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Sunday, January 24, 2010
January 24, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:30 AM :: 8347 Views

Same-sex marriage issue has endured a long fight in Hawaii

Supporters and opponents of House Bill 444 — the civil unions bill — are waiting to see if the measure will pass the House with a veto-proof margin, allowing gay couples to enter into civil unions that confer the same rights, protections and responsibilities enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples.

"The legal argument for same-sex marriage in various flavors had been tested in a number of different venues and always lost," said Goldberg-Hiller, (Gramscian) author of "The Limits to Union: Same-Sex Marriage & the Politics of Civil Rights."

"When the Hawai'i court ruled in 1993, it was the first time anywhere in the world that same-sex marriage was given a legal name and constitutional language it could refer to. Before then, many people did not believe there was such a thing as same-sex marriage. After the ruling, even if they disagreed with it, they had to agree there was a legal idea of same-sex marriage."

As part of the national backlash against the Hawai'i court ruling, Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman for federal purposes and spelled out a state's right to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

RELATED: Gay Civil Unions Bill passes Senate: Hawaii Family Forum re-focuses on House

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ADV: Teachers union asking lawmakers to set aside funds to end furloughs

The Hawaii State Teachers Association said in a written statement it wants lawmakers to support its plan to cut seven furlough days this year, using $35 million from the state's rainy day fund.

On Dec. 28, the union and state education officials agreed to that plan, but the governor rejected it. She came back with a plan to use $50 million from the rainy day fund to cancel 24 furlough days….

Smith also said under the state Constitution, only the governor can request an emergency appropriation for the current fiscal year.

Rep. Roy Takumi, chairman of the state House Education Committee, said it is possible that lawmakers could set aside money to solve furlough days in the current school year.

"We could come up with an idea, a proposal to fund the furloughs for this year. Say it does reflect the supplemental (Dec. 28) agreement, ultimately the governor will have to decide whether she will release those funds," Takumi said.

(Of course it is in the Leg’s power to cut away at funding of waste, fraud, and corruption in the DoE.  But that’s not on the political agenda.)

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SB: HSTA, heed idea to improve teacher quality

(Low standards: SB wheedles with HSTA criminals begging them to be as ‘flexible’ as the notorious AFT.)

The due process afforded tenured teachers requires administrators to present evidence of incompetence and allows teachers to appeal the decisions. Critics say many poor teachers remain in classrooms because the process is so lengthy and costly that few administrators attempt it.

The process is similar for teachers accused of outright malfeasance, although they can be removed from the classroom during the investigation.

In recently announcing the initiative, Weingarten cited an internal AFT survey that found that teachers, by a 4-to-1 ratio, wanted their union to put a higher priority on promoting good teaching than on defending the job rights of teachers facing disciplinary action.

Such labor-management collaboration would be welcome in Hawaii, where examples of the "glacial" pace of due process are evident. One recent example: the case of Lynn Dionise, a Big Island teacher convicted of trafficking crystal methamphetamine.

Dionese eventually was fired, but only after she was officially sentenced in federal court — months after she had pled guilty to the charges.

(BTW: The HSTA wants $35M for 7 days.)

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Windmills a source of green power, conflict

Castle & Cooke Resorts has proposed to erect as many as 200 wind turbines on 12,800 acres on the remote northwestern end of the island and lay an undersea cable that would send the power to Oahu. While some support a project that could be a revenue-generator for the island's biggest employer, many express deep concerns, fearing it could cut off access to an important state hunting ground, have a major impact on an area rich in cultural and archaeological sites and detract from the rugged area's sweeping views.

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Hirono: ‘I would vote against’ Senate health care bill

LIHU‘E — Some Democrats in Washington, D.C. are signaling a retreat on health care reform, and some are looking for various ways forward, but Congresswoman Mazie Hirono has ruled out one approach.

Asked Friday where her vote would fall should House leadership decide to move forward with the U.S. Senate’s version of the bill, Hirono said simply, “I would vote against it.”

“We’re looking at the Senate bill and we believe that it’s not just a deal of 60 votes or 51 votes in the Senate, but 218 votes in the House as well,” Hirono said. “There are too many parts to the senate bill that I couldn’t agree with.”

(Yep, Hirono is too socialist to accept the Senate version of Obamacare.  Its not socialist enough for her.  And she has no credible opponent for 2010.)

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County looks to preserve its TAT share

Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann took issue with statements by state legislators that the county had not done enough to cut its budget and therefore did not deserve its TAT share. The state has not made major cuts, he added.

"Basically, this county has adopted a conservative fiscal policy," he said. "The county should not be penalized for a more sound and conservative fiscal process."

Council members stuck with their earlier vote on a resolution asking the state government to decriminalize marijuana, again voting it down over the passionate objections of dozens of county residents.  (Sponsored by GTMO Greenwell, who is upset because Guantanamo headchoppers are not yet living free on the Big island.  Of course, that has nothing to do with smoking dope, does it. 

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ADV: Elevated system best deal for taxpayers

They also say that the changes could be made in about six months. Transit officials say no way — we'd start from square one and risk losing our place in line for precious federal funds. (And whatever they say, we believe.)

Yet Gov. Linda Lingle, impressed by their ideas, sponsored an AIA forum to promote those ideas on Monday.

There's no question  (no question???) that an elevated rail, with a separated guideway, will do what a rail transit system is supposed to do: move large numbers of people efficiently and reliably, without exacerbating the very problem it's supposed to mitigate — traffic congestion.

If we're going to spend billions of dollars on a rail system to handle O'ahu's long-term transit needs, we should at least buy one that's going to work.

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