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Tuesday, November 16, 2010
November 16, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:33 PM :: 12142 Views

Inouye becomes useless? House, Senate Republicans place moratorium on Earmarks

NYT: Obama’s economic view rejected on world stage

Aloha to Current Nonprofit Property Tax Exemptions?

Maui Council to consider property tax hike on residential homeowners

Special Election: McDermott, three others see Apo’s Council seat

Four candidates have filed to run for the City Council seat being vacated by Todd Apo.

The deadline for candidates to file for the seat is Friday.

In the race so far are former state Rep. Bob McDermott, (union thug) Mel Kahele of Local 625 of the Ironworkers Union, Chris Lewis and Matthew LoPresti, a Hawaii Pacific University assistant professor of philosophy and humanities.

RELATED: Special Election: Former Rep. Bob McDermott to seek Todd Apo’s Honolulu Council seat

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New lines will be drawn, but likely no additional House seats for Big Isle

HILO -- It's possible, though not likely, that next year's reapportionment will give the Big Island greater representation in the state Legislature.

Population estimates created by the U.S. Census Bureau show Hawaii County has gained 29,158 residents since the 2000 reapportionment that granted the island seven state representatives and three senators.  In comparison, Oahu, which has 35 representatives, gained 31,418 people during the same period. In fact, neighbor islands account for 62.4 percent of the 83,641 residents added to the state in the past decade.

The numbers may indicate it's time, but the political realities are likely to dictate otherwise. Seventy percent of the state's 1.3 million residents still live on Oahu, down
from 72.3 percent in 2000.

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Gay-Atheist SA Editors: Tax Churches, Hospitals, Schools, non-profits to feed the machine

Private schools, churches and hospitals are among 50 or so landowner categories that pay flat amounts of only $300 each in property taxes to the city, regardless of the property's worth. With support from Mayor Peter Carlisle, the City Council should go forward with an extensive review of the policy to determine its fairness and the consequences of change.

In many cases, nonprofit organizations make a good case that their activities are for the public good, lessening the need for expenditure of tax dollars. Also, without doubt, requiring Oahu hospitals to pay property taxes on nearly $640 million -- the actual 2010-11 assessed values -- would result in that amount being tacked onto health insurance premiums.

Kamehameha Schools spokesman Kekoa Paulsen pointed out that the institution pays $40 million a year in property taxes for its non-school parcels on Oahu; the exemption is applied only to its Kapalama campus and preschool sites on the island.

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Neil Abercrombie’s ‘New Day’ Comes With A Price

So how then will Abercrombie and the State Legislature fund this “New Day”? Most political pundits seem to forecast more furloughs and higher GET taxes are the most likely answer, but I say forget about those, that was yesterday … there now are other more terrifying possibilities and exotic temptations available to our new elected officials:

Creation of a local State Owned Bank

House Concurrent Resolution 200 (2010) asked the Legislative Reference Bureau to begin laying the foundations for a state owned bank by researching its feasibility. Several candidates who ran for office this year even made state owned banking part of their campaign platform. The theory is that the state can simply make loans to whomever it pleases and play with interest rates as a means to provide unlimited funding for public projects, unlimited tax revenue and unlimited private investment….

Carbon Taxation

The other draconian alternative that is available to legislators is to mimic at the local level a proposal already gaining ground both nationally and internationally: using the fear of global warming as a pretext to enact a tax against carbon footprints for the expressed purpose of raising revenues.

Senate Bill 1233 (2009) spoke of an apocalypse in which “the Pacific ocean may inundate most of Waikiki, the business district in Honolulu, and coastal resort areas on other islands” and used that as a justification to propose a rigid carbon emissions control here in Hawaii. That bill won’t be the last attempt.

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Abercrombie, Legislators form conspiracy

(Possible DHHL or DLNR nominee) State Sen. Clayton Hee (D-Kaneohe, Kahuku), who served with Abercrombie in the Senate two decades ago, said the former congressman understands the legislative branch. He also said Abercrombie has a direct approach.

“He’s the kind of guy who believes that if people are going to be angry with you, they should be angry for the right reason,” Hee said. “That’s something he said to me 20 years ago.

“He likes to have it right up front.”…

Abercrombie said: “But the proof in the end, obviously, is in the legislative package that emerges after this session. And today, I think, was a real good start.”

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2,400+ Apply For Jobs With Abercrombie

By definition, this is a who's-who of what’s wrong in Hawaii.

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Borreca: Will Say hold on to Speakership?

Here in Hawaii, the decade opened with Republicans controlling 22 seats -- nearly 29 percent of the Legislature. That was the all-time, historic high for the party. (Since 1962-64 when the GOP last won control of the Senate) Since then the decade has seen the GOP dwindle down to just eight, before this year's election brought it back up to nine.

