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Wednesday, June 30, 2010
June 30, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:46 PM :: 7716 Views

Voters hate legislators: Few step up to run against them

As of the Thursday notice from the state Office of Elections, eight Senate seats and 23 House openings have no general election opposition. Almost all of the seats that are unchallenged are because there is no GOP candidate.

If incumbents have a full set of built-in advantages, none rises as high as the free pass of simply not having anyone run against you.

If this were the year when furious voters tossed out the rascals, the vote would be as easy to explain as counting the number of Furlough Fridays that shut the public schools. This is the year when your entire campaign strategy need not be any more complicated than, "I'm not one of those guys."

Two years ago the GOP had just seven running for 12 Senate seats, and 28 in the 51-member House. It won nothing in the Senate and only six in the House.

So while the candidates may be telling you they stand for "hope and change," the incumbents are whispering, "I hope it doesn't change."

RELATED: AUDIO: Hawaii GOP takes to airwaves in search of candidates

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Hannemann Proposal criticized as a 'power grab'

Resolution 10-149 proposes to replace the nine-member commission with a Clean Water and Natural Lands Advisory Committee that would have a similar role but would be equally appointed by the Council and mayor.

In his State of the City Address this year, Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he planned to use money from the fund to create "livable communities" supporting transit-oriented development along the city's proposed rail transit line, and for other purposes, such as planning for a Nanakuli regional park.

Commission Chairwoman Marjorie Ziegler said she does not object to the projects, but to how the commission, created by the Council in 2007 to oversee the fund, is being marginalized.

About $3 million from the fund already has been allocated in the mayor's capital improvements project budget for the Nanakuli park.

REALITY EXPLAINED: Nanakuli Park: Hannemann pounds Hanabusa in proxy fight between Waimanalo Gulch and PVT landfill

Ilind: Move to dismantle the Clean Water and Natural Lands Commission on City Council committee agenda, Some news is better than no news, but…

CB: Land Use: A Right or a Privilege?

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Ilind: Timing is everything in the sewer settlement

(After 6 years of stalling) The announcement comes just weeks before he walks out of city hall to make his run for governor, leaving behind years of big talk and over $6 million in legal fees.

Meaning: Mufi takes credit for the settlement and gets out of Dodge, while leaving the $1+ billion in upgrade costs for the next guy to have to worry about, and all of us to pay.

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Mayor blasted over homeless

Gov. Linda Lingle's chief of staff, Barry Fukunaga, criticized the mayor for holding a forum on homelessness yesterday, "four years after kicking homeless families out of Ala Moana Beach Park."

Fukunaga's remarks were made in a commentary submitted to the Star-Advertiser yesterday for possible publication.

Fukunaga wrote, "It's about time the mayor stepped up—even though it's evident that he is only doing so because he is running for governor."

He also said Hannemann "shirked his responsibility" in regard to the homeless, and has shown "little heart" on the issue.

"Now, the mayor's last-minute attempt to hold a forum on homelessness when it is politically expedient is nothing short of pathetic," Fukunaga said. "It is an insult to the hundreds of social service organizations, churches, community groups and state workers who have been working collaboratively to help the homeless as they continue to be evicted from city parks with no alternative solutions offered by the city."

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Mizuno and Cabanilla's "family reunification" plan draws the ire of Seattle officials

Urban legends persist around the country of communities exporting homeless people, said John Fox, director of the Seattle Displacement Coalition. But Fox said he had never heard of elected officials using their own money to send a homeless person back.

Fox called the idea by Mizuno and Cabanilla "unbelievable," adding: "These are state legislators?

"You hear the occasional story of some small reactionary community somewhere wanting to put homeless people on buses," Fox said. "But I've never met or run into any homeless person or service provider who has assumed something like this has actually happened before."

Shapiro:  These are state legislators?

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Djou: Congress being derelict in not enacting a budget

With the national unemployment rate hovering near the double digits and the national deficit reaching more than $13 trillion, Americans are rightly concerned about our economy and federal budget, and they expect their elected representatives in Congress to implement responsible and effective solutions for our deficit crisis.

Lately, however, it seems that for every problem our nation is facing, the answer from Washington is to spend and spend some more. In the first seven months of the current fiscal year, the federal government has amassed $800 billion in deficit spending and is on its way toward surpassing last year's record annual deficit of $1.4 trillion.

Now, amidst this major fiscal crisis, the House is refusing to pass a budget….

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Rep. Djou praises Obama on trade

In a floor speech, Djou said he was "encouraged by the opportunity which has happened this past weekend and compliment President Obama for committing to a free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea."

Noting that his congressional district "lies within the flight arc of North Korea's ballistic missiles," Djou said it was time for the U.S. to "further cement our bonds and our relationships" with South Korea "and make sure that we change the dictatorship in North Korea for the benefit of our nation and the world as a whole."

