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Friday, May 1, 2009
May 1, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:00 AM :: 7033 Views

Socialist Micro-management damaging tourism AGAIN: Biden remark another blow to ailing isle visitor industry


Earlier this year President Obama castigated businesses for going to exotic places for meetings and incentive trips, resulting in numerous cancellations of business travel to Hawaii.

Now Vice President Biden warns the nation against any air travel due to concerns over Swine Flu. This ill-considered statement occurs just as our local tourism industry is starting to see potential new demand from tourists who may switch from a Mexican vacation to one in our islands.

When will the President and Vice-President start to realize that their words can have dire effects on an already troubled economy, especially in Hawaii?

It may be too late.

Willes K. Lee, Chairman, Hawaii Republican Party


During an interview with NBC's "Today" show, Biden warned against commercial air travel during the flu outbreak.

"I would tell members of my family, and I have — I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now," Biden said. "It's not that it's going to Mexico. It's you're in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft."

The Obama administration quickly backtracked on the comment, saying that travelers who are not sick are safe to travel.

However, damage may have already been done, said Jack Richards, president and chief executive of Pleasant Holidays LLC, Hawaii's largest wholesaler.

"[Hawaii] is definitely going to lose business as a result of that interview," Richards said. "That statement and that suggestion was not good for Hawaii — or for any other destination dependent on air travel."

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Breaking News: Hawaii Legislative Session Extended (V1)

The real reason for the extension, however, is so the legislature can override a number of the governor’s anticipated vetoes of new tax increases passed last week and sent to her for her consideration.  The action in passing the most controversial tax bills early was to force the governor’s hand while the legislature was still in session, and to provide time to override any vetoes without the necessity of calling a special session mid-year.

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Advertiser: Hawaii Legislature close to locking in job cuts, tax increases (V2)

State House and Senate budget negotiators are close to an agreement on a state budget that would cut general-fund spending by about $800 million over two years and eliminate some state jobs.  The state spending and job cuts would be used in combination with federal stimulus money, state tax increases and a contraction in high-technology tax credits to close the state's budget deficit.

Lawmakers put most of the pieces of the budget together last night and are expected to agree on the details today. Lawmakers will also decide whether they need to temporarily scoop hotel-room tax revenues from the counties and divert money from the tobacco settlement fund and other special funds to make their financial plan balance. 

Today is the deadline to have bills ready for final votes next week before the session adjourns, and lawmakers are expected to work until late in the evening to finish bills that have financial components.

Lingle has sought $278 million in labor savings in collective bargaining negotiations with public-worker unions, while lawmakers, citing the ongoing labor talks, did not account for any such cuts in their budget.  Lingle and labor unions are discussing possible furloughs — in the range of 16 to 24 days a year — and health-benefit adjustments to cut costs and avoid layoffs.

Lingle has also said she would veto tax increases, particularly an increase in income taxes on the affluent and in the hotel-room tax. House and Senate leaders are talking about extending the session by a few days, which would require the governor to act on the tax bills because they were approved within 10 days of the end of the session.

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SB: Legislature correct to back off hotel tax (if they do) (V3)

Either lacking the votes to override Gov. Linda Lingle's veto or finally seeing the light, the Legislature may be backing away from its bill to increase the state's hotel room tax. Hawaii's travel industry is coping with a recession and tourists' new concerns about catching swine flu. It hardly needs an additional deterrent.

The Legislature passed the bill last week, despite opposition from the Lingle administration and hoteliers, and Lingle has vowed to veto it. Clearly, lawmakers decided the tax hike would be preferable to raising other taxes that would hit residents hard, or angering public-employee unions unwilling to make concessions in their contracts with the state.

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Discount Corporatism: Deal reached on cuts to high-tech tax credits (State to pay only 80% to 'Get That Girl' and other hi-tech Cos)

The latest version of the measure to alter so-called "Act 221" provisions would allow investors in technology businesses to deduct 80 percent of their investment from state taxes over five years instead of the current 100 percent.

The law became a target this year as legislators sought ways to close the state's budget gap. The credit has cost the state $747 million in lost tax revenue since it started in 1999.

Critics of the Act 221 changes said they would stymie and perhaps kill a fledgling business sector at a time when unemployment is rising in Hawaii.

State Rep. Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai) said the tax credit reductions would come "at the expense of an industry that is just getting its legs."

