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Tuesday, August 02, 2011
August 2, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:11 PM :: 6703 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

 

Senate Race Poll shows Lingle beating Hirono

Inouye’s Senate Democrats outraged by “dishonest” Ed Case

Preliminary legislative districts to be unveiled Wednesday

Hawaii residents on Wednesday will get their first look at maps describing new political districts for the state House and Senate, maps that aren't likely to hold good news for the neighbor islands.

But officials responsible for voting on the maps say the first drafts of the maps -- which haven't removed nonresident military families or college students -- may be quite different from the maps ultimately chosen.

"Nothing has been finalized yet. ... There's no final plan," said Hawaii Reapportionment Commission Chairwoman Victoria Marks. "Everything at this stage is preliminary."

The commission, however, has no choice but to include the military and students because it's up against a constitutionally mandated deadline and doesn't yet have the data from the Department of Defense and the universities, Commissioner Dylan Nonaka told the Hawaii Island Reapportionment Advisory Council on Monday.

The commission got a late start because it had no funding until May.

Nonaka said the problem is compounded by the premise the military and students may not have been counted to begin with. The census is a snapshot in time, and the commission is unsure about the procedures the Census Bureau used in gathering its numbers, he said.

"We have to prove they've been included before we exclude them," Nonaka said. "Are we absolutely sure they've been counted in the first place?"

…Strictly by the numbers currently in use, the ideal population of a House district would be 23,756 and a Senate district 48,461. (WRONG. 1.36M state population/51 House seats= 26,667 and 1.36M/25 Senate seats = 54,400)

(The completely bogus numbers invented by the miserable hack editor of West Hawaii Today) would give the Big Island 3.82 Senate seats and 7.79 House seats, compared to its current three Senate seats and seven House seats. Oahu, under the same formula, would be due 19.66 Senate seats and 40.12 House seats, compared to its current 18 Senate and 35 House seats.

(The real numbers: 185K Hawaii Co Population/ 54,400 = 3.4 Senate 185K /26,667 = 6.9 House…Oahu 953K population/54,400 = 17.5 Senate 953K/26,667 = 35.7 House)

Related: Military to be Disenfranchised so Meth dealer’s friend can keep Senate Seat?

Background: 38.9%: Hawaii has most deviant Legislative Districts in Nation

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NRO: Hawaii Senate Race more than Competitive

I have put next year’s Hawaii Senate race in my “could be competitive” pile. A new poll commissioned by a Democratic campaign suggests that it could be even better than “competitive” if former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle jumps in….

Related: Senate Race Poll shows Lingle beating Hirono

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Borreca: Road to the Senate will run through a field designed by Lingle

Against Rep. Mazie Hirono, Lingle brings both the obvious — she beat Hirono already — and a nice piece of political jujitsu, turning her governorship into an argument against congressional experience.

Lingle flips the experience argument on its head by saying she can operate in Congress because she was a governor, not a member of Congress.

"Governors bring a particularly different approach to the United States Senate. They are less ideological, they are more practical, they are more agenda-driven," said Lingle.

That argument also works against Democratic contender and former Rep. Ed Case….

It is clear that the road to the Senate for Hawaii Democrats will run through a field designed by Lingle.

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E-W Center: What will happen when Inouye is gone?

The East-West Center is under attack, and there are those in Congress who would like to see it eliminated. Our delegation defends the center, but what will happen when our senior senator isn't there? It's an icon of our long-standing connection with Asia, and we can't afford to lose it.

When you attack the center, you attack Hawaii's global prospects. Funny thing, we didn't hear howls of protest when the attack surfaced in the House. That's either because we're optimistic that the delegation will prevail there or in the Senate, or because we're not watching.

Reality: Djou: East-West Center Troubles Points To Need For Bi-Partisan Delegation

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Hanabusa: Republicans Had Edge in Debt Debate

Republicans held their ground in the dramatic, drawn-out stalemate over how to raise the federal government's debt limit, and ultimately got their way more than Democrats did, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa told Civil Beat on Monday.

"This is clearly the Republicans wielding control," Hanabusa said. "You've got to give them that. They were able to do something that no Democrat has ever done."

Hanabusa was one of 269 members of the House who voted in support of a long-delayed deal to raise the debt ceiling on Monday night. It is expected to pass the Senate Tuesday. The Republicans were staunchly opposed to tax increases and this deal doesn't include any….

Rep. Mazie Hirono, who also voted in favor of the act, said the important thing was that the debt ceiling was raised without immediately compromising Social Security or Medicare.

"I think what's really important is, clearly they didn't get everything they wanted and neither did we," Hirono told Civil Beat. "Frankly what I'd like to do is go forward." (Meaning, she doesn’t want her base to know about this vote.)

