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Thursday, August 18, 2011
August 18, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:30 PM :: 4111 Views

Abercrombie Outlines Excuses for Tax Hikes, Blames Lingle, Micronesians

Rep Ward: Governor's Report Long on Rhetoric, Short on Specifics

Big Island plans massive salute to LCpl. Camero 

GOP's Djou seeks to retake Hawaii House seat

As a judge advocate general in the Army Reserve for the last decade, Djou is being deployed for the first time. He said he expects to return to Hawaii in March, leaving him time to campaign before the November general election.

"At stake is nothing less than whether we will continue to be a great nation or whether we will slide into obsolescence," Djou said in a statement. "At stake is whether our children will find good jobs, whether our families will be able to stay in Hawaii, whether we will have the resources to protect our environment and provide the social services we pledged to provide."

Djou said Hawaii needs leadership that will address the national debt, fight for quality jobs and work to spur economic growth.

Hanabusa is considering whether to run for U.S. Senate or pursue re-election to the House seat she won just a few months ago.

Read …. Djou Retake

‘Undeniable storm’ looms for finances, gov warns

House Minority Leader Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai) described Abercrombie’s address as “long on rhetoric and short on specifics.”

“Unfortunately, Mr. Abercrombie’s solutions focus on spending more on government services rather than growing our economy and creating jobs,” he said in a statement. “His statement today didn’t even mention our small businesses or entrepreneurs who are risking everything every day to keep our economy moving and provide jobs for our people.”

One Democratic lawmaker, speaking privately, said Abercrombie should refrain from sweeping rhetoric until he can announce more concrete results. The governor mentioned the hiring of a chief information officer, the restoration of hot water at Mayor Wright public housing, and progress on helping the homeless as examples of accomplishments, but that is not the scope of change he suggested was possible as part of his “A New Day in Hawaii” agenda.

HNN: INTERVIEW: Gov. Abercrombie on Sunrise

read … ‘Undeniable storm’ looms for finances, gov warns

Marumoto: Abercrombie wants to raise taxes again

"I am happy to report that because of decisive action and a willingness among many to cooperate, our canoe did not tip over," Abercrombie said during a speech on his progress since taking office in December. "...I know this is hard, I know this is difficult. But I also know that adults deal with the situation that's in front of them. That's what people have done in the state."

…The Democratic governor said he has put the state back in the right direction, and he blamed former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle for "fiscal wreckage" that he said contributed to the state's $1.2 billion projected budget deficit he faced after being elected….

Republican Rep. Barbara Marumoto said Abercrombie's "pep talk" left her with the impression the governor wants to raise taxes to achieve his goals.

"If he's not going to cut, how is he going to make the cost increases?" asked Marumoto, R-Kalani Valley-Diamond Head. "He wants to add more jobs, but he isn't saying how he wants to do that. I'm afraid he's going to add new programs."

Read … Hawaii Gov. Abercrombie reports on his progress

Governor must answer, ‘Where’s the beef?’

Abercrombie’s biggest problem is that he’s burned much of the political goodwill he had after landslide victories over Mufi Hannemann and James “Duke” Aiona.

Part of it was unavoidable, such as his necessarily tough stand in union negotiations that angered some of the noisiest labor and “progressive” elements of the Democratic Party.

Demanding that his political base make the same sacrifices as everybody else should have won him points with moderates and progressives who have always been suspicious of him.

But Abercrombie unnecessarily antagonized them with missteps such as his pointless tizzy fit on the Pro Bowl, his decision to shroud judicial appointments in secrecy for no good reason and a perceived arrogance exemplified by his infamous “I’m not your pal” remark.

read … Governor must answer, ‘Where’s the beef?’

Fake Cuts: Most Hawaii Departments Spared in $50M 'Restructuring' Cuts

Turns out that most Hawaii state departments will be spared the brunt of the $50 million in "restructuring" cuts lawmakers charged Gov. Neil Abercrombie to find for the current fiscal year.

