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Friday, January 14, 2011
January 14, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:11 PM :: 14545 Views

650% return on Inouye: $1.9M in contributions, $1.25B in earmarks

Instant Runoff? Low-income voters struggle with ranked-choice voting

Flashback: Obama defends Christian Invocation at Inaugural

Michael Steele drops out of race for Republican Party chairman, endorses Cino

Incumbent Michael Steele, who saw his support steadily drop, dropped out of the race for Republican National Committee chairman after the fourth round of voting.

Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus remains the front-runner and is five votes away from winning the chairmanship.

Steele endorsed former George W. Bush administration official Maria Cino. She gained eleven votes in the next round of voting but saw her support fall significantly in the sixth round.

Former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis moved into second, Cino is in third and former Missouri Republican Party chairwoman Ann Wagner is in last. Wagner saw her support drop, losing 11 votes in the sixth round of voting.

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$1.7B Short?  City and state clam up on rail

It seems that the city and state administrations are hunkering down to push the $5.5 billion O‘ahu rail project to construction without the inconvenience of further public discussion.

Councilman Breene Harimoto thought the five new council members, including himself, should do their own due diligence on rail financing, so he scheduled a hearing to give a fair listen to a study commissioned by former Gov. Linda Lingle suggesting that funding might be $1.7 billion short.

Infrastructure Management Group Inc., which did the study, was willing to brief the council, but didn’t get permission from the new state administration to do so, leaving the council to listen to the old city spin for the umpteenth time.

Harimoto expressed frustration with the state’s decision to blow off his hearing, saying, “I believe it’s not only common courtesy, but professionalism.”

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Local Reporters “genuflected and basked in the aura” of Dan Inouye

Civil Beat: For 30 minutes Inouye quietly answered questions on political rhetoric, gun violence, threats against congressmen, bipartisanship, earmarks, filibusters, the Akaka bill, the power struggle at the state House and the meaning of last year's election.

For their part, reporters genuflected and basked in the aura of the most powerful man in Hawaii politics.

OK, maybe not all reporters worshipped at Inouye's feet. But The Honolulu Star-Advertiser sent no less than three reporters.

There is just something about Dan Inouye and his well-earned legendary status that seems to soften reporters and makes them hold back a little….

In that kind of atmosphere it's kind of tough for a reporter to say, for example, "Senator, why the heck can't you get the Akaka bill passed after 10 years of trying?"

Instead, one gently inquires about the status of the legislation. (His answer: "I'll do my absolute best to see that it comes up and passes," he promised, adding, "It's not going to be easy.")

After 30 minutes, reporters ran dry on questions. Some left, others stood around for a little polite banter with Inouye.

And that was it. The most powerful man in Hawaii politics then went back to work.

(There you have it.  Everything you ever needed to know about the media in Hawaii.)

HNN: Interview: Daniel Inouye on the Tucson tragedy

KITV: Inouye Hopes For Political Calm Following Arizona Shootings: Sen. Daniel Inouye Says Tighter Gun Laws, More Security Not Necessary  (All we need is censorship.)

SA: Dial down political rhetoric, Inouye says  (So Dems will stop saying Bush is a fascist?  When will they stop calling TEA Party members “teabaggers”.)

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Inouye warns House Democrats to resolve dispute

Inouye warned that there could be some public backlash if House Democrats are unable to resolve their differences. He noted that Democrats hold overwhelming majorities in both chambers.

“If we can’t conduct ourselves like a majority party, then don’t be surprised if the people of Hawaii get a little disgusted about it,” Inouye told reporters. “That should be common sense.”

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INOUYE FLASHBACK Dec 2006: Heads on Stakes, Blood on the floor

…one lawmaker familiar with what happened said some of Say's allies believed "there needed to be heads on stakes" as a warning to future plotters.  In a Nov. 28 letter, Inouye wrote Takamine that he may have made things worse with his request, "with more, not less blood, on the floor."

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Republicans give Say leverage against Dissidents

Dissidents challenging House Speaker Calvin Say’s leadership have suggested that they receive seven to eight committee chairmanships — including the House Finance Committee — and two leadership posts — Vice Speaker and Majority Leader — to organize the House, sources say.

