'Gap' in HSTA talks remains
The Lingle administration and the Hawaii State Teachers Association will meet privately again today on teacher furloughs, following talks yesterday that were described as productive but fell short of closing the gap between the two sides....
Neither side would discuss the private talks in detail. Linda Smith, the governor's senior policy adviser, said the administration provided teachers with information about how the $50 million from the rainy day fund would break down in covering teacher salary and fringe benefits.
"They discussed some of their concerns on the non-instructional days, but we're still looking at that as one of the elements," Smith said of swapping planning days for furlough days.
Dwight Takeno, the interim executive director of the teachers union, said in a statement that the union proposed a "viable option to the administration which they now have and are considering."
Smith said timing is becoming an issue in the talks. State House and Senate leaders have said they would return in special session this month to authorize the use of the rainy day fund, but would prefer to act before the holidays....
"You're correct in that I am pointing fingers directly at the union at this point, because you have a consensus between the Senate, the House and myself on how to get this resolved," Lingle said.
AS PREDICTED: Furlough negotiations: $50M ransom offered, but unions balk at releasing hostages
SB: Afghan troop surge is security necessity
"Failure in Afghanistan would mean a Taliban takeover of much, if not most, of the country and likely a renewed civil war," Defense Secretary Robert Gates explained yesterday to the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Taliban-ruled areas could in short order become, once again, a sanctuary for al-Qaida as well as a staging area for resurgent military groups on the offensive in Pakistan."
That would take us back to pre-September 2001, with the added threat of the Taliban — and al-Qaida — gaining access to Pakistan's sizable nuclear arsenal. The administration would be irresponsible to return us to a level of vulnerability that would surpass 9/11.
RELATED: Reaction: "The President has finally made up his mind to confront the Taliban and defeat Islamic radicals"
National GOP to meet in isles
The national GOP will also use the four-day Honolulu meeting to prepare for the 2010 elections, according to Jahan Wilcox, the Republican National Committee's regional press secretary.
The meeting, Wilcox said, will serve to highlight the importance the GOP puts on keeping Hawaii's governor a Republican. The national party is looking at helping Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona if, as expected, he wins the local Republican primary.
"Also, there is an open congressional seat," Wilcox said. "We think we have our best chance in a decade, so we are very optimistic about coming to Hawaii."
Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou has already said he will run to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who is running for governor. Two Democrats, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and former Rep. Ed Case, are also in the race.
For the local GOP, Kaauwai said a series of rallies, meetings and dinners are being planned. Also, Gov. Linda Lingle, who will be starting her final year leading the state, will be featured during the meeting.
"She is going to be a vital part of the conference. She will be a keynote speaker and the national party knows she has been a Republican leader in a completely Democratic state," Kaauwai said.
The party said it was too early to get firm commitments from other speakers for the meeting, but Kaauwai said that tentatively Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to speak. Pawlenty is one of several GOP leaders considering a 2012 run for president.
Delay urged in child care cuts
Department of Human Services Director Lillian Koller said if the cuts aren't made, the subsidy program will run out of money by February.
And that is a conservative projection, Koller said.
The proposed cuts to subsidies would in some cases mean parents having to pay four times what they now pay out of pocket for day care.
The subsidies help 7,792 low- to moderate-income families statewide afford day care for some 14,577 children.
More home-tax relief stalls
The City Council Budget Committee yesterday deferred bills that would provide additional tax relief for O'ahu homeowners....
Bill 09-09 keeps the $50,000 total income eligibility but would allow more people to get a tax credit by lowering the tax threshold to no more than 3 percent of income.
Bill 09-75 eliminates the $50,000 total income eligibility requirement. It calls for capping property taxes at 3 percent of total income for households earning $50,000 or less, and 4 percent for households earning more than $50,000.
Garcia said he'd like to incorporate parts of both bills into one bill. Garcia said his committee also wants to give the administration time to provide revenue projections to see how much, if anything, the city can spare.
