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Thursday, December 17, 2009
December 17, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:30 AM :: 10226 Views

Federal money may fund election

Hawai'i may be able to use federal money meant to improve the administration of elections to help pay for a special election to fill the remaining months in U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's term in Congress.

Help America Vote Act of 2002 approved by Congress after voting problems in the 2000 presidential election, provided $15 million to Hawai'i to better administer elections, help people with disabilities vote, and improve voter registration.

Kevin Cronin, the state's chief elections officer, said Hawai'i has $7.5 million of the federal money still available. He won approval from the Lingle administration this week to use some of the federal election money on personal services contracts to hire staff to prepare for the 2010 elections.

RELATED: Hawaii's 2010 election schedule violates new federal law

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Papers decide to start covering Akaka Bill Hearings:

WSJ:  The Akaka bill would create a race-based state in Hawaii

ADV: Native Hawaiian bill moves ahead without revision that upset state

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, the bill's main sponsor, will decide whether to offer the amendment when the bill comes before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee today.

The sudden opposition by the Lingle administration, which has previously supported the Akaka bill, led to confusion about how the proposed changes were developed and questions about why the state was not fully consulted.

Abercrombie said on Tuesday night that he was surprised the state received the proposed changes only in the past few days.

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai'i, issued an even stronger statement yesterday. "The events of the past 24 hours were totally unexpected," he said. "I was very surprised.

"I was not aware that the revisions to the bill being discussed between Sen. Akaka's office and President Obama's administration were not shared with Gov. Linda Lingle. I am in the process of trying to determine what happened and the best course forward."  (Did the Akaka staffers lie to Inouye, Abercrombie???)

Jesse Broder Van Dyke, a spokesman for Akaka, said the Obama administration worked on the draft of the proposed changes. The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and the Native Hawaiian Bar Association also had input.   (It is hard to believe that the Obama Administration had input on this because the DoJ's point man on the Akaka Bill is a former Inouye staffer--he wouldn't have kept Inouye in the dark.)

AP: -- House committee passes Native Hawaiian legislation

Sponsors attempted some refinements to the measure to deal with legal concerns. When state officials objected to the changes, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, decided to continue with his original measure.  (This is a lie.  Abercrombie attempted to push his bill over the objection of the Governor and Atty General.  It was parliamentary stalling by Republicans which forced Abercrombie to abandon his effort.  Had the House Republicans not disrupted the business of the hearing, Abercrombie would have passed the secretly written new version of the Akaka Bill.)

REALITY: Rejected: Akaka rewrite blows up in Abercrombie's face--but original version passes

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HSTA continues to sabotage talks Negotiations break down between state and Hawaii teachers union

REALITY: HSTA seeks to limit after-school programs

The breakdown in talks comes after both sides said yesterday's negotiations appeared to be productive.

Gov. Linda Lingle's senior policy adviser Linda Smith released a statement shortly after noon saying that state negotiators and the Hawaii State Teachers Association were unable to reach agreement in negotiation talks earlier this morning.

Smith said the HSTA was adamant about teachers retaining their planning time. Lingle had proposed taking $50 million from the state's rainy day fund and has asked teachers to swap planning days for furlough days to eliminate 27 of 34 furlough days in the teachers' two-year contract with the state.

"HSTA has falsely claimed that the Administration is removing teacher planning days. This is not true. The joint DOE/BOE Administration bargaining team has made it clear that teachers can retain all of their planning days, if they so desire. We are simply asking them to come back into the classroom for 27 days and allow students to learn," Smith said in a statement.

If you're surprised, you didn't read this: HSTA using furloughs to keep “Race to the Top” dollars—and reform--out of Hawaii schools

ADV: No deal to end Hawaii teacher furloughs as negotiations collapse

SB: Teachers, Lingle administration at stalemate on furlough fixes

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LHS boarding program on list of potential budget cuts

Lahainaluna's boarding program is budgeted at $601,196 for this school year and was included in the list of programs under review. The boarding program, which has been in existence for 174 years, provides students from Maui and across the state, the Mainland and Micronesia a chance to live in campus dormitories and study at the school at the top of Lahainaluna Road. In return, the students perform various jobs around the campus.

