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Friday, February 1, 2013
February 1, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:22 PM :: 4527 Views

Feds Release RTTT Report: "We will continue to work closely with Hawaii"

Hawaii Charter School Law Improves from 35th to 14th in Nation

Rep. McDermott: after nine years of development, new principal evaluation process still flunks

Lanai to PUC: Murdock's Wind Waiver No Longer Valid

Breaking Down The Tesoro Refinery Closure

Honolulu at the Bottom of Top 300 Cities

LINK: Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection Posts Hearings on Facebook

IRS: Cheapest Obamacare Plan Will Be $20,000 Per Family

Gay Activists: Hawaii ‘Marriage’ Push May Backfire

Borreca: Several groups, with much encouragement from national gay rights groups, have targeted Hawaii as a state ready to legalize same-sex marriage. They secured a public relations company, alerted the media, got comments from a supporter at the White House and helped introduce legislation in the state Legislature.

Some of Hawaii's most dedicated supporters of civil rights for gay people, however, note that this effort may not turn out well.

Tambry Young and Suzanne King have been partners together for 30 years. Together they are raising a daughter and together they were one of six couples that sued the state because they were unable to get medical insurance for their child since they were not married. After Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the state's civil union bill into law, they and the other couples dropped their suit; they were covered under state law.

Young, president of Citizens for Equal Rights, says the marriage laws in Hawaii would do nothing for her and King.

"There are no additional benefits — the federal law, DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), prevents us from getting federal benefits (such as filing federal taxes as a married couple)," Young said in an interview.

Another strong supporter of civil rights, state Sen. Les Ihara, called the bills "mostly symbolic," although he said he supports passing a state law legalizing gay marriage.

Another supporter Alan Spector, co-founder of Equality Hawaii, says a marriage law is important because "calling it marriage is what is universally understood. It gives gay couples the social dignity and respect of marriage."

Also, Spector says, if all of DOMA is not repealed it could result in states acting to exclude gay couples from marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court has two cases this spring on gay marriage and the equal rights for gay couples. There is much speculation that the court decision could overturn DOMA, meaning that Nabors' marriage could be legally recognized in Hawaii, just like the Seattle marriage of a man and woman is now valid in Hawaii.

The political complication is that pushing a gay marriage bill now might also prompt the Legislature to push forward a proposed state constitutional amendment spelling out that marriage is between only a man and a woman.

So it could get much more complicated before we get around to truly protecting the civil rights of all our citizens further destabilizing the base of our civilization.

read … Supreme Court Ruling Ahead

Gabbard: Marriage is the Cornerstone of Civilization

HNN: Mike served on the Honolulu City Council, lost a race for Congress, then won election to the state Senate. In 2007 he switched parties from Republican to Democrat. He has always been an outspoken supporter of traditional marriage.

"Marriage and family is the cornerstone of civilization. Marriage isn't just a word," he said.

But Tulsi said serving overseas in the Hawaii Army National Guard changed her thoughts on some social issues, including gay marriage.

"She's her own person. She's had her own experiences in life that have helped form where she is today," Carol said.

At one time, all three Gabbards were in elective office simultaneously. Now in Congress, Tulsi holds the seat her father once sought. The Democratic National Committee elected her as the party's vice-chair.

"When I really think about it, to where she's gone, it really is amazing," Carol said.

"She's a servant leader. That's not just a campaign theme," Mike said. Asked who she takes after, Mike quickly points at his wife. "Her," he said.

read … The Gabbards: Raising Hawaii's next political star

Primaries: Hanabusa Still Considering Her Options

SA: A source close to Hanabusa, speaking on background, said that some Democrats who are unhappy with Abercrombie's leadership had been talking to Hanabusa about running for governor in the months before Inouye died. Labor interests, in particular, the source said, have encouraged her to run.

Hanabusa has not ruled out primary campaigns for governor or for the Senate against Schatz. She will likely make a decision by summer because of the fundraising demands of either path.

"Right now I am considering my options and keeping an open mind," Hanabusa said in an email. "I'm not ruling anything out, but I've had a lot of people expressing opinions and offering insights, so there's a lot to think about."

Political analysts say Hanabusa would have to overcome the perception she is running against Abercrombie -- or Schatz -- out of pique at being passed over for the Senate appointment. While Hanabusa would likely find traction with organized labor, she would have to move significantly to the left politically to outflank Abercrombie among environmentalists and progressives despite their disappointment with the liberal governor.

