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Sunday, January 2, 2011
January 2, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:46 AM :: 6827 Views

Former attorney general faults Akaka for failure of namesake bill

former state Attorney General Mark Bennett said Akaka could have done more to seek a vote on the bill in 2009, before it was delayed by amendments, derailed by election power shifts and overlooked during long battles over other national priorities.

"That entire time when these negotiations were going on and these changes were being made, that was a crucial time," said Bennett, who was appointed to his post by former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

During 2009, the Obama administration's Justice and Interior departments sought amendments to make the legislation more like the federal government's relationship with the nation's other indigenous peoples. That included granting the future native Hawaiian government immediate rights rather than after negotiations, Akaka spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said.

Akaka's office didn't tell Lingle or the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs about the proposed amendments until they had already been worked out with the Obama administration.

The Lingle administration objected soon after finding out about them last December. Lingle temporarily withdrew her support and sent letters opposing the bill to all 100 senators.

The Obama administration was "very insistent on making those changes, and Sen. Akaka and his staff were in the position of trying to referee between them and the former governor," Broder Van Dyke said.  (How can they be refereeing between Obama Admin and the Gov when THEY DIDN’T TELL THE GOV WHAT THEY WERE DOING?)

And “the Obama Administration” was represented by Sam Hirsch—AN INOUYE LOYALIST: How Inouye sabotaged Akaka Bill

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SA: Hawaii to lose $800M in 2012, Time to Buckle Down

Fiscal support provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be on the wane before long. Unlike many states, Hawaii budgeted its stimulus funds to last over a longer term, but that will come to an end in 2012; a little more than half of the $1.6 billion has been spent, say the state officials who are tracking the money. And in general, with political pressure mounting to cut the deficit spending in Congress, all manner of federal grants will be harder to come by.  (Abercrombie’s campaign slogan: “More Federal Funds”)

There are other opportunities for a proactive approach to public policy. For example, education reform presents great potential for growth.  (Abercrombie campaigned against an audit of the DoE)

Best Comment: “We note that the word 'union' appears nowhere in the article. Is it because unions are already squared away - or is it because they are untouchable? Just wondering...”

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Rail, schools and APEC challenge isles

In the meantime, the current 14-member Board of Education will be handling some hotly contested topics. After a series of public hearings last month, the board will vote on whether to close small schools to save money, a prospect that has ignited vigorous protest in communities from Hawaii Kai to Kalihi.

Also looming in the new year are negotiations with the teachers union over a new contract. One of the thorniest issues may be hammering out a way to evaluate teachers, in part, on their students' progress over the course of the school year. Hawaii committed to that effort as part of its successful bid for a $75 million federal "Race to the Top" grant.

Best Comment: “editors, the biggest story will be the upcoming battle over the state budget...this will set the stage for the next four years”

SA: Economy shows sparks of life

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Garden Isle still giving Abercrombie credit for Lingle’s decision ending instructional day furloughs

Education. The short-sighted plan to help balance the state’s budget by closing Hawai‘i’s already struggling public schools 17 Fridays last academic year and another 17 this year was sort of rectified when newly elected Gov. Neil Abercrombie took office in December.

We support his decision to get students back in class by utilizing emergency funds. (That was Gov Lingle’s decision) But we continue to spend far too much on a broken education system. We urge our school board to take decisive action that pulls our state’s public schooling from the bottom up to the top in the nation.

REALITY: Abercrombie’s first-day furlough fakery

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37 HPD officers disciplined in 2010

But it is the second straight year there has been a marked increase following the 10-year low of 14 officers disciplined in 2008. In 2009 the number was 26.

Two officers were discharged: One officer drank intoxicating beverages while on duty and made rude and derogatory remarks to two complainants, the report said. Another officer was discharged for firing a gun into the air without justification or authorization.

A third officer was suspended 626 days for hindering a federal investigation.

In 2009, one disciplined officer was discharged for "malicious use of physical force."

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Hawaii prison system attempts to block auditor’s access to information

A section detailing the auditor’s access to information, or lack of it, begins on page 11. Here the auditor accuses the Department of Public Safety of attempting to withhold documents and delay disclosures, even ordering staff not to respond to requests from audit staff but instead to route all responses through the department’s top management.

If corrections administrators were this bold in blocking the state auditor, you’ve got to assume that they were far worse in handling requests for information from the general public.

(So obviously what we need to do is give these State prison officials even more power by bringing all the inmates back to Hawaii.)

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Weak economy has led to fewer people willing to take in children

The Poleshajs met the boy in August. Patti said he had several questions for them, based on his experience in previous foster homes:

  • "Could he practice his trumpet in the house? Because he wasn't allowed to in other homes.
  • "If we weren't there, would he have to wait outside? Because that was the situation at another home. They didn't trust him.
  • "Could he cook his own food and go into the refrigerator? Because he wasn't allowed to at other homes.

"We gave him a key to the house and said he was welcomed to eat whatever was in the house," Patti said. "He came to live with us the next day."

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Tough Pet Care Law Taking Effect: Neglectful Owners Face Criminal Penalties

The society said the part of the new cruelty law that will affect virtually every animal owner is the requirement for adequate veterinary care. A pet owner who allows an injured or sick pet to go too long without care could face a criminal charge.

“They could be in violation of the animal cruelty law,” Vaughn said. “The fines and penalties can be up to $2,000 and up to a year in jail.”

There are also restrictions on how dogs can be chained when left alone. The law bans use of choke, pinch or prong collars when an animal is unattended and tied or chained to a fixed object.

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Maui's plastic bag ban to go into effect January 11

That means you'll have to bring your own bags whenever you go shopping for groceries or basically anything.

Businesses caught giving plastic bags to customers will face a fine of $500.

Maui is the first county in the state to ban plastic bags.

REALITY: Save The Plastic Bag

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Across Hawaii, Romney is also thinking of 2012

on the island of Maui, a leading Republican is gathered with family discussing a likely campaign challenge to Obama. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and unsuccessful candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination, is celebrating the holidays with a two-week vacation of his own in the Aloha State.

Romney, meanwhile, is vacationing in relative obscurity on the more sparsely populated Valley Island. Maui politicos say there have been few if any sightings of the governor. An aide divulged little beyond simply confirming the details of the family getaway.

"I ask people if they've seen Mitt Romney around, and they haven't," reported John Henry, chairman of the Maui County Republican Party.

Romney's trip also contrasts with a 2009 visit to the island by another possible White House hopeful, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The gossip website TMZ, among others, caught her wearing a "McCain" campaign visor with her 2008 GOP running mate's name blacked out.

"They were really after her and covered everywhere she went. I haven't heard anything like that for Mitt Romney," Henry said.

RELATED: Pelosi enjoys privacy at Hualalai after Palin is hounded off Maui

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