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Sunday, May 17, 2009
May 17, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:00 AM :: 6289 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Republicans urged to unite: GOP challenged to gain seats in 2010 election by sticking to core beliefs

WAIKOLOA -- Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona told Republicans at their state convention today they do not need to act like Democrats to get elected and must to return to core principles of lower taxes, smaller government and greater personal freedom.  Aiona, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010, said the party lost ground in 2008 because Republicans abandoned core principles.  "Sometimes the truth hurts. And the truth is the Democrats have run out of ideas," Aiona told delegates gathered in a ballroom at the Marriott Waikoloa Beach Resort & Spa on the Big Island.  Gov. Linda Lingle made a plea to dissidents within the party to put aside their differences and come together to elect Aiona and other Republican candidates in 2010. The governor said there would be time after the election to have ideological debates within the party.

Brian Schatz, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said Republicans appear to be struggling to find a voice.

"They've chosen to rally the base and I'm not sure that's where the mainstream of Hawai'i is," he said. "Mainstream Hawai'i voters want people who have moderate and tolerant views, and this move to the right will very likely hurt them in 2010."

Schatz believes Republicans are moving to the right both locally and nationally. "It's what you do when you don't have a plan," he said, "you rally whoever remains in your shrinking tent."

Ka'auwai said he believes the state GOP is "going big tent. Definitely. And the reason why I believe that is everyone has a different opinion, and we're going to welcome every single opinion into the Hawaii Republican Party.

"And I think the unique thing about myself is the spirit of aloha that I understand and that I embody," he said. "And because of that spirit of aloha, it's one that we're going to agree to disagree, but we're going to be able to come together and agree on several things — not just things on the right or things on the left or things in the middle."

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Hawaii governor, Legislature began session on high note, ended in a 'mess' of contention

"We started with collaboration. It turned into cooperation. Now we're in confrontation," one Republican adviser said ruefully.

Observers believe Lingle, state House Speaker Calvin Say, D-20th (St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Wilhelmina Rise), and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, D-21st (Nanakuli, Makaha), may have missed an opportunity for statesmanship. The veteran Say, the first to warn of the magnitude of the economic downturn, was the only one to break convention by suggesting adjustments to retirement benefits for government workers that antagonized the Democrats' union allies.

The more pragmatic analysts, however, believe what happened was what voters intended when they split the executive and legislative branches of government between political parties.

Ben Cayetano, a former governor, was critical of both sides. He also said the news media should have pushed harder on the governor and lawmakers to explain their differences.

Lingle also wants to save $278 million in collective bargaining with public-sector labor unions, while lawmakers kept labor spending at existing levels because the negotiations are still in progress.

Although Lingle has said a settlement with one union may be imminent, union leaders dispute her assertion. Randy Perreira, the executive director of the Hawai'i Government Employees Association, said the HGEA, the Hawai'i State Teachers Association, the United Public Workers and the University of Hawai'i Professional Assembly have petitioned the governor to negotiate together toward a global settlement.

RELATED: Lawmakers talk budget

"It was a pretty tumultuous session, as most of you know," Kokubun said. "It required some serious consideration of all kinds of measures to reduce our costs, and think of ways to raise our revenue stream as well.
"All in all, I think we got what we wanted for now."
The senator said "for now" because the Council on Revenues, a group of economists that forecaststhe state's tax revenue, is scheduled to meet May 28, when it is expected the numbers will go down again.

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The Queen's estate

By Samuel P. King, Walter M. Heen and Randall W. Roth

The public controversy surrounding Hawaii's last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, is well known. People seem to know relatively little, however, about the intensive planning and years of litigation that surrounded her personal estate. This is surprising because archives around the state contain thousands of pages of news coverage, court documents, and handwritten notes of the participants.

Although the facts of this story are unique, key elements — a disputed inheritance and a rightfully peaceful old age dogged by bitterness, scheming, and internecine discord — are ancient and universal.

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SB: Government workers don't deserve derision

As public employees, however, they are the objects of disaffection, targets for righteously or unjustifiably indignant taxpayers. Above all, they are pawns in the no-holds-barred power bouts between the governor and lawmakers.

But if there is anybody out there who would pity them, please don't. They're used to it. They are a resilient bunch whose labor union leaders also use them in a weird relationship of sustainment for themselves and their legislative patrons. How they will fare in contract negotiations isn't clear, but indications are they will have to pay hundreds more a month for medical coverage and give up some benefits, if not several weeks of pay through the next two years.

Public workers have always been targets, but in this go-round, bad-mouthing has been particularly searing. Along with the run-of-the-mill trash talk — "feeding at the public trough," "greedy good-for-nothings" — there have been expressed desires for public employees to suffer the pain workers in the private sector have been subject to.

To quote a favorite novelist, "People one at a time are a lot more appetizing than you would think if you look at them all at once."

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Hawaii State Teachers’ Union Clamps Down on Teacher Dissention

Concerned teachers believe they now need protection, because delegates to the April 2009 HSTA Convention approved bylaw amendments that:

• take away members’ right to counsel during the grievance process;

• force non-members and part-time members to pay the same dues as regular members;

• strip away any pretense that the HSTA is a professional association by clarifying that it is a labor union under the National Education Association (NEA) umbrella;

• establish an internal board likely to thwart teachers from filing grievances;

• threaten teachers with fines and legal fees if they do not “exhaust internal remedies;” and

• allow members to be fined or expelled for breach of confidentiality, unauthorized disclosure of privileged information or refusal to respect a picket line.

All but 14 of more than 350 teacher delegates concurred with these punitive changes with only 7 nays and 7 abstentions. A majority of members already ratified the bylaws.

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Possible Hawaii County bid rigging halts process

HILO -- Hawaii County officials have yanked a bid solicitation while they investigate whether its requirements were modified so that the only qualifying bidder would be a company owned by a county employee.
Kamaaina Pumping, the company owned by a county Department of Public Works division head, holds the current contract and will continue the work while the investigation is conducted. Its contract ends June 30, but it can be extended 90 days, said Managing Director Bill Takaba.
The complaint was made by a company that once held the contract but did not compete on the current solicitation.

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Will Mayor Hannemann Forgo Federal Funding for the Honolulu Rail?

We now believe that Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann has two plans for rail. First, he will try to get federal funding approvals and proceed in the normal way. Second, in the event he fails to get federal approvals, he is setting up matters at the City Council so that he can legally build the first six mile segment with just local funds and forgo federal funds.

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Cash-strapped Navy puts hold on transfers, goodwill visits by ships

A cash-strapped Navy has halted 14,000 duty station moves, is reducing by one-third the sailing time of non-deployed ships and is cutting back on aviation flight hours and ship visits to U.S. cities to counter a $930 million ship repair and manpower budget shortfall, officials said.

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