Welcome to Capitol Watch. Governor-Elect Neil Abercrombie is in transition mode, there’s new leadership at the Legislature and other government branches, and Civil Beat is reporting on all of it.

Sunday, Dec. 5, 9:34 a.m. Lingle-Dot-Com

Read all about Linda Lingle‘s eight years in office at www.governorlindalingle.com, and shoot her an e-mail at lindalingle@ymail.com.

The website will also be used to provide updates on the soon-to-be private citizen “as she continues to stay involved in helping our state realize its full potential.” (Read: Senate 2012.)

“No state funds or resources were used to develop or maintain the website,” according to the press release sent out by Lenny Klompus.

2:52 p.m. Cabinet Appointments Almost Pau

Neil Abercrombie named five department directors and two deputy directors.

They are:

Bruce Coppa, a PR executive, as director of Accounting and General Services; Kealii Lopez, head of Olelo Community Television, as director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; Fred Pablo, Maui Budget Director, as director of Department of Taxation; Sunshine Topping, a telecommunications and HR executive, as director of Human Resources Development; state Senator Russell Kokubun and former ag director and former Hawaii Farm Bureau president Jimmy Nakatani as director and deputy director of Agriculture; and Guy Kaulukukui of the Kohala Center as deputy director of Land and Natural Resources.

Also on hand were two previously named appointees, state Senator Dwight Takamine and construction company owner Audrey Hidano to lead the Labor department as director and deputy director, respectively.

The top directors are subject to state Senate confirmation.

To date Abercrombie has named 11 of his 16 Cabinet heads. The five remaining appointments will be for Attorney General, Transportation, Health, Human Services and Defense.

Christmas Comes Early for the Wealthiest

Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka voted today to extend unemployment insurance and permanently extend tax cuts for working families earning less than $250,000 a year, but the measures were shot down after every member of the Senate Republican Caucus voted against a procedural motion to allow an up-or-down vote on the bill.

“Our nation is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, millions are out of a job, working families are struggling to make ends meet, and my Republican colleagues refuse to vote for anything until we extend President George W. Bush’s tax cuts that extend a Christmas gift to the wealthiest Americans at a cost of $700 billion,” said Inouye. “I just don’t get it.”

The median family income in Hawaii last year was $75,066.

Akaka said both measures also would have protected small businesses from 1099 IRS tax form paperwork requirements in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, helping some 25,000 local and family-run businesses in the state.


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