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Friday, March 09, 2012
March 9, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:57 PM :: 12273 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Campaigning in Hawaii: Liz Santorum, Ronnie Paul, Matt Romney

Feel Safer? Abercrombie Blocks Seed-Laden 'Lorax' Markers

1,358 Turn Out for Hawaii Democratic Caucuses, 42 Reject Obama

Obama: 1,316
Uncommitted: 42
Turnout: 1,358

read … “Obama country

Moore: Reapportionment Disenfranchises Too Many Voters

CB: The commission quickly accepted it, giving 12 Senate seats — Districts 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 12, 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 and 24 — two years before they have to run again and the other 13 four-year terms. In 2014, the districts that were truncated this time around will go back to four-year terms, too.

Commission staff were expected to file the reapportionment plan late Thursday with the State Elections Office, which has 14 days to publish the plan and until the end of the month to report it to the Hawaii Legislature.

But candidates can begin pulling campaign papers and filing them as early as Friday morning.

Commissioner Elizabeth Moore, who could not attend Thursday's hearing, expressed her dissenting vote at Tuesday's meeting.

Moore said that while she acknowledges the Hawaii Supreme Court's authority to order the commission to redraw maps, as it did in January, she said she "cannot agree with the court's decision" to remove non-permanent military personnel, their dependents and out-of-state students from the base population.

Moore felt the decision disenfranchised too many voters.

read … Moore

Marks: Reapportioned Dissidents’ State Lawsuit Will Fail

SA: Commission Chairwoman Victoria Marks said she believes the commission was diligent in dealing with concerns raised by the public and that the proposal will stand up in court.

"We heard concerns. We took the time. We reviewed the alternative maps," said Marks, a retired circuit judge. "We heard input from the public, and where we were able to make changes, we did.

"I think we came up with a better plan because of all the input that we've received."

The approval allows the state Office of Elections to move forward with planning for the Aug. 11 primary election. Chief Election Officer Scott Nago had said his office needed the maps by Feb. 29 to prevent putting the election at risk.

"We're just thankful that we can begin our work," Nago said.

read … House dissidents weigh voter district challenge

SB2571: Gays Grab for Other People’s Children

HTH: On Tuesday, House Bill 2569 passed its third reading, moving through the House finance committee and crossing over for consideration by the Senate. Introduced by state Rep. and House Speaker Calvin Say, the bill has faced little resistance, passing out of the House without a single “no” vote.

The bill ensures that couples seeking a civil union “shall suffer no loss or interruption of any rights, benefits, protections, or obligations derived from their reciprocal beneficiary relationship.” It also clarifies that a person who refuses to perform a solemnization of a civil union will not be subject to civil actions, something for which several religious leaders throughout the state lobbied, arguing that they should not be forced to perform a ceremony to which they are religiously opposed.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 2571, introduced by Les Ihara Jr., D-District 9, passed its third reading Tuesday in the Senate and moved on to the House. Two state senators voted against the bill: Mike Gabbard, D-District 19, and Sam Slom, R-District 8.

The bill addresses public employee benefits, property, the establishment of parent-child relationships, and adoption. It also establishes “a transition period for two individuals who terminate their reciprocal beneficiary relationship and enter into a civil union to ensure that both events occur substantially concurrently and that all rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities under the reciprocal beneficiary relationship continue upon entering into the civil union,” according to the latest revision of SB 2571.

read … Clarity sought on civil unions

Are Honolulu Rail Backers' New Radio Ads Accurate?

CB: Public opinion has turned against the rail project, but proponents are working to reverse that trend.

The work has already begun, even before The Civil Beat Poll this week revealed the level of distrust about the controversial project. Rail backers have taken to the airways, and are promoting progress and benefits to Oahu's radio listeners.

Two distinct — but related — commercial campaigns are under way.

The first set, produced by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and paid for with city tax dollars, is purportedly to warn residents about impending construction. The second, aired by the Pacific Resource Partnership, is to remind residents about the virtues of rail transit….

The second spot's mention of the FTA led anti-rail mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano to complain that the ad creates the "illusion" of federal approval when none exists.

