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Friday, January 8, 2010
January 8, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:28 AM :: 14268 Views

Senate Expect To Pass Civil Unions Bill: Opponents, Supporters Prepare To Rally On Issue

HONOLULU -- State senators told KITV they expect to approve a civil unions bill shortly after the legislative session starts this month.

The bill to give gay couples most of the benefits of marriage remains alive in the Senate after failing to move out of the Judiciary Committee last year.

Opponents are gearing up to fight legalizing gay unions at a rally at the state Capitol Jan. 17....

State senators said they expect to approve the civil unions bill in the first two weeks of the session that begins Jan. 20. Then it goes to the House for its consideration.

Opponents staged a huge rally last year. Rally organizer Francis Oda said he fears that legalizing civil unions will lead directly to legalizing gay marriages.

"In other states that have adopted similar bills through the courts, same sex marriage has then been mandated," Oda said.

His group hopes that 24,000 people will turn out at the Capitol to oppose civil unions.

RALLY DETAILS: Protest January 17th: Gay Civil Unions HB444 poised for passage in 2010

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BOE chair Toguchi rejects calls for his resignation (another unaccountable board at work)

Board member Breene Harimoto led the drive to remove Toguchi as chair. Harimoto accused Toguchi of conducting board businesses without the knowledge of the entire elected board. Harimoto said Toguchi was notified by former school Superintendent Pat Hamamoto on Dec. 28 that she planned to retire at the end of last year, but Toguchi didn't make this public until Dec. 31.

Harimoto also said that contract negotiations with the Hawaii State Teachers Association to end furlough Fridays are being conducted without the knowledge or input from the full board. He accused Toguchi of withholding information on a tentative agreement with the HSTA reached Dec. 23 and said a majority of the board had to find out details of the settlement in the media.  (And yet 7 of these placeholders, plus Toguchi, voted to keep him.  Who needs this BoE?)

SB: Chairman Garrett Toguchi faces criticism from several BOE members but has no plans to step down

Here is how the Board of Education is split on whether Garrett Toguchi should remain as chairman:

» Garrett Toguchi
» Lei Ahu Isa
» Kim Coco Iwamoto
» Mary Cochran
» Janis Akuna
» Karen Knudsen
» Carol Mon Lee
» John Penebacker

» Breene Harimoto
» Donna Ikeda
» Eileen Clarke
» Herbert Watanabe
» Maggie Cox
» Kelly Maeshiro, student member (nonvoting)

KITV: BOE Member Calls For Chairman's Resignation, KGMB: BOE chairman answers criticism, KHON:  Garrett Toguchi Stays as BOE Chair

RELATED: Hamamoto's DoE resignation: To block Lingle's constitutional amendment?

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Rail may outpace funding by $322M

The bulk of the money for building the rail line is to come from a half-percentage-point surcharge ... The FTA said "collections have under-run projections made before the current economic downturn. Consequently, financial issues may pose difficulties sufficient to put at risk the city's anticipated initiation of final design in early 2010."...

Yoshioka also said the FTA gave the city the green light to proceed with the next stage of the project, known as preliminary engineering, on Oct. 12, demonstrating the agency's overall approval of the rail plan. "The FTA could have stopped us right there," Yoshioka said.

If the city's transit tax collection forecasts were restated to reflect lower Council on Revenues excise tax collection growth rates, the city's transit tax shortfall could climb to $322 million through 2023, according to the FTA.

RELATED: Good News: A small elite no longer runs Hawaii -- Bad News: Mufi thinks he can change that

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UH faculty union seeks injunction to halt pay cuts

The temporary restraining order would halt the nearly 6.7 percent pay reduction. The UH Professional Assembly asked that the First Circuit Court make the restraining order effective as soon as possible and before Jan. 15, 2010, the first faculty pay day of 2010.

UHPA also asked the court to order an arbitration over UHPA's class grievance that was filed with Greenwood.

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Resist the urge to dismantle elections panel (another unaccountable board at work)

In the absence of a secretary of state, holding elections in Hawaii was assigned to the lieutenant governor, but that was taken away in 1995 and given to a new eight-member commission. Half the members are chosen by legislative leaders and an equal number by lawmakers of another political party. The commission, perhaps the most bipartisan in the state, hires an elections officer to run things....

