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Tuesday, February 14, 2012
February 14, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:34 PM :: 2329 Views :: Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party
 

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted February 13

UH: Most Financial Records Recoverable After Fire

Hawaiian Airlines First to Receive Carbon Credits

Hawaiian is Nation's #1 On-Time Airline for 8th Straight Year

GE Tax: 'Low' rate belied by Broad Base

Senate Committee Drops Plan to Impose Tobacco Tax on Tobacco Substitute 

Even With 69% Obama support, Star-Adv Can only find 39% Approval of Abercrombie

SA: Gov. Neil Abercrombie's job approval rating is 39 percent, an indication that the Demo­crat has not shaken the remnants of a wobbly first year in charge.

A new Hawaii Poll found that even traditional Demo­crats and union workers, the foundation of the governor's political support, are split or unhappy with his performance.

His job approval rating has slipped since the last Hawaii Poll in May, when it was 50 percent, but has improved from a Public Policy Polling survey in October, when it was 30 percent, at the time the lowest of any governor in the nation. (But that poll didn’t have as many Obamabots or Democrats in the sample.)

The Hawaii Poll showed that Abercrombie is viewed more positively on the neighbor islands than on Oahu. Younger and low-income voters also tend to give him higher ratings. Demo­crats are divided — 47 percent approve of his performance — while just 35 percent of union households like the job the governor is doing, a scar on his labor-friendly image. He also scores poorly with independents, at 28 percent approval.

The poll was taken by telephone among 771 registered voters statewide from Jan. 26 to Feb. 5. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points….

read … Nobody Wants Neil

Cayetano Promises Focus on Oahu's Budget, Infrastructure Needs

HR: At least 300 people crammed into Ben Cayetano’s new campaign headquarters on Sunday, February 12, to give their support for his Honolulu mayoral bid.

As Cayetano noted in brief remarks, his support comes from all parties and political philosophies. Democrats including Rep. Della Au Belatti, Sen. Clayton Hee and Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi; Republicans such as Sen. Sam Slom and many members of his party, and former Libertarian Party Head Tracy Ryan were among the people to lend their support. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a long time friend of Cayetano, did not show, but Abercrombie's wife, Dr. Nancie Caraway, did attend.

Many well-known opponents of the city’s Honolulu rail system, including Dr. Panos Prevedouros, University of Hawaii Professor Randall Roth, Dr. Michael Uechi, Dennis Callan and Honolulutraffic.com’s Cliff Slater also came to endorse the only candidate opposed to the city’s plan to construct a $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project from Kapolei to Honolulu.

read … Cayetano

Cayetano Run could Boost Case’s Chances in Primary

Borreca: The interesting part is that when the vote is parsed, it shows that if Hirono wins the primary, she is likely to get just half of the Case voters, with the other half going to Lingle. But if Case wins the primary, he would get 71 percent of the Hirono votes. That analysis shows that among Case's Democrats, many are not that comfortable with a progressive such as Hirono.

Add to that the open question of Cayetano's campaign. If the former Democratic governor's popularity actually draws the anti-rail conservatives to the primary, it could serve the unintended consequence of drawing more voters to Case's column.

read … Hawaii Poll data suggest exciting election ahead

Obama’s D.O.A. Budget has $250M for Rail

PBN: President Barack Obama has requested $250 million in federal funds for the Honolulu rail transit project in the 2013 fiscal year budget.

That is $100 million more than any rail project in the country, according to a statement from Sen. Daniel Inouye’s office. The money would come from Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program.

Heritage: White House Spin Machine Hits Brick Wall

CB: Local Officials On Obama Budget Request

read … D.O.A.

One in 12 Oahu commuters take the bus to work, study says

PBN: Only about 8 percent of Oahu commuters use public transportation, according to an analysis of the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau U.S. Census.

The 36,935 workers, representing 7.9 percent of the 467,598 workers on Oahu, ride public buses operated by Oahu Transit Services, the only public transit on the island.

The percentages were much smaller — less than 2 percent — for the Big Island, Maui and Kauai.

The Honolulu metropolitan area was ranked No. 13 among 942 metro and micropolitan areas for dependence on public transit, according to the analysis by On Numbers, an affiliate of Pacific Business News.

read … The Bus

Lingle Speaks up for Legal Reform, Against SLAPP Suits

In making the case for legal reform in the United States, former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle said there is "no downside" to suing someone in this country.

"This is the only country that has what's known as the American Rule, which says you can sue someone and if you lose, you have no downside, you don't pay anything," Lingle said before the Kaneohe Business Group last month in an appearance to promote her U.S. Senate candidacy. "Other industrialized nations, if you run up bills in the court system, and you lose, there's some downside to it, you have to pay the costs of the other side."….

