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Saturday, April 18, 2009
April 18, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:28 AM :: 6234 Views

Hawaii State Senate Passes Massive Tax Hikes, Card Check Bill

The Hawaii State Senate this week passed a number of massive tax hikes and the controversial card check bill, along with legislation that restricts research on taro and expands the research zone on the top of Mauna Kea.

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State Senate passes taro bill

The "Taro Security Bill" was approved by the state Senate on third reading Thursday, after passing in the House last month. It will ban the controversial practice of using and developing genetically modified organisms for Hawaiian varieties of taro only.

The ban, which for four years has attracted crowds to the Capitol, slipped through almost unnoticed as lawmakers approved more than 300 bills this week.

The final version of House Bill 1663 and Senate Bill 709 will be hashed out next week in conference committee before being sent to Gov. Linda Lingle for her signature.

The GMO trade industries and agricultural researchers have expressed concerns that if the state agrees to ban taro testing it could lead to widespread prohibitions against genetic testing on corn, bananas and other common Hawaii crops.

"GMO crops are safe and well regulated," Harold Keyser, UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources county administrator for Maui, told the Maui County Council last month. "The accumulated area planted since 1996 (in 25 countries) now exceeds 2 billion acres, again with a perfect safety record."

The House passed a bill this session that would have precluded counties from instituting any GMO crop bans on their own. But HB1226, which was introduced by House Speaker Rep. Calvin Say, never got a hearing in the Senate. It died on the vine.

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Taro: Council weighs sunshine issue against expediency

An error in the resolution said that Maui County had approved a similar resolution in 2008, when in fact the council had approved it in 2009. Council Chairman J Yoshimoto, Hilo, ruled that correcting that error substantially changed the meaning of the resolution, so the council had to wait until the next meeting before voting on it.

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Kenoi confirms Internet investigation, Yagong seeks reports

HILO -- Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi acknowledged Friday that his office is investigating "very serious" and possibly illegal abuse of Internet access on county computers.
Kenoi said the investigation goes back to January 2008 and includes the potentially illegal use of county computers for political activity, as well as other serious abuses.
"We are not going to tolerate this type of behavior," Kenoi said. "We anticipate action will be taken in the future" that could include employee termination and even prosecution.

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Big Island: Rally for Education Stimulus Money

"The stabilization fund requires that the schools perform and show progress...." 

Hilo High is being forced to eliminate French Language classes in order to protect the funds necessary to pay 1000s of worthless bureaucrats at DoE HQ.

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State concerns lead homeless shelter to suspend director

Saito said the Hawaii Public Housing Authority is continuing its examination of the facility management while other agencies are investigating multiple allegations about the operation. Complaints have been made by former tenants and social workers that Soares has imposed his Christian faith on residents and in decision-making about who will be accepted as tenants.

"I emphasize they are just allegations," said Saito.  (One of which came from a fellow who claimed Soares wouldn't let him read his favorite witchcraft book...anybody smell a set-up here?)

The housing project was the brainchild of Soares, pastor of the 120-member Powerhouse church. He began five years ago to organize the efforts of several churches and other agencies helping homeless people on the Leeward Coast.

At the August opening, Soares was credited by other community members as the leader of the project. The Hawaii Coalition of Churches obtained a 30-year lease for the state land near Waianae Intermediate School, and the shelter was built with $13.5 million in state grants and $3 million from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

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Hawaii GOP Promotes Republican Candidates Running for Honolulu City Council Seat

Please remember that three of our Republican members are running for this office: John Henry Felix, Wilson Kekoa Ho, Keoki Leong

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Oahu police no longer blocking sign-waving but urge caution

A legal opinion from the city's corporation counsel has clarified that political sign waving on public streets and sidewalks is constitutionally protected.

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After Rebranding, Small Business Hawaii Gets Name Change

SBH, Small Business Hawaii is now doing business as, "SmartBusiness HAWAI'I." The change was officially adopted by the SBH Board of Directors last month.

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Bankruptcy judge OKs $6 million in bonuses at HawTel (158% increase in bonuses for next year)

Jerrold Guben, special deputy attorney general representing the state Public Utilities Commission, objected to bonuses for the senior vice presidents.

He said public ratepayers are entitled to weigh in on what senior executives are making. If they want to offer $300,000 a year, for example, let the public decide whether it's what they deserve.

The employees were originally slated to receive $7.9 million, but the amount was reduced to $6 million to obtain support from secured lenders.

Christopher Marcus, Hawaiian Telcom's attorney, said the nearly $2 million cut came mostly out of the pockets of senior management. Chief executive Yeaman volunteered to forgo his $609,000 bonus for 2008, while the senior vice presidents agreed to defer 50 percent of their bonuses.

In addition to the $6 million in bonuses for employees in 2008, Hawaiian Telcom also seeks approval for another $9.5 million in bonuses this year.

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Mark Dunkerley, received $3.3 million in total compensation last year

Hawaiian Airlines President and Chief Executive Mark Dunkerley's total compensation in 2008 jumped 42 percent over the previous year to nearly $3.3 million, including a $236,250 bonus, as the company fared considerably better than many of its mainland counterparts that cut flights and employees to deal with the slumping economy.  Hawaiian Airlines ended 2008 with net income of $28.6 million, which included a $52.5 million legal settlement with Mesa Air Group, parent of go!.

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