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Friday, June 17, 2011
June 17, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:09 PM :: 8230 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Al-Qaeda hit list names US writers, generals

PUC Approves New Maui Windfarm

Money released for school construction projects

RETALIATION:  Abercrombie asks for resignation of Aloha Stadium Board for criticizing Pro Bowl Stand

"I was very surprised," said Marcia Klompus, whose term is scheduled to run through June 2013. Klompus said she would "mull" the governor's request over the weekend.

Other members, who declined to speak publicly, said they were also taken aback by the request since, as the letter acknowledged, they are not obligated to step down before the expiration of their terms.  (Here’s a suggestion.  Lets have the Aloha Stadium board demand Abercrombie’s resignation.  Then put it up to a snap referendum.)

"As with the governor's recent appointments to the Board of Education, this is a fresh start in a new direction," Donalyn Dela Cruz, the governor's press secretary, said in an email. "The governor has set forth his vision for meeting the challenges of the state and Aloha Stadium is an important part of the administration's plans to manage the state's resources and reinvigorate the economy. Those plans may involve a transformation of the Stadium Authority itself, which is why he's asked for their resignation at this time."  (BS  What Abercrombie did is threaten to CANCEL the renovation work of Aloha Stadium in favor of a pie-in-the-sky scheme to build a new stadium)

Klompus, who was Gov. Linda Lingle's appointments administrator, said neither Lingle nor the previous governor, Ben Cayetano, had asked the authority for courtesy resignations upon taking office.

Dela Cruz said the governor's request was not in response to authority Chairman Kevin Chong Kee's criticism of Abercrombie's opposition to the Pro Bowl last week.

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SHAKEDOWN: After trashing it, Abercrombie urges hotels to "step up" to fund Pro Bowl (or he’ll trash it some more)

"We simply have to have people stepping up and understand that there has to be shared support," said Governor Abercrombie.

There seems to be a passing game going on over who will go the extra yard to spend the money. One suggestion is that hotels and businesses could form a private partnership.  But, not all hotels are entirely on board. Starwood Hotels and Resorts says it already pays the state to help fund events like the Pro Bowl through the Hotel Room Tax.

"We're talking to all our hotel partners, retail partners, businesses in Hawaii who love the pro bowl and have been working with the pro bowl and we're focused on making 2012 game the best it can be," says Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The HTA wouldn't say if a private partnership deal is being discussed, only that the contract is up after the 2012 game.  "Going forward it's up for discussion between both parties," said McCartney.

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'Speaking truth to reason' apparently involves tax hikes—Marcus Oshiro Backs Abercrombie’s Pro Bowl Attack

Although he has been inept in explaining why the state needs to spend more in order to preserve and increase programs he says are of value, Abercrombie has won over key members of the Legislature.

"The governor is trying to move the state in the right direction," says Rep. Marcus Oshiro, chairman of the House Finance Committee.

"If not now, then when — he is willing to make these decisions," Oshiro said.

Indeed, after being roundly criticized for his outburst attacking the NFL and state support for the Pro Bowl, Abercrombie essentially doubled down on his tirade, issuing a video press release saying, "It is time we got our priorities straight."

Instead of dismantling state social programs, said Abercrombie, Hawaii should invest money in programs to help children and poor families.

Oshiro said Abercrombie is "speaking truth to reason" and while not popular, "it is essential."

Of course, next year Abercrombie and the tax-raising incumbents will have to speak truth to voters and the judgment may be different.

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G.E. Tax suspensions could lead to higher costs for consumers

Starting July 10th Matson Navigation is adding $52 to the cost of container shipping to and from Hawaii, to make up for the now-taxed stevedoring that's no longer exempt.

"90 percent of what we use in home building today is brought in through shipping," said Karen Nakamura

And that's not the only reason one of Hawaii's biggest industries is bracing for a hit. Construction also lost exemptions with subcontractors also losing the exemption.

"One tax, beginning at the very beginning, may be taxed 4 or 5 times before it gets to the consumer," said Nakamura. "We figure that on a home, about 1,800 square feet, it'll add abut 10,000 additional taxes to that home."

