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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
June 17, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:59 AM :: 13348 Views

Hawaii state worker furloughs being challenged in court

If they prevail in court, governor says, layoffs will be her only alternative....

The unions — the Hawai'i Government Employees Association, the Hawai'i State Teachers Association and the United Public Workers — filed separate complaints in Circuit Court in Honolulu arguing that furloughs should be the subject of collective bargaining negotiations between unions and the state.

The unions asked the court for an injunction stopping the governor from imposing furloughs in July or spending restrictions equivalent to furloughs at the state Department of Education.

Union contracts expire at the end of the month.

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Hawaii students lag behind Kazakhstan

Hawai'i's fourth- and eighth-graders scored a math grade of C+ and C, respectively.

"Asian nations consistently perform at the B+, B, and B- levels,"

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Kaua‘i Drug Court graduates ‘move on’

Craig Miyazaki had to change everything, he said. After being “surrounded by drugs,” with all of his friends using and selling drugs, his first arrest left him in a holding cell thinking: “I felt my life was pretty much over.”
With the second chance the Kaua‘i Drug Court gave him, “I’ve been able to fully turn my life around for the better,” with the best of the better being a re-established relationship with his parents, who “were the ones most affected” by his drug use, he said.

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Mufia's bid for governor will mix up City Hall


Caldwell has already said he is thinking about running for mayor, so being acting mayor can only help in that campaign. Before wanting to be mayor, Caldwell wanted to be on the City Council. He fumbled the process of filing for the Council last year and was disqualified. He has not decided what to do.

Former Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi just made up her mind to run for her old Council seat, which she left to run unsuccessfully for mayor last year. That's the seat that Bainum occupied until his death. Before her time on the Council, Kobayashi was a long-serving state senator. The district is hers.

The spin on all this revolves not around Caldwell and Kobayashi, but with Hannemann and his bid for governor.

When he leaves City Hall he needs someone to keep the barbarians (City Council members) from the gates, and then if he wins, someone who will continue to build the Oahu rail system.

What he doesn't need is someone running for mayor charging that under Hannemann the city is a mess and it needs a clean sweep. Hannemann's task will be to run for governor with one hand on the gubernatorial steering wheel, while the other hand is straightening up the mayoral kids in the back seat.

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Freeways, trains under scrutiny at dueling conferences

On Sunday, a four-day international conference on freeways and tollways will kick off at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa. About 200 people from Australia to Britain are expected to attend the symposium, which will cover how to better use existing roadways to reduce traffic.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, the city is hosting a symposium on rail transit featuring an international slate of speakers.

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HawTel has possible buyer

Sandwich Isles, a creditor, said in a court filing Friday that it would offer $250 million in cash plus $150 million in a debtor-financed note to buy out Hawaiian Telcom's assets.

But Hawaiian Telcom is not interested, and says it is standing firmly behind the proposed reorganization plan it filed in June.

The plan, which proposes to reduce the company's debt to $300 million from $1.1 billion, was approved by the special committee of its board of directors, led by former First Hawaiian Bank Chief Executive Walter Dods.

The steering committee for holders of secured claims also supports the plan.

At the same time, the company filed a motion to extend the time in which it had to file its Chapter 11 plan — called an "exclusive period" — until Sept. 30.

But Sandwich Isles objected to this motion, saying that after more than six months, Hawaiian Telcom still has no more viable restructuring plan than it did a year ago.

RELATED: Sandwich Isles Communications: Political Connections Pay Off

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Judiciary budget cut $11.4M

That's a $600,000 financial hit for the Domestic Violence Action Center, coming at a time when the agency is bracing for an expected rise in domestic violence cases due to increased economic pressures in Hawai'i households, said Nanci Kreidman, chief executive of the nonprofit agency.  (This is in the Judiciary budget?)

"We've already implemented some layoffs," said Kreidman.