"It is totally irresponsible for the City to begin using taxpayers dollars to start the building process without any guarantee that federal dollars will come through for the project," Cayetano said in a Feb. 29 press release.

read … Rail Backers

Abercrombie, Mitsunaga, OHA Sharpen Knives to Cut up Kakaako

SA: Abercrombie, who once dismissed high-rises in the region as "kennels for the rich," sees a place where people can live, work, shop and play, relieving some of the pressure to push new development across Oahu. His hope for Kakaako is to blend luxury condos with less-expensive housing near rail transit, commercial development with small businesses and recreation with shoreline access for surfers and bodyboarders.

Small-business owners, community activists and surfers who have opposed some of the previous development projects in Kakaako, particularly along the waterfront, are concerned about the new plans.

Dexter Okada, a fish and seafood wholesale distributor who is with the Kakaako Business & Landowners Association, said that some businesses are worried that increased residential development would lead to conflicts and that redevelopment would drive property values and property taxes higher. "We're afraid of being squeezed out of Kakaako," he said.

State Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galu­te­ria (D, Downtown-Waikiki) said redevelopment in Kakaako will need significant buy-in from residents and businesses to be successful. "It's got to be balanced growth. It's got to be planned well," he said. "We're not looking for any Riviera in Kakaako."

State Rep. Tom Brower (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana) said involving the community early in the planning will be important.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority (Mitsunaga, see next article) oversees redevelopment in the area.

read … Crony Capitalism

Mitsunaga Again: Abercrombie campaign worker seated on development authority

SA: One of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's appointments to the Hawaii Community Development Authority is an engineer whose family and business contacts were top donors to Abercrombie's campaign.

Abercrombie chose Lois Mitsunaga, a structural engineer and corporate treasurer for Mitsunaga & Associates, for the post last year. The Senate unanimously confirmed her earlier in the legislative session.

Mitsunaga was a volunteer for the Abercrombie campaign who did outreach among women and young voters. She, her father — prominent Democratic fundraiser Dennis Mitsunaga — and others associated with the construction firm donated more than $55,000 to the campaign. Mitsunaga & Associates was also the largest single donor to Abercrombie's inauguration festivities, contributing $30,000.

The Mitsunagas have reserved Washington Place for Lois Mitsunaga's wedding reception in April.

The authority oversees redevelopment in Kakaako, which has become among Abercrombie's priorities.

Related: Attack ads "coordinated' with alleged Pay-to-Play engineering firm

read … More Mitsunaga

Larry Mehau Associate Draws Council Lines, then Announces Campaign for Seat

HTH: Commissioners who create County Council districts would be barred from running in those districts for at least one election cycle after the lines are drawn, under a charter amendment the council Governmental Relations Committee is scheduled to hear today.

The bill is sponsored by Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann, and it’s sparked in part by the announcement by two members of the Redistricting Commission that they will be running for County Council this year. Hoffmann is term-limited, and he said that makes him a good sponsor for the charter amendment.

Bill 192 will be heard by the Governmental Relations Committee at 3:30 p.m. in council chambers in Hilo. The public can also participate via videoconference from the West Hawaii Civic Center, Waimea or Pahoa council offices.

Charter amendments need a two-thirds vote three times by the council before they’re added to the ballot.

Both commissioners who are running say they didn’t plan on running for County Council when they agreed to be on the Redistricting Commission — and both said they didn’t see it as a conflict of interest.

Dru Mamo Kanuha is planning to run for the newly created County Council District 7, representing downtown Kailua Village and the Kona area from roughly Kainaliu north to Kona’s Old Airport. The seat for the district formerly known as South Kona is wide open, as redrawing the map has moved incumbent Councilwoman Brenda Ford to an expanded Ka’u/South Kona District 6.

“It sparked an interest,” Kanuha said of being on the Redistricting Commission. “There’s a whole new council coming up on this island and it’s exciting to be part of it.”

Redistricting Commissioner Valerie Poindexter has pulled nomination papers to run in Hamakua’s District 1, being vacated by Council Chairman Dominic Yagong’s decision to run for mayor.

Poindexter helped organize this event: Big Island Rancher Larry Mehau Hosts Community Rally for Sen. Akaka

read … Panelists would be barred from running in districts they created

No new taxes? OK, we'll just tack on some new fees

Borreca: More money. The state this year is taking in more money, wants more and has about 50 new ideas to get more.

The election-year cliché of no new taxes is a promise the Legislature will keep, but it does not mean the state won't be doing some wallet-diving.

Republicans in the House and Senate came up with a list of new fees and charges, which are alive and moving at the Legislature this week….