"It takes a lot more than anger to challenge a sitting governor," said Neal Milner, a University of Hawaii-Manoa professor emeritus of political science. "It takes some kind of issues that differentiate you from the other person, and it takes a real weakness on the part of the incumbent. And, of course, it takes money. And as it stands right now, those things seem to be pretty formidable challenges to her, assuming that she's even interested."

Tony Gill, chairman of Oahu Democrats, said primary challenges are tough.

Gill's late father, Lt. Gov. Tom Gill, was a progressive who unsuccessfully ran against Gov. John Burns in 1970, a cautionary example for many Democrats even today. But Gill said Inouye's death has left the majority party's competing tribes without a center to maintain order.

"I think it's become clear to people in the aftermath of the late senator's demise that, lo and behold, the party has been transforming itself into a different kind of entity for the past five or 10 years," he said. "And I think that the death of Sen. Inouye allows some people to see that more clearly — the formal center of gravity is missing."

read … Democrats take peek at possible primary contests

Paying for Play: Donors Give Abercrombie $2M

CB: Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who is up for reelection in 2014, announced on Thursday that his campaign has raised $290,120 in the last six months of 2012.

That brings his total haul since the beginning of the election period (Nov. 3, 2010) to $2,055,871 million. After expenses, the Abercrombie campaign reported $1,416,375 cash on hand. Today was a reporting deadline with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.

read … Protection Racket

New Order: Committee Chairman Rejected 6-4 on Bill Sponsored by Majority Leader

PR: Rep. Karl Rhoads, the committee’s chairman, wanted to advance the bill with amendments. But he first explained to lawmakers that he would not be upset if they voted against his recommendations on bills.

It has long been the practice in both the House and Senate for lawmakers to follow committee chairmen, so `no’ votes are relatively uncommon, particularly among majority Democrats. It is even more unusual for a committee to reject a bill recommended by a chairman.  (But we have democracy now, so watch what happens next.)

But Rep. Ken Ito complained that House leadership — Saiki — had bypassed the House Public Safety Committee and referred the bill only to the House Judiciary Committee. He questioned why lawmakers would even hear the bill when the liability protection was just approved last year.

Rep. Sharon Har, the vice chairwoman of the committee, who has complained about the bill referral process under the new leadership, echoed Ito. She also noted that the testimony was overwhelmingly in opposition to the bill.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen, a Republican who is part of the new leadership coalition, asked Rhoads to delay action until lawmakers and NRA gun experts could see his proposed amendments in writing.

Rhoads declined and called for a vote.

The bill failed to advance 6 to 5. The majority not only went against the committee chairman, they went against the committee chairman on a bill sponsored by the majority leader.

Four of the `no’ votes came from Democrats who had been loyal to former House Speaker Calvin Say; two came from Thielen and another Republican who organized with House Speaker Joseph Souki and Saiki.

Both Saiki and Rhoads said afterward that they did not attempt to influence the vote, and did not seem particularly unhappy that the bill was rejected. “I lost,” Rhoads said simply.

read … 6-5

Idiot Rhoads Drops Effort to Gut First Amendment

CB: While acknowledging Rhoads’ good intentions in trying to undercut the unpopular Supreme Court decision, the state Attorney General’s office blasted the bill when it was heard last week.

“I really like this bill,” Rhoads said before recommending the bill be deferred. “But whatever would be gained by moving this forward is probably outweighed by how much work it would take to get it there.”

(Just to be clear: Rhoads thinks we have the right to vote on “fundamental civil rights” such as free speech.  Does he also think the people should be allowed to vote on so-called “fundamental civil rights” such as gay ‘marriage’?)

read … Idiots Babbling about ‘Corporate Personhood’


Abercrombie administration appears to be leading attack on journalist shield law


ILind: the House Judiciary Committee, at the urging of the Abercrombie administration, has recommended stripping most protections from the state’s five-year old journalist “shield” law.

HB622, introduced by former Speaker Calvin Say and several members of his faction, would have made the broad protections of the current law permanent by deleting a “sunset” provision set to repeal the law at the end of this fiscal year.

However, the House Judiciary Committee reportedly amended the bill to cripple the law by dramatically limiting the circumstances under which its protections would apply. Unfortunately, as of this morning, the committee draft is not yet available on the capitol website.

Both the Star-Advertiser and Civil Beat reported today on the committee’s action.

This is doubly disappointing. It’s one of the first tests of the new and supposedly more progressive House leadership and so far, at least on this key measure, they have moved to the right of the former Lingle administration, which negotiated the current law with First Amendment and media activists back in 2008.