HFP: VIDEO: Djou backs Administration’s push for free trade with South Korea

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Abercrombie’s Gay Union: Battle Brewing Over Hotel Worker Contracts

The manager was referring to protest rules. All in all, however, it was a peaceful rally and a publicity coup for UNITE HERE! Local 5, the union that represents 10,500 hospitality, food services and health-care workers in Hawaii.

That rally was an initial skirmish in a labor dispute that has the potential to become a hot issue in an election year.

Now things are about to heat up. The contracts for thousands of workers expire today. Negotiations are scheduled to begin July 7.

Hotel and resort workers make up a big chunk of local voters, about 40,000 people. Their votes matter. But the union is negotiating with a hotel industry that lost $1.14 billion from April 2008 when the downturn in tourism began through 2009.

TOTALLY RELATED:  Neil Abercrombies struts his Gay Pride in Waikiki Parade

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Alleged Gay Rape victim gets new trial

Tyler Condon, 26, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing of Jake Ira Hale on July 4, 2007, at an Ewa townhouse.

Condon did not dispute inflicting the fatal wounds, but contended he acted in self-defense and under extreme mental or emotional distress after his cousin tried to rape him.

The jury rejected an acquittal based on self-defense and the lesser manslaughter conviction, which would have acknowledged the distress….

During the trial, Condon testified he drove Hale to the townhouse in the early morning, fell asleep and awoke to find his cousin trying to molest him. They struggled, Condon said, and his cousin put him in a headlock. Condon testified he then started swinging a knife.

RELATED: Gay Murder at Ilikai Hotel

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New Ransom Demands: BOE members warn a furlough-free year will probably mean cuts in other areas

The board approved an operating budget yesterday for the 2010-11 school year that includes $1.25 billion from the state's general fund and the elimination of about 400 mostly vacant positions. The bulk of the positions - about 230 - are in special education.

Eliminating the positions will save the department about $15 million and could include some layoffs.

RELATED: New ransom demands: BoE Chair threatens layoffs in response to 180 day law

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Isles' Asian students lag in proficiency, national study finds

The report, from the Center on Education Policy, showed Hawaii's Asian-American students—a category that includes Pacific islanders—in public elementary, middle and high schools don't perform as well as their white peers in either reading or math.

For example, 34 percent of Asian-American eighth-graders here tested as proficient in math in 2008, compared with 43 percent of white students. In reading, 66 percent of Asian-American high-schoolers tested as proficient, compared with 76 percent of whites.

The report's authors said other states with high percentages of Asian Americans did better, including California, New York and Washington. And nationally, Asian Americans were found to perform better than any other group in all levels of math and in fourth- and eighth-grade reading.

Jack Jennings, Center on Education Policy president and chief executive officer, said taking into account differences in the population of Asian Americans students by state doesn't erase the fact that the group is lagging in Hawaii public schools.

"There's still a serious question about why Hawaii would be the outlier," he said.

Others disagree. (And they are from the DoE, natch!)

(If only the DoE were as good at educating as they are at coming up with excuses.)

To see the study, go to

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Union Apologist denounces RTTT, Bill Gates on Education

States such as Hawaii that want to improve student achievement would be better off developing a cohesive curriculum (or for that matter, ANY curriculum) rather than chasing funding under federal mandates that are dumbing down American schools and weakening democratic ideals, according to an education historian whose bleak assessment of the No Child Left Behind era has made her a heroine of public schoolteachers….  (Apparently she doesn’t know that the HSTA has blocked a curriculum for decades.)

The National Education Association (of which the local Hawaii State Teachers Association is an affiliate) named her its 2010 "Friend of Education."

But critics weighed in, too. She's been accused of being an apologist for teachers' unions, just as a Democratic president is pushing merit pay for educators long shielded by tenure and seniority-based pay scales.  (THAT IS WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT.) Some say she's defending a status quo that serves school employees, not students, and maligning charter schools that have succeeded in communities sorely in need of help.

She's not opposed to testing and accountability (Yeah, right), but to the misuse of tests to punish people and close schools (accountability). She does not oppose choice, but dislikes that some charter schools compete with, rather than complement, regular public schools….

Ravitch said Hawaii, with its unique statewide system, could have a school system that preserves centralized, statewide functions such as funding, testing and curriculum, while leaving the specific operations of individual schools to their local communities and allowing instructors to teach as they see best.  (And allowing the Central Office to continue milking the budget.)

"That to me is the heart of education. If you don't have a curriculum, you don't really have a good education," said Ravitch  (Hello?  Anybody home?). "It doesn't mean that everybody has to learn exactly the same thing at every school. Teachers shouldn't have to follow a script."  (This is the mainstream NEA viewpoint as applied to Hawaii by somebody who does not know the DoE does not have a curriculum.)

SA does partial debunk: Hawaii charter schools don't follow national pattern

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Hawaii's physician shortage to be in critical condition in 10 years (as compared to what?)


"Yes, there's a 22% shortage statewide," said Dr. Josh Green with the Independent Physician Association.

