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Monday, March 12, 2012
March 12, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:43 PM :: 12998 Views :: Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

LINK: March 13 GOP Caucus Voting Locations

Romney Sweeps Pacific: Wins Alaska, Guam, CNMI, heads for Am Samoa, Hawaii

Romney Wins Backing from Ward, Hemmings, Rohlfing, Djou, Saiki

Romney, Paul, Santorum Campaign in Hawaii Monday

Three GOP Presidential Candidates Dispatch Their Children to Hawaii to Rally Voters Before Tuesday's Caucus

HR: Ronnie Paul, oldest son of Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas, toured the state capitol on Friday with his wife Peggy and John Tate, Ron Paul’s campaign manager. They held an event on Saturday in Waikiki for a diverse crowd of around 200 Ron Paul for President supporters. In an interview with Hawaii Reporter, Ronnie Paul said the entire Paul clan is involved in Ron Paul’s campaign for president including all five children, 18 grand children and great grandchildren. Ronnie Paul said: "I believe that’s because voters have had enough of the Big Government, big spending status quo – and are yearning for real change. The truth is, my dad is the only true constitutional conservative in this race. And he’s the only candidate offering real solutions to the problems we face as a nation."

Elizabeth Santorum, daughter of former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, arrived in Hawaii on Saturday and is attending several events while she is here to promote her father’s presidential bid. She made an appearance on the Rick Hamada Show on Monday morning. Both she and Ronnie Paul focused on government spending, growth and power as primary focuses of their father’s presidential campaign message.

Matt Romney, son of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, arrived Sunday, and will spend the afternoon with supporters in Laie, Oahu, where there is a stronghold of Mormon volunteers.

KHON: Presidential candidates' children in Hawaii

read … Rally Voters

State Republicans to choose favorite Tomorrow

SA: David Chang, Hawaii’s Republican Party chairman, is estimating that 5,000 to 10,000 voters will turn out for caucuses Tuesday that will determine the (which) candidate(s) who will get 17 of the state’s 20 delegates to the GOP National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this summer.

Republicans will vote between 6 and 8 p.m. Tuesday at locations across the state. Voters must join the party to participate. Caucus locations are listed at http://www.gophawaii.com/presidential-caucus-locations/.

read … March 13

DoTAX: Hawaii Tax Rates Are Now Secret—Low Staffing Blamed

CB: Tax fairness and income inequality have become key issues in the 2012 presidential campaign. But it's hard to compare what tax rates the poorest and wealthiest Hawaii residents pay, in part because the state has stopped tracking that data.

The IRS keeps some state-by-state data. An IRS report of the most recent state data available shows that it collected $6.3 billion from Hawaii residents in 2010, which amounts to about 0.3 percent of the $2.4 trillion that the IRS collected nationwide that year. But the agency can't say what the average Hawaii resident's effective federal tax rate is.

The Hawaii Department of Taxation doesn't have detailed data breaking down the effective tax rates that state residents pay, a spokeswoman for the department told Civil Beat.

"We used to have statisticians and people that would normally do that kind of stuff," said the department's public information officer, Mallory Fujitani, in a phone interview. "This is where people would really love us to get the staffing level back up because they really do help shed light on whether we're being fair in our application of the law."

Residents in other parts of the country have access to data that provides such perspective. In New York, for example, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance publishes an annual report detailing the distribution of individual effective tax rates by income level.

In recent years, the Hawaii tax department only keeps data on those who file N-11 forms, which are typically used by higher-income filers because the forms entail itemized deductions. Fujitani said the data from N-11 forms offer an incomplete picture….

The Tax Foundation's Mark Robyn said in an email that while the state Department of Taxation is "the only place that will have real-world data" to illustrate Hawaii individual effective tax rates at different income levels, there are organizations that make estimates in order to compare states.

For example, a 2009 study by the nonprofit Institute of Taxation & Economic Policy found that Hawaii ranked sixth-highest for taxes on the poor. That report, based on 2007 state tax data, found that the average tax rate for Hawaii residents was 10 percent while the average tax rate for the poorest fifth of the Hawaii population was 12.2 percent.

read … Hawaii’s Secret Tax Rate

Hirono Refuses To Release Tax Returns

CB: We asked the following 11 candidates to provide copies of their 2008, 2009 and 2010 tax returns: Senate hopefuls John Carroll1, Ed Case, Mazie Hirono and Linda Lingle; 1st Congressional District candidates Colleen Hanabusa and Charles Djou; and 2nd Congressional District candidates Rafael del Castillo, Tulsi Gabbard, Mufi Hannemann, Esther Kiaaina and Bob Marx.

Many of the candidates promptly replied that they'd be happy to share their tax documents — but only if their opponents did so first.

