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Thursday, April 2, 2009
April 2, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:54 AM :: 7728 Views

Rep Joe Bertram in court supporting Maui child molester

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Supreme Court asked to clarify Superferry ruling

Lawmakers want the court to clarify when they can pass laws aimed at specific groups, the constitutionality of short-term laws, and the viability of language in laws designed to sustain court challenges when other parts of the law are struck down.

Honolulu Councilman Charles Djou has said that unless the Hawai‘i Supreme Court reconsiders its decision, he will ask the court to declare unconstitutional other laws that apply specifically to the county. Besides the Honolulu rail tax, Djou pointed to county-specific laws requiring stricter liquor licensing and overtime for vehicle towing.

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North Korea Fueling Long-Range Rocket

The fueling signals that the country could be in the final stages of what North Korea has said will be the launch of a satellite into space as early as this weekend, the senior U.S. military official said Wednesday....The officials said the payload appears to have a "bulbous" cover, which could indicate that there is a satellite loaded on it. Such a cover protects a satellite from damage in flight....The United States believes that the North Koreans have the technology to hit Alaska or Hawaii with a missile and that the country is working on advancing that technology so it could hit the west coast of the United States.

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SB: Raid Hurricane fund, raise taxes (global cooling?)

Public workers, who have received pay increases in better times, should be willing to take some cuts, at least until the economy improves, and there are indications that they would rather save jobs than see layoffs.

As matters now stand, the Senate will draft its budget, then reconcile it with the House's version, which would lay off 374 workers, cut spending and programs and increase taxes.

With the right mix of reductions in programs and spending, the state might be able to get through the next two years. Since Lingle is open to using some of the $185 million in the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund, legislators should review that option, too.

Raising the excise tax and the hotel room tax are still possibilities, but that should be the last recourse. With few segments of the economy unscathed, increases will hurt businesses as well as individuals.

(To raid the Hurricane Fund the Legislature should be required to pass a resolution stating that a decade of global cooling makes hurricanes more unlikely.  Al Gore should be called to testify.)

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Views on school funds unchanged (DoE fears accountability)

Following the release of the new federal guidelines, state DOE officials warned that the governor's plan for state stabilization funds could jeopardize the state's ability to garner additional stimulus dollars later this year.

That's because they say the guidelines specifically require states to show improved achievement in four areas:

• Teacher effectiveness and quality.

• Rigorous assessments that improve teaching and learning.

• Improvement of low-performing schools.

• Improved data tracking systems to monitor student progress.

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SB: Accused Chinatown gunman was free on bail at time of shooting

Rye pleaded guilty last November to possessing at least an ounce of cocaine, a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but remained free on $35,000 bail pending sentencing.

Police arrested him for driving a stolen car and drug-promotion charges on March 13, 2008, near the Nuuanu Avenue/Pauoa Road intersection, according to Honolulu Police Department records. He did not give police a local address.

According to state court records, he was supposed to be sentenced in state court Jan. 20. At his lawyer's request, the judge postponed the hearing for a day, over the state's objection.

The following day, Rye's lawyer said his client was enrolled in a Salvation Army substance-abuse treatment program and asked the judge to reschedule the hearing. Over the state's objection, the judge rescheduled sentencing to March 11.

At the March hearing, the defense lawyer said Rye was enrolled in a different drug- treatment program. The judge said the program was not court-certified and rescheduled sentencing for next Wednesday, over the state's objection, to give Rye the opportunity to enroll in a court-certified program, according to state court records.

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The Price of freedom: $10 a week

The Hawaii Democrats say an estimated 500,000 working families in the islands will benefit from the tax credit of 6.2 percent of earned income, up to $400 for unmarried workers and $800 for married taxpayers.

Couples making less than $150,000 are eligible for the full credit. Couples making between $150,000 and $190,000 get reduced credits, while those making more than $190,000 are ineligible. Individuals making less than $75,000 are eligible for the full credit, while those making up to $95,000 get a reduced amount.

Most workers will start seeing about a $10 bump in their weekly paychecks this week.

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Tourist numbers and spending down

Visitor arrivals to Hawaii dropped 12.7 percent in February, the first drop of this magnitude during the state's high-water month in 18 years.

But of even more concern to the state's leading industry was a 15.9 percent decline in visitor spending, the first measurable drop in February expenditures since the state began collecting monthly spending data.

Since February is generally the best month for Hawaii's visitor industry, the decline hints of continued unrest for the industry.