It may not be that Hawaii's political fortunes shine on Democrats as much as it is that blessings are bestowed on incumbents.

The chances are that if you already hold a seat in the Legislature, after the next election you will continue to find the same place at the table.

Looking at the Hawaii Legislature's Class of 2000, the change has been incremental. A full 30 percent of the entire Legislature from 2000 still holds the same posts after the 2010 elections.

The state Senate has retained 36 percent of the Class of 2000, but there have been some significant departures. Former Sens. Bob Hogue, Bob Bunda, Matt Matsunaga, Rod Tam and Norman Sakamoto all ran for higher office at some point and failed. Senate President Colleen Hanabusa is the exception, as she is now in Washington learning how to find her new seat in the U.S. House.

The big question for the state House now will be if the ultimate legislative survivor, Rep. Calvin Say (D, Palolo-St. Louis Heights) retains his speakership, a post he has held since 1999.

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Hawaii public school fees on the rise

The state Board of Education already has boosted the cost of sending a family's first child to the A-plus after-school program from $55 a month to $80.

And the newspaper says the panel soon may hike school lunch prices by 15 cents next year, to $2.35 a day, and breakfasts by 5 cents, to $1 a day.

Summer school will cost $190 next year, compared to $160 this year. And education officials have warned that school bus fares must increase to meet a mounting shortfall.

Here’s what is not being cut: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year

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Futility: Daniel Inouye defends earmarks

Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye, the longest serving senator and the Appropriations Committee chairman, defended the use of earmarks on Monday in the wake of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to back an earmarks ban he had long opposed.

Inouye said he understood the needs of his Hawaii constituents cronies and contributors far better than Washington, D.C., bureaucrats, who would make decisions on spending line items without the presence of earmarks. And as head of the powerful Appropriations Committee, he said it’s his responsibility to put forth 12 spending bills “that will attract the votes necessary to pass the full Senate.”  (So sad, how will he get votes without buying them?)

Indeed, Hawaii, thanks to Inouye, is always among the leaders in earmarks. (And thanks to the GOP, Hawaii is to be freed of Inouye's influence.)

RELATED: Inouye becomes useless? House, Senate Republicans place moratorium on Earmarks

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Hawaii's General Fund Down 6% So Far This Fiscal Year

Four months into the fiscal year, and tax revenue in the state's general fund is down 5.7 percent compared to the same time last year. That even though the state saw increases in general excise and hotel room tax collections.

As of Oct. 31, the general fund was at $1.29 billion, down from $1.37 billion over the same period last year.

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EW Center defends WW2 Program

An East-West Center program, “Legacies of the Pacific War,” which EWC co-sponsored in July with the USS Arizona Memorial Museum Association and the National Park Service World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, has been the subject of some critical attention because of one complaint that the program was anti-veteran.

The EWC takes all feedback seriously and is fully reviewing this program. The Center would not purposely promote a program that is disrespectful of our service personnel or veterans, or seeks to impose a one-sided agenda. We remain mindful that the Center’s very purpose, as laid out by the U.S. Congress in 1960, is to bring together different perspectives from East and West in order to promote greater understanding and cooperation.

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

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Washington: Hanabusa participates in new member orientation

As the new members of Congress learn their way around, the outgoing Congress begins its last session.

One of the final things the lame-duck Congress will decide is whether to extend the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of this year.

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S&P Downgrades Hawaiian Electric to Brink of Junk, Conservation, Regulatory Lag Blamed 

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services cut its rating on Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. (HE) and its electric utility subsidiaries by one notch to the brink of junk.

In downgrading the Hawaiian power company and lender to BBB-, S&P said it had little hope for improvement in the "aggressive" financial profile of its subsidiary, Hawaiian Electric Co.--which serves the island of Oahu--over the next several years, according to credit analyst Anne Selting.

"The global recession, which hit island tourism particularly hard in 2008, (Thanks, Obama) is contributing to sideways performance by shrinking electric sales that had already been in decline due to island conservation efforts (Thank You Sierra Club)," the agency said.

S&P: HEI Downgraded To 'BBB-' On Regulatory Lag, Weak Economy

IRS: Utility Excess Deferred Taxes

TOTALLY RELATED: Hawaii windfarm developer “could go under”

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US Treasury Grants for Solar, Wind to Expire

According to Bloomberg, the White House said 2009 was the best year for the wind industry. Developers installed 10,000 megawatts of power that year. The Lawrence Berkley report said one-third of that capacity wouldn’t have been built without the grants.   The Solar Foundation, a Washington-based non-profit group that promotes using the sun for energy, reported 93,000 employees in the industry, double the number estimated for 2009. The groups credited the grants for the increase.  The Treasury Department has awarded more than $5.4 billion to 1,387 renewable-energy projects.

