did not have a job and you found out we were having increased days off wouldn’t you be incensed? I told the governor this is not a position I support,” said Arakawa.

The mayors also expressed concern about the financial impact in a new clause in the HGEA contract which essentially gives its members parody if another government union negotiates better terms.

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Abercrombie: Special Session Unlikely, Revenues Forecast Unchanged

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie says he has no plans to call for a special session following Thursday's unchanged revenue forecast from the Council on Revenues.

At its quarterly meeting, the group voted not to alter its general fund forecast for the year ending June 30, keeping its earlier prediction of negative 1.6 percent growth. The council also maintained its forecast of 11 percent growth in fiscal 2013.

"Much of the news has been positive — oil prices dropping, reduction in gasoline prices," council member Carl Bonham said. "Japanese (visitor) counts are coming in at about where we thought."

SA: Cash outlook standing pat

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Hawaii Gov. Abercrombie signs extension of 5 percent pay cut for state leaders

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed a law extending 5 percent pay cuts for himself, legislators, judges and department heads.

Abercrombie signed the bill Thursday that continues the pay cuts for two more years. The Legislature passed the measure earlier this month.

SA: Hawaii Legislature's pay cuts signed into law

Online: HB575:

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Did Hawaii Do Enough To Fix Public Pensions?

A national public pensions expert says the changes Hawaii lawmakers approved for new state and county employees are in line with what other states are doing to reduce their pension liability.

Starting next summer, new hires will have to work longer to earn the same retirement benefits, chip in more toward their plans and receive smaller pensions. Existing employees and current retirees will not be impacted.

In an op-ed for Civil Beat, House Speaker Calvin Say referred to the new pension rules as "the most important measure passed by the 2011 Legislature" in his view. He said it "represents a significant pivot point in the future of Hawaii" and will help Hawaii avoid public employee pension crises such as those in California and other states.

Ron Snell, a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, says that while the changes aren't radical, he agrees they represent a move in the right direction. Snell, who tracks pension-related legislation for the organization, said other states have made similar changes to their public pension funds this year, and, in some cases, Hawaii has gone further than other states.

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Maui land sought for geothermal power plant

A representative of Reno-based Ormat Technologies told about 100 Kula residents earlier this week the company plans to seek out about 8,000 acres of leased Ulupalakua Ranch land for sites to dig wells that could produce at 24 megawatts daily of energy for Maui.

If a drill site is located and proper permits granted, ground-breaking could happen next year, company representative Christopher Heaps said, providing about 150 construction jobs and about 30 full-time positions.

Ormat has delivered geothermal power to the Big Island for about two decades. Geothermal energy has been controversial there and could be on Maui as well if the final site is near Native Hawaiian ancient burial grounds or archaeological sites, said Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr., Ormat's cultural adviser for the Maui project.

MN: Geothermal company eyeing Ulupalakua,

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Sovereignty Activists indicted for Stealing from Hawaiians (once again)

A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted five Maui residents on fraud and tax charges, alleging they falsely told people they could eliminate debts by zeroing them out with "special reserves" at the U.S. Treasury.

The indictment charges Mahealani Ventura-Oliver, John D. Oliver, Pilialoha K. Teves, Leatrice Lehua Hoy, and Peter Hoy with conspiracy and 16 mail fraud offenses dating from 2008 to 2010.

Ventura-Oliver and Oliver are also charged with one count of money laundering, based on their alleged usage of funds obtained from participants to pay off credit card debt. The indictment also charges Ventura-Oliver and Oliver with conspiring to submit false tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service and seeking tax refunds based on false information on IRS forms….

The defendants collected about $468,000 in fees from those who participated in the debt assistance program, prosecutors said.

HFP: Naming names: Who are the alleged Sovereignty-mortgage scammers?

HFP: Maui Victims of Sovereignty Mortgage Scammers may lose home

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Rep Herkes defends ACT 48 Foreclosure Reform

I’d like to respond to Ron Margolis‘ article on Act 48, Hawaii’s new mortgage foreclosure law, published May 16, 2011. I was taken aback by Mr. Margolis’s bold statement: “I’m not sure if I agree with the state getting involved in the repair of a system that appears totally broken…” If it is not the state who should get involved in repairing a system that is totally broken, then who should?

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For Tulsi Gabbard, Serving Hawaii Means Leaving City Council Early

Just six months after she won a Honolulu City Council election, Tulsi Gabbard is running for Congress.

If she wins, her departure from the City Council will lead to a special election that, based on recent history, would likely cost taxpayers around $170,000.

Late Wednesday night, Gabbard announced her plans to run for the seat Congresswoman Mazie Hirono is vacating. Hirono is running for Sen. Daniel Akaka's post.

Gabbard doesn't have to resign to run, so if she loses, she can continue to serve on the council for the remainder of her four-year term, and possibly another four-year term after that.

So the big question: Why now?

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HPD Officer's Sentencing Delayed

Sentencing for a Honolulu police officer who hit a woman with his car while driving under the influence has been continued to June….In May, police arrested Kamikawa a second time on suspicion of driving without a license, following a fender bender in downtown Honolulu.

