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Thursday, June 09, 2011
June 9, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:04 PM :: 7287 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Panos announces plans for 2012 Mayoral Race

2011 Session Wrap-up: Paychecks Hawaii Rates Legislators

State Auditor: Public Housing oversight Erratic

Sen Sam Slom to Address Kona TEA Party

DLNR outsources Historic Preservation

Mitsubishi, State sign agreement to Promote New Electric Car

Judges sharply challenge Obama healthcare law

Skeptical questions from three federal judges in Atlanta suggest they may be ready to declare unconstitutional all or part of the healthcare law promoted by the Obama administration and passed last year by Congress.

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Shapiro: Abercrombie all talk and no action on homelessness

This is a good project. Lack of affordable housing is the root problem for most of Hawai‘i’s homeless, and building more housing that fits their needs is the single most important thing we can do.

But then Gov. Neil Abercrombie started talking, and his typical bombast threw up a lot of smoke without getting us any closer to a solution.

“Everything is going to change,” he declared. “We are going to end homelessness in the state. It’s a crime against humanity — this is Hawaii, this is paradise, there will be no homelessness in Hawaii.”

Calling it a crime suggests there are criminals at work, and I wonder who he thinks they might be.

Nobody set out with an intent to render thousands of people homeless; it just happened as a result of a sinking island economy that produces high housing prices and relatively low-paying jobs, and nobody came up with an effective way to stem the tide.

If the governor is pointing fingers, he’s been in high public office for more than 35 years and hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of finding solutions to homelessness.

The second part of his statement is another Abercrombie trademark — repeatedly making sweeping promises before doing anything to show progress, giving him a growing reputation of being all talk and no action.

All he’s done so far is announce a 90-day plan that hasn’t been particularly well received and seems more about getting the homeless out of the way for APEC than enacting long-term solutions.

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Tax Department Seeks Independent Auditor

…since taking office six months ago, Tax Director Fred Pablo has reviewed the department’s operations and in a statement released today, said that he had noticed unusual reporting in monthly tax revenue reports.

“One of my immediate goals as director of the Tax Department was to review our operations and streamline processes to provide better services for taxpayers,” Pablo said. “In this process, we found several inconsistencies, including some concerns raised in the 2010 State Auditor’s report. We are taking a systematic approach in addressing these problems and working quickly to improve our operations.”

As a result, the department issued a formal solicitation for professional services, requesting professional auditing firms to provide a letter of interest. Letters of interest are due on June 13, 2011, with the review expected to be completed by August 12, 2011.

Among other responsibilities, the selected firm will be tasked with determining the accuracy of the department’s monthly Statement of Tax Operations, its policies and procedures and the Revenue Accounting Branch’s policies and procedures.

What this is about: 

  1. March 30: CoR: Tsunami effect smallish, Weak February tax receipts major factor
  2. May 22: DoTax still has no explanation for sudden discovery of $134M
  3. June 5: $134 Million Mystery: DoTax suddenly admits “unusual reporting, systemic problems, inconsistencies

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Reapportionment: Maui Advisory Council says Military Personnel Don’t Count

Members of the Maui County Reapportionment Advisory Council unanimously recommended Tuesday not to count nonresident military personnel and their dependents, convicted felons in custody and students living away from home when voting districts are redrawn this year.  (Disenfranchise those who serve.  Isn’t that precious.  They even got two Republicans to help do the dirty work.)

But the panel hit a snag on the question of whether to allow multimember districts, a change that could help Republicans gain ground in the Democrat-dominated Legislature.

Two members of the council, Madge Schaefer and Fred Rohlfing, voted in favor of the multimember districts, while the council's two other members, Christopher Chang and Mark Andrews, voted to keep the status quo of single-member districts.

A Hawaii constitutional amendment in 1992 excluded nonresident military personnel from being counted as part of voter redistricting. (A LIE!)

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Multimember districts Legal, redistricting panel told

The state Attorney General's Office has advised commissioners redrawing the state's political boundaries that they can consider going back to multimember legislative districts.

