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Sunday, March 15, 2009
March 15, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:00 AM :: 14100 Views

March 13, 1959: Rev. Abraham Akaka's sermon on Hawaii statehood

Yesterday, when the first sound of firecrackers and sirens reached my ears, I was with the members of our Territorial Senate in the middle of the morning prayer for the day's session. How strange it was, and yet how fitting, that the news should burst forth while we were in prayer together. Things had moved so fast. Our mayor, a few minutes before, had asked if the church could be kept open, because he and others wanted to walk across the street for prayer when the news came. By the time I got back from the Senate, this sanctuary was well filled with people who happened to be around, people from our government buildings nearby. And as we sang the great hymns of Hawaii and our nation, it seemed that the very walls of this church spoke of God's dealing with Hawaii in the past, of great events both spontaneous and planned.

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The day the Aloha State Was Born

His actions reflected his love for all, embracing everyone courageously. Few people know that the lei worn by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights march on Selma, Ala., was sent by Akaka and his wife. In 1979, the reverend prayed and stood with Sand Island residents — some called them squatters — despite the antipathy of the governor and major politicians.

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Kauai Council considers backing Hawaii secession

At one point, Noa said, “I’m not making this stuff up” to chuckles from the pro-sovereignty crowd filling Council Chambers....

On the 10th anniversary of his country’s (sic) declaration of its reinstated sovereignty, the elected (sic) prime minister (sic) of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i on Friday requested that the Kaua‘i County Council officially acknowledge and recognize Hawai‘i’s right to exist as an independent nation.

Prime Minister Henry Noa said in an hour-long presentation at the council’s regular meeting, which had been rescheduled from Wednesday due to some members being in Washington, D.C., that he has made the same proposal to other counties in the state and has also been in contact with U.S. rival Venezuela regarding recognition, a move that, if successful, could put the fledgling nation quickly at odds with its nearest neighbor.

County Attorney Al Castillo, participating in his first council meeting since taking over the post, briefly interrupted on two occasions to recommend that the body convene an executive session to discuss the legal ramifications of recognizing Hawai‘i as an independent nation. Though the council did not take Castillo up on the offer, it also did not commit to a recognition nor did council members sign a proposal proffered by Noa....

Councilman Jay Furfaro said he was “sensitive and compassionate to these issues” and that he felt fortunate the groups were able to have the discussion, while Council Chair Bill “Kaipo” Asing embraced the prime minister.

In an interview at the Historic County Building lobby following the amicable meeting, Noa said a major purpose of the meetings was to clarify the current status in advance of the nation’s upcoming plans to increase national activities such as roadway use, conducting business on former Crown lands, and even reclamation of property from U.S. possession. He said he hoped to avoid confrontations with U.S. law enforcement.

Related: "Reinstated" ticketed for illegal camping  -- "We're taking this to the World Court" 

Kahoolawe Trespassing by ex-journalist Joan Conrow

READ: Akaka Bill reading list

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Hundreds of Oahu Republicans pack County Convention

Malia Gray, legislative office manager for Rep Lynn Finnegan, faced former Ron Paul Hawaii campaign leader Dan Douglass in the contest for County Chair.  Both candidates recruited new Republican Party members and mobilized supporters for the event.  Gray reported her team recruiting 300 new Republican Party members and identifying 20 Legislative candidates to run in 2010 during the last few weeks of campaigning.

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Buck stops with Hawaii taxpayers

Lawmakers struggling to balance the budget are facing a $910 million shortfall over three years. Tax and fee increases might be necessary, House and Senate leaders say. Layoffs and other budget cuts are also being considered. Democratic House and Senate leaders say they feel betrayed that Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, after promising to work with them, is now threatening to veto any tax increases.

Advertiser: "That means it's more important than ever that the Lingle administration and Legislature collaborate on what should be the prime directive: keeping the social-services safety net intact."

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Hawaii gets average rating for care of mentally ill adults

Hawaii received a C grade for its adult mental-health care system on the latest report card of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  It is the same grade the state received in 2006 after two decades of improvement, NAMI said, adding, "The state is now at risk of sliding backward."  The national average was a D. No state received an A. ...  

The report cites these factors contributing to improvements in Hawaii's system in the past 20 years: "U.S. Department of Justice oversight, new money, a governor who spoke openly about the experience of having a family member with a mental illness, steady agency leadership and the embarrassment that came from falling behind other states - resulting in clarity in defining issues.  Unfortunately, all of these variables are under stress or no longer applicable."

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SHPDA Approves West Maui Hospital

The Certificate of Need for the proposed West Maui hospital was officially approved by Ron Terry, Executive Director of SHPDA....

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Requests for loans raise eyebrows amid talks on restructuring the HHSC

Lawmakers have been meeting with system administrators for weeks about bills that would allow public hospitals to convert to private status or escape civil service rules to become more competitive. But the loan requests are reminders of the precarious financial situation at many of the hospitals and the doubts some lawmakers have had for years about the competency of system management.

Maui Memorial Medical Center has asked the state for $20 million as an operating subsidy and to pay down bills to vendors that are delinquent for more than three months. The operating subsidy would be used to cover a cash-flow deficit that averages $2.5 million a month, while the money for late bills would reduce the accounts payable delay to about 45 days.

Perhaps more unsettling, according to a memo prepared by the state budget office, about half of the $11 million Maui Memorial raised from a bond sale last year was "given" to system administrators in Honolulu to gain approval for Maui to become more independent. Maui Memorial has been talking with private investors and would likely be the first public hospital to consider going private if granted authority by the Legislature.

