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Tuesday, April 21, 2009
April 21, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:32 AM :: 9209 Views

Hawaii GOP sees spirited race for top spot

A year after it suffered one of its worst election setbacks, the Hawaii Republican Party is enjoying renewed interest with five candidates registered to run for party chairman. The present party chairman, Willes Lee, says he has not decided whether he will run again for office. The chairman will be selected at the party's state convention May 15-17 in Kona.

The candidate who appears to have the most support is Jonah Kaauwai, administrator for the Correctional Industries Division of the state Public Safety department.

Kaauwai had also been deputy chief of staff for Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who is running for governor.

The two GOP legislative leaders, state Rep. Lynn Finnegan and state Sen. Fred Hemmings, have endorsed Kaauwai. Kaauwai said he has also won the support of Aiona and three former party chairmen: Micah Kane, Brennon Morioka and Sam Aiona.

Kaauwai also has the support of Malia Gray, the newly elected chairwoman of the GOP's Honolulu district.

Others in the race are Mike Palcic, a small businessman, who is making an issue of the support that the Aiona gubernatorial campaign has received from influential members of the local GOP, including Miriam Hellreich, Hawaii national committeewoman.  (Neil Abrcrombie surely appreciates Mr Palcic's fine efforts on his behalf.)

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Advertiser: Felix business, civic records set him apart

The Honolulu Advertiser endorses John Henry Felix, a veteran of that job, as the contender with the business resume and fiscal acumen that his constituents, and Honolulu residents in general, need the most in this time of dire financial crisis.

RELATED: http://www.johnhenryfelix.com/

Burris: "(the race) has boiled down to ... three out of eleven with the best name recognition: former Councilmen Steve Holmes and John Henry Felix and  former Marshall aide J. Ikiaka Anderson."

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Rasmussen: 51% View Tea Parties Favorably, Political Class Strongly Disagrees

Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans have a favorable view of the “tea parties” held nationwide last week, including 32% who say their view of the events is Very favorable.

Thirty-three percent (33%) hold an unfavorable opinion of the tea parties according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure.

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Taxing Old Hawaii: Firework fees could skyrocket 50%

The 50 percent surcharge on gross sales placed on retailers is one of two plans, designed to curb the use of fireworks, still alive in the waning weeks of this year's Legislature. The other would increase the cost of fireworks permits for purchases and licenses for importers.  Both the House and the Senate want to make it tougher to purchase fireworks, but the two have backed vastly different versions of Senate Bill 1060, making it questionable whether a new law can emerge.

Opponents of stricter legislation, however, argue that making it more difficult for consumers to get legal fireworks increases the demand for black-market fireworks such as Roman candles and other aerial devices that have been on the rise in recent years.

If that happens, say goodbye to most of the legitimate retail market, said Jerry Farley, a lobbyist for American Promotional Events, which also does business in Hawai'i as TNT Fireworks.

Farley said he is "absolutely convinced they will cease to do business in Hawai'i," and that other fireworks wholesalers will do the same.  (another legal business driven away)

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Pflueger motions to be heard today

LIHU‘E — With James’ Pflueger manslaughter trial quickly approaching, the car dealer’s attorneys and the state Attorney General are set to continue their legal wrangling (stalling until the actuarial tables catch up) in earnest in Circuit Court starting today.

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DBEDT takes heat (Leg vs Gov round 47...or is that 48?)

The department disagrees with the audit's finding that it misused its transfer authority on funding to get Gov. Linda Lingle to sign off on projects that were denied by the Legislature, Liu said.

Of the six examples cited, Liu said that half were within normal operating requirements of existing programs and that other expenses were unfunded by the Legislature due to budgetary constraints, not lack of support.

State Sen. Sam Slom (R, Hawaii Kai) said the issue is a "wrestling match" between the governor and lawmakers, adding the charge of violating legislative intent is new. "I'm looking at about 150 audits, and I haven't seen that one before," he said.

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Hawaii rail transit will create jobs but estimates of how many vary (rail vs highway construction)

a recent study by the University of Hawai'i Economic Research Organization predicts the city's rail project will generate at most half that many direct jobs — a peak of 2,000 in 2014. That suggests the near-term economic impact of rail transit could be significantly less than the city predicts.

The city's average annual direct job count of 4,200 seems high, said UH economist Carl Bonham. Still, rail combined with other potential economic stimulus projects, such as a six-year, $4 billion state highway modernization plan, could create as many as 5,700 direct jobs, according to the research organization.

In 2010, the highway projects combined with rail would create just 860 additional jobs. However, that figure would rise to 5,700 jobs in 2013. That would push the state's overall construction job count to 36,530, which would be just shy of the 38,000 to 39,000 construction jobs that existed in 2007 and 2008. Without the projects, the number of construction jobs statewide is expected to dip to 30,830 in 2011, according to UHERO.

