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Friday, April 01, 2011
April 1, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:02 PM :: 8315 Views :: Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

House GOP releases Balanced State Budget without Tax Hikes

Wildman’s Firm didn’t pay Payroll Taxes 

Wildman's former Honolulu law firm, Sibilla & Wildman, has two federal tax liens for unpaid payroll taxes, filed in 2006, and totaling $144,000.

He told The Maui News last week that Sibilla & Wildman, though no longer active as a law firm, continued to exist for the clearance of debts and was "on a payment plan."  (So this makes Wildman just like former tax cheat Gary Hooser.)

He did not say how much the firm owes, or if it has other debts.

Wildman said he began commuting to Maui to work as a lawyer in 2004, then moved to the island in 2005 to work full time at the firm of Takitani and Agaran. His main field is personal injury law.

He declined to comment further, citing his confirmation hearing at the state Senate, which was then pending. Wildman's statements came several days before he withdrew as a judicial nominee.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, Abercrombie's spokeswoman, was asked whether the governor's office did its own background check on the nominee. She said it relied on the Judicial Selection Committee, which by statute forwards five names considered to be qualified to the governor for his appointment. The committee chairman said the panel was prohibited from discussing anything about its operation, and Abercrombie has declined to reveal the list of nominees.

In this, he has departed from the practice of earlier governors.

Jim Loomis, (a leftist ideologue) who until he retired to Maui owned a Honolulu advertising agency that was retained by Abercrombie for most of his campaigns, said he had gotten to know Wildman through the work on the campaigns.

"Joe worked as a staffer in Neil's office when he was in the (state) Legislature," Loomis said Thursday, and through observation, he knows they hold "the highest respect for each other."

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Mufi on Senate race: Washington DC has always been an interest of ours

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, now the president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association, joins us now to talk about Japan Airlines cutting back flights and other tourism issues.

Schatz: “We ought to take some additional time to honor Sen. Akaka's service….”

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Hawaii House GOP Proposes Budget Fixes without Tax Hikes

Hawaii's eight House Republicans say the state can close its $1.3 billion shortfall without hiking the GET or imposing any "new" tax increases.

They instead proposed a budget plan Thursday that largely relies on savings from extending state furloughs, delaying income tax refunds and tapping into special funds.

GOP lawmakers recommend using the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund ($47 million) and Rainy Day Fund ($46 million), delaying income tax refunds for those who haven't yet filed ($183 million), and reneging on Gov. Neil Abercrombie's promise to cover a bigger share of public employee health insurance ($18 million). Those measures would close the state's approximately $232 million gap for the current fiscal year ending June 30.

The latter two ideas have not been proposed by Democrats or the governor. The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday heard testimony on the state budget draft and committee chairman David Ige said lawmakers have just two options to balance this year's budget: raid special funds or "completely shut down spending."

DETAILS: House GOP releases Balanced State Budget without Tax Hikes

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Abercrombie Head Fake: Senate to decide between Two types of GE Tax Hike

Gov. Neil Abercrombie told senators on Wednesday that he does not support a general excise tax increase. The governor indicated he would consider a House proposal to temporarily suspend GET exemptions on certain business activities, which is unpopular among some in the Senate.

“We’re looking at all the different options at this point,” State Sen. David Ige (D, Aiea-Pearl City), the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee said.  One approach, Senate sources say, is to consider both a GET increase and lifting the GET exemptions at a hearing so there is a full public debate.  (Thus they control the terms of the debate.  Note that cutting spending is not part of this discussion.)

The Senate Ways and Means committee plans to move out the Senate’s budget draft, and the revenue-generating bills to make it balance, next week.

KITV:  Governor Supports House Tax Plan to Close $289 Million In GE Tax "Loopholes"

Progressive Democrats of Hawaii: Hawaii needs to keep the GET hike proposal on the table

Don DelaCruz: What about jobs? Could that be used as an excuse for tax hikes?

Precisely as Predicted: Abercrombie: GE Tax hike will be People's Will

Confused PBN: G.E.T. issue seemingly resolved for this session

Phony headlines:

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More Federal Funds? Schatz returns from DC Empty Handed

The state's request for a federal disaster declaration for Hawaii from the March 11 tsunami has been sent to the White House, and is expected to receive "favorable consideration," Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz said.

