Alternatives to Rail: Cato Institute, Local Leaders Speak Out
Is the IRS Attempting to Intimidate Hawaii TEA Parties?
SB2226: $25M Internet Tax
10-cents-per-bag Tax: Greens, Big Business, Big Government team up to Rip Off Consumers
Ban Would Favor Clayton Hee's Irish Opihi Monopoly
Gallup: Hawaii #1 in Health, Wellbeing
Study: Hawaii Tops Country for Highest Number of Services Taxed
Hanabusa’s answer to High Gas Prices: Give More Money to Biofool Scammers
Assisted Suicide Activist Claims Death Prescriptions Are Already Being Written In Hawaii
CB: “And Dr. (Robert) Nathanson here has said, and I have seen him do it, when he hands someone a prescription for potentially life-ending medication, he always says to them, ‘You know, I hope you never have to use it. I hope it sits on your shelf. I hope that you are able to have an experience with minimal suffering and you never find a need to use it.’" – Barbara Coombs Lee
(Is Nathanson guilty of attempted manslaughter? Is Lee an accessory?)
read … Kill Off Grandma
Vote on Hawaii's Redrawn Reapportionment Maps Set for Monday, But Many Unhappy with New Boundaries
HR: The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission meets Monday at 2 p.m. at the state capitol to take action on its district maps for state Senate and House.
The commission finalized its maps in September 2011. However, after a legal challenge by two Big Island groups, which claimed non-resident military, their dependents and non-resident students were illegally included in the population count after a 1992 Constitutional Amendment ordered them removed, the Hawaii Supreme Court said the maps must be redrawn.
Very few people are satisfied with the new maps, which carve up and gerrymander traditional district lines, communities and natural geographic boundaries.
In order to placate the Big Island plaintiffs in the lawsuit, more than 100,000 non-resident military personnel and students are extracted from the state’s total population count. Most of those extractions are on Oahu, which means one Senate seat would go from Oahu to the Big Island.
read … Reapportionment
Dozens of retired public workers get Secret Pensions over $100,000/year
SA: Nearly 60 retired state and county workers in Hawaii each receive government pensions of more than $100,000 annually.
Yet you — the public — can't find out who they are.
Hawaii taxpayers do not have access to even basic pension data for retired state and county workers, even though the retirement system is funded with millions of dollars of public money.
The Employees' Retirement System, the agency that administers benefits to 40,000 Hawaii retirees or their beneficiaries, says it is prohibited under state law from disclosing benefit payouts in individual cases.
If the 59 retirees getting six-figure pensions had retired in Arizona, California, Oregon, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and at least 10 other states, their pension information would be public, accessible to anyone interested. Newspapers in some of those states occasionally do stories about the top-earning pensioners….
The ERS pays out hundreds of millions of dollars annually in benefits. In fiscal 2011, for instance, nearly $1 billion was paid.
Although the agency does not release data on individual pensioners — other than to verify that someone is receiving a pension — it is able to provide aggregate statistics, such as how many retirees get annual benefits of more than $100,000 each.
Three of those 59 collect more than $125,000 but less than $150,000, according to the ERS statistics, obtained by the Star-Advertiser through a public-records request. No one in the system collects a pension topping $150,000.
The agency also was able to disclose limited statistics about state and county retirees whose pension benefits exceeded their base pay. At least 20 who retired in 2008 and 2009 fit that category, according to the ERS.
The statistics provided to the Star-Advertiser showed that 3,161 retirees were receiving annual pensions of $50,000 or more as of Jan. 31, a nearly 20 percent increase from 10 months earlier.
read … Socialist Dividend Income
HB2253: Legislators to Boost Disability Parking Fees?
SA: State lawmakers shelved a bill that would have tacked on $1 to motor vehicle registration fees in an effort to better enforce and curb abuse of the state's parking program for people with disabilities.
House Finance Committee members were concerned that the bill would be an additional burden for car owners already paying increased vehicle registration fees as a result of several bills passed last year.
