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Tuesday, March 12, 2013
March 12, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:19 PM :: 7782 Views

SB286: Solomon Decision Allows Legislature to Define 'Permanent Resident'

Sunlight: Hawaii Scores 'C' for Transparency

Organic Profiteers: 15% Sales Boost from Anti-GMO Hype

Hawaii: Gun Registration Bill Passes the Senate

RFP: Hawaii Health Connector Seeks Seamless Customer Experience

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted March 11, 2013

Naming Names: Big Pharma Pays $3.2M to Hawaii MDs

Honolulu Pavement Condition: Is Your Street Serious?

How Hawaii Minimum Wage Workers Earn $24.24 per hour

Only 28% Would Vote for Abercrombie for Governor

PR 03-13-13: Here are the horseraces for governor:

  • Hanabusa: 55%
  • Abercrombie: 28%
  • Don't know: 15%
  • Refused: 2%

And U.S. Senate ...

  • Hanabusa: 54%
  • Schatz: 32%
  • Don't know: 13%
  • Refused: 0%

read … Exploratory

Poll: Hanabusa Beats Abercrombie by 27%, Beats Schatz by 22%

Borreca: Both Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, representing urban Honolulu, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, representing the neighbor islands and Leeward and Windward Oahu, must soon decide what they want from the 2014 elections….

Hanabusa last month hired QMark Research in Honolulu to take a statewide telephone poll of 500 registered voters who said they were likely to vote in the Democratic primary. Instead of guidance on whether she should run against Abercrombie, or against Schatz, who says he is running for the Senate next year, Hanabusa got green lights in both races.

According to a leaked copy of the poll, which has a margin of error of 4.4 percent, if either race were held today, Hanabusa would beat either man.

Hanabusa would win by 27 percentage points in a primary race against Abercrombie and by 22 percentage points against Schatz if the race were held today, according to the poll….

There are no reports of Gabbard taking a poll on next year's races, but her surging media popularity makes her a possible candidate for the Senate, especially if Hanabusa jumps into the race against Abercrombie….

If Gabbard and Hanabusa both go for the Senate against Schatz, a three-way race might go to the incumbent.

Finally, if both Hanabusa and Gabbard take off for new challenges, their congressional seats will both be open, meaning that many ambitious legislators and county officeholders will be thinking about a federal race. This could be the start of the much promised, but yet unseen, "new era" in Hawaii politics.

Then what is Perreira Doing? HGEA/AFSCME Fundraiser for Schatz

Just Ignore:  

read … Good poll numbers present temptation for Hanabusa

Still No Prayer in the Hawaii Senate

HR: San Sam Slom: In contemplating my “Moment of Contemplation” today, I am struck by how far we have come in the last decade, as a Nation and as a State, to expunge any public mention or thought of  religious belief, a diety, or prayer, through fear of litigation or special interest bullying.

One must ask if all of the threats, court actions and restrictive laws to make our previous value and belief system impotent, have resulted in a better society, a wiser society a happier society?  What harm was really done in America by an admission and firm reliance on a higher being in our daily deliberations, where neither force nor fraud was exercised?

Those that have taken delight in driving God and prayer from our basic institutions are not happy people, and bring little else to the table other than their disgust of other peoples’ exercise of religious freedom and speech.

read … Moment of Contemplation

OCC: Cells Empty While Prison Overcrowded

KHON: "I know they mention overcrowding, but it is my understanding there were cells available that were empty. My questions is why weren't those cells used?," said Sen. Will Espero, Public Safety Committee Chair.

Both inmates were in a special holdings unit of the jail for misconduct.

There are 36 holding cells at OCCC. Public Safety says two were out of commission.

On Saturday, the unit was filled with 49 inmates and the jail had to make the "tough choice" who to match up.

Sen. Espero says Tui should have never been held with the victim due to his criminal history.