These grants are set to sunset at the end of 2010.  Although there is a major drive by the solar and wind industry and the White House to extend these grants, the absence of any movement on this issue has been enough to squelch the pipeline of solar and wind projects.


TOTALLY RELATED: Hawaii windfarm developer “could go under”

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Secrecy surrounds Parker Ranch's sale of 3,509 acres to biofuel pioneer

In 2009, Saalfeld registered as a lobbyist with the state Ethics Commission. He had Flynn and at least one other employee testify in favor of allowing parties within a private agricultural park to generate, sell and transmit electricity to other park members without regulation by the state Public Utilities Commission.

The bill, which became law in June 2009, was introduced by state Rep. Cindy Evans, D-Kohala.

Saalfeld's support for the bill, combined with his ownership of the Kohala agricultural park and background in electricity generation, created speculation among his North Kohala neighbors that he will develop a large power plant there.

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Star-Advertiser gives DC-based Luddites space to bash Fish farming

FANTASY: It's been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Repeatedly leasing Hawaii's ocean areas for factory fish farming, also known as open-ocean aquaculture (OOA), epitomizes this phrase. Recently, on the same day that Hukilau Foods, one of the two existing OOA companies operating in Hawaii, filed for bankruptcy (thanks to eco-faddist Steve Case), another company, Hawaii Oceanic Technology Inc. (HOTI) proudly announced that it was granted a 35-year lease for a new OOA site -- more than four times larger than the bankrupt company's site -- to be located off the Big Island.

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

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Farm lease dispute goes to arbitration

The roughly $8 billion private charitable trust recently called off negotiations in favor of arbitration to settle the issue of resetting rents for the last 15 years on the farmers' leases that cover their farms and homes spread over 87 acres in Kamilo Nui Valley.

For both sides, the matter is particularly aggravating because many of the farmers are in their 80s and can't farm too actively. But rents haven't changed since they were established in the early 1970s.

Kamilo Nui farmers, who lease parcels from three to 10 acres, pay an average $185 an acre per year, which Kamehameha Schools seeks to raise to $5,200 -- a 28-fold increase.

RELATED:  VIDEO: Bishop Estate refuses to negotiate lease with Kamilonui Valley farmers

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Cataluna: 'Kill Haole Day' myth diverts attention from real problems

"Kill Haole Day" is largely a myth. That a federal judge has cited it as a long-standing island tradition in a legal opinion is shocking, damaging and wrong.

Yes, start your venomous e-mail to me right now. Tell me that your sister's friend's cousin's ex-boyfriend used to live in Hawaii in 1973 and he swears "Kill Haole Day" not only happens, but is a huge event, like Christmas or May Day. Tell me I'm protecting the horrendous practice by pretending it doesn't exist.

Here's the thing though: Name names. Give dates and locations. Where exactly did this occur? To whom? What specifically occurred and who were the perpetrators? Because if this is a widespread racist crime that has become a tradition in Hawaii, why are there no records of it? The judge (in an appeals court ruling on a case against Kamehameha Schools) cited a brief 1999 newspaper story that quoted a Republican state senator who claimed it was a tradition. No data, just inflammatory assertions by a politician.

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Road to Riches: Overtime at City Road Division

A small group of people in the Honolulu Road Maintenance Division made big bucks in overtime, a Civil Beat investigation found.

  • Five workers made more in overtime than regular pay.
  • They each logged more than 1,200 overtime hours in one year, with one filing claims for 1,582.5 hours of OT, or the equivalent of 39.5 regular work weeks.
  • One construction worker wracked up so much OT that she earned more than $100,000.
  • Some rank and file employees earned more than management through overtime.
  • A manager regularly scheduled 10-hour shifts to "monitor overtime"

The review of two years of overtime records also found possible double-charging, with workers claiming overtime twice on the same day for different jobs performed at overlapping times. (The city says it didn't pay employees twice.) And it revealed that the illegal dumping of concrete rubble into Maiilili Stream in Waianae, for which the city has been fined $1.7 million, involved far more overtime, including on weekends, than the city previously reported.

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Maui County unpaid for roadwork for decades: Developers could owe millions for deferred infrastructure fees

WAILUKU - Departing Maui County Council Member Jo Anne Johnson on Monday said she wants to see her successors make certain that some developers and homeowners are held responsible for road projects built by Maui County - with taxpayer money - to support new, small, private subdivisions.

The county could be owed millions of dollars because of uncollected fees for road improvement projects done over a three-decade period for subdivisions of three lots or less, council members and county officials revealed Monday during a Planning Committee meeting.

