Welcome to Capitol Watch. There’s a new governor, new leadership at the Legislature and other government branches, and Civil Beat is reporting on all of it.

4:55 p.m. Herkes, Others to Talk Vog on ‘Island Insights’

Big Isle Rep. Bob Herkes is one of Dan Boylan‘s guests tonight at 7:30 on “Island Insights.”

Does vog impact the economy? How bad does it affect health? What can be done about it?

The panel includes Jeff Sutton of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Dr. Elizabeth Tam of the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine and Lani Petri of Kapapala Ranch.

3:53 p.m. Yagong Wants to Clear Record

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that the Hawaii County Board of Ethics is set to review an anonymous complaint against Councilman Dominic Yagong.

The complaint centers on whether Yagong, a district manager for Food Pantry, had a conflict of interest in a vote against a project that competes with Malama Market, another store in the Sullivan Family chain.

“I welcome the anonymous petition because I have always advocated for open and transparent government,” Yagong said. “The community is really demanding accountability.”

1:46 p.m. Gov Will Reach Out to Congress for PACOM

Comparing the 2010 election with the one in 1994 when he was in Congress, Neil Abercrombie said today there are many new people in Washington who don’t fully appreciate the United States Pacific Command in Hawaii and Hawaii’s strategic position in the Asia-Pacific arena.

The governor, who addressed the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii‘s Military Affairs Council Conference at the Hawaii Convention Center, said he would lobby on behalf of Hawaii’s interests and take advantage of his relationships with House Republicans like John Boehner.

Those in attendance at the conference, which featured Admiral Gary Roughead (current Chief of Naval Operations) as the keynote, included Brian Schatz, Doug Chin, a half-dozen or more state and city lawmakers and lots of brass.

On a less-serious note, Abercrombie said he hoped people would stop introducing him as the “new” governor of Hawaii.

1:01 p.m. A ‘Birther’ in the House

A woman who doubts the authenticity of Barack Obama‘s birth certificate interrupted a reading of the U.S. Constitution in the U.S. House chamber this morning.

The outburst came, according to The Hill, during reading of the section that requires “presidents be naturally born U.S. citizens in order to be eligible for that office.”

According to POLITICO, the woman, seated in the front row of the gallery, shouted out, “Except Obama, except Obama. Help us Jesus.”

Theresa Cao, 48, was arrested by Capitol Police and later released.

House Speaker John Boehner later told TV, “The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That’s good enough for me.”

12:16 p.m. Update on Homelands Racetrack

In a hearing today at the Capitol, state senators raised concerns about an auto racetrack in the Ewa-Kapolei area on Hawaiian Homelands.

DHHL had a month-to-month lease with the operators of Kalaeloa Raceway Park, but area residents have complained about fumes and noise.

DHHL Deputy Director Bobby Hall said the lease was administered by the previous administration and that the current administration was trying to “get a better handle” on the issue, including understanding the legal issues.

Director Alapaki Nahalea said his department needed to do a better job reaching out to the community over the controversial racetrack and other issues involving Hawaiian homelands.

11:01 a.m. OHA Crafting Ceded-Lands Settlement

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is working on a bill that outlines a settlement concerning the state’s past-due $200 million in ceded-land revenue to OHA.

The bill will be submitted to the Legislature this session, according to OHA.

Brickwood Galuteria, chairman of the state Senate’s Hawaiian Affairs Committee, said he hopes to receive “a well-crafted settlement package” but also encouraged OHA to move beyond “just land and cash” as part of a settlement.

“We don’t want to leave the future in the hands of money managers — we want a different paradigm,” he said.

The news came as OHA explained to lawmakers the details of its $4.8 million biennium budget request to the Legislature. Lawmakers expressed their wish that OHA use more of its resources to help alleviate homelessness and recidivism among Native Hawaiians.

10:16 a.m. Cost to Lobby Akaka Bill?

Sam Slom asked OHA’s Clyde Namuo at a legislative hearing this morning how much the government agency had spent and is spending to lobby for passage of the Akaka bill, a measure currently shelved in the U.S. Senate.

Namuo told Slom he did not “happen to have that handy” but promised to find and submit the figure to the Legislature ASAP.

Civil Beat will publish the OHA-Akaka bill lobbying figure as soon as we have it.

9:34 a.m. Eight Vie for Kokubun’s Seat

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that Hawaii County Democrats have identified qualified candidates to replace Russell Kokubun in the state Senate (he’s now interim ag director).

The candidates are:

Richard Creagan, a Kau medical doctor; state Rep. Faye Hanohano; Gil Kahele, a retired Pohakuloa Training Area public works employee; Anthony Marzi, a database administrator; Russell Ruderman, owner of Island Naturals health food stores; Gary Safarik, former council chairman; Susan “Marie” Sanford, manager of Abundant Life Natural Foods’ Hilo store; and Beverly Jean “Jeannie” Withington, a former state chairwoman of the Hawaii Democratic Party.

Should Neil Abercrombie choose Hanohano, the 17 state House dissidents clamoring for a new speaker would lose yet another member.

Budget Hearings Continue

Beginning at 9 a.m. today, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands will talk about kala with the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance committees.

Possible topics: $200 million in unpaid ceded-land revenues due from the state to OHA, and the pace of placing qualified Native Hawaiians on their own lands.

Then, beginning at 1:30 p.m., the administration’s departments of Budget and Finance and Labor and Industrial Relations will have their turn.

The hearings can be viewed live on Olelo Community Television, which can be found on Channel 49 for Oceanic Time Warner Cable subscribers.


Catch up on our previous coverage:

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