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Sunday, April 1, 2012
April 1, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:16 PM :: 10420 Views

Felony Inducement? Laura Thielen Senate Run Rejected by Democratic State Committee

Zing To Taxpayers, You Are Paying For Those Giveaways

Lingle Calls for Reauthorization of Export-Import Bank

Gallup: After Electing Hanabusa, Urban Honolulu Drops from 4th best to 57th

If there is a serious concern, it is in our ranking for "work environment," which surveys workers on their feelings and perceptions about their work environments.

In that category Hawaii went from 32 to 44. The national study surveyed Hawaii by various geographical areas. More than 1,000 Hawaii residents were surveyed….

The work environment really took a dive, going from 100 to 169.

That, however, is not the worst news for incumbents. Hawaii's two members of Congress have seen the ratings for their congressional districts dramatically slip.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa's urban Honolulu 1st Congressional District dropped from fourth best in 2010, to 57th in 2011.

Rep. Mazie Hirono fared no better, going from ninth to 31st…. The results come from the polling company Gallup combined with the health care firm Healthways. Together they surveyed more than 1.4 million Americans for more than four years (

Of course, there are other ways of measuring Hawaii's quality of life. The Automobile Magazine driver's misery index, for example, says only three states offer drivers a worse experience than Hawaii.

And our part of the famous misery index, which is the unemployment rate added to the inflation rate, puts Hawaii in 34th place.

read … High sense of well-being in Hawaii aids incumbents

Broken Trust Figures Abercrombie, Hee, Levinson: Churches Must be Forced to Conduct Gay Union Ceremonies

SA: Efforts intended to clarify and fine-tune the state's new civil unions law could unravel because of a proposal that would allow churches and religious organizations to bar such ceremonies from their properties.

The so-called "religious exemption" has been passed by the House, but not the Senate, setting up a clash that could kill the proposals altogether if the two sides cannot reach a compromise.

"I think one of the things we're trying to do is lessen some of the conflict that is going on," said Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran, the House Judiciary chairman. "It seems that — especially some of the smaller churches — what they're concerned about is that they do not want to have their sanctuaries used for (civil union) ceremonies."….

Blake Oshiro, Abercrombie's deputy chief of staff, who previously served in the Legislature and was the key figure behind the passage of the civil unions law, said the governor is watching the bills.

"He is concerned about the broadness and scope of that exemption," Oshiro said Friday. "We think that through the legislative process they'll come out with the right decision." ….

At a hearing last month, Sen. Clayton Hee, judiciary chairman, said he was inclined to keep that position. Concerns arose over some churches profiting from large-scale wedding operations while maintaining a tax-exempt status.

Steven Levinson, a retired state Supreme Court justice who supported the civil unions law, said the exemption sets a bad precedent.

"In effect, what this religious exception would do would be to say that commercial enterprises that would otherwise be prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex or sexual orientation will be permitted to do that if a church has anything to do with the commercial establishment," Levinson said. "It could set a precedent for the Legislature trying to exempt other kinds of entities from the public accommodations laws and I think that would be terrible." (In other words, they perform lots of weddings, something that many churches do.)

Related: Broken Trust Gang finally Imposes Gay Unions on Hawaii

read … Bow Before Your Gay Lords

Star-Adv: After Supremes Overturn Obamacare, We Will Still Destroy Prepaid

SA: Hawaii's health law was enacted in 1974, the same year that Congress enacted the Employee Retirement Income and Security Act, which regulates all pension and benefit plans. In a 1980 lawsuit settlement, the Hawaii law was ruled to have been superseded by the federal law. As part of the settlement, Hawaii's congressional delegation in 1982 won legislation that, among other things, contained a caveat that the state health law would vanish upon any substantive changes.

Following congressional passage of the Obama health care law in 2010, Gov. Neil Abercrombie last year signed into law a provision that would protect Hawaii's present health care law by removing the clause in the state health care law that would cause it to be shot down "upon the effective date of federal legislation" under the Obama act.

The Obama law also includes a provision authored by U.S. Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye that protects the Hawaii law from ERISA regulation, but that also could die with the entire federal law.

Under that worst scenario of the Obama law, health care entities in Hawaii still should be able to make progress outside provisions of the 1974 law, including health insurance exchanges for purchase by individuals and for small businesses, proposed by the Hawaii Health Connector.

Survival of a skeleton federal law may allow changes within the elements of Hawaii's health care law, but that could be a matter of legal debate.

Geistling: Considering its benefits, it would be a shame if Obamacare were struck down

read … Adverse ruling wouldn't stop Hawaii gains in health care

Multiple Violations: DCCA Securities Enforcement Headed By Lawyer Sanctioned by Hawaii Supreme Court

HR: Peter C. Hsieh, a Senior Securities Enforcement Attorney with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Security Branch, was sanctioned last year by the Hawaii Supreme Court before he was hired recently to head up that division of the agency. (See the Public_Order_of_Discipline_Peter_C_Hsieh)

On July 28 of last year, the disciplinary board conducted a hearing and found as Attorney and Owner at the Law Office of Peter C. Hsieh, "he committed multiple violations of the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct."