Say and state Rep. Sylvia Luke, who is negotiating for the dissidents, met this afternoon to discuss the leadership stalemate….

The dissidents, sources say, want to choose which lawmakers get the chairmanships they are allotted.

Appearing tonight on “Insights” on PBS, Say continued to express confidence that he has the votes to ultimately prevail and would accept the House GOP commitment if necessary. House Minority Leader Gene Ward said Republicans have given Say leverage.

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HGEA operatives Claim no more workers can be cut

"The economic downturn, resulting decline in general fund revenue and subsequent fiscal actions resulted in a loss of 171 or 25 percent of the department's general fund positions from fiscal 2008," Coppa told the Senate.

Coppa wants to upgrade the state computer system so that all the computers can run together. But the state's information systems department has been reduced 36 percent because of layoffs and abolishing of vacant positions.

"Sustaining production capabilities with the loss of staff have been challenging and problems rapidly become crisis," Coppa said, noting in his testimony that in fiscal year 2012, DAGS is supposed to see a $5.2 million cut from its budget.

Over at the state Labor Department, 61 full-time positions were eliminated, just when unemployment claims, processed by the department, were soaring. It meant that the average time between filing a wage complaint and a finding of fact went from 35 days to 120 days. And the department's Office of Community Service clients went from 30,539 in 2009 to 51,478 in 2010.

"Increase in workload for the remaining staff ... has led to burnout, health issues, absenteeism, increase in labor relations issues and difficulty retaining trained skilled employees," Pablo said.

When Abercrombie gives his first State of the State speech, he won't be looking at a glass that is half-empty or half-full -- he will be looking at a glass that ran dry.

REALITY: Audit fuels “clinically psychotic” HGEA effort to strangle tax collection

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Mainland Gays excited by Hawaii civil unions

Pray to Prey?  Invocation offered for success of Akaka Bill

“The Senate formed a three-member committee last year to look into the invocation practice after the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii wrote to both the Senate and state House in August with complaints about ‘decidedly Christian prayers — with reference to Jesus Christ.’”

As we all know, prayers are often given at public events in Hawaii, including official government hearings. Many times the person giving the prayer follows a custom of making the prayer non-sectarian and also neutral on current political issues. But then there are times when prayer is blatantly sectarian and blatantly political.

How about opening an official hearing in the Legislature with a hymn used in every Christian church service, followed by a prayer asking God to reach into people’s hearts to support the Akaka bill? Yes, that actually happened.

RELATED: Flashback: Obama defends Christian Invocation at Inaugural

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Cayetano Officials Re-Unite Under Abercrombie

When Lingle took office in late 2002, she found that nearly two dozen Cayetano political appointees had moved in the preceding six months into civil service positions that afforded them job protection from the new boss.

Ten of the transfers, including several executive secretaries of Cayetano department heads, were made possible under an executive order written for Cayetano by Yogi, then the head of the Department of Human Services best known for negotiating labor contracts with public worker unions.

Lingle ordered an investigation of the transferees, among them a group that included Okimoto and Yogi who were hired at higher-than-normal starting pay for their civil service jobs.

FLASHBACK: Retaliation: Legislature votes to keep Lingle appointees from returning to civil service

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Talent goes where it is appreciated:  Koller chosen to head South Carolina Social Services 

COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley tapped Hawaii official Lillian Koller to run the state Department of Social Services, an agency strangled by increased demand and fewer dollars.

Koller, 55, served as director of the Hawaii Department of Human Services from 2003 to 2010.

Haley said she selected Koller because of her successes in Hawaii. Those successes include being named “Public Official of the Year” by Governing Magazine in 2008 for achievements in child welfare services and Medicaid, and 2006 Big Island Press Club’s “Torch of Light Award” for making state government more accountable and transparent.

Koller reduced the number of children in foster care by half, brought the rate of child re-abuse down by two-thirds, reduced staff by 21 percent, reduced errors by 50 percent and provided more timely customer service, Haley said.

