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Sunday, January 6, 2013
January 6, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:12 PM :: 4513 Views

Hawaii Succession Law Unconstitutional: Senate Could Have Refused to Seat Schatz

Ills Cannot be Cured With Fees and Taxes

Hawaii DoE Adds 68.9% 'Non-Teaching Bloat'

Audit of HART 'Public Involvement' Contracts 'Suspended'

UHERO: Details of Fiscal Cliff Deal

House Finance Committee Announces Budget Briefings

Obesity in America: Blame Trade Protectionism on Sugar

Cayetano: Inouye Death Could Result in Legalized Gambling

SA: On a crass economic level, talk in Hawaii about Inouye's departure has been to compare it to something like a cargo cult tragedy….

As one top Inouye ally, who asked for anonymity to speak freely, said: "Dan Inouye is the reason Mazie Hirono is a U.S. senator."…

Inouye's clout intensified during the years that Linda Lingle was Hawaii's Republican governor, because Inouye assumed the role of local Democratic titular head.  During that time, the Inouye name was the magic that carried a lot of men and women into local office….

On issues, Inouye's support of the Jones Act, which blocks foreign registered ships from carrying cargo from the West Coast to Hawaii, has been nearly an act of faith for Hawaii's congressional delegation, except for the time Case was in Congress.

Even the state issue of legalizing gambling was a topic that Inouye could influence. Back in 2002 he delivered a speech on the subject, telling the Chamber of Commerce that it would destroy Waikiki's "family-friendly nature."

Inouye was influential, but his opposition was not the only reason gambling didn't pass back in 2002, said former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who added that negative views by local religious leaders and the then-two state newspapers carried more weight.

But, now with Inouye gone and Hawaii needing much more money for pension and health care debts, "gambling may have a better shot at being passed," Cayetano said in an interview last week.

Perhaps the most obvious filling of the power vacuum left by Inouye was Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointing Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz as Hawaii's senior senator….It was the first sign that even if the vacuum had not been filled, there were others occupying the space left by Inouye. (Abercrombie also smiles at gambling.)

read … Gambling

Schatz: I will Work Harder for Akaka Bill

Being a member of the Indian Affairs Committee will enable me to work on issues of importance to Native Hawaiians and all the people of Hawaii.

There is a lot of work ahead to accomplish what is right for Native Hawaiians with respect to federal recognition, and I will do my utmost to build from the groundwork that has already been laid by Sens. Dan Akaka and Dan Inouye. We have been at this for some time; there are obstructions; but when you believe that something is right, you work all the harder to achieve it. That is what we will do, together.

Regarding congressional relations, Hawaii has a history for maximizing its impact despite its small size. I look back on the past and know our delegation was unique — an impossible act to follow.

read … Impossible Act

Hanabusa: Akaka Bill ‘My First Priority’

I also begin the new Congress with specific and immediate goals. First among those is the reintroduction of the Akaka Bill in the House of Representatives. We cannot give up on our commitment to providing Native Hawaiians with recognition and self-determination.

Although Sen. Daniel Akaka has retired, the bill will always bear his name. I will continue to follow the example he set in championing it in Congress, expending every effort to shepherd the bill through the House, and working with our Senate delegation to achieve Sen. Akaka’s dream, and ensure our community’s strength.


read … Self Determination for the Mafia

Gabbard: Promote Friendlier Small Business Environment in Hawaii

I remain very committed to taking common-sense steps to promote a friendlier small business environment in Hawaii and, in turn, create more jobs.

Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, and must be supported and encouraged to grow. Our tourism industry supports many of these small businesses.

read … Small Business

Hirono: More Debt and More Taxes Needed

Congress will be forced to address our nation’s debt. A week ago, Congress finally passed a bipartisan measure that put off steep cuts in government services. Through the “fiscal cliff” compromise, we stopped income tax increases on 98 percent of American taxpayers and 97percent of small businesses, asked the rich to pay their share in paying down the nation’s debt, and extended unemployment benefits for millions of out of work Americans.  While we may have stalled the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the compromise means Congress must still raise the debt ceiling….

read … Europe

Back Room Deal? Democrats, Union Boss Refuse to Identify 3 Nominees for Senate Opening

KHON: The Maui County Democratic Party recommended three candidates to succeed Shan Tsutsui in the Hawaii Senate in a meeting Saturday.

The party chose not to publicly announce the names of the considered applicants. The names were given to Governor Neil Abercrombie, who will make the final choice.

