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Sunday, June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:11 PM :: 9853 Views :: Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development, World News, Hawaii History

Ka Pua Makaha: Multi-million dollar giveaway of DHHL assets disguised as “gift”

Am. Samoa Congressional Delegate bought and paid for by Kazakhstan?

Abercrombie plans more forums: I’m on a mission to change the direction of Hawaii

Full Text: City Rejects Rail Bid Protests

Berg: $1.4B Rail Contract upheld by City

Hawaii Kai: One Supermarket for 92,000 people

VIDEO: Fontaine Factor interviews HECO’s Rosegg on Clean Energy

SA: Abercrombie’s Dysfunctional DHHL to blame for Collapse of Makaha Deal

Unfortunately, there's been evidence of dysfunction all around. First of all, DHHL should have sharpened its focus on closing the deal. Officials have not made the case that the original Feb. 11 deadline for the agency to do its due diligence on the land and accept it couldn't have been met. It was an arbitrary date but not an unreasonable amount of time to complete whatever soil studies and consultation with DHHL beneficiaries the department needed to do. Having so much on the line should have sparked a greater sense of urgency.

Relations soured further when it became clear Kamehameha Schools wanted to amend the deal into a "Plan B" approach: Kamehameha would pay Stone $8 million for the whole 300 acres, consolidating ownership of the whole parcel and negating the gift aspect of the deal. DHHL would still build the homes, but would turn over the affordable-housing credits — worth many millions of dollars — to Kamehameha. Trust officials said they had hoped to keep the deal alive, and perhaps later to apply the credits toward its planned Kakaako condominium project, lessening that cost….

Finally, the giver himself ought to reconsider the threat of taking his ball and going home. Most deadlines can be extended, if good-faith efforts are being made to finish what should have been a quicker process. Late Friday, all sides seemed headed toward the original terms.  (Yes, Jeff you still can snag all those valuable affordable-housing credits for your self.)

REALITY: Ka Pua Makaha: Multi-million dollar giveaway of DHHL assets disguised as “gift”

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HSTA,_Abercrombie “Not Close”  Contract expires June 30

Gov. Neil Abercrombie spoke to the group as the state and the teachers' union are still not close to reaching a contract agreement….

Abercrombie said an agreement must be reached before the start of the new school year in August. The current teachers contract expires June 30.

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Abercrombie’s New Day:  More Tax Increases in the New Year

In a detailed memo issued on June 16, Abercrombie called for budget savings of $50 million for the coming fiscal year and another $50 million for the year after….

Back in 2003, then-Gov. Linda Lingle tried to make specific budget cuts. First she said she would cut $5 million from the state's adult education services.

Grousing that the Department of Education was teaching karaoke and country line dancing, Lingle said they didn't appear to be "core functions of government."

A big uproar followed, adult education was spared and Lingle and her budget machete were forced to hunt elsewhere. It should be added that this year the DOE is cutting $5 million from adult education by itself and while it still continues its core service of teaching English to immigrant groups and helping high school drop-outs get their GED, karaoke and line dancing are taught in at least three schools….

Eventually Lingle tired of attempting to snip away program by program and instead ordered everyone to just stop spending so much. She ordered hiring freezes, cuts to groups such the symphony and cultural celebrations, budget cuts of 5 or 10 percent, restricted travel and finally was forced to resort to furloughs, layoffs and lagging the income tax returns….

Abercrombie, in his message signing the budget, says "we cannot continue the status quo, continuing to cut resources from programs which are already hurting and in some cases unable to properly function."

The question now to be answered by Abercrombie is, "Does this mean next year you will call for tax increases?"  (Yes, it does.)

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Abercrombie’s New Day this year: State taxes and fees that help balance the budget will kick in on Friday

The cost of living in Hawaii will edge upward on Friday as the new fiscal year begins and brings with it a rise in various state fees and taxes that were needed to help balance the budget in tough economic times.

In addition to motor vehicle weight taxes and registration fees going up, various businesses and commercial activities will no longer be exempt from having to pay the state's general excise tax — costs that likely will be passed on to customers.

Counties also will have to adjust, as a new measure goes into effect capping at $93 million the amount of money they receive from state hotel room tax revenues. The Honolulu City Council adjusted the city operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year by accounting for $3 million less due to the cap. That same measure also caps at $69 million the amount of transient accommodations tax money going to the state tourism special fund and imposes the hotel room tax on rooms provided on a complimentary or gratuitous basis.

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40 new laws to take effect July 1

A look at some of the new laws that are set to take effect when the new fiscal year begins Friday.

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Hawaii is poised to open its tourism arms to Chinese travelers, but the slow pace for visas could bottleneck efforts

Of the 7.4 million visitors to Hawaii in 2007, only 56,000 came from China. That should increase with the new twice-weekly service between Shanghai and Honolulu by China Eastern Airlines — but could grow even more, were it not for the visa difficulties. Unlike Japan and South Korea, China does not qualify for visa waivers, and obtaining visas to the U.S. is cumbersome.