RELATED: Koller: State’s “horse-and-buggy” system is labor-intensive, costly and slow, Koller announces online processing for Medicaid applications, Lillian Koller named “Public Official of the Year”

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Incarceration not Education: Abercrombie Admin may close Kulani Challenge Academy and reconvert to prison

Senators also took the opportunity to ask for details about Gov. Neil Abercrombie's plans to bring back Hawaii inmates housed in mainland prison facilities.

"We're developing a plan and are in the process of reviewing that," Maesaka-Hirata said. "It is in line with what the department wants to see ... We're pulling together people to come up with a reentry program and how to fulfill the governor's request to bring people home."

She said the possibility of reopening the Kulani Correctional Facility on the Big Island is "absolutely an option in terms of returning offenders home," but costs associated with that are not included in the budget request for the upcoming fiscal year. The facility was closed in 2009 to save money and is being used by the Department of Defense as a military school.

(For decades liberals have been chanting “education not incarceration” -- now the Progressive Abercrombie is preparing to convert a school into a prison.  Did they know what they were chanting all those years?) 

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School keeps principal's kin as personnel

Diana Oshiro, principal of Myron B. Thompson Academy, told state officials yesterday the charter school is changing the way it evaluates relatives on staff and is beefing up financial oversight, but her sister and three nephews are keeping their jobs at the online public school.

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Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: Aila continues Theilen’s DLNR Rules changes

Republican Gov. Linda Lingle was replaced by Democrat Neil Abercrombie. Former DLNR and BLNR chair Laura Thielen, who supported the amendments that loosened some regulations, was replaced by William Aila, a conservation-minded Native Hawaiian who some said was a radical appointment.

The second round of public hearings was approved by the board on Dec. 1 at Thielen's last meeting, just days after Aila had been announced as the nominee and just days before Abercrombie was sworn in.

Rather than quashing the proposal, Aila is standing behind it. He told Civil Beat Thursday that the proposal was tweaked to take into account the outpouring of public input — some of it opposed to aspects. While he couldn't yet throw his support behind every single line in the lengthy amendment text, Aila said he believes the majority of the changes are in the best interest of the state.

Lemmo told Civil Beat Thursday his division is "crippled" by the existing rules, and that he needs the changes to be able to function. He said he's been working on the project for years, and that if the fixes aren't made now, then maybe they're never going to happen at all. But he said he's optimistic that he'll have Aila's, and the board's, support.


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Micro-Minority: Only 3.5% of workers are dopers—1% on meth

Hawaii employees testing positive for marijuana use climbed 30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared with a year earlier, according to Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc.

The drug-testing company said 3.5 percent of the workers tested during the quarter had used marijuana, up from 2.7 percent a year ago. DLS' quarterly sample size typically includes between 7,000 to 10,000 drug tests.

The number testing positive was "probably the highest" in the last eight to 10 years, said Carl Linden, scientific director of toxicology for DLS. Linden, 59, who has been conducting drug tests in Hawaii since 1980, said he does not know what caused the jump in positive marijuana results last quarter.

Use of opiates and amphetamines was little changed in the fourth quarter at 0.2 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively. Cocaine use was up slightly to 0.3 percent from a 0.2 percent a year earlier.

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Sale of American Savings Bank not a slam dunk

Selling Hawaii’s third-largest financial institution is a key part of Kuokoa’s plan to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries and take it private.

But selling American Savings Bank to another bank may not be that simple.

The bank — American Savings is technically a savings and loan, regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision — is believed to be the only such institution that’s owned by a publicly traded public utility.

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Squabbling Tax Credit Beneficiaries continue war

But the new group’s attorney, Mark Mukai, derailed the proceedings by distributing copies a name change, dated January 7, to “Venture Capital Society of Hawaii.”

Mukai also objected to subpoenas issued by Fidell, including one addressed to Harmon and served at the address listed on the group’s business registration, saying they were issued too late.

“I spoke with Larry Harmon this morning,” Mukai told Hearing Officer Sheryl Lee Nagata. “He said he was not served with a subpoena.”

Mukai then asked Nagata to dismiss the complaint because the name change makes the issue moot.

However, Mukai said he wanted to be able to submit his own list of witnesses if the case goes forward.

“It seems this is some kind of a political thing,” Mukai said, indicating his witness list would include Governor Abercrombie, Duke Aiona, “and parties such as that.”