The legal advice letter says the reapportionment commission is not constitutionally prohibited from dividing the state into multimember districts provided such districts do not dilute racial or political groups within the voting population.

Hawaii had districts represented by more than one lawmaker until 1982, when a federal lawsuit challenged the practice as a violation of the principle of "one man, one vote."…

The U.S. District Court, in Travis v. King in 1982, found that the state's reapportionment plan was unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment because district boundaries were based on registered voters rather than population and had too much deviation. The court-monitored replacement plan divided the state into single-member districts based on population…..

Tony Gill, an attorney and the chairman of the Oahu Democrats, said Democratic governors such as Abercrombie and Ben Cayetano would likely not have won early political office if not for multimember districts.  (This is an argument FOR MMDs???)

Republicans were behind the legal challenge in 1982, a move some in the GOP now believe was a mistake, since Republicans' numbers have declined at the state Legislature.

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Democrat Complaint unanimously dismissed against Aiona, GOP

The state Campaign Spending Commission voted Wednesday to dismiss a complaint by Hawaii Demo­crats that alleged Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona and the Republican Governors Association improperly coordinated advertising during Aiona's unsuccessful campaign for governor last year.

The 4-0 vote came after the commission staff found no evidence of direct coordination between the Aiona campaign and the RGA, which spent about $1 million on advertising on Aiona's behalf in Hawaii.

The Aiona campaign acknowledged in October that it shared polling data with the RGA in June and September. The RGA reported receiving the research data from the Aiona campaign on its federal campaign spending reports.

But Gary Kam, general counsel for the Campaign Spending Commission, said the direct contact was between the RGA and The Tarrance Group, the national firm that conducted the surveys, and not between the RGA and the Aiona campaign.

Kam said the U.S. Supreme Court has held that government regulators must not presume but show actual acts of coordination. "There's just no evidence of that in this case," he told the commission.

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Hanabusa: Republicans are Robots, Money will Decide Senate Run

I think a decision has to be made by probably August, because the (2012) primary election was moved to August. You have to somewhere around that time know which way you are going — maybe not making public your announcement then, because other factors play into it. And one is money to effectively wage this kind of race, and the other thing is who (MUFI) is in the race….  (She doesn’t want to divide the old-boy vote)

I don't know how the Republican mantra will come out, but what we have seen is a robotic mantra. The issues that they're talking about are the debt and the deficit and so forth. But, now because of the (Paul) Ryan budget, we know how they intend to address that.

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Hanabusa still working on moving to district she represents

Seal Team 6 found Bin-Laden in Pakistan … but they won’t be able to find Hanabusa in CD1….

Hanabusa is planning to rent an apartment in the 1st District until her Ko Olina home is sold and she is free to buy a new home in the district, Nagaoka said. Hanabusa has expressed interest in a downtown Honolulu apartment, Nagaoka said. "She has (an apartment) building in mind and she is just waiting until she gets back this month to look at it," said Nagaoka, who added that Hanabusa will be in Hawaii twice this month. "She is working hard to get this done because it's what she promised."

Nagaoka said Hanabusa's Ko Olina home has been on the market since April and that there are prospective buyers. The home, which was built in 2004, is on the market for $1.25 million. The single-family home has three bedrooms, 2 1⁄2 baths, and a swimming pool. Nagaoka attributes the house not being sold yet to the current housing market and economic situation. Hanabusa and her husband, former state Sheriff John Souza, are using the services of a Realtor to sell the house.

How She Got that House: Cayetano: Hanabusa's Broken Trust connections lead to Ko Olina

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Activists continue to Block pre-deployment Training for Afghanistan

The second draft of the Environmental Assessment for the Army’s plan to conduct High Altitude Mountainous Environmental Training — flight and landing exercises at high altitudes for the helicopters of its 25th Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade, which is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan soon — is out for public inspection.

(And the anti-American activists are doing everything they can to make sure our boys don’t get the training they need.)

