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Sunday, June 12, 2011
June 12, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:54 PM :: 8625 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

A-1 A-Lectrician: Hawaii drops appeal against Corporate Donor Law

TSA Announces Results of Internal Investigation in Honolulu

DoTax completes Internal Investigation into its “Unusual Reporting” of Monthly Tax Revenues

WaPo: Abercrombie’s Medical Home scheme fails to save money in Medicare

Hawaii Nat’l Guard Youth Challenge Academy to celebrate Graduation at Barber’s Point 

Star-Advertiser trying to disenfranchise military personnel, Steal Senate seat from Oahu, give it to potheads 

Big Island has 4000 'medical' potheads and they are trying to steal a Senate seat which might go to Oahu if we count military personnel who put their lives on the line to defend the country?

Even with Democrats holding 24 of 25 senate seats they will do anything to gain an edge. And the Star-Advertiser's selective editing of this AP article is intended to help them do that.

Here's an interesting tidbit cut out of the article by the Star-Advertiser editors: "’Only Hawaii and Kansas exclude nonresident military members from when shaping district lines’, said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who teaches election law.”

Disenfranchisement is a tradition: Star-Bulletin comes out against voter registration drive

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Pension Tax Coming Back?  Say, Tsutsui, Abercrombie already bickering over which taxes to raise next year

"If the governor does come back with the pension tax, it has to be well planned and strategically communicated both properly and wisely. And, he will have to do a full-court press," Say warned.

The Senate, which rejected both Abercrombie's pension tax plan and calls to raise the general excise tax, appears firmly against any pension raids.

"There were concerns over the threshold for the pension tax, and, quite frankly, I don't think we will even take it up unless the state review drops," Tsutsui said. "The pension tax proposal wasn't well received; philosophically, the Senate isn't in line with taxing pensions."

So if not from seniors, where is the state going to get more money next year? Say figures that APEC and other planned conventions will contribute to a rosy second quarter for the new fiscal year, but he still thinks Hawaii tax law is in need of a serious, thoughtful review.

He hopes the Legislature will put up the money for an outside group with no ties to the state to study our taxes and suggest ways to make them more equitable.

"We should look at property taxes and the counties and all the tax exemptions — what is the total impact," Say advises.

Tsutsui says there should be a concerted effort to study Hawaii tax law with a focus on ways to "export" more of the tax burden to visitors, "but not hurt the tourist industry."

While such an exported and tourist-industry-painless tax may not exist, Tsutsui says it also may be time to explore giving the counties the power to levy a sales tax.

Failing that, the Legislature can just have Abercrombie come back down to wave his arms and yell at everybody.

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To save a paltry $32.8M, BoE Kills 30 Magnet School Centers

In order to reduce the DOE budget by $32.8 million over the next two years, the board on Tuesday approved a plan to whack $7.8 million from the per-pupil allotment — the "weighted student formula" — that schools have to spend. On average, each school will get about $28,000 less. Further, funds are being cut from adult education and alternative learning programs. While these are not core to the public schools' mission, losing these unconventional tracks to learning, even for the short term, is distressing.

But possibly the saddest outcome of this latest paring is that the dedicated appropriations for the DOE's high school learning centers will be folded into the weighted student formula.

This will all but sound the death knell for stellar programs such as the Castle Performing Arts Center in Kaneohe. Similar magnet schools for the arts have been established at campuses statewide. Other learning centers function as academies in communication arts (Kalaheo), world languages (Moanalua), science technology (Farrington), business (McKinley) … the list goes on, with 30 centers in all.

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Changes to Hawaii Kiddie Porn Laws Proposed

"It's pretty much widespread," said Christopher Duque, retired Honolulu police detective who is now a cybersafety consultant. "It's predominant in Hawaii, as early as fourth or fifth grade….

Some states have implemented juvenile diversion programs for minors caught sexting, according to an article this year in the Iowa Law Review. In Ohio, the program focuses on "the legal ramifications, the effects on the victim, establishing age-appropriate sexual boundaries and responsible use of the Internet, cellphones and other communication devices." In New Jersey, minors charged with sexting will not face criminal charges if they complete a diversion program.

Kamehameha Schools took disciplinary action last year against several students over the production of a sexually explicit video that was shared on social networking sites. Hawaii Deputy Attorney General Kevin K. Takata said the matter was forwarded to the Attorney General's Office but no charges were filed.

No criminal cases of a minor engaged in sexting have been filed in Hawaii, said Takata, head of the Hawaii Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which focuses on combatting predatory activities and human trafficking. While that includes sexting by children, he said, the Attorney General's Office has had no recent cases to review. If such a case surfaces and prosecution follows, Takata said, it would be tried in Family Court, which is closed to the public, unless the juvenile was waived and tried in adult court. "Frankly, if the juvenile has no prior contact with the law, I can't see that happening."

Duque said he believes the law needs changing.  (In spite of the fact that kids aren’t being prosecuted.)

