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Saturday, February 23, 2013
February 23, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:56 PM :: 9869 Views

UHERO: Weakening Yen May Cut Tourism

NFIB Small Business Day at the Capitol

Obama Gives Abercrombie $937K to Devise System to Force Doctors into 'Medical Homes'

DBEDT Releases Economic Projections

DoE Changes Student Assessment Tests Again

Grassroot Perspective Podcast: Liberty and Movies

Reason: Former Gov. Ben Cayetano on Hawaii's Fiscal Mess and Stupid Rail Plan

BoE: Releases Fiscal Reports from 2012

State Auditor: Releases Annual Report for 2012

WCCC Prison Guard Allegedly Part of 400lb California-Hawaii Meth Ring

SA: The man accused of supplying an alleged drug distribution ring in Hawaii with nearly 400 pounds of meth­am­pheta­mine is a former member of a California street gang who shot and killed a member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang who tried to extort money from him, according to California state court records.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment in May charging Walter Dominguez, 40, of Carson, Calif., and 13 others with conspiracy and distributing 390 pounds of meth­am­pheta­mine from 2008 to 2012.

One of the other defendants, Sifa­tu­tupu Fua­matu, was a prison guard at the state Women's Community Correctional Center at the time. Fua­matu was also a Delta Airlines employee. She and her husband, Fale­fia Fua­matu, are facing charges that they transported hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds to Dominguez in California from Hawaii.

The confessed leader of the distribution ring, John Tai, who is not charged in the May indictment, pleaded guilty in April and is cooperating with the government.

A federal judge in California ordered Dominguez held in custody without bail after his arrest in Los Angeles in March. The judge made note of a prior drug conviction, Dominguez's continued drug activity, his ties to a Mexican drug cartel and that he travels often to Mexico where family members supply him with meth­am­pheta­mine in California.

Federal investigators said in court documents that Dominguez threatened and intimidated some of his co-defendants as they were awaiting transport to U.S. District Court in May from the Federal Detention Center Hono­lulu. Investigators say that Dominguez told his co-defendants, "Fools is going to get laid down," and, "I need to know, either you are with me or not. Don't say anything if you not."

(IDEA: Cross-reference prison employees with airport employees and start investigating)

read … Another Day, Another Prison Guard

Prison guards might face physical fitness tests

HNN: People who saw accused murderer Teddy Munet escape from circuit court Wednesday said the two prison guards who went after him were overweight and unfit, raising questions about why guards don't have recurring fitness requirements.

One witness said the two guards had large stomachs, one of them so big it looked like it belonged to a pregnant woman.

Before they are hired, prison guards must pass a physical fitness test that requires them to complete a mile and a half run in 15 minutes. They also must finish an obstacle course within two minutes to test their stamina. But they have no recurring physical fitness requirements once they're on the job.

"I don't know why this occurred, but apparently we haven't had these requirements for a number of years now," said Ted Sakai, director of the state Public Safety Department.

Prison sources estimate about 40 percent of adult corrections officers are overweight.

Sources said prison officials order some huge guard uniforms, with shirt sizes much larger than double or triple X. Instead, they go up to 5X, 6X, 7X, and even 8X, a source said.

And some guards' uniform pants can be as large as 50, 60 and even 70 inches in the waist, a source said.

read … Fat Guards

Federal cuts forecast to slow isle economy

SA: Federal budget cuts, if enacted, will slow Hawaii's economic growth to 2.6 percent this year, instead of the 3.4 percent that would be likely if Washington avoids the spending reductions.

That's the conclusion of state economists who released a new forecast for Hawaii's economic growth Friday….

Military and civilian federal spending in Hawaii — at a combined 15.4 percent of GDP — is second only to Virginia, Tian said.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's forecast of 2013 economic growth assumes that across-the-board federal spending cuts — known as sequestration and scheduled to go into effect Friday — would reduce total federal spending in Hawaii to about 10 percent of GDP, Tian said.

As a result, DBEDT economists shaved eight-tenths of a percentage point off its state GDP forecast, Tian said. What would have been a 3.4 percent increase became a 2.6 percent gain.


read … Federal cuts forecast to slow isle economy

Federal officials warn of likely flight delays if spending cuts of $1.2 trillion kick in

SA: A Hawaii tourism official said flight delays that could occur next week if automatic federal spending cuts are triggered shouldn't affect the state's tourism industry as much as other destinations.