At most of the 222 overseas posts that the U.S. State Department operates, the wait time for in-person interviews is less than a week. The average wait time at the five posts in China is 48 days, including 64 days in Shanghai and 60 days in Beijing, according to the State Department.

"It's a challenge," said Mike McCartney, executive director of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. "We're hopeful because the first set of charters that came over worked through that."

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Low-Hanging Fruit for Developers: Meetings about construction near the rail system are set for Monday and Tuesday

Two community meetings this week will feature discussion of development around the six planned rail transit stations in Kalihi and downtown, the 20-mile route's most developed areas.

The goal of transit-oriented development is to identify housing, retail, commercial and recreational opportunities around each of the planned 21 stations.

"Developers are going to take the low-hanging fruit," said Terrance Ware, the city's transit-oriented development administrator. "What we're trying to do is create a plan that identifies what the community's major concerns are, and then tie that to the market."

The Kalihi-area workshop will be held Monday at Kalakaua Middle School, and the downtown workshop will be Tuesday in the Hawaii Community Development Authority's conference room.

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Atomic Monkey: Civil Beat Down

their recent story entitled A Lewd, Offensive and Racist Hawaiian Tale contained a lot of valuable news. Unfortunately, it also contained a lot of fluff, leading misinformation and extraneous material as well as some glaring factual errors. For instance, it misrepresented my role with a recent political campaign, and when sent a correction…chose to ignore it. Sometimes my name (Rollman) has one “n,” somtimes two…like a certain politician they seem to be hard on. Freudian slip?

ILind: Exclusive Keith Rollman interview on Daryl Huff’s last day as a reporter

Read the full prosecutor's letter here: Prosecutor's letter (10 pages and it names Eric Ryan, Dan Douglass, Dan Brackins, John Carroll, and Keith Rollman)

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MauiTime Subpoena Withdrawn

With little fanfare and no apology, County of Maui has withdrawn the subpoena for all IP addresses in a 24-hour period of online commenters for an April MauiTime story. This marks the end of an absurd drama that has been hanging over MauiTime since the county issued the subpoena in late May.

“The Maui Police Department has clearly shown that they’re incompetent, lazy or just a force for harassment,” said Tommy Russo, MauiTime publisher. “They brass at MPD are wrong, and they know it.”

It all began on April 14 when MauiTime published this story, which included included video footage of Maui PD Officer Nelson Johnson striking publisher Tommy Russo while trying to prevent Russo from filming both himself and the crew of Dog the Bounty Hunter in the Wailuku municipal parking lot. Online comments, virtually all excoriating the Maui PD, flooded the MauiTime website. Then one commenter, using the moniker, “Federal Reserve,” wrote the following: “the MPD,, the ONLY reason I own a LARGE CALIBRE, high powered rifle. who needs criminals with this bunch of dog eating public menaces running around. Johnson needs a bullet when he walks out
his door.”

A month later, two Maui Police Officers showed up at the MauiTime office in Wailuku and asked Russo for the IP address of the individual who wrote the above comment….

CB: Maui Cops Come to Their Senses — Drop Subpoena

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Maui Police Identify Online Poster, withdraw subpoena

But in a letter to Russo's attorney this week, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Tam said that police had been able to identify the person who made the comments and planned to locate and interview him, eliminating the need for the subpoena….

In an interview Friday, Russo said police could have easily identified the commenter with a simple Internet search all along, and that the decision to pursue his paper with a subpoena was "either incompetence or pure harassment."

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Hawaii Legislators’ Advice on how to survive a Weiner Scandal

Hawaii Democrat Legislators are concerned that they might get caught in a scandal similar to ex-Rep Anthony Wiener (D-NY).  They can’t imagine controlling themselves, so here is some advice on how to recover from “exposure”.  From the Hawaii House Democrats Blog:

In following the disastrous fall of U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner, I heard two sets of steps of PR advice worth saving:

3 critical steps:

  1. Tell it all.
  2. Tell it early.
  3. Tell it yourself.

4 steps to redemption:

  1. Admit wrongdoing, take responsibility.
  2. Apologize to those hurt by your action.
  3. Vanish.
  4. Return with a new focus

(Of course all of this is predicated on the absurd idea that a Hawaii Legislator’s Weiner-gate would be reported at all.)

For instance: Child molester back at work at Hawaii Legislature

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Hawaii state bird a hazard to planes

But nene geese have found a safe home among the green golf course fairways and ponds of a Kauai resort, and they are thriving — exploding from just 18 birds in 1999 to some 400 today.

In fact, the population at Kauai Lagoons has grown so fast and large the geese now are now considered the threat. They pose a public safety hazard to the commercial airliners taking off and landing at the airport next door, forcing the state to scramble to devise a plan to move them somewhere else.