HNN: Lawmaker calls for hearings on prison mishaps

read …  Death of OCCC inmate raises issues of jail overcrowding, court backlog

State Pays Thousands to Prisoners Kept Beyond Sentence

KHON: The events and their price-tags for taxpayers are astonishing.

· Hundreds of thousands of dollars after Hilo's correctional center overcrowding leads to inmate injuries in a fire.

· $15,000 after a former Maui pretrial detainee attempts suicide after claiming excessive force and punitive conditions in Maui's correctional center.

Keeping inmates behind bars longer than they should be also can be a black hole of taxpayer money -- $75,000 for 134 days overstayed in one case, $60,000 for an 84-day mistake, $83,000 for another 83 days.

In just the last 5 years, the tab to prisoners and detainees is already up above $2 million, and the cases run the gamut:

· $50,000 to an inmate who fell out of his bunk bed;

· $22,000 for a sprained calf playing Frisbee;

· $40,000 for an eye hurt by a dish-washing hose;

· $25,000 for a wild pig bite;

· $23,000 in a meat-saw finger injury.

· Tens of thousands in cases alleging inadequate medical treatment

read … One Cause of Overcrowding

Should Suspended Cops Be Identified? Hawaii Records Office Says Yes  

CB: In 1995, the Hawaii Legislature passed a bill that made secret the names of county police officers who had been suspended for misconduct.

Less than two years later, the Hawaii Office of Information Practices wrote a formal opinion that undercut that law, saying the public has a fundamental right know about cops who were getting in trouble. OIP said the public's right to know must be balanced against the right to privacy, citing a 1996 Hawaii Supreme Court decision.

In that decision, justices sided with a group of students who were challenging the Honolulu Police Department and the state police union for access to this very information.

Since OIP’s 1997 opinion, however, little has been done to challenge the police over their policy of keeping information about suspended cops confidential, even if some of those officers had been convicted of crimes.

Civil Beat twice asked the Honolulu Police Department for the names of officers who have been suspended as part of a six-month investigation into police misconduct. Both times HPD rejected our request, citing the 1995 public records exemption.

But officials with OIP say HPD and other police departments are wrong to withhold the information. They say the agency’s 1997 opinion still holds up.

“It’s still good,” OIP Executive Director Cheryl Kakazu Park said of her agency’s 14-year-old opinion. “That hasn’t been overturned by the courts or by us.”

read … Suspended

Its Legal: Legislators Can Sell Influence and Access With Impunity!

CB: Last year the state Legislature passed HB 2175 (which became Act 208 with the governor’s signature) intended to exempt members of temporary task forces from sections of the state ethics code. But in the process, they also exempted themselves from the “fair treatment” section of the code:

“No legislator or employee shall use or attempt to use the legislator’s or employee’s official position to secure or grant unwarranted privileges, exemptions, advantages, contracts, or treatment, for oneself or others.”

An example that would have come under scrutiny prior to approval of Act 208 was Maui Senator Josh Green’s intervention in a payment dispute between the city and Automated HealthCare Solutions. Although he did not advocate a specific solution, he did call the city offer “unreasonable”. Eight days later, Green received a campaign contribution from Automated HealthCare Solutions for $2,000….  even if he had intended to influence the decision, that would not have been a violation of the ethics code under Act 208’s exemption.

Legislators have claimed that the broadening of the exemption for legislators was a mistake. In this legislative session, Sen. Green submitted SB 669, a simple, straight-forward bill making the correction. Meanwhile, the Ethics Commission submitted four bills — HB 209, HB 210, SB 429 and SB 430 — each of which would have eliminated the legislative exemption while making other changes in the code. Les Kondo, Executive Director of the Ethics Commission, spoke with various legislators and staff about the need to pass a bill to correct last year’s bill.

But now we are at the mid-point of the legislative session…All five bills that would have corrected last year’s mistake failed to meet that deadline and have died —in fact, none of the five even had a hearing before any legislative committee!

read … Was It A Mistake?

