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Tuesday, April 16, 2013
April 16, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:41 PM :: 3655 Views

Standing with Boston

Flags Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Boston Victims

Background Checks: Senate Rejects House Amendments; SB 69 Goes to Committee Conference

Judge rules against Christian innkeeper who refused to rent bedroom to lesbian couple

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted April 16, 2013

Investigating the Potential for Seawater Air Conditioning in Waikiki

Hawaii Suspends TB Test Requirement for Food Handlers

Caldwell: City is Moving Rapidly on Road Repairs

Hawaii Utilities Rank in Top 10 for Solar

Campaign Strategy: Keep Abercrombie's temper and unpredictable explosiveness under control

Borreca: For three years Abercrombie has struggled with both his popularity and effectiveness. His job performance rating is still hovering below 50 percent, according to recent polls.  (Private polls by Abercrombie campaign perhaps?)  During his first legislative term, Abercrombie captured the title of the most disliked governor in the country during the October 2011 sampling by Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh, N.C., firm. It put Abercrombie's job approval at 30 percent.

It has since climbed, but not above 50 percent.

His relations with Democrats in the Legislature may be better than those experienced by former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, but today the legislative-gubernatorial warmth factor is somewhere between tepid and lukewarm.

"I would say it has gotten better, but there are a lot of concerns that his programs are too expensive," said one Senate leader.

A House leader called the relationship with Abercrombie "fair to good."

Both leaders said Abercrombie still has problems communicating or organizing his legislative agenda.

"He has an aggressive and abrasive leadership style," one House leader added.

A succession of communications and public relations teams has sought to keep both Abercrombie's temper and unpredictable explosiveness under control during his public speeches and news conferences.

All those negatives, however, have to be measured against the power of the office .... when Abercrombie held his first Oahu campaign rally in Kakaako on Sunday, many of those attending were family members of Abercrombie appointees.... (A Potemkin Campaign Rally LOL!)

Related: Abercrombie Anger Management Tour

read ... Abercrombie has the power of incumbency in his favor

Abercrombie Refuses Senate President's Request for Water Commission Nominee List

CB: Earlier this month Abercrombie selected Kamanamaikalani Beamer and Milton Pavao to serve on the commission, which has a history of being embroiled in debates over the allocation of water resources between large ag interests and native Hawaiian taro farmers.

The governor’s selections were made from a list of candidates chosen by a nominating committee for the Commission on Water Resource Management. Kim requested the full list of nominees, according to correspondence between the Office of Information Practice, CWRM and Tony Benabese, the manager of boards and commissions for Abercrombie.

Last year, Civil Beat also requested this information from the governor’s office and CWRM. But the requests were denied and the Office of Information Practices, which oversees Hawaii’s open records law, said that the governor’s office did not have to disclose the lists....

read ... Rejects Senator’s Request for Water Commission List

HB632: 'Cornerstone of Transparency?

CB ... legislation described by some supporters as "the cornerstone to increasing transparency in government" is nudging toward approval by Hawaii lawmakers.

House Bill 632 requires the state's executive branch departments to make electronic "data sets" available to the public, helping groups like the media to more easily analyze campaign spending documents and the like.

The measure is backed by the Office of Information Practices and the Office of Information Management and Technology, and open data advocates like Burt Lum, Ryan Ozawa, Peter Kay and Jared Kuroiwa.

The only holdup appears to be agreeing on compromise language for HB 632, since the Senate amended the House version of the bill.

The bill was changed following the input of Edward Pei, executive director of the Hawaii Bankers Association, the trade association representing all FDIC-insured institutions operating in the state.

"We agree with the intent of this measure to make appropriate electronic data sets available to the public," Pei testified in March. "However, we are concerned with the public disclosure of proprietary information, and any information that is prohibited from disclosure by law or contract."

Reached Monday, Pei told Civil Beat the bankers association was initially concerned that material it turns over to the state's Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs might "inadvertently" be released.

read ... Transparent

Hanabusa brings in $230K as she eyes other offices

SA: Contributions to Hana­busa included $10,000 from DANPAC — the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Ino­uye's political action committee — and $5,000 each from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Carpenters Legislative Improvement Committee of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, and the Committee on Letter Carriers Political Education.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, elected last year to her first term in District 2 representing rural Oahu and the neighbor islands, raised $84,000 in the first quarter. She has about $321,000 on hand and $28,000 in debt.