Alaska requires the loser of a case to pay some portion of the other party's attorney fees, according to the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure. The law in that state entails a formula to determine what percentage of the fees the losing party has to pay, and it is within a judge's discretion to award more than that amount.

"Even if you file a civil case and you prevail and there's no monetary reward, you can still file a request for attorneys fees (to be paid for by the losing party)," said Anchorage-based lawyer Kara Nyquist in a phone interview. "You can also get your costs reimbursed. In Alaska, we really do have a mechanism to discourage people from filing litigation."

But Alaska is an exception. Most states do not have a legal structure in place that requires the losing party to pay the prevailing party's fees, though individual judges can still order losing parties to do so.

As legal scholar Matthew Wilson wrote in a 2005 paper for the Emory International Law Review: "While the American Rule dates back to the eighteenth century, numerous exceptions to this rule started appearing in America around 1950 on both the federal and state levels. Except in the state of Alaska, these exceptions did not typically take the form of general 'loser pays' liability for attorney’s fees."

Wilson states that "although the absoluteness of the American Rule has diminished over time, it still remains the benchmark of U.S. litigation."

read … Anti-SLAPP

Lingle on Furlough Fridays: Shouldn’t Have Trusted BOE

CB: “Well especially with the furloughs, I wish I had not taken the word of the BOE that they would implement a furlough on non-instructional days. And that was a promise they made to me, and so I went along with them. And when it came out that the schedule was on instructional days, my entire administration was shocked by that. I would not have believed them based on what ended up happening. So when I look back, I think it was a mistake to take their word at that time.”

read … Lingle on Furlough Fridays: Shouldn’t Have Trusted BOE

‘Most favored nation’ HGEA Grabs for 60-40 on Health Insurance

KHON: HGEA is seeking a refund for members who paid an additional 10 percent on health insurance premiums from July 1 through December 1 of last year. During the five month period in question, UPW members paid 40 percent of their health insurance premiums under an expired contract, while many HGEA members paid 50 percent.
House Finance Chairman Rep. Marcus Oshiro believes reserves in the state’s health insurance trust fund, or EUTF, will cover any reimbursements HGEA members may be due.
“I don't think it'll be a budget buster given the current fund balance in the EUTF fund and their projections for this year,” said Oshiro, “but it may be an additional cost item for us to review and to consider this session.”
Currently, the EUTF has $9 million in reserves for active members and $96 million in reserves for retirees.
On Monday Neil Dietz, the state’s chief negotiator, met with HGEA leadership but no breakthrough was announced.
“Neil continues to have ongoing discussions with HGEA regarding the (most favored nation clause),” said Donalyn Dela Cruz, the governor’s spokeswoman. “This is a process in which he has indicated the state must ensure it is right for HGEA members and the State.”
HGEA is also demanding that members not paid through the state’s general fund be exempt from pay cuts, a stipulation that is part of the UPW agreement. Also at issue are salary schedules used to calculate pay cuts as well as overtime for HGEA workers.
“By not impacting the salary schedules then (HGEA) employees who retire will see that their pay has not been adversely affected,” Perreira explained.

How Neil Started this: $126M Giveaway: Abercrombie quietly boosts spending on Public Employees’ Insurance

Precisely as Predicted: Four of a Kind: UPW, UHPA get big Fat Pay Raise—and HSTA suit could give one to HGEA

read … HGEA

Star-Adv, Abercrombie Ignore ‘Tutu and Me’

SA: It is encouraging to know that our legislators are aware of the importance of early childhood education (preschool) and the critical need that we have in Hawaii to ensure that our youngest learners are entering school with a good educational foundation.

In your front-page article on the state's plan for early education ("Officials target early learning," (Star-Advertiser, Feb. 5), one of the current options for early learning in the state of Hawaii was left out. Family-child interaction learning programs, such as the Tutu and Me Traveling Preschool, Keiki O Ka ‘Aina Family Learning Center and Keiki Steps have been serving families with young children, ages birth-5, in communities throughout our state for more than 10 years. These programs, which require that a parent or adult caregiver attend the bi-weekly or tri-weekly sessions with the child, have been successful in both preparing children for school and in strengthening families.

The programs mentioned above meet the needs of children/families in the "gap" group — those who do not qualify for Head Start but yet cannot afford a quality preschool education.

In addition, they serve families who for various reasons choose to keep their keiki at home (cared for by a parent, tutu or other relative) instead of sending them to a drop-off preschool. The tremendous advantage of family-child interaction learning programs is the integration of family into the preschool educational process. Longitudinal studies point to the lasting positive effects of having caregivers participating in the preschool experience of their children. Caregivers learn effective child-care skill sets that become available to other members of the extended family….

