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Thursday, July 29, 2010
July 29, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:04 PM :: 9002 Views

Governor Lingle’s Legacy Anything but Narrow

Military Voter Act: US DoJ criticized for waiving Hawaii's illegally late Primary date

Djou renews call for Free Trade with South Korea

Djou: “Truth in Spending Act would force Congress to live by financial forecasts”

Hawaii gays, atheists grab for children as part of new legal strategy: Place issue in hands of Hawaii's judiciary (again)

AP: Most Hawaii residents don't want the government to endorse equal rights for gay couples, said Garret Hashimoto, chairman for the Hawaii Christian Coalition.

"I feel insulted. They keep bringing up Martin Luther King, black rights and women's suffrage. This is not about that. This is about two males or two females practicing sex," he said. "It's behavior. It's no different from smokers or drinkers."

The office of Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett declined comment Wednesday because it hadn't yet been served with the lawsuit.

The state grants some rights to gay couples through its reciprocal beneficiaries system.

But they lack the same legal privileges and obligations of adoption, child support, alimony and access to family court, said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, which is bringing the case along with the American Civil Liberties Union. (Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean they are going after other people’s children.  Really.)

"This case is not about marriage. It's about the right of same-sex couples to at least have a system that is understandable and complete," Pizer said. "The state's equality guarantee at least has to mean same-sex couples should have the same rights and responsibilities, even if it's segmented off into a system that isn't as respected, understood and revered as marriage."

San Francisco Bay Times: Suing Montana

Meanwhile, in what appears to be a deliberate new strategy, gay legal groups are targeting some of the states that have banned marriage by constitutional amendment. In Montana, the ACLU sued the state for equal rights on behalf of several same-sex couples, arguing that even if marriage was foreclosed by law, the equality principles in the constitution still require that Montana offer all the rights and benefits of marriage to gay couples, short of the name itself.

I think Lambda and the ACLU are poised to file a similar suit in Hawaii, now that Governor Lingle has vetoed the state’s civil union bill.

SA to HSTA: DOE, unions must unite to win  (Unions still sabotage RTTT)

In its revised proposal, the DOE lays out a five-point plan it hopes to fund through a $75 million award. As in Race to the Top efforts nationwide, the focus is on turning around low-performing schools. The DOE has launched new programs in two of them to demonstrate its willingness to throw out the old playbook.

Nanakuli and Waianae high schools are making the transition to more project-oriented learning, equipping every child with a laptop computer. This investment includes resources from Kamehameha Schools. State educators surely are happy to promote this effort as part of an ongoing partnership with the private institution….

But Matayoshi can't be pitching without her team behind her. She will need to emphasize the commitment by the teachers' and principals' unions to embrace another key Race to the Top goal: developing "great teachers and leaders," which includes more accountability from teachers and principals for student performance. The application alludes to that commitment, but given the well-publicized rancor during negotiations and the ultimate misstep of school closures, the Hawaii State Teachers Association and Hawaii Government Employees Association need to step up with their own statements of strong support.

BTW: Inside dope on RTTT can be found on the blog of former CP(M-L) General Secretary Mike Klonsky: 


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National Report: Only 3% of DoE Students graduate college in four years

While the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) struggles to meet federal regulations, Complete College America says less than 2 out of 3 of Hawaii’s students will graduate from high school and only 40 out of 100 graduating students will go on to college.

Only 10 out of each of those 40 students will make it through their freshman year of college. Out of the 100 students, 3 percent will graduate “on time” from a four-year college and 4 percent from community colleges, the report says.


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CB busts Mufi, Neil in lies

RELATED: Private sector experience? Aiona corrects Hannemann

Derrick “I am not a Democrat” DePledge suddenly gets interested in what politicians were doing in 1998: My own private Aiona 

What was Abercrombie doing in 2009? Neil Abercrombie 2009: A year of corruption

Carlsmith Ball Chairman: Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court Nominee Katherine G. Leonard is Gifted, Highly Skilled, Well Balanced

Karl Kobayashi, Chair of the Carlsmith Ball law firm, said, “I am very pleased to provide this information on behalf of and in whole-hearted support of the nomination of our former partner, Katherine G. Leonard, as Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.  Except for her Circuit Court and Hawaii Supreme Court clerkships with former Associate Justice Robert Klein and her tenure as an Associate Judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals, Kate has spent all of her legal career at Carlsmith, starting in August 1992 and becoming a partner in July 1997.