Specifically, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel said Hsieh took money his client trust account in six matters before he earned them…. (and much much more….)

read … Perfect Man to Oversee the Underwritings of the State Bank of Abercrombie

Feds Loss on Central Pacific Bailout Estimated at $63.1M

SA: The U.S. Treasury is selling the remaining half of its Central Pacific Financial Corp. stock at $13.15 a share and will realize a total net loss of $63.1 million from its January 2009 bailout of Hawaii's fourth-largest bank.

The Treasury priced its remaining 2.77 million shares in a secondary public offering Friday and said the closing is expected on or about Wednesday.

Including Friday's transaction, the Treasury said it expects total net proceeds from the sale of its Central Pacific stock to be $71.9 million. The Treasury had provided Central Pacific with a $135 million bailout in 2009 through its Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. The program was designed to provide stability to the financial market during the recession.

"TARP was designed to help banks like us that have loan problems but otherwise viable operations (a friend in the US Senate)" Central Pacific spokes­man Wayne Kiri­hara said.

read … Price of Inouye

SB682: Another Waikiki In the Making?

SA:That accord includes some land in Kakaako Makai, where OHA hopes to build its permanent headquarters. However, the Hawaiian agency, which directs ceded lands revenue to a trust fund for the benefit of Native Hawaiians, hopes to leverage its property wealth with some residential development, currently barred in Kakaako Makai.

A bill to achieve that residential exemption, Senate Bill 682, had been moving through the Legislature but stalled late last week. Some community groups active in the Kakaako planning process are watching the bill with concern. One such group is Friends of Kewalos (Kewalo, mauka and makai quadrants, is the actual name of the entire district overseen by HCDA). Its president is Ron Iwami, and he fears the precedent that an exemption for OHA might set.

"Another Waikiki in the making?" Iwami mused in a commentary published last Sunday in the Star-Advertiser. "It is too late for Waikiki, but not too late for Kakaako Makai."

Stuart Coleman, an environmental consultant living in McCully, was involved in a previous battle to stop luxury condos from being built on oceanfront Kakaako land.

"The Legislature did the right thing in passing a law to ban residential development in this area, and it seems senseless to go against your own rules and make exemptions now," Coleman told lawmakers in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

read … Waikiki Redux

Unity House Looted of Another $800K in Lotus Hotel Deal

SA: The local nonprofit social welfare organization bought the Lotus in December 2009 for $8.5 million with plans to convert the hotel on leasehold land along Waikiki's "Gold Coast" to condominiums. But the organization defaulted on the loan, and filed bankruptcy about a year ago to prevent foreclosure.

Investment firm MK Pacific LLC had lent Unity House about $6 million to buy the hotel, and as part of the deal retained control of the restaurant space through a lease.

In bankruptcy, Unity House sold the hotel last year for $18.5 million to a partnership of Japa­nese investors, but MK claimed it should be paid for the restaurant space, which it argued was worth $13 million.

Following mediation efforts in January, Unity House and MK settled the claim for $2.5 million.

After the settlement, legal fees and a $5.6 million expense to acquire the land under the hotel now known as the Aqua Lotus Hono­lulu, Unity House netted about $2.2 million in sale proceeds, which didn't quite offset $3 million of equity it contributed to buy the hotel.

read … Who is MK Pacific LLC?

Hawaii's marriage rates by community

KITV: East Oahu is #1 at 63%

read … Marriage Rates

Soft on Crime: Burglar Released Early After Multiple Convictions, Kills 3 year old boy in Drunk Driving Hit and Run

KHON: Residents along the Waianae Coast are grieving the death of a 3-year-old boy.

Ashton Brown and his family were at a bus stop in Makaha last night when police say a car slammed into them, killing the boy.
Police say the driver of the vehicle was released from jail just nine days ago….

The mother and other children, were waiting at the bus stop.That's when police say the driver of the Accord, hit them, and fled.

Police later stopped and arrested him at the 7-11 down the road

Police arrested 44-year-old Potasi Uta for negligent homicide and drunk driving.

Court records show he was convicted of drunk driving back in 1986 and spent several years in jail for first-degree burglary, but was released early, less than two weeks ago.

read … Soft on Crime

Cataluna: Which Drunk Legislator was Dumber?

Cataluna: When a local politician gets arrested for DUI, doesn't your mind instantly go down the list of all the others in that category, all the other lawmakers who have DUI arrests in their past? Human nature does a head count and an instant compare/contrast of who was drunker, who was dumber, who did more damage. The same holds true for other groups: local entertainers, prominent attorneys, athletes. … An arrest dredges up all similar sins and sinners. Meanwhile, all the politicians with DUIs in their past cringe to see if their names end up on the list of shame attached to stories of the new incident….

A past conviction for something like embezzlement or check kiting or campaign finance violations gets diluted over time when the details are hard to remember and the back story is hard to tell succinctly. But "DUI" conveys a whole collection of bad decisions, lack of self-control and murderous potential wrapped up in those three letters. There are no assumptions of extenuating circumstances when you hear "DUI." The entire story is clear: Someone drank too much and got behind the wheel. Shame on them. They could have — or too often did — kill someone.