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Fate of former Wailupe school remains unclear

Last week, the BOE's Administrative Services Committee recommend that state Department of Education return the Wailupe Valley campus to the city and county.

But education officials had previously proposed other uses for the Wailupe Valley campus before the school's closure last week. Options discussed included allowing a charter school to occupy the location, the creation of a "signature school" focused on science and technology, or using the campus for administrative offices.

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Hospital bankruptcy plan sparks dispute

St. Francis officials said they have waited patiently for repayment of loans they made to HMC to buy the two hospitals. They also criticized HMC's plan to possibly sue St. Francis to help pay for the reorganization. St. Francis alleges that HMC is claiming the hospitals were overvalued and that it might file a "fraudulent transfer" lawsuit to lower the sales price retroactively.

"CHA, as the sophisticated hospital operator from Kansas, and its team of experienced advisers, now excuse their breaches of the sale agreement, their absentee-landlord management, and their inability to provide the promised capital to pay for the upkeep, maintenance and capital expenditures that the hospitals needed so badly, by complaining that they were hoodwinked by a cabal of Franciscan sisters," the court filing says.

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Thielen readies backup plan for parks

The plan is still, as with the Recreational Renaissance proposed in January, to charge out-of-state visitors fees at the parks: $1 for walk-ins and $5 for vehicles, like at Diamond Head State Monument. Hawaii residents, who can show a state identification card, can enter the parks at no charge. Based on the number of out-of-state visitors during a 2007 survey, Thielen said she expects to be able to raise about $4 million annually for the Parks division. The division's budget is about $8 million annually.

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Maui B&B, vacation rental tax bill goes forward

(Now that they're legal, the tax man cometh...)

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Would a CEO run Kaua‘i better?

LIHU‘E — More than 100 residents rallied Monday night at the War Memorial Convention Hall to learn more about a county manager government system.
David Mora, a retired county manager with over 35 years of government experience in California, was invited by the county Charter Review Commission to give a presentation on a county manager’s position and how it operates in a local government structure. Afterward Mora answered questions from the audience.
The meeting was part of the Charter Commission’s special committee to investigate and research the county/city manager form of government to determine whether it will become a charter amendment to be placed on the ballot for the public to vote on.
After a warm introduction by Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., who stressed that a decision on this issue could “fundamentally change how Kaua’i has been governed for the past four decades,” Mora took the stage.

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Kauai Council to air open government concerns

In the communication, Kawahara and Bynum requested agenda time at the July 8 council meeting to discuss four matters: 1) Council members’ access to the agenda; 2) The placement of public documents, including meeting minutes, on the county’s Web site; 3) Equitable and timely circulation of council service documents; and 4) General access to information by the public and council members.
The two wrote that the request reflects the wording of an online citizen petition, which can be found at and contained nearly 300 virtual signatures as of press time. The duo has been sending e-mails touting the petition and their Web site,
Asing protested the proposed communication, at one point asking incredulously “Why would we want to discuss in-house rules (in front of) the public?” Just minutes after the meeting began and before the matter had been decided, the chair called for a recess that lasted for nearly an hour.

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Pump costs jump to $3 per gallon (Takamine tax about to kick in)

Two weeks before the price of fuel is expected to jump by about a dime in extra taxes, the statewide average for a gallon of gasoline hit the $3 mark.

Hawaii's average of $3.001 a gallon yesterday was second-highest in the country, behind California at $3.014, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report.

Nationwide, retail gas prices rose for the 49th straight day.

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SB/Obama: Global warming to turn ocean into acid bath (don't worry, its just another tax increase)

Fantasy: Among the effects of climate change are "sea-level rise, increasing water temperatures, rising storm intensity, coastal inundation and flooding from extreme events, beach erosion, ocean acidification, increased incidences of coral disease, and increased invasions by non-native species."

Reality: $9.4 trillion question: What is the Bigger Threat? Global Warming or Global Warming Legislation

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