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Economic recovery for Hawaii may depend on tourism

The study for First Hawaiian Bank says tourism accounts for 35 percent to 40 percent of the state's gross domestic product when the visitor industry's direct and indirect economic contributions are considered.

It also found that about three-quarters of private employment here is linked to tourism in some fashion, including those in the industry and others whose jobs are indirectly or partially tied to it.

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Economist: Hawaii Tourism 'In Crisis Mode'

Laney attributed a number of recent developments to the drop in Hawaii tourism.

 

  • Aloha Airlines collapse
  • ATA airlines service halt
  • Departure of two Norwegian Cruise Line vessels
  • Molokai Ranch closing
  • Maui Land & Pineapple Co. major layoffs
  • Gay & Robinson ending sugar harvests in 2010
  • Financial global meltdown
  • Overall visitor arrivals decline of 11 percent in 2008

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    Hawaii health centers brace for rise in uninsured patients

    Community health centers are bracing for a tough year and calling for more state help, as the economic downturn drives more uninsured to their doors.

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    SHOPO Finds More Officers Want Chief Ousted

    Sources said 87 percent of the officers answering the survey said they almost always or always wished they had a different chief. That number is up from the survey in 2005, when 78 percent of them wanted a new chief.

    RELATED: KHON

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    Sovereignty activists disrupt Maui ATV park meeting

    Native Hawaiian Foster Ampong of Lahaina opposes an off-highway vehicle park in Wahikuli during a public meeting Wednesday night at the Lahaina Civic Center. Ampong’s vehement objections and those of Native Hawaiians who don’t want the park on former Hawaiian crown lands caused state officials to end the meeting early.

    "Hawaiians today feel very, very, injured," he said. Later, he added: "Today is a bad day to have this meeting.  "I so against this," Ampong said of the project. But "I'm not against the riders." 

    RELATED: Naming names: Who are the alleged Sovereignty-mortgage scammers?

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    Ruling leaves state among defendants in Kaloko suit

    After hearing arguments of lawyers from both sides, Watanabe said the state remains potentially liable in the suit as the landowner of the Kaloko ditch, a stream diversion that feeds into the Kaloko Reservoir.

    The Kaloko dam broke open on the morning of March 14, 2006, releasing a torrent of water that killed seven people in several houses that were destroyed downstream.

    Watanabe agreed with the state's argument, however, that it should not be liable on two other points:

    • That the state improperly allowed the Public Utilities Commission to approve a 2005 stock transfer for Kilauea Irrigation Co. Inc., the entity that operated an irrigation system with water from the Kaloko Reservoir.

    • That the state failed to follow its own statutes and regulations, including flood control and pollution control laws administered respectively by the state departments of Land and Natural Resources and Health.

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    Charley Foster: Ceded Lands Debate - What Next for Hawaiians?

    But having based its decision that the lands are inalienable pending resolution of native claims on a holding that Hawaiians possess a prior moral claim that represents a cloud on title, the state court may have limited room to maneuver. Any different rationale to get to the same outcome will be obviously and patently a post-hoc improvisation to justify the court's imposition of its own policy preferences. The decision would be revealed as not an honest assessment of the law's requirements, but rather as an unprincipled assertion of 'the unfettered wisdom of a majority of the court.'

    Although those agreeing with the court's policy preference in this issue would applaud such a decision, it would come with a cost to the court's credibility.  If there is to be a change in the state's power with regards to the ceded lands, the legislature is the place it should occur. Better for a deliberative body with political accountability to craft a rule through debate, compromise and agreement than for the judiciary to pull a rule out of its hat and impose its policy preference on the other branches.

    (Credibility?  They can't lose what they don't have.) 

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    Ted Hong: Hawaii v. OHA We’re All in This Together

    But the most striking part of the decision was contained in the last paragraph. Basically, the Court said that we, as the citizens of this State, regardless of heritage, have a role to play in "an issue that is of great importance to the people of the State." In the ongoing debate over Hawaiian sovereignty, it is something that we, all of us, have input into and have the opportunity to participate in.

    Many people I know consider the Akaka Bill and the Sovereignty issue as unique to the Hawaiian Community and have stayed on the sidelines of this debate. In today’s decision, the U.S. Supreme Court, clearly and from opposing political points of view, told us that kind of thinking is wrong. The Court is telling us that we’re all in this important, exciting and unique political discussion, together. I welcome that opportunity.

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