It is important for the administration and Legislature to include these successful programs as a viable option in the preschool experience offered to the keiki of Hawaii.

read … What? The Star-Adv left out the one pro-family program? What a surprise!

Sex Assault Case Raises Questions About DOE's Protection of Students

CB: Not the first time Hawaii department has failed to report sex abuse of student to police.

read … Your Majestic DoE at Work

Progressives Frantic over UHPA Endorsement of Ed Case

ILind: The Donkeylicious blog added this history:

Lots of Democrats have cast various kinds of bad votes, but what really stands out about Case is his support for cutting taxes for rich people. In 2006, he was one of only 34 Democrats (who sided with 196 Republicans) to support reducing the estate tax. He also was one of 15 Democrats (who sided with 229 Republicans) to support cutting capital gains taxes and dividend taxes. And then there’s this crazy vote, which I’ll let Down With Tyranny explain with characteristic force:

Back in 2005 when Case was an astoundingly bad congressman, his Republican allies tried to defund Planned Parenthood by cutting Title X family planning out of the budget– just as they’ve done this year. This year Mazie Hirono strenuously opposed that, of course. Back in 2005 an amendment by far right sociopath Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) targeted NPR, PBS, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Title X family planning all in one shot. Only one Democrat crossed the aisle to vote for the most extreme piece of legislation of that session… Ed Case.

Not even a majority of Republicans were that extreme (in those days). 197 Democrats and 122 Republicans voted NO and it failed 102-320. But Case voted YES, something even right-wing extremists like Darrell Issa, Steve Pearce, Denny Rehberg, Devin Nunes, John Culberson, Buck McKeon and Jerry Lewis, all of whom voted for essentially the same crap this year, were unwilling to do then. Even Tom DeLay and Henry Hyde found it too extreme and voted against it!

Apparently it was legislation to protect lots of tax cuts by cutting spending on programs including those above. And Ed Case was, indeed, the only Democrat to vote for it.

This isn’t the first time the faculty union has made a contrarian endorsement. The union bucked the Democratic establishment and threw its weight behind Linda Lingle in her three races for governor (1998,2002, and 2006), if I recall correctly.

And in 2006, the union described its political effort: “No other interest group endorsed across party lines as extensively as did we.”

read … UH faculty endorses conservative Dem Ed Case

HB2788 Waikiki Casino Tabled

HR: The House Tourism Committee tabled the measure, HB 2788, following two hours of testimony, most of it from opponents dedicated to keeping Hawaii one of only two states in the country without legalized gambling.

Pro-gaming witness Tom Shields said he represents a Detroit-based casino company “that would like to invest a couple of hundred million dollars into your state coffers to build a new casino here in Hawaii.”

Shields’ company, Market Resources Group of Michigan, has been touting legalized gambling here for more than a decade on behalf of owners of the MotorCity Casino in Detroit.

Assisting him in that effort has been Hawaii-based lobbyist John Radcliffe, who again urged the Tourism Committee to pass the measure to grow the local economy and help reduce longstanding, multi-billion dollar deficits in the pension and health care programs for active and retired government workers.

But opponent after opponent, ranging from Honolulu police to the Hawaii Tourism Authority to numerous churches and faith-based organizations, spoke against the bill.

“Slot machines are the crack cocaine of gambling,” said Grace Furukawa of the League of Women Voters.

Committee chairman Tom Brower, D-23rd (Waikiki, Ala Moana), said he has studied the issue of legalized gambling. (and supports it.)

read … Gambling Bill Tabled

Radcliffe, Brower: Gambling Opponents are ‘Theocrats’ Trying to Impose Religious Law

CB: Tourism Chair Tom Brower, who represents Waikiki, while respectful, seemed to downplay (sneer at) the concerns of religious groups that warned of social ills should HB 2788 become law….

Radcliffe says: "We need new sources of revenue, and the only thing we got is tourism," he argues. "There are 307 million Americans who already have casinos and gambling in their state. Forty-eight states have it, two don't — us and Utah. Utah is a Mormon theocracy surrounded by five states that have over 280 casinos within driving distance."

Radcliffe believes he has the votes in the Capitol to get a gambling bill passed and expresses confidence that his friend, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, would support gambling. He does not want to wait until 2013, a non-election year….

Radcliffe knows who and what he is up against: religious conservatives, many Republicans and "older, retired folks" who want to keep things as they are.

On his side, he says, are labor groups, Hawaiians (really) and Sens. Malama Solomon and Clayton Hee — Hawaiian lawmakers OHA cronies who have introduced gambling bills this session.

