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Wednesday, January 20, 2010
January 20, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:21 PM :: 9174 Views

Senate will deal with civil union bill immediately; a vote is likely Friday

"It is my understanding that it will be put on the Order of the Day (agenda) Thursday and put it up for a vote on Friday," said Sen. Brian Taniguchi, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The bill was stalled in his committee with three committee members in favor and three against the bill, when it was yanked onto the Senate floor last year.

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Clock's ticking on Akaka bill in overloaded Congress

Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who plans to leave his post Feb. 28, after 11 terms, to run for governor, said he'll remain for the crucial vote on the Akaka bill.

That indicates it will come up soon in the House.

But in the Senate — which is grappling with other national issues such as health care, energy and immigration — the Akaka legislation could snag once again on a complex schedule and the whim or will of a single senator.

So far, the bill faces no "holds" — in which any senator can anonymously freeze action on a measure.

The Akaka bill will probably need 60 votes in the Senate to override a filibuster, which is common even on routine legislation.

(Not one mention of the fact that the Gov and AG are against the Senate version of the Akaka Bill)

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Independent voters are election wild card

So when presented with a political poll, such as the one just taken for the Star-Bulletin and KITV, politicians are likely to scan the columns of undecided or neutral voters to find new friends.

One of Hawaii's best (DEMOCRAT) political tacticians, Andy Winer, says the Star-Bulletin-KITV poll shows that the candidates are generally well-liked going into the race, but that watching the demographics will be key.

"A significant percent of the voters have neutral views, which tells me that they have an open mind and can be persuaded one way or the other," Winer advises.

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Poll shows Carlisle with 67% to 18% lead in so-far fictional mayoral race

Carlisle was recognized as favorable by 67 percent of those polled. Dela Cruz was next at 18 percent, followed by Caldwell at 11 percent and Tam at 10 percent.

Tam was recognized as unfavorable by 40 percent, Dela Cruz and Caldwell each had 10 percent and Carlisle was at 7 percent.

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Money's the matter as Isle lawmakers begin 60-day session (Danger! Legislature in Session)

DANGER!  Hawaii lawmakers are returning to the state Capitol for the start of the annual legislative session this morning.  (Guard your wallet!)

Hawaii faces a budget gap of at least $1.2 billion that must be filled by the time the session concludes April 29.  (And cutting waste, fraud, and corruption is NOT on the agenda.)

RELATED: Lawmakers of C. Maui aim to guard projects

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TAT status up for council discussion  (Kokubun: “Raise Taxes”)

HILO -- A resolution asking the state Legislature to let the county keep its transient accommodations tax revenues will be up for discussion Friday by the Hawaii County Council.
But one Big Island lawmaker, a former councilman, says any discussion of the TAT will be meaningless unless the council also discusses alternatives such as increases in the sales tax or general excise tax.
"It's pretty obvious the counties will come out with that position," said Senate Vice President Russell Kokubun, about the county's opposition to losing its second-largest revenue source.

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Bottle fee could cut furloughs  (Danger! Legislature in Session)

Another tax increase—aimed squarely at small business and at low income people.  The one thing the DoE cannot do is cut waste, fraud, and corruption.

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Hawai‘i Chamber pushing for unemployment tax break

Francisco joined with representatives of the U.S. and Hawai‘i Chambers of Commerce in a gathering with island business leaders Tuesday morning to discuss the impact that issues like the state unemployment insurance tax hike as well as health care reform, cap-and-trade and card check will have on commerce….

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6th district lawmakers face tough ’10 session (J Kalani “Powdernose” English has a plan to ‘blow” your money)

When asked what his No. 1 priority for his constituency will be during the 60-day session, English quickly replied: "It's infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure."

(Which means you dear reader will be paying taxes, taxes, taxes.)

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Let governor appoint Hawaii schools superintendent, Lingle proposes

Last week, Sen. Norman Sakamoto, D-15th (Waimalu, Airport, Salt Lake), the chairman of the Senate Education and Housing Committee, said his committee will hear Lingle's proposals and others related to restructuring the governance of DOE.  (He will kill the proposal on behalf of his brothers DoE maintenance contracting company)

"To what degree should the superintendent be appointment by the governor, or even if some or all of the board should be appointed — I think it is worth having that discussion and getting people's points of view," Sakamoto said.

Sakamoto noted that previous governors invited the schools superintendent to Cabinet-level meetings. Lingle did not do that with Patricia Hamamoto, who resigned as superintendent Dec. 31.  (This red herring will be used as his excuse to kill the proposal.)

"Currently the governor could ask (interim superintendent Kathryn) Matayoshi to attend and at least understand the broader workings of government without being a gubernatorial appointee," he said.  (Red herring continued.  Lingle/Abercrombie proposal is about accountability, not attendance.) 

Sakamoto noted that there are models in the state government for a governor appointee who works alongside a board, such as at the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.  (Here he is pretending to be reasonable.)

As for the chances of Lingle's proposal passing, Sakamoto said, "Let's see how the hearing process goes and what the outcome might be."  (He’s gonna kill it and make it look like someone else did.)