Instead, the bulk of the savings will come from two areas: cheaper-than-expected health costs for public employees ($20 million savings) and holding off on issuing new debt ($10 million in interest payment savings). Both these expenses come out of the operating budget for the Department of Budget and Finance.

The remaining $20 million in savings will come out the budgets of 11 state departments, including $8 million from the Department of Human Services, $5.4 million from the Department of Health and $3 million from the University of Hawaii for the current budget year. Several departments emerged with budgets intact, including the Department of Public Safety and state hospitals.

read … Fake Cuts

Commission Again refuses to Disenfranchise Military

Increased privacy concerns have led to changes in the way military and colleges report data, making it more difficult to separate nonresidents from residents in crafting new voting districts, officials with the state Reapportionment Commission reported.

The commission voted 8-1 Wednesday to include nonresident members of the military and their dependents along with nonresident students and incarcerated felons in the state's population base for the purposes of redrawing political boundaries, with some members citing the inability to accurately extract nonresidents from the population base as their primary reason for including them.

Members have stated that if those populations could be accurately removed, they would consider taking another vote.

Poor Malama Solomon: Military to be Disenfranchised so Meth dealer’s friend can keep Senate Seat?

read … Military Voters

Say, Tsutsui ask AG Louie to allow Legislators to Peddle Influence Freely

House and Senate leaders will ask the state Attorney General's Office for an opinion on whether the state ethics director is correct in defining members of legislative task forces as state employees restricted from lobbying.

State Senate President Shan Tsutsui (D, Wailuku-Kahului) and state House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley) made the decision after meeting privately on Monday to discuss concerns from several lawmakers about the ethics director's interpretation.

read … Lawmakers seek state AG's opinion on lobbying limits

HUD Concerned About ORI Report From City

Federal officials with the Department of U.S. Housing and Urban Development say there were gaps in the city's response to an investigation into possible grants violations at an Oahu senior center.

A HUD spokeswoman told Civil Beat that the agency "verbally presented its concerns" about the report to city officials last week….

"The city stated its goals, as well as the goals of ORI," Gibson wrote in an email to Civil Beat. "However, HUD informed the city that it would be necessary for the city and ORI to refine their goals into specific tasks. It would be important to pin down the tasks with individual steps so that progress and successful completion could be tracked and measured."

read … HUD Concerned

ILind: HSTA ethics complaint is mis-directed

That HSTA ethics complaint against the governor and the DOE leadership? In my opinion, it’s a very long stretch to try to reframe a legal procedural issue into an ethics complaint, and it seems to be a misuse the Ethics Commission to gain leverage in this labor dispute.

read … HSTA ethics complaint is mis-directed

Green Energy Drives HECO Rates to Record High

A typical household using 600 kilowatt hours of electricity a month saw its bill rise to $205.44 in August from $199.68 in July, HECO said. The August rate of 32.8 cents a kilowatt hour was up from 31.9 cents a kilowatt hour in July and surpassed the previous high of 32.5 cents reached in September 2008 in the wake of record oil prices.

The increase from July to August was in large part due to an interim rate hike that HECO began collecting on July 26 that added $3.31 a month to the typical bill on Oahu. The rate hike is to pay for capital improvement projects. (Tied to green energy)

Maui Electric Co. customers saw rates fall to 36.6 cents per kilowatt hour this month from July's 37.1 cents. The typical Maui bill fell to $227.36 from $230.06.

Hawaii island residential rates fell to 41.7 cents per kilowatt hour from last month's 41.8. The typical bill fell by 51 cents to $261.73.

On Kauai the rate fell to 41.7 cents per kilowatt hour. Last month the rate charged by the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative was 42.9 cents per kilowatt hour.

read … Power Up! Electric rates hit record

Soft on Crime Kauai: Lifelong Criminal Gets Probation for Death Threats

Valenciano credited Calma with presenting the defense in the best possible light and minimizing the risks to Walker’s case.