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Restitution? State fails to collect most of the money courts promise the wronged

Sandra Storm-Conway and her relatives were supposed to be paid $500 a month in restitution to cover $7,000 in funeral expenses for her sister and cousin, who were killed in a horrific car collision four years ago.

But when they received their first checks from the driver who caused the crash, the payments were $50 for each funeral. Later, the amount dropped to $33.33. Then, payments stopped. When they resumed this year, they were $10.

Still haunted by what witnesses said was her sister screaming for help before she died, Storm-Conway calls the restitution payments "a huge travesty of justice."

"It's absolutely disrespectful to the victims in this case," Storm-Conway says. "Absolutely disrespectful."

It is estimated that thousands of Hawaii crime victims receive only a small fraction of the millions of dollars in restitution ordered by judges against offenders to cover the losses of those they harm. To many victims, restitution orders from judges have become illusory.

SA: Insult added to fatal injury

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How many cons owe how much is unknown

Today, the judiciary is still relying on what officials call an "antiquated system" that cannot provide statistics on the restitution recovery rate.

The judiciary can now determine how much in restitution is owed by offenders on probation or supervised by the courts, reporting that currently it amounts to $25.5 million. It also provided the Star-Advertiser with figures on the number of new restitution accounts opened each year and the amount of restitution collected each year in all cases.

But the current system cannot provide figures on how many of the 20,000 offenders under court supervision must pay restitution, the amount they owe or how much they paid.

"Those systems simply cannot generate integrated statistical reports," judiciary spokesman Mark Santoki said.

The lack of statistics is a problem in states throughout the nation, making it nearly impossible to assess the success or failure rate of restitution recovery, victims advocates say. It also makes it impossible to compare Hawaii's restitution collection with that of other states.

SA: Judiciary worker advises victims

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Soft on Crime: Five priors by age 28 and out on the streets

Honolulu police are looking for Kawaiho'olaokalani Luhia.

"On October 29th, 2005 at 11:30 p.m., the female heard a knock at the door, looked outside and saw her ex-boyfriend. She hid in the back bedroom. She heard him remove louvers and called police. Police found him hiding in the house and he was later arrested for burglary in the first degree," said Sgt. Kim Buffett of CrimeStoppers.

Luhia is now wanted on two warrants totaling $66,000 for not complying with the terms of his probation.

He's 28 years old, 6'3", 273 pounds.

"he hangs around in the Waianae area and has five prior convictions. Those are for burglary, harassment, probation revocations. So he's had prior warrants," Buffett said.

Abercrombie’s Soft-on-Crime Parole Board: LINK

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Abercrombie endorses Feeding the Homeless at Aloha Stadium

With a little help from Hawaii businesses, nonprofits and churches, Convoy of Hope will distribute 21 tons of food, other supplies and services to people needing assistance on Oahu on July 23 at Aloha Stadium.

Convoy of Hope’s first event in Hawaii, called “A Day of Compassion,” will involve more than 1,000 volunteers from about 100 local businesses, churches, nonprofits and city and government agencies.

The goal is to help some 7,000 Oahu residents. Free transportation will be provided to the event, which will run from 10 a.m. until the goods run out….

“We certainly think it’s a good cause,” said Mufi Hannemann, president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association. “It’s in keeping with the charity walk and the assistance that we render each year to charity groups. We support it, and we are looking for ways that we can help make it a success.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Mayor Peter Carlisle also have agreed to issue proclamations making July 23 Convoy of Hope Day, Eastman said.

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Save Act would revitalize Philippine Garment Industry

The Save Act will allow the duty free exportation of Philippine made garments which used American materials to the US.

“This is a landmark piece of legislation that will redound to great benefits for both our people. It will revive the Philippines’ garment industry that has been in the doldrums ever since the end of the quota regime and at the same time increase imports of US textile and export from the Philippines and other ASEAN countries of up to $3 billion in the next three years. This is definitely a win win solution,” Panlilio said.

According to Panlilio, in spite of the history shared between the Philippines and the US, there is no bilateral trade agreement that will help expand the trade between the two countries.

Panlilio underscored that the trade agreement can create 450,000 new jobs in the near future.

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Hundreds gather to commemorate 'forgotten war'

"During the time of the Korean conflict, so many people didn't understand it," Wiercinski said. "Even those fighting didn't understand it. Now, sixty years later we come to find out how much it really meant and how much it changed an entire country."

According to Korean government representatives in Hawaii, South Korea was left devastated and with little hope after the war, but still became a free and democratic country.

"The division of Korea that we witness today, and the freedom that exists in the south, is a living, breathing reminder to all of you who are veterans of that war as to what that sacrifice was for," Gov. Neil Abercrombie told the gathering.

Some of those veterans have had the chance to return to South Korea, and had nothing but praise for that country and its people.

"It's an absolutely marvelous country now," said veteran Ed "Doc" Brown, who was shot five times in the war. "The people are so overwhelmingly nice to the veterans. I mean, they say 'You're a veteran. Thank you.'"

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