Public Works Department Director Milton Arakawa said officials know as many as 1,800 "deferral agreements" for subdivisions that size. From 1974 until 2007, developers could either do the work themselves or ask the county to do it, deferring payment.

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Who would marry a killer?

“The women are not crazy. They are getting their psychological needs met,” says Isenberg, who talked by phone while on a promotion tour for her latest book, “Muriel's War,” about the daughter of a Chicago meatpacking magnate. While women she interviewed for her prison book had been victims of abuse, they spanned all economic and educational strata from those who never finished high school to women with good jobs and doctoral degrees.

Inmates have a lot of free time, which they can use to write love letters and lavish attention on a new love. That makes a guy appealing to some women.

“He can give her an enormous amount of attention most people don't get in real life,” Isenberg says. When a husband is in prison, the new wife doesn't have to deal with dirty socks on the floor, sex issues, hubby's bad day at the office or even questions about what to watch on TV.

“The relationships are purely romantic with a capital R,” Isenberg says. “It's thrilling and exciting to be in love with a convicted murderer.”

The most heinous killers, even John Wayne Gacy, have drawn numerous marriage proposals from women on the outside. But many women who make good on their vow to marry a murderer get divorced once the husband gets out of prison.

“Most of them find that without the parameters of the prison walls, they become like any other relationship,” Isenberg says.

Mrs. Boulay, a well-educated professional woman, knew Boulay before he killed Will and wanted to make him her husband despite his last relationship ending in murder. They married in 2007 and have waited more than three years for their honeymoon. We have no legal reason to wish them anything but a blissful and crime-free marriage.

But we understand the heartache this news brings to the loved ones and friends of Andrea Faye Will, who are holding vigils to honor her memory.

She's buried in a coffin with two stuffed animals from her childhood, and her killer is going to Hawaii to start a new life with his wife. It isn't fair and there is nothing anybody can do about it now, but Will should have gotten that same chance at life.

Marry: Most couples divorce after husband gets out of prison, expert says

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Hawaii prisons have lowest ratio of guards to prisoners

He said the Washington Department of Corrections is well-staffed compared with other states. In 2005, the latest year available, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that Washington had one prison guard for every 4.5 inmates. Only Hawaii (3.2), New Mexico (3.9) and Wyoming (3.8) had lower ratios among Western states….

(Thanks, UPW for keeping our prisons expensive.)

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Maui News: Corals love sewage

Psst! Wanna know a secret? The environmentalists don't want you to hear this, but corals eat sewage. Really. They love the stuff. The Maui Wastewater Working Group held 13 meetings to convict treated sewage put down injection wells of killing reefs. It's too bad they didn't take a field trip to the Central Laboratory at the Kihei Wastewater Treatment Plant to see some effluent in action.

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Reuters: Obama’s Asian failure to be matched by European failure

(Reuters) - If President Barack Obama is not yet convinced that his international star power has faded, his next round of transatlantic summitry should clear up any lingering doubts.

Coming off a marathon Asia trip where Obama often found himself rebuffed by fellow world leaders, he will head to Europe this week where the agenda will be clouded by a growing divide over economic strategy and a sense of neglect among traditional U.S. allies.

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CB: State Allows Developers to Flout Solar Mandate

Progressives whine because developers are using on-demand propane hot water systems instead of solar.

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Alcoholic beverage Four Loko under fire

Four Loko is being discussed at the annual conference of Hawaii state liquor commissions on Kauai this week. At least four states, Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington, have banned the drink. The FDA is reviewing Four Loko and drinks like it to determine if they are safe. It may revise its stand on "energy / alcohol" beverages as soon as Wednesday….

Four Loko is sold at more than 150 stores on Oahu. At least one state law maker hopes to change that. He said he plans to introduce legislation during the 2011 legislative session to outlaw Four Loko in Hawaii.

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ACLU looks at justice in Indian country (Akaka Bill preview)

In Indian country, the maze of legal jurisdiction has created serious problems, said Robert Miller, professor of law at Portland’s Lewis & Clark Law School, host of the event.

Native Americans get incredibly disproportionate treatment, Eid said. Because the federal government has jurisdiction on Indian trust lands, Native Americans convicted of crimes on those lands get prison sentences two to three times longer than those who commit the same offense off-reservation.

Nearly two-thirds of the juveniles in the federal justice system are Native American. “The federal justice system was never meant for juveniles, yet Native American juveniles end up in it.”

Young people who commit a crime on-reservation get different treatment than if the crime was committed off-reservation. There’s no parole, said Eid. No good time credits, no diversion programs, no drug courts like there is off-reservation. “Those do not exist in the federal system. Federal prison really is the end of the road for many, many people.”

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