Statistics show Hawaii is at least 500 doctors short compared to the national average and the numbers are forecast to triple in the next decade.

"So you can expect at 30-40% shortage across all disciplines, primary care, cardiology, orthopedics, it's really quite serious," said Green.

Experts say many factors contribute to the Hawaii doctor deficit including reimbursement issues, better pay on the mainland and malpractice lawsuits.

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Isle gun laws seen as solid despite ruling


"I think the Supreme Court pretty much mimics our opinion about this: We all have a right to protect ourselves under the Second Amendment," said Harvey Gerwig II, president of the Hawaii Rifle Association.

Gerwig said his group does not plan to file any immediate federal court challenge to state laws that he says are so restrictive that they discourage handgun ownership. The association's reasons, he said, include the legal fees and costs to mount such a challenge, but also the group wants to first address the issue with state authorities.

Gerwig said the state laws require paperwork and multiple trips to the police department to legally acquire a handgun. He said his group is not opposed to the required gun safety classes, but believes it should be a one-stop, one-time process to get a handgun.

But Gerwig said if the group is not successful, they might seek the help of the National Rifle Association in filing the federal lawsuit here.

SA: Hawaii gun laws are sound

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Big Isle test election at risk

A laudable pilot project on the Big Island aimed at eliminating the advantage of the rich, or tools of large interest groups boosting crackpot progressives in seeking public office, is in jeopardy. In an unsigned opinion involving an Arizona election, the U.S. Supreme Court has indicated that it will reject a system that was a model for the Hawaii test. A full opinion reflecting the brief order would be a blow to needed innovation of election law - a process that now may require changes.

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Private prison firm provides quality care at an affordable price

For more than a decade, CCA has partnered with Hawaii to relieve prison overcrowding. In doing so, CCA has provided cost-effective prison space and services that include meaningful rehabilitation programs to help inmates stay out of prison once released. Because we know that individuals with greater education are less likely to commit crimes, we offer education programs, including adult basic education, GED classes and computer and life-skills training. Similarly, individuals with job skills are less likely to re-offend, so we offer vocational programs, including electrical, wood working/cabinetry, plumbing and carpentry, as well as meaningful work opportunities within our facilities to instill strong work habits. CCA recognizes that individuals free from substance abuse have greater opportunity to succeed, so CCA provides credentialed substance abuse treatment programs. We also offer native Hawaiian cultural activities, faith-based programs, hobby shop, music room and video visitation. In concert with our government partner, we provide these services because it is the right thing to do for inmates and taxpayers.

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Hale Kipa talks fail to ease neighborhood's safety fears

"I told him something's got to be done," said Nelson Tang, 57, whose house borders the Damon Street group home. "As recently as two nights ago, they were making a lot of noise. They threw rocks at my dog. ... They're bad kids, you can tell. They're out-of-control kids. Their language - it's hate coming out."

But state Rep. Isaac Choy, who called the meeting, decided after presentations by Pletan-Cross and others that group discussions would follow rather than a time-consuming open-microphone session.

Many residents marched up to Pletan-Cross to express their dissatisfaction with the facility.

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Akaka, Inouye flip-flop on Gen Petraeus


Some of the same Democratic senators who refused to join in a 2007 vote of confidence for Gen. David Petraeus switched gears on Tuesday and voted to confirm him as President Obama’s choice to lead the Afghanistan war effort.
Senators Jack Reed (D.-R.I.), Daniel Akaka (D.- Hawaii) and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin (D.-Mich.) voted to confirm Petraeus and were among the 25 senators who voted against a resolution to support Petraeus in 2007.
The resolution came in response to an ad by the left-wing, that appeared in The New York Times with the headline “General Betray-us.”

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Busy recruiters suggest that hiring is on the rise in Hawaii


Job recruiters tell PBN that as business confidence builds slowly, employers have been more willing to post temporary positions — often an early barometer of future growth in the job market.

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Grand Vision, Big Questions for Oahu Electric Car Plant

“The CEO of CT&T, he makes decisions quickly and moves quickly, so he wants this project to be ready within the next 18 months, meaning constructed by then,” Field said. That means the Oahu plant would be up and running by December 2011….

A car industry expert says CT&T’s target of producing 10,000 cars a year in Hawaii is likely higher than current demand, but that the company could find success with government fleets, rental car agencies that cater to tourists, and the military….

There were 33,600 new vehicles sold in Hawaii in 2009, according to the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association. That means CT&T wants its vehicles to account for about a third of the new cars sold here annually.

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CNN Opinion: Islands are 'natural nets' for plastic-choked seas

Long-term solutions will treat the source, not the symptom. Three steps will do it.

First, "Benign by Design" is a call to the producer to use green chemistry to change the material to be inert in the environment. New bioplastics, like PHA from Metabolix, looks, feels and acts like plastic, but is marine biodegradable.

(Aha!  Now we know where to look for the funding source of the Pacific Gyre eco-scam.)

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