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Tuesday, February 15, 2011
February 15, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:09 PM :: 10028 Views

Assisted suicide: Death as a Salesman

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How they voted Feb 7-14

VIDEO: House GOP Floor Speeches Feb 11-14

Obama’s 2012 Budget: Taxes, taxes, and more taxes—and more spending too

Abercrombie: Raising GE Tax may not be enough – Everybody’s taxes will go sky high

KITV Video: First Abercrombie claims that the budget hole is now larger than he thought is was during the campaign—a standard political maneuver designed to justifying going back on campaign—and post campaign--promises not to raise taxes.  Then he lets loose with this:

“It may be that when we get to the GE Tax, even that may not be enough.  If you just take an increase in the GE Tax alone, that may not even get us barely past even.  We are now $7.4B dollars in the hole on the retirement system alone.  If we do not significantly reduce the unfunded liability, which a GE Tax by itself will not do, the very bonding authority of the state is in jeopardy, which means everybody’s taxes will go sky high….”   

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Billionaires seek handout: Studio Construction Pitch Shows Star Power

The head of Relativity Media, a major Hollywood production company, asked state senators Monday to support tax credits for media productions and studio construction and a training program for film production workers.

In return, Ryan Kavanaugh, said Hawaii he would see almost immediate benefits from construction and film employment, followed by as many as 20 movies a year being produced in the state.

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Labor’s Fears Confirmed: Abercrombie is Cayetano

Borreca: …the unions are displeased. To cut the state budget deficit, Abercrombie wants to tax state pensions. The majority of people getting those pensions are public worker retirees. Democrats look at them as the bedrock of the party.

One state labor leader, who did not endorse Abercrombie, said he had a nightmare about visiting Gov. Abercrombie in his office and asking, "What's in the closet?" Out pops former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who worked on reforming the state civil service and left office opposed by many in labor. After he was out of office, much of the reform was repealed by a union-backed Legislature.

For all those years that Abercrombie was the reliable vote for unions, in Hawaii there were doubts. Now that Abercrombie is trying to balance the budget by taxing pensions, their fears are confirmed.

Best Comment: “Richard, Richard, Richard. Tell the truth. You know that Neil's proposals are just gambits. He knows and you know that his Holy Grail is a General Excise Tax increase.”

TOTALLY RELATED: Pensions, Rail, Earmarks: Abercrombie and Obama wage war on Inouye

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Washington Examiner: In Hawaii, a dispiriting glimpse of one-party rule

HONOLULU - In Hawaii, there are 25 members of the state Senate. Twenty-four are Democrats. And then there is Sam Slom.

Slom, the lone Senate Republican in the state of President Obama's birth, has represented East Honolulu since 1996. He hasn't always been the only GOP senator; in the last session, there were two. But Republicans fared poorly at the polls in November, and Slom was left alone.

Which means that Democratic bills to increase state spending, to impose new regulations and mandates and to create new government departments are often passed on votes of 24-1. "I represent a point of view that would not be represented," the conservative Slom says, "even if it's just one voice."

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Gov.'s 60-40 Healthcare Split Moves Forward

In one of his earliest proposals right before Christmas, Abercrombie signed off on an agreement [pdf] with the four labor unions covering state workers to increase the state's share of health premiums from a 50-50 split to 60-40. The move is expected to cost $18 million this year to cover the period from March 1-June 30, and another $54 million in both 2012 and 2013.

The Dec. 23 agreement went mostly unnoticed until it came to light at informational budget briefings, where the administration asked for the money via an emergency appropriation. Some lawmakers said it was the first time they had heard about the plan.

The $18 million portion was submitted as Senate Bill 1261 (and companion House Bill 1034) as part of Abercrombie's package of bills. The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee advanced SB 1261 on Monday with little discussion or objection. (Republican Sen. Sam Slom voted against the measure.) It now heads to the Committee on Ways and Means.

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First Grader outsmarts BoE on School Closures: “What is more important to you -- the children or Hawaii, education, or making an office for the Democrats?"

Testifying before the Board: "My name is Emily Bullock. I am six years old. Please keep my school open because we have the best teachers.  What is more important to you -- the children or Hawaii, education, or making an office for the Democrats?"

KITV: School Closure Meeting Draws Crowd

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Closing schools to create office space for DoE bureaucrats

Also in a consolidation study, the DOE said it could use the vacant Kalihi campuses for much-needed office space.

