Full Text: Ben Cayetano Announces Campaign for Mayor
Panos Endorses Cayetano, Caldwell Says Election is about HandiVan
Lingle: SOPA, PIPA Would Permit Government Censorship
Lingle Endorses Obama's Tourism Plan
Abercrombie Statement on Obama Visa Task Force
OHA Names New CEO
Senate Majority to Focus on “People and Children”
Senate Minority Introduces Legislative Priority Package
Full Text: Federal Report on Hawaii Wave Energy Potential
Rep Ward: Legalize Driverless Cars
Six Kaneohe Marines killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
KHON: A U.S. defense official says all six NATO troops killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan were Kaneohe-based Marines.
The CH-53 sea stallion went down Thursday in Helmand province.
Officials are investigating the cause, but they say there's no indication the helicopter was hit by enemy fire.
NYT: FRANCE CONSIDERS AFGHAN PULL OUT AFTER 4 SOLDIERS KILLED...
read … Kaneohe
DoE Cuts Teachers Pay, Gives Money to Corrupt School Bus Contractors
SA: New labor contracts will shave $37.7 million in general fund costs for public schools, but growing enrollment and transportation costs eat up much of the savings in the proposed supplemental budget for the next fiscal year, Hawaii's top education official said Thursday….
The executive budget also seeks $50 million in additional funds for capital improvement projects, above the $171 million already allotted for fiscal year 2013.
read … Contractors Win
Hawaii's Legislative Leaders Debate Tax Hikes, Jobs Plan
HR: Will there be more tax hikes this year?
Gov. Neil Abercrombie originally said his budget did not rely on tax increases, although he is not philosophically opposed to them. This after lawmakers increased taxes by nearly $600 million in 2011 to balance the state budget.
Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria, D-Waikiki, said the Senators don't want to raise taxes, but also won't pledge they won't. Sen. Sam Slom, the only Republican in the Senate, opposes any new taxes or tax increases.
House Speaker Calvin Say agrees this is not the time for tax increases, because Hawaii's the economic recovery is still fragile.
read … Tax Hikes
Survey: 54% Believe Legalized Gambling Will Have Overall Negative Impact
SA: People who responded to the survey were divided about the merits of legalizing gambling. Fifty-eight percent said they believe gambling would be positive for the state's economy. But 54 percent think gambling would have a negative impact overall.
Many people who favor a casino are lifelong residents, according to the survey, while many opposed have lived in the islands for less than five years….
The survey, conducted among 1,000 people statewide by SMS Research & Marketing Services, found that 76 percent would be very or somewhat likely to visit an entertainment center with a casino developed in Waikiki. The survey was taken by telephone between Nov. 15 and Dec. 22. The margin of error was 3.1 percentage points.
read … Gambling
What Does the FTA Want From Honolulu Rail?
CB: In the final days of 2011, the Federal Transit Administration granted a key approval for the Honolulu rail project.
It permitted the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to start "final design" of rail, and allowed it to do everything short of heavy construction. But that approval came with the warning that HART still has work to do if it wants $1.55 billion of federal funds to build the 20-mile-long system.
The FTA's five-page letter made clear the agency needs more assurances before it green lights the funding. But the agency has declined to go beyond the language in the letter.
These two paragraphs outlined the concerns to HART:
Specifically, the financial plan states that additional revenues may be obtained from an extension of the General Excise Tax or implementation of value capture mechanisms. However, these revenue sources require actions by the State of Hawaii and/or the City that have not been taken and which are beyond HART's ability to control. Prior to the Project's consideration for an FFGA, HART should demonstrate the availability of additional revenue sources that could be tapped should unexpected events such as cost increases or funding shortfalls occur.
Additionally, HART made assumptions in three areas that require further justification or amendment: (1) the containment of bus and HandiVan operating expenses; (2) the increasing share of the City's annual budget required to fund the transit system; and (3) the diversion of Section 5307 funds from preventive maintenance to the Project. Prior to the Project's consideration for an FFGA, HART should either provide further documentation justifying the reasonableness of these assumptions or consider revising these assumptions to more closely follow historical patterns.
read … More Taxes
Hawaii Politicians, Business Back Obama Tourism Plan
Red mass: Religious Freedom is Under Assault in the US
SA: There needs to be "more careful discussion and vigilance" among people of the religious and secular worlds so that they might work for the common good, the governor, legislators and other lawmakers were told Thursday at the annual Red Mass….
The message came as protesters gathered to confront attendees at the Catholic service.
In his homily, the Rev. John A. Coleman, a prominent Jesuit scholar affiliated with the University of San Francisco, said that religious freedom is under assault in the United States on a number of fronts….