KITV: Hawaii Senators Vote For Debt Ceiling Compromise

Hanabusa Statement>>>LINK

Hirono Statement>>>LINK

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Layoffs likely if teacher pact revoked, state argues

About 700 employees could be laid off if the state Department of Education is ordered to cancel the pay cuts, furloughs and higher health care premiums for teachers it unilaterally imposed July 1, the state said in a Hawaii Labor Relations Board filing Monday.

"This is not a threat. It is an unfortunate — and honest — financial reality," the state said in the filing, which did not specify whether all of the layoffs would be teachers.

In explaining the need for the labor savings, which amount to about $31 million annually, the state said it is facing a "momentous budget shortfall" that cannot be met with other cuts.

The filing is in response to a motion from the Hawaii State Teachers Association, which seeks to restore the conditions of a contract that expired June 30 and to compel the state to return to the bargaining table.

A hearing on the motion is set for Aug. 10.

CB: Hawaii Teacher Contract Impasse a Non-Issue on Day 1 at Roosevelt High

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Cronies won’t take positions on Advisory Council if they have to give up Lobbying

The state Ethics Commission’s warning about lobbying by members of state task forces is starting to have consequences.

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Kaena-Wahiawa-Pupukea) has decided to defer establishing a working group on urban development – including mixed-use development near proposed Honolulu rail stations — out of concern about the warning.

In July 1 and July 22 letters, Leslie Kondo, the executive director of the Ethics Commission, informed the senator that private-sector members of the working group would be considered state employees for purposes of the ethics code and could not be paid to lobby the Legislature on urban development matters on behalf of a private entity.

In July 26 response, Dela Cruz said the Ethics Commission’s warning has “deterred many participants, possibly rendering the group ineffective for the intent it was created.”

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Council: HART already hiding Ghost Employees

Several city councilmembers say the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit - or HART - isn't being as transparent as it should about staffing, job descriptions, and salaries. HART recently released information on 59 of its employees - hired through July 22nd - who are currently working at its offices….

They were also looking for a specific breakdown of each employee's salary - which wasn't included.

"I understand some of the salaries are over 100 thousand, so that's why we kind of wanted to know how much is being spent. This is taxpayers' money," says Kobayashi.

HART did include a sum total of the salaries - about $3,670,000. The average salary was about $62,000.

Councilmember Cachola also raised concerns about the number of HART employees. The document lists 59, but Cachola says he thinks the number is closer to 70. HART says the list it sent over includes civil servants and service contractors who are on the city payroll. Ishikawa adds, "So, we may have other staff that are consultants as part of the project, but the list that was requested was for city staff only."

HART has budgeted $9.3 million for salaries and has plans for up to 136 employees. Its staff includes engineers, architects, financial analysts, information specialists, and more. Their main role is oversight of the nearly five-and-a-half billion dollar rail project.

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Biofools: $2/monthly Tax will line pockets of Aina Koa Pono

With planned operations in the Kau region, the project may supply biofuel to the Keahole Power Plant.

According to HECO, a surcharge of about $2 a month would apply to typical residential users on both Oahu and the Big Island. This surcharge would be spread among HECO and Hawaii Electric Light Co. customers by calculating the difference between the price of the locally grown and produced biodiesel and the petroleum diesel that it replaces.

ILind: Conflicting info on biodiesel emissions, and HECO’s scramble for renewables, Honolulu hearing Thursday on Aina Koa Pono proposal

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Bottle Tax Will Not increase

Last year, from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, the recycling rate was also 76 percent. The highest annual rate was 79 percent from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009. Under the “HI-5” program, consumers pay 6 cents on each beverage container purchased: a 5-cent deposit to be returned to the consumer when the container is recycled and a non-refundable 1-cent container fee to cover the cost of recycling the glass, plastic or aluminum.

DOH has also determined that there will be no increase in the 1-cent fee charged on each recyclable beverage container for the next 12 months. State law requires that the program determine the annual redemption rate by the first of August each year. State law requires the per-container fee to increase from 1 cent to 1.5 cents if the statewide redemption rate exceeds 70%, unless the director of health, in consultation with the state auditor, determines that a fee increase is not needed. The fund balance in the Deposit Beverage Container Special Fund is projected to remain adequate to support Hawaii’s “HI-5” recycling program for another year.

“We will always seek ways to cut administration costs before choosing to implement container fee increases,” said Deputy Director Gill. “To continue to increase Hawaii’s excellent recycling rate, we must ensure that the program is adequately funded.”

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OHA Program lines Bank Accounts of Supporters

With the support of OHA, Hawaii First has developed the Native Hawaiian Prosperity Program, as a way to help provide the tools Hawaii County residents want and need to overcome poverty….

As part of the program, Hawaii First’s signature Individual Development Accounts have been well received so far. IDAs are matched savings accounts where participants set a goal, save their own money for that goal through a mix of financial education, counseling and small business development, to achieving regularly set deposits. When all requirements have been met, participants’ savings are then matched $4 for every $1 saved, giving them a credit towards necessary purchases required for their goal.

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Aina Le'a suits seek damages, reversal of ruling

A regulatory battle over developing a 2,300-home community on Hawaii island near Waikoloa has moved to court.