"We're prepared to give you the returns but we don't want to be the only candidate to do so," Lingle spokesman Lenny Klompus told Civil Beat in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Case, too, appeared willing to provide his returns — and followed up several times with questions about exactly what information Civil Beat was requesting. In response to a Feb. 16 email in which Civil Beat clarified that it wanted copies of his tax returns, rather than select line-item information from them, he suggested that we review financial disclosure information included with campaign filings instead. But on March 8, he made it clear that his decision will be contingent on what Lingle and Hirono decide to do.

"I am willing to provide the summary pages of my '08-'10 tax returns if and when both Hirono and Lingle do the same," Case wrote in an email. "If they refuse to do that, I am willing to provide my 'effective tax rate' together with total income and total federal tax paid for those three years if and when both Hirono and Lingle do the same."

A spokeswoman for Hirono implied that financial disclosures that the congresswoman is already required to submit are sufficient.

MN: Hirono’s message to voters is presumptuous

read … Hirono Refuses

Bag Tax to Create 150 UPW Make-Work Jobs

SA: Abercrombie hopes to raise at least $11 million annually for expanding protected watershed areas by adding a 10-cent surcharge to consumers on most single-use shopping bags (Senate Bill 2511).

Yuen said the surcharge would discourage consumer use of plastic and paper bags issued by stores and raise revenues to help offset the negative impacts of manufacturing them, including fewer trees and more greenhouse gases.

The bill, in the state House for review after surviving in the Senate, targets bags provided at checkout but exempt some— such as garbage bags or bags to package loose items like vegetables.

"We're hoping to turn a problem into a solution," Yuen said.

The bill would allot $800,000 of the projected revenues to the Department of Health to run and enforce the program, and $11 million would go to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

With the surcharge, Abercrombie hopes to hire 150 more workers to maintain and expand the protection of watersheds like the bog at Mount Kaala, where the state offered media tours last week in its push to get the legislation passed.

read … Make work Jobs for UPW

Mayor: Kauai police chief reinstated after leave

KHON: Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. announced Monday Perry has been brought back from leave.

Carvalho says the decision came after discussions with lawyers, the police commission and Perry. Perry and Carvalho had been at odds over whether the mayor had authority to place the chief on leave. Perry maintained only the police commission could do so.

read … Kauai

SA: Community input key to developing Kakaako properly

SA Editorial: HCDA (Lori Mitsunaga) raised eyebrows in October when it requested proposals for a 650-foot tower for condominiums named 690 Pohukaina, surpassing the island's 400-foot height restriction.

And the developer of the new "Symphony" tower sought an exemption from an eminently sensible rule requiring the towers to be oriented to preserve mauka-to-makai views. San Diego-based developer OliverMcMillan is asking permission to make the long side of the 400-foot tower parallel to Kapiolani Boulevard, thus providing ocean views from the units. An HCDA hearing and vote on the requested variance scheduled for March 7 was postponed after the proposal was publicized. The idea should be rejected.

Neighbors of proposed development sometimes will "wait until the bulldozers begin to remove rubble before they complain," Abercrombie said. "But everyone believes you need to develop more in Kakaako. There's too many empty lots. The big argument is going to be: What's it going to look like?"

That is the right question to ask. The HCDA (aka: Lori Mitsunaga) should actively solicit comments and make it easy for the public to learn the details of projects long before the bulldozers start up.

OliverMcMillan's request that this month's hearing be rescheduled hopefully means that such a message is reverberating in the right places.

Related: Abercrombie, Mitsunaga, OHA Sharpen Knives to Cut up Kakaako

read … Community input key to developing Kakaako properly

Lingle in HBO ‘Game Change’

PR: One of our readers caught former Gov. Linda Lingle’s cameo in “Game Change,” HBO’s dramatization of the John Heilemann and Mark Halperin book on the 2008 presidential campaign.

The movie portrays Rick Davis, an adviser to U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, doing a Google and YouTube search of Republican women after the campaign determines that a woman would help the GOP ticket. After a Google search for Meg Whitman, the eBay executive, Davis views a YouTube clip of Lingle discussing alternative energy — solar arrays — at a keynote speech to the Maui Chamber of Commerce.

read … Political Radar

Digging Hawaii's Public Pension Fund Out of $8 Billion Hole Will Hurt

CB: The Hawaii Employees' Retirement System was facing $8.15 billion in unfunded liabilities as of June 30, 2011, according to a new report. That represents the gap between what's been promised in benefits to public workers and the money set aside to pay for them over the next 25 years. The figure swelled by 14 percent in one year.

The report said the system is only 59 percent funded, about 20 percentage points below the national average, and its health will likely worsen before it gets better.

Pension officials in a recent interview told Civil Beat there are only four solutions to tackle the debt, all of which the ERS board has tinkered with in recent years:

  • Increase employer contributions
  • Increase employee contributions
  • Improve investment returns
  • Reduce retirement benefits

read … $8B

Invest in Hawaii: Dem Senators Tout Latest Pork Barrel Project

The Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012, Senate Bill 2012. This measure is an aggressive $500 million general obligation bond-funded capital improvement program package that will create jobs by investing and stimulating our local economy from all corners of the state and can become available as soon as it is passed out of the House and the governor signs the bill. (Contracts in that!)