Souki, Kouchi, Tokioka Hold Fundraisers During Session

Hawaii Speaker of the House to hold fundraiser during session, lobbyists mark your calendar  

Kauai Sen. Kouchi shares the big bucks in Mainland fundraiser held during session

Kauai Rep. Tokioka taps Mainland funds during the legislative session

The bills that made the cut

CB: March 12 — At The Legislature

WHT: The bills that made the cut

Give labor board resources it needs so it Will Deliver HSTA Decision

SA: Hawaii law requires that the three-person board deciding public employee labor disagreements involving the county and state governments "execute all of its responsibilities in a timely manner," but that has become next to impossible because of cutbacks in the board's staff. The Legislature is considering deadlines for deciding cases, but the only sensible approach is to provide a large enough staff to address cases over a punctual timetable.

The Hawaii Labor Relations Board is required by law to schedule hearings about a dispute within 40 days; its decision is to be made "promptly" after the final hearing. However, nearly 10 months after the board's final hearing of the Hawaii State Teachers Association's complaint about Gov. Neil Abercrombie's "last, best and final" contract offer imposed in July 2011, the board has yet to arrive at a decision in the heated case….

Fortunately, House and Senate labor committee chairmen understand that adding staff to the labor board is the most logical way to deal with the overflow of cases before what Moepono describes now as "a skeleton crew and bare-bones budget."

In the House, Chairman Mark Nakashima proposes a budget for a legal staff member and Senate Chairman Clayton Hee says he will propose two new staff attorneys.

The reason for the cutbacks is not clear, but the prolonged dispute between the teachers union and the Abercrombie administration over contract issues is an important catalyst for restoration of fuller staff to ease the logjam of labor disputes.

read … Quid pro Quo

Restaurants and food businesses weigh in on the minimum wage increase

HM: What do local restaurants and food businesses think about increasing the minimum wage? Currently, a bill (SB331) in the Legislature seeks to raise the minimum wage, and it's drawing testimony from a variety of food businesses, most of them opposing the increase.

The food-related businesses that submitted testimony in opposition: Meadow Gold Dairies Hawaii, Tamura's Super Market, Ito En, Ken's House of Pancakes, Dole Food Co. Hawaii and Foodland Supermarket….

Organizations representing food-business interests also submitted testimony against the measure: HFIA (Hawaii Food Industry Association) and the executive director of HRA (Hawaii Restaurant Association)….

read … Minimum Wage 

SB472HD1: Reduces Marijuana Ticket to Piddling $100

DC: The House Judiciary Committee will be hearing a proposed new draft of SB 472 known as SB 472, HD 1, a measure that would decriminalize marijuana in Hawai‘i. What this current draft proposes is removing criminal penalties for possession of marijuana of 20 grams or less and instead, treat the matter with a fine of $100, like a parking ticket. 
This updated proposal fixes the problems of the Senate version that passed the Senate by reducing the fine back to $100 (instead of $1000), including ages 18 and up (instead of 21 and over), but it reduces the amount of possession from an ounce (28 grams) to 20 grams.

read … Dope Lobby Gets a Tax Cut, How About You?

Hawaii Online Poker Bills Fold

PF: Hawaii’s bid to bring online poker to the Islands failed to garner a hearing in the state’s House Finance Committee, after clearing two previous committee hurdles (the Economic Revitalization & Business Committee and the Judiciary Committee) in the past month. A lack of general support from legislators on both sides of the aisle was blamed for the bill’s demise, according to local reports.

