Welcome to Capitol Watch. The Hawaii Legislature is in full swing and Gov. Neil Abercrombie is delivering straight talk that’s not always welcome. Civil Beat is reporting on all of it.

3:05 p.m. Kaauwai Attacks Hirono, Hanabusa on East-West Center Vote

The local GOP issued a statement on Thursday’s vote by the U.S. House to eliminate federal funds for Hawaii’s East-West Center:

Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono are simply two of the most ineffective members of congress in our nation today. Not only did the two of them fail to stop an amendment eliminating federal funding of the East-West Center, even worse, the two of them didn’t even bother to show up for work and defend the center on the House floor during debate,” stated Hawaii Republican Party Chair Jonah Kaauwai. “Hanabusa and Hirono could not do something as simple as convince members of their own party to support the East-West Center as a whopping 44 Democrats voted to support the elimination of East-West Center funds. This shows a remarkable level of sheer incompetence by Hawaii’s congressional representatives that they failed to monitor the House floor proceedings, failed to speak up to defend the East West Center and failed to convince their own fellow Democrats about the importance of the East West Center. Hanabusa and Hirono simply have failed the people of Hawaii. We deserve better than Hanabusa and Hirono and today’s action show how much Hawaii needs bipartisan representation in Washington.”

“The only member of congress who spoke up to defend the East-West Center on the House floor was Texas Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger, who the Hawaii GOP notes is a friend of former Congressman Charles Djou.”

Kaauwai is correct on the vote count.

So, Civil Beat checked with Hanabusa and Hirono, who are part of the Democratic minority in the House, on the EWC vote. Both voted “no” on the measure, which passed comfortably, 274-155.

Neither office responded to Kaauwai’s contention that they did not speak on the House floor. But Hirono and Hanabusa each issued statements the day of the vote condemning the measure:

“It is sad to see that amendments like this are being proposed based on no knowledge nor any serious evaluation of the institutions involved,” wrote Hirono. “Anyone who has been involved with the East-West Center would understand that it is exactly the kind of activity that most cost-effectively promotes U.S. foreign policy and security interests in a critically important, fast-growing region of more than 3.5 billion people.”

“This amendment proposes to cut all funding for the East-West Center — a shortsighted and impulsive measure that takes away from a program that has done so much on behalf of our nation,” wrote Hanabusa. “Due to its strategic location halfway between the continental U.S. and Asia, the East-West Center has served as an unparalleled resource; a bridge between the United States and our allies in the Pacific.”

(UPDATED 2/19/2011: An earlier post linked to the wrong amendment and incorrectly characterized the vote. I regret the error, and confusion.)

1:33 p.m. Cracking Down On Barking Dogs

West Hawaii Today reports that South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford is working on a bill that would remove the one-hour wait time police officers have to follow to prove a dog is barking before they can issue a citation

Current county code defines a noisy dog as one that “barks, bays, cries, howls or makes any other noise continuously or incessantly for a period of 10 minutes or barks, bays, cries, howls or makes any other noise intermittently for a period of 20 minutes within a 30-minute period of time to the disturbance of any person at any time of day or night and regardless of whether the dog is physically situated in or upon private property.”

Fines for keeping a noisy dog are $25 for the first offense, $75 for the second, $100 for the third and $200 for any subsequent violation $200.

Lt. Jason Cortez, who’s in charge of community policing for the Hawaii County Police Department, agreed there are a lot of dog barking complaints on the island.

But he doesn’t think the police actually wait around an hour. Instead, they may check back after issuing the warning, he said.

12:12 p.m. Family Court Judge Named

Mark Recktenwald today selected R. Mark Browning as senior judge of the Family Court in the First Circuit.

According to a press release, Judge Browning served as a district family court judge from 1997 until 2010, when he became a circuit court judge. He is a former partner with the law firm Shim Tam Kirimitsu Kitamura & Chang and also served as a deputy prosecuting attorney
for the City and County of Honolulu.

Browning’s appintment is effective March 4. He will succeed Sabrina McKenna, who will be sworn in as an associate justice of the
Hawaii Supreme Court on March 3.

Newt Comes To Town

Newt Gingrich will headline the Hawaii Republican Party‘s Lincoln Day Dinner at the Hilton Hawaiian Village this evening.

The former U.S. House speaker and possible 2012 presidential candidate is promoting a new book, “Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny.”

A public book-signing will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Hilton’s Coral Ballroom Foyer

HNL: ‘E Komo Mai’

The governor will be present for the debut of a Hawaiian language greeting at Honolulu International Airport at 10 a.m.

The greeting, which was crafted by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, will played through the airport’s PA system twice every hour.

HTA will also unveil a Hawaiian language video message to be used for in-flight programming. 

Taxing Pensions

At 9:30 a.m. in Conference Room 211, Senate Ways and Means will hear Senate Bill 162, a taxation bill that senators are proposing to amend so that it “taxes pension income of taxpayers with a certain federal adjusted gross income and filing status for taxable years” beginning after Dec. 31, 2010.

At-Risk Rally at the Capitol

A demonstration is set from 9:30 a.m. to noon beginning in the Capitol Rotunda to show support for social-service programs that may have their funding cut this session.

The rally is organized by a DHS-supported program, Paxen Huli Ke Alo/About Face Family of Programs, which helps families and youth at Leeward Coast high schools and shelters.

“Each year, hundreds of at-risk learners from 20 communities across Hawaii — including many rural, under-served areas — enroll in the About Face! Family of Programs,” J. Lehua Kaauwai-Krueger, the organization’s general manager, said in a press release. “But all that could soon end.”


Catch up on our previous week’s coverage:

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