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Monday, November 22, 2010
November 22, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:59 AM :: 13041 Views

Hawaii GOP State Senate results underline importance of community commitment

First-hand report: North Korea has 2000 modern centrifuges

Slater: Honolulu rail project could hit state finances hard

Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie is correct that the rail project is primarily a city and Federal Transit Administration responsibility. However, he is wrong in declaring that it is not his responsibility "to weigh in on the finances" since rail has the potential to significantly impact the state's finances. Here's why:

» There has never been a U.S. rail transit line that, once begun, has not been completed.

» Politics dictates that if the city cannot finance completion of the rail project, the state will have to step in and finish it.

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Kalapa: Imbalance in next governor's agenda

One campaign promise taxpayers will certainly hold the next governor to is the promise that the general excise tax will not be increased. While that may be a welcome ring to the taxpayer's ear, one has to wonder about some of the promises in light of the no general excise tax increase.

But taxpayers should also remember part of the campaign promise was "the people of Hawaii will not tolerate any tax increase until there are serious discussions on whether we are using our existing revenues in a way that matches our values and priorities." Does that sound like leaving the door open to possibly saying that if the "values" of the people of Hawaii are not being met utilizing the existing revenue resources, the administration will consider raising taxes?

If the revenue picture does not improve dramatically, where will the next administration get the money to erase furlough Fridays and avoid cutting wages and salaries of public employees? Of course, that doesn't even take into account the promise to establish a brand-new department of early childhood education and a Hawaii energy authority….

If any new spending is to be undertaken, it should be implementing the recommendations of the state auditor to modernize the entire state’s information technology system. Investment in this upgrade and modernization of the state’s computer systems so that everyone is operating on the same page, with the same software that allows departments to "talk" to each other could realize millions in savings. And even though some employees in the department of taxation have derided the new computer program that was aimed at collecting delinquent taxes, because it "cost" the state $25 million, it is estimated that by the time the contract comes to an end next year, the state will realize well over $110 million in delinquent tax collections. That is $110 million that the state had not been able to collect until the software was developed.

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CSM: Tough year ahead for charities as cities consider taxing them

Donations aren't the only worry. Cash-strapped states and counties – desperate for more revenue – are eyeing nonprofits and their cherished tax-exempt status. Numerous state governments, including Hawaii, Georgia, and Kansas have proposals to limit property tax exemptions or otherwise tax nonprofits. Others are getting tough on charities. The state of Illinois sued a Champaign, Ill., hospital, claiming that it did little charity work, and the state's Supreme Court agreed. The hospital now owes millions of dollars in property taxes.

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Shapiro: City turns around PR disaster on senior fair

This is the part where we’ve come to expect officials to circle the wagons, deny they did anything wrong, hang underlings out to dry, blame the state — anything to evade responsibility.

Carlisle didn’t do any of that, taking responsibility squarely on his shoulders. “This was a mistake made by the City and County of Honolulu,” he said. “We’re responsible for it, and now it’s our obligation to do everything we can to try to set this right.”

And that’s exactly what he did, getting the event rescheduled for Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. I could get used to this kind of forthrightness.

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Half of Hawaii DoE class of '09 enrolled in college, but math and English pose a challenge for many

And of the 4,590 public school graduates statewide who enrolled in one of the 10 campuses in the UH system last fall, about 38 percent, or 1,725 students, took a remedial math course in their first semester, the P-20 report shows. About 35 percent, or 1,583 students, took a remedial English course….

The P-20 report also shows:

  • » About 23 percent of public high school 2009 graduating seniors went on to a four-year college.
  • » About 27 percent went to a community college.
  • » 40 percent opted to attend one of the 10 campuses in the UH system

So what are the BoE and the Leg arguing about?  Lunch, of course….

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BoE Lunch Wagon: Did Hawaii become part of Cuba?

ILind gets an email from an irate friend:

“The state DOE needs to be renamed the state Department of Welfare.