Charging 10 cents extra for plastic bags was an issue for the Senate.

Here's how the Senate Ways and Means Committee explained the plan: Retailers will charge a "fee for the distribution of single-use checkout bags and (the plan) directs that fee revenues be used to fund programs to mitigate the damaging effects of single-use checkout bags."

The Senate committee report estimates that state supervision and enforcement of this program will cost around $800,000. How much would be raised is not known, but the first $800,000 of charges from consumers would go to the state.

If you think this will work, remember that the state fund created with the beverage recycling fee was raided by the Legislature to balance the budget. And in 2009 and 2010, the fund was spending more on rebates and state supervision than it was taking in.

SA: Lawmaker offers toll roads as an option for motorists

read … New Fees

Hundreds of Retiring Public Workers "Spiked" Their Pension Benefits

HR: Of 5,000 state and county employees who retired since 2009, 674 of them substantially boosted their pension benefits by a practice called “spiking,” a state senate investigating committee was told today.

A “spiking” employee arranges to work as many hours of overtime as possible over the last three years of service, knowing that the extra pay will disproportionately boost pensions at retirement.

Wesley Machida, head of the state Employees Retirement System, said a $50,000-per-year worker is entitled to a $33,476 pension after 30 years of service.

The same worker who “spikes” the last three years of pay to $200,000 annually will collect a $120,000 pension, Machida said.

The practice is most commonly found in public safety and public health organizations and contributes to the state pension system’s staggering $8.15 billion unfunded liability, said Machida.

read … Top Three Years

Insurers push docs toward performance-based pay

PBN: Two years ago, Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state’s largest health plan with more than 692,000 members statewide, launched a pay-for-performance program that essentially ties up to 15 percent of a health-care provider’s revenues to a quality health outcomes program.

It has 14 Hawaii hospitals on board, including the Queen’s Health Systems and Hawaii Pacific Health hospitals, which essentially allows them to get paid more for providing better care based on certain metrics that include reducing the rate of hospital readmissions under 30 days, reducing bloodstream infections and having functional electronic medical records.

HMSA Senior Vice President Hilton Raethel said the pay-for-performance model motivates providers, especially at the primary care level, to be more active in building a sustainable health-care system.

read … Performance-Based

Horner Optimistic that Hawaii Will not lose Race to the Top Dollars as HSTA Submits Latest Offer

SA: The Governor's Office is preparing a response to a contract proposal submitted by the teachers union Feb. 28, the latest step in a months-long labor dispute.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, spokes­woman for Gov. Neil Abercrombie, said it was not known when the response would be ready. Neither side has disclosed the details of the proposal or whether it includes a plan to tie wage increases to performance.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe stressed that the proposal is based on input from union members statewide, who came out to the HSTA's "listening sessions" following the teachers' overwhelming rejection of a proposed contract Jan. 19.

Still, Hawaii's spending of its Race dollars remains low, one indicator of how projects are moving along. As of March 2 the state had spent about $4.7 million of its $75 million Race grant.

Hawaii was among 10 winners — nine states and the District of Columbia — of competitive Race to the Top grants in August 2010.

BOE Chairman Don Horner said the state's Race to the Top initiatives are not about a single grant, but about redesigning a system. He said he's optimistic Hawaii will not lose its Race money, but if it does, "we're still committed to implementing the plan."

read … HSTA awaits governor's response to contract

State to Take Galbraith Estate as part of Hoopili Deal

SA: In the transition to the administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the agency's position on Ho‘opili has shifted to one of support. It's hard to overlook the potential of industry influence in politics — names of some executives with the Horton enterprise do turn up on the list of the governor's campaign contributors.

But Kokubun maintained that what really tipped the scales toward the state's pro-development position is the availability of more land and opportunities for Oahu farming. Primary among these, he said, is the Galbraith Estate, 1,720 acres of former pineapple fields that are soon to come online for diversified agriculture. There's also progress, he added, in the statewide designation of "important agricultural lands" (IAL) to help revitalize the state's ag industry….

QUESTION: Why did the department change positions on the Ho‘opili project?

ANSWER: I have not talked with the previous director specifically about their position; I talked with staff, though. … I think the main issue for the previous administration was that there be additional land set aside for this purpose. And at that point the requirement really was for the developer to go get this additional land, and make it available.

