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Tuesday, January 18, 2011
January 18, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:11 PM :: 5501 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Calif. Mayor’s Open Letter to Honolulu Council: Instant Runoff Voting is undemocratic

Abercrombie:  I am Legislature’s messenger boy, boat is about to capsize, I will not write budget

(Borreca cut out the parts where Abercrombie really started babbling about Civil Unions being the same as the Voting Rights Act and about the birthers.  Nonetheless, Abercrombie still manages to make an utter fool of himself.)

A: Everybody knows we are doing this together. I am not risking the Legislature writing the budget because that is what the Legislature is going to do.

I am clearly in the position of being the messenger as far as the Legislature is concerned; I don't dictate to the Legislature. That approach is well understood by all legislators. The real logistical situation that has to be resolved is the leadership question in the House.

This is a collaborative endeavor in which I am essentially the messenger to the Legislature.

Q: Will you eliminate any existing state programs?

A: It is more likely they will be transformed rather than eliminated. You can't just waltz into the room and say because of efficiency in government we just won't bother with this.

It is easy to see where just cutting programs isn't more efficient; actually it is dysfunctional and interferes with or impedes the provision of services.

It may be that we will be adding programs; that is were the reprioritization comes in.

I don't know that the Legislature, let alone the public, will agree with all this. That's what a legislative session is for.

I think it is my duty, my obligation, to not just kiss this off to the Legislature and simply come in, hack, hack, hack and good luck.

It is not a matter of the boat sinking -- it is a question of whether it is going to huli (Borreca falsifies translation as "turn, reverse or change," but Abercrombie means “capsize”). If it is sinking, you just keep bailing, but we are at the point of whether the boat is going to huli.

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Common Cause backs Instant Runoff Voting scam

There is a better way to design an election system: instant runoff voting. With instant runoff voting, voters rank their preferences of candidates on the ballot (first choice, second choice, etc.). If one candidate receives more than 50% of the first-choice votes, then that candidate wins. But if nobody receives a majority of the first-choice votes, the instant runoff tabulations begin. The last place candidate is eliminated and those ballots are revisited, so that those voters' second-choice rankings are added to the totals. Eliminations and re-counting continues until a winner emerges with a true majority of the vote.

This system is used successfully in San Francisco, Oakland, Memphis, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Santa Fe, and North Carolina. Instant runoff voting lets voters accurately express their preferences, allows many candidates to run without fear of distorting the outcome, helps prevent the “spoiler” effect, and ensures that the winner is elected by a clear majority of the voters.  (For more info: http://www.fairvote.org/instant-runoff-voting)

League of Women Voters does not mention IRV: Civil Unions, Civil Rights

REALITY:

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ACLU “Civil Rights” agenda: More dope, let criminals out, let criminals vote, and tell the Christians to shut up

As the 2011 legislative session opens, we must push the Legislature to protect and advance fundamental civil rights that affect our everyday lives and go far to ensure safe, healthy and free communities:

  1. Require hospitals to provide women with emergency contraception following rape;  (Catholic hospitals forced to go against beliefs)
  2. Establish civil unions for same-sex couples;  (Not a civil right.  Everybody has exactly the same right to marry a member of the opposite sex.)
  3. Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences;  (Let criminals out quick)
  4. Affirm the rights of all Hawaii’s citizens to vote; and  (Let criminals vote in prison)
  5. Support sick and dying individuals laughing dopers with improvements to the medical cannabis program. (More dope for everybody)

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One Day to go: Say has No agreement with Dissidents

Say provided a list of five committees he is willing to share and the proposed chairmen, sources say. Luke identified the seven to eight committees the dissidents are interested in leading.

The two sides have one more day to reach an agreement before the new session opens on Wednesday.

WAITING: Stalemate Broken: House Republican Caucus backs Calvin Say for Speaker

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Tsutsui plans big parties for opening day, Souki predicts extended session

Souki said with the House still undecided last week on who will serve as speaker, it's difficult to get work going because committee assignments have yet to be made.

"I think we're going to have to have an extended session," Souki said, adding that Abercrombie's announcement that his budget would not be ready until mid-March could greatly affect how fast the Legislature acts on a state budget.