Schatz recently returned from a week-long trip to Washington, D.C., where he met with officials from the White House and Federal Emergency Management Agency to discuss disaster recovery efforts for the state.

(But. but. but what about Neil’s Abercrombie’s direct line to The Obama???  What about all those connections built up over 20 years in Congress?  Could it be that Abercrombie was lying every time he said “more federal funds”  Say it isn’t so, Neil!)

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Asselbaye: “We cannot continue cutting government”

Here’s the administration’s latest list of Washington Monument Gambits to raise taxes: 

1) The attorney general is losing $250,000 needed for the statewide automated fingerprint system.  “It is without any maintenance and would shut down because it needs daily tending,” interim Attorney General David Louie said.

2) At the same time, funding to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, which records what happens to people after they are arrested, is also going to be cut.  “We are also getting regular calls from police dispatch doing a background check for the officers on the street making a stop,” Louie said, explaining that the system is so overworked, it cannot respond.

3) Anyone with a computer can relate to the mini-disaster of a computer crash that wipes out everything you had on the hard drive, but when it is the state flirting with the same problem, it is cause for concern.  Kealii Lopez, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs director, says that since December, “the storage area network currently being used by the entire DCCA staff including the neighbor island offices is no longer supported by the manufacturer since the product was purchased prior to 2004.”  If that system crashes, it could affect the 300,000 regulated businesses “spanning 13 key areas and the consumers and clients of these regulated businesses.”

4) Even Abercrombie’s prized civil unions law is headed for trouble because of the budget crisis.  Even though “passage of the civil unions bill was a top priority of the new administration,” said state Health Director Loretta Fuddy, “the reduction would result in postponing the implementation of the civil unions certificate issuance statewide system.  “Currently, the program does not have sufficient staff to even administer and maintain the current statewide birth, death and marriage registration and certificate issuance system,” she said.

And Borreca’s conclusion?  (Drumroll Please) “The issue now is not whether or not to grow or cut government; it is, simply: ‘Where’s the money?’” (Clash cymbals)

Who could possibly be stupid enough to fall for this shopworn trick designed to “manufacture consent” for tax increases?

RELATED: Washington Monument Gambit

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Tax on sugary drinks would be discriminatory and seriously harm our economy

But the numbers don’t lie. We know that our dependence on the almighty tourism dollar means harder times are coming, and the tax on sugary beverages has again been singled out as a substantial source for revenue for filling depleted government coffers.

While it may outwardly seem that this tax affects “outside” or “national” companies, the truth is that it affects local jobs. It directly threatens local companies, owned by local people and operated by our friends and neighbors. This segment of the economy employs thousands of hard-working people (including myself) and indirectly supports businesses throughout the state. Farmers, truckers, mom and pop stores and countless others depend on our business to survive.

This tax will ultimately be paid at the checkout stand, where you and I will be charged more for that passion-orange-guava, iced tea or cola. The ripple effect of this tax will be felt by everyone who works to bring that drink to you.

At a time when we are faced with the uncomfortable task of tightening our belts and cutting out excess, it would seem only fair that the government did the same.

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Hawaii Tax Revenues rise with Gas Prices

The Tax Foundation reports Hawai‘i is one of nine U.S. states that siphons off more tax revenue when gas prices rise.

The federal government and each state imposes a tax on gasoline at a fixed number, meaning tax revenues for fuel are based upon quantities used rather than prices paid.

However, the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit organization that monitors fiscal policy, said some states, including Hawai‘i, practice “double taxation” on gas purchases by tacking on additional price-dependent sales taxes or similar percentage-based taxes, thereby increasing state revenues as gas prices climb.

For every gallon of gas purchased, Hawai‘i drivers are taxed a total of five times: federal fuel tax of 18 cents per gallon; state fuel tax of 17 cents per gallon; Environmental Response, Energy & Food Security tax of $1.05 per barrel; county taxes ranging between 8.8 and 16.5 cents per gallon; and a state gross income tax for distributors of 4.17 percent that is then passed on to consumers as general excise tax.

Other states that double tax on gas include: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York and Virginia.