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Clean Energy?  State pledges to block Hydro Projects on Kauai

A Department of Land and Natural Resources representative said the state attorney general’s office plans intervene in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proceedings involving hydroelectric development in Hawai‘i.

“The state supports renewable energy and looks forward to hydro projects in appropriate places,” William Tam, deputy director for water at DLNR, said to Pacific Business News. “However, the state does not want Hawai‘i’s in-stream flow standards to be decided by a federal agency in Washington D.C. that does not have any experience with or understand Hawai‘i’s streams. Hawai‘i stream-flow standards should not be decided 5,000 miles away where it’s very hard for the people of Hawai‘i to effectively participate.” (JUST AN EXCUSE)

Since last fall, Boston-based Free Flow Power has filed six preliminary permit applications with FERC to explore hydroelectricity development on Kaua‘i rivers and irrigation ditches. Once approved, the permits revert back to KIUC.

The preliminary permits allow its holder exclusive rights to explore project feasibility at the applicant’s specified location for a period of three years.

Asquith has said that by using FERC, “we’re at the end of hydro, not the beginning,” because it will invite legal action that will delay the co-op’s efforts to develop renewable energy.

(And lo and behold, the State has now brought that legal action.)

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HUD: Money Meant for Elderly Activities Used to Pay Salaries

According to HUD's report, ORI reported 19 to 27 clients used the wellness center each month between October 2010 and March 2011. Federal investigators characterized that number as a "significant under utilization of the facility." But what they found when they visited the site was even worse.

"ORI refused to provide access to the participant files," HUD investigators wrote. "During the on-site monitoring, HUD observed only five participants in the Adult Day Care program at the Wellness Center."

The director of the city's Department of Community Services, which manages the city's use of CDBG monies, told Civil Beat that ORI was concerned about the privacy of the people who use its facilities. He says he met with ORI executives this week, and that they are "very open and willing" to cooperate with the city.

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Banking Lobbyist on Foreclosure Task Force wants to keep lobbying 

A lobbyist who sits on the Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force says the Hawaii State Ethics Commission interpreted ethics laws too broadly when it warned task force members about possible ethics violations.

On May 26, ethics commission Executive Director Les Kondo sent a memorandum to all 17 task force members, claiming that they may have violated ethics laws by testifying or lobbying the Legislature on mortgage foreclosure issues as paid representatives of non-government entities. The task force, formed in 2010, was charged with improving Hawaii's foreclosure process.

But Marvin S.C. Dang, a member on the task force who is a registered lobbyist, disagrees with Kondo's interpretation of chapter 84 — the Standards of Conduct statute.

"I think this is overreaching by the ethics commission," Dang told Civil Beat. He says he wasn't aware that as a task force member, he was considered a state employee and subject to state ethics laws.

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Act 221 scammers team up with Hawaii Reporter, Launch New News Partnership

For some time now, ThinkTech has been making high definition videos of its monthly luncheon programs with HVCA. It as also been broadcasting weekly video interviews and shows on various tech, energy, business and globalism issues on both Olelo and OC16.

But now we’re taking this to the next step. Every Monday morning, we’re getting together with Hawaii Reporter to film short clips of newsworthy events and people to send to our mailing list, to post on ThinkTech Hawaii.com and HawaiiReporter.com and once in a while to post on this blog.

These videos will reside on the ThinkTech Hawaii Reporter channel on vimeo.com and you can find them there at http://vimeo.com/channels/95832.

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SA: Stangel story is about Gun Control, not soft-on-crime judges

Whether a different outcome would have resulted if Stangel had continued under court supervision for the full five years — or if supervision had been yanked in favor of tougher punishment — is unknown. But what is known is that, despite Hawaii's reputation for strict gun-control statutes, the state failed to follow through to the end. How Stangel came to be carrying a firearm without a permit in both 2003 and especially last Friday are concerning questions. Proper restrictions on firearms permitting is crucial, but penal statutes lose their power if offenders escape the full measure of justice. The fact that this may be through error rather than discretion is even worse.