"It would have a huge impact if airports were closed, but my understanding is that it wouldn't get to that," said David Uchi­yama, vice president of brand management for the Hawaii Tourism Authority. "I think it affects us more with air traffic controllers. At this point, fortunately because we're not a business destination as much as we'd like to be and more people are here on leisure, I don't think the impact will be as great. That's without seeing the full impact of the staffing."

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said at a White House briefing Friday that automatic federal spending cuts set to begin March 1 would lead to flight delays as long as 90 minutes at major airports, including those in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

read … Washington Monument Gambit

Hawaii Naval forces could lose billions to sequester

HNN: The U.S. Navy said in Hawaii, sequestration would slash nearly $8 billion dollars in government investment that would be sunk into ships, aircraft, weapons and research and development.

Hawaii Pacific University economist Leroy Laney said military spending, especially from the Navy, injects a lot of money into Hawaii's economy.

"If they're cutting back then that could threaten jobs," he said. "It could amount to billions of dollars in injections into the Hawaii economy."

The Pentagon estimates the furlough of defense workers in Hawaii would cost over $138 million in lost payroll. Navy Region Hawaii includes Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, where more than 300 workers could lose their jobs. The region also includes the Pacific Missile Range on Kauai.

"What the decision makers in the budget and in Washington in general, not just in the Pentagon, have to do is balance national security against these attempts to cut back on federal spending in general," Laney said.

He said if U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye were still alive, he may have been able to lessen the impact of sequestration on his home state. (But now we have Brian Schatz … oh well.)

read … Washington Monument Gambit

Bill to ban imposed worker contracts deferred

SA: A bill seeking to prevent the state from unilaterally imposing labor contracts on employees is likely dead for this session, but the teachers union is hopeful the measure will be revived.

House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke on Friday deferred action on House Bill 578, which would ban a public employer — such as the Department of Education — or public employee from implementing a collective bargaining offer without agreement from the representing union….

The bill previously cleared the House Labor and Public Employment Committee with no major objections….

Schools Superintendent Kathryn Mata­yo­shi opposed the bill, noting in written testimony that the ability to unilaterally impose contracts is "used throughout the nation when parties reach impasse in bargaining."….

The HSTA has also taken the matter to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, filing a prohibited-practice case that contends the state acted in bad faith when it imposed the 2011 contract. A decision in that case is still pending from the labor board, nearly nine months after a final hearing.

Teachers are unable to strike or take the prohibited-practice matter to court without a ruling on the union's complaint before the labor board.

read … HSTA Loses

Window is closing on Luddites’ ability to require labeling of GMOs

SA: 1. GMO crops have undergone extensive scientific research and are found to be safe, so labeling is unnecessary.

2. Labeling of GMO foods is so expensive that it will drive up food costs and threaten farmers, manufacturers and retailers.

3. GMO crops that are resistant to pesticides reduce the need to spray poisonous chemicals and help ensure an adequate food supply.

Must Read: Leading Activist Apologizes For Starting Anti-GMO Movement

read … Luddite Hype not Facilitated

DoH Seeks Profits from Medicated Pot

PR: The state House Finance Committee on Friday moved a bill that would transfer the administration of the state’s medical marijuana program to the state Department of Health.

The state Department of Public Safety’s narcotics enforcement division has been administering the program, but drug-pushing pot doctors keep pretending medicated marijuana is a public health issue, not a law enforcement matter.  (Fast fact: Marijuana causes cancer, just like tobacco.)

An estimated 12,000 people in Hawaii participate in the medical marijuana program. (If MJ were legal, the State could be sued by cancer patients for misrepresenting the safety of its products.)

Officials at the Department of Health told lawmakers that if the department takes over the program, they want the authority to raise the annual fee on patients to up to $50. Right now, patients pay $25 a year, although the state can charge up to $35.

read … HB668

HB619/HB15: Criminalize Bird Feeding

CB: House Bill 619, introduced by Rep. Gregg Takayama, would make it illegal to feed feral birds on your own property to the extent that they cause a nuisance on another property.

In other words, you can’t sit in your backyard shelling out sunflower seeds to pigeons to the point that they poop all over your neighbor’s lanai.

Pearl City residents took their concerns — and photos — to Takayama for help after years of living in unbearable conditions.

“Their right to enjoy their own homes is being jeopardized and I felt I had to help them,” he said in a release. “Several other neighborhoods have also come forward to share similar problems in their communities.”