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Hawaiian Airlines to DOUBLE flights to Japan (Meanwhile Abercrombie prophesizes doom)

Hawaiian flies one daily flight to Tokyo's Haneda airport. Hawaiian CEO Mark Dunkerley said in a statement Thursday Hawaiian would keep that flight as well as move forward with plans to launch a new daily nonstop flight to Osaka in July.

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Tsutsui Names Ex-Rep Amaral to judge selection panel (Crony of Danner sisters, tied to new version of Akaka Bill)

State Senate President Shan Tsutsui has appointed former state legislator Annelle Amaral to a six-year term starting tomorrow on the state Judicial Selection Commission.  Amaral, a consultant and Native Hawaiian liaison for the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, replaces Sheri Sakamoto on the nine-member commission.  Amaral, a former police officer, served in the House of Representatives from 1988 to 1996.

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Lambda, ACLU drop suit, plan for next suit: “We’ll be watching closely for any signs of problems” with Civil Unions

Lambda Legal and the ACLU sued the state last year after then-Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a similar proposal passed by the Legislature.

“I can’t think of many occasions when we’ve been more delighted to dismiss a lawsuit than this,” Jennifer C. Pizer, national marriage proj­ect director for Lambda Legal, said in a statement.

“We look forward to working closely with members of the legal and business communities to make sure the law is implemented smoothly and that everyone knows what their rights and responsibilities will be,” Pizer added. “And as this new law takes effect, we’ll be watching closely for any signs of problems.”

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Abercrombie: My relationships with Legislators are excellent, we’re not pals

I feel very comfortable on this track.  I don’t know if it’s the right track or the wrong track, but it’s a good track to be on. My relationships with the legislators are uniformly excellent and friendly.  We’re not pals and buddies….

(No, this is not an April Fools joke.)

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New BOE era off to good start

Union leverage should now lessen, even as the teachers union’s view can be represented by board nominee Jim Williams, a former Molokai public school teacher and onetime HSTA president.

The new board is not likely to seek combat against the unions. Don Horner, who has been sworn in as board member and named by the governor as its chairman, has indicated that he will not push for improving school principals’ accountability by challenging their union affiliation. He told the Star-Advertiser last month that “accountability must come internally first, not externally.” That may be easier to say than accomplish.

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Senate to vote on Closing School, converting to Prison

"Kulani Correctional Facility would provide the Public Safety Department the ability to return upwards of 200 inmates from Arizona," Michael Hoffman, administrator of the department's Institutions Division, told the state senate's Public Safety and Government Operations Committee.

The committee approved resolutions that would take back Kulani from the Hawaii National Guard, and would also build a new prison facility at Panaewa, near Hilo.

The state Defense Department, which includes the Youth Challenge Program, released a statement, saying it "is not testifying for or against any measures, but we are testifying about how worthy the Youth Challenge Program is and the value it has to the community.

"If Kulani is turned back into a prison ... we don't want the program to be affected and 'skip a beat.' The best case scenario is we would close the YCP at Kulani and walk into a 'turn-key' alternate site with no waiting," the statement concluded.

There's currently no timetable for returning Kulani to the prisons system, but the idea did not draw any opposition at the senate committee hearing.

"The legislature is really big on opening Kulani, the governor wants to reopen Kulani, the community wants to reopen Kulani, so I'm ecstatic," Brady said.

The resolution to take Kulani back goes to the full senate for a vote. Other proposals requesting the Public Safety Department to bring inmates home from the mainland and to build a new prison on the Big Island are headed to the senate Ways and Means Committee.

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Former Casino Boss; Don’t Do it!

Michael Rock has some advice for the politicians who think bringing casino gambling to Hawaii will help solve the state’s financial problems.  Don’t do it.

Rock brings some practical experience to the debate. He ran a casino for two years in Aruba, a Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela that, like Hawaii, relies on tourism to drive its economic engine.

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Legalized Bribery Bill Tabled

The bill, SB671,underwent several revisions in the Senate and House after it was first introduced as a measure to tighten gift disclosure requirements on lobbyists and lawmakers.

The latest revision, made earlier this month by the House Judiciary Committee, would have allowed state employees to accept free tickets to charitable events regardless of their value, even including events held out of state or out of the country.

Judiciary Committee chairman Gilbert Keith-Agaran, D-9th (Kahului, Wailuku, Puunene, Spreckelsville, Paia), announced without discussion that the measure was being deferred.