Liliuokalani, too, could be used for offices, the DOE has said.

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Civil unions on the brink of approval

The Senate has a final vote on the measure scheduled today during its regular session that starts at 11:30 a.m.

If approved, as expected, the governor would have 10 legislative days, from the time it reaches his desk, to sign the bill into law.

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SA: All couples deserve equality

(To clarify the Star-Advertiser’s editorial this morning,we have added appropriate commentary in indentations.)

Once it becomes law, the state will have taken a significant step toward meeting a core obligation: equal treatment of all its citizens. 

Wrong.  This is a significant step towards redefining the family.  All citizens previously had an equal right to marry a member of the opposite sex.  Now all citizens also have an equal right to marry an member of the same sex.  Civil rights claims are designed to manipulate hordes of politically correct brainwashed dolts whose lives are shaped around an eternal quest to prove they are not bigots.

Governments have provided protections to marriages, a practice that benefits society by encouraging the formation of stable households….

And utopians, socialist and otherwise, have for centuries recognized that the nuclear family makes people conservative and therefore less amenable to utopian cults, so...

The solution, first proposed in last year's legislative session, is a good one: Provide civil unions as a status in which the same state benefits provided to spouses in a marriage go to these partners, regardless of sexual orientation.

Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can get licenses.

Remaining silent on the question of gender is the right approach. The private matter of sexual orientation need not figure into a law seeking to achieve the public-policy goal of equal access to state benefits and protections.

By giving non-nuclear ‘family’ structures—whether gay or not-- equal standing, we can take a step towards achieving a goal which as eluded us for all these years—remaking the basic institutions of civilization.  But it is just a step, there are many more to come and that requires litigation.  So it is fortunate that…

There are sure to be hiccups in the law once it takes effect Jan. 1, 2012, for instance…civil unions from other jurisdictions are recognized here, provided they meet the basic eligibility rules.

Of course, this could lead to a legal challenge to DOMA, but hey, that base has already been covered and the case is well on its way to the Supreme Court.

Other issues may arise, but advocates believe most can be addressed through writing regulations. For example, the state should adopt a rule allowing reciprocal beneficiaries to end that relationship at the same time a civil union is solemnized.

Opponents to the bill believe it to be a Trojan horse through which proponents of same-sex marriage will overcome the state's ban. It's likely that many advocates do favor same-sex marriage (no kidding?), but given that there is a federal ban in place as well, a much broader, national discussion will have to take place before that issue comes up. 

Absolutely false.  The issue is already coming up.  And DOMA hasn’t stopped other states from inventing gay marriage.  The Advertiser and the politicians are just waiting for another opportune moment.  The bottom line:

Overwhelmingly the candidates in the House and Senate who backed civil unions won the vote, so the pathway to the bill's passage seemed clear on election night.

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Hawaii Lesbians demanding children, marriage

(Former Judge) Song is an advocate for adoptions to same-sex couples, which some judges approve and others do not. She expects that the new legal rights afforded to same-sex couples will mean that they will be treated the same as married couples under the law.

The law also should make legal separations and divisions of estates for same-sex couples less traumatic, Song said.

"There may be issues that come up and questions," she said.

"I support same-sex marriage, but this is not same-sex marriage," she said….

Denis Luker is a math instructor at Hawaii Community College. She represents the school on the UH Commission on the Status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Equality. She and her partner of three years are choosing not to be joined in a civil union, because it's not marriage.

"We're just normal people, (with) normal jobs, normal families. We want the same as everybody else," Luker said. She framed the push for gender equality as a struggle for civil rights.

Civil unions are a "step forward," Luker said, but she's still waiting for full rights.

(They are judges and perfessers, but claim to be oppressed.)

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Soda Tax Dies; Alcohol Tax Hike Still Alive

A controversial proposal to tax sugary sodas and other beverages appears to be close to death at the legislature.

But a 50 percent increase in the alcohol tax is still alive.

The chairman of the State Senate health committee, Josh Green, who's a medical doctor, said there are other ways to fight obesity and diabetes without making consumers pay extra for sodas.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie's proposal would have charged a 10-cent per can tax on any beverage with sugar in it and 25 cents for sugary beverages in larger containers like liters.