State Deputy Prosecutor Samuel Jajich credited Calma with “heroic”efforts to get six felonies reduced to two misdemeanor charges. He listed prior drug and theft convictions across the continental United States that dated from the 1960s through 1999 and recommended a year in prison….

William Robertson, the recipient of the threat, was present to deliver a statement. He owns a certified organic farm and recently lost a civil suit with Walker. He was ordered to return a portion of the $22,000 investment to lease and work farm land.

Robertson said Walker failed to make timely payments and complete required work. He was asked to leave when individuals began coming around regularly that were not involved with the farm. He said suspicious activity was confirmed when hashish was found in Walker’s vehicle in an amount the prosecution considered more than for personal use.

Robertson said he didn’t feel that Walker is a violent person but that he learned through a third party about his threat to have“buddies” kill him and throw his body in the ocean….

Read … Plea deal called ‘heroic’

Tough on Homeowners: Pay Maui Property Tax Late, Lose Homeowners Exemption

On Maui, residential owner-occupants who don’t pay their tax bills on time can lose the homeowner’s exemption, which excludes up to $200,000 from tax assessment.

“The parcel will not only lose the $200,000 exemption, you will also be taxed based on the underlying land classification established by zoning. This means you will be taxed at a higher rate,” said Arakawa.

“Once you lose your homeowners exemption, you will not be allowed to reapply until you completely pay off your balance. Only then can a homeowner reapply for the following year,” said the mayor.

Press releases detailing the property tax payment systems on Oahu and Maui are here: Honolulu Taxes Maui Taxes

read … Property Taxes Due; Tough New Collection Law On Maui

Gay Civil Union Licenses handled online, heteros must wait weeks for marriage licenses

The Department of Health has been working to ensure the state can begin processing civil unions as scheduled at the start of 2012, Dr. Alvin Onaka, state Registrar of Vital Statistics, told the task force.

Onaka said an online processing system for civil union applicants and officiants is being tested and is expected to go online by Nov. 30, allowing couples to get paperwork in order and receive a license that takes effect Jan. 1, a Sunday. The system, which eventually will be extended to handle marriage licenses, will help relieve a backlog of applications and streamline the process.

"Unfortunately, for those people already in a reciprocal beneficiary relationship, our current Act 1 doesn't adequately address the transition between reciprocal beneficiaries and civil unions," said Rep. Blake Oshiro (D, Aiea-Halawa). "It's very likely that we'll need to continue to work on something to shorten the gap and make the transition smooth."

The gap would occur because reciprocal beneficiaries must dissolve that relationship before entering into a civil union. This requires sending a notarized letter to the Department of Health, which acknowledges receipt and sends notice to the applicant of the dissolution, a process that typically can take weeks.

A task force plans to study ways to streamline the process to reduce the gap period.

read … Online procedure prepped to handle civil union licenses

SA: The DoE Can Save Children from Ignorant Parents

The best way to break the cycle is to intervene on behalf of these children as early as possible. Providing early educational opportunities for those who can't afford them has been shown to be a powerful investment that pays dividends in academic success and career readiness. Keeping a child on pace to master reading skills is critical, said Ivette Rodriguez Stern, the Hawaii Kids Count director — those that don't master reading by the third grade run a higher risk of falling behind and, ultimately dropping out.

Programs such as Head Start and Good Beginnings, which aim to ensure child health and school readiness, have been pared back in the current climate of budget cuts. That's not surprising, but as the economy recovers, lawmakers should turn their attention back toward such initiatives to help children in poverty find their way up and out.

Reality: KidsCount: Hawaii Dropout Rate rises 40%

read … Help poor children fulfill their dreams

Council Postpones Laie Hotel Vote

Council members put off a vote on the project until its next meeting on September 16, saying perhaps the developer can "reach a compromise" about the size of the hotel and reduction in the number of rooms.