CB: Legal Gun Permit Was Never an Option for Stangel  See!

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Conference delegates to clean up Kakaako homeless shelter

More than 50 visiting meeting planners and hospitality suppliers will devote their free time to cleaning up a Kakaako homeless shelter.

Volunteers from the 14th Annual Pacific Rim Incentives & Meetings Exchange (PRIME) will work with the homeless at the Next Step Shelter Wednesday afternoon.

(The homeless can’t clean up after themselves because they are too busy being homeless.  It’s very time-consuming, you know.)

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IRS: 1,500 Hawaii Nonprofits Lose Tax-Exempt Status

Last May, the Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations warned that more than 1,800 Hawaii nonprofits were at risk of losing their exemptions.

As of May 15, the IRS automatically revoked the tax-exempt status for 1,528 Hawaii nonprofits that didn't file. Nationally, the IRS ended exemptions for 275,000 organizations.

"Loss of exempt status means an organization must file income tax returns and pay income tax, and its contributors will not be able to deduct their donations," according to the IRS.

LIST: Hawaii nonprofits lose tax exempt status

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Nurses: HGEA to meet with State Negotiator Again

The nurses, who make up unit 9, was the only unit not to settle, saying they want a better deal. In a heated exchange on Maui, Gov. Neil Abercrombie told the nurses that the state has no more money.

Yesterday, the HGEA sent this update: “On June 6, the Unit 9 negotiating team met to discuss the status of contract negotiations. HGEA plans to meet with the employer next week. If the employer is not willing to negotiate, the negotiating team will meet again before the end of the month and decide how to proceed. We will continue to update you about contract negotiations via eBulletin and the HGEA website.”

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Affordable Housing Developer sues LUC for downzoning after Construction 

Revoking the urban classification, after Bridge Aina Lea's rights had vested in the project, is a "taking," attorneys argued.

"The egregious and illegal actions of (the commissioners) have divested the property of substantially all of its economic use, rendering it unmarketable and forbidden substantially all practical, beneficial or economic use of the property, constituting a de facto ... taking without just compensation ... in violation of (the Hawaii Constitution and the U.S. Constitution)," attorneys added.

Seven of the Land Use commissioners, the ones who supported revoking the classification, were named in the lawsuit as individuals and in their official capacity. The two commissioners who voted against the revocation were named only in their official capacity.

Other issues raised in the lawsuit include an allegation by Bridge Aina Lea that Commission Chairman Vladimir Devens should have recused himself from voting on the project, because a law firm for which he worked once was involved in litigation against Bridge Aina Lea.

More of the Same idiocy: Hualalai Vistas neighbors upset about construction

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Millions spent on trash

Servicing the island's fastest-growing district has Hawaii County spending nearly as much money on trash disposal as it did building recreational and public safety facilities.

Taxpayers have been charged $3.9 million for the upgrade of the Pahoa transfer station, which will be dedicated during a June 16 ceremony.

Another $578,000 is being spent making the Keaau rubbish site safer and more efficient.

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Patten forms Shell Company to Push Wind on Molokai

In March of this year, Pattern Energy was introduced as the preferred developer for a potential 200 megawatt (MW) wind project on Molokai Properties Ltd. (MPL) lands. Since that time, Pattern Energy has formed Molokai Renewables LLC and is working with Bio-Logical Capital to explore the project.

Website: http://www.patternenergy.com/molokairenewables/

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Hawaii's Open Records Agency Tackles Facebook Posts and Tweets

As more people use social media to communicate with government, Hawaii's open records agency is calling on the public for suggestions on how to update the state's open records law to take into account platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

The Office of Information Practices is asking government agencies and public interest groups for input into how the state's 23-year-old public records law ought to keep pace with the new technology.

"We recognize that there's all this new technology and it's being more widely used by people. So what should we do about it?" said OIP Director Cheryl Kakazu Park. "We haven't changed the law virtually since it was enacted (in 1988)."