RELATED: Mufi’s venture capitalist to Neil’s: “F*** you”, Abercrombie’s capitalist: Printing Mufi’s capitalists’ letter is a “dis-service” to the community

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Some not surprised that shark tour boat burned: Arson aboard a vessel was bound to happen, says a member of a surfing organization

(The self-righteous) Mahina Chillingworth of Hui o Hee Nalu, a North Shore group of surfers and other community members opposed to shark feeding, said she was not surprised when she heard about the intentionally set fire.

"They're bringing it upon themselves," said Chillingworth, adding the shark tour businesses have hit a nerve for some. The tours have sparked controversy and frustration among some fishermen due to the lack of fish in North Shore waters because they are being eaten by sharks, Chillingworth said. Also, feeding sharks for commercial purposes is considered "total disrespect" to native Hawaiians as sharks are considered aumakua, or ancestral gods, she said.

Shark tour operators have said they venture only into areas where there are already sharks. Researchers who conducted a peer-review study said the tour boats take advantage of sharks that congregate around crabbing boats that throw old bait into the ocean from their traps, a practice that has been done since the 1960s.

Illegal-feeding charges, however, were made against five men last year following an investigation of the shark tour companies by federal and state organizations. A trial will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Wahiawa District Court for Maurice Lee Chalker Jr., Richard Bock Whyte, Nickolas Gargaro and Eric Christopher Nourrie, each charged with one count of shark feeding. Kohl William Ragragola was charged with two counts. Nourrie was a deckhand with North Shore Shark Adventures and is no longer employed with the company. It is unknown for which company the other men work.

Anyone with information on the boat fire is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.

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Another Maui Ponzi Scheme? True Wealth Group Mortgage Scammers continue to implode

Explaining how this situation developed, she told Von Sonn that her father had an opportunity in 2008 to write hundreds of mortgages and sell mortgage insurance for Department of Hawaiian Home Lands projects but that to do so he would have to be a Federal Housing Administration-approved business, which the Mortgage Store was not.

As it happened, she said, the attorney general never approved Lindell's venture, and it became clear that that opportunity had vanished. Before that point, though, Lindell remained at her request as an adviser to the Mortgage Store, drawing $25,000 a month in pay, she said. This draw was reduced by whatever commissions he earned selling insurance through the Mortgage Store. Hoaeae did not say how much he earned in commissions.

SIMILAR: Robert Iwamoto trust sued over Maui Ponzi scheme



And Another…..  Maui Victims of Sovereignty Mortgage Scammers may lose home, Naming names: Who are the alleged Sovereignty-mortgage scammers?

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5,226 Acres of Big Isle Koa Forest May Be Sold in Bankruptcy

Arlie & Co., a Eugene, Oregon-based real estate development and management company, filed a reorganization plan Monday that calls for the sale or refinancing of 5,226 acres it owns under the West Hilo Tree Farm name.

It said an auction of the property could bring between $29 million and $50 million, or that a refinancing of the property would free up substantial money for the company.

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Drug Dealers with Gun roam KS Campus

Kamehameha Schools notified parents and faculty yesterday of the report of a gun on the ninth- and 10th-grade campus.

A 10th-grade Kamehameha Schools student reported yesterday that one of four older boys, who tried to sell marijuana to him on the school campus, had what appeared to be a gun in his pocket.

The student said the incident occurred before 8 a.m., prior to when access to the campus is closed to traffic.

Kamehameha said it believes the four older boys were not students, and reported the incident to police, who are investigating the case.

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Micronesia could be the 51st state

I do not normally go this far out on a limb, but there seems to be an opportunity staring us in the face.

What if the Republic of Belau, the Federated States of Micronesia, CNMI, Guam and the Republic of the Marshall Islands came together to become the 51st state of the United States?

Now, before you scream that this is outrageous, crumple up this page and throw it in the trash because you don't believe it makes any sense, hear me out.

This new state would connect Hawaii and Micronesia. It would span roughly 2,500 miles to the west of Honolulu and continue across the great blue Pacific to within 500 miles of the Philippines.

A farfetched idea? I believe not!

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