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Thursday, March 12, 2009
March 12, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:17 AM :: 9311 Views

State Senate votes to abolish secret ballot for workers

If this bill becomes law, the right of workers to vote by secret ballot on whether they want a union will no longer be protected by law. 

Local lawmakers debated card check bill yesterday. In the Hawaii State Senate, Labor Committee Chair Dwight Takamine, D-Hilo, gave a 25-minute speech on the merits of SB 1621 SD 2, after Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai, president of Small Business Hawaii, and Sen. Norman Sakamoto, D-Moanalua, a businessman, criticized the measure.

Takamine mostly spoke about the virtues of union membership and how difficult it has become for the unions to organize since in the majority of elections in the last several years in Hawaii and across the nation, employees have voted down union membership.  (Gotta stop them from voting 'no', eh Tak?)

The final vote on SB 1621, SD2, in the 25-member Senate was 21 to 4 with “no” votes from Senators Fred Hemmings, Clarence Nishihara, Norman Sakamoto and Sam Slom. Seven other Democratic senators voted for the bill but “with reservations.”

The bill now crosses over to the Hawaii State House of Representatives, where it is expected to get a warm reception by the members, many who were supported by unions during the 2008 election.

Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, vetoed a similar measure last year. In a statement she said: "Maintaining the secret ballot is the best way to protect workers' privacy and to ensure workers have the ability to vote their conscience without fear of repercussion or retaliation. There is no compelling justification for replacing a fair, democratic process with one that has the potential to erode a worker's existing rights and protections under the law."

Mel's Internet Universe: How Unions Will Manipulate Workers Using Card Check (video)

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Wall Street Journal warns of broader consequences on ceded lands case

WASHINGTON -- Lawyers typically warn clients never to apologize for anything, since a plaintiff could seize upon the remorse as an admission of liability. But what happens when governments apologize?

A century after a cabal of American sugar planters, financiers and missionaries overthrew the Kingdom of Hawaii, Congress said it was sorry. The U.S. Supreme Court soon will decide whether that apology meant anything -- from a legal standpoint, at least.

The Justice Department and 32 states filed briefs backing that position. Upholding the Hawaii Supreme Court's ruling could discourage Congress from making similar apologies for other historic wrongs, the Justice Department warned, adding that the Apology Resolution was only symbolic.

But Hawaii's congressional delegation is at odds with the state government, and insists the resolution is supposed to have teeth. "Federal courts have interpreted [apologies] to shape national obligations under federal law," the four lawmakers, all Democrats, said in a friend of the court brief.

In recent years, government apologies for official wrongs have proliferated. In 1988, Congress apologized to Japanese-Americans for their internment during World War II, and in 1990 approved an expression of "deep regret to the Sioux people" for the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre. Seven states have apologized for forced sterilization of disabled, poor and minority residents in the early 20th century. Five states have apologized for slavery.

But the Hawaii case might be the first where an apology resolution received legal weight, says Eric Miller, a law professor at Saint Louis University who has worked on campaigns seeking redress for African-Americans.

RELATED:  The Akaka Bill: A Cash Cow for Democrats , OHA's strange concessions in "Ceded Lands" Oral Arguments

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Star-Bulletin covers Pali shootings case again 

Here's the first sentence: "Accused Pali Golf Course killers Rodney Joseph Jr. and Ethan Motta are not guilty of racketeering because they were not involved in a criminal enterprise, their lawyers told jurors in closing arguments yesterday in the two men's federal trial." 

Judge Town?  Mayor Kenoi?  Not mentioned....

Link: Advertiser coverage

RELATED: Malu Motta: “I need one governor so he can pardon me.” , Kenoi Fundraiser payout? Gotti lawyer on Pali murder case , Billy Kenoi Helped Pali Shooter , Billy Kenoi at Shooters—and the Pali shooter—the connections 

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9-11 Troothers demand taxpayers fund Bob Jacobson's council re-run

Activists from the 9-11 Troother group "Global Hope" March 10 join failed ex-Councilmember Bob Jacobson in a rally to demand taxpayer funding for his attempt to regain his lost seat.

The Fair Elections law, which was endorsed by groups including the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, would make Hawaii County Council campaigns in 2010, 2012 and 2014 publicly funded on a trial basis. House Bill 345, which was introduced by a group of Big Island lawmakers, including Reps. Jerry Chang, Denny Coffman, Cindy Evans, Bob Herkes, Mark Nakashima and Clift Tsuji, would postpone the Big Island pilot program until 2014. The measure's proponents say there is not enough money to publicly finance elections before then.
Bill 345 passed its third and final reading Tuesday on the House floor with a vote of 37-13 with one absent. Coffman joined Puna Rep. Faye Hanohano as the only two "no" votes in the Big Island caucus. It now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to be heard first by the Judiciary and Government Operations Committee, chaired by Sen. Brian Taniguchi (D-Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, Makiki) with Big Island Sen. Dwight Takamine as vice chairman.