Several similar bills have been proposed in Hawaii in recent years, none of which have gathered serious legislative support. Hawaii remains one of only two US states along withUtah where all forms of gambling are prohibited. Proponents of the poker-authorizing measures have pitched the bills as a way to buttress Hawaii’s prominent tourism industry in lean economic times.

read … Hawaii, Iowa Online Poker Bills Fold

Hawaii Senators: Strengthen Early Childhood Education

NR: Senator Mazie K. Hirono today introduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids Act (PRE-K Act), legislation that strengthens early childhood education. The PRE-K Act creates a new federal-state partnership that incentivizes states to both improve the quality of state preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need. …

The PRE-K Act creates a new federal-state partnership to improve state preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need. States that already have a high-quality preschool program could get grants to improve quality and expand to serve more children. Other states — like Hawaii — could apply for startup funds if they submit a plan to establish a high-quality preschool program within two years. …

The PRE-K Act was introduced with the following original Senate cosponsors: Senators Mark Begich (AK), Ben Cardin (MD), Richard Durbin (IL), Al Franken (MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Tim Johnson (SD), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Patty Murray (WA), Brian Schatz (HI), Chuck Schumer (NY), and Ron Wyden (OR).

Reality: Abercrombie 'School Readiness' Plan Based on Proven Failure

read … More Money for Failed Program

HB321: ACLU Pushes Same-day registration

ACLU etal: The 2013 Legislature is considering House Bill 321, which would permit a person to register and vote on the same day….

Eight states and the District of Columbia presently offer same-day registration (SDR). California and Connecticut have enacted but not yet implemented it.

In a 2011 study, researchers estimated that if Hawaii adopted SDR, overall voter turnout would go up by 5.3 percent; among those age 18 to 25, by 9.2 percent; and for those who have moved in the last six months, 7.3 percent….

We are pleased to see safeguards to prevent fraud proposed in this measure:

» A signed affidavit from the voter affirming they are qualified to vote, will not vote at any other polling place for that election, and will not cast an absentee ballot for that election;

» Proof of residence showing current address, and to verify the address, a second document showing the individual's name and address.

read … Same Day Registration

Free Clinics Push for More Medicaid Spending—200% of Poverty Line

AP: Roughly 21,000 people in Hawaii who were previously covered under Medicaid will need to buy their own health insurance once President Barack Obama's sweeping federal health care overhaul takes effect next year, the chief executive of the Hawaii Primary Care Association told a state Senate committee today. (That’s because Hawaii Medicaid is now going to be available at 133% of FPI, not 200%.)

Robert Hirokawa, of the Hawaii Primary Care Association, said during an informational briefing of the Senate Health Committee that the group represents a so-called "gray" zone that lawmakers should consider as they approach implementing the law.

The gap represents people whose income ranges from roughly 38 percent above federal poverty levels to two times the poverty line.

Hirokawa said single people earning $18,000 per year — 138 percent of federal poverty levels — can expect to pay $75 per month on insurance premiums. Those making twice the poverty level, or $26,000 per year, can expect to pay $194 per month.

The association represents roughly three dozen clinics throughout the islands that provide primary care for patients.

WHT: Expanding MedQuest could save $20M

Reality: DHS: Thousands of ghost names on Hawaii Medicare, Medicaid Rolls

read … Obamacare is Glorious

Obama Kills Tsunami Detection Funds, 1/3 of Buoys Dead

CB: One third of the tsunami warning buoys that Hawaii and others rely on for advance notice of impending waves aren't working or sending data, federal officials say.

Some of the buoys have been out of commission for more than six months, while several others are sending only sporadic information.

Now, sequestration and other budget cuts could slow the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's maintenance efforts — meaning that large dead zones in the U.S.'s main ocean-based warning system could get bigger.

"NOAA claims the American buoys are important for getting early warning (about tsunamis). But if you've got large swaths of them that are in essence dead, then you're not going to get that early information," said Jeff Ruch, executive director of government watchdog group PEER, Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility, which first reported the outages.

CB: House Reps: Hawaii Needs $650K to Fix Tsunami Warning Sirens

read … Bush’s Fault

Hawaii Jihadi Heads to Trial, Lawyer Asks Judge to Ban Jews from Jury

CBS: Inside Brooklyn Federal Court, attorney Frederick Cohn told Judge Eric Vitaliano, “I’m not wild about having Jews on the jury in this case,” CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported.

Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, a Muslim, is charged with making false statements in connection with a terrorism offense. His attorney told the court he didn’t believe his client could get a fair trial if Jews are on the jury….