"I feel the process went smoothly and was very transparent." said HSTA operative Justin Hughey, Chair of the Senate District 5 Ad-hoc Nominating Committee.

read … Back room deal

Legislative info online in advance of 2013 session

ILind: You might want to try browsing through this list of reports submitted to the legislature for the upcoming session.

It includes an incredible range of materials, from the annual report of the State Ombudsman or the University of Hawaii’s annual salary report, to little things like the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ report on their use of “electric guns” (hint: DLNR doesn’t have any yet, although they were authorized last year).

You can also access departmental testimony submitted for the budget briefings already underway before the House Finance and Senate Ways & Means committees.

And notice that the legislative website has been updated

read … Info

Abercrombie $150M Preschool on A Wing and a Prayer

SA:  Don't imprison our children's future," the video warns, part of an advertising campaign by Good Beginnings Alliance for universal preschool for Hawaii's 4-year-olds.

Hawaii is one of 11 states without a state-funded early learning program to help children prepare for kindergarten. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has made the creation of a school readiness program the top priority in his two-year budget draft, asking for $2.9 million for planning in fiscal year 2014 and $28.2 million to serve about 3,500 at-risk 4-year-olds in fiscal year 2015.

If the program were successful, it would be expanded over the next decade, eventually serving most of the state's 18,000 4-year-olds at a cost of more than $150 million a year.

But similar ideas over the past decade have failed to take shape because of questions about cost and whether the state can properly execute the program.

Research indicates that early childhood education can help children develop and reduce costs in education, social services and criminal justice over the long term, but only if children are exposed to high-quality preschool environ­ments. Without consistent standards, talented teachers and involved parents, taxpayer money could be wasted on what amounts to glorified day care.

The Abercrombie administration wants state lawmakers to approve the initial money before knowing exactly what standards would guide the program, how the money would be split between public and private preschools, and how preschools would be held accountable for meeting the state's goals. (Kam Schools)

The administration also wants lawmakers to agree to a constitutional amendment so private preschools could receive state money. Article X of the Constitution prohibits the state from using public funds to support private education institutions.

Critics ARE concerned about the state's ability to deliver quality and ensure accountability, given its sluggish performance in reforming public schools….some colleagues are saying, ‘boy, it's on a wing and prayer. It seems like a black hole.'

read … $150M, a Good Beginning for KSBE?

Big-Ticket Challenges Face Caldwell

SA: there are many big-ticket challenges that are weighing down the in-box on the mayor's desk:

» Caldwell pledged during the campaign to revisit the finer details of routing and design on the downtown segment of the $5.26 billion rail project. That's likely to be a challenging prospect, both procedurally and politically. Satisfying the public demand for input into such a contentious issue will be difficult, but he will have to try.

» Budgetary matters will take his attention first, and both the mayor and the Council should resist any urge to depart from core city services that could prod the tax rate higher. Taxpayers overall — in the middle class, as well as those in lower-income brackets — still face considerable economic duress. They'd appreciate a lower tax bill from the city or, at the very least, the confidence that most of the budgetary fat has been trimmed out.

» Honolulu's merchant district, with sluggish activity after business hours and chronic challenges in addressing homelessness, needs revitalizing. Strides have been made in Kakaako, Waikiki and even Chinatown, but the announced closure of the Fort Street Mall Macy's store exemplifies that the downtown area could use some thoughtful urban planning.

read … Tax Increases

Kidani: Airport too Decrepit to Name After Inouye

KITV: Renaming a state facility to honor Inouye would require a resolution passed by both the state House and Senate, and when asked, many lawmakers instinctively think of Honolulu International Airport.

However, Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Michelle Kidani is concerned the aging airport would reflect poorly on Inouye’s many contributions to the state.

“I thought about maybe the airport, but you know that's kind of not that special,” said Kidani. “I just think we need to think of something a little bit more.”

Read … Avoid the Truth

More seniors in isles facing homelessness

SA: In fiscal year 2012, people 60 and older made up 5 percent of those in homeless shelters statewide, according to a report from the University of Hawaii Center on the Family.

Homeless shelters helped 414 people in that age group, a 33 percent increase from 2008.

Meanwhile, 538 people age 60 and older used outreach homeless services in fiscal year 2012, compared with 308 people in 2008….

In fiscal year 2012, 434 people 51 and older stayed at IHS facilities. That's a 22 percent increase from the year before, when there were 355 people 51 and older helped.

