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Sunday, November 14, 2010
November 14, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:01 PM :: 12737 Views

 

AP Exit Poll: Hawaii is only state where independent voters don't think government is doing too much

Even After Resignation, gay-dominated Oahu Democrats vote to oust Okino over Gay Civil Unions

The gay-atheist activists who control the Oahu Democrat Org. voted yesterday to expel Honolulu City Councilman Gary Okino from the party and barred him from rejoining for five years…

Okino, a Christian, wrote a series of e-mails to supporters urging them to vote consistent with their faith. He recommended several Republican candidates -- including Cam Cavasso, who was running against U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, the state's leading Democrat -- because of their opposition to civil unions and abortion.

Okino, who ran unsuccessfully in the primary for state House, said yesterday that he was looking for the best candidates regardless of party.

He said he hopes the party would now proceed with punishment against Inouye, who for decades supported his close friend and ally, the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

"I just hope they're consistent and they will go after Dan Inouye," Okino said….

Democrats agreed to reprimand state Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kapolei-Makakilo-Waikele) last year for working against a civil-unions bill and undermining the party's platform on equality and civil rights.

A few Democrats complained privately about Inouye's support for Stevens, but no formal complaint was ever filed.

(All expelled Democrats should join the GOP.  We must make it clear to voters that the Hawaii Democratic Party is operating with a gay marriage litmus test.)

RELATED:  Gary Okino forced to resign from Democratic Party  (Volcanic Ash columnist David Shapiro describes Hawaii Democrats as “a party where the sun rises and sets by civil unions these days.”)

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Slom outlines strategy to take on Legislative Democrats

No other legislative body in the country has just one Republican or one Democrat, according to statistics gathered by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Republicans have a few ideas for leveling the playing field, at least a little bit.

Volunteers and interns may be hired to track legislation. Social media efforts may be increased through Twitter and Facebook. Slom wants to broadcast committee hearings live over the Internet, especially when he can't attend.

Instead of negotiating with Democrats, Slom will have to rely on public pressure on Democrats to achieve goals of lower taxes and smaller government, said Lynn Finnegan, a Republican who served as House Minority Leader before running for lieutenant governor.

"His power is going to come from his ability to communicate with the constituents, the voters across the state," Finnegan said. "Those support groups will put pressure on the Democrats to be more reasonable."

Having such monolithic political representation damages government transparency and accountability, said Jamie Story, president for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, which promotes free markets and small government.

"It limits the opportunity for real debate on the issues," Story said. "Most of the issues are already decided before they ever get a hearing, much less voted on on the floor."

Research staffing levels for Senate Republicans will remain the same next year, but they won't be getting help from the office staff of other GOP senators as they did in years past, said Keoki Leong, director for Senate Minority Research.

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Abercrombie’s new Chief of Staff implicated in Akaka Bill debacle, has only been in Hawaii since ‘03

Outgoing Attorney General Mark Bennett worked with Asselbaye, when the state was lobbying for passage of the native Hawaiian recognition bill, supported by both Abercrombie and Gov. Linda Lingle.

"She is a great person to work with," Bennett said, adding that he was struck by her "practical and common-sense approach to difficult issues."

The biggest job of the governor's assistant is to be the savvy traffic cop who knows what to route directly to the governor and what can be handled by staff.

"You want someone who isn't going to overstep their bounds, but also someone who isn't going to take every little thing to the governor," Bennett advised.

After graduating from Florida State University with a political science degree, Asselbaye worked on political campaigns, met Pete Rouse, who was then chief of staff to former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and is now President Barack Obama's chief of staff. Rouse helped her get a job with Abercrombie's office, starting as a 23-year-old congressional correspondent writing letters for Abercrombie.

She progressed through various jobs until Abercrombie sent her here in 2003 to run the Honolulu office. Later Asselbaye was named chief of staff, directing both the Washington and Honolulu offices.

REALITY: Inouye: “Odds of passing the Akaka Bill are bad”

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Fidell urges Act 215/221 scammers to pack Abercrombie cabinet

(Sing this to the tune of “We’re in the money”) His "I want you" ad in this week's paper was no less than inspiring. He says he's looking for exceptional public servants, including Cabinet leaders. They must be dedicated to advancing the New Day in Hawaii agenda, committed to building a sustainable economy, dedicated to creating strong communities, invested in Hawaii's people and able to work effectively with diverse communities. They also must have excellent work skills and be ready to face the political and the fiscal challenges in Hawaii today.

That's a great pitch to bring in applicants, and it's also a great profile for our public officials. Does this interest you? Would you change your life for public service? It's an ad and attitude we haven't seen before. It rings resonant, as an open call to "a few good men and women" to help him do the heavy lifting.