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UH students tell City Council about bike route disconnections

Frank Alsup and five other students at a citizen architecture class at the University of Hawaii at Manoa see gaps in the city’s bicycling routes.

The gaps leave major segments of Honolulu’s urban core disconnected for bicycling because Waikiki doesn’t connect well enough with Manoa, and neither districts connects well with downtown.

“Because of a limited budget, we should have a more focused effort on our urban core,” Alsup told City Council members Wednesday.

The city arrived at the same conclusion and has added better connectivity to its own bicycling master plan, which will delay its completion until fall.

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Hawaii health department reopens food plant

The Hawaii State Department of Health said in a news release Friday that all products manufactured by First Commercial Kitchen after May 10 are safe to consume.

SA: Kitchen shut by state is back in operation

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Queen Liliuokalani School Closes Its Doors

The school was dedicated by the queen herself, but fell victim to efficiency and economics this year when the Hawaii Department of Education recommended redistributing its 100 students into nearby schools. The department expects to save about $270,000 per year with the consolidation. (The Department of Education operates a $1.9 billion annual budget, not counting another $250 million in employee benefits.)

SA: Liliuokalani Elementary closes today after 99 years

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WSJ: Hawaii Hotel Sues Marriott

The owners of a stylish but unsuccessful hotel in Honolulu sued on Thursday to end their management agreement with Marriott International Inc., claiming that the company has failed to make a flashy new hotel brand a success.

Filed in New York Supreme Court by M Waikiki LLC, the suit also names as a defendant Ian Schrager, Marriott's partner on the Edition hotel brand, alleging that the famed hotelier has been uninvolved in the project. The suit also seeks unspecified financial damages.

Reuters: Marriott has three Edition contracts

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Lahaina museum to be featured in film on China’s 1911 Revolution

Lahaina Restoration Foundation and the Wo Hing Society last week Wednesday hosted a television crew from China filming a documentary on “Overseas Chinese and the Centenary of 1911 Revolution” at the Wo Hing Museum on Front Street.
The film is a joint production by China Central Television (CCTV), Zhongshan Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Bureau and the Zhongshan Broadcasting and TV Station.
With authorization from CCTV, crews from Zhongshan Television are visiting Maui and other parts of the U.S. for the documentary that will air in China on Oct. 10, 2011, for six days in a row.

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Akaka reintroduces bill to reunite Filipino World War II veterans and their children

Akaka said Thursday U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Robert Menendez of New Jersey are co-sponsoring the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act of 2011.

The children would be exempt from quotas that have delayed their receipt of U.S. immigrant visas. Some children face waits of 20 years or more because so many Filipinos hope to emigrate and the limits are set by nationality.

In 1990, Congress provided the vets with a waiver from certain naturalization requirements. Many became U.S. citizens and residents, but allowances weren't made for their children.

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Honolulu Mayor Advances Plan to Demolish Waikiki Natatorium

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle is advancing a recommendation to tear down the long-closed Waikiki Natatorium war memorial, following advice of a task force formed by his predecessor, Mufi Hannemann.

“The City is in the process of developing an Environmental Impact Statement according to the recommended option of the Natatorium Task Force," Carlisle wrote in an email to Civil Beat. "Once the draft EIS is completed, I would like to review it along with the public comments.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who has supported restoring the memorial to its original functionality as a salt water swimming pool, made clear that the memorial needs attention without specifying his current position.

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Spike in rat lungworm reported

Cases of rat lungworm infection have made a disturbing resurgence during a typically slow time of year for the disease.

Recent numbers show four probable cases of rat lungworm disease, called angiostrongyliasis, in Hawaii this year, with two being diagnosed in the last month, according to State Epidemiologist Sarah Park.

All four cases were found on the Big Island, said Newton Inouye, the state Department of Health's acting district environmental health program chief for the Big Island.

HNN: Big Island: 4 probable cases of rat lungworm infection detected

RELATED: News to Puna: Raw Food=Rat Lungworm, Organic food tied to Puna Rat Lungworm outbreak -- more cases reported

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HNN: Bu La`ia: The Legend Continues

Whatever happened to Bu La`ia? Hawaii News Now set out to find the Hawaiian Superman.

Since his rise to fame in the 1990s, the comedian Kaui Hill has lived on five different islands.

He's not in the phonebook and his old friends lost touch long ago. When we finally made contact, Kaui didn't even know his address.

Eventually, we found him at the end of a dirt road in Waikapu, Maui.

It's hard to believe it's been nearly 20 years since Bu La 'Ia began making people squirm, making nice ladies run in fear and making his own people look in the mirror.

Throughout the '90s, Bu La 'Ia's TV show and comedy albums drew a line across the state, separating those who didn't like it or didn't get it, and the rest of us who couldn't stop laughing.

Now, fast forward a generation to a place where time stands still.

Even without the hair and missing tooth, the voice is unmistakable.

You Tube: Bu La`ia videos

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