Her donations included the maximum $5,000 from the Air Line Pilots Association International PAC and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

CB: Hanabusa Campaign Fundraising Falls Short Of What Schatz Has Reported

CB:  Cash Call: Rep. Nishimoto Holds Fundraiser During Session

Read ... Target Abercrombie

Willes Lee Trashes Lingle, GOP

PR: Willes Lee, a former state party chairman, had this entry on the Lincoln Day dinner in a recent email blast to conservatives, referring to party chairman David Chang, RNC woman Miriam Hellreich, and RNC man Ted Liu:

C/H/L couldn't get a speaker. Lee (UT Senate) was here with GRIH. Kibbe (FreedomWorks) was here last week. I helped bring Keene (NRA President) for the FNRA dinner. Reader "[Chang] brags that he was able to convince GWB to go to South Korea..but the best he can do for our Lincoln Dinner is Lingle." Why would HRP ask Lingle? Why would she accept? If not someone we care to see, why not a contender for Governor or US Senate? Lingle "I remain hopeful about the future because of the emergence of new, young and dynamic leadership at the Hawai'i Republican Party and in the State Legislature." I believe her, just like when she said that she was tied with Hirono.

read ... Willes Lee

HB642 Would Ban Firing of Workers

HR: House Bill 642 — “successive owner” legislation — which would force people purchasing a business to retain all employees. In the current draft, the legislation designates the restriction on businesses with 100 or more employees. But as one lawmaker points out, that can easily be lowered this year or in future years to affect companies with considerably fewer employees.

The bill is “flawed” because it does not designate how long the employees must be retained. “So, as it stands, employees must be kept for perpetuity,” Kalapa said.

Some businesses are sold because they are not doing well financially. Under the new legislation, downsizing or changing the workforce is not an option.

“What investor is going to want to go into that deal?” Kalapa asked.

The legislation could backfire and lead owners to lay off employees before the business is sold – as a condition of the sale.

“The legislation has not been given much thought, and seems to be very bad legislation that will close the doors on future investment in Hawaii,” Kalapa said.

Organizations such as the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, Maui Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, Retail Merchants of Hawaii and Smart Business Hawaii, oppose the measure.

However, unions including the AFL-CIO and ILWU Local 142 testified in support of the legislation

read ... Job Security

Dozens of Hawaii Residents Standing Near Explosions at Boston Marathon are Safe

HR: "Many of the Hawaii crew were standing around the family and friends area when it happened. We had three or four friends out in the field but thanks to social media we were able to ascertain quickly that everyone was ok."

Angela Kwong said on Facebook that she is "ok" - and believes other Hawaii runners are too - but they are "a bit shaken up."

Chris Benjamin, president and chief operating officer for Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., was also in the marathon. He could not be reached for comment, but Suzy Hollinger, a spokesperson for A&B, said:. "Chris indicated that he finished the race 8 minutes prior to the explosion and was in the finisher chute about 50 yards from the bomb when it went off. He said he heard a loud explosion and then saw smoke billowing up, but not much else. His family was exiting the grandstand area across Boylston when the blast went off.  Chris and his family are all safe and his teammates and their families are safe."

read ... Hawaii Marathoners

Judge: Lesbians Can Force Their Way into Your Home if You Rent Out Rooms

AP: The Hawaii First Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of a Southern California couple who sued Aloha Bed & Breakfast for discrimination in 2011, Lambda Legal announced Monday. In 2007, Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford tried to book a room at the bed and breakfast because it’s in Hawaii Kai, the same east Honolulu neighborhood where the friend they were visiting lived  (insert excuse here).

When Cervelli specified they would need one bed (driving home the question), the owner asked if they were lesbians. Cervelli responded truthfully (setting up for this lawsuit) and the owner said she was uncomfortable having lesbians in her house because of her religious views, the lawsuit said.  (Question: How long did they have to look for somebody who would reject them?  How many other B&Bs did they stay at trying to set up this suit?) 

The (judge naturally found that) bed and breakfast violated the state public accommodations law (even though that law does not apply to individual homeowners renting 4 or fewer rooms) and is ordered to stop discriminating against same-sex couples, according to the ruling dated April 11. The public accommodations law prohibits establishments that provide lodging to (more than 4) transient guests (at a time) from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, race, color, ancestry, religion, disability and sex —including gender identity or expression.  (Now it applies to any private home that rents out rooms.)

Jim Hochberg, a Honolulu attorney representing the bed and breakfast’s owner said Monday the ruling doesn’t consider her First Amendment rights. “The public needs to be aware of this decision because it has far-reaching consequences,” he said.  (He said a lot more, but we here at AP have already decided what the story is because political correctness is the road to Valhalla.)

SA: The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Peter Renn of Lambda Legal, said Cervelli and Bufford came to Hawaii but stayed in Waikiki

Here's Who's Renting Out Rooms:

read ... Home Invasion

PLDC repeal heads to governor for OK

SA: The state House voted unanimously Monday for a bill to repeal the Public Land Development Corp., undoing a law that will likely be remembered at the state Capitol as a cautionary tale of government hubris....

The Senate had voted 23-1 and the House had voted 40-9 to create the PLDC. Abercrombie held a signing ceremony in May 2011 to announce the new agency as the development arm of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which had asked lawmakers for the exemptions from land use regulations to help speed projects.

There was no significant attempt to repeal the PLDC last session, when environmentalists and conservationists fought several bills that would have exempted state construction from environmental review. But opposition began to build last summer, and by last fall the PLDC had become both a public policy and political headache for the governor and lawmakers.

The Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter derided the PLDC as "grand theft aina," while other activists held up the new agency as a symbol of the state's coziness with private developers at the expense of conservation. County officials on the neighbor islands complained that the law threatened home rule by bypassing county zoning regulations.

Mahina Martin, a community activist on Maui, said the key lesson from the PLDC is that the public should take a more active role in the legislative process before laws are approved.

read ... Repeal and Relief

Hawaii lawmakers fund health agency reorganization

AP: He says lawmakers decided to meet Gov. Neil Abercrombie's request to fund the reorganization of the state Department of Health.

The committee also announced funding for some parts of the Office of Lt. Governor and the Department of Transportation. That includes money for highways and harbors.

Lawmakers stayed away from more contested topics such as Gov. Neil Abercrombie's proposed innovation initiative and preschool program. Both have Senate support but didn't receive any funding in the state House budget draft.

read ... Conference Committee

HB417/SB665 Subsidize MDs

BIN: There are at least two bills still alive in the Hawaii Legislature aimed at reducing the state’s shortage of doctors.

House Bill 417 would provide an as-yet undetermined amount of funding for a residency training program at Hilo Medical Center for primary care physicians.

The program is designed to get greater numbers of doctors to serve their residency period on the neighbor islands which in turn leads to more physicians deciding to open their practice there.

A similar measure, Senate Bill 665, would provide funding to expand the primary care program at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns school of medicine.

The bills have been approved by both houses of the state Legislature and are headed to conference committees to work out differences in language.

A third measure, Senate Bill 664, that would have funded the Hilo Medical Center program, was tabled by the House.

Meanwhile in Congress, the (DOA) 'Rural Preventative Health Care Training Act' of 2013 would fund training for students capable of treating the 110,000 Hawaii residents who live there and in rural areas of Oahu. (Except that it likely has no chance of ever becoming law.)

read ... Subsidized MDs

State to Regulate How Babies Sleep

AP: The Legislature wants Hawaii child care facilities to do more to protect infants from sudden death.

The state Senate approved a bill Tuesday to require child care facilities to adopt policies that ensure infants sleep safely. The bill was 1 of several that the Senate moved forward on Tuesday. The measures now go to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature.

Michelle Rho from the nonprofit organization Child and Family Service says suffocation is the leading cause of death for Hawaii children under the age of 1.

Rho says Hawaii is 1 of 7 states that don't regulate how infants and toddlers sleep in child care centers.

read ... New Regulations

Hawaii Universities Pile on the Fees, Bumping Up Students' Bills

CB: On paper, tuition for the typical local undergraduate student enrolled in the University of Hawaii at Manoa next year will run around $9,100.

But here's the caveat: students must also fork over $760 in additional fees, effectively raising students' bills an additional 8 percent. ...

And UH Manoa isn’t alone. UH’s other nine campuses have mandatory student fees, too. And so do several other colleges and universities across the state. The fees range from nothing to nearly $2,800.

read ... Tuition and Fees

As state, county mull marijuana laws, Project SAM seeks smart approaches

H247: Hamakua Councilmember Valerie Poindexter, who attended the Project SAM informational meeting, said the costs are too high for Hawaii. Poindexter said she knows those costs first-hand as she lost a son to substance abuse.

“The impacts (of legalized or decriminalized marijuana) on pubic health and safety would be disastrous,” she said. “We need to be mindful of what we’re doing.”

When asked how Hawaii should be moving forward on the issue, Kennedy and Sabet said to watch what has happened in California. For example, Los Angeles County now has more marijuana dispensaries (966) than Starbucks (840).

John Redman, executive director of Californians for Drug Free Youth Inc., accompanied the Project SAM group on its Hawaii visit. He focused on how attitudes drive behavior.

“There are two very important truths in prevention, which are not rocket science,” he said. “One is that if you increase the availability of a drug, you increase its use. The second is if you lower the risk and perception of harm of that drug, you increase its use.”

Legalizing marijuana does both, he said. “How can kids say ‘no’ when the adults around them are saying ‘yes’?”

He listed the top three substances teens tend to use and abuse as alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs. Marijuana is a distant fourth.

“That’s what our youth is using. Those top three are all legal, taxed, promoted and readily available,” he said. “Is Hawaii really going to set up a culture where kids are saying ‘no’ when adults are saying ‘yes’?”

Hoku Pagan, 15, of Waimea, and a member of The Friday Night Crew anti-drug teen group, told of her experience in California. She called a visit to Venice Beach “disturbing and scary” because pot shops employees, wearing white lab coats, accosted teenagers as they strolled the boardwalk. They touted marijuana as a remedy for stress and anxiety.

read ... Project SAM

Chris Deedy Defense Fund Raises $50K

CB: A group calling itself “Support Chris Deedy” has raised nearly $13,000 for the federal agent’s defense through the website IndieGoGo, which is similar to Kickstarter in that it allows people to donate funds to a particular cause or startup venture.

The group had a goal of raising $50,000 by a Feb. 20 fundraiser deadline. It only made it a quarter of the way with 109 financiers.

read ... Support Chris Deedy

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