The Kaua'i region, meanwhile, asked the state for an emergency $10 million in February to pay off a private loan for design work on a failed $80 million project to expand the West Kaua'i Medical Center. The Kaua'i region had hoped the private loan would be folded into a larger loan to pay for construction, but after the collapse of the financial markets, financing for the project fell apart. The private loan was secured by a mortgage on the medical center's campus, according to a memo sent from the Kaua'i region to Lingle, and system administrators warned that a default could have an "immediate impact on current and future financing for all HHSC facilities."

(After all the silence while Malulani sought a Certificate of Need it is good to see HHHC's dirty laundry being aired, but here is an Anti-Trust question: What role did the private investors seeking to buy MMMC play in blocking Malulani?  The answer may be found by the US Dept of Justice.)

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House Budget strips DBEDT

House Bill 200, the budget bill proposed by the state legislature, radically restructures the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) by removing several of its attached agencies.

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Kauai: Mayor proposes $154M budget (2.5% cut)

Layoffs were not to be utilized...Non-essential vacant positions were to be dollar-funded...travel budgets were to be reduced by 50 percent...Take-home vehicles for county employees were to be re-evaluated...Equipment requests were to be kept to a minimum....33 positions have been either dollar-funded or eliminated for FY10, which represents a savings of roughly $2.5 million.... (they've only nicked the fat in this budget....)

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Pending bills, rules would help 'green' energy

Perhaps the most potentially significant change in policy for Hawaii (which is currently before the PUC) is a concept called "decoupling."  In order to explain it, let's first consider how our utilities make a profit. Up to now, their profits have been linked directly to the amount of electricity sold. The more juice we consume, the more money Hawaiian Electric Co. makes.  This way of doing business hardly encourages conservation. By separating the utility's profits from the sale of electricity (hence "decoupling") both the utility and the consumer have an incentive to promote conservation, renewability and sustainability.

Another change pending is a proposal to streamline the process to sell power to the utility. Called a feed-in tariff, it would obligate the electric utility to purchase power at set prices.  Thus, instead of solely generating energy from its own plants, HECO would purchase power from individuals, companies and organizations who generate power from solar photovoltaics, wind power, biomass, hydropower and geothermal power.

In Hawaii you are allowed to feed energy back into the grid but the electric utilities will not purchase energy in excess of your overall consumption. When more power is produced than is consumed, the utility meter spins backwards, effectively banking excess electricity production for future credit for consumption later in the day/week/month.  Net energy metering has been a very successful way for homeowners and small businesses to install renewable energy.

The utility believes that net metering can eventually be replaced by the feed-in tariff. The Hawaii Solar Energy Association believes that net energy metering and feed-in-tariffs address different customers and should coexist. In general, smaller systems are better off under net metering and larger systems are better off in a feed- in tariff.

There's also a new technology that HECO would like to roll out (currently pending with the PUC) that would have the electric utility install new, more advanced electric meters.  The new meters would enable the electric company to charge customers based on the time of day the electricity is consumed.

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Ethically challenged, but back in the game

Steve Holmes and his inflated resume that he still won't just fess up about.  John Henry Felix and his long disregard for the law, operating his commercial wedding business in his 'Aina Haina home despite zoning fines from the city of $100 a day for years. He eventually agreed to pay $49,500 in fines, reduced from $98,800 which he owed.  (Sounds serious Lee...when are you going to do a column on Mufi's pay-for-play rail donors?  Or is this more selective remembering?)

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Pork Dreams: Communities invited to help plan rail hubs

Community members attending that workshop will hear presentations about the train, which is expected to support a city growth policy that directs development to the 'Ewa plain. Attendees then will be asked to provide input that will be used to tailor rules governing housing density, parking and pedestrian amenities around train stations planned for Kapolei.

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Hawaii graveyard desecrated by off-road racers, vandals, dogs

Several individuals and organizations have joined forces recently and are working to end the problem by bringing awareness of the situation and possibly building a fence.

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EPA cleans up toxins at illegal Hawaii dump

The day after a man was sentenced to prison in connection with a federal raid last year of an illegal dump site on the Wai'anae Coast, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it had completed its cleanup of the site and removed more than 1,000 tons of solid and hazardous waste materials at a cost of more than $500,000.

The state will now address the nonhazardous materials remaining at the site — such as tons of old tires and other solid wastes, said Steven Chang, chief of the solid and hazardous waste branch at the Department of Health.

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Big Island cutting some car privileges for county workers

Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong submitted a letter to Mayor Billy Kenoi on Friday stating that 107 county vehicles are available to county employees who are allowed to take them home.  Yagong acknowledged there may be circumstances that require employees to take home the cars, but wrote that most would "be able to operate efficiently without the luxury of taking home a county-owned vehicle."

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Papaikou subdivision application withdrawn

Businessman Steve Shropshire said Friday that he will withdraw his application asking the state Land Use Commission to give an urban designation to 90 of the 99 acres of agricultural and conservation land he owns along the Papaikou coastline.  "I made that decision when it was clear to me that Mayor Billy Kenoi had committed the funding for the (Hamakua Community Development) Plan," Shropshire said. "At that point, I felt it was best to step back and take a pause."

"We're going to pause and let the process to unfold before we (re)submit," he said, adding he has "no idea" when that might be.  Shropshire last week discussed his plans with Kenoi, who praised the decision to delay the land-use request.

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Abercrombie's governor bid starts political guessing game

If Hannemann wins, he has a new set of problems. Washington Place is not where Hannemann wants to be; he has said he can see himself in Washington and he can really see himself striding through the U.S. Senate as the direct successor to Hawaii's iconic Dan Inouye.  (Borreca writing for a world without Republicans....) 

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Guard drives 'friendship' mission to Saudi Arabia

The equipment was needed for operation "Friendship One," a field training exercise hosted by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Army, in a news release, said "Friendship One" was one of the first missions involving the movement of troops into Saudi Arabia in more than 15 years.

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