“Kate hails from humble roots. She is a product of the public schools in Wisconsin and is the daughter of a union factory worker at a printing press and a housewife-mother. Her family also ran, as a sole proprietorship from their house, a small carpet shop. Her sister works as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines and her brother operates a towing and auto body shop.  She was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

“While Kate worked at Carlsmith she was an extremely gifted and highly-skilled lawyer who specialized in litigation.  She has keen intellect and a curious mind. Because of her considerable legal skills, she has worked on some of the most prominent litigation cases handled by our firm.  She has a well-balanced perspective about the role of law in our society and its impact on our business, governmental and social affairs, and also the need to adhere to established precedents.

RELATED:  Katherine Leonard: Separating the temperament from the noise

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Oregon Live: Lawsuit seeks to stop Hawaii trash headed to the Northwest

The Yakama Nation and environmental groups are still trying to stop the first shipment, which could come as early as Friday. The trash has become a political hot potato on Oahu as garbage awaiting shipment has stacked up since October in an industrial park used for storage by the contractor, Hawaiian Waste Systems.

Today the Yakama and others filed a federal lawsuit and said they plan to file injunctions that could quickly block the shipments, which they said would be the first from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland.

The suit contends that the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn't properly consult the Yakama tribes and bands or adequately evaluate the potential for invasive species escaping from up to 150,000 tons a year of compressed, baled and plastic-wrapped municipal garbage, a potential threat to crops and natural areas.

Harry Smiskin, Yakama tribal council chairman, said federal officials told him the garbage could be shipped Friday, heading to the Port of Longview on container ships and then carried by truck or train to the Roosevelt Regional Landfill in Klickitat County. The landfill sits near the Yakama Reservation on part of the Yakama's ceded territory and traditional hunting and fishing grounds.

The shipments will help Oahu deal with a shortage of landfill space and prevent landfill expansion in a highly sensitive environment until a new garbage incinerator goes on line. The Hawaiian chapter of the Sierra Club also notes that the island has relatively high garbage generation and low recycling rates, leaving room to reduce garbage without exporting it.

(Hawaii Sierra Club also supplied a handy dandy photo of a ripped bale of garbage for this article.)

HFP: Nanakuli Park: Hannemann pounds Hanabusa in proxy fight between PVT Landfill and Waimanalo Gulch

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Hawaii's 2 former Superferrys await sale in Virginia shipyard

The Hawaii Superferry's two decommissioned vessels -- the Alakai and Huakai -- are sitting in a Norfolk, Va., shipyard waiting to be sold in a court-ordered auction more than a year after ferry operators filed for bankruptcy.

The two catamarans are in the possession of the U.S. Maritime Administration -- a federal agency that provided a $140 million loan to Hawaii Superferry in 2005 -- and will be sold to the highest bidder once the bankruptcy court that is handling the case sets an auction date. Agency officials said they expect the court to set a sale date soon.

RELATED: Why Hawaii Lost the Superferry

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Hawaii Congressman Djou Calls for More Guam Funding


GUAM - Guam appears to have a new friend in Congress regarding the military buildup. Congressman Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) spoke from the floor of the U.S. House yesterday during consideration of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. In his speech, he expressed disappointment that his amendment to restore funding for the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam was not allowed to be considered by the full House. Djou believes that is a “major mistake.”

On July 16, Guam News Watch reported the U.S. Senate is cutting more than $320 million of proposed funding for Guam in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011.

Congressman Djou won the U.S. House seat earlier this year in a special election in Hawaii, replacing Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii). Abercrombie vacated his seat to run in the Hawaii gubernatorial race. Abercrombie has a history of supporting legislation that does not benefit Guam. He's proposed to restrict foreign labor on Guam to 30 percent of the workforce and for Hawaii's prevailing wage be paid to workers on Guam military construction projects. Both proposals were rejected. Abercrombie has also supported military housing on Guam be constructed by American companies.