HB619 on Thursday cleared the Finance Committee. It heads to a vote before the full House next and, if successful, will cross over to the Senate.

A stricter version of the proposed law died this week in the Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 15 would have made a person who feeds feral birds liable in damage to any person injured if the fowl caused personal injury or property damage. The big difference in this bill is it would have included public spaces like parks instead of limiting it to private property.

read … Focusing on the Big Issues

Towing firm admits struggles

SA: Albert Ternora Jr., general manager of Leeward Auto Wreckers, said he already has found a smaller, less costly replacement lot in Kaneohe that will be available as soon as Monday.

Switching to that lot and other changes in the works are designed to make the overall operation more efficient and financially healthier while continuing to provide low-cost service to motorists, Ternora said.

Leeward Auto was kicked off the Kailua property after failing to pay roughly $66,000 in delinquent rent, dating to November, according to John King, whose company, Kapaa III LLC, owns the Kailua lot where Leeward Auto stored towed vehicles.

The eviction came two weeks after a judge decided to issue an order in another case mandating that the company vacate the Kapolei lot where it has its main offices and also stores towed vehicles, according to online court records.

Alpha BT LLC, owner of the Kapolei lot, had said in court documents in January that Leeward Auto owed nearly $56,000 in delinquent rent, dating to March.

read … Towing Firm

VAWA: National Democrats Use Violence Against Women to Give Tribal Authorities Jurisdiction over Non-Tribal Members

HP: The bill authorizes $659 million over five years for VAWA programs. It also expands VAWA to include new protections for LGBT and Native American victims of domestic violence….

HP: VAWA 2013: House GOP Unveils Bill With No LGBT Protections, Modified Tribal Provision

What this is really all about: Akaka Introduces Bill to Give Tribal Authorities Legal Jurisdiction over Non-Tribal Members

read … Setting up for the Akaka Tribe to Take over ALL of Hawaii 

Obama to Have Two Libraries?

CNN: "Honolulu is my birthplace," Obama said on an interview with Honolulu station KITV. "It's the place where I grew up and I've got so many friends and fond memories and it helped to shaped me. I'd like to find a way after my presidency that connection remains, but I live in Chicago now and that's where I grew up professionally."

"It is a tough choice, but it's not one that I've made yet," Obama said. Reports in the last year have indicated that Obama's team is looking at space for a presidential library in Chicago, including near the University of Chicago where he taught before entering politics.

Universities have housed presidential libraries in the past, including the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library on the campus of Texas A&M in College Station.

But the University of Hawaii has also made no secret of their desire to house Obama's presidential library, and the Aloha State's legislature passed a resolution in 2010 calling on Obama to choose his birthplace for the institution. An official committee of business and civic leaders - the Hawaii Presidential Center Initiative - was formed to try and lure the president back to the islands.

Obama acknowledged those efforts in his interview.

"Folks back home, back in Hawaii, have been very generous in talking about how much they'd like to figure out a way to participate post-presidency and I'm flattered by that and I'm going to look at every option," he said.

read … Kakaako Property Revenues to Fund the Obama Foundation



Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Helene Eleanor Hale

News Release from Office of Governor: In remembrance of former state Rep. Helene Eleanor Hale, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has ordered that all national and Hawaii flags at state offices and agencies as well as the Hawaii National Guard are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, the day of her memorial services on Hawaii Island. 

Hale was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2000, serving for three terms. As chairwoman of the House Committee on International Affairs, she championed a more proactive global role for Hawaii. Hale was a key advocate of House resolutions in 2003 that expressed reservations about going to war in Iraq without United Nations backing and invoked the aloha spirit in urging negotiations. 

Born in Minnesota, Hale worked as a teacher before moving to Hawaii Island in 1947, continuing as an educator for a time at Konawaena Intermediate School. She went on to become the first African-American elected to office in Hawaii and first woman to hold an executive position in local government since Queen Liliuokalani. Hale was elected to Hawaii County’s Board of Supervisors in 1954 and chairman and chief executive officer (the equivalent of mayor) in 1962, helped to establish the Merrie Monarch Festival, and served on the Hawaii County Council from 1980 to 1984 and 1988 to 1994. Her business interests included a real estate agency, bookstore and coffee farm. 

Hale died on Feb. 1, 2013, in Hilo at the age of 94.

read … Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Helene Eleanor Hale



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