PR: Cracks in the shield

read … Shield Law

Former Cocaine Dealer Seeks Senate Ban on Candid Media Photos, Videos

AP: More than two-thirds of Hawaii's state senators have signed onto a bill to protect celebrities from paparazzi, giving famous faces power to sue over unwanted beach photos and other snapshots on the islands….

Maui Democrat (and former cocaine dealer) Sen. Kalani ‘Powdernose’ English says the so-called "Steven Tyler Act" will help Hawaii's tourism and film industries.

(Question: If a news outlet publishes old photos or video of English selling drugs, would that news outlet be subject to a lawsuit?)

Longtime Hawaii media lawyer Jeff Portnoy says the legislation panders to celebrities.

Portnoy compares the effort with a 12-year-old trying to get a Justin Beiber autograph.

CB: Paparazzi In Hawaii? Dream On!  "There is the possibility for some legislation to enforce the right to privacy that is protected under the Hawaii Constitution," said Bethany Ace, a lawyer with Honolulu firm Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert. "But rights have to be limited for compelling state interests. This act could have effect on First Amendment rights or freedom of speech and freedom of the press."

Read … Another Attack on Free Speech

Rhoads Protects Lobbyists from Scrutiny

CB: Judiciary Chair Karl Rhoads decided instead of deleting "willfully" for the part about filing a statement or report containing false information, the committee should change it to "negligently."

Finding someone negligent may be easier than proving someone willfully broke the law, but it still goes back to Kondo's concern over someone's state of mind.

He objected to Rhoads' suggestion during the committee hearing on the bill Tuesday, but the amendment was made anyway after he left.

Kondo was unaware the law had been changed Wednesday, and declined to comment on it until the revised version of the bill was posted on the Legislature's website. The updated draft still wasn't posted Thursday, which is unusual.

The committee heard several bills Tuesday, including the one concerning the lobbying law. Rhoads accepted testimony on each bill and then apparently went back and added amendments at the end. Nothing illegal with the process, but other committees hear the testimony and make any amendments one by one. It seemed to catch Kondo off guard, and he wasn't the only one.

Jeff Portnoy, an attorney representing a group of media outlets, had a similar experience at the same hearing. He testified on a bill to make the shield law permanent and left, only to learn later that the committee went back andamended the bill after hearing testimony on all the other bills.

The lobbying bill was also referred to the House Finance Committee for vetting, but no hearing has been scheduled yet.

read … Lobbyists Yes, First Amendment No!

Don't overrate student feedback

SA: According to the plan, students starting with the 2013-2014 academic year will be given one of various tests designed for a range of age groups. Among the more helpful of the questions for grades 3-5:

  • Students behave so badly in this class that it slows down our learning.
  • I understand what I'm supposed to be learning in class.
  • My teacher asks questions to be sure we are following along when he/she is teaching.
  • Students speak up and share their ideas about class work.
  • My teacher takes the time to summarize what we learn each day.

All of these provide a child with the opportunity to give feedback on some important classroom practices.

read … Don't overrate student feedback

State Denies Counties Ticket Money Again

PR: Two proposals to have a greater portion of the fines and forfeitures collected from uncontested traffic infractions distributed to counties where the violations occur appear to have stalled in the Legislature.

The House Transportation Committee on Wednesday deferred House Bills 214 and 590.

Similar bills have been introduced in prior sessions by the Hawaii State Association of Counties, with little success.

read … No Money for Counties


Group asks Hawaii regulators to revoke waiver for Lanai wind farm


PBN: The Friends of Lanai has asked the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to revoke Castle & Cooke Inc.’s waiver from competitive bidding that was given to the company so it could build a wind farm on Lanai.

That request comes months after billionaire Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), bought 98 percent of the island from Castle & Cooke CEO David Murdock in a deal that preserved Murdock’s right to build a wind farm. The “Big Wind” project would be built on about 7,000 acres on the northwest corner of Lanai and would produce between 200 and 400 megawatts of renewable energy.

“Given the fact that David Murdock no longer owns Lanai, the waiver granted to him for Big Wind on Lanai is no longer valid,” Robin Kaye, a spokesperson for Friends of Lanai, said in a statement.

read … Bye Bye Wind

Homelessness Industry Invades Chinatown

PBN: On a typical weekday afternoon, homeless people with makeshift beds and all their belongings tucked beside them are a common sight in Chinatown. People whom shopkeepers suspect to be drug users stumble along the sidewalks, potentially presenting a challenge to anyone walking the street….