CB: The Day The Gift Bill Died

Shapiro: Legislators give up their fight for freebies — for now

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Hawaii State Bank resolution still alive 

HR 139, for example, creates a task force to establish a Bank of the State of Hawaii.

Among other things, the authors believe a state-owned bank "may work in partnership with financial institutions, community-based organizations, economic development groups, guaranty agencies, and other stakeholder groups to better the State's economy."

A bill, co-introduced by Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro and calling for the same task force, was deferred in committee March 23.

But a resolution on the same subject, HR 139, also co-introduced by Oshiro, passed a committee hearing March 29 and remains alive.

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The Bus: Doesn’t have the financial mobility to add routes—as Rail expenses mount

QUESTION: The Mililani Transit Center, which was finished in August 2007 at a cost of $4.7 million, was supposed to be a transit hub. Are there ever going to be buses to get to Kapolei and Pearlridge? Or is (the center) forever going to be a very expensive bus stop?

ANSWER: There will be direct bus routes to Kapolei and Pearlridge Center. As to when, city Department of Transportation Serv­ices Director Wayne Yoshi­oka can’t really say.

“We’re a little short on buses right now, and we don’t have the mobility financially to expand our bus routes,” he says. “Our buses are being consumed in our congested central corridor.”

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Stock buy foments talk of A&B breakup

A New York hedge fund manager known to agitate for change in his investment targets bought nearly 10 percent of A&B along with a partner, it was announced yesterday. The purchase triggered expectations the 141-year-old kamaaina company will be split into pieces to elevate stock value.

Among A&B’s assets are Matson Navigation Co., 87,000 acres of land in Hawaii largely used for growing sugar cane on Maui and coffee on Kauai, and 8 million square feet of industrial, retail and office property in Hawaii and the mainland.

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State receives 12 more suspected cases of dengue

The Health Department is awaiting blood sample test results from the Centers for Disease Control on the two suspected cases from Pearl City, as well as the 12 new cases, a spokeswoman for the department said.

The two Pearl City cases involved adults who contracted it in February.

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States Propose Measures to Alter, Remove CON Processes

A number of states have proposed measure to alter the process required to obtain a certificate of need for an ambulatory surgery center, according to an ASC Association release.

Two study bills, introduced by Rep. Linda Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Human Resources, would exempt certain ASCs from the state's CON process. House Study Bill 97 would exempt Iowa ASCs from the CON process, whereas House Study Bill 98 would exempt only ASCs located in counties with a population over 200,000 but less than 300,000. Population estimates would be based on 2009 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Each measure failed to receive consideration by the committee prior to the passage deadline.

A measure introduced in the Hawaii state Senate proposed repealing the CON process entirely for the state of Hawaii. The measure failed to meet the deadline for passage from the chamber of origin. Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee proposed removing the CON process from his state, saying the council that oversees the process has no strategic plan guiding its decisions. 

Read more on the ASC Association.

Read more on CON:

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Program may bring displaced citizens of Japan to stay on Maui

WAILUKU — Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa is helping to launch the “Aloha Initiative.” Its mission is to provide citizens of Japan who have been displaced by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a warm and welcome home.

Public support is sought for the program founded by Keith Powers and Michiko Ishida-Powers of Palo Alto, California, and Keith Regan and Lynn Araki-Regan of Wailuku.

In the wake of the disasters, it is estimated that over 450,000 people have already been displaced from their homes in Japan.

Some have lost their homes. Some have lost their entire families.

For information, visit www.alohainitiative.com or www.facebook.com/alohainitiative, or e-mail contact@alohainitiative.com.

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Turtle Bay project pared down

The owners of Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore are renewing efforts to develop the property, but are willing to scale back a previous plan that called for five new oceanfront hotels with 3,500 rooms and condominium units.

In response to community concerns, the owners reduced the number of units by about 1,155 to 2,345 with most of the density reduction focused along Kawela Bay and near Kahuku Point. The project could be scaled back further based on continuing discussions with community leaders and other stakeholders, said Drew Stotesbury, asset manager for the property.

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$45M fine tilts Horizon to bankruptcy

Horizon Lines Inc., the second-largest ocean shipper serving Hawaii, may file for bankruptcy as soon as next week after the shipping company agreed to pay a $45 million fine to resolve Justice Department price-fixing charges, according to three people familiar with the matter….