"The statute that's being applied if the children are prosecuted is meant for online calls by predators and pedophiles and traffickers of pornography," he said. "It wasn't intended for our kids being prosecuted and further victimized because of their lack of education and naiveté."

(When the gay atheists get a hold of this they will play every game in the book to legalize kiddie porn for adults.)

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For gay aspiring politicians, lessons in strategy

As a gay man running for City Council in Houston, which already has a lesbian mayor, Josh Verde figured he would have no trouble talking to voters about his sexuality. Then he came here, to a boot camp for openly gay candidates, and promptly flubbed his lines.

"I have a boyfriend," Verde announced during a mock interview with a campaign consultant posing as a reporter. Instantly, he regretted the words. "It sounded like high school," he said later, amending his language to say, "I'm in a relationship."….

They dealt with issues like the importance of knocking on doors ("One way to break down barriers is to get introduced," advised Joe Fuld, the strategist running the session), how much money they must raise (twice as much as straight candidates, Fuld said) and what kind of photographs to use in campaign pamphlets.

"It's always the family, the kids," one would-be candidate lamented. "If you're a gay person who's single, do you put a picture with your dog?"….

John Campbell, 23, is about to become the new city treasurer of Harrisburg, Pa.; he raised $10,000 to beat a 58-year-old opponent in the Democratic primary last month and is running unopposed in the general election.

Campbell said the training — particularly Verde's flub — resonated with his own experience on the campaign trail, where he found himself making subtle changes to his speaking style and appearance. He ditched his form-fitting Guess jeans for looser ones to avoid looking like he was hitting the clubs. And he "made a very conscious effort" to use the word partner in describing his companion.

"People saw that as something more valid than boyfriend," he said….

He gave trainees a list of 13 questions they should be prepared to answer, including, "How long have you been gay?" and "How long has your family known?" When one candidate asked how to describe his sexuality in campaign literature, Fuld pointed to Parker in Houston.

"She put on her literature that she was the LGBT police liaison," he said, using shorthand for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. "You need to put it out there in some way, but it doesn't have to be the ‘Joe the Gay Candidate."'

Sound Familiar? The Overhauling of Straight America

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Mayor Arakawa joins Protest against HECO billing ratepayers for Big Wind Study

The Maui mayor’s office has joined a growing chorus of voices calling for greater openness and public input in the way the state and Hawaiian Electric Co. are handling a proposal to develop wind energy projects on Lanai and Molokai that would transmit the electricity to Oahu via undersea cables.

The controversial plan has drawn fire from environmental and community groups as well as some government officials for both the substance of the project itself and what is perceived as lack of transparency in the planning process.

Those that have expressed concerns about the so-called “Big Wind” proposal say one of the problems is that the Public Utilities Commission, which has been involved in many of the preliminary decisions on the project, doesn’t have the same information disclosure standards as other state agencies.

Douglas McLeod, energy commissioner for Maui County, sent a letter to PUC Chairwoman Hermina Morita last month expressing frustration with the lack of transparency in the process. He also cited several cases where there has been conflicting information on the project provided by officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and HECO.

“It is time for open discussion and debate in the community on the benefits and the overall question of whether expenses associated with the Big Wind project are reasonable,” McLeod wrote. “We ask guidance from the PUC on where you would like to see this discussion occur.”

The mayor’s office followed up the three-page letter with a request on June 6 to intervene in a PUC case in which HECO is seeking permission to recover from ratepayers $4 million in costs for studies associated with the Big Wind project. Because HECO is a regulated utility, it must obtain permission from the PUC on all matters dealing with electric rates.

RELATED: Should ratepayers pay for Big Wind Studies? Life of the Land Challenges HECO

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West Maui Hospital: Certificate of Need in Hand, developer dumps partners, goes solo

Newport Hospital Corp. developer Brian Hoyle confirmed last week that, after losing his financial backing, he had withdrawn from his role in the project at its current location near a Kaanapali coffee farm. But he said he was now planning to develop his own hospital on 15 acres nearby.

His former partner, Joe Pluta, president of the West Maui Improvement Foundation, called the change "a major disappointment."

"It's unfortunate and it was announced summarily," he said, noting that Hoyle had broken the news of his decision at a planning meeting for Kaanapali 2020.

While Pluta said his group is meeting with a number of interested developers with private financing to move forward with their original plans, Hoyle is the one who holds the hard-to-get certificate of need to develop a West Maui hospital. He said he still hopes to begin construction on the estimated $46 million project sometime in the next few years.

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Hawaiian Kingdom visa scam hits 400 in Tonga

I ran across a story from Tonga that was picked up by the East West Center’s Pacific Islands Report, edited by my former Star-Bulletin cubicle mate Peter Wagner.

Around 400 people allegedly paid $85 each to obtain visas to the United States issued by the “Kingdom of Hawaii” or “Hawaiian Kingdom.” The Tongan government issued a warning that the visas are not valid and can’t be used to enter the U.S.