Tsutsui said Abercrombie's later-than-usual budget submission will be "quite a bit of a challenge," but he's willing to work with the administration to address the anticipated $78 million shortfall….

Tsutsui said he expects that his opening-day speech will run about 10 minutes, making it "short and sweet." Then, there will be parties in his office and in other legislators' offices at the Capitol.

"People need to get together and hopefully we'll talk about better days ahead," he said.

He said the Legislature's opening day was "toned down" last year. But, with a third of the Senate made up of newly elected members, he decided to go forward with parties. "It's one of those things. It's tradition," he said.

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Say and Oshiro aim to cut pension benefits, double tax businesses

If House Speaker Calvin Say, D-20th (Palolo-St. Louis Heights) remains in charge, it is likely he will keep Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D-39th (Wahiawa-Whitmore Village) as Finance Committee chairman.

For the past two years Say and Oshiro have strenuously lobbied for changes in tax policy and public worker benefits as ways to cut government costs.

Say's ideas center on cutting back worker benefits, including pension and retirement plans. Say has been introducing public worker benefit cutback plans since he was House Finance chairman in 1998, so it is not likely that if he retains his speakership he will lose interest in budget slicing by trimming worker expenses.

Although Say is likely to retain the nominally powerful speakership, his public employee benefit reform package will be controversial and unpopular with the big public unions.

While Say's plan is curling the toes of the rank and file, Oshiro last year startled the business community with a hard-hitting series of cuts in state tax exemptions.

Oshiro went after many of the state's sacred cows by suggesting that the general excise tax exemptions for various nonprofits -- including credit unions, labor unions, nonprofit community associations and others -- be removed and that they pay some tax….

Finally, there is the third player in state tax policy: the state administration.  So far Gov. Neil Abercrombie (who?) has said little except he will have a tax plan, and it is likely to be explained in his State of the State speech next Monday.

PRECISELY AS PREDICTED: 2011 Legislative Agenda: ERS benefits to be slashed, “all eligible members to retire”

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Hooser: Legislators will simply ignore the rules in pursuit of passing their particular priority initiative

Whether it is the Farm Bureau, Sierra Club, Chamber of Commerce, Building Industry Association, or labor unions (both public and private), almost every special interest imaginable is organized and represented at the Legislature. Hundreds of special interests, each operating from within their own silo, will be in the building and at the table.

By default, those groups not at the table, and thus not in the game, will always lose. 

Interest groups, their lobbyists, and the legislators who champion their issues play both offense and defense.  They will attempt to pass those measures that enhance their interests, and kill those that might detract, weaken, or cost them money. For businesses, large land owners, the natural environment, and the community as a whole, the stakes can be very high.

The Governor, the House Speaker, the Senate President and 74 other individual legislators will each have their own priorities. There will be “subject matter priorities” (energy, agriculture, business, etc.), as well as “district-specific priorities” (schools, roads, etc.). Each department will also have priority bills they will be pushing, as will the University of Hawaii and the Department of Education. 

At the end of the day, this is what it comes down to—priorities. If an interest group’s priority is not on one or more legislators’ priority lists, then the likelihood of successful passage is slim to none….

However, for some legislation (usually the uber-controversial or those special interest matters seeking to fly under the radar or jam past the normal checks and balances), established rules, timelines, and legislative policies simply don’t matter. You see, the Legislature makes the rules and the Legislature can change them any time it likes.

In some cases, legislators will simply ignore the rules in pursuit of passing their particular priority initiative. Unless challenged by a colleague, legislative leadership, or determined members of the public, the process is open to manipulation and abuse.

The Bottom Line: The process is driven by the unenlightened self-interest of hundreds of participants, each operating from within their own perspective, and is governed by rules that are subject to change.  (True)

Fortunately, the relative ease of public access to information, combined with the multiple reviews and approvals required by the House, Senate, and Governor, provide the checks and ensures the balances that are crucial to representative democracy.  (False.)

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SA: HSTA must stop sabotaging RTTT

Wil Okabe, the HSTA president, is concerned that reliance on test scores would fail to accurately reflect a teacher's effectiveness.

