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Friday, April 3, 2009
April 3, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:05 AM :: 10841 Views

U.S. on alert to protect Isles

The head of a U.S. missile defense advocacy group warned that a North Korean long-range rocket launch — expected between tomorrow and Wednesday — will be on an azimuth that puts Hawai'i on the tail end of a possible failure.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, meanwhile, said the only scenario under which the United States "might" try to shoot down such a rocket is "if we had an aberrant missile — one that was headed for Hawai'i."

So how worried should Hawai'i be that some sub-orbital North Korean space junk may fall out of the sky?

"It's a big ocean. The percentages are not great that it's going to hit in Hawai'i," said Riki Ellison, chairman of the Washington D.C.-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

But there is that slim possibility, he believes.

SB solution: Renew 6-party talks to seek resolution of N. Korean irritant  (Hope a NK missile doesn't fall onto the negotiating table.)

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AP: More on Rep Joe Bertram (D-Maui) defending molester

When August asked Bertram whether he thought police should wait to make an arrest until after a suspect had an actual 14-year-old girl in a car with him and was engaged in sexual contact, the lawmaker replied he did not like sting operations.

"Sting operations in general, they put out a possibility that something may happen," he said. "You can't predict what somebody's behavior will be."

Martin argued the crime was not "imaginary."

"He showed up at the Maui Mall that day," Martin said of Marcantonio. "To him this was not imaginary. This was real."

Martin said that in an October 2007 online chat, Marcantonio talked about how "he had done this before" with a 15-year-old Oahu girl.

RELATED: Rep Joe Bertram in court supporting Maui child molester , Hawaii Legislators Consider Becoming Dope Dealers( Feb, 2008) , Joe Bertram in court to support alleged drug dealer (Maui News Nov, 2009)

GOP candidate George Fontaine responds: Yes we cannabis? No, Mr. Representative, Hawaii and Maui can’t afford pot shops

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Damage done to Hawaii by Obama: $97.6 million--and counting

More than 130 businesses and other groups that had planned to travel to Hawai'i for conventions and meetings have canceled their trips so far this year because of the recent backlash against such company-sponsored events, state tourism officials said yesterday.

The cancellations cost the state an estimated $58.8 million in direct loss of revenue, amounting to a total economic impact of $97.6 million, according to Gov. Linda Lingle's office.

RELATED: Gov. Lingle, LtGov Duke Aiona, Mayors, tourism industry leaders urge Pres. Obama to support business travel

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SB: Legislator offers proposal to raise taxes on the rich

In a plan to balance the state budget, House Speaker Calvin Say is readying a new state income tax proposal: increases for those making more than $150,000 a year.

By increasing the 10 percent income tax lid to 11 percent for those making more than $150,000 and to 12 percent for those making more than $200,000, Say figures that those in lower tax brackets could get a tax cut and the state would still get more money.

Say, a legislative veteran of several budget downturns, said he has never seen an economy as bad as the one now facing Hawaii.

Say said Lingle made a critical budget mistake by agreeing to allow the public worker unions to drag out collective bargaining talks until December.

Say is also looking at a list of 44 state House bills that would balance the budget by dropping state tax credits or cutting state worker benefits.

Also being considered is House Bill 1749, which would net the state about $25 million a year by taxing mutual benefits societies such as the Hawaii Medical Service Association and Kaiser Permanente.

Say also criticized the four county mayors, saying the quartet would be better off supporting Lingle's call to cut public worker salaries.

"I'm surprised they didn't support her call for salary rollbacks. She is doing them a favor. You can't have it all and talk out of both sides of your mouth," Say said.

He complained that the mayors are pleading that the counties continue to keep a portion of the tourist hotel room tax but are not preparing for big budget drops next year when property taxes are expected to fall.

Say, however, is urging that the Legislature reconsider the entire tourist tax contribution to the counties and instead go back to a regular grant process. He also said he would be in favor of allowing the neighbor island counties to raise their own taxes by increasing the general excise tax as Honolulu has done to fund mass transit.