“the board of education actually thinks lunch for $2.35 and breakfast for $1 is too expensive ….. in the year 2010???? that is just sad.

“Did Hawaii become part of Cuba? if not, why is there so much focus on the cost of lunch when the lack of education in Hawaii is the real problem that leads to sustained poverty for way too many people? what a poor joke. Pressure needs to be placed on Abercrombie to appoint to appoint people who can oversee a useful education system in this state.”

Here is what the BoE, the Leg and Abercrombie are all protecting: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year

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CB: Will Green Light for Tanoue Be Green Light for Developers?

Of the people Mayor Peter Carlisle has tapped for permanent city leadership positions, Tanoue is the only one thus far who has drawn public opposition. Members of environmental groups and some residents in rural areas where big development projects are planned say he's too development-oriented, and focuses wholly on permitting without a planning vision.

Tanoue told Civil Beat two weeks ago that it's not his job to judge major development projects on their merits, but merely on their legality. (The horror! The unspeakable horror!)

(All development is decided in the courts, not Honolulu Hale.)

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CB: Prostitution Busts for Men Turn Up Mostly Locals, Few Tourists

Honolulu Police appear to be targeting local men instead of tourists for prostitution-related offenses, a Civil Beat investigation found.

CB: Selling Sex in Honolulu: Police Focus Prostitution Arrests on Women, Not Men

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Dissension in Doperville: NORML attacks THC Ministry, Roger Christie

The recent federal raid and arrest of THC Ministry founder Roger Christie in Hawaii is the cautionary tale of a questionable business model used to fund public-interest advocacy, as well as the legal jeopardy inherent in trying to game the American criminal-justice system. Christie, a self-styled “minister” from Hawaii, founded the THC Ministry in the 1990s based on the incorrect assumption that citizens organized as a church or religious organization who employ cannabis as a sacrament are exempt from criminal prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

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LA Times: Tidal power: Could waves provide 10% of America's electricity?

Last month, in the swells off Oahu, a company called Ocean Power Technologies connected a small test buoy to the power grid that serves the Marine Corps Base Hawaii. It was a first for a wave energy device in U.S. waters.

"We have demonstrated that our technology works, that it can survive in harsh ocean conditions and can deliver high-quality power to the grid," said Robert Lurie, a vice president of Ocean Power, which is based in Pennington, N.J.

Next spring, the company plans to anchor a larger power buoy in the waves off Reedsport, Ore., for further tests. The ultimate goal, Lurie said, is to build "multi-buoy wave farms" generating enough power to light 50,000 homes.

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Big Isle farm promises rich biofuel source

As the algae companies slowly move forward with their research and development, however, another source of renewable energy is blossoming -- literally -- on the Big Island. Hawaii Pure Plant Oil, or HIPPO, is midway through the second harvest of oil-rich jatropha seeds on a 250-acre test plot in Keaau.

Father-and-son partners Christian and James Twigg-Smith planted the jatropha bushes two years ago on fallow sugar cane land, and discovered that the plant, originally from Central America plant thrives in the humid Keeau climate.

While not quite at the level of algae, the potential oil yield from jatropha is among the highest of any crop except palm oil, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Mormon temple in Laie is still place of 'refuge'

LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson rededicated the Laie Hawaii Temple — the church's fifth temple worldwide and the first outside of Utah — in three sessions on Sunday….

The temple was originally dedicated Nov. 12, 1919, by President Heber J. Grant and rededicated by President Spencer W. Kimball on June 13, 1978.

VIDEO: KSL.com

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U.S. official calls North Korea's nuke claim disappointing and provocative

Stephen Bosworth's comments, following a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, came as the United States and the North's neighbors scrambled to deal with Pyongyang's revelation to a visiting American nuclear scientist of a highly sophisticated, modern enrichment operation that had what the North says are 2,000 recently completed centrifuges.

RELATED: First-hand report: North Korea has 2000 modern centrifuges

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