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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
May 27, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:08 AM :: 7693 Views :: Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

Maui County GOP Chair denounces Sotomayor Nomination

WAILUKU - Although the Maui Republican Party chairman said Tuesday he was concerned that the addition of federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court would push the nation's highest court to the political left, others said they would welcome the diversity that a woman of Hispanic descent would bring to the nation's highest court.

Maui GOP Chairman John Henry said he opposes President Barack Obama's nomination of Sotomayor because she would advance a liberal agenda.

"What the far left have not been able to pass legislatively - because the American people simply do not support a far-left agenda - they want to impose on the American people through the courts," Henry said. "That is why Obama has nominated Sotomayor: to push the Supreme Court further and further left, to advance that liberal agenda."

Henry said he's interested in hearing the Senate question Sotomayor at her confirmation hearings.

"Any nominee to the courts should uphold the Constitution," he said. "The Constitution is not a living, breathing document that changes with the times. A judge should not be an activist that makes law from the bench. A judge needs to be fair to the rich as well as the poor, fair to the Caucasian as well as the Latino, fair to the young as well as to the old."

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Decision delayed on drug dogs, searches at Hawaii schools

At yesterday's meeting, several attorneys and other community members warned against the changes, calling them everything from bad policy to unconstitutional.

Pamela Lichty, the president of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, said the revisions are "zero tolerance" in nature, which she believes are ineffective in school environments. She also testified against suspicionless searches and drug-sniffing dogs, saying it "invokes images of a prison or a totalitarian regime."

"It may be legal — it's controversial whether it is legal — but the question is, is it good policy?" Lichty said.

Speaking on behalf of University of Hawai'i law professor Jon Van Dyke, Sinclair Ferguson told board members that the changes are "broad and sweeping" in nature and would allow any school official to inspect the content of a child's locker at any time, without reason.

"Proposed changes ... relating to locker searches are inconsistent with Hawai'i and federal law, which require particularized suspicion before conducting any type of search," he said.

Board members spent a significant portion of yesterday's meeting discussing various amendments proposed by (transsexual) board member (Mr) Kim Coco Iwamoto, an outspoken opponent of drug-sniffing dogs and suspicionless searches.

However, Iwamoto had also proposed striking language that would ban "consensual touching of body parts," saying the definition was overly broad and could lead to students being disciplined for holding hands or kissing.

In the end, the amendment failed, but at least one testifier claimed that principals have discriminated against lesbians and gay couples by disciplining them for public displays of affection.

Caroline Leyva, a social worker with Qelement, an organization that helps lesbian and gay youth, told board members an openly lesbian student was disciplined by an administrator for holding hands with her girlfriend. The girl, who was attending Waipahu Intermediate at the time, was told her displays of affection were out of the ordinary and inappropriate.

SB: BOE delays vote on changes to student disciplinary code

KHNL: Board of Education postpones decision to expand drug sniffing dog program

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Tourism agency plans ad cutbacks

State tourism liaison Marsha Wienert yesterday objected to the proposed cut in marketing, saying the top priority should be increasing the number of visitors to Hawai'i and the amount they spend here....

The tentative budget would allocate 69 percent of funds to marketing.

...He said he felt that in the previous budget year, the HTA ended up with 90 percent of the budget pre-committed to marketing "with little flexibility when the economic crisis hit."

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'Renaissance' plan for Hawaii parks shifts into low-budget gear (menehune labor)

Thielen isn't mourning the failure of her Recreational Renaissance proposal, and she isn't ready to announce the closure of any parks. Instead she's busy preparing to launch Plan B next month. It will likely include:

  • Charging nonresidents a fee to enter a few high-traffic parks and increasing slip fees at small boat harbors;
  • Partnering with volunteer community groups to fix problems at little or no cost, such as in the citizen-led repair of a bridge at Polihale State Park on Kaua'i; and
  • Focusing staff attention on urgent and high-profile issues, stretching the operations budget through a super-lean budget year.