They say the cost hikes on bigger public works projects will be more sharply felt by taxpayers a minimum 12 to 15 percent more….

Hawaiian Airlines is still assessing how their fares, fees and jobs could be impacted, saying they're considering considering adjustments on both the revenue and cost side of the business.

Political Radar: Amazon carries thru on threat to cut off local affiliates in states that enact Internet Tax

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Hirono gets early endorsement from Flight Attendants Union

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono has picked up an endorsement in her run for U.S. Senate.  The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union which represents 18,000 American Airlines flight attendants, today threw its support behind Hirono, citing her support of flight attendants and working families.

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CPB bailout to cost taxpayers millions (Inouye’s Bank)

Taxpayers could lose more than $60 million of a $135 million bailout package the U.S. Treasury gave to Central Pacific Financial Corp., the parent of Central Pacific Bank, in January 2009….

Tax Foundation of Hawaii President Lowell Kalapa said that while he's concerned by the loss of more than $60 million in taxpayer money from the bailout, his greater concern was that the bank was not strong enough to repay the loan.

"What should be of greater concern to this community is that this bank is still not in a solid position, and whether the leadership has been prudent to get themselves out of this hole," said Kalapa.

They wrote the entire article without mentioning Inouye: After stock craters 64%, Feds to dump 5.6M shares of Inouye’s Central Pacific Bank, After Call From Senator Inouye's Office, Small Hawaii Bank Got U.S. Aid

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PUC OKs deal guaranteeing higher electric rates for Hawaii consumers

The Public Utilities Commission has approved a power purchase agreement that will allow Sempra Generation to begin selling wind-generated power to Maui Electric Co. perhaps as soon as early 2013.

MECO will initially pay 20 cents per kilowatt hour for as-available electricity from the 21-megawatt plant on Ulupalakua Ranch land. That would be enough to power 10,000 typical Maui homes, and the price would not be tied to the peaks and valleys of fossil fuel prices, according to an announcement….  (Imagine that.  Wholesale electricity for nearly 2x the avg cost of retail electricity on the mainland.)

The agreement is a key step for developers because it will help them find investors corporate welfare queens. Sempra said it might build the project itself or bring in partners.  It expects to get a 30 percent tax credit on construction costs under available federal incentives….

The purchase power agreement, with a 20-year term, allows a 1.5 percent per year escalation in price, so that at the end of 20 years, Sempra will be getting 35 percent more per unit of energy supplied.

The state consumer advocate had no objection to the power purchase agreement.  (Therefore he should resign.)

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State to end program that helps pay for Medicare prescriptions

The Department of Human Services announced Thursday that effective July 1 the department will no longer subsidize Medicare Part D co-payments under the program called the State Pharmacy Assistance Program, or SPAP.

The program began in 2007, with the state planning to cover its costs through a special fund. But officials say money was never allocated to the fund.

The agency says the program cost $1.5 million in fiscal year 2010 for more about 21,500 regular users. The average user had monthly co-payments of about $6.

About 43,500 eligible Hawaii residents are enrolled in the program

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Hawaii consumer advocate backs Lanai, Molokai wind-scams

Hawaii consumer advocate Jeffrey Ono has weighed in on the Big Wind saga pending before the state Public Utilities Commission.

His verdict: Hawaiian Electric Co.’s arguments for why Castle & Cooke can cede 200 megawatts of its wind-energy allocation on Lanai to San Francisco-based Pattern Energy to develop a wind farm on Molokai are not convincing.

But Ono has thrown his support behind the proposal anyway, arguing that it’s “in the best interests of consumers and the state of Hawaii,” according to a recent PUC filing.  (He should resign so someone who will defend consumers can take the position.)

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Charter school lessens debt, kin exit board

In response to its first financial audit, Halau Lokahi Public Charter School in Kalihi is working to fix accounting problems and repay its debts, and has removed family members from the local school board that oversees it.