The ad shows that Abercrombie recognizes how important it is to populate his administration with our best talent. They will not only run the government, but will help reshape it. From the remarks he made at the ThinkTech-HVCA Agricultural Renaissance program last month, we can expect Abercrombie to provide not only resources, but also subject-matter experts who understand the projects that state agencies will be working on.

(In other words, if some of us Act 215/221 subsidy pigs get on the inside, we can shake the tree.)

MORE FATUOUS PRAISE FROM DEMOCRAT MEDIA:  Abercrombie pledges support for fashion

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Honolulu council considers massive property tax hike for churches, non-profits

"The time is now," said City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi. She said the exemption program is riddled with inequities and that she supports forming a blue ribbon panel to recommend changes.

Councilman Romy Cachola likewise backs forming such a panel but said he is unsure that changes are warranted.

Many of the nonprofits offer services that lessen the burden on government coffers and enhance the community's well-being in ways that go beyond the bottom line, industry executives say. These organizations feed the poor, house the homeless, shelter the abused, educate the young -- tasks that otherwise would be the responsibility of the public sector.

"They save the government and the community lots of money and heartache," said the Rev. Marc Alexander, vicar general of Hawaii's Roman Catholic diocese, which property records show owns Oahu land with an exempt value of more than $420 million.

Adding to the local charities' tax burden in these tough times potentially would be devastating, especially because demand for their services in many cases is up, industry executives say.

"You would see an increased number of well-intentioned nonprofits collapse because they just couldn't handle the added costs," said John Howell, president of Easter Seals Hawaii.

Some jurisdictions have embraced so-called PILOTs (Payments In Lieu of Taxes), a voluntary system in which a nonprofit -- often a private school or hospital -- agrees to pay a set amount to help cover the cost of city services. Those programs have met with mixed success.

On Oahu, the City Council this year approved an increase of the minimum property tax for all landowners to $300, from $100, despite opposition from the nonprofit community and others….

"What I think would be foolish is not to have a good, solid conversation on this topic," Howell said.

Calls for re-evaluating the city's exemption program have intensified since problems with the tax break given to owners of historic homes were disclosed earlier this year by the Star-Advertiser. The newspaper found that many owners were not complying with requirements of the program, including providing reasonable visual access to their homes.

But rather than look just at the historic-home exemption, Council members are pushing for a broad review.

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SA: Charter School shows superiority of independent boards

All three schools are seeking a grant that compels the school to develop an improvement plan and make some fairly drastic changes, but because the latter two schools already recently changed their top administrators, they can still qualify for a grant without going through that again, Department of Education officials said.

At Kamaile, however, it's a different story. The school has taken the required step. Officials have decided to dismiss the two chief administrators: the chief executive officer and the principal. This has sparked a protest from some angry school parents who are pleased that the school is at least making modest gains in a key measure required by the No Child Left Behind law: the adequate yearly progress (AYP) score.

But a school shouldn't accept a modest improvement of a few percentage points if a more productive change is possible. For every year that school leadership decides to settle for taking baby steps, another cohort of children drops further behind and may lose their best chance to excel.

Department of Education leaders have recognized this, long before the Obama administration ever conceived of such school reform initiatives. In the 2009 legislative session, Pat Hamamoto, the former superintendent, unsuccessfully pushed for authority for "reconstitution" of chronically underperforming schools, in which the schools chief would be able to redeploy teachers and administrators so that different teams could be assembled to carry out a program for change. She ran into resistance from unions and, unfortunately, the bill stalled.

The charter school movement does not enjoy uniform success, but the Kamaile episode shows one of its key advantages. Independent boards oversee charter school administration and, in the Kamaile case, a greater capacity for making tough changes is clear.

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HTH: Appointed school board a long way off

the Legislature must draft a bill saying how the BOE's new members will be selected. Legislation detailing the structure of the BOE that accompanied the constitutional amendment referendum was vetoed July 6 by Gov. Linda Lingle.

House Education Chairman Roy Takumi, who introduced the bills, has said that he would re-introduce a bill similar to the one that was vetoed once the legislative session begins in January. That bill detailed a seven-member advisory council that would recommend nominees to the governor, who would then make appointments that would need confirmation by the state Senate. The bill would also have reduced the number of board members from 14 to 10, including one student member who has no voting power….

HSTA boss Will Okabe said, "They'll have to figure out how the Neighbor Islands will be represented, and how many members there will be. The number might be reduced from nine to seven, or even three."…

When the Legislature was debating Act 51, also known as the Education Act of 2004, he said, the intent was to give councils the authority to approve their school plan and budget. But a few weeks later, amendments to the bill removed those powers.

Nakashima said he would like to explore reviving that authority, as well as strengthening a loose provision in Act 51 to give school community councils the ability to weigh in on principal performance evaluations….