Principal Michael Nakano said the program includes about 90 students but has a capacity for 140.

"Every year, we hear about closing the boarding program," Nakano said Tuesday. "We don't want to be closed, but people are scared it might."

Cochran tried to calm those fears.

"Not to say, it's going to be (cut). My goodness, we're just looking at it," she said. 

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SB: Reminder for union leaders (we can take you down anytime we decide to investigate)

The UPW's executive board was negligent in allowing Rodrigues to conceal financial weapons. AFSCME was also derelict until the government investigated the impropriety after Star-Bulletin articles reported the allegations.

An AFSCME vice president had rejected charges in 1999 by current and former UPW shop stewards and had whitewashed Rodrigues' ties to a company that supplied building materials for UPW offices on neighbor islands....

Union members were not the only ones to ingratiate themselves with Rodrigues. The state Supreme Court appointed him in 1994 to serve on a committee to recommend Bishop Estate trustee candidates and three years later he was appointed by then-Senate President Norman Mizuguchi to the state Judicial Selection Commission.

A few brave UPW members finally toppled Rodrigues and the union now is "more membership-run instead of being run from the top down," Keith Faufata, one of three chief stewards who accused Rodrigues of violating the union's constitution, told the Star-Bulletin's Leila Fujimori.

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Paniolo Cable, Sandwich Isle Communications seen as bankruptcy possibilities

(This has been Al Hee's plan all along.  Burn up the $500M of taxpayer dollars and walk away rich after having collected a fat salary for years and years.  SIC has always been destined to go BK because it doesn't have any customers.)

Denver-based Paniolo is owned by Blue Ivory LLC, which, in turn, is held by trusts set up in the names of Hee's children, according to the National Exchange Carrier Association.

The company has a 20-year lease with Sandwich Isles, which gives Sandwich Isles exclusive rights to Pani[0xad]olo's 358-mile fiber-optic cable network.

According to Moody's, Sandwich Isles pays about $15 million a year in lease payments to Paniolo.

But those lease payments have been in limbo for several months, after the National Exchange Carrier Association rejected Sandwich Isles' request to tap into a special fund paid for by consumers around the country.   (After giving Hee taxpayer money to build a dark fiber network, NECA denied their application for more money to run it.) 

Sandwich Isles has asked the Federal Communications Commission to overturn the decision. Moody's said an adverse ruling by the FCC could trigger a bankruptcy filing by Sandwich Isles because it "has limited financial flexibility and resources available to it."

Paniolo, meanwhile, has $8 million in reserves, which is "not quite sufficient to cover three-quarters of debt service on the notes," Moody's said.

RELATED: Sandwich Isles Communications: Political Connections Pay Off , Congressional report nails Sandwich Isles Communications: One of worst ten abusers

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Pasha interisle shipping bid dealt blow on behalf of Young Bros continued monopoly

In March, the company filed an application with the state Public Utilities Commission to use its 579-foot ship, the MV Jean Anne, to make interisland cargo trips every two weeks, saying competition will benefit local consumers and businesses.

But Young Brothers has argued that Pasha will only serve the biggest ports and the most lucrative lines such as autos, heavy equipment and construction materials and that Pasha's rates will be higher than its rates.

But Young Brothers has argued that Pasha will only serve the biggest ports and the most lucrative lines such as autos, heavy equipment and construction materials and that Pasha's rates will be higher than its rates. (In which case YB should have nothing to worry about)

Young Brothers also said that the new service will "cherry-pick" the most lucrative routes (With HIGHER RATES???)

(YB expects the State PUC will continue to protect them no matter how inane their arguments.)

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ADV: Caregiving network under critical strain

During today's difficult fiscal times, lawmakers should explore private partnerships that may help underwrite these services, to leverage the limited public funds available.

For the future, the state Long Term Care Commission has retained the research group RTI International to assess more precisely what support services our communities need and to craft a five-year plan to improve the network of support.

(Nothing about assisted "suicide" in THIS editorial.)