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Humane? Alexander, Brower push for Tent City as tweekers, crack-heads arrive from Mainland

Marc Alexander, the governor's newly appointed coordinator on homelessness, reaffirmed Gov. Neil Abercrombie's desire to end homelessness. Alexander spoke at a briefing before the State House Committee on Tourism….

A variety of bills and resolutions are being considered this session to address the problem, said Brower, who was a driving force last year behind the adoption of House Resolution 62, which called for state and city administrators to create homeless camps away from popular tourist or retail spots.  (This is the ‘humane’ policy that Marc Alexander left the priesthood for?)

"On any given week we've got 10 to 15 new people off the plane from the mainland living homeless in Waikiki," Hein said.

The homeless population in Kakaako has spiked, too, said Ching, whose organization oversees development in this growing retail and industrial corridor. Earlier this week an estimated 100 homeless campers lined both sides of Ilalo Street, makai of Ala Moana Boulevard near the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine.

"Many of them are new to Hawaii," Ching said. "Some of them are chronically homeless. I've met individuals who indicated that they have been homeless since high school, and that was 30 years ago."

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Clayton Hee’s wife joins Greenwood Mafia at UH

Lynne Waters, recently hired as spokeswoman for City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, has jumped ship from Kaneshiro’s staff to take a high-priced University of Hawaii public relations position, Hawaii Reporter has learned.

Waters, wife of powerful state Senator Clayton Hee, could not be reached for comment this afternoon.

Waters will work as a temporary hire until formally approved by the Regents.

Her salary will reportedly be in the range of $130,000 to $150,000.

Another golden brick in the wall: Greenwood Mafia grabs two power positions in UH system

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Arizona private prison oversight bills die

Despite a bipartisan outcry last summer after three inmates escaped from a private prison near Kingman, bills to increase state oversight of for-profit corrections companies can't get a legislative hearing.

Democrats have introduced 10 bills, including measures that would bring six private-prison complexes in Eloy and Florence under state standards. Those facilities, run by the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, house federal prisoners and detainees, as well as inmates from Hawaii, Washington and California, and are unregulated by the state.

(And regardless of whether these bills are heard or not, their propaganda purpose has been achieved.)

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Obama’s SBA pushes back against Inouye’s OHA Profiteers

The U.S. Small Business Administration is moving ahead with plans to revise regulations governing sometimes controversial contracts given the Alaska Native Corporations, Native Hawaiian Organizations and tribal entities.

The SBA on Friday published a package of final rules, saying the adjustments to its regulation 8(a) will better ensure that the benefits flow to the intended recipients and help prevent waste, fraud and abuse.

Alaska Native Corporations have come under media and Congressional scrutiny, including a series of critical articles published by the Washington Post last year. They said the exemptions allowed the corporations to obtain $29 billion in federal contracts over the past decade but that native shareholders had gotten relatively little of the contracting windfall despite the program being set up to improve lives of struggling indigenous people.

More recently the Hawaii Reporter published a piece noting a handful of Native Hawaiian-owned companies used federal contracting preferences authored by Inouye to land some $500 million in non-bid or reduced competition government work since 2005.

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Senator asks for hearings on Hawaii, Alaska Native American Contracting preferences

Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye wants his fellow Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka to hold hearings on Small Business Administration rules that give Native American groups in Alaska and Hawaii contracting preferences.

Inouye formally made the request in a letter to Akaka, who took over as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs last week. Hawaii’s senior U.S. senator wants the committee to review the importance of contracts given the Alaska Native Corporations, Native Hawaiian Organizations and tribal entities after a series of negative articles about the Alaska contracts in the Washington Post.

“The purposed of the hearing is to allow the SBA, ANCS, NHOs, Indian tribes, shareholders and other stakeholders the opportunity to demonstrate the importance and legitimacy of the program to Native communities in fulfilling self-determination and self-sufficiency,” said the letter written by Inouye and Alaska Sen. Mark Begich and obtained by the Artic Sounder, an Anchorage newspaper.

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Inouye proposes more Pork as Obesity solution

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii)  introduced legislation last month to provide health data to better serve Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, including those in the Insular areas. The bill, S. 71,  introduced on January 25, 2011 as "The  Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Health Data Act of 2011', seeks to develop and implement an ongoing and sustainable national strategy for identifying and evaluating the health needs of NHOPI populations  living in the continental United States, Hawai`i, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

TOTALLY RELATED: Why Are Islanders The Fattest People?

