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Saturday, February 13, 2010
February 13, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:49 AM :: 9697 Views :: Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

Sakamoto: Tax soldiers to feed HSTA, HGEA, UPW

"It's potentially a lot of money," said Sen. Norman Sakamoto.  (Sakamoto’s brother runs S&M Sakamoto, DoE maintenance contractor.)

Senate Bill 2592 would mandate that military housing allowances are counted toward income.  (Only the best for our troops, eh?)

The state Department of Taxation noted that the bill conflicts with federal tax rules that exempt nonprofit rental housing operators from general excise tax on rental income regardless of a tenant's residency. The department also said it's unclear whether the bill's residency requirement would unconstitutionally discriminate against certain tenants.

SB 2592 would require that affordable-housing tenants be "domiciled in the state" for landlords to receive the tax exemption.

Two other bills, SB 2594 and SB 2595, propose changes to state affordable-housing law that would have similar effects defining income and residency to exclude military personnel….

HHFDC opposes all three bills. The agency said if a military housing allowance is counted toward income, then so should other forms of government assistance such as Section 8 vouchers.

(But Sakamoto does not want welfare bums to pay, only military personnel.)

TOTALLY RELATED: Follow the money: $10B Guam pork project benefits Abercrombie contributor

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3 measures would return workers' health costs to state: $26M/year for unions

Senate Bills 2393, 2881 and 2884 would restore the previous labor agreements in which the state paid 60 percent of its workers' medical insurance costs.

The arrangements were canceled last year by Gov. Linda Lingle, who said the state could not afford to pay more. State worker unions agreed to that for the 2009 fiscal year but added that it would take its case to the Legislature for the rest of the biennial period.

The bills are now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Georgina Kawamura, state budget director, warned that paying more of the cost of workers' health insurance charges will cost an extra $26 million a year

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Survey: Native Hawaiians Discontented With Tourism

It found that almost 60 percent of Native Hawaiians interviewed disagreed that tourism helps preserve their language and culture.

The study also found that Hawaii residents generally believe the tourism industry does not help sustain the state's natural resources.

ADV: More Hawaii residents have favorable opinion of tourism than two years ago

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Poll finds Hawaii no longer happiest

The results released yesterday said 77.4 percent of Hawai'i adults last year said they were satisfied with their own standard of living, which, in Gallup's way of describing it, is all the things you can buy and do.

In 2008, 81 percent of Hawai'i adults had responded they were satisfied, highest among the 50 states.

DETAILS: http://www.gallup.com/poll/125066/State-States.aspx

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State's bonds sale exceeds expectations by $188 million

The state this week made presentations to bond investors in New York, seeking buyers for $312 million in taxable and $221.6 million of tax-exempt bonds. But it said investor interest was such that it was able to sell $500 million of the taxable bonds.

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SB: Pressure on Gov. Lingle to OK rail is premature

We question whether Lingle has held up the project at all. The city has yet to receive the final statement and cannot begin its review until completion of the ongoing review by the Federal Transit Administration….Lingle's clock to complete her analysis of the project will begin running when she receives the final environmental statement. Politicians blowing the whistle on the governor before then are overly impulsive -- and baffling.

(Or posturing.)

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Lingle: Focus on the quality of education

"We need to get more worked up about what happens when they are in school rather than when ... they are not in school," Lingle said to a sold-out crowd at the Maui Chamber of Commerce's Governor's Luncheon at the King Kamehameha Golf Club's Waikapu Room….

Her plan would have the next governor be able to appoint the superintendent of education, who is now chosen by the state Board of Education. The board of education's members are elected by the public.

Lingle asked members of her audience if anyone could name more than three members of the 13 that sit on the board. No hands were raised.

"We don't know them because (the majority are) not from Maui," she said, adding that no one is held accountable for public education....

Also during her remarks about education, Lingle, a Republican, said she and President Barack Obama, a Democrat, are "aligned" on some issues, such as support for charter schools as well as merit pay for teachers.

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HECO commits to buying clean energy

The utility has signed so-called purchase-power agreements with a 30- megawatt-capacity wind farm proposed for Kahuku and a 6-megawatt operation that wants to turn construction and demolition waste as well as other biomass into synthetic gas that will power generators.