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Conference Committee makes early agreement on improvement projects

It's not a done deal yet, but House and Senate versions of the state budget tentatively agree on $325 million in capital improvement projects for the Big Island.
A joint House-Senate conference committee on the appropriations bill, HB 200, was planning on working late into the night Monday to begin solidifying the 247-page document, the only bill the Legislature is required to pass each year. (balance of article consists of Democrats taking credit for the Governor's plan)

Waimea hydropower plant $350,000 $1 million
Waimea Transfer Ditch improvements $200,000 $2 million
Hilo International Airport $2.8 million $13.5 million
Kona International Airport $18.7 million $1.1 million
Kawaihae harbor improvements $16 million 0
Hawaii Belt Road rockfall protection 0 $4 million
Kawaihae Road bypass 0 $7 million
Traffic improvements islandwide $900,000 0
Akonipule Highway realignment $520,000 0
Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements $16.1 million $3.3 million
Mamalahoa Highway drainage improvements 0 $1.5 million
Pahoehoe Stream Bridge replacement 0 $745,000
Rockfall protection/slope stabilization islandwide $28.2 million 0

(Nothing about Large Capacity Cespools on that list.  Meanwhile:  EPA fines Big Island company $52K:

“We are focused on closing large capacity cesspools to protect drinking water resources for the people of Hawaii,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA’s water division for the Pacific Southwest region, in a statement. “We’ll continue to pursue violators of the cesspool ban, and assess penalties as warranted.”

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Maui Council omits TAT revenues from 2010 budget planning

Maui County Council members are deleting $18 million in transient accommodations tax revenues from the 2010 budget, planning around the expectation that the state will withhold the money it has shared with the counties for years.

Council Budget Chairman Joe Pontanilla said he was unwilling to raise property taxes to make up for the loss.

He proposed more cuts in an already austere budget. Pontanilla's plan would delete funds for road resurfacing, noting that county Public Works has a backlog of road projects that should see it through the next year.

The proposal would also eliminate proposed new county jobs and freeze funding for many vacant positions, while increasing borrowing for capital improvement projects, and making small increases to the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.

But Pontanilla stressed the need for a safety net and said his budget plan wouldn't impose more cuts on social services, but would restore or increase funding for some critical programs.

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OHA to dole out money to secessionists

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), an agency of the government of the State of Hawaii, is trying to exercise leadership in the Hawaiian secessionist movement. This is not the first time OHA has provided money and organizational expertise to the secessionists. Documents on OHA letterhead, inviting secessionist groups and leaders to a day-long meeting on May 30, 2009 at the University of Hawaii East-West Center, and asking them to reply ahead of time to a lengthy questionnaire about their organizations and what needs OHA might help them with.

MEANWHILE in the Star-Bulletin secessionists  write letter to Obama opposing Akaka Bill:  (Thus underlining one of the key arguments FOR the Akaka Bill in the eyes of Congress.  Note the end of the pretense of representing Native Hawaiians as an ethnicity.)

"We, the undersigned kanaka maoli (indigenous Hawaiians) kupuna (elders), kumu (educators), and representatives address this letter to you on behalf of our people and nation, as well as of other Hawaiian Kingdom heirs. At our invitation, a number of our kako'o (non-Hawaiian supporters) have also added their names to this letter....

"We reject this Akaka Bill for weighty reasons. To begin with, the historical harm the United States first committed in Hawai'i in 1893 brought down, not a "Native Hawaiian Government," but the independent Hawaiian Kingdom composed of kanaka maoli as well as non-kanaka maoli subjects.

Moreover, we submit that, presuming on the good faith of your administration, Hawai'i's congressional delegation is now trying to ram through the Akaka Bill in the U.S. Congress before the latter can inform itself fully of the vehement and ever-growing opposition to the bill in Hawai'i among kanaka maoli, other kingdom heirs, as well as kako'o."    (Does 'other Kingdom Heirs' include Freddy Rice of Rice v Cayetano?)

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Lowell Kalapa analyzes Hawaii Internet Tax

Lawmakers are again being asked to change the state’s productive general excise tax to look more like a retail sales tax so they can collect taxes on purchases made from out-of-state vendors.

The Streamlined Sales Tax Project’s Model Agreement and Act (SSTP) is a project undertaken with other states that is intended to simplify sales and use tax administration as it relates to multiple sales and use tax rates, definitions, and taxing jurisdictions.

RELATED: http://techliberation.com/?s=sstp , http://www.streamlinedsalestax.org/

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Are Hawaii homes at risk?

However, foreclosure starts are overshadowed by serious loan delinquencies by nearly five to one, according to Hope Now, a national alliance of debt counselors and mortgage companies organized by the federal government to help consumers keep their homes.

Hope Now reports that while Hawai'i had 1,401 foreclosure starts in the fourth quarter, there were 4,893 loans 60 or more days delinquent. The delinquent loans represent 3.4 percent of Hawai'i mortgages counted by Hope Now.

Brewbaker said the figures remain relatively low in comparison with the Mainland, but he also concurs with Housing Hawai'i that it's prudent to prepare for the worst.  (Article includes map of districts with highest foreclosure rates--Molokai and Big Island hardest hit.)

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State to begin posting names of tax scofflaws online Friday

After receiving the letters, two taxpayers made down payments and initiated payment schedules; one filed for bankruptcy; and one's accountant contacted the state to discuss options.  The names of delinquent taxpayers may be viewed at www.hawaii.gov/tax

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SB: Isle students should not expect locker privacy (next target of ACLU and Mr Kim Coco Iwamoto)

A four-month pilot program in 2007 at three Maui public schools resulted in a dog discovering empty liquor bottles and traces of marijuana in public areas. The dog was not used to sniff students, their lockers or their cars, even though Attorney General Mark Bennett had assured the state Board of Education that random locker searches would pass constitutional scrutiny "at any time with or without reason or cause."

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Bill to ban pit bulls in the islands dies

The bill, introduced by Sen. President Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae Coast), was sent Jan. 26 to the Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations. Its chairman, Sen. Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, Makiki) has not scheduled a hearing on the measure.

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