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Thursday, May 7, 2009
May 7, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:45 AM :: 7877 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Lingle resolute on anti-tax vow

Lingle plans to veto the tax increases at a public ceremony at the state Capitol at 3:30 p.m. today. The bills up for veto would increase state income taxes on the wealthy, the hotel room tax, and the conveyance tax on the sale of luxury homes.

House and Senate leaders have said they believe they have the two-thirds votes necessary to override the vetoes and have extended the session two days, until tomorrow, to allow for possible overrides.

During her online address yesterday, Lingle attacked the logic behind raising the hotel room tax, claiming it will result in job losses for a visitor industry already suffering from fewer tourists.

A tax increase aimed at people earning more than $150,000 a year and households earning more than $300,000 would unfairly target small-business owners, she said, while an increase in the conveyance tax would discourage real estate investment and raise costs for churches and nonprofit organizations.

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Marc Resorts folds in weak economy

Travel agents across the state started noticing a problem Tuesday when the Web site for the local hotel and resort management company was "deactivated."

Marc Resorts marketing manager Cathy Gleason sent out an e-mail yesterday that said the company "will not be able to accept any arrivals going forward. We are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience that it places on you, however, we simply cannot continue in this manner."

Tomonari confirmed yesterday afternoon that the company's nearly 40 employees were notified on Monday that the company was shutting down.

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State hospitals: Semiprivatization to be allowed

But perhaps more important than the money is a new freedom for the 13 Hawaii Health Systems Corp. hospitals -- including, in addition to the acute-care Kona Community Hospital and Hilo Medical Center, the more long-term chronic health centers of Kohala Hospital, Hale Hoola Hamakua and Ka'u Hospital.

SB 1673, slated for final passage Thursday, is part of the Senate Majority package.
"We worked hard on this bill," Kokubun said. "The Senate, I think, really tried a comprehensive approach for shoring up the hospital system."
The bill allows a facility or regional health system within the HHSC to transition itself through sale, lease or a transfer of the assets of its facility or system into a new entity, such as a nonprofit or for-profit corporation, municipal facility or public benefit corporation. That gives hospitals the option of becoming semiprivatized.

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Dobelle in Drag?

In a town-hall style meeting last night at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa, the longtime chancellor of University of California-Santa Cruz was introduced as one of the top two candidates to replace current UH President David McClain.

Greenwood also explained why she resigned from her position as the UC system provost amid questions that she promoted a friend and business partner to a high paying job.

At the time, Greenwood said that the UC system was under scrutiny from the press over the high salaries and bonuses for administrators. With an annual salary of $301,840, Greenwood said she became a target of media scrutiny.

"A reporter thought that she had found a piece of property that I owned with this particular person who became the hired employee," she said.

Greenwood said she resigned from her position as provost in 2005 not because of the accusations but because she "could no longer support the president."

UC investigators later said she should have recused herself from her involvement with the hiring of her friend.

"It certainly was a mistake. If I had it to do over again, I would have been more careful," she said.

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Judge denies motion to delay wrongful-death case versus Pflueger

LIHU‘E — Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe on Wednesday denied James Pflueger’s motion to delay the trial portion of his wrongful-death civil case until the manslaughter criminal case against him is decided.

RELATED: HawaiiReporter , County weighs settlement options in Pflueger cases

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SB: Let Akaka Bill reconcile ceded lands issue

Intrinsic to the settlement between the state and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the chief plaintiff in the case, is the Legislature's enactment of Senate Bill 1677 that provides for a freeze on land transfers unless approved by a two-thirds vote of both chambers. Such a land-transfer vote is not foreseen.

Gov. Linda Lingle should sign the bill into law, having agreed that decisions about state lands are "absolutely in the Legislature's authority." Her administration has no wish to sell or transfer any parcel of the 1.2 million acres, which encompass 29 percent of Hawaii's land and virtually all of state-owned land....

Without the settlement, the federal high court's ruling would have returned the case to the state courts, where OHA would have maintained rights according to state statutes, as suggested by the federal justices. The issue of whether those laws are unconstitutionally discriminatory would have been argued at that level. The issue will be eliminated only after the Akaka Bill provides Hawaiians the same tribal status as indigenous peoples on the mainland.  (WRONG the Supreme Court decision on Ceded lands indicates that the inclusion of ceded lands revenue and DHHL in the Admission Act gives these a protection similar in nature to that provided by tribal recognition.)

In creating a framework for a native Hawaiian government, the Akaka Bill would authorize it to enter into negotiations with the state and federal governments. The issue of claims to ceded lands, including the validity of the Admission Act's provision, is certain to be at the top of the agenda.

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Turnabout: Kauai Builder sues activists

LIHU‘E — After motions were heard Friday in the trespassing, conspiracy and slander of title case involving a Ha‘ena property that includes dozens of Native Hawaiian remains, the case has been scheduled for trial in October 2010.
Some of the defendants in the case may be on the hook for upwards of $350,000 in damages due to construction delays the trespassing caused, said attorneys on both sides of the heated dispute.
The case, Joseph Brescia vs. Ka‘iulani Edens-Huff et al (and others), involves Brescia’s North Shore coastal property, where Hawaiian remains, or iwi, were discovered.
Although Brescia redesigned plans for the home in order to avoid the remains, protesters have camped near his property and, in at least one case, have been arrested for trespassing on the property where he has been trying to build a home for seven years.

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Maui Council looks to stash away part or all of TAT

WAILUKU - Maui County Council members will look at maintaining cuts in the county budget, and setting aside some or all of the hotel tax revenues they now expect to get from the state, when they meet to restore $18 million to the budget next week.

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Land fund, 3,400 acres of Hamakua lost in revamped Hawaii Co budget

HILO -- Property taxes would be held steady and free bus service continued, but the county's 2 percent land fund would be suspended and prime Hamakua acreage sold under an amended budget Mayor Billy Kenoi released Tuesday.
The $386.7 million spending plan is the first budget reduction since 2001. It's a 4.1 percent decrease from the current year.

RELATED: Finance Committee pulls furlough option -- for now

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Volunteers thwart Hawaii County attempt to shutdown park renovation

A community project to upgrade and refurbish Higashihara Park's Kamakana playground was nearly thwarted by the county this week -- until a private donor's donation foiled the action.
Renee Schoen, deputy county corporation counsel, made a recommendation to the Department of Parks and Recreation to stop the renovation after discovering playground equipment had been installed without authorization by the county.
"I'm not saying there was a procurement violation," she said. "I made a recommendation to stop the work because the county was in the process of bidding for the equipment at the same time a volunteer organization was installing it."

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Kenoi Hands Kubo Key to Hawaii County

Kubo, upon accepting the key, said he always stands ready to help the County in any way he can. Kubo also said he intends to retire to Hawai‘i County.

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Negotiations continue for Hilo Target store

As negotiations continue to lay the groundwork for new Target and expanded Safeway stores in Hilo, a final environmental assessment anticipates no significant impacts.
Both companies are still negotiating with the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands for the long-term lease of a 151/2-acre parcel behind Hilo's Wal-Mart and across the street from The Home Depot.
"We expect to complete the negotiations by the end of May," DHHL spokesman Lloyd Yonenaka said in an e-mail.

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