Pacific Islands Report then published a press release from (straight face, please) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hawaiian Kingdom (“Hawaiian Kingdom responds to visa fraud report“).

The press release is attributed to Leon Siu, who signs it as minister of foreign affairs. It’s bold fantasy world enough to make my head spin.

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Enviros: Let Ocean reclaim your House

The Hawaii Legislature recently passed House Bill 117 HD2, which, if signed by the governor, would revise a critical aspect of Hawaii's coastal zone management program. It would relax standards for permitted coastal construction in the coastal zone and eliminate environmental oversight for our shorelines….

The problem with HB 117 HD2 is that private property owners along the shoreline would be given preferential treatment over the publicly owned beach under state law. Hawaii Revised Statute 205A-2 already allows coastal property owners to build erosion-control structures such as seawalls under cases of "hardship," when the ocean reaches within 20 feet of their structure.

One option is to make the construction of new seawalls or other shoreline armoring structures illegal except when they benefit the public (e.g., for boat harbors or those protecting critical infrastructure).

REALITY: No sea level rise: Pacific islands growing not shrinking, says study

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Legal fees spike at UH—tied to Mauna Kea Telescope

For the 11-month period from May 2010 through March, UH spent $2.23 million, or about $203,000 a month, on outside attorneys, according to data obtained by the Star-Advertiser through a public records request.

By contrast, the school spent $3.8 million, or about $86,000 per month, in the preceding 44-month period, covering September 2006 through April 2010.

The university's expenditures in the recent 11-month period topped the $1.7 million that all state agencies represented by the Attorney General's Office collectively spent on outside legal counsel last fiscal year, according to AG data. That office represents most of the major state departments, including Transportation, Human Services and Public Safety.

UH's outside spending — relative to its overall budget of $1.4 billion — also topped the spending rates of several mainland public university systems for which the Star-Advertiser was able to get comparable numbers.

SA: UHPA member told records would cost $40K to obtain

This is why lawyers love environmentalists and why lawyers love OHA: 

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KIUC #2 in Solar, HELCO 4th, MECO 5th

Local utility companies have been recognized as national leaders in solar electric power.

Kauai Island Utility Co-op ranked second in cumulative solar watts per customer in the Solar Electric Power Association’s 2010 utility solar rankings. First was Southern California Edison.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. ranked fourth and Maui Electric Co. ranked fifth in total solar watts per customer.

Hawaiian Electric Co. was ninth.

A news release from Hawaiian Electric Co. Friday says it also ranked third in added solar watts-per-customer, up from eighth in 2009.

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Hawaii Students Defend Against Hackers

"It's an arms race. You have hackers developing tools and you have security professionals defending against it. Then hackers improve their weapons and security professionals improve their defenses," said UH Greyhat member Mark Munar.

Greyhat members try to keep up with the newest threats by taking part in collegiate competitions which sharpen their defense skills.

Along with learning about the latest threats to computers, the UH Greyhats serve as mentors for Hawaii high schoolers in the Cyber Patriot Program, which trains younger students about hacking and cyber safety and also provides competition on a national level.

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NJ Supreme Court decision interprets “shield law” and nontraditional online journalists

Attention, bloggers. We should all take a little time to read a New Jersey Supreme Court decision issued this week that found comments posted by an investigator/blogger in an online forum were not protected by the state’s journalists’ shield law.

The case is Too Much Media LLC v Shellee Hale, decided on June 7. That link will take you to the full court decision.

A summary of the decision, prepared by the court clerk, is also available.

RELATED: Test of Shield Law? Maui PD subpoenas ID of online commenter who threatened Cop

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Insect expert joins the race to beat deadly pests that threaten Hawaii's bee colonies

Gus Rouse, who breeds queen bees at his Kona Queen Hawaii business on Hawaii island, nearly lost his critical export business to Canada until Downey arrived.

"It hasn't been fun," Rouse said. "It's been very challenging keeping bees on the Big Island the last few years. Danielle started contributing as soon as she got her feet on the ground. Now we feel we have a lot better handle on the problem than we did a year ago."

Downey worked with Rouse to develop a system to test for the mites and beetles so he could be certified to ship tens of thousands of queen bees to Canada, "which is a very large and important market for us," Rouse said. "She was able to help us design systems so they've accepted our product."

Before the infestation of varroa mites and the small hive beetle, farmers such as Randolph Ahuna in Hilo just set out boxes of bees and left them alone to pollinate his 36 acres of macadamia nut and avocado crops at his Ahuna Farm.

Downey "puts on classes for the community and has educated us," Ahuna said. "Before, we didn't know bees. Bees was just bees. We asked the state to come and help us and now we're learning a lot about bees. She's our answer and cure to our common problems."

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Palin emails show engaged leader who sought VP nod

Every Palin hater on Earth went thru these emails and they couldn’t find a thing.

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