All state and county boards are subject to Hawaii's open records and open meetings (also known as Sunshine) laws. The Hawaii Legislature exempted itself from both.

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FAA studies air 'trikes' to elevate their safety

Federal Aviation Administration officials are reviewing proposals to improve the flight safety of powered hang gliders known as "trikes" after three fatal crashes involving six deaths in a 14-month period in Hawaii.

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How walkable is your neighborhood?

The ideal walkable neighborhood has a score as close to 100 as possible. Interestingly enough, three neighborhoods in the U.S. have a score of 100-all in New York: Tribeca, Little Italy and SoHo. (New York takes 38 of the top "walker's paradises" on the site.) By contrast, no neighborhoods in Hawaii have a score of 90 or higher.

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Iran Military discusses Plan for Nuclear test

The day after Iran's first nuclear test is a normal day.
The day after Islamic Republic of Iran's first nuclear test will be an ordinary day for us Iranians but in the eyes of some of us there will be a new sparkle.
It's a good day. It's seven in the morning. The sun is not fully up yet but everywhere is bright. In the northern hemisphere many countries are beginning the day...
The day before, probably in central deserts of Iran, where once Americans and some other Western countries wanted to bury their nuclear waste, an underground nuclear explosion has taken place. The strength of the explosion was not so great as to cause severe damage to the region nor so weak that Iranian scientists face any problems in running their tests.

WaPo: Revolutionary Guard website praises idea of testing nuke weapon

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Key Gingrich aides resign

Newt Gingrich's campaign manager and numerous other key aides have resigned together, a strong blow to his hopes for the Republican presidential nomination.

Gingrich press spokesman Rick Tyler told The Associated Press that he's resigned along with campaign manager Rob Johnson, senior strategists and aides in key early primary states.

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Owning It: Democrats are in a corner on their ownership of the economy

While I generally loathe press releases, I have to admit that one caught my eye on Monday morning. The e-mail release from the Republican National Committee simply said, “They Own It.”

As I expected, “They” referred to President Obama and Democrats, and “It” referred to the economy. Within the first six months or even a year of a new administration, it’s fair game to blame predecessors for any problems. Indeed, it’s a legitimate and time-honored tradition by presidents of both parties. But such arguments get much less convincing as the second year comes to an end. Once into the third year, such claims sound downright silly. Gradually, any president and any administration take ownership of the problems facing the country.

While Obama and Democrats can say that they inherited a terrible economy and downturn that has since only marginally improved, it’s far more complicated than that.

First, the administration’s initial response, the much-maligned economic-stimulus package, was far too modest and unfocused.

And second, as soon as the stimulus package was completed, they pivoted too quickly to addressing climate change and health care. These were the signature issues in voters’ minds that defined the legislative objectives of Obama and the Democratic Congress.

Republicans felt that the spending package was expansive and unnecessary and would run up deficits, with the consensus among economists being that unemployment wasn’t going to get worse than 8.2 percent.

Democrats seemed to see it as an opportunity to load up the Christmas tree with funding for programs that they felt were worthwhile and had been shortchanged under Republican rule. Forecasters underestimated the severity of the downturn and both parties responded by not taking it as seriously as they should have….

For Obama, it’s pretty clear the recovery won’t be nearly as robust. In addition, he has to deal with a more complicated narrative where he must reconcile an early focus on subjects that would best be forgotten with making the case that he should have his contract renewed for another four years. That won’t be easy.

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Bullying Conference: US Dep’t of Education Procures Gay Teens for Older Gays

The LGBT Youth Summit, which was organized by the Education Department’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, seeks to “bring together students, educators, administrators, federal officials and nonprofit leaders to provide information and seek solutions that will help create and maintain safe school and supportive environments for all LGBT students ….

Reporters were allowed to attend general sessions, including an address by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday and a working lunch on teaching youth how to network with homosexuals in top positions…. (no pederasty here, eh?)

RELATED: The transsexual agenda for Hawaii schools

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