The need for capital improvements authorized by SB 2012 is great. There is a backlog of more than $1 billion in repair and maintenance projects for aging state facilities, from schools to hospitals. This measure aims to significantly reduce the repair and maintenance backlog list at 225 schools statewide and all 10 University of Hawaii campuses. The improvements would extend the useful life of state facilities and put people to work right away by fixing roofs and windows and making other basic repairs. The investment now will far outweigh the cost in the future, mitigating the need to fund replacements and reducing other future maintenance costs….

Another top priority of the bill is to develop sustainable and renewable energy resources, such as photovoltaic technology.

read … Senators

Obama Admin Cuts Back on Tsunami Warning System—Star-Adv Says No Big Deal

SA: “Tsunami alerts not at risk despite $1M cut, experts say” (If it were a Republican president, this would be the end of the world.)

The DART buoys first proved their worth in November 2003, when a 7.7-magnitude quake shook a section of the Aleutians. A tsunami warning was canceled because buoy data showed the waves would not be destructive.

That avoided an evacuation order in Hawaii, which saved the state an estimated $68 million in lost productivity, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The evacuation in 1986, when only small waves hit Hawaii's shores, cost the state about $40 million, according to a department study. The 1994 evacuation, which led to morning rush-hour gridlock, cost $50 million, the department estimated.

The buoy system also could come in handy when there is another quake like the March 11, 2011, Tohoku megaquake off Honshu, Fryer said.

"The Japan earthquake is slightly of concern because there was a huge amount of very shallow slip," he said. "That is part of why the tsunami was so large — the tsunami that hit Japan. And it was much, much larger than anything anyone expected.

"Up near the trench, one side of the fault moved <t-7>70 meters (230 feet), and the previous record was about 35. So what that can do, if conditions are right, that can put a spike, a big high peak, in the tsunami, and we wouldn't know that just from the seismology. So in an instance like that, it would be nice to have a DART."

With the proposed budget reduction, about 70 percent of the buoys will be in working order at any given time, he said.

"My understanding is that is just they're going to back off on maintenance, that when things break, they won't be in such a hurry to go out and fix them," Fryer said. "And things always break. It's a big, complicated system, the ocean is an unfriendly environment, so things fail."

read … Nothing to see here, just move along

Water Commission Exec Evades Hoopili Questions

CB: I am familiar with Tam’s practice of evading questions by jumping from topic to topic and sometimes even asking interlocutors to consider legal phantoms and arcane hypotheticals.

“He discussed,” Cocke continued, “climate change, threats to Hawaii’s watersheds, disputes over water rights, runoff, plantation water systems dating back to 1900, weather cycles, water quality issues, pesticides — everything but Hoopili.”

Andrew Gomes, of the Star-Advertiser, reported that “Tam raised concerns that models to predict water availability are outdated, but he refrained from saying whether he thought enough water exists for Hoopili.”

Tam, the deputy director of the Water Resource Management Commission, often referred to as the Water Commission, appeared to be less helpful than he could have been. Was he under orders to testify as he did, or was he just being Bill Tam?

Or was he being an akamai, turf-conscious bureaucrat who wasn’t quite ready to tip his hand?

(This is by Warren Iwasa former executive director of the Review Commission on the State Water Code, State of Hawaii.)

read … Water Tam

Cops, Prostitutes and Pimps: No Arrests on a Saturday in Honolulu

CB: Want to hire a prostitute in Honolulu and get away with it? Do it on a Saturday.

A Civil Beat investigation of 12 months' worth of prostitution arrests shows that there is virtually no enforcement of prostitution laws on weekends.

In one year's time, Honolulu police made no prostitution arrests on Saturdays and just two arrests on a Sunday, and both of those were on the same day at the same location. That's no prostitutes, johns or pimps arrested on the busiest night of the week. Police made a total of 214 arrests in a 12-month period, with weekends making up less than 1 percent of those arrests. Instead, the majority of all prostitution arrests took place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

CB: The Story Behind Our "Cops, Prostitutes and Pimps" Series

read … Saturday off

Six DUIs finally Gets 1 Year Jail

 

MN: At about 10 that night, a police officer saw a black pickup truck without its lights on driving over curbs and traffic islands in the Azeka Mauka Center parking lot in Kihei, said Deputy Prosecutor Kenton Werk. Then the truck crossed Piikea Avenue to enter the Longs Drug Store parking lot, where the truck stopped, straddling two parking spaces, Werk said.

When the officer approached, Pichette at first lied about his name before admitting who he was, Werk said. Pichette refused to participate in field sobriety tests, but other testing measured his blood-alcohol level at 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, Werk said.

He said Pichette previously had been before a judge for drunken driving three times in Hawaii and at least twice in Washington state and was repeatedly told about the dangers of drunken driving and the requirement to undergo treatment and attend support group meetings.

 

read … Six DUIs


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