RELATED: Governor's budget presentation to Senate Ways and Means (full text)

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UH cuts may jeopardize jobs (case for tax increase)

In anticipation of a $33 million budget cut, the chancellor of the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus yesterday announced plans to slash spending that could eliminate hundreds of non-tenured positions and reduce the number of courses and programs.

Takayama said the university has yet to determine how it will make up the balance of the cuts, or $22 million. He said that could be done through a "combination of things," such as diverting tuition revenues and research funds, and closing offices and programs.

Hinshaw said the cuts will be done "strategically" and not across the board. Some programs will be exempt from the reductions, she said, including security, facilities repair and maintenance, and the new School of Hawaiian Knowledge (activist sinecure).

(Too bad UH socialist geniuses don't know how to make the athletic department self-supporting thru ticket sales)

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School board opposes governor's budget plan

To receive the rest of the money, the state has to show progress toward four benchmarks.  (Transsexual) Board member (Mr) Kim Coco Iwamoto questioned how the school board was to meet the benchmarks if the state was not adding more funding.  (Fear of accountability)

Advertiser:  "Really, what we've become is a pass-through," board member Donna Ikeda told Linda Smith.  (And for BoE this is new?)

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Bottom? Oahu home prices continue to slide, down 4.5% in March

the decline was smaller than it was in the first two months of the year.

There was one definite bright spot in the March data: homes sold significantly faster last month.

It took a median 48 days for single-family homes to sell after they were listed. That was just one more day than in March 2008, but down from about 70 days in the previous two months. The time hadn't been below 50 days since August.

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HMSA, Medicare squeeze suppliers

Audits questioning doctors' prescriptions and changes in Medicare rules regarding reimbursements for oxygen are putting a pinch on Big Island residents and the squeeze on medical equipment providers who serve them.

Medicare was already paying well under what it costs to refill an oxygen tank, Mauna Kea Medical Services owner Chip Hudson said, about a $2 to $4 reimbursement per refill compared with the $12 to $17 it could cost in Hawaii to refill a tank. But since Jan. 1, people who have been using prescribed oxygen for 36 months will continue to get it, but the provider must refill the tank and provide maintenance on the equipment at no cost, either to the patient or Medicare, HMSA or other insurance company.
Hudson estimated he was losing $4,000 to $6,000 monthly just in the cost of refills, not including delivery and employee costs. The company has 13 employees, and though Hudson has previously adjusted business practices, he hasn't been able to offset the loss of oxygen reimbursements.
Add into that a second problem --
HMSA is challenging him on more than $20,000 worth of wheelchair prescriptions dating back five years -- and Hudson said he may only be able to stay open a few more months. He protested the wheelchair decision once, and a physician board reviewed the prescription.
Hudson said the physicians confirmed most of the prescriptions; Cliff Cisco, a senior vice president with HMSA, said most of the patients getting the wheelchairs were Medicare cases, and the documentation did not support the prescription of a wheelchair.

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Civil union supporters hopeful despite failure

On Saturday, a group of those supporters gathered alongside Kaumuali‘i Highway in Lihu‘e to express their gratitude to those lawmakers who moved the issue forward and expressed optimism about the future of civil unions and equal rights for same-sex couples in Hawai‘i.
“For me the reason to remain optimistic is that I know it’s just a matter time,” community organizer KipuKai Kualii said Wednesday. “It’s the right side of the issue, it’s civil rights, it’s justice, it’s equality. ... Sometimes it just takes a little longer.”
Kaulii and others in attendance have begun to organize a working group, tentatively titled the Kaua‘i ‘Ohana Equality Coalition, that will conduct community outreach, education and political activism as part of a coordinated statewide effort.
“The fight (for civil unions) is not over.

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Woman, 35, shot after allegedly threatening police in Pawaa

At one point, the woman stepped onto King Street and one of the officers approached her and tried to convince her to get back on the sidewalk, Fujii said.  At that point the woman lunged at the officers, one of whom used a Taser while the other fired two shots from his service handgun, one of which struck the woman in the abdomen.

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Audit finds state IT department lacking

"We found that the state's (Information Technology) leaders provide weak and ineffective management and as a result, the state no longer has a lead agency for information technology," the report summary said.

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