    "Basically, in my opinion, Plan B is going to be the Recreational Renaissance plan, less what we didn't get from the Legislature," said Ed Underwood, administrator of DLNR's Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.

    "We will be moving forward with repair and upgrades" of harbor facilities that can be done with money already in hand and by using staff and volunteers to do labor where possible, Underwood said.

    Clearly, when money is tight, the work of volunteers is a resource.

    On Kaua'i, a band of volunteers with heavy equipment repaired a flood-damaged access road and bridge to reopen Polihale State Park last month. Another group of citizens stands ready to rebuild a deteriorated loading dock at Kikiaola Harbor.

    The price tag for the Kikiaola loading dock job on the Recreational Renaissance list was $660,000. Kaua'i boating administrator Joe Borden said he's hoping he can get the materials for $20,000 or less — and use the "menehune" labor of the Kikiaola Boat Club to get it done.

    On O'ahu's Sand Island, volunteers will begin next month to create dirt tracks for off-road vehicles, from bicycles to motorbikes to all-terrain vehicles.

    read more

    Borreca: Wading in politicos' ways reveals muck and murk 

    In 2007, the panel met, held public meetings without telling the public when or where the meetings were, briefed the Legislature and governor in private with no public notification, and amazingly the governor and Legislature said not a word as pay raises totaling $20 million by 2014 started rolling in. What's not secret about that?

    The Legislature was equally opaque in its handling of the state budget, which was partially balanced with a $40 million change that resulted in drivers paying an excise tax on top of the state, county and federal fuel taxes. The tax had always been on the books, but since 1980 it had been exempted.

    This year the exemption was set to expire and the Legislature moved to make the exemption permanent, but while the bill was sitting in conference committee -- poof! -- the exemption disappeared and so did the $40 million from your wallet. A tax not charged since 1980 is basically a new tax, except this is one you couldn't see coming and, like the pay raise, legislators can say they didn't vote for it.

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    Legislature Betrayed the Filipino People with Tax Increases

    The Filipino community will be hurt severely by the Legislature’s choices this year. Tax increases against individuals who make more than $200,000 and couples who make more than $400,000 will crush Filipino small business owners who, despite making more than the tax threshold, often hire their close relatives and friends. The decision to increase the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) which targets tourists staying in hotels will hurt many Filipinos who are employed in hotel housekeeping and culinary services; as it is, prior to the tax increase, hotel occupancy in Hawaii was already at its lowest since 1998.  Hotels can’t keep our people employed if tourists are driven away by cost.  The decision to raise taxes on oil in favor of protection of coral reefs (HB 1271) will also hurt Filipinos because many of our brethren also rely on care home transport services for their income. Higher oil taxes mean higher gas costs, and higher gas costs raises the cost of business for these Filipinos.

    read more

    Businessman faces five years in prison

    A 55-gallon barrel of the chemical was punctured and spilled at the warehouse in August 2001 and Anches arranged for a proper environmental cleanup of the spill, according to federal documents.

    But he failed to properly dispose of the cleanup material after being told the cost of disposal would be more than $16,000. Instead, he kept the material in drums stored in a Matson shipping container at the warehouse.  (And for this he faces more time than many meth dealers get)

    read more

    Turnout low for Internet vote (The easier voting gets, the fewer participate)

    Now that the city has completed the nation's first paperless, all-electronic election for this year's neighborhood board races, its return two years from now could be in question, after a staggeringly low 6 percent voter turnout.

    What was billed as a way to increase voter turnout and save money never panned out -- only 7,289 of a potential 115,000 eligible voters cast ballots online or by telephone.

    This year's turnout was far below the elections of two years ago, when 28 percent of those eligible cast ballots. That year, about 10 percent of the 44,000 votes cast were done using an online process that was used in conjunction with the traditional paper ballot system.

    Advertiser: Honolulu Neighborhood Board online election draws few voters

    read more


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