Under his proposal, the secretary of state, unlike the lieutenant governor, would be chosen in a nonpartisan election, akin to the City Council and mayoral races. That system would not hide the candidate's party affiliation, and the notion that it would make the role nonpartisan is wishful thinking....

(So the SB is arguing that the Republican LG's proposal would be very damaging to the Republican Party and the cause of bipartisanship in elections.  And Duke's response is "This is the way they do it on the Mainland?")

Aiona is likely to make a strong case for his proposed constitutional amendment with information gathered from his colleagues in the past seven years. But blaming the current elections headaches on the commission system rather than recession-caused budget problems or stumbling by a newly-hired, inexperienced elections officer would be a mistake.

RELATED: Constitutional Amendment: Aiona Proposes Hawaii Elect Secretary of State

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Housing authority chooses new leader  (another unaccountable board at work)

She praised Taniguchi for visiting public housing facilities and encouraging residents to volunteer and clean up vacant units.

"None of the previous executive directors has ever walked the properties," she said....

He said after five years of losing about $7 million a year, the housing authority balanced its $120 million budget last June.

The agency, which has 288 employees and oversees 6,200 public housing units, balanced its budget by improving rent collections and increasing occupancy to about 94 percent, Taniguchi said.  (What a concept!)

The agency also reduced the renovation time for vacated units from 69 days to eight.

Thompson said Taniguchi had "done a great job."  (Which is prolly why they dumped him)

But the Rev. Bob Nakata of the community group Faith Action for Community Equity said the agency's leaders do not like Taniguchi because he is outspoken.

He cited Taniguchi opposing the board's plan in 2008 to move homeless shelter residents into public housing, jumping them ahead of some 8,600 people already on a waiting list.

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Top Ten Most Outrageous Findings from the 2009 DOE Procurement Audit

“Blank Check” Contracts...and more....

Audit: DoE instructor salaries diverted to "operating expenditure, supplies, and capital items"

DoE Procurement audit: Millions wasted by "fraudulent unethical behavior"

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Hawaii House Leader Criticizing Governor on Budget Plans, But Doesn't Offer His Own Solutions

House Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro’s criticism of Governor Linda Lingle’s proposed supplemental budget is unfortunate, given that he has not offered solutions to deal with the current financial crisis.

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Telescope EIS faces delays

That will be delayed for between 12 and 18 months while astronomers focus on fine-tuning the telescope's prototypes on Haleakala.

SB: UH delays EIS for Big Island telescope

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County portion of Ka Loko settlement coming?

LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i County has filed a motion asking a state judge to unseal the county portion of the settlement in the Ka Loko Reservoir wrongful-death and property-damage civil cases.
The state’s share of the settlement is $1.5 million. 

ADV: Kauai County seeking to unseal Ka Loko dam litigation settlement   The hearing is scheduled for Jan. 19 at 1 p.m.

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DOH cuts Kaua‘i positions

Since November, a “majority” of the cut positions were linked to the Vector Control Branch which helps regulate and prevent the spread of disease from infected organisms.
While no Clean Water Branch positions were affected, one Safe Drinking Water staff position was “given up,” she said.

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Smuggled-in fireworks expose security flaw

We also found that explosives are arriving by mail. Mail courier companies like FedEx and UPS, for example, do not routinely X-ray packages for explosives. The Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration are involved here, and I was told passenger planes get more scrutiny and attention than mail cargo planes. In one instance for example, fireworks were discovered only because the package had broken open.

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Democrat Lawyer announces candidacy for Djou's City Council seat

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Attorney and Waialae-Kahala Neighborhood Board member Richard Turbin is running for the Honolulu City Council seat being vacated by Charles Djou....

The former president of the Hawaii State Bar Association pledged to be a "citizen-councilman" who will tackle traffic and infrastructure problems, help clean up beaches and parks, and create a better business climate.  (A trial lawyer arguing his case.  He must have a poll.)

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Clinton to meet with Japanese foreign minister while in Hawaii

Clinton will be in Hawaii next Tuesday to give a speech on Asia-Pacific security cooperation and meet with U.S. military commanders in the Pacific. She will then travel to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia, where she will meet officials to discuss security and political cooperation and global climate change.

SB: Hillary Clinton will speak here on Asia-Pacific ties

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LINK>>>Governor nominates DCCA Dir Reifurth to Intermediate Court of Appeals


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