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Monday, June 13, 2011
June 13, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:44 PM :: 10088 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

Pro-Bowl: Collateral damage in Abercrombie’s war on Mufi?

Voting Rights? Star-Advertiser pushes to disenfranchise Military Personnel

Video: Sen. Sam Slom Legislative Wrap-up

Ward: Abercrombie’s Pro Bowl attack continues short-sighted strategy

Fannie Mae ends use of non-judicial foreclosure in Hawaii

As Neil rants and raves, Pro Bowl could be heading to Indianapolis

The NFL departed Honolulu last year, and the Pro Bowl was played at Miami, site of the Super Bowl a week later. Next January's Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium will complete the current contract with the NFL. If the league decides to schedule the 2013 Pro Bowl at the Super Bowl venue the week before, it will be at a new domed stadium at Indianapolis.

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Hanabusa’s Kakaako Move a dig at Hirono, prelude to Senate Run?

Hanabusa could have waited to see if Ko Olina ends up in the 1st District after reapportionment as some have speculated, but it would have been read as a broken promise that she didn’t need hanging over her head — especially if she jumps into the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Making the move gives her bragging rights over fellow U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, a possible rival in the Senate race and a resident of the 1st District who never bothered to move into the 2nd District she represents.

If the Ko Olina home doesn’t sell — it’s listed at $1.25 million — Hanabusa can always move back if her circumstances change next year.

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HUD forces City Administrator to resign as Director of Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corp.

HUD examined the city's handling of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies. It identified multiple conflicts related to the handling of CDBG funds, including a city manager who "failed to disclose his/her conflict of interest." Federal investigators also faulted the city for knowing about that conflict but failing to address it.

HUD's findings about potential conflicts represent a small section of a report the federal agency recently submitted to the city. Elsewhere in the report, federal investigators detail violations at a nonprofit that could lead to the city returning $7.9 million for misusing funds.

"The City had knowledge of the City Manager's conflict but could not explain why it has allowed the conflict to exist," HUD investigators wrote. "The City failed to establish quality controls to prevent the manager's conflict of interest, despite having knowledge of the conflict."

The manager described in HUD's report is Keith Ishida, the administrator of the Honolulu Department of Community Services Community-Based Development Division….

The relationship Ishida refers to is his role as a director of the board of the Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation, a nonprofit that lends money to developers for affordable housing and consults those applying for CDBG funds.

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Planned Parenthood Funding aborted by State

The following are among 41 social service programs whose contracts were terminated by the state:
>> Parents and Children Together
>> Big Brothers Big Sisters
>> Institute for Human Services in Central Oahu and West Hawaii
>> Planned Parenthood

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New BoE Cuts all funding for Adult Education

Community school principals are developing a plan to save adult education, whose funding will be eliminated in a year, and say higher fees and fewer courses will almost certainly be the result.

The principals say their biggest worry is a substantial drop in enrollment if their students, many of whom are low-income, aren't able to pay fees high enough to cover costs. They are also concerned they'll have to cut some outreach programs and perhaps even close some schools.

Here is what they aren’t cutting: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year

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Feeding the Corporatist State: Occupancy up 3.2%, revenue up 13.8%

Although Japanese arrivals plunged 23.5 percent in the first full month since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, statewide hotel occupancy climbed 3.2 percentage points to 68.5 percent in April, according to a report released today by Hospitality Advisors LLC.

A 10 percent increase from the U.S. West and a 33.7 percent boost from Canada — driven in part by a late Easter holiday that shifted spring break into April, and 7,500 visitors to Waikiki for an American Academy of Neurology convention — more than offset declines in the Japanese market, the report said.

"The timing was just good. There's just enough strength in other markets not affected by the 3/11 event," said David Carey, president and chief executive officer of Outrigger Enterprises Group. The Japanese decline "definitely affected us, but not as much as we thought. We're fortunate."

Room rates statewide rose by 8.5 percent over the previous year to $191.26, while revenue per available room — considered the best measure of hotel performance — jumped 13.8 percent to $131.01.

(Surprise, surprise.  Now that the Legislature is adjourned suddenly everything is looking good.  Could it be that all they hype was just an effort to buffalo Legislators into hiking taxes?  Would Abercrombie do something like that?  Some questions answer themselves.)

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

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Organizations Spent More Than $1 Million to Lobby in First Two Months of 2011

Organizations spent more than $1 million to influence Hawaii lawmakers in the first two months of this year, according to a report by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

If the total of $1,035,966 were spread across the state's 76 legislators, it would mean $17,559 per day, or $13,631 per lawmaker. Spending figures for the rest of the legislative session are not yet available.

Not surprisingly, some household names spent the most, including Kamehameha Schools, the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii.

A few organizations making the top 10 were less well known. The Hawaii Association for Justice, a lawyers' advocacy group that describes itself as a "voice for individuals injured by the misconduct or negligence of others," spent about $32,000 lobbying lawmakers during the period.

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Hawaii Retirement, Health Benefit Costs Down On Paper, Up in Reality

…These two so-called fixed costs have been singled out as the state's largest growing liabilities. The Hawaii Employees' Retirement System is facing a $9 billion unfunded liability. The Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund is facing a $14 billion unfunded liability.

The short answer: Both costs will ultimately go up next year….

In the budget approved by lawmakers in May, there's a temporary decrease in the EUTF budget of $50 million. It's a lump saving that has yet to be distributed across state departments at the governor's discretion — savings that are not tied to health benefit costs. Lawmakers described this cut in the budget as "Administration to allocate reduction to state programs in concert with efforts to reprioritize state government."