Honolulu Transit authority on track
Executive Matters Committee Chairman Charles Djou said the proposed charter amendment provides the transit authority with autonomy, while preserving council oversight.
"I think it's fairly, reasonably balanced between the executive and legislative branches of government (and) you also have state government having some input here," he said.
RELATED: Updated list of Honolulu rail contractors released
Waikiki curbside campers must go
Curbside campers along Kalakaua Avenue will not be allowed to spend the night anymore in the city's latest effort to keep Kapiolani Park clear for recreational use.
City attorneys verified that the strip between the sidewalk and roadway is part of Kapiolani Park and subject to rules set by the city Department of Parks and Recreation, Mayor Mufi Hannemann said yesterday.
RELATED: Kapiolani Park: Homelessness industry takes Hawaii tourism hostage
Vandals strike at shuttered school in Wailupe Valley
City Councilman Charles Djou, whose district includes Wailupe Valley Elementary School, said the city should have ensured the property was secure to prevent vandalism.
He also urged the city to work faster to come up with a plan for the site's future.
"The city has known Wailupe Valley was closing for well over a year now," Djou said.
He added he has no strong preferences on what to do with the site.
"The only bad thing is doing nothing," he said.
Oahu single-family home, condo sales skyrocket
Oahu single-family home and condominium sales soared in November as prospective homeowners rushed to take advantage of a federal $8,000 first-time homebuyers tax credit in which transactions needed to close by Nov. 30.
The deadline has since been extended, and now an eligible taxpayer must buy, or enter into a binding contract to buy, a principal residence on or before April 30, 2010 and close on the home by June 30, 2010.
Home sales jumped 46.5 percent to 249 last month from 170 a year ago while condo sales more than doubled to 407 from 201 in November 2008.
ADV: Panel, leaders must avert elections crisis
In ordinary circumstances, the December before an election year would be crunch time for the state Office of Elections.
With Tuesday's announcement from Kevin Cronin, the embattled chief elections officer, that he will resign at year's end, circumstances have become extraordinary and crunch time a crisis of the first magnitude.
SB: Resignation intensifies worries about next elections , KITV: Outgoing Election Officer Orders 97 Precincts Closed
RELATED: Hawaii's 2010 election schedule violates new federal law
Hawaii parents still can spank
Hawai'i's appellate courts have revisited the thorny question of when parental discipline becomes child abuse, this time overturning the criminal conviction of a stepfather who used a belt to spank his child.
In overturning Robertson's conviction, the appellate court cited a 2007 Hawai'i Supreme Court decision which said "parents have a privilege to subject children to reasonable corporal punishment."
The decision this week said Robertson's actions fell within the "parental discipline defense (which) is intended to recognize a parent's privilege to use force in disciplining his or her child as long as the force used is limited to that which is reasonable or moderate."
The ruling cited a New Mexico court decision which said, "An angry moment driving moderate or reasonable discipline is often part and parcel of the real world of parenting with which prosecutors and courts should not interfere.
"What parent among us can say he or she has not been angered to some degree from a child's defiant, impudent or insolent conduct, sufficient to call for spontaneous, stern and meaningful discipline?" the citation continued.
State Public Defender Jack Tonaki, whose office represented Robertson, said this week's ruling is consistent with previous decisions holding that "the state should not be delving into the area of parental discipline when it is applied within reason."
SITUATION EXPLAINED: Antonio Gramsci Reading List
Lingle frees $36.9M for major Inter-Island terminal expansion
The project will result in the demolition of the commuter terminal and the relocation in the second quarter of 2010 of two regional carriers — go! Mokulele and Island Air — to the interisland terminal. Smaller carriers Mokulele Express and Pacific Wings will continue to operate out of the commuter terminal during the phased renovation. The expansion is part of a broader $2.3 billion, 12-year Airports Modernization Plan that was launched in March 2006.
Hawaii Co. Council looks to tackle budget deficits
"It's a no-brainer." Yagong said. "We don't need to set up a committee to study this. We need to unfund these vacant positions to deal with the budget deficit."