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70% of DoE Teachers are in first five years of employment

It was difficult to attract teachers because of the low starting salary several years ago, so it was agreed to cut off the bottom four steps so that beginning teachers would actually start at step five. This artificially made our starting salaries seem good for recruiters, who conveniently neglected to tell the new hires that they wouldn't move up on the schedule every year. As a result, new hires can be only a few steps behind those who have been in the system eight to 14 years.

This year, more than 70 percent of the entire state's teaching staff is in the bottom five steps of the salary schedule. Only 25 percent are in the top seven steps, but they distort the average salary because they were in the system decades ago when teachers moved one step per year….The other 5 percent are either on leave or finishing their degrees.

(Obviously what is needed is an uprising by low seniority HSTA teachers to take over their union and change its political orientation, its bargaining strategy, and transform HSTA from a union of downtrodden wage laves to a professional association of high-performance and therefore high compensation professionals.)

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Quiet Controversy in Schools: Noncertified Teachers

Seventeen men and women with college degrees in either science or mathematics are teaching in Hawaii public high schools while taking education courses to become certified teachers.

The Hawaii teachers' union doesn't like the controversial "earn and learn" program funded by the 1985 Legislature to alleviate the shortage of math and science teachers.

The 1985 Legislature appropriated $44,000 for this year and $96,000 for next year for two programs to attract science and math teachers.

One program is not controversial. It provides tuition money for veteran teachers to return to college to take the math or science courses they need to gain additional certification as a math or science teacher.

The second, a controversial program, is for individuals who did not graduate from a college of education but do have college degrees in either math or science.

(This article serves to convey HSTA instructions to the Legislature and Abercrombie administration.)

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Losing with grace can lead to winning opportunities

Some people lose an election, pick themselves up and come out a winner in the next race. Some candidates lose more than they win but still end up moving up the ranks to higher office. And some lose once and are forever a loser, as if they wear their defeat like a scar or a limp.

So what's the difference between losing and being a loser?

It's what you do in the days and weeks after defeat.

All that stuff that Mom or Coach or Tony Robbins told you: Hold your head up, get busy.

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Delusional SA Editors: Obama’s G-20 Failure sets stage for Hawaii to become “Geneva of the Pacific?”

Still dogged by Republican victories in last week's election, President Barack Obama was unable to come away from the Group of 20 world leaders in Seoul with much more than handshakes and one-on-one meetings. The theme of the APEC gathering in Yokohama was "change and action," but neither is expected by the time of tomorrow's closing gavel.

The G-20 summit is scheduled Nov. 3-4 next year at Cannes, France, and the APEC meeting will be Nov. 12-20 in Obama's home state of Hawaii, so they will not overlap as the two gatherings did this year.

Opportunities for Hawaii to reveal its serious side to the world don't come around very often. If the APEC gathering is successful, Honolulu will be recognized as a logical and sensible meeting place for world leaders — the Geneva of the Pacific. (What a power position for anti-American UHM perfessers, eh?  Lording it over the “Geneva of the Pacific.”  They are nothing without their arrogance.)

REALITY: East-West Center hammered for “sustained, biased and politically-motivated attack on World War II veterans”

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Ahi farm's ocean lease OK'd

The Board of Land and Natural Resources tentatively approved a 35-year lease for the company, which hopes to begin producing bigeye and yellowfin tuna in 2013.

The approval represents another major advance for the plan led by local entrepreneur Bill Spencer and former University of Hawaii oceanographer Paul Troy.

However, the research-stage company, which was established in 2006 and completed an environmental impact statement report last year, still has a ways to go before joining Hawaii's fledgling industry of offshore aquaculture production.

Hawaii Oceanic estimates it will need $5 million to deploy the first of 12 envisioned underwater cages, each of which measures 177 feet in diameter and is designed to hold 20,000 fish growing up to 100 pounds each.

RELATED: With federal law at stake, Paid activists attack Hawaii fish farmers

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Kenoi tries to fast-track park deal before Lingle term ends

The state Legislature didn't respond favorably to his request to bring Hapuna Beach and Mauna Kea State parks under the county's purview last session, but that's not stopping Mayor Billy Kenoi from continuing his quest to run those parks.

Department of Land and Natural Resources Director Laura Thielen said Kenoi came back to the state and asked for a pilot project to manage the cabins at those parks.

"I was open to that," Thielen said.

She again suggested Kenoi take his proposal to state Legislators, though. Kenoi's administration has worked on a proposed memorandum of understanding giving the county authority over those cabins, Thielen said, though approval of such a document would likely need to go through the Land Board.