There's also a temporary decrease in the ERS budget of $88.2 million. That's another amount that has yet to be distributed across state departments for assumed labor savings.

The projected labor savings would be realized if the 5-percent pay cuts that Hawaii Government Employees Association members agreed to were spread across all unions. Members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the United Public Workers union have yet to ratify a new contract.

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Kalapa: Private Public Partnership?

when a state official asks the private sector, the business community, to partner with state government, that official is talking to a group that has already "given at the office" - given in taxes, given in regulations, given in donations to community groups and donations to political candidates. How much more will the business community be asked to give if there is no contribution on the part of state government?

…Instead, the rest of the community, both businesses and families, are now being asked to fill the budget gap with additional taxes that will burden the economy with yet another heavy load that will make it even more difficult for the state to dig itself out of this hole.

Thus, before state officials call for public-private partnerships, those state officials would do much better by looking at how difficult the state has made it to do business in Hawaii, let alone to survive in this state, and begin peeling back the excessive and intrusive laws and regulations that prevent budding enterprises from setting up shop in this state. Instead of deciding what should be the most favored industries of Hawaii’s future, state officials should make sure the environment is nurturing to all businesses.

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Lim: The Seriousness of Hawaii's Financial Situation

What I hope to convey to you is the seriousness of our fiscal situation. We are all aware of the current $1.3 billion shortfall. But, most of us attribute it solely to our sluggish the economy. Unfortunately, the problem is much deeper. The State has systemic budget challenges that result from existing obligations, a high level of debt and an aging population.

Many still believe that tourism alone can solve our problem. They are wrong; as tourism has been essentially flat for decades. We need growth. Since it is unlikely that we can tax and cut our way to prosperity, we need a new economic model that will generate higher levels of sustained growth. The Governor has a comprehensive plan to put the State back on the right track and DBEDT will play a key role, but it will require substantial private sector participation and a new way of looking at our economy.

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Renewable Energy and Hybrid Cars – Still Only at 1 Percent

Unlike renewable energy mandates, hybrid cars won their market on their merits such as quiet operation, lower maintenance and substantially higher fuel efficiency. To date their worldwide market share is about 1% among light duty vehicle fleets, and in approximate terms, 60% of hybrids are in the US, 18% in Japan, and 8% in Europe….

Despite governmental mandates for renewables, if their electricity production is converted to equivalent tons of oil, then their share is, much like the hybrid cars, only 1.3% in 2010

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More Federal Funds? Tsunami net Hawaii a paltry $8M

So far, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved $1.18 million for 14 claims for low-interest federal disaster loans across the state. Five of the claims were for homes, while nine were for businesses, said Olivia Humilde, spokeswoman for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Sacramento, Calif.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency assessed about $6.2 million in damage for 16 projects at the small-boat harbors on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island, according to the state Civil Defense. FEMA is expected to pay 75 percent of the costs for repairs.

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$2.4 Trillion Secret: Inouye in Deficit Negotiations 

The negotiations include Biden, Senators Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.), Max Baucus (D.-Mont.) and Daniel Inouye (D.-Hawaii), and House members Eric Cantor (R.-Va.), Jim Clyburn (D.-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D.-Md.). It is widely expected that if these members do cut a deal, they will release the details close to the Aug. 2 deadline.

Sen. Kyl gave Congressional Quarterly a glimpse into the negotiations when he said that a deal may include “$2.4 trillion in budget reductions over the next decade or longer” in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit.

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Hokulia Model being used to seize land on Kauai, Maui

At the Hokulia resort development in South Kona, trail advocates sued the private landowner and state, with assistance from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., to restore access to a coastal trail.

Though Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra ordered the Hokulia developer in 2002 to restore the trail, public access advocates said they're still waiting for the developer to transfer an easement that allows the public to use a parking lot and walkway to hike to the trail.

On Maui the nonprofit group Public Access Trails Hawaii has filed legal action to get the state and Haleakala Ranch to reopen a 3.3-mile trail formerly used by hikers and horse riders to access the summit of Haleakala through the mid-1930s, when a separate highway was built to the summit.

The group wants the courts to assume jurisdiction over the trail and declare it is an ancient trail that provided traditional and customary access to people….

On Kauai an investment hui was required to maintain the beach access from a public road to the shoreline at Kauapea Beach as part of receiving its special management area permit in 1977.

But when developer Ben Garfinkel obtained a land use change, the public easement wasn't included in the county Planning Commission conditions in 1999.

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Luddite spends 1 hour denouncing Fish farms

As a triathlete and outrigger canoe paddler, this keynote speaker enjoys the ocean regularly and cares deeply about what happens to it because she wants it be in the same state or better for her granddaughter. 

(If you are fooled or lulled by this kind of rhetoric…get help!)

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Still Hungry?  Land crabs rule Palmyra Island

Palmyra Atoll, however, about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii, is crawling with land crabs: two kinds of fist-size hermit crabs, two species of burrowing crabs called "tupas" by Pacific islanders, and the Godzilla of all crabs, the coconut crab.

The creature looked like an enchilada with legs, but no Mexican dish could compete with this tupa's shell colors. Its pinks and greens were as exquisite as a Monet watercolor.

Most land crab eggs become fish food, but the ones that survive molt several times and then crawl ashore as tiny crabs.

We will never know what the Hawaiian Islands were like when nippers roamed the mountains and valleys, but we can thank the little crabs for this: Their fast demise highlights how susceptible our (delicious) native species are to alien species (being eaten) and in that, they can guide conservation methods today.

More: Study: Humans Wiped Out Land Crabs 1000 yrs ago In Hawaii (they were delicious)

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