Cohn said the judge ruled against his attempt to ban Jews from serving as jurors. Jury selection is set to begin later this week.

A 1986 Supreme Court ruling held that jurors cannot be excluded solely on the basis of their race.

2011: Jihadi Wanna-be Names Names in New York and Hawaii

IPT: Hawaii Jihadi Trial

read … Attorney Asks Judge To Ban Jews

Conklin: “Racial Entitlement Bills in the 2013 Hawaii Legislature”

The first three items have passed the chamber where they were introduced, have crossed to the other chamber….

HB509 would establish a Makua Valley Reserve Commission to prepare for the transfer of Makua Valley to the State when the Army's lease expires in 2029.

SB406 is part of OHA's bill package. It would require OHA to either administer, or approve a third party to administer, a mandatory training course "relating to native Hawaiian and Hawaiian traditional and customary rights, natural resources, and the public trust." The course will be required of all members of certain state councils, boards, and commissions whose work involves anything related to ethnic Hawaiian racial entitlements such as land, water, ceded land revenues, etc.; and it must be completed during their first year on the job.

HCR6 is part of the OHA package. It commemorates the 20th anniversary of the apology resolution passed by the U.S. Congress in 1993.

Discussed next is a resolution that was originally introduced in February in the Ocean, Marine Resources, & Hawaiian Affairs committee headed by Faye Hanohano, as a set of three companion items; had a hearing in February where testimony was submitted; was killed by being deferred indefinitely; and has now been reintroduced in slightly modified form for hearing and testimony on March 13.

HCR50 [concurrent] and HR32 [House only] say "international law clearly confirms that the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom was never relinquished or extinguished and that the Hawaiian Kingdom is "in continuity"; and ... international law prohibits the coercive assignment or altering of a person's nationality and citizenship to a foreign state without the explicit free, prior, and informed consent of the person; and ... in section 19 of the Admission Act, the United States Congress affirmed that the Admission Act itself does not confer or terminate or otherwise change the nationality status of Hawaiians; and ... Hawaiian Nationals are citizens of the Hawaiian Kingdom, residing in their own country, the Hawaiian Islands, and are not citizens of the United States or "residents" of the "State of Hawaii"; and [therefore] Hawaiian Nationals, as an authentic body politic, have the right to organize and restore their national government of, by, and for the people of the Hawaiian Islands."

Here are some bills that had committee hearings but were then killed. It is indeed scary that these were taken seriously enough for a very busy legislature to hold a hearing.

HB175 would hand over ten million tax dollars directly to DHHL in the year 2013.

SB123 would establish a Native Hawaiian corporation under DHHL to take control of all DHHL lands and all the ceded lands to be referred to collectively as "Native Hawaiian lands."

HB251 as originally proposed by committee chair Faye Hanohano would allow (hundreds of thousands of) ethnic Hawaiians to pay a fee of only one dollar instead of the established fee of ten dollars whenever they need to get certified copies of certificates of birth, marriage, divorce, or death….

HB1352 would exempt [ethnic Hawaiian] owners of kuleana lands "from all state, county, and municipal taxation, fees, and charges of every kind for water usage in connection with the kuleana landowner's appurtenant water rights."

SB233 would change the inscription on the Queen Liliuokalani statue to the dates of her coronation and death. The clear purpose of the bill is to twist history by giving tourists and schoolchildren the impression that Liliuokalani was never overthrown in 1893 and that she remained Queen until she died 24 years later, in 1917.

HB659 would establish a "kanaka village for the homeless" where DHHL and OHA would receive state funding for a shelter and restorative justice rehabilitation program exclusively for ethnic Hawaiians (instead of punishment or imprisonment).

read … Racial Entitlement Bills in the 2013 Hawaii Legislature

Hirono Apology for Not Being Gay Goes Viral

HNN: "I bring quadruple diversity to the Senate. I'm a woman. I'll be the first Asian woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate. I'm an immigrant. I'm a Buddhist. When I said this at a gathering, they said, ‘Yes, but are you gay?' I said, ‘Nobody's perfect."'

read … Political Correctness is Not Funny! Not! Not! Not! 

