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Wednesday, December 16, 2009
December 16, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:20 AM :: 11110 Views

Akaka Bill Hearings under way: Proposed changes came from Akaka's office, CNHA

RELATED: FULL TEXT: Abercrombie's secret rewritten Akaka Bill

Live stream:

ADV: Hawaii governor opposes Akaka bill revisions (Abercrombie: Bennett's "concerns are real")

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, who was expected to offer the changes to the bill today before the committee, said he shared Bennett's concerns.

"His concerns are real," Abercrombie said after speaking to Bennett last night.

Abercrombie said he hopes the bill will move out of committee today, and then Hawai'i lawmakers can work collaboratively with Bennett, the Obama administration and others to possibly amend the bill when it reaches the House floor.

The congressman said "there is no greater friend" to the bill than Bennett and questioned why the attorney general was not given copies of the proposed changes until the past few days....

Jesse Broder Van Dyke, a spokesman for Akaka, said last night that the changes are being proposed after talks with the Obama administration, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, and others.

Broder said Akaka planned to offer the changes when the bill comes before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee tomorrow. He said the Obama administration, in particular, believes it is important that Hawaiians be treated the same as other indigenous people.

Robin Danner, the president of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, described the new opposition from the Lingle administration as "stunning."

"On the eve of the House markup of the bill in Resources, it is unbelievable that the governor would reverse course and oppose not only Native Hawaiians, but the opportunities that the Akaka bill presents for the entire state," she said in an e-mail.

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SB: Lingle fights Akaka Bill changes

Live Webcast: House Natural Resources Committee hearings on the Akaka Bill

Zogby: Majority of Hawaii voters against Akaka Bill

SHOCK: Lingle, Bennett denounce new version Akaka Bill (full text)

Did Inouye Lie? National Review confirms "Akaka Bill Sneak Attack" claim

House Republicans call for Akaka Bill to be removed from Markup

Inouye denies planning "Akaka Bill Sneak Attack"

Djou's chances improve: GOP Says Aloha to Hawaii Special Election

Rep. Neil Abercrombie ’s imminent resignation has left his otherwise-safe Democratic House seat more vulnerable to a takeover in a special election in the coming months, prompting CQ Politics to change the rating of Hawaii’s 1st district race from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic.

Abercrombie’s announcement last week that he is leaving Congress early to focus on his 2010 gubernatorial campaign leaves Democrats in a bind and officials in Hawaii fumbling to figure out when to schedule a special election.

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SB: Salvage the special election

Conducting a special election at polling booths to fill Abercrombie's seat representing the 1st Congressional District before the September primary may not be economically feasible. The state Office of Elections is expected to end the fiscal year on June 30 with a $12,000 budget deficit. Kevin Cronin, the outgoing chief elections officer, said the last special election to fill the vacancy, stemming from the death of Patsy Mink in 2002, cost about $2 million.

Cronin said one way to deal with the problem is to conduct an election by ballots to be mailed in or dropped off at central locations to reduce costs. That system was used successfully in April to conduct a special election in Windward Oahu to replace the late Barbara Marshall on the City Council.

Even with Barack Obama on the ballot last year, the U.S. Census Bureau showed only 51.8 percent of eligible voters participated — lowest in the nation. In Oregon, the only state to vote by mail or at drop-off sites over a period of several weeks, 67.6 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, compared with 60 percent in elections prior to the voting by mail.

Finding enough dollars to conduct a special election by ballots mailed to registered voters would provide a valuable test of the system that could be broadened in future elections.

RELATED: Hawaii's 2010 election schedule violates new federal law, Vote By Mail: “Tool of choice for voter fraud”

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Lingle to work with teachers to keep planning days

Lingle had originally called for teachers to forgo planning days to reduce some of the furlough days adopted this year to save money.

Smith said the negotiators are now working on a way to accommodate teacher planning time while restoring all the furlough days starting in January.

The negotiations have ended for the day and will resume tomorrow morning at 8:30 at the Department of Human Resources.

SB: Lingle aide upbeat on talks with teachers' union

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Hawaii lawmakers want education money released

Hawaii's school year was cut to the shortest in the nation after the Republican governor restricted lined up with the Obama administration to substitute federal education funding and the accompanying accountability for unaccountable State funding and signed off on a labor contract negotiated by the BoE/DoE with the teachers union that closes schools on many Fridays.

The letter is signed by HSTA owned legislators: Sen. Carol Fukunaga and Reps. Joe Bertram, Gil Keith-Agaran, Sylvia Luke, Karl Rhoads, Mark Takai and Glenn Wakai.

Maui News: Lawmakers ask Lingle to use money to end furloughs


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Downturn hit Kamehameha Schools with $2.2 billion loss

The estate said yesterday that the value of its investments declined 23.7 percent to $7.20 billion during its fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, from the year-earlier's $9.44 billion.

With the recent rally in the nation's financial markets, the value of the trust's endowment has bounced back to about $7.7 billion as of November. But the recent gains were not enough to avoid budget cuts at the estate.

The trust has reduced operational and capital spending by 10 percent during the past year, and its top 13 executives have taken a 5 percent pay cut.

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Petition to save Hawaii school bus service from ending

A petition is now circulating to make sure the 40,000 students who depend on school buses, aren't scrambling to find a ride.

"That's just ridiculous. They cut so much out of the budget already, it's about time they dip into the rainy day fund, because it's raining," said Starkey.

The Hawaii School Bus Association is spearheading the petition. Signatures will be submitted to Governor Lingle and other lawmakers involved with education decisions.

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Oahu tax assessments fall 6.7 percent

Property tax assessments islandwide are down about 6.7 percent from a year ago, according to information being mailed out to the island's 284,000 property owners this week.

The drop in assessed value of the island's properties likely will mean less income for the city, unless the Honolulu City Council raises tax rates.

(Hold on to your wallet!)

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Hawaii B&B bill appears doomed

Only 4 on council say they'll vote for it; passage would require 6 votes....

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Mail-order prescriptions hard on local businesses

Paradise Pharmacy owner Larry Land has sold his business, and it will close today. Falling reimbursements for insurance coverage and loss of business to a mail-order pharmacy made it impossible to carry on.

Maui News: Paradise saying farewell after 20 years Upcountry, Rabies case shows woes of drug plan — professor

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US to drill Iranian attack scenario in Pacific

According to O'Reilly, an Iranian attack would be more challenging than a North Korean attack because a missile fired from Iran would reach the US "more head-on than from the side," and therefore relatively faster.

The test, scheduled for January, is expected to cost about $150 million. During the maneuver the US will fire an interceptor missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at a mock-Iranian missile which would be fired from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean....

On Sunday, Britain's Times claimed it had obtained confidential intelligence documents from "foreign intelligence agencies" and quoted a source at an "Asian intelligence agency" as confirming that Iran had been working on the device "as recently as 2007."

If the report is correct and Iran began developing the device while insisting its program was peaceful, it could be a casus belli, Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, was quoted by the Times as saying.

"If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution," he said, adding, "Is this the smoking gun? That's the question people should be asking. It looks like the smoking gun. This is smoking uranium."

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