Other service providers have also seen the increase in homelessness among older adults firsthand:

» The state-funded Next Step homeless shelter in Kakaako, where people sleep in cubicles on the floor, helped 39 people 62 and older in 2012, compared with 16 in 2008.

» At the end of November, there were 83 seniors on Catholic Charities' "urgent" waiting list for assistance from a housing counselor. To be placed on the list, a senior citizen has to be homeless or facing imminent homelessness. In previous years, the list had about 30 people on it. (Those on the list are waiting to get help from a counselor who will then place them on waiting lists for low-income housing and other programs.)

» Waiting lists for low-income senior housing have ballooned in recent years. The minimum wait to get into Pauahi Kupuna Hale in Chinatown, for example, is 84 months, up from 36 in 2008. It also takes about 84 months to get into the Philip Street Apartments in McCully-Moiliili, up from 24 in 2008.

read … More seniors in isles facing homelessness

Suit says educators assaulted disabled student

HNN: A new lawsuit alleges that educators at a Mililani school assaulted an autistic student and that the school tried to cover it up.

William and Colyn Chang said they pulled "Jayda" out of Kipapa Elementary School two years ago after learning of the incident.

"My daughter is bent over the table and one of the teachers is right behind her trying to hold her down. The other teacher is by her head, holding my daughter's neck. All this time my daughter is screaming," said William Chang, the girl's step father….

Eric Seitz, the family's attorney, said school officials never told the Changs about the incident. He said the couple found out three months after the fact when a teacher's aide showed them a video of the incident.

According to the suit, two skills trainers at the school showed Yogi a picture about a month after it occurred, prompting her to look into the matter.

But instead informing the Changs about the incident, Yogi later invited members of her own church on campus to meet with the educators involved to pray about the matter, Seitz said.

"Which is I say is almost as alarming," Seitz said. (Really? Atheist agenda here.)

Since this video surfaced, Jayda has transferred to a private school and gets private tutoring paid for by the DOE.

The department fought the move but an administrative judge ordered it to foot the bill.

Where’s the Story on This? Lawsuit: Mentally Disabled Girl Raped at Three DoE Schools

read … Another Day in the DoE

HCDA, OHA Bungling Keeps Pumphouse Closed 

SA: The question of why it is not in use is complicated. For one thing, the main building is a very small space at only 1,321 square feet. That size makes it hard for a coffeehouse, retail shop or restaurant to make money to pay rent even though a separate building in the back adds about 400 more square feet. Probably a major deterrent is there is no infrastructure — no electricity or plumbing — which would be very costly to install. And because two state agencies are involved — the Office of Hawaiian Affairs owns the land and HCDA the building — there must be agreement between them for its use.

read … Bureaucracy

After Years of Endless Talk, Fears that Feds Will Pull Highway Funding

WHT: “I’m just concerned how long (the state will) wait before (the federal government) pulls the funding,” Brown said. “I don’t know what their threshold is.”

It’s been more than four years since the DOT first attempted to award the phase 2 contract. A series of challenges to the bidding and award process delayed the award for two years, until 2010. When the DOT cleared those hurdles, DOT officials reported inadvertent archaeological finds of some kind near the project’s southern end, near Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park.

A Native Hawaiian hui approached the DOT with concerns about those inadvertent cultural finds, officials told West Hawaii Today in fall 2011. The construction start date was pushed back from May 2011 to mid-November, then to April 2012, then to August or September.

read … Dan’s Not Around to Fix This

Turtle Bay Supporters Speak Up

The KNSSPC continues to support Turtle Bay Resort's current proposed action, which will create 758 new resort jobs, on top of thousands of construction jobs over 11 years and will be a beneficial economic shot in the arm for the regional community.

The Kuilima North Shore Strategy Planning Committee is not a group that seeks development, and is certainly no rubber-stamp for any project. Instead, we are a committee created to make sure residents have a voice in the development that does happen, and we want to make sure that message carries throughout future generations of the North Shore and the Koolauloa ohana.

read … Community Benefits

Abercrombie Mad With Power

Shapiro: For Gov. Neil Abercrombie: "Of course I have gone mad with power. Have you ever tried going mad without power? It's boring. No one listens to you!" — Russ Cargill, "The Simpsons"

For Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui: "Of all men's words, there's none so fine, as these three words: ‘I've got mine!'" — Hagar the Horrible

read … Wise quotables help usher isle notables into new year



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