"I look forward to hearing what types of compromises and middle ground that we can come to, and I'm hoping that we can do that by September 16th," said Councilmember Ikaika Anderson, who chairs the council’s zoning and planning committee.

Councilmember Romy Cachola, vice chair of the zoning committee, said, "We will be achieving peace in the community if they agree. So hopefully that's a signal I'm giving to them, see if you guys can talk."

The council is also asking the developer to perform a flood study and turn it into the city before the first construction permit is issued.

read … Laie Hotel

Experts meet in Honolulu to focus on Rat Lungworm Disease

"And for people in Hawaii we need to raise the education. There are doctors and nurses on the island that don't know anything about it," said Howe. "It really is a matter of a massive education campaign that needs to happen in Hawaii, on the Big Island in particular."

If nothing else researchers can learn a thing or two about not giving up from a case like Graham's, who will be starting college next week in hopes of becoming a physical therapist.

"I think it would be good to change it up a little bit and exercise my brain," said McCumber.

There is no cure for Rat Lungworm Disease but there are things you can do to prevent it including wash produce carefully, raise pots and planters off the ground to give slugs and snails fewer places to hide and don't touch slugs or snails with your bare hands.

read … Rat Lungworm

Obama promises to waste $510M on Biofool Scams

Just think about the possibilities that could come with $510 million in new funding for biofuels production in Hawaii.

President Barack Obama announced earlier this week a half-billion-dollar initiative to boost the production of next-generation biofuels nationwide.

While there are no guarantees that Hawaii will land any of this money, Hawaiian Electric Co spokesman Peter Rosegg told PBN that the president’s initiative is a positive move to encourage local biofuels production.

read … Biofools

Medical Practices Losing Money Nationwide

ALEXANDRIA, VA-According to findings in the American Medical Group Association's 2011 Medical Group Compensation and Financial Survey, many provider organizations continue to operate at a significant loss, and although nearly 70% of specialties saw increases in compensation in 2010, increases were marginal.

The section of the survey that examines financial operations found that medical groups were still faced with significant financial challenges, and operating margins are increasingly thin. In 2010, only organizations in the Western region were nearing break-even (-$27 per physician). All other regions were operating at a loss: the Eastern region averaged a loss of $1,597 per physician; the Southern region averaged a loss of $1,870; and the Northern region continued to experience significant losses (-$10,669 per physician in 2010, compared to -9,943 per physician in 2009).

read … 2011 Medical Group Compensation and Financial Survey

AOL Gets Last, Best Hope in Private Equity

The Internet pioneer spun off from Time Warner Inc. (TWX) in 2009 plunged to a record low last week after cutting this year’s profit forecast because of slowing growth in display advertising sales. With its market capitalization reduced to $1.3 billion from a peak of $3.1 billion last year, New York-based AOL is now the cheapest relative to its net assets of any U.S. Web company with a value of more than $500 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

AOL has posted net losses of almost $800 million in less than two years as a standalone company as the profitable dial-up Internet business becomes obsolete and online advertising sales on websites from the Huffington Post to Moviefone fail to make money.

read … Steve Case


The Justice Department is investigating whether the nation’s largest credit ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, improperly rated dozens of mortgage securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis, according to two people interviewed by the government and another briefed on such interviews.

(Obama’s solution: Kill the Messenger)

read … US Inquiry Eyes S&P Ratings of Mortgages

Birfers offer $5000 for Obama Birf Announcement Newspapers

the Birther Summit has announced a new offer: A $5,000 reward for the original edition of either the Aug. 13, 1961 edition of The Honolulu Advertiser or the Aug. 14, 1961 edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Those are the two newspapers in which the birth announcements of Barack Obama purportedly appeared.

Photographic evidence of one of those two newspapers may be submitted to, at which time instructions will be provided regarding the purchase process to be brokered through the Summit’s attorney. (Don’t give them nothing ‘til you’ve got cash and have checked to make sure it isn’t counterfeit.)

read … Birfers


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