Two developers have filed three lawsuits against the state Land Use Commission over the agency's decision earlier this year prohibiting the development of the estimated $1 billion project called The Villages of Aina Le'a.

Two suits were filed to appeal the decision. But a third suit wants the commission -- and commissioners -- to pay for stopping the project after developers spent $25 million on infrastructure and the first few dozen homes.

The project's original developer, Bridge Aina Le'a LLC, filed the suit seeking damages, claiming the commission should pay at least $35.7 million.

Bridge's suit, which was filed in state court in June and since transferred to federal court, could result in a big liability for the state. But it also could test how much authority the commission has to impose conditions for allowing urban development on agricultural land.

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SA: Water board should curtail use of lobbyists in order to get rate hike thru

It's time the Honolulu Board of Water Supply curbed its practice of hiring lobbyists to look out for its interests at the Legislature as well as the City Council, if leaders of the semiautonomous agency hope for a clear path to boost water rates on Oahu.

State and city ethics reports show the board has spent more than $469,000 on lobbyists since 2006, Star-Advertiser writer Derrick DePledge reported Sunday.

The water board's spending practices legitimately come under scrutiny now because its officials are seeking a 70 percent water rate increase, spread out over five years.

Related: Djou: Honolulu Board of Water Supply is out of control

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Public briefed on sludge hauling: "We do not want to wait for failure," the city says

The public meeting at the city's Mission Memorial Auditorium attracted about 50 people, mostly city workers and staff members for various elected officials and government agencies. Monday's meeting came as the City Council prepared for its own informational briefing on the matter Wednesday before the Public Works and Sustainability Committee.

KITV: Senator: Poor Planning Led To Sewage Trucking Plan

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Honolulu looks at merging HFD and EMS

The report does point to a possible merger, "Based upon our assessment of the organizations providing emergency services to the residents of the City and County of Honolulu we are confident that the merger would achieve various cost efficiencies and elimination in duplication of services. ESCI estimates that a merger of the organizations has the ability to generate savings in excess of $10,000,000 within the next five years."

The city says that there is no time frame for making a decision on a potential merger.

Click here to download the full report.

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City proposal takes aim at illegal vacation rentals

Hundreds of illegal vacation rentals generating millions of dollars could be shut down under a proposal city officials hope will make it easier to enforce the law that bans short-term rentals without a permit.

A proposed ordinance would require vacation rental owners to include their city permit numbers on any advertisements in an effort to deter illegal businesses. The bill has come up before without success in the decades-old debate about vacation rentals on Oahu. Just last year it was included in a proposal that would have removed the city's ban on bed-and-breakfast operations.

Under the latest plan, a vacation rental operator would face an initial fine of up to $1,000 for failing to post a permit number. If an ad without the number remains in place seven days after a warning, potential fines of $1,000 to $2,000 a day would kick in….

The city Planning Commission is scheduled to review the measure Aug. 10.

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Maui TEA Party Chair to Be Interviewed

Maui Tea Party Chairman John Kerr will be the guest on the Maui Breakfast Club radio show Wednesday.

The show airs from 7 to 9 a.m. on KNUI AM 900. Listeners can call in with questions to 856-2836.

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‘Big Wind’ can generate profits for Patten

The June 24 commentary in PBN by Mike Bond, a founder of the anti-wind group I Aloha Molokai, raised questions that energy experts have been studying to understand the true costs and benefits of Big Wind.

The experts (money grubbing scam artists) have shown, in numerous publicly available studies, that Big Wind can help Hawaii achieve 40 percent renewable energy by 2030, (about the time that all the turbines are burned out and rusting just like South Point) and can provide savings for ratepayers.

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Eric Ryan tricks Berg into Attacking GOP

On Monday Berg apologized for using the term "skin heads" to describe GOP leaders Jonah Kaauwai and Dylan Nonaka.

"Both persons I was referencing have shaved heads," he said. "It was nothing to do with race or religion or anything associated in that manner."

Berg said at the time the messages were made he was upset with Republican leaders for not backing his call to return to the city the fee the state charges to collect the rail tax….

"I want to do everything in my power to separate me in the 2012 election," he said in another voice mail. "We're gong to have somewhere down the line a 'Tom Berg tearing up his GOP card' as a piece."

The voice mails went to Berg's fired chief of staff Eric Ryan. He played the recordings on the Carroll Cox radio show….

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Swat a fly, go to jail: Agreement would add 20 plants and three insects to the endangered list

Four plants that are among the "rarest of the rare" in the world are now being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act, along with three Hawaii damselflies and 16 other plants that can be found on Oahu.

An agreement announced Monday between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based, nonprofit environmental organization, would add to the 437 species currently listed as threatened and endangered by the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Service Office in Hawaii, home to some of the rarest and most endangered species on earth.

It a federal offense to harm any plants, or kill or harass any animal, on the list.

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