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Bill demands legislative OK for ceded-land sales (Legislative/OHA power grab)

State lawmakers advanced a proposal yesterday that would require legislative approval for the sale of any ceded lands — those once held by the Hawaiian monarchy — but it was unclear what effect the policy would have on the lawsuit that sought to block any such transactions.

"Based on the passage of the bill, we are hopeful that a settlement in the ceded lands matter can be reached," OHA Administrator Clyde Namuo said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. "There are a few more matters which need to be worked out before we can make an official announcement."

Attorney General Mark Bennett declined comment.  Meanwhile, under SB 1677 the sale of any state-held land would require two-thirds' approval in both the House (34 of 51 members) and the Senate (17 of 25 members).  (Which should effectively kill any affordable housing plans.)

Advertiser: Measure sets conditions for selling ceded lands

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DBEDT shakeup scaled back for now

House and Senate conferees on Wednesday agreed on measures that would split up one of DBEDT's five divisions, while transferring two attached agencies to other departments. The tourism liaison office would move to the governor's office.

They also agreed to other changes that could further diminish the agency, including providing only a year funding for a deputy director and the Aloha Tower Development Corp.

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5 Workers Accused In Overtime, Bribery Case

A supervisor and four city street sweepers are accused of getting paid overtime for weekend shifts they never worked, KITV first reported.

City employees complain that employees in the city's road division have routinely padded their overtime checks and taxpayers pay them for extra work they never carried out. One supervisor is on leave with pay while he is being investigated, but four other employees are still on the job.

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Hawaii Co. Mayor mum on budget details until May 5 unveiling (TAT?)

HILO -- Saying there's still too much up in the air at the state level, Mayor Billy Kenoi is keeping his amended budget plan under tight wraps until his May 5 presentation to the Hawaii County Council.
Kenoi on Wednesday would say only that he'll be presenting a balanced budget that takes into account lower property values, increased health costs and the possible loss of the county's $18 million share of tourist accommodation taxes.

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Hawaii may raise Mainland political contributions

House and Senate negotiators struck a deal Wednesday to increase the limit for Mainland contributions from 20 percent to 30 percent.

Abercrombie has a large base of financial support around the country, and the previous limit was seen as a hindrance in his 2010 campaign for governor. The new law will allow him to draw more heavily on Mainland donors.

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Pasha Hawaii Seeks PUC Inter-island Approval for New Interisland Cargo Service

Currently under the leadership of the third generation, Pasha’s link to Hawaii reaches back by decades.

In the 1940s, during World War II, and during the Korean War in the 1950s, founder George Pasha, Sr. stored vehicles and provided truckaway service to military posts on the U.S. West Coast for members of the armed forces deploying to Hawaii on their way to the Pacific.

In the late 1990s, to meet the express needs of automotive customers for Mainland/Hawaii transportation service, Pasha Hawaii invested over $100 million in constructing the 579-foot Jean Anne and in 2005 launched the first Pure Car Truck Carrier built in the United States, and the only one in this trade lane.

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Socialism approaches end result: Tent legislation pitched

According to the bill, people could live for up to three years in a single tent "or a structure of similar type," provided several conditions are met. The property owner must have a valid building permit, a composting toilet or other "adequate sanitation" system, property at least an acre in size, and the land must be zoned for some type of agriculture.

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HYPE BUSTED: Scientists see this flu strain as relatively mild

scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza -- at least in its current form -- isn't shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.
In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.

RELATED: PRUDEN: Are we dead yet? , Flu could boost gov't intervention further

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War memorial for isle veterans takes flak at Liliuokalani

A group of veterans seeking to build a memorial to all Big Island veterans killed in action since the Civil War has encountered an unexpected roadblock.
Mayor Billy Kenoi's Veterans Advisory Committee voted 8-1 last month to recommend against a proposal by the isle chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association to build the monument on a 60-by-80 foot area of the county's Liliuokalani Gardens, directly across Lihiwai Street from Nihon Restaurant.
"We're shocked," said Emile Wery, the KWVA historian, who noted the group collected 10,000 signatures supporting the memorial. The group has raised more than $14,000 for the memorial....

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Hawaii man convicted of misdemeanor assault, not murder

Faumuina, 27, had been accused of stomping Kahalewai to death after the victim urinated inside the defendant's truck outside a Kona Street karaoke bar....But Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kory Young said that other prints left on Kahalewai's face after the attack did match Fauimuina's shoes and that the victim's blood was caked into the soles of the defendant's shoes.  "We're shocked," Young said outside court.

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