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Am Samoa Cancer Patients no longer referred off-island

Last week doctors in American Samoa had to stop off-island referrals for cancer patients, and now instead of being able to travel to Hawaii or New Zealand for treatment, some cancer sufferers are facing a dire road ahead.
So how has this situation come about?

No mney for cancer treatment, but they have money for Inouye’s “study”

No money for cancer treatment, but they have money for this: The Tsunami and Mufi’s Samoan Connection

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Obama’s D.O.A. Budget includes $250M for Honolulu Rail

There's a lot of uncertainty about how the shift in Congressional leadership will affect Honolulu's chances of securing more than $1.5 billion in federal funding for rail. President Barack Obama is clearly committed to improving and expanding transportation infrastructure, but when it comes to rail, his focus is on high-speed inter-city systems (like Amtrak's Acela, which speeds between cities in the Northeast).

That focus doesn't necessarily exclude projects like Honolulu's planned rail system. The president's transportation budget includes Honolulu in a list of "pending" full funding grant agreements, with $250 million at stake for the city. It means Honolulu is slated to get the second-most federal money in fiscal year 2012, behind only Denver.

HR: Obama Budget to Slice Into Hawaii Programs

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Hawaii State ERS Underfunded by $7 Billion

Machida says these assumptions aren’t the main reason the state’s unfunded liability has grown so dramatically. He ascribes most of the increase to an old rule that allowed legislators to seize any annual earnings over 8 percent and apply them to the state’s ARC. In 2001, the worst year, the state used approximately $150 million of these “excess” earnings to help balance the budget. Between 1999 and 2003, according to Machida, more than $350 million in excess earnings were diverted from the pension system. “In 2004, with the assistance of (then) Governor Lingle, we introduced legislation to take that away,” Machida says. But the damage has been done. “If that money had not been taken,” he says, “the system today would be almost fully funded.” …

…the actuary’s report to the ERS board in December included some startling language. Under the heading, “What does this all mean?” the report states: “If the assumptions are met for all years beginning July 1, 2010, and the current contribution policies remain, the system is not expected to run out of money. But it is very close.” (Italics added.) Worse still is how long the actuary says it will take to fully fund the system, given the same set of assumptions: never.

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Second Worst of last 7 years: Hawaii hotel room revenue grows 8.7 percent

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii hotel room revenue grew 8.7 percent to $2.55 billion last year as hotel occupancy increased across the islands, Hospitality Advisors LLC said Monday.

Hawaii hotels generated $203 million more than the $2.35 billion in 2009. Despite the growth, 2010 was still the second worst in at least seven years and well behind the $3.06 billion reached during the peak year of 2007.

"The increase in room revenue for 2010 was driven entirely by gains in occupancy as price discounting continued in the market," said Hospitality Advisors, a hotel industry consulting firm.

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Religious Leftists organize Foreclosure Agit-Prop show at Bank of America office

The group went in armed with Valentine's cards, but they weren't love notes, they were more like demands saying things like "Bank of America don't break our hearts" and "Send an authorized loan modification negotiator to Hawaii by February 28."

The group of about 16 squeezed into Bank of America's loan office lobby.  A manager did come out to speak with them but less than a minute in there was this.

"Pardon me. We appreciate you coming by but we didn't have a meeting set up," said the unnamed manager.

"No we don't," said Rev. Sam Domingo, Faith Action for Community Equity or FACE, which is advocating with the homeowners.

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Import-Export UHM style

The University of Hawaii law school plans to host a discussion on a lawsuit filed against the U.S. military to prevent it from building a live fire training range in the ancient Guam village of Pagat.
The discussion hosted by the Environmental Law Program on Tuesday is due to feature the plaintiff's lawyers, Matthew Adams and Carl Christensen.

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Lifetime goes nuts with Roseanne Barr: Half-hour reality show to follow comedian on her farm

Yep, Rosanne Barr—the progressive who has made a career of portraying regular people as progressives see us--is going to be doing an alleged reality show about her alleged life in Hamakua.  Now do you see what is wrong with subsidizing TV and movie productions???

If you’re still not sure, check out Hawaii’s new image:   Today on Oprah: Roseanne Barr talks Hawaii, macadamia nuts, family and incest

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