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Hawaii bed-and-breakfast bill rejected

By a vote of 4-4, with one member absent, the Council did not have the six votes required to pass Bill 7

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Water needs split community (OHA Water grab)

Bugtong, who has worked at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. (HC&S) for the past 23-years, along with her husband, is one of 800 workers whose livelihood has been threatened by the (Office of Hawaiian Affairs water grab) possible return of water that has been diverted for sugar to East and West Maui streams.

"Sugar is all that I've known," Bugtong said. "My mom and dad worked for HC&S. Most of the people in the neighborhood where I grew up worked there."

Sugar pays the Bugtong's mortgage and supports their three daughters, even paying college tuition for one, she said.

"We depend on HC&S," Bugtong said as a tear fell from her eye. "It's hard to sleep with all that going on."

SB: Farmers, some residents are pitted against big firms

Hui o na Wai Eha, Maui Tomorrow Foundation, Earth Justice and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to restore water to West Maui streams. Similarly, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. and Maui Tomorrow have used them to support the restoration of 19 East Maui streams.

RELATED: OHA Trustees claim ownership of your drinking water, Lingle: Will agriculture survive Maui water diversion?

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Hawaiians Sovereignty Activists are told telescope moving ahead--time to cash in is NOW

On Tuesday, Caroline Blanco, assistant general counsel to the National Science Foundation, invited a number of Native Hawaiian groups to join a working group with a binding legal "programmatic agreement" in order to help manage the area to ensure that the agency uses the "best practices" to protect the sacred site's cultural, religious and archaeological resources.

About 35 people attended the meeting at the UH Institute for Astronomy's Maikalani Advanced Technology Research Center in Pukalani. Most of those who spoke said they were against the telescope project, and several worried aloud that becoming part of the working group meant that they would be implicitly supporting the highly controversial project.

Clare Apana of Wailuku appeared to sum up the feelings of many people in attendance, judging by the number of heads nodding in agreement, when she said that the environmental impact statement was flawed, the people felt railroaded and this is just "a formality." Apana said that if the foundation were sincere, it should halt the process and start over with real Native Hawaiian input.

"To be honest with you, that's not going to happen," Blanco said.  (Wow.  Such honesty is never heard in these Isles.)

She said that, at this point, she is looking for the best way to gather input on items such as retaining a cultural specialist, naming roads, and creating cultural sensitivity training and exterior design motifs. The next meeting was tentatively scheduled for Feb. 19.  (There's money for activists in all of those areas)

Jason Jeremiah of the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs said OHA would be interested in joining the working group.  (OHA smells money)

"For the record, so far everyone on Maui is against the project," said Native Hawaiian activist Foster Ampong.  (Who hasn't been hired yet)

Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. reiterated that the telescope is extremely disrespectful to the Hawaiian culture, calling it a "monstrosity." However, he also acknowledged that there may be people activists such as himself who will support it for the because they get 'cultural practitioner' jobs.

RELATED: Thirty Meter Telescope Selects Mauna Kea -- Let the looting begin

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Maui's Mayor Tavares seeks second term

The 66-year-old Tavares asked for the help and support of 550 people who attended a Monday night fundraiser for her at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa.

There are three other mayoral candidates -- former Mayor Alan Arakawa, planning consultant Chris Hart, and Valley Isle Motors salesman Kalani Tassill.

Arakawa says he wasn't surprised by Tavares' announcement. He wished her luck, adding the public will decide.

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Yagong wants off ad hoc finance committee

But he said being on the committee would tie his hands because he wouldn't be able to independently introduce legislation he thinks could help balance the budget. Yagong was particularly irked that Onishi postponed one of his initiatives so he could run it by the mayor first.

"I truly felt I'd be more productive as a councilman than being on the committee," Yagong said. "Unless the majority is open to new ideas, I'd only be productive if people are willing to listen."

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Hawaii County affordable housing rules may get radical makeover

Hawaii County's policy requiring developers to build a certain number of affordable homes isn't working, the county's housing agency director told County Council members Tuesday.

"The group that is most in need of affordable housing is not getting it," Stephen Arnett told the council, which met as the Hawaii County Housing Authority at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa.  (No kidding)

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