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Friday, April 08, 2011
April 8, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:07 PM :: 8055 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

No New Taxes! Rally April 15--Honolulu, Kona, Hilo, Kahului, Lihue

HGEA: Contract Agreement includes Paid Time Off

VIDEO: Lanai Wind Fall Out

Abercrombie Announces $300M in new CIP Spending—“This is just the beginning”

Full Results: Daily Kos Hawaii Poll

GOP: Abercrombie Approval rating down to 48%

Hirono, Hanabusa vote for Government Shutdown, stop paying troops

Akaka Bill Passes Indian Affairs Committee

How They Voted: Senate Ways and Means votes to hike GE Tax by eliminating exemptions

SB1363 10-cents-per-bag Tax: Greens, Big Business, Big Government team up to Rip Off Consumers

Borreca: Abercrombie is Tanking

The question was: "Do you approve or disapprove of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's job performance?" Of the 898 registered voters surveyed across the state, 48 percent said they approved, 41 percent said they disapproved and 11 percent were unsure of Abercrombie's performance.

Voters who described themselves as liberals, Obama voters or Democrats gave Abercrombie the highest rating, while Republicans and McCain voters had the largest rate of disapproval.

The poll is not the final word on Abercrombie's first steps, but it does show that he is not communicating with, or connecting to, Hawaii voters.

In comparison, during Gov. Linda Lingle's first year in office, her approval rating was at 71 percent.

In fact, from 2003 to 2006 Lingle's job approval never went below 64 percent. It was after the public outcries with schoolteacher furloughs in 2010 that Lingle's approval rating slipped into the mid-40s.

Rebecca Ward, president of Ward Research, also notes that the numbers are similar to Lingle during her decline….

Dylan Nonaka, state GOP executive director, said last week the party took its own poll.

While not disclosing all the results, Nonaka said the poll of 793 registered voters asked: "Is the state going in the right direction economically, since the election of the new governor?"

"It was 63 percent no and 37 percent yes," Nonaka said.

RELATED: GOP: Abercrombie Approval rating down to 48%, Full Results: Daily Kos Hawaii Poll

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Rebellion in the Senate Kills 1%GE Tax Hike Proposal—Exemptions to be hit

The majority of Senate Ways and Means Committee members this morning killed the proposed 1 percent General Excise Tax hike.

HB 793, SD1, which raised the state tax by 25 percent, would have generated up to $600 million by taxing goods and services at every level of transaction.

Another portion of the bill, which eliminates General Excise tax exemptions for a number of Hawaii businesses, including Hawaiian Airlines, Matson and general contractors, is moving forward.

Ways and Means chair David Ige, who supported the GET tax hike and the removal of the exemptions, said exemptions will generate “just” $191 million.

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, D-North Shore, lead the effort to kill the tax hike. He asked fellow Senators to split the bill so only the exemptions remained.

In a dramatic and unusual twist, 10 Democrat Senate members went against their chair to kill the (larger of the two proposed) tax hike/s.

Political Radar: Maneuver by Donna Mercado Kim to win support for US Senate bid?

HFP: How They Voted: Senate Ways and Means votes to hike GE Tax by eliminating exemptions

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HGEA Agreement amounts to 1.5% Pay Hike—Carlisle

A tentative agreement with the Hawaii Government Employees Association announced Wednesday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie includes a “favored nation” clause that allows the union to amend the contract if another union gets a better deal….  Honolulu Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, District 5, expressed concern the “favored nation” clause included in the HGEA proposal would add a cloud of uncertainty to ongoing budget talks.
“It makes it a little tricky cause then you're really not sure until the other unions settle,” she said.  “What if someone gets an increase? Even if it's one percent, that's a big difference.”

The extra time off would amount to nine “paid” days per year in addition to the 21 vacation and 21 sick days HGEA members currently earn.  Carlisle said the proposed deal actually amounted to a 1.5 percent increase in labor costs when taking the added time off into account.  “I can’t imagine how people would view workers going from twenty-one vacation days to thirty,” said the mayor.  “I am not aware of any private sector entity that does that to all of its employees.” …

Khon2 learned that neither Carlisle nor Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa supported Abercrombie in voting for the HGEA agreement.  By statute the governor must get the support of at least one island mayor in order to reach a settlement with the union.   It’s unknown if Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho or Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi, or both, voted in favor of the tentative agreement….

In a written statement Honolulu City Councilman Tom Berg, District 1, also said the HGEA proposal amounted to a pay increase when compared to the current contract that realizes savings of 10 percent through furloughs.
"The shocking truth after reviewing the fine print is that one quickly realizes how the HGEA will be getting a nearly 2% pay raise; not taking any sort of 'pay cut' as advertised,” Berg wrote.