It's a difficult sell; the more than two dozen gambling bills introduced last year were shelved, and none (as of this writing) have been scheduled a new hearing.

Besides HB 2788, the only other new measure to be heard this session is one calling for gambling on Hawaii Home Lands. A House proposal was killed last week.

A recent Civil Beat poll found that most voters don't want gambling, let alone a casino.

In Control of Abercrombie: Gaming Industry Lobbyist, Progressive activist screen Abercrombie cabinet picks

read … John Radcliffe — Prophet or Pariah?

Council will take up measure requiring retailers to use only biodegradable bags

SA: Businesses would be prohibited from providing non-biodegradable bags to customers under an ordinance being proposed by the City Council that would make Hono­lulu the last of the state's four counties to adopt restrictions on the use of plastic bags.

A measure requiring businesses to distribute "compostable" bags, recyclable paper bags or reusable bags to customers is to be introduced Wednesday at the Council's regular monthly meeting….

Wednesday's City Council meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Kapolei Hale.

read … Que Bono?

Attack on Free Speech: Cyberbullying Bill to Regulate Internet Comments?

KHON: While the Hawaii Youth Services Network testified in opposition.

"Criminal prosecution is often not the appropriate response to cyberbullying. Mediation and restorative justice are approaches to be preferred."

The Honolulu City Prosecuting Attorney submitted written testimony expressing concerns over the bill, and the State Attorney General believes the bill as drafted requires significant amendments.

The Senate EDT Committee plans to vote on this bill on Wednesday.

read … Bill to provide more protection to cyberbullying victims

HB2396: Legislators to Outlaw Shell Collecting?

KGI: House Bill 2396 proposed amending the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes by deleting the “one-gallon per person per day” exception to a prohibition against removal of sand and other beach or marine deposits.

The House Water, Land and Ocean Resources Committee on Monday deferred the bill, essentially killing it for the remainder of this session.

But a Senate version of the bill is still alive.

The Senate Water, Land and Housing Committee on Thursday recommended that the bill pass with amendments.

Rep. Derek Kawakami, D-14th District, a member of the House committee, said most people are concerned about large amounts of sand being removed from beaches.

He said he wasn’t sure of HB 2396’s intent or whether it would have outlawed shell collecting.

“That’s the first thing I thought when I saw the bill, my memories of me down at the beach collecting shells with my mom,”Kawakami said. “Essentially, I think it may have made that type of activity illegal.”

Read … Your Legislature at Work

Hawaii Agency Wants $123,000 To Review Records

CB: The Hawaii Department of Human Services wants $123,000 to look at all public records requests it received in the last year.

Officials there say it will take 11,591 man-hours — or a year and four months — to search for the records and copy an estimated 2,500 pages of documents.

ILind: Bill to apply sunshine law to social media use moving forward in Senate

read … What are they hiding?

Representative Gene Ward Addresses H.B. No. 1699, - Meals

 

Representative Gene Ward addresses H.B. No. 1699, H.D. 1 Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 228-12 RELATING TO LABOR.(Meal Breaks) AS AMENDED, PASS SECOND READING, REFER TO JUDICIARY
Requires employers to grant employees half-hour meal breaks. Does not count "eating while working" as a meal break. Unless the employee works for a continuously-operational facility regulated by environmental permit, the employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purposes of eating a meal. Does NOT mandate a half-hour meal break if: The employee works 5 hours or less in a day; provided that this hour limitation does not apply if there is a collective bargaining agreement that provides for meal breaks; or the employee is scheduled to work no more than 6 hours, and chooses, after continuously working 5.5 hours, to go home early. Imposes a penalty for violation - For every lunch break denied, the employer is liable to the employee an amount that is equal to 1.5 hours of the employee's regular wage, regardless of whether or not the employee is working overtime.
Contact:
Repward@capitol.hawaii.gov
Excerpt from Capitol TV:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSYTbPbAmw0

Representative George Fontaine supports Move Over Bill H.B. No. 2030 - Traffic Safety;

 

Representative George Fontaine supports H.B. No. 2030, H.D. 1 RELATING TO THE STATEWIDE TRAFFIC CODE. (Emergency Vehicles; Traffic Safety; Passing; Vacate Lane; Reduce Speed) AS AMENDED, PASS SECOND READING, REFER TO JUDICIARY

Contact: repfontaine@capitol.hawaii.gov

Excerpt from Capitol TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ_T5NYoCqA

Maui Council to Get 4-year Terms

MN: A proposal that would give County Council members a "maximum term, never to return," was narrowly shot down Monday by the county Charter Commission.