Not that the community doesn't hold out hope for redemption. The intense shame of a DUI arrest proved too much for the HPD online mug shots. Those raw, humiliating pictures of people looking their absolute wretched worst didn't stay online long, partly because the Internet eternity of those images didn't allow for the suspects to ever fully redeem themselves.

read … Drink, drive, get arrested and bear the mark forever

Star-Adv Profiles AWOL Soldier Surfing Northshore

SA: Sgt. Daniel McCarley is sick of war. After three combat tours in Iraq as a medic and one as a cavalry scout, the Schofield Barracks soldier describes anxiety so severe he sometimes throws up when on base. Months of frustrations with a military bureaucracy unable to help him cope with his severe post-traumatic stress disorder left him with no other option, he says, than to go absent without leave.

"Being around a military environment, everyone tells war story after war story, and then I start getting anxiety, which brings on the nausea," said McCarley, 28.

His disappearance several weeks ago left his parents frantic and feeling helpless thousands of miles away in their home in Oviedo, Fla.

read … No choice but to go surfing

JSC: Nobody Wants to be on Hawaii Supreme Court

SA: The state Judicial Selection Commission postponed the deadline for applications for an associate justice position from Feb. 3 to April 16 because not enough applicants had applied.

"I would really like to encourage more applicants to come forward," said Susan Ichinose, chairwoman of the state Judicial Selection Commission. "This is one of the most important positions in the state."

The Federal Judicial Selection Commission's deadline for the district court position is Monday.

Larry Okinaga, chairman of the commission, said he would have a better idea of how many applied when he returns to Hawaii from the mainland this week.

But he said the commission does not intend to extend the deadline.

The two positions are considered highly prestigious and influential in the legal community.

read … Who would want to be known as an Abercrombie appointee?

Police Will be Overseeing your Prescriptions

SA: The Department of Public Safety in February set up an online prescription drug monitoring system, accessible to every pharmacy and doctor with a license to dispense drugs in the state.… The system will have far-reaching benefits, such as helping law enforcement reduce diversion, or unlawful use, of prescription drugs, and helping doctors assist patients with reducing their reliance on drugs, said Derek Nakamura, acting administrator of the state Narcotics Enforcement Division.

While the system is still being ramped up, it will eventually be updated with information about a patient picking up a prescription from a pharmacist within seven days. That will help those doctors, who are not the primary care physician of the patient, know if the patient was drug-shopping for multiple prescriptions.

"It's an invaluable tool in the office," Nakamura said. "It helps point us in the right direction."

The department can use the system to run reports such as the top 100 most-prescribed patients in the state or the most-prescribing doctors, Nakamura said.

read … New system keeps tabs on patients' medication behavior

Waterman Aka Hemmings is dead at 59

SA: A preeminent waterman and itinerant adventurer, Aka Hemmings spent his last years helping wounded warriors and other physically, mentally and emotionally challenged individuals build strength and confidence through ocean recreation.

Hemmings, 59, died Friday morning following an extended illness.

“He was a very unique human being, not by what he said, but by his deeds and the way he lived his life,” said brother Fred Hemmings, the former state senator.

Aka Hemmings’ ocean exploits were the stuff of local legend. He and the late Tommy Holmes once paddled one-man canoes from Molokai to Oahu, completing the journey in just nine hours. (Hemmings had previously been part of a team that won the 1968 Molokai-to-Oahu paddling race.)

read … Aka Hemmings

NMI: Signature campaign to Allow Land Sales to Outsiders begins

ST: Camacho said they need some 3,000 signatures from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota voters to have the Article 12 question in the ballot.
The group's “ultimate plan” is to have Article 12 repealed or abolished in it entirety but to even ask that question, voters first need to decide whether they want the question in the ballot.
If this succeeds, Article 12, Sections 1 to 6 of the NMI Constitution will be repealed.
“Section 1: Alienation of Land” states that “the acquisition of permanent and long term interest in real property within the Commonwealth shall be restricted to persons of Northern Marianas descent.”

read … Article 12

Hawaii County report offers 40 recommendations to improve tax policy

WHT: The 121-page report, conducted by the International Association of Assessing Officers, lists 15 areas of “major concern,” and, in general, describes the policies as being overly complex and lacking sufficient review processes.

The County Council will discuss its findings at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers at the Hawaii County Building, 25 Aupuni St., Hilo.

County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong, who received the report last Tuesday, said it will not sit on the shelf.

He said the council will review each of its 40 recommendations, which include forming an independent board to review appraisal techniques, improving the appeal process for landowners, review unusual value differences between properties, and develop a plan to verify the accuracy of each property record every six years.

“I truly believe this audit coming forth to the council is one we will obviously take very seriously,” Yagong said.

“We will go over the recommendations and determine our plan of action.”

The county-funded report, which cost $40,000, was spearheaded by Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann, who said last May that (West Hawaii) landowners see the county’s property tax system as unfair and inequitable.

read … Tax Policy


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