“I'm not a gambling supporter but I see this really as a sleight of hand and tipping the deck in favor of the government workers and not helping the taxpayers at all,” said Rep. Cynthia Thielen of Kailua.
House Minority Leader Gene Ward of Hawaii Kai piled on, calling the governor’s math “fuzzy.”

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Star-Advertiser: Abercrombie not upfront with public about HGEA Deal

For taxpayers, however, the pay cut actually would be a raise over current levels, due to the replacement of the current Furlough Fridays, which are the equivalent of an 8 percent to 10 percent pay cut. For actual time on the job, the 5 percent cut would be much less.

Further, state employees now enjoy 21 days of vacation and 13 holidays, plus, on even years, election day off. The tentative HGEA agreement would give employees an additional six hours a month of paid time — essentially nine more days of vacation a year. While the state boasts to prospective employees in a pamphlet that 21 days vacation is "a rate that other employers find tough to match," a whopping 30 days — six weeks — would be off the charts.

"This is a deceptive sleight of hand to claim this deal saves money," Rep. Cynthia Thielen of Kailua rightly pointed out. "Taxpayers are being misled when in fact they will be paying for government workers to stay home."

Indeed, Abercrombie failed to mention the additional paid vacation days when he announced the HGEA deal Wednesday. That's a huge omission — one that might make the scheme more palatable to union members, but certainly not with put-upon taxpayers. Where the governor needed to be upfront with the public, he was not.

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Contract: NOT THE “NEW DAY” PEOPLE VOTED FOR

The Hawaii Republican Party released the following state in regard to the parts of the HGEA labor agreement that Governor Abercrombie left out of his statement yesterday.

Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Jonah Kaauwai said, “Governor Abercrombie’s announcement of his contract agreement with the HGEA was simply dishonest.  Abercrombie claimed that it would save the state money but will actually increase the cost of labor to the state by at least $65 million.  The Governor also said that it would end furloughs but instead gives workers 9 additional “comp” days off.  This attempt to trick taxpayers by using a play on words and bureaucratic terminology is insulting to their intelligence.  This kind of dishonesty is simply not gubernatorial and is not the kind of leadership the people of Hawaii want or deserve.”

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Federal Shutdown: Inouye uninterested in the kind of cutting that Democrats now see as necessary

The Crafty Veteran: Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, … treats the anti-earmark, deficit-cutting enthusiasm of the current Congress like a passing fad. Inouye is willing to help Reid and President Obama, but is, according to several Democratic aides, uninterested in the kind of cutting that Democrats now see as necessary. Leadership staffers groused during the CR fight that Inouye’s reluctance to embrace real cuts limited Democratic efforts and limited the role the Appropriations Committee played in the process. Inouye may be a reluctant participant, but will not be a leader in the budget-cutting efforts.

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State-run Superferry plan still afloat

House Bill 1239 keeps steadily moving through the Legislature. The House approved and sent it over to the Senate, where it passed one committee and is waiting to be heard by the Ways and Means Committee.

(The rest of this KGI article consists of Maui and Kauai Democrat Legislators telling all kinds of funny bs stories about how they ‘accidentally’ voted to create a State-Run Superferry.  If this thing passes, it will be fun to revisit these pathetic lies to demonstrate just how easily anti-Superferry protesters were manipulated.  For more of the same, see next article.)

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Forum on geothermal energy to include OHA Cronies

Brandt will moderate the discussion scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow at Pahoa Community Center.

Geothermal energy has had a controversial past on Hawaii.

Community members in the early 1990s successfully fought development of a geothermal proj­ect planned for the Wao Kele o Puna rainforest.

About 400 community members were arrested and led away in handcuffs during a protest at the site.

The geothermal plan was eventually scrapped, and the state OHA later ‘bought’ the land from Campbell Estate and placed it in preservation.

The only geothermal plant on the island, operated by Ormat subsidiary Puna Geothermal Venture Inc., has 30 megawatts of generating capacity with another eight megawatts scheduled to come online this year.  The Big Island has the potential to produce 1,400 megawatts of geothermal, seven times what is needed to power its energy needs, according to a report by the Mas­sa­chu­setts Institute of Technology.

Panelists in tomorrow's forum include Hawaiian advocate Mili­lani Trask; cultural adviser Cy Bridges; Kuu­lei­ohu­oka­­lani Kea­loha Cooper of the Kea­loha Estate; Bob Lindsey, Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee; and Kale Gumpac, CEO of Lau­lima Title Search and Claims.