Commissioners did move forward with a proposal to change the council from two- to four-year terms. Without absolute term limits, council members who exceed their allotted time in office would still be able to run again after sitting out a term.

read … Proposal on council terms aims to reward ‘good job’

Ex-State Harbors Official Charged With Theft, Forgery

HR: The forgery counts allege that Choi in 2008 forged what purported to be a “procurement bid” from Keehi Marine, Inc., operator of a boatyard at Sand Island on the Honolulu waterfront.

KHON: Ex-boating official accused of stealing more than $100,000

read … Theft, Forgery

Rapist Could've Got 40 Years, Gets Probation

SA: A 43-year-old Wai­anae man accused of raping a young girl and beating up her brother when he tried to intervene pleaded no contest today in a plea agreement by which he will serve no prison time.

But a state judge warned defendant Thomas K. Kamaka Jr. that any violation of the agreement could send him to prison for as long as 40 years.

read … Next Time We’ll Really Mean It! Really!

Hawaii and East Carolina: Together at Last

…the two conferences still have a vast store of schools, and the Mountain West is about to absorb a few teams from the Western Athletic Conference. As such, the future hybrid league will likely be 18-24 teams strong and extend across five time zones. (Thanks, Hawaii!) Currently, the roster projects as Southern Miss, Marshall, East Carolina, UAB, Tulsa, Rice, UTEP, Tulane, Wyoming, Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV, New Mexico, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii for football only—16 schools for football and 15 for all sports, meaning there’s expansion yet to do to hit the 18-24 team target. The new superconference also appears to show signs of the increasing willingness to have a playoff in college football, as it will decide its champion with a two semifinals and a title game.

SA: Travel subsidies unsettled issue

read … Super-Conference

Navy Wave-Powered Buoy Produces 400 Watts

AOL: The Navy and Ocean Power Technologies Inc. recently completed successful testing of an autonomous buoy, called the PowerBuoy, (similar to one tested off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, pictured above). The PowerBuoy taps the almost constant wave action on the ocean's surface to produce the electricity that runs an on-board radar and communications payload.

During a three-month pilot period beginning last August, the PowerBuoy was deployed about 25 miles off the New Jersey coast. It consistently surpassed the Navy's specifications, which called for a payload power delivery on a continuing basis of 150 watts--enough juice to run the radar and communications system.
The actual results were considerably better than expected as the PowerBuoy supplied continuous power in excess of 400 watts over the three-months at sea.

read … Navy Proves Waves Can Help Power Maritime Security Operations

Obama eyes more gay rights in Military

WE: Satisfied with the muffled reaction inside the military to his lifting of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” President Obama is telling gay advocates that he wants to expand homosexual rights in the military, likely in the direction of expanding benefits available to heterosexual couples to same-sex partners.

As the president tells it, the inspiration for his efforts came during the first family’s Christmas vacation in Hawaii when three U.S. Marines, lifting weights along side the president in a military gym, approached “very quietly” to thank him for ending the anti-gay policy instituted by former President Bill Clinton.

“I didn’t even know whether they were gay or lesbian,” the president said at a private fundraiser this month. “I didn’t ask, because that wasn’t the point. The point was these were outstanding Marines who appreciated the fact that everybody was going to be treated fairly.”

At the Washington home of two lesbian donors that netted $1.4 million, the president ended his story with a pledge to push forward on other issues of military fairness. “We’re going to have more work to do on this issue,” he said to about 40 who paid $38,800 each to attend. “There’s still areas where fairness is not the rule. And we’re going to have to keep on pushing in the same way…

read … More for gays

Pentagon May Oust Troops Involuntarily to Meet Reductions in Budget Plan

Bloomberg: The Defense Department may have to force soldiers, Marines or other members of the military out of the services for the first time since the aftermath of the Cold War to achieve the spending reductions in its budget proposal.

The Pentagon plans to cut 67,100 soldiers from active and reserve Army units and the Army National Guard in the five years starting Oct. 1, as well as 15,200 from the active and reserve ranks of the Marine Corps as part of an effort to save $487 billion over a decade, according to the budget sent to Congress today. The Navy and Air Force would lose fewer people -- 8,600 and 1,700 respectively -- because of their role in a strategic shift toward the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

read … Less for Soldiers

Hawaii Reporter Celebrates 10th Anniversary

HR: McWilliams left the company in late 2010, and launched another business with former contributor Laura Brown, but the McWilliams retained partial ownership with her husband Bob until 2011 when investors bought out the couple.

read … 10th

Interview with Jamie Story

Not one word about Grassroot Institute?

read … Interview with Jamie Story

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