"A lot of us are getting emails from our constituents that are extremely upset," Rep. Sharon Har (D, Makakilo-Kapolei) said during a hearing Friday. "The majority of people don't violate, and it's unfortunate that a few bad apples do and now we're here trying to raise the registration fee against everybody who owns a vehicle." …
He said he will hear a bill next week, House Bill 2253, that would allow the disability board to charge fees for consultation services it provides, such as reviewing blueprints and plans for government or private agencies to make sure they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
read … Disabled parking fee put off by House
SB2422: Boosts Tobacco Tax 70%
AP: A move to hike Hawaii's tobacco tax by 70 percent is making its way to the Senate floor after clearing committee on Friday.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted 13 to 1 to move Senate Bill 2422 to the full Senate for a vote. According to the Hawaii State Legislature website, there is no companion bill in the House.
Senate Bill 2422 would raise the excise tax to a uniform 70 percent of the wholesale price of all tobacco products. This amounts to $3.20 for each pack of cigarettes, according to the Associated Press.
The measure would also ensure that little cigars, which are often flavored, are taxed at the same rate as the cigarettes they resemble, said State Sen. David Ige, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
read … Bill to Raise Hawaii Tobacco Tax Heads to Full Senate
$150K Contract to Analyze Hawaii Tax System
CB: The RFP for the contract laid out the following study areas:
- An analysis of whether the current tax system will provide sufficient revenues to meet near and long term future needs for the 21st Century.
- Alternate tax structures that could improve Hawaii’s ability to generate sufficient revenues.
The commission, which is convened every five years, is responsible for analyzing the state’s tax structure and ensuring taxpayers pay
their fair share more.
read … PFM Group Gets $150K Contract to Analyze Hawaii Tax System
Ledge: Let’s Study Gambling
CB: The Legislature will meet Wednesday to consider a bill that establishes a gambling commission to study gambling’s costs and benefits. Check
read … Gambling
AP: Hawaii GOP Caucuses Testing Advisory
AP: MAR. 13 HAWAII's GOP CAUCUSES
—Poll Closing: 8 p.m. HATZ; 2:00 a.m. ET
—Race calls: AP will make race calls Election Night in the following contested races, unless they are too close to call: GOP Presidential Caucus
—Winners: AP will send a list of unofficial winners in called races at the end of its Election Night results tabulation. The winners list also will be sent during each test. Premium services subscribers will find HI- Winners at ftp://electionsonline.ap.org/HI/anpa.
—End of Election Night results tabulation: AP will advise when it has concluded tabulating results in its Election Night reporting system, which is generally at 5 p.m. local time the day after the election.
read … Hawaii GOP Caucuses Testing Advisory
The Rise of Intermarriage: Rates, Characteristics Vary by Race and Gender
Pew: Marriage across racial and ethnic lines continues to be on the rise in the United States. The share of new marriages between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from each other increased to 15.1% in 2010, and the share of all current marriages that are either interracial or interethnic has reached an all-time high of 8.4%.1
read … Rise of Intermarriage
Prayer Should Open Legislative Sessions
CB: I am absolutely dumbfounded by the way our Hawaii State Legislature allows itself to be bullied by one man, with reference to invocations at the beginning of State House and Senate sessions. Mitch Kahle has been on a crusade of sorts to take any reference to God out of the halls of our State Legislature, and using the Constitution of the United States as his excuse for his rude and offensive behavior.
Currently the Hawaii House of Representatives is taking up a bill to be able to deal with those who would disrupt the proceedings of the House. Mr. Kahle did just that under the pretense of Free Speech at the Hawaii State Senate while I was leading the invocation. He was forcibly removed from the chamber and consequently filed a lawsuit and won. The problem is though he has the right to free speech; the appropriate when and where of that free speech escapes the sensibilities of Mr. Kahle.
Freedom of speech has to do with the fact that we have the right to speak out against the government without the fear of being muzzled because the powers that be don’t like what we are saying. Mr. Kahle has interpreted freedom of speech to mean that he can interrupt and co-opt an event at his discretion, as he did at the Honolulu City Lights event this past December when Pastor Wayne Cordeiro voiced one of the opening prayers. Interestingly enough, when the Buddhist Priest voiced a prayer that was filled with Buddhist theology, he said nothing.
read … Prayer Should Open Legislative Sessions
Honolulu Named one of 100 top Communities for Young People
HR: The Department of Community Services announced today that the City and County of Honolulu has been named one of 100 Best Communities For Young People by the 2011 America’s Promise Alliance. ING will present the award to Mayor Peter Carlisle on Thursday, March 1, at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.
read … Honolulu
Green Police Nail Photographer for taking Pictures of Sharks Eating Whale
CB: A pack of 25 to 40 sharks charged after a distressed humpback whale in the waters off of the Big Island’s Kailua-Kona coast. It was the start of whale season, and trailing behind the sharks was a swarm of local boaters.