(Now that OHA owns Wao Kele O Puna, they have to reeducate the ignorant fools who led the charge against Geothermal.  For more of the same, see Superferry article above.)

Anti-Geothermal Protest Analysis:  OHA Drug Policy: Treatment no, pushers yes

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Elected BoE sez Bye-Bye

Meanwhile, current Chairman Garrett Togu­chi said he had no reaction to Hor­ner's plans and wasn't too emotional about the final gathering.  "It's just another meeting to me," he said.

INCOMING: Abercrombie’s Board of Education: Accountability begins now, and it’s already ugly

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Boaters bemoan lack of aid after Schatz comes back from DC Empty handed

Teixeira said that Civil Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have followed up on the losses in harbors and that the governor signed two emergency declarations. But he said that since not enough people who lost their boats actually lived on them — two families in Keehi, four in Wai­anae, one in the Ala Wai — FEMA will not provide for their individual losses, but said the state continues to pursue federal assistance, which could help with individual claims in addition to repairs to the state's harbors.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie responded to other criticisms and concerns, saying, "We're not infallible. That's why we're here tonight … in a good-faith effort to try to respond."

Abercrombie said he was also requesting legal services and talking to insurance companies to assist in ensuring claims are paid. He told the crowd that FEMA responded instantaneously and said, "I have to make these claims in a way that is legitimate and justifiable."

Ed Underwood, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation chief, told the Star-Advertiser, "How is the state responsible for the tsunami?"  For information, call Underwood at 587-1966.

HFP: Schatz comes back from DC Empty handed

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Meetings will gather comments on proposed wind farm

Auwahi Wind Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Sempra Generation, is proposing to build a 21-megawatt wind energy and battery storage project on land owned by Ulupalakua Ranch….

The meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Lokelani Intermediate School Cafeteria and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 13 at the Ulupalakua Community Center.

Copies of the draft environmental impact statement for the project can be found at www.hawaii.gov/health/environmental/oeqc/index.html.

Send comments to:

  • Auwahi Energy LLC, 101 Ash St., HQ 14, San Diego, Calif. 92101, attention, Mitch Dmohowski.
  • The Maui Planning Commission, 250 S. High St., Wailuku 96793, attention Joe Prutch.
  • Consultant Tetra Tech EC Inc., 737 Bishop St., Suite 3020, Honolulu 96813, attention Anna Mallon.

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Wood-Burning Power plant vote delayed

The company wanting to reopen the Pepeekeo power plant, along with residents opposed to the $70 million update, must wait another month to learn the project's fate.

That's the unanimous decision the county's Windward Planning Commission reached Thursday, as commissioners said they need more time to decide whether to grant the land-use permit the plant needs.

Hu Honua Bioenergy is seeking approval to burn chipped eucalyptus trees in the defunct coal-fired plant, which would supply 21.5 megawatts of electricity to Hawaii Electric Light Co. According to HELCO, that's enough power to run nearly 14,000 homes.

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IRV Produces results like Berg’s Win in Council District 1

Reilly says the notion that IRV ensures a majority-elected official is false.

He pointed Civil Beat in the direction of the official ranked-choice results for San Francisco's Board of Supervisors Nov. 2, 2010 election.

The election used an instant runoff platform, with 21 candidates vying for the position. Because no candidate received a 50 percent majority after the first round of ballot counting, the runoff extended for 20 rounds, until Malia Cohen was declared the victor.

In round 1, Cohen received only 2097 of 20,550 total votes. In theory, if IRV ensured a candidate was elected with a majority of votes, one would think by round 20, Cohen would have accumulated at least 10,276 votes.

But in the end, Cohen won with just 4,321 votes, eclipsing her nearest rival Marlene Tran's accumulated total of 3,330. Even after receiving all the votes of her vanquished competitors, Cohen won with a little more than 20 percent of the vote.

The votes may have been sparse due to the numerous candidates in the race, but Reilly's point stands. The victory is reminiscent of Honolulu City Councilman Tom Berg's win in the District 1 special election race, where he took the seat with 18.5 percent of the vote. (Ironic, eh.  Idiot progressives.)

REALITY:  HB638--New Voting System for Hawaii: Round up as many candidates as possible, gang up on the front runners

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Hawaii journalist shield law extension advances

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 on Thursday to extend the protection for two years. Otherwise, the so-called shield law would have ended June 30.

The vote came after a state Supreme Court committee on the rules of evidence submitted written testimony asking for the extension to conduct a review of the law….

"If we want investigative reporting in Hawaii and want people to feel comfortable that they can come forward with information, we need this law," said Malia Zimmerman of Hawaiireporter.com. Since 2007, she has been fighting a subpoena of her notes and records from her investigative reporting into a Kauai dam failure that killed seven people.