Sources within the Kenoi administration confirmed the mayor was working on that project, and that he would like it completed before Gov. Linda Lingle's administration ends and a new DLNR chairperson is named. Kenoi chose not to respond to messages seeking comment about the plan and refused to release written communications with Thielen regarding his proposals.

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Kauai Council: Furfaro for transparency?

We want the next era of county lawmaking to be steered by someone who believes in government transparency and honors the oath of office to the letter.

After weighing what each of the seven members who will be sworn in Dec. 1 bring to the table, we believe current Vice Chair Jay Furfaro is best suited to be the next council chair.

We encourage his colleagues — old and new — to back him for this position.

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Will Republicans cut out Inouye’s Earmarks?

Even before the new Congress is sworn in, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and an emboldened coalition of tea-party-backed senators are challenging the Republican Party establishment by reopening a long-simmering debate over congressional earmarks.

GOP senators are planning an internal vote this week on a moratorium proposed by DeMint that would ban Republicans from passing earmarks - lawmakers' fiercely guarded practice of steering federal money to pet projects in their home states.

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said earmarks are "an important part of the constitutional duty of Congress and they have been vital to fortifying the my political control physical, social and economic infrastructure of my home state of Hawaii and the nation."

The issue could create the possibility of cross-Capitol chaos, if the Senate submits final appropriations bills containing earmarks to a House that has pledged to ban them.

(Starve the Corporatist State!)

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Sorority stands up for fallen sister

I never knew Andrea Will, but I have a feeling this young Kappa Sig would be mighty proud.

The angry voices of her sorority sisters — via Facebook — have morphed into a groundswell of protest against the early release of her killer from prison on Tuesday. And on that same day, candlelight vigils will be held in her hometown of Batavia as well as across the nation to honor her memory and to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence.

The protest comes in the aftermath of my column from 10 days ago that revealed Andrea’s killer, St. Charles resident Justin Boulay, will not only be released after serving only half of his 24-year sentence for first-degree murder, but he’ll be living in Hawaii with the woman he married while in prison, a professor at the University of Hawaii.

Boulay, Andrea’s former boyfriend, strangled the freshman at Eastern Illinois University with a telephone cord in February 1998, after luring her to his apartment on the pretense he had a birthday gift for her. These facts have also caught the attention of Honolulu’s prosecutor, who tried to block Boulay’s entry to the island, in part because he fears for the safety of coeds there.

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Universities in Hawaii, Chicago in early stages of eyeing proposals for an Obama library

HONOLULU, Hawaii — Barack Obama hasn't even finished the second year of his first term in the White House, but officials with two universities that are interested in building his presidential library are already positioning themselves to win the Hawaii-born president's favour.

The University of Hawaii is well into early preparations — including preliminary searches for potential sites, talks with National Archives officials and deliberations on what if any new academic centre might accompany an Obama library and museum.

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Maryland Con-Con vote similar to Hawaii

In an Oct. 21 gubernatorial debate Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley was asked if he supported convening a constitutional convention - a "con-con" - in Maryland. He replied: "If that's what people want to do, then that's what we should do." O'Malley undoubtedly made that promise confident that the con-con referendum would fail (none has succeeded anywhere in the United States since 1984), allowing him to costlessly appease con-con supporters.

Now that the referendum has received 54 percent of the vote, the governor should be held accountable for that promise.

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Hamas Terror Group rated “A-“ by Better Business Bureau

HONOLULU -- Local officials from the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii responded Friday night to an investigation by ABC’s 20/20 that raised questions about the ethics of the business watchdog organization.

Business people in several mainland cities complained the only way for them to get good ratings by the BBB was to pay membership dues, and one Los Angeles antique dealer claimed her rating went from a C to an A+ soon after she bought a membership.

In Hawaii, 2,680 businesses are dues-paying members of the BBB, which requires them to pledge to advertise honestly and be responsive to customer disputes, Kealoha said.

Because of the recession, he said the BBB lost about 200 members in the state, Kealoha said. He attributes the drop to some companies going out of business or not being able to afford dues.

There are nearly 16,000 other businesses statewide in the BBB’s database that are not BBB members and do not pay dues.

The local office charges members a sliding fee scale, based on number of employees and locations, starting at $335 a year for small businesses with one to four employees. BBB Hawaii charges $565 annually for a mid-sized company with between 50 and 99 workers. Larger companies that employ between 300 and 499 people pay the BBB $1,220 a year in dues.

ABC’s 20/20 found that earlier this year, the Middle Eastern terror group Hamas was listed as a BBB member and received an A- rating. It wasn't actually Hamas, but the work of an anonymous blogger and some business owners who are critical of the Better Business Bureau. Within 12 hours of paying a $425 fee, the BBB made Hamas an accredited member, something the national BBB said was a mistake.

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