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ADV: Race to the Top needs all hands on deck

(Any Hawaii RTTT proposal is already toast but if Matayoshi can make it look good until the Leg is finished, then they might avoid the Constitutional Amendment placing the DoE under control of the next governor.)  Matayoshi’s dodge will be to treat Waianae schools working in partnership with KSBE as a separate zone for which RTTT application is filed. This is Hawaii's ONLY hope of getting RTTT because furloughs and the DoE‘s reactionary anti-charter school position doom any application on behalf of the DoE as a whole.  Will Matayoshi pledge not to divert funds from these schools to support the rest of the DoE?  Why not just enact state wide vouchers and allow Hawaii's highly successful private schools to take over the DoE buildings and re-shape education.) 

The full 900-page proposal, seeking a minimum of $75 million over four years, is not yet available for public review. Judging by the description of it by Kathryn Matayoshi, interim superintendent, it would create an "Zone of School Innovation" encompassing schools on Oahu's west side, several of which are chronically low-performing schools.

It makes perfect sense to take some experimental first steps on the coast, which for several years has been a focal point for a DOE private partnership with Kamehameha Schools. The educational trust benefiting Native Hawaiians has expanded its educational outreach beyond its own three campuses and into programs enhancing education in public schools in areas that, like Waianae, have large Native Hawaiian populations.

Leveraging that private investment with federal dollars is part of the plan, but there will be more key components. The "zone" schools would be able to hire teachers with greater flexibility and offer incentives to them. And these teachers would agree to formulas linking student performance with their own evaluations, which has been resisted in the past.

(And the HSTA is going to allow this?????  Ha!)

SB:  DOE hopeful of federal funds

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Companies oppose school bus cuts

"You're going to put our children in the lion cage," (“Lion Cage?”) said Maryann Miner, 60, a former school bus driver for 21 years, Gomes School Bus Service employee….

(BoE is incompetent to handle even the simplest cuts.) 

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Crime bill would put 'halo' around schools

The measure, dubbed the "halo bill," would increase sentences for violent crimes committed within a 750-foot "halo" around any public or private school or public park. The definition of schools under the bill includes preschools through high schools. College campuses would not be covered.

State Rep. John Mizuno, D-30th (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Fort Shafter), will introduce the bill this session and said he is optimistic about its chances for passage. He said the bill would mean those who commit crimes in or near schools or parks would automatically be subject to maximum sentencing.

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The Healthcare Association is asking again for the state money

The association is also trying to solve another problem. At any given time about 200 patients who are ready to be discharged from acute-care hospitals have to be put on wait lists because long-term care facilities are not available.

Hospitals lose money on wait-listed patients because Medicaid pays only 20 to 30 percent of the actual costs of care, Greene said. Uncompensated care at the acute-care hospitals totaled more than $100 million last year.

Among many solutions being considered is a proposal that Medicaid be required to reimburse hospitals at the acute-care services rate for wait-listed patients.

Greene also is working with the state Department of Human Services to find "creative ways" to increase federal funding, and the Healthcare Association is sponsoring a bill to expand responsibilities of an oversight commission.

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Kaiser employees picket over loss of pharmacy work

Members of the UNITE HERE Local 5 picket one of the entrances to the Kaiser Permanente Honolulu Clinic yesterday in a one-day strike over the health maintenance organization's plans to move mail-order pharmacy work from Hawaii to a Kaiser facility in Colorado.

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Chevron to shrink refining business

Lloyd Avram, manager of media relations for Chevron, said no decision has been made yet regarding the Hawaii plant.

"Our Hawaii refinery has been undergoing a study for some months to determine options for the facility," Avram said yesterday. "The study continues with no decisions yet made."

The Chevron facility at Campbell Industrial Park in Kapolei has a refining capacity of 54,000 barrels a day. The largest refinery in the state, operated by Tesoro Corp., has a capacity of 95,000 barrels a day.

"We will have more information to share on this new structure in March," Avram said.

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2% Land fund may return to ballot

In May, the County Council agreed to a Kenoi administration proposal to suspend payments to the land fund for two fiscal years to balance the budget.

(So now the same idiots who couldn’t figure out how to write the 2% amendment are now going to ask for a re-vote.  Meanwhile Kenoi is doing exactly what Hawai`i Free Press has advocated for years—selling county ag property mauka in order to buy and preserve shoreline parcels.)

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Kauai County share of Pflueger settlement to be released

LIHU‘E — A state judge on Tuesday granted a motion that will publicly disclose the amount the county has agreed to pay in the civil cases of wrongful death and property damage surrounding the Ka Loko Reservoir failure nearly four years ago.

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Hawaii Air National Guard, Air Force crews part of Haiti relief

Zeitz, a Honolulu Fire Department firefighter, found out on Monday that he was going to be flying on the relief mission. He's on three months of military duty that started Jan. 1 to gain more experience as a pilot.

Maj. Noa Allen, a 1992 Kamehameha Schools graduate, also is on the mission as the aircraft commander. Allen, 35, said he got back to Hawai'i on Saturday after flying in from Thailand on a mission to return missing U.S. service members' remains.

"Any support we can give to help out (in Haiti), it's a great mission for us to do," Allen said.

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