"That is the big question: How do we measure student growth?" he told the Star-Advertiser's Mary Vorsino. "I cannot tell you what that is."….  (because I don’t want to have ANY measurement)

Most teachers unions around the country agree with Okabe. However, the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) announced its support last month of an evaluation method that includes both observation and student scores over a period of several years. Scores would take into account classrooms with similar mixes of students.

Under that union's concept, teachers would be judged on several factors, including those obtained by classroom observation. If student test results don't match those evaluations, the teacher would be reassessed. Failed teachers with three years or more in seniority would be put on a one-year improvement plan and be dismissed only if they fail to improve.

"I think it's the most progressive proposal you'll see out of organized labor," Kathleen J. Skinner, the Massachusetts union's top policy official, told The Boston Globe.

The MTA, like the HSTA, is an affiliate of the National Education Association.

Instead of merely reacting to the Hawaii DOE's proposals for change, the HSTA should engage in putting together a system that would reward the best teachers, and improve or remove those who are unable to meet required standards.  (And pigs should sprout wings and fly.)

REALITY: NCTQ: Only the Legislature can stop HSTA from sabotaging RTTT

Don’t forget this: Abercrombie: My “emanations” will make DoE serve students first

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More on Scheme to shut down DHHL

David Kimo Frankel of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.
Saturday, the lead plaintiff, Richard "Dickie" Nelson was on Kauai, where he and two others had just organized a new watchdog group, the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands.

In Hilo, Walmart, Home Depot, Prince Kuhio Plaza and the new Target and Safeway center are all built on DHHL land, with rent going toward the beneficiaries. But Nelson calls that a "minimal" amount.
The lawsuit notes that between 1989 and 2007, the state's general fund appropriation to DHHL for its administration and operating budget never exceeded one-half of 1 percent of the total general fund budget.
In September 2007, a DHHL spokesman said that the Lingle administration awarded leases at a faster pace than any previous administration, but the number of people on the wait list had only grown.

(And by making DHHL depend on the Leg, they can finally shut down the distribution of land to Hawaiians and return DHHL to its pre-Lingle sclerosis.)

RESULT: More Hawaii Residents White, Born in U.S. Than 10 Years Ago

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Lanai resists plans for 200 wind turbines, each taller than the First Hawaiian Bank Building

HONOLULU—Plans by the Castle and Cooke development company to build a 400 MW industrial wind power plant on Lanai has resulted in heated contention with the island’s residents. A group called Friends of Lanai said the wind power plant will permanently alter, possibly destroy, and disfigure one-quarter of the island.

Tensions between developers and opponents regarding the proposed windmill farm comprised the majority of the information meeting held last week at the Hawaii State Capitol.

RELATED: Island battery: Is supplying 10 percent of Oahu’s power worth destroying Lanai?

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Developers may face 15-year time limit due to Land Use Ordinance amendment

Honolulu City Councilmember Reed Matsuura is taking action to curb the amount of time that projects can sit on the shelf before being reevaluated. Matsuura was appointed as interim councilmember after Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz’s resignation.

In November, Matsuura introduced Resolution 10-327, which proposes an amendment to chapter 21 of the Land Use Ordinance (LUO). The amendment creates a 15-year time limit for a developer to begin construction in order to obtain a roadway and utility subdivision permit.

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Food Nazis use Foie gras ban to open up attack on cattle ranching 

The food gestapo is trumpeting its ban on the production, sale and consumption of foie gras, proposing the Legislature intrude into our kitchens and restaurants (Viewpoint, Jan. 9).

The only place in the world that has outlawed the production, consumption, importation and sale of foie gras is the state of California. Everywhere else in the world the importation, sale and consumption of foie gras is lawful. Production is outlawed in 17 countries.

In 2005, the American Veterinary Medicine New York delegation offered its opinion that opponents of foie gras were intending to create a wedge issue; that the arguments used against foie gras would be modified to be used against other livestock production.

The proposed total ban on foie gras is a slippery slope. Once in place, it sets precedent to be used in a courtroom or by a federal or state agency to outlaw the production of other animal products that we enjoy in our diet.

