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Tuesday, April 15, 2014
April 15, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:20 PM :: 4618 Views

WaPo: Brian Schatz’s biggest 2014 headache? The governor who appointed him

HCDA Restructuring Among Bills Landing on Abercrombie's Desk

Grassroot Institute 'Celebrates' Hawaii's Tax Freedom Day

Rich States-Poor States: Hawaii Improves its Economic Competitiveness Ranking

Kiplinger: Hawaii 5th-Least Tax-Friendly State

Genworth 2014 Annual Cost of Care Survey: At Home Care Costs Increase in Hawaii

Full Text: Hawaii Ranks 8th in Wellbeing

Now Hiring: Honolulu City Auditor

Apology? Abercrombie Blames Inouye Family for Controversy over Letter

KITV: In an article Monday, Abercrombie tells the L.A. times: "I received that letter ostensibly coming from Sen. Inouye, himself, a half an hour before he died in Washington D.C. literally….Whether or not this could be construed as Sen. Inouye's dying wish – let me put it this way is problematic. I think it was kind of created."  (Conspiracy theory)

Monday afternoon KITV4 caught up with Abercrombie.

"I really don't have anything to say about the letter. It came. It was marked personal. I read it and I absorbed it and those who put it together I think have to answer about the letter," said Abercrombie.  (Continuing to repeat his conspiracy theory)

"The governor's comments about Dan's wishes are very hurtful. To question the letter and the authenticity of Dan's last wishes is certainly disrespectful to Dan, to me and to his family, friends and former staff," said Inouye's widow Irene Hirano Inouye.

Then later Monday evening, the governor issued a apology.

"I regret that my comments were interpreted as hurtful and disrespectful. Sen. Inouye was, without a doubt, one of the finest leaders in Hawaii's history and a mentor to me," said Abercrombie.  (In other words: Those who interpret his comments are to blame.)

Sen. Brian Schatz released a brief statement Monday saying, "I do not question the authenticity of Sen. Inouye's Letter."  (How many more times will Schatz be obligated to distance himself from Abercrombie?)

Read ... Fake 'Apology'

Truth of Inouye's last wish becoming campaign issue

Borreca: It appears Gov. Neil Abercrombie is again ensnarled in his own comments....

The facts, however, tell the true story. Shortly after Inouye's death, Abercrombie was at a news conference and discussed Inouye's death and even read from the late Senator's letter to him. When asked about the letter, Abercrombie said it was personal.

It was only after Abercrombie refused to say that Inouye had asked for one final favor from the governor that Inouye's office released the actual letter....

If there was ever a politician who appreciated every nuance of the congressional seniority system, it was Inouye, so if the call of succession was only to see Hawaii represented by someone young, Inouye would have said that.

But he didn't. So one of the questions Schatz will have to address in the Senate campaign is, "Why didn't Inouye pick you?"

read ... Campaign issue

Former state Rep. Cavasso files for U.S. Senate seat

KHON: A new candidate has entered the race to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by late Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Republican and former state House Representative Cam Cavasso made the official announcement Tuesday morning at the State Capitol.

Cavasso previously served three consecutive terms in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1985 to 1991, representing District 51 in Windward Oahu.

KITV: Cam Cavasso announces run for U.S. Senate

CB: Hawaii’s U.S. Senate Race Has a New Republican Candidate

LINK: http://www.camcavassoforsenate.com/

read ... Former state Rep. Cavasso files for U.S. Senate seat

Tax Freedom Day Celebrated in Hawaii

HTH: For the past three and a half months, you’ve been working for Uncle Sam and his state counterpart. Let’s call her Auntie Aloha. Today, you start working for yourself.

Today is Tax Freedom Day in Hawaii, the day the average taxpayer has earned enough money to pay off all his or her federal, state and local taxes for the year. Coincidentally, today is also the deadline to send in your federal income tax returns.

Hawaii, coming in 25th, is smack-dab in the middle of the states as far as tax burden, according to The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research think tank based in Washington, D.C.

“I think where we are is not a bad place,” said Tom Yamachika, interim president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, which is not formally affiliated with the federal nonprofit.

“The state has been called ‘tax hell,’” Yamachika said of its reputation, deserved or not, for high taxes.