Q: You mean to be used for farming?

A: Correct: If you’re going to take some good stuff out, that there be more good stuff replacing that. What I think didn’t happen at that time, one of the major factors that changed our position, is that now we have access to more land, really good land.

So, has there been a replacement? Yes, and more so. And now is there even more of an effort to make more good agricultural land available for that purpose? The answer is yes.

Q: Where is this replacement land?

A: The biggest piece is the Galbraith Estate. … The (state) Agribusiness Development Corp. is going to assume management and responsibility for the Galbraith lands. A hui of funders got into that, including OHA (the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs).

ILind: George Galbraith Info

read … Galbraith

New Rules for Non-Hawaii Owned Vacation Rentals Advancing In Legislature

CB: The bills — especially a Senate measure — continue to tick off non-Hawaii owners.

Not long after the Hawaii state Senate passed Senate Bill 2089, reaction began to flow in on a discussion stream at HomeAway Community.

The stream, titled Hawaii Trying to Kill VRBO — VRBO stands for "vacation rentals by owner" — were near unanimous in their shock and contempt.

"24 to 1 — incredible," said one post, referring to the vote.

"Totally unconstitutional," said another. "This will be challenged at the Federal level if passed."…

SB 2089 has attracted the most ire….

read … Can’t Afford

NFL Pro Bowl generated $25.3M impact for Hawaii

PBN: The 2012 NFL Pro Bowl played at Aloha Stadium on Jan. 29 generated an economic impact of $25.3 million, according to an estimate released Friday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority….

read … Price of Abercrombie’s Mouth

State GOP to Re-Vote National Committeeman Position

Political Radar: David Chang, the chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party, said on Thursday that he would entertain a motion at the party’s April state committee meeting for a new vote on the election of Republican National Committeeman.

Several Republicans protested the January vote to elect Ted Liu, a former director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, over Willes Lee, a former state party chairman. Liu won by one vote.

“I believe that the election was fair, above reproach, and met the intent of the majority of its members,” Chang told Republicans, but explained that he would allow a new vote anyway.

read … NCM

HuffPo: Hawaii Lacks Windmills because of Christians

Huff Po: Some nods to self-preservation have since been nodded: free charging stations for electric vehicles, for example, along with a few wind turbines, are now emplaced. But the fact remains that the vast majority of Hawaii's electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, so the gesture is, well, a gesture.

Where does religion enter in? At the very heart of the matter. Traditional polytheistic, animist Hawaiian religion had everything to do with sustaining life on the slender arc of land that was home to the kānaka maoli, or Hawaiian people. Of course, like all religions, it was multidimensional and more, but there can be no gainsaying that it conferred on the chief a responsibility to negotiate favorable terms with the forces of nature so as to assure prosperity of his people. In return, the chief got to live in comparative luxury. Unlike the pope or president of the Latter Day Saints, however, he was liable to be overthrown if the forces of nature did not cooperate. (Huh?) It was faith with accountability…. (Say, what is the accountability of the modern eco-religion? Who is being held responsible for foisting the global warming hoax on humanity?)

Since then, Christianity has crushed the remnants of polytheism. Those who have the deepest roots in Hawaii have succumbed to the missionaries in far greater numbers than the newcomers. All over Oahu, I saw "HE>i" bumper stickers on old pickups ….

read … More delusional ramblings

Star-Adv: Let Iran Get Nukes or You’re a Warmonger

SA: On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confronted U.S. senators who want American military force in Syria, where thousands have been killed in a regime crackdown. Unlike the Libyan situation, there's no consensus in the Arab world on Syrian intervention, he said, and unilateral action by the U.S. would spark violent backlashes.

On Iran, three hawkish GOP primary candidates — Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich — have been beating the war drums.

"The only thing respected by thugs and tyrants is our resolve," said Romney, "backed by our power and our readiness to use it." (Notice how the subject changed from trroops on the ground in Syria to stopping nukes in Iran. These are two

Santorum dismissed the crucial negotiations with Iran as "another appeasement, another delay," and Gingrich said Iran has already crossed the "red line" in its nuclear development, which he said demands a military response now before Iranians can progress toward nuclear weapon capability.

The only holdout in the Republican pack is Ron Paul, who has adhered to the non-interventionist libertarian critique of most recent American military adventures overseas.

read … we can trust Iran, really


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