The Honolulu Police Department recorded 741 crimes in Chinatown during 2011, the last year for which data is available. A murder, six rapes, a number of robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, auto thefts and 557 other forms of larceny were among the known offenses….

“On a daily basis, a nightly basis, there are drugs and criminals in Chinatown, whether or not people choose to admit it,” said Niebuhr, whose restaurant was burglarized about a year ago.

One business owner who has been vocal about the problems in Chinatown is Scott “Otto” McDonough, the owner of Otto Cake. The Smith Street business owner shared stories about his life being threatened a number of times — 15, until he stopped counting — stories of himself and his employees being attacked by suspected drug dealers outside of his front door, and in the last two weeks, a customer visiting Hawaii being spit on in the face. He is not afraid to tell these stories in an effort to bring change and safety to the neighborhood.

“We all want to continue doing business, and when you say how bad it is, you’re going to scare people away,” he said. “But if you don’t say what’s really happening, nothing’s going to be done about it.”

Linda Dang, owner of Yes Haircut Styling & Barber Shop on Smith Street, said she was robbed by a group of people last December. They came into her store at 6 p.m., an hour before closing, and stole money and her cell phone. The police, she told PBN, could not do anything for her.

Rita Luke, owner of Island Keepsakes on Nuuanu Avenue, said the problems affect her business when public urination takes place right outside of it and between vehicles parked along the street.

“It’s sad when you’re walking Chinatown and they’re sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk. Half the time they kind of mess themselves. It’s really sad. It’s sad for tourists to come and see that,” she said.

As Explained: Defeating the "homelessness industry" before it gets a grip on Hawaii

How LA Solved This Problem: Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Housing Corporation, A Turnaround at Skid Row's Ford Hotel

read … The Price We Pay for Pandering to the Homelessness Industry

Law Will Prohibit Homeless from Sleeping on Bus Stop Benches

CB: The Hawaii House Judiciary Committee passed a bill today that will make it a crime to obstruct a bus stop.

The proposed law is targeted at homeless people and others who sleep on the benches.

The original bill would make it illegal to lay across the bench or any one seat at a bus stop. Not wanting to inadvertently ensnare big-bottomed people, Judiciary Chair Karl Rhoads recommended the committee amend the bill to any two seats.

(This is the more humane way of dealing with homelessness. Force them to accept the shelter spaces they now refuse.)

read … Forcing the Homeless into Shelters

Bus Cuts?  Riders wait for mayor to fulfill promise

SA: In the 52 years he's lived in Manoa, Donald Au's family has relied on TheBus to get around Hono­lulu. But in the past seven months or so, Au says he's watched his wife, neighbors and other nearby riders carve more time out of their days to catch buses that run less frequently.

Route 5, which runs from Ala Moana to Manoa, now arrives about every hour instead of every half-hour, Au said Wednesday. "It throws off a lot of working people, a lot of school kids that live in our area, a lot of senior citizens with doctor's appointments," he added.

Au's not alone in his concerns. Cuts and changes last year to the city's bus service were made to trim costs as the system became more expensive to operate. But those changes fueled widespread angst among riders across the city, many of whom now wait longer hours to catch overcrowded buses. Several residents, including Au, circulated petitions that garnered hundreds of signatures in support of overturning the move.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and his general election opponent, former Gov. Ben Caye­tano, pledged last year to reverse the cuts if elected. One month into his term, it's not clear yet how Caldwell intends to enact those reversals — or how the city would pay for them.

However, aides say the city Department of Transportation Services had been weighing options in January and that Caldwell intends to announce a reversal plan publicly this month.

read … Bus Cuts

Public housing, fancy cars: lawmaker proposes crackdown

KHON: They're getting a break on their rent, courtesy of you the taxpayer, all while driving cars many couldn't afford. A lawmaker says it's time to put a stop to that. With a wait list of more than 10,000 for public housing, the state may target fancy car drivers as a sign to excess disposable income to open up units for those more in need.

Representative Rida Cabanilla says she got complaints about what some people drive who live in public housing.

"There's Mercedes Benzes there, there's Escalades, there are nice cars in there, you see BMW's," Cabanilla explained.

Right now just income is looked at when it comes to qualifying for and keeping a public housing lease, not assets such as cars.

"If you have 27,000 and you want to put it all in a car, then let it be that it's considered an asset, because obviously you don't belong there," she said.

When we went to look there were two brand new cars at Mayor Wright, one belonged to a state employee working there, the other was just driven over on a lunch break by a resident employed at a car lot.

read … Fake Problem?



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