Horizon accounts for approximately 36 percent of total U.S. marine container shipments from the mainland to Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico, according to the filing.

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Birthers have nothing on rabid anti-Bushers

The case about the vote in Florida got to the Supreme Court because of a suit filed by Al Gore, who wanted selective recounts in Democratic districts that would allow guesses at what the authors of obscurely marked ballots had in mind. Had the court allowed this or a statewide recount, Bush would still have won, according to later investigations by two different groups of neutral media outlets.

Then there are the dark hints you hear here and there that Bush had something to do with 9/11. Though with no mention of Bush, a Scripps Howard poll found 36 percent of Americans saying it is somewhat likely or very likely that federal officials took part in the attacks or failed to stop them. That's stuff that makes birthers look tame.

It has been widely and mindlessly yelped that Bush lied us into war by arguing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that were never found. It's a complicated issue, but the short of it is that Saddam Hussein had already used such weapons, that Bill Clinton fretted as President that he would employ them again, that our own and major foreign intelligence agencies said he had them and that Saddam denied U.N. inspectors access to likely hiding places.

We come next to the hysterical, pseudo-intellectual assertion that Bush was giving us a theocracy, which is to say, political rule by a religion. What you had was Bush being occasionally responsive to little effect to socially conservative, religious Americans who obviously have as much of a democratic right as anyone to pursue their aims. That's about it.

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Found Photos: The Story of Chicago's "Little Hawaii" Neighborhood

By the 1930's, the original Hawaiians had become more established. By pooling their resources, they were able to buy some property in the neighborhood, renting the units back to friends and extended family. This area would later come to be known as 'Pineapple Square,' a cultural center for Hawaiians living in Chicago, and a hotbed of communist organizing during the 1940's.

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With mom in hospital, “Psychic” Sylivia Brown’s son struggles to keep up

The Sylvia Brown website reports that while she is recuperating, her son Chris is "singularly carrying the burden of keeping our company going by extending his reading schedule as much as possible" and offering, for a limited time, reduced fees for his readings.  Rather than $500 a half hour, he is charging $350 for a half our psychic  consultation.  Browne charges $850 for a half hour consultation.

(What a moving sacrifice he has made!  What a tribute to his mother!)

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Sale of $100M home has Hawaii connections

But the sellers, Fred and Annie Chan, have several Hawaii connections.

The Chans, University of Hawaii graduates who made their high-tech fortune in the San Francisco Bay area, own the former Kaiser Estate in the Portlock section of Hawaii Kai.

The 5.4 acre estate built by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser was on the market for $80 million until late last month.

The couple bought the Portlock Road property for $9.6 million about 10 years ago from Kamehameha Schools, then Bishop Estate. They developed the Moana Pacific condominium in Honolulu through their KC Rainbow Development. The Chans also had started development on the Moana Vista condo project, which was taken over in 2009 by San Diego-based developer OliverMcMillan and renamed Pacifica.

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Omidyar Accidentally Buys Hawaii

April 1, 2011 (Faux Newswire Services) - Philanthropist Pierre Omidyar inadvertently bought the state of Hawaii after a night on the town, when he purchased what he thought were domain rights to "Hawaii.com," according to a spokesman for the Ulupono Initiative, a non-profit organization created by the eBay founder to promote social activism in the islands.

An insider with CivilBeat.com, who wished to remain anonymous since Omidyar also funds that website, said the zillionaire had a few pau hana drinks with staffers and "joked" that he was going to add a local TV news station and radio channel to his growing media empire in Hawaii, but wanted an all-inclusive domain name for the venture. After a night of internet binge buying, his wife discovered the next day that Omidyar had actually acquired approximately 95 percent of Oahu and significant portions of the outer islands that had "Hawaii"' listed in their website keywords.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie welcomed the unexpected purchase of state assets and property. "Let's be frank. Pierre has more capital than we do at present. And he could always put some of the land up for sale on eBay if things get a little tight. I think you'll also find much more positive news coverage, once he consolidates Civil Beat with his TV and radio news operations."

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Akaka: U.S. Senate names April Financial Literacy Month (And no, this is NOT an April Fool’s joke—but it should be.)


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