The measure now advances to the full Senate for further consideration.

HR: Hawaii Journalism Shield Bill Passes Senate Committee, But Judiciary Wants Review

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Banned Fireworks Storage:  Explosion claims Four Lives

An explosion at a storage cave at the Waikele Business Center on Pakele Street has apparently resulted in deaths and injuries.

Realtor Peter Savio, who handles the leases for the storage facility, said police told him four people died in the blast at about 9 a.m. Two others were injured.

Savio said the dead are employees of Donaldson Enterprises, a company that stores confiscated fireworks.

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Ways and Means votes against Legislators’ 5% Salary Hike

House Bill 575, which would extend the 5 percent legislative salary decrease until June 2013 and apply it to legislators, executive and judicial branch positions, was scheduled to be heard by Senate Ways and Means.

Joe Souki was the only House member to vote against an earlier draft of the bill, while Faye Hanohano voted "aye" with reservations.

The committee(s) on WAM recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes in WAM were as follows: 14 Aye(s): Ige, Kidani, Chun Oakland, Dela Cruz, English, Espero, Fukunaga, Kahele, Kim, Kouchi, Ryan, Tokuda, Wakai, Slom; Aye(s) with reservations: none ; 0 No(es): none; and 0 Excused: none.

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Judiciary Committee defers bill to convert Sick Leave into vacation Days

Senate Judiciary and Labor deferred  a bill making it unlawful for an employer or a labor organization with 100 or more employees and a collective bargaining agreement "to bar or discharge from employment, withhold pay from, or demote an employee because the employee uses accrued and available sick leave."  …top unions like the HGEA support the bill, but top business like First Hawaiian Bank and HECO oppose it.

HB 341, HD4 , (HSCR912) , Testimony , Status  RELATING TO EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES.  Makes it unlawful for an employer or a labor organization with 100 or more employees and a collective bargaining agreement to bar or discharge from employment, withhold pay from, or demote an employee because the employee uses accrued and available sick leave.  Allows an employer or labor organization to require written verification of sick leave in certain situations.  Effective July 1, 2030.  (HB341 HD4)

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Inouye, Akaka: Let gay sex tourists give away Green Cards

Writing to both Attorney General Eric Holder and Napolitano, the 12 senators -- led by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) and including Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) -- ask the administration, among other steps, to put an abeyance policy in place that would halt the denial of green card applications for married same-sex foreign spouses who -- in the absence of DOMA -- would be eligible for a marriage-based green card based on sponsorship from the foreign spouse's U.S. citizen spouse….

The lawmakers' letters come on the heels of a week of developments that left such couples, their advocates and journalists reacting to or reporting on different situations on each day of the week.

The other senators to sign the letter were Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

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Prison Guard gets 18 months for Gay Rape of inmate

We must immediately bring Hawaii prisoners back to Halawa to serve time at this fine institution.

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University of Hawaii Wants To Close Major Research Group

A biosciences research unit at the University of Hawaii that has been an incubator for major medical centers on campus could be shuttered.

The Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC) spawned major UH institutions, including the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii. The New York Times last month featured work being done at PBRC's Kewalo Marine Lab.

The center brings in $6 million in competitive federal research grants, but that money doesn't cover all of the center's costs. Paying for PRBC's 30 permanent faculty and staff and keeping the center running costs the university about $3 million a year. The main reason UH officials say they want to close the center is that it does a lot of the same research as other departments.

One of the leading advocates to close the center is its interim director.  (In other words this is a MRC Greenwood operation.)

REALITY: Greenwood Mafia grabs two power positions in UH system

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With Tourism squeezed, Rep Roy Takumi pushes against Free Trade with S Korea

Multinational corporations have repeatedly exercised these rights under NAFTA. This is one reason why groups ranging from the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures to Korean Americans for Fair Trade have been critical of this style of trade deal. The Hawaii Legislature also recognizes this problem. In 2007, we enacted bipartisan legislation (HB30) requiring greater state legislative oversight of Hawaii's commitments in international trade agreements in an attempt to minimize risks to state laws. Despite our best efforts, threats to state governance continue to loom large under the Korea trade deal.

I urge our congressional delegation not to be distracted by the false promises of this trade deal and vote it down — and instead shift focus toward implementing policies that will stimulate real job growth in Hawaii and the rest of our country.

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Ex-Reform Party Birther Trump touted Pelosi as “The Best”

What gives? How can someone who as recently as 2000 was preparing to run for president under the Reform Party banner and in 2007 touted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as “the best” suddenly be the hottest commodity in Republican politics?

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