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Sunday, March 1, 2009
March 1, 2009
By Andrew Walden @ 8:37 AM :: 11008 Views

Akaka Bill may have a shot at law

WAILUKU - Nine years after it was first conceived, a bill giving self-determination to Native Hawaiians may finally have a shot at becoming law, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.  But instead of bringing consensus, the passage of time seems to have only deepened divisions over whether the so-called Akaka Bill is the right thing for Hawaiians. Both sides say they want Native Hawaiians to govern themselves, but while supporters believe the Akaka Bill will give them the tools for self-determination, opponents call the measure a "fraud."

(Then the usual: Akaka, independence, lawsuits...blablabla...but not one word about what it means for Hawaiians to become reservation Indians or for Trustees to be free of all State law and some Federal law.  The entire debate is a carefully crafted distraction.)

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Isle lawmakers want piece of Internet sales

The measure being pushed by Senate Democrats is meant to force online shoppers at stores like Amazon and eBay to pay the state's 4 percent general excise tax, just like customers who buy the same items in brick-and-mortar stores.  Taxes have always been required on all purchases - whether they're made inside Hawaii or not - but courts have ruled that only online businesses with physical operations in a state must collect the taxes, and residents seldom report them.  Some estimates predict taxing all Internet goods could have produced as much as $166 million for Hawaii this fiscal year as the state government is facing severe budget deficits.

(After chasing business out of the state, they reach out to tax the only option left....)

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Mufi demands Legislature legalize Honolulu's illegal sewage

The city, facing mounting fines for discharging contaminated sewage into the ocean, is urging state lawmakers to pass legislation that would weaken the very water-quality standards that a federal judge ruled the city violated for years.  The changes, if adopted, would raise the allowable levels for certain key pollutants in Hawai'i waters by as much as five times....

Even if the city is successful in getting the legislation passed, the effort may be for naught.  States usually revise their water-quality standards through an administrative process that under EPA rules requires scientific and technical justifications for the proposed changes and an open, transparent process that allows the public to comment on the proposals. Going the legislative route is unusual and raises questions about meeting EPA requirements.

"At this point, it's not clear from the EPA's perspective whether what's going on now (at the Legislature) would satisfy the process to adopt revised water-quality standards under the Clean Water Act," said Dean Higuchi, another EPA spokesman.

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Socialist Delays defeat Kalapana volcano victims

More than 60 native Hawaiian families who were chased from their homes by lava nearly two decades ago are still waiting to build homes on the Big Island property that was reserved for them....Native Hawaiians had a special claim to benefits because the "Kalapana Extension" of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in 1938 had removed some families from their land. All Hawaiian families, including those whose land was not taken by the park, were granted continuation of traditional fishing rights on shoreline land now inside the park.

In 1991, the state Legislature moved to protect those rights by authorizing a community of one-acre lots at Kikala-Keokea, three miles east of old Kalapana.  The 1991 law also mandated that the lessees would be free from all zoning and building requirements. In other words, they would be free from red tape. They got red tape anyway. 

Part of the problem was that the community was envisioned to have gravel streets and rainwater catchment but lessees wanted paved streets and piped water. For years, there was no money for that.  The state and Office of Hawaiian Affairs eventually contributed $4.5 million for improvements, but lessees had to wait until 2007 for that. 

"They didn't even want us on the property," said Maile Moulds-Carr, who has since become one of only three people who have built a house there.  In 19 years since lava destroyed Kalapana, people scattered and some gave up.  Jill Kahilihiwa said her husband David received a lease but is no longer interested. "I wanted to hold it for my daughter," Kahilihiwa said, but her husband said it was too much trouble.  Hauanio, who has a house elsewhere on the island and works five days a week on Kauai, was going to do the same.

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Maui: After 3 years, end comes for 'exhausted' General Plan panel

"We're all exhausted," said Vice Chairman Dick Mayer after eight hours of intense deliberations.  The GPAC's recommendations on the Maui Island Plan, intended to guide development on the Valley Isle for the next 20-plus years, now officially moves to the Maui Planning Commission, and from there to the Maui County Council. The commission should take the first crack at the planning document in April, Mayer said.

The Island Plan and a previously passed Countywide Policy Plan - which lays out general guidelines for development, agriculture, housing, the economy and other planning policies - are expected to be revised even more as they wend their way through the next two stops over a scheduled 1 years, said county Senior Long-Range Planner Dave Michaelson.

Still, Saturday was a landmark day for the 25-member advisory committee, which has served for three years on a review originally proposed to take six months.

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Communist ILWU icon recalled for her passion

"She was able to live to see Barack Obama elected." 

"I've never met a more powerful person," said University of Hawaii President David McClain. "She was relentless, and she taught us all the value of educating yourself so you can change the world," he said. "Every day in the university we try to provide a transformational experience. Ah Quon has certainly made a difference in our world."

Related: Hawaii Communist Party leader AQ McElrath dies

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DLNR's renaissance plan draws positive feedback

"I was extremely skeptical when this came out," Cottrell, a 17-year DLNR employee, said. "(DLNR's various departments) have squabbled amongst ourselves (for -funding). ... The thing that makes this really different is that we're not asking for the general handout."

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SB: Mail-in election might stir isle voters from their apathy

And the election will be held next month to select a successor for her Windward district seat, with the good news coming in the form of how the election will be held.  It is a vote-by-mail contest. The Legislature authorized the use of mail-in elections in cases of special elections after the scramble to hold an election to vote in a successor to the late Congresswoman Patsy Mink.  In next month's contest, every registered voter in the district will be mailed a ballot. You just pick your candidate and mail it back. Ballots must come back to the city clerk's office by April 23.

(If we make it easier, voters will care more?  No.  It might make them vote more but only a contest between strong opposing candidates can make them care more.)

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