As an example of how the church is under assault, Coleman said that in Illinois Catholic Charities adoption and foster child agencies have been told they must provide service to same-sex couples. In Tennessee, Vanderbilt University banned Christian groups from meeting on campus because their bylaws exclude atheists as members.
And in 2006, he said, the U.S. House passed a bill that made it a crime to aid or abet illegal immigrants, a common focus of pastoral outreach by churches. (The bill failed in the Senate.)
"I have no magic bullet to solve complicated religious liberty cases," Coleman said. But he said it is clear that some kinds of legislation could force religious Americans "either to compromise their faith or be forced into a privatized religion which betrays the more public dictates of their faith, or else engage in civil disobedience."
In an interview afterward, Abercrombie said Coleman's homily provided a depth of perspective on the separation of church and state. The governor said the First Amendment makes it clear that the government should not involve itself in the establishment or free exercise of religion….
"Our diversity defines us," he added. "It should not divide us. We should concentrate on things that unite us." (Empty catch phrase.)
Abercrombie, who described himself as "a fallen-away Episcopalian," said he took opposition from religious groups into consideration before he approved legislation allowing civil unions in Hawaii.
As TV cameras rolled outside the cathedral, Abercrombie quoted from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran minister executed by the Nazis.
"The space of the church is not there in order to fight with the world for a piece of its territory, but precisely to testify to the world that it is still the world, namely, the world that is loved and reconciled by God. It is not true that the church intends to or must spread its space out over the space of the world."….
"Shame on you for supporting the Catholic Church and for attending the Red Mass!" Holly Huber, a member of Citizens for the Separation of State and Church, shouted at government officials gathered outside after the service.
She and others held signs that read, "Stop Clergy Sex Abuse," "Keep Religion Out of Government" and "Prosecute Pedophiles," among other messages.
Kahle said his group was joined by representatives from Planned Parenthood, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), the Secular Student Alliance and the Hawaii Secular Society.
read … Religious Freedom Under Attack
Arrogant Atheists Attempt to Disrupt Catholic Mass
KITV: "Shame on the politicians for attending the Red Mass and listening to the moral teachings of a morally bankrupt organization like the Catholic church," said protester Holly Huber. (So elected officials should be forced not to listen to Catholics? I don’t recall these atheists protesting against the convicted child molester Leon Rouse working in the Legislature.)
But lawmakers said the Mass is more about a celebration of diversity of religion than religion itself.
"It is recognizing (that) we as human beings, we don't know everything and that perhaps we should call for guidance from a higher power," said state Rep. Kymberly Pine.
Morally Bankrupt St Damien, and Mother Marianne Cope? Or morally bankrupt atheists Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Joe Stalin? You would think that after a century of atheist mass murder the atheists would not want to show their faces.
HNN: Annual Red Mass starts Legislative session
Totally Related: The Atheist Declaration of War on Hawaii Churches, Colette Machado: I look at Kalaupapa--Native Hawaiians will fight against Assisted Suicide
Read … Arrogance on Display
Iolani Protesters Convicted Of Criminal Trespassing
CB: Six Hawaiian sovereignty demonstrators who were part of a larger group that forced the closure of Iolani Palace during APEC were found guilty of trespassing Thursday and ordered to stay away from the palace for six months. They also were fined $500 for the petty misdemeanor charge.
Honolulu Judge Dean Ochiai, who began hearing the case last week, imposed the sentences soon after closing arguments ended.
Background: Sovereignty activist 'tortures' children, Fingers point at Self-styled “King of Hawaii” in Tucson shootings
read … Busted and Convicted
EUTF Before House Finance, Labor Committees
CB: Coriell highlighted two pieces of legislation that the EUTF will introduce this session — none of which would begin to address the immense $14.5 billion unfunded liability the fund faces.
One bill would create a separate irrevocable trust for OPEB (“Other Post Employment Benefits,” or retiree health benefits) pre-payments, which Coriell says is an accounting requirement. (The various counties pre-fund these benefits to some extent, while the state does not.)
The EUTF itself is an irrevocable trust, but because funds can flow between active and retiree plans, it does not currently meet accounting standards, she said.
A second bill proposes changing the start date for retiree plans to January 1 from July 1.
CB: No Plans to Address Hawaii's Liability for Retiree Heath Benefits
read … EUTF Before House Finance, Labor Committees
Office of Aging to Burn $1.4M on New Forms and Creating Positions
SA: But the primary aim is updating how the state delivers services to seniors. Programs such as Kupuna Care funnel assistance to families, but there needs to be more flexibility, he said. A pilot project to give families more choices is now under way as part of that reform.