SLIPPING: Compared to cattle feedlots Hudson Valley foie gras seems completely humane

DOWN THE SLOPE: Wagyu Beef “The Foie Gras of Beef”

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Lobbying Workshops: Find your voice, and use it

Common Cause Hawaii and Kanu Hawaii are offering two free workshops for “citizen lobbyists.”

Workshop #1 – “Find Your Voice”
When: Thursday, January 20, 2011, 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Where: Hawaii State Capitol, Room 329

Workshop #2 – “Use Your Voice”
When: Thursday, January 27, 2011, 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Where: Hawaii State Capitol, Room 329

Click here for more information about each of the workshops and to register. Space is limited.

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Group touts geothermal energy for Hawaii

The Geothermal Working Group also included Ted Peck, until recently the state’s energy administrator, who has joined Ha in a new company called Kuokoa Inc. Its mission is to take over Hawaiian Electric Industries, the holding companies for the utilities on Oahu, the Big Island and Maui, as well as American Savings Bank.

Members of the Geothermal Working Group also include Carl Caliboso, chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission; Jay Ignacio, president of Hawaii Electric & Light Co.; Andrea Gill, renewable-energy specialist with the state energy office; Nelson Ho, chairman of the Moku Loa Group; Patrick Kahawaiolaa, president of the Keaukaha Community Association; Jacqui Hoover, executive director of Hawaii Leeward Planning Conference; Barry Mizuno, a member of the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board; and Robert Lindsey, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

(Now that OHA owns Wao Kele O Puna, geothermal is suddenly good.  The OHA scammers are so transparent it is almost funny.  What was it they said in Animal Farm?  Oh, that’s right, “Four legs good, two legs better!”)

ACT 221 Blogger: Touching base on renewables with Steve Holmes

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Free Flow to explore hydroelectric projects in Hawaii

David Bissell, acting CEO of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, said the agreement is the first step in a long public process to investigate the feasibility of hydroelectric projects.

“Our members have long recognized the hydroelectric potential on Kauai, and we feel now we have the financial resources and the proven developer to move forward,” Bissell said in a prepared statement.

SA: Four Hydro sites on Kauai would generate 18% of island power needs under a proposal

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State bar to share evaluations

In the wake of the controversy over its negative rating of chief justice nominee Katherine Leonard, the Hawaii State Bar Association has amended its rules to allow for the disclosure of the reasons for its "qualified" or "unqualified" findings for judicial nominees.

The new policy will be in place for Gov. Neil Abercrombie's upcoming judicial appointments, including the nomination of an associate justice to the five-member Hawaii Supreme Court.

(So they’re going to admit the reason was that Leonard wasn’t willing to politicize her decisions?) 

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Ordered by Jeff Stone: Committee will consider alternatives to Waimanalo Gulch Landfill

The committee will come up with a list of recommendations within the next 6 to 8 months. The State Land Use Commission granted an extension allowing the city to keep the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill open until July 2012.

"If that permit isn't allowed to continue on, then the city's going to have to be able to look for another location or be able to find other ways to dispose of this kind of waste," Chin said.

Many residents and businesses want the dump closed now. The new Disney resort is set to open this fall, and executives from Ko Olina want to make sure that the property stays pristine.

"This resort when fully built out will have $1.5 billion of annual economic activity with probably about $140 million in tax that will be paid to the city and county of Honolulu as well as the state of Hawaii," said Williams.

RELATED: Medical waste spreads to Kalaeloa beaches, Determining responsibility for last week's discharge takes a back seat to cleanup efforts

Where its not going to be: Nanakuli Park: Hannemann pounds Hanabusa in proxy fight between Waimanalo Gulch and PVT landfill

REALITY: Cayetano: Hanabusa's Broken Trust connections lead to Ko Olina

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After 32 years in Hawaii, hippie returns to Flint, MI

She said she was shocked when retired journalist Bruce Porter and filmmaker Dan Loewenthal showed up at her doorstep in Flint. Porter told The Journal last week that he had traced Marcy to Hawaii.

“I was just a kid. I didn’t know.” she said. “I was so shocked but what do you do when it’s already out there.

“I’m paying for something I did as a child.”

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