History shows N. Korean pattern: Wait, then attack

South Korea (AP) - Recent Korean history reveals a sobering possibility: It may only be a matter of time before North Korea launches a sudden, deadly attack on the South. And perhaps more unsettling, Seoul has vowed that this time, it will respond with an even stronger blow.

Humiliated by past attacks, South Korea has promised - as recently as Tuesday - to hit back hard at the next assault from the North, opening up the prospect that a skirmish could turn into a wider war.

Lost in the headline-making North Korean bluster about nuclear strikes on Washington in response to U.N. sanctions is a single sentence in a North Korean army Supreme Command statement of March 5. It said North Korea "will make a strike of justice at any target anytime as it pleases without limit."

Those words have a chilling link to the recent past, when Pyongyang, angry over perceived slights, took its time before exacting revenge on rival South Korea. Vows of retaliation after naval clashes with South Korea in 1999 and 2009, for example, were followed by more bloodshed, including attacks blamed on North Korea that killed 50 South Koreans in 2010.

read … Nork pattern  

Japan’s New PM May Reduce Hawaii Gas Prices

CB: Japan's 52 nuclear reactors were taken off line following the world's second most grievous nuclear accident (after Chernobyl).  All but two remain in cold shutdown.  As Japan scrambled to replace all that lost energy production it gobbled up oil to fire up generators similar to those we have here in Hawaii. The price for the low-sulfur oil that powers those generators has spiked, and has stayed high.  So every time we fill up at the pump, or pay an electric bill with the nation's highest electricity rates, we are are in part paying for Fukushima. 

All that is to say that when it comes to the implications here in Hawaii, the debate that Japan is embroiled in about its energy future is more than just academic.

…if Japan returns to nuclear power as the new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is inclined to do, Hawaii should get some economic relief….

read … Saved by Abe

Contractor Wastes 18 Mos, $600 cost overruns fined $26K

SA: The long-awaited Ewa Mahiko Gym opened to park-goers over the weekend, more than 18 months behind schedule and $600,000 over budget.

City officials say "deficiencies" by contractor 57 Builders Ltd. as well as upgrades sought by the Parks Department are to blame for most of the delays and added costs. The city is fining the contractor $26,000 for its share of the delays, mayoral spokes­man Jesse Broder Van Dyke said.

An official with 57 Builders said the company followed instructions and that city officials should have been more clear about what they wanted. (Question: How many degrees of separation between builder and Parks Dept.)

Originally scheduled to open in July 2011 with a price tag of $8.3 million, it was opened Saturday at a cost of $8.9 million following 17 change orders, according to figures provided by Mayor Kirk Caldwell's office.

read … How to make $574K in 18 mos by doing nothing

Bereavement Pay For Inouye’s Widow In New Senate Budget

CB: Included in Section 1601 of the bipartisan temporary funding bill announced tonight was this nugget: a bereavement payment of $193,400 for the widow Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

A summary of the bill agreed upon by committee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., and Vice Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., offered no further details of the payment.

The measure, which now heads to the House, which passed its own temporary Continuing Resolution, would fund the operations of the federal government through Sept. 30, offering hope of averting a government shutdown. The last temporary budget runs out at the end of the month. Both the House and Senate budgets would leave in place the federal sequestration cuts.

read … Bereavement Pay For Inouye’s Widow In New Senate Budget 

Allegiant Cancels Multiple Hawaii Flights over Mechanical Issues

ABC Denver: Airline officials confirm flights from Honolulu to Mesa, Arizona; Boise, Idaho and Fresno, California were all cancelled for at least a day or two since Friday because of mechanical issues with the 757s….

read … Flight home from Hawaii is 3x repeatedly cancelled, revealing problem with Allegiant's 757 fleet






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