In this legislative session, the governor wants to secure about $1.4 million to develop Aging and Disability Resource Centers on all islands. These comprise not so much brick-and-mortar complexes as standardized forms and additional community outreach workers
read … Executive Office of Aging director is exploring new ways to improve assistance to the elderly
City strips Iwilei sector of drug addicts, bums, Hauls Away 10 truckloads of Filth
SA: City workers were at Kuwili Street and Iwilei Road where seized items matching photographs taken the previous day were inventoried, put in gray garbage bags, then placed in green garbage bins, which were taken to the base yard. City spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy said 10 truckloads of items from the Kuwili and Iwilei areas were taken away….
She said many of the homeless found the encampment at Iwilei convenient because the nearby Institute for Human Services provides free meals. (But still won’t accept shelter.)
read … Force them into the Shelters
Mortgage Foreclosure Law Revisions Advised
AP: Foreclosures in Hawaii have plummeted 53 percent since the Legislature passed sweeping mortgage legislation last year, officials said Thursday.
Hawaii had the nation's 11th highest foreclosure rate in 2010, prompting lawmakers to establish a Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force to look into all aspects of judicial and nonjudicial foreclosures in the state.
The task force's 2011 findings helped shape legislation that provides extensive protections to residents in danger of losing their homes due to unfair or deceptive practices.
read … Foreclosure
Star-Adv Refuses to Print Rep Herkes’ Defense of Foreclosure Bill
From ILind: Read the full text of Rep Herkes’ column at the link….
read … Star-Advertiser: Hold the direct rebuttals
First Hawaiian Rakes in $209M
SA: The bank's percentage of nonperforming assets -- loans overdue by 90 days or more -- remained one of the lowest in the United States at 0.21 percent compared with 0.25 percent a year earlier.
First Hawaiian's efficiency ratio, which measures how much it costs the bank to make a dollar of revenue, also remained strong at 43.7 cents compared with 43.3 cents a year earlier.
For all of 2011, First Hawaiian's net income slipped 1.7 percent to $209 million from $212.6 million in 2010. Excluding a one-time tax benefit from investment tax credits in 2010, the bank's earnings rose 3.4 percent last year to $209 million from $202.1 million. (That means they made $10.5M from Tax Credits in 2010.)
read … First Hawaiian Bank profit up 2.6 percent
Hawaii Reapportionment Panel Spent $600,000
CB: The state Reapportionment Commission spent more than $600,000 on redistricting plans that have since been invalidated by the Hawaii Supreme Court, a Civil Beat review of the commission's expenses shows.
The costs are expected to increase as the panel regroups Friday to come up with new political boundaries in compliance with the high court's ruling.
Ruling in two separate lawsuits, the court said the Hawaii Constitution "expressly mandates" that only permanent residents be counted. The commission produced plans that excluded only a portion of military service members, their families and students who are not permanent Hawaii residents from the state's population count.
The commission spent more than half its budget — $351,722 — on a consultant that handled mapping and demographic analysis, according to the Civil Beat review of the expenses. The commission hired a company called Esri, which basically provided the computer software to build the redistricting maps.
read … Reapportionment
Senate: Testimony Must Now be Submitted 24 Hours Before Hearing
PBN: The major change, announced in an email from the Senate clerk’s office on Wednesday, is that testimony for bills being heard in Senate committees must be submitted a full 24 hours before a hearing, instead of by 4 p.m. the day before.
read … Testimony
Sierra Club: Tax and Regulate Business and Give us the Money to Brainwash Your Kids
CB: It’s pathetic that we find ourselves discussing yet another proposal to slash government regulations in order to help big business. Recent calls to “eliminate or suspend mandates or regulations on businesses that increase their costs” are an opportunistic attempt to reduce reasonable oversight of the people’s resources….
Efforts like this — and the creation last year of the Public Lands Development Corporation — demonstrate that certain members of our Legislature believe that rampant development is the only way to advance our economy.
They’re wrong. There are better ways to spark our economy, like funding programs that create jobs while reducing long-term government costs. We could, for example, prioritize critical investments that make schools and public buildings more energy efficient – that would create jobs immediately and save taxpayers’ money for years to come. A similar concept at Honolulu Hale is now saving taxpayers approximately $130,000 per year. Why not lead a “Green Hawaii Schools” program or something similar that calls for a massive retrofit of our state buildings in a way that furthers Hawaii’s long term interests?