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Hawaii State Auditor: Director of the Department of Business and Economic Development Director Should Be Fired

The current audit was initially requested by the Legislature in 2007 due to concerns over DBEDT’s management of federal grant funds and the 2005 trade mission to China and Korea. But while the auditor stated her office was trying to track a $50,000 appropriation for Community-Based Economic Development (CBED) to Chinese office bank accounts, her office instead discovered federal funds from the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) spent on DBEDT’s overseas operations.

Beginning in 2003, DBEDT received approval from the Legislature and the governor to spend a $399,500 MDCP award, but, according to the audit, failed to disclose that this was a federal reimbursement program that required the use of general funds, the reimbursements would have no spending requirements and that money could be spent without restriction.

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Dead Ducks: Animal-protection bills draw support

Bills still alive in the House would clarify the state's dog fighting laws, prohibit chaining dogs to a stationary object, determine minimum veterinary care standards and ban the possession of instruments related to cockfighting.

Senate measures include new prohibitions on shark finning and a requirement that foie gras served in Hawaii come from farms certified in humanely working with the product.

(Foie gras is duck or goose liver.  This measure is designed to reward poultry processors who pay off the Humane Society and to create one more feeeel-goood eco-cult affiliation for high end consumers.)

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Protesters rally for ‘strongest prosecutor’: Reason for termination hasn’t been provided

During his 18 years as a deputy prosecutor, Rivera handled high-profile trials that resulted in convictions for double-murderer Daniel Kosi in 1999 and for Michael Arlo Pavich in 2005 for strangling to death an 82-year-old Kihei man. Rivera was part of the Hawaii Sexual Assault Response Team, not only prosecuting sexual assault cases but training other prosecutors and professionals.

Asking not to be identified for fear of losing a job, a deputy prosecutor said employees in the prosecutor's office were "walking on eggshells" after a meeting called to address job security in the days after Rivera was fired.

"Basically, administration said our job is in our own hands - get on board, follow the rules, whether it's a statute, a regulation, a policy," the attorney said. "The morale in the office is at an all-time low. Because if they fire Robert, they can fire anyone."

The attorney said Rivera was the most well-liked and well-respected attorney in the office. 

(Competitor for top job?)

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Kauai: Burial plan No. 16 rejected

OHA continues effort to steal a single family home from its owner.  Backing them, anti-Superferry protesters -- and convicted drug dealer Ralph P. Dedman—whose mis-named Ka`u Preservation, Inc.  tried and failed to steal a single family home in Ka`u from its owner and steal several kuleana plots from their owners..

The 70-plus-page, 16th draft of the Brescia burial treatment plan, is available at www.state.hi.us/dlnr/hpd  Click on “BRESCIA BURIAL TREATMENT PLAN.”

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Global Cooling: There's snow in every state except Hawaii

Snow had even fallen in the Florida Panhandle and along the South Carolina coast.

Weather service meteorologist Brian Korty says it's extremely rare to have so many states with snow.

SB: Snowless Hawaii stands alone in the union

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Slain baby's mom pleads not guilty in robbery

The charge stems from a Nov. 11 incident in which a man reported to police that Chanco allegedly took his money while they were in his vehicle at an area known as "Castle Rock" in Maunawili at about 1:19 a.m.

The man told police a car pulled in front of his, and two men left the vehicle. One argued with him while the other punched him. When he started his vehicle to get away, he said he felt Chanco reach into his pockets.

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1MW Ray gun blows missile out of sky

February 11, 2010, a short-range threat-representative ballistic missile was launched from an at-sea mobile launch platform. Within seconds, the ALTB used onboard sensors to detect the boosting missile and used a low-energy laser to track the target. The ALTB then fired a second low-energy laser to measure and compensate for atmospheric disturbance. Finally, the ALTB fired its megawatt-class High Energy Laser, heating the boosting ballistic missile to critical structural failure. The entire engagement occurred within two minutes of the target missile launch, while its rocket motors were still thrusting.

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Cyclone slams American Samoa with 100 mph winds

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — A Pacific storm with hurricane-force winds churned across sparsely populated islands of American Samoa and took aim Saturday for the capital region of the U.S. territory, which is still recovering from a deadly autumn tsunami.

Tropical Cyclone Rene hit the territory's eastern Manu'a islands Friday before growing in strength, with winds reaching 86 mph and gusts to 103 mph by late evening.

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LINK>>>Malulani Hospital offers Maui an alternative to MMMC’s “downward trajectory”

LINK>>>Laupahoehoe Liberation: Rural school targeted for closure votes for charter conversion


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