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Same-sex couples less than 1% of Hawaii households

Census figures indicate there are about 4,248 same-sex couples living together in Hawaii, with about a quarter of them raising children.

The information on same-sex households was gathered from Census data by The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

The Williams Institute calculated there were about nine same-sex couples out of every 1,000 households in the state. About 53 percent of them were female, and 47 percent were male.

The Williams Institute: http://www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/

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Native Hawaiians increase numbers by one-fifth

The population of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii jumped by more than one-fifth over the last decade, continuing a resurgence in the once-dwindling numbers of indigenous people in the state, according to new U.S. Census information.

People who identified themselves as Native Hawaiians alone or in combination with other races increased by 21 percent to a total of 289,970 in the state, Census data show. The total number of Native Hawaiians in the nation won't be released until after counts for all 50 states are made public this summer.

Native Hawaiian families are having more children, and more Hawaiians embraced their race when filling out government Census forms, said Malia Kaaihue, chief knowledge officer for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

"Our population was a lot younger, and there's an increasing number of families out there. The trend was kind of expected," she said. "As Native Hawaiians intermarried with other races in Hawaii, the population expanded."

Native Hawaiians remained the state's fourth-largest racial group, behind Japanese, Filipinos and whites, according to the Census.

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Big Isle leads in Foreclosures, 2nd Homes going back to Bank

The Big Island took over the top spot as the island with the worst foreclosure rate last month, bypassing Maui, according to new data from Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac.

One in every 337 housing units there had a foreclosure filing in May. Included in the filings were 129 bank repossessions, and that’s on top of 131 bank repossessions the month before….

Hawaii differs from some other states on the Mainland in that a lot of foreclosures on Maui and the Big Island are not local owners, but second-home buyers from primarily the West Coast.

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Global Horizon CEO Mordechai Orian: I am looking forward to my trial

I know that the reasons the passports were collected were perfectly legal and otherwise legitimate in every other respect…..

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VIDEO: Hawaii budget veto! Mayor says Bill 29 is “illegal”

In his official message to the Hawaii County Council, Mayor Kenoi said the amendments were “apparently illegal”

The message says that a review by Corporation Counsel concludes the amendments violate the separation of powers requirements of the Hawaii County Charter… In particular, the idea of a “Council Adjusted Expense Account” that would slash $5.6 million from the operating expenses, putting it towards the deferred gasB payment.

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Drug Court offers offenders chance to avoid prison, succeed in community

Authorities say there are about 1,500 adult drug courts across the country. On Oahu, participants have access to intensive substance abuse treatment programs, as well as other services that should help them succeed in the community.

Initially, Drug Court only accepted non-violent criminals, giving them a chance to avoid prison and remain in the community. But now, a wider variety of drug offenders are getting that shot. The concept is simple -- follow all the rules or get locked up.

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Fed may remove delicious honu from "threatened" list

Mmmmm turtle soup.

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Obama administration collecting ocean policy views

So far the administration has outlined nine priorities for the oceans, including improving water quality and helping communities adapt to climate change.

Andy Winer, the director of the office of strategic initiatives and partnerships at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the policy also aims to boost coordination among the 20-some federal agencies who work with the oceans, coastal areas and Great Lakes….

(Winer stage managed the death of Patsy Mink and led Akaka’s campaign against Ed Case.  This Federal job is his reward.)

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Census finds Shortage of Women in Hawaii

Men in their 20s in Hawaii outnumbered women of the same age in last year's count, which could result in lower birth rates. There were 113.5 men for every 100 women in that age group.

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Hawaii attorney general: Donations to 'Love the Animals' used for personal items

An investigation revealed donations made via http://www.lovetheanimals.org and other social media sites were deposited into Marasia's personal bank account and that he used some funds for gas, food and other personal items.

The attorney general's office says "Love the Animals" is not recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit charity and that donations made to Marasia were not tax deductible.

AG News Release: http://hawaii.gov/ag/main/press_releases/2011/2011-11.pdf

(Oh yeah,  Louie’s going after the big players now!)

SA: Tighten rules for dog breeders

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