Related: Grassroot Institute 'Celebrates' Hawaii's Tax Freedom Day

read ... Tax Freedom Day

Hawaii Lawmakers Use 'Transparency' to Attack Free Speech

CB: House and Senate leadership on Monday started picking members from their respective chambers to serve on the conference committees that will determine the final shape of each surviving bill over the next two weeks.

Senate Bill 2629, introduced by Sen. Les Ihara, would force lobbyists to report the money they spend and who gave it to them within 30 days of the end of a special session. It’s in direct response to the two-week special session last fall to legalize gay marriage.

Anonymous mailers targeted state lawmakers who were considering voting in favor of same-sex marriage, such as Reps. John Mizuno and Linda Ichiyama. The flyers, which Mizuno considered a hit piece, were sent to Hawaii homes in October without indicating who was behind them.

News outlets reported within days that it was the First Assembly of God’s political handiwork, but not how much the church was spending on its effort to sway lawmakers or who the major donors were. That information had to wait until the lobbying reports came out — three months later.

State law only requires lobbying reports to be filed four times a year. In this case, the next one wasn’t due until the end of January so the public didn’t know who was behind the lobbying efforts or to what degree until well after Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law.

Ihara told Civil Beat Monday that SB 2629 would help ensure the lobbying reports are available when they’re still relevant.

Senate Bill 2634, introduced by Sens. David Ige and Ihara, would require lobbyists to itemize their expenses so the public can have a better picture of how they are exerting their influence.

read ... Will Hawaii Lawmakers Require More Government Transparency?

Judge Lets Mainland Groups Attack Kauai Farmers in Court

KGI: A federal judge is allowing the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice to intervene as defendants in the legal challenge of Ordinance 960 by Kauai’s four biotech seed corporations. 

Andrew Kimbrell, founder and executive director of CFS, said U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren’s ruling Monday would permit Westside community members directly impacted by the industry’s farming practices to be parties in the lawsuit.

“We’re delighted,” he said of the result. “(It’s) a victory for those who have been most harmed by these toxins.”

Syngenta, BASF, DuPont Pioneer and Agrigenetics Inc., a company affiliated with Dow AgroSciences, are suing the County of Kauai in an attempt to block implementation of Ordinance 960 — a law formally known as Bill 2491 that allows the county to monitor pesticide use and genetically modified crops.

The companies filed suit in January. In response, the county hired outside counsel of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP to defend the law. Monday’s ruling means additional legal representation should join the court case.

Related: Anti-GMO Activists Welch on Promise to Provide Pro-Bono Defense for Kauai County

read ... Judge grants intervention in GMO lawsuit

Earthjustce Exploits Kauai for Fundraising, Publicity

KE: While perusing the Malama Kauai newsletter, I saw the curious claim: “We won a landmark Supreme Court case for water rights.” So I clicked on the link, and what do I see? Earthjustice and MK are claiming credit for winning the Kauai Springs water bottling case.

Mmmm, as I recall it, Kauai County put up all the dough and did all the heavy lifting over eight long years of litigation. Earthjustice slipped in at the appeal, filed a measly amicus (friend of court) brief and deftly positioned itself and MK's Keone Kealoha as heroes.

Excuse me, but WTF do Keone and MK know about water, and what has he or that group ever done on its behalf? Their one claim to fame is school gardens. Oh, and giving Superferry opponents a spokesman with a Hawaiian name to counter claims it was a haole movement.

But that's how Earthjustice operates. They cherry pick high-profile cases and nonprofits, then spin it for publicity and fundraising. Just as they're doing with their intervention in the chem companies' lawsuit against the pesticide/GMO regulatory law, Ordinance 960.

Councilman Gary Hooser is quoted as saying the intervention is a “big win for the people of Kauai.” It'll only be a big win for the people of Kauai if Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety pick up a substantial portion of the legal fees we're incurring defending the crappy bill they wrote.

But don't hold your breath. Because this isn't really about the little people on Kauai. Though EJ and CFS claim they're representing “the community” and “those who have been most harmed by these toxins,” they picked as their clients not real folks with health problems on the westside, but Pesticide Action Network, another publicity- and cash-hungry national group; Ka Makani Hoopono, a group formed solely for the purposes of joining the lawsuit, and Surfrider Foundation, another national group, which is trying to pretend it's neutral enough to test water for pesticides. Uh huh.