RELATED: ‘Clean Elections’ activist nailed by Campaign Spending Commission , Ka`u donations boost Enriques , Revolution: New voters back Enriques

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Proposed Hawaii budget would cut 374 state jobs to ease deficit

The state House Finance Committee agreed to a budget draft yesterday that would significantly cut spending in state departments and eliminate three state programs and 374 state jobs. 

The draft, which now goes to the full House for approval, would cover about two-thirds of the shortfall in the two-year budget. Separate bills that would raise taxes and divert additional revenue to the state's general fund, approved by the House this week, would close the remaining one-third of the gap.

State Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D-39th (Wahiawa), the chairman of the House Finance Committee, erupted yesterday over Gov. Linda Lingle's comments that tax increases should be off the table and that the state can avoid laying off workers.

(Saving contractors at the expense of taxpayers and state employees....)

Randy Perreira, executive director of the Hawai'i Government Employees Association, said he is disappointed that the House is recommending layoffs but blamed it in part on Lingle's budget not fully adding up. He said he appreciated that lawmakers are also considering revenue-generating options instead of closing the shortfall solely through spending and benefit cuts. 

(In other words, the state employees should team up with the contractors and go after the taxpayers....)

State Rep. Gene Ward, R-17th (Kalama Valley, Queen's Gate, Hawai'i Kai), who serves on the House Finance Committee, said the committee's draft is premature. He also criticized Oshiro for blowing up on Lingle, since lawmakers and the governor will likely have to collaborate on budget talks as the session continues.

"We've gone for the jugular, and we haven't even got the headlock in, you know," Ward said. "When everything is on the table, you don't have to take it to the extreme right away. You have to look at what's on the table. You have to analyze what's on the table. You've got to add up the numbers and see if you've got enough on the table.

"And then, and only then, do you say, 'Look, we're going to have to start cutting warm bodies, No. 1. No. 2, we're going to have to start raising taxes,' " he said. "But instead of doing that and taking the inventory, they've gone directly to the jugular."

(In other words the contractors' Reps are creating a bunch of drama in order to protect their interests....)

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Hawaii jobless rate hits a 25-year high and may get worse

O'ahu's unemployment rate of 5.2 percent was the lowest of all the major islands.

Kaua'i's rate almost tripled over the past year to 8.8 percent from 3 percent in January 2008.

The rate more than doubled for the Big Island and Maui, which had rates of 8.4 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.

Moloka'i continued to have the highest unemployment at 12.5 percent, (Thanks a lot, OHA) while Lana'i came in at 8.5 percent.

The number of people without work in Hawai'i surged to 39,550 in January. A year earlier, the number was less than half that at 19,750.

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Mourners pay their respects to a slain teacher

A line snaked from Nuuanu Avenue to a chapel last night as about 1,200 people came to pay their respects to the family of slain Waianae High School educator Asa Shimabukuro Yamashita. Some mourners lined up more than 2 1/2 hours before the service at Nuuanu Memorial Park & Mortuary.

Yamashita, literacy coordinator and English Department head at Waianae, was fatally stabbed at the Ewa Beach Town Center last month in an apparent random attack.

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Maui: Ethics complaint dismissed

The Ethics Board has been discussing how to respond to Nishiki's disclosure of a $100,000 personal loan from developer Everett Dowling in 2005. It is also reviewing a complaint against Nishiki over his handling of the disclosure.

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Cock Fighting Gaff Ban Proposal Gets Reluctant Support in Hawaii Senate

But the bill met resistance from vocal critics on the neighbor islands, particularly on Kauai, where cock fighting, albeit illegal, is still prevalent.

That heavy lobbying against more protection for the birds led 5 of 25 Senators to vote against the measure on the Senate floor yesterday, and 5 more to express reservations against the bill.

The 5 who voted against the bill were all Democrats, most from the neighbor islands, led by Senator Gary Hooser of Kauai, and backed by Senators Shan Tsutsui and Kalani English from Maui, Dwight Takamine from Hawaii Island and Clayton Hee from Kahaluu.

The 5 Senators who voted yes with reservations included Senators Roz Baker of Maui, Clarence Nishihara of Pearl City, Donna Kim of Kalihi, Russell Kokubun of Hawaii island and Mike Gabbard of Kapolei.

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