At some point during the two-hour pursuit, Porter Watson, a local resident and marine videographer, jumped into the water, drifting within a football field’s length of the whale while capturing footage of preying tiger sharks.
“I happened to drift into where the dead whale was lying with a shark feeding on one pectoral fin,” he told Civil Beat of the November 2006 incident. “The whale was lying on her side on the water.”
Officials of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration disagreed that the whale was dead at the time and slapped Watson with a $1,000 fine for violating federal law by getting within 100 yards of the endangered mammal. State boating officers, who partner with NOAA, had been at the scene waving boats away from the whale and submitted evidence against Watson during a hearing.
(If people see images of nature's true brutality it would undermine the State Religion -- Environmentalism. If the NOAA and the DLIR were honest, they would charge Mr Watson with blasphemy.)
read … We must not let people see how vicious nature really is
Kauai: Does Chief Report to Mayor or Police Commission?
HNN: On Monday, the Kauai County's Charter Review Commission is scheduled to meet.
Board members will try to determine whether Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry reports to the police commission or to the mayor.
The power struggle arose when Mayor Bernard Carvalho put Chief Perry on administrative leave at the beginning of the month.
The police commission ruled that Perry could return to work, but Carvalho disagreed, and the chief was denied access to his office, badge and gun.
read … Power Struggle
SB2304: Reforms Police Identification Line-Ups
SA: …there are simple, low-cost reforms that can greatly reduce the number of misidentifications, without impairing accurate identifications. Through decades of social science research, scientists now have a much better understanding of how memory and identification work. From this knowledge the best practices for identification procedures have evolved, leaving behind some of the misconceptions of the past.
For example, it is now known that the risk of misidentification is sharply reduced if the police officer administering a photo or live lineup is not aware of who the suspect is. The witness viewing a lineup should be told that the perpetrator might not be in the lineup, that the officer administering the lineup does not know which person is the suspect, and that the investigation will continue regardless of the lineup result.
These reforms have already been implemented or disseminated in Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Law enforcement in these state, though initially skeptical, have come to embrace them after seeing how effective they are.
The state Senate Ways and Means Committee will hold hearings on Tuesday on Senate Bill 2304, which would codify these best practices. The justice system demands that evidence be reliable before someone's liberty is taken away. Eyewitness evidence is no exception….
read … Support legal reforms to improve reliability of eyewitness evidence
Senators to Discuss How to Let Lots of Criminals Out of Prison
SA: Two Senate committees will hear more details of the plan from the Abercrombie administration on Tuesday.
The idea is to learn what the administration has planned so lawmakers can work on legislation that will help prepare inmates for successful reentry.
Hawaii does not have enough prison space for all its inmates, so roughly 1,800 — or one-third — are housed in mainland prisons.
The Tuesday briefing was announced soon after a lawsuit against the state was filed over the death of a Hawaii inmate who was killed at an Arizona prison in 2010.
read … Soft on Crime
Honolulu-Based Coast Guard Relies on 42-year Old Cutters
SA: The retirements also were envisioned as the Coast Guard brought on new replacement 418-foot national security cutters.
The Coast Guard went ahead with the decommissioning of cutters home-ported elsewhere, with the Hamilton going to the Philippines and the Chase to Nigeria.
But in Honolulu neither the decommissioning of the Jarvis or Rush, nor the arrival of a replacement national security cutter, ever materialized.
That's left the Honolulu Coast Guard to patch up and repair — at increased cost — the ships that reach the farthest around the Pacific to conduct fisheries enforcement, search and rescue, and other law enforcement and national defense missions.
read … Cutters
Gay Marine's homecoming kiss in Hawaii shared on Facebook
A photo of two male Marines kissing at a homecoming reportedly in Hawaii is drawing overwhelming support and a few detractors on the Facebook page where it was posted over the weekend.
National Public Radio identified the pair as Sgt. Brandon Morgan and his partner Dalan Wells and said the kiss was shared back in Hawaii.
(Take a good look at what is celebrated while Marines in combat are subject to restrictive rules of engagement and endless harassment and nit-picking by politicians who value their career over force protection and operational capability.)
read … Gays in the Military