Speaking of Surfrider, the Star-Advertiser yesterday picked up on its chummy — and ironic — new alliance with high-end tourism and real estate development.

read ... Code Green

Star-Adv on Dairy farm: Time for Enviros to Walk the Walk

SA: So much of what we eat and drink in Hawaii is shipped in from somewhere else that our elected and community leaders have stated a priority to increase agricultural production in the islands, a philosophy that has garnered the enthusiastic assent of everyone from schoolchildren, to restaurant chefs to business executives throughout the islands.

Now is the time to put the walk to that talk, as forces on Kauai coalesce against Hawai‘i Dairy Farms, which would be the state's first grass-fed dairy operation and effectively double milk production in the state....

This welcome resurgence of a once-common industry — local dairies produced virtually all the milk consumed in Hawaii prior to 1984 — is threatened, however, by the opposition of powerful and influential tourism interests, including the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, which is about 2.5 miles away from the dairy site, and environmental groups such as the Surf-rider Foundation and the Sierra Club.

Opponents contend that the dairy will be smelly and noisy, turning off tourists....

read ... Dairy farm proposal deserves a chance

County government should oversee land management, not DC bureaucrats

HR:...federal agencies intend to control how much new development happens in North Kona it seems.

For example, the National Park Service wants the State of Hawaii to designate the Keauhou aquifer as a water resource management area and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service wants to assign nearly 19,000 acres of land in North Kona as a critical habitat area.

In addition, the National Park Service was the first entity to intervene in the stalled Queen Kaahumanu Highway phase 2 widening project’s section 106 process in early 2011.

These requests, if approved, will impact all new developments in North Kona....

read ... Land Management

Hawaii County Park Workers Skip Out Early, Rip Off Taxpayers

HR: The best kept secret island wide. The County of Hawaii, Parks and Recreation Department; Recreation Division pays wages to Recreation Directors who aren’t even present at their assigned parks.

Few park users know that there are Recreation Directors paid to be present in their assigned parks M-TH from 12-8 and Fridays 7:45 to 4:30. What you will find is that the buildings are dark and no one is around (except those who are given the key so staff can go home).  You will hear the cheaters use the excuse they go to another facility, but somehow don’t show up.  Supervisors fail to do site visits at night to curb this abuse and have been promoted from within the ranks with no interest in making waves.

Background: ‘Protection racket’ shakes down resort workers, ruins parks

read ... Rip Off

First Wind Pushes Giant Solar Farm for Mililani

SA: Hawaiian Electric Co. has filed a request with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to buy electricity from a planned 20-megawatt solar energy project being developed by First Wind LLC near Mililani in Central Oahu.

First Wind, which is developing the project through its First Wind Solar Group subsidiary, said it is seeking to sell the power to HECO for 15.6 cents a kilowatt hour under a 20-year power purchase agreement, a rate comparable to what the utility is negotiating with other developers of planned utility-scale photovoltaic projects on Oahu.

read ... HECO seeks regulatory OK to buy power from planned PV farm

Job Security: After Letting them Get Established, State to eradicate Waimanalo little fire ants

SA: Curtiss said the infestation on Hawaii island has prompted some farmers to abandon their fields because they can't find workers willing to pick their crop.

The state said the survey looked at about 50 acres near Kumuhao and Mahailua streets in Waimanalo and found billions of little fire ants on 4 acres. The state will use a combination of measures to eradicate the colonies, including pesticides and cutting trees.

read ... State to eradicate Waimanalo little fire ants

How to Break the Catch and Release Cycle for Property Criminals

CB: During the current 2013-2014 legislative session, there are a handful of bills seeking stricter regulation for certain property crimes being considered.

House Bill 2205, a measure addressing habitual property crime perpetrators, passed through the House of Representatives. The House proposed amendments that removed the option for probation and required some term of imprisonment. However, a Senate draft amended the bill and probation was re-inserted into the measure.

Senate Judiciary Chair Clayton Hee explained the committee wanted to ensure that a habitual property crime perpetrator — someone with more than three prior convictions — is given the opportunity for HOPE probation or Drug Court. The bill now awaits conference committee.

read ... How to Break the Catch and Release Cycle for Property Criminals

Legislative Motion:

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