Or we could invest in the Governor’s call to protect our critical watersheds so that Hawaii continues to receive clean, fresh drinking water in coming decades without the expense, energy consumption, and pollution of desalination.
read … A self-serving Agenda
Hawaii loses 30% of its construction jobs in four years
PBN: There were 39,900 construction jobs at the industry’s peak in Hawaii in November 2007. That number fell to 28,000 by November 2011, according to the AGC.
The loss placed Hawaii in the center of the pack in terms of states that lost construction jobs, ranking it 27th in the nation….
The group has launched an effort to get Congress to pass legislation to fund highway, bridge and transit construction work.
read … 30% of Construction Jobs
State will issue RFP for Hawaii's tallest building Friday
PBN: The Hawaii Community Development Authority is looking for developers to build 690 Pohukaina in Kakaako, which would include one tower with 300 affordable for-sale units and a second tower with 500 market-priced units.
read … RFP
More hotels settle with Unite Local 5
PBN: Unite Here Local 5 says it is nearing settlements for the remaining 25 percent of its members still working without a labor contract more than a year-and-a-half after those contracts — representing about 6,000 Hawaii hotel workers — expired. But, the union’s stalemate with the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa, in particular — exacerbated by a union-led consumer boycott that has resulted in at least one booked event being moved to a competitor hotel recently — signals the contentious bargaining could drag well into the new year.
Meanwhile, off-the-radar bargaining with other hotels has been ongoing.
read … Local 5
After Organics Endorsed Slavery, Aloun Farms Betrays them, Backs Hoopili
Another Puna Organic Gets Rat Lungworm Disease
Eric Reinert is 22 years old and learning to walk all over again.
He’s taking baby steps and it can be hard to keep his balance, but they are a long way from where he was just a month ago.
He was stuck in a wheelchair in a Hawaiian hospital all because of a microscopic parasite.
“Every movement was just dreaded – horrible, awful, terrible,” said Reinert.
Last November, he traveled from Watertown, Minn. to Hawaii’s Puna District to learn about organic farming….
read … Organic is Healthy, Really
Air Quality Improve During New Year Celebrations
KITV: The decrease coincided with reduced fireworks activity resulting from the ban on certain fireworks on Oahu.
The state measures particulate levels at four air monitoring stations on Oahu in Honolulu, Pearl City, Sand Island and Kapolei; one on Kauai in Niumalu; and one on Maui in Kihei.
read … Particulate
Republicans stand together to oppose piracy law
AP: Standing in near unison, the four remaining contenders seeking the Republican presidential nomination are condemning a proposed anti-online piracy law that its critics say is overly aggressive.
Mitt Romney says the law is "far too intrusive" and too broad. He says if the Stop Online Piracy Act becomes law, it could stop job creation and hurt the economy.
Newt Gingrich says the law pre-emptively censors the Internet on behalf of corporations. He says there are patents and copyrights to protect creators' rights and that, if someone is stealing, then the owners should sue under existing laws.
read … Democrats Love Hollywood Star Bucks
Gil Gets It Done - Kahuku Medical Center
Dr. Oakley Davis, MD Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associates, Dr. Rahul Hooda, MD., Inpatient Medicine Services, LLC and Stephany Vaioleti, LSW, JD, CHC
Administrator & Compliance Officer speaks with Representative Gil Riviere about the Kahuku Medical Center….
VIDEO … LINK
Hawaii County to try out electric cars
HTH: The County Council Finance Committee on Thursday put its stamp of approval on using a $41,863 rebate from the Hawaii Energy Efficiency Program for the cars. The money will be added to $70,000 currently in the account.
read … Electric
Obamacare: Free Birth Control to Match Pain Pills for Grandma
The Hill: Most healthcare plans will be required to cover birth control without charging co-pays or deductibles starting Aug. 1, the Obama administration announced Friday.
The final regulation retains the approach federal health officials proposed last summer, despite the deluge of complaints from religious groups and congressional Republicans that has poured in since then. Churches, synagogues and other houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, but religious-affiliated hospitals and universities only get a one-year delay and must comply by Aug. 1, 2013.
read … Birth Control & Pain Pills, have what in common? Eliminating ‘unnecessary’ people
Hint to Hawaii: SCOTUS Slaps Down Texas Redistricting Plan 9-0
The Supreme Court on Friday ruled in a Texas political dispute, rejecting judge-drawn election maps favoring minority candidates and Democrats in the 2012 congressional and state legislature elections.
In its first ruling on political boundary-drawing based on the 2010 U.S. Census, the high court unanimously set aside the interim maps created by federal district court judges in San Antonio.
read … About What Hawaii Could Win if only We Tried