RELATED: Djou: Not realigning forces to Guam a “major geopolitical mistake”

REMEMBER THIS FAILED ABERCROMBIE SCAM? Follow the money: $10B Guam pork project benefits Abercrombie contributor

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Embattled Councilman Tam Files For Mayor's Race, then goes to lunch

Tam sandwiched himself between two supporters near the entrance to city hall and refused to answer any of KITV4's questions, while television cameras from two other television stations also recorded the scene. No other reporters were present.

"Why are you unable to speak to us, sir?” asked KITV4’s Keoki Kerr.

Tam said nothing but his supporter, Lionel Wright of Papakolea, said, “He's not unable to speak. We're gonna speak for him.”

“Why are you choosing not to speak to us today? Can you tell us that, please?” Kerr asked Tam.

Again, Tam refused to answer.

Another supporter, Blanche McMillan of Waimanalo answered, “Because we decided that we want to speak for him.”

Kerr responded, “Okay, well he's running for office, not you, so I'm just asking the candidate here, what's going on?"

McMillan said: “He is running, but we're the speaker today."

And with that, Tam's supporters whisked him down the front steps of Honolulu Hale and into a white Mercedes sedan. They told KITV4 they were going to lunch, and even joked they might go to Zippy's, one of Tam’s favorite restaurants.

RELATED: Ousted Zoning Chair Rod Tam is secret partner in $1 Billion North Shore development hui

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Hawaiian Electric to offer lower/higher electric vehicle charging rates

To encourage charging of vehicles during off peak hours, the pilot project will offer lower electric rates during that time – for residential customers on Oahu about six cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) below the residential rate -- while allowing on-peak charging at higher rates – about three cents per kWh above the residential rate.

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Hawaii sending last of tax refunds

State Comptroller Russ Saito says the final 30,000 checks were scheduled to be sent this week after they finished printing Tuesday.
Taxpayers who requested their refunds by direct deposit should have received them by July 15, unless the deposit was rejected for insufficient or erroneous routing information.
Most of the remaining refunds are for residents who missed the April 20 filing deadline.

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HDR/Hawaii Pacific Engineers wins rail transit design contract

Lester Fukuka of the firm’s Honolulu office will serve as principal consultant.

The company is an employee-owned architecture firm with more than 7,800 professionals in more than 185 offices worldwide.

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Big Island courthouses may close due to security shortage

The Judiciary may shut down three of its part-time satellite courthouses on the Big Island temporarily because of a lack of sheriffs to provide security.

Meanwhile, the head of the 80-member West Hawaii Bar Association said the shortage has reached crisis proportions and is threatening to sue the state over the situation, citing the safety of judges, staff, attorneys and the public.

There are currently only five sheriffs staffing the courtrooms and courthouse offices in West Hawaii, which includes three full-time courthouse facilities in Kona as well as part-time satellite courthouses in North Kohala and Kau. The region is supposed to have funding for 11 positions, but six are unfilled.

The shortage of sheriffs has been a problem in West Hawaii for a while now, but the situation came to a head several weeks ago when the only deputy sheriff staffing the Family Court in Kailua-Kona was injured during a brawl at the courthouse. After the incident, the state Department of Public Safety's Big Island office instituted a new policy requiring that sheriffs work only in pairs.

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Robbery suspect who was shot by father is ex Honolulu police officer

Police say Kip Orton, 41, drove himself to the Hauula fire station and being shot in the upper chest during a struggle with his 72-year-old father. Investigators say the shooting happened when the former officer burst through a locked bedroom door armed with a knife, and demanded $500 plus his father's prescription medication.

Prosecutors are not pursuing any charges against the elder Orton, who is legally blind. A firearm was recovered at their Naupaka Street home.

Kip Orton is now charged with first-degree robbery and is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Law enforcement authorities are familiar with the Orton family. Kip Orton's brother, Rik, is also a former police officer. Rik Orton was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for a firearms offense in U.S. District Court in Honolulu earlier this week.

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