Tomorrow is Sine Die at the Capitol. ’Bout time.

4 p.m. ‘Geronimo’ as Code Name Bad Idea

The Associated Press is reporting that the staff director for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee “is objecting to the U.S. military’s use of the code name ‘Geronimo’ for Osama bin Laden during the raid that killed the al-Qaida leader”:

Geronimo was an Apache leader in the 19th century who spent many years fighting the Mexican and U.S. armies until his capture in 1886.

The staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Loretta Tuell, says it is inappropriate to link whom she calls “one of the greatest Native American heroes” with one of the most hated enemies of the United States.

The use of Geronimo’s name will likely be discussed at an Indian Affairs hearing tomorrow, chaired by Dan Akaka.

3:27 p.m. Online Voting Registration Could Help Turnout

One of the measures that passed the Legislature this week and now heads to the governor is House Bill 545, which requires electronic voter registration on the website of the Office of Elections by Jan. 1, 2014.

The measure is supported by ACLU Hawaii, Americans for Democratic Action Hawaii, the League of Women Voters of Hawaii and Common Cause Hawaii.

In an April 7 committee report recommending passage of HB 545, lawmakers wrote:

Your Committee finds that this measure represents an important step in ensuring that all of Hawaii’s citizens are able to vote by reducing the barriers to voter registration. Improving access to voter registration will increase voter turnout, particularly for younger voters who are among those least likely to vote. Further, online voter registration is an efficient and economical electoral system that has seen great success in a number of states. In these difficult economic times, it is incumbent upon the State to do more with less, and your Committee believes that encouraging voter turnout while decreasing the cost to register voters is an excellent strategy to meet this goal.

2:13 p.m. Deep Thoughts from Sam Slom

The “lone Republican” in the state Senate, Sam Slom, sounded off today on his take on the 2011 Legislature, which ends (one hopes) tomorrow.

His observations include the following:

• His office is trying to obtain the budget worksheets to determine whether the state’s budget really is balanced. Even if it is, that could change on May 26, when the Council on Revenues releases its latest forecast.

• Is a special session of the Legislature possible? Perhaps, but maybe for other issues besides the COR. The Senate will have to reconvene to deal with governor’s nominations, for example.

• While he is pleased that the GET was not hiked and that tax increases on soda, liquor, tobacco, Internet sales and pension income fizzled, all of those eliminations of GET exemptions — like for jet fuel, for example — will result in businesses passing on expenses to consumers.

• “We spent a lot of time on animal cruelty, prostitution, compassion and marijuana,” he complained, rather than focus on stimulating business growth.

• The bill to make the Hawaiian hoary bat the state’s mammal shall return.

1:49 p.m. Bio-fuel Biz Gets $5.5M from Feds

Dan Inouye, Dan Akaka and Mazie Hirono said today that Cellana LLC, a subsidiary of HR BioPetroleum, will get $5.5 million through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The money, according to a press release, will be used “to produce affordable animal feed from marine algae in order to aid the large-scale production of feedstocks for biofuels, aquaculture and other animal feeds.”

The project began May 1 and runs through April 2014. Cellana has facilities on Maui and in Kona.

“Hawaii becoming more self-sufficient in energy and food production is a major goal of mine,” Hirono said in the statement. “Cellana has won a grant that will address one of the most limiting factors affecting local chicken, pig, dairy, and aquaculture production—the availability of affordable feed. The cost of importing feed has led to the closure of a number of poultry and dairy operations in Hawaii.”

12:12 p.m. Mauna Kea Plan Mulled

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that the Office of Mauna Kea Management is taking the first steps toward establishing rules for the summit region of Mauna Kea:

“We’re in the early stages of preparing administrative rules,” said Planner Jeff Melrose. “There was a legislative act in ’09, Act 132, that says the university should develop their own administrative rules for their portion of the summit.”

These rules will apply to public and commercial activities on Mauna Kea. The law further states that the rules must be consistent with those of the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife, which has jurisdiction over lower sections of the mountain. The rules must also be vetted to ensure they do not infringe on the traditional rights of Hawaiians. Nor will hunting rights be affected, Melrose said.

11:14 a.m. Radiation Worries for Workers

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports workers in the Hilo veterans outpatient clinic “may have been exposed to radiation over the last six years” because of “insufficient shielding” of a radiation therapy machine located in oncology clinic:

The machine, a linear accelerator, is contained in a specially built concrete and lead vault on the ground floor of the Hawaii Pacific Oncology Center on Waianuenue Avenue. Doctors use it to treat cancer patients with a concentrated, high-energy beam of X-rays that destroys cancerous tissue.

On Monday afternoon, Howard Ainsley, CEO of Hilo Medical Center — which operates the oncology clinic — said that medical physicists discovered “an issue” with the accelerator while testing the vault in preparation for upgrading the radiation equipment.

10:58 a.m. Reapportionment Meeting

The commission charged with redrawing Hawaii’s election boundaries is scheduled to convene this afternoon.

The agenda, the first under new chair Victoria Marks, includes allowing for some public testimony.

9:25 a.m. Maui Budget Woes

Two items from The Maui News:

• One article notes that County Council members are looking at making “deep cuts” to the county budget proposed earlier this year by Alan Arakawa:

Council Budget Chairman Joe Pontanilla said that with the county still facing financial hardship, he was reluctant to approve the large amount of new debt requested by Arakawa, opposed plans to hire more county workers and felt the mayor’s property tax increases were too steep.

Pontanilla’s plan would cut $6.6 million from Arakawa’s request for county operating funds and $70.3 million from his capital improvement plan.

• Another article reports that the county’s current emergency services radio system must be replaced at a cost exceeding $16 million — and that’s just to begin the system’s total overhaul:

Maui police Capt. Jeffrey Amaral said the existing system is approaching 20 years old. The technology is outdated, and the single vendor that is capable of servicing the system has notified the county it will no longer be able to provide technical support after 2013, he said.

“We’re at a point where we can do nothing else but forklift (remove) the equipment,” he said.

House Resurrection

In addition to HB 575, the bill to continue cuts to legislative-executive-judicial salaries, the state House also agreed yesterday to look at four other bills that had seemed dead.

The four bills are:

House Bill 916, which involves parking programs for persons with disabilities.

House Bill 922, which pertains to homestead leases being assigned to land trusts for the benefit of a lessee and family members.

House Bill 1038, which makes revisions to the Employees’ Retirement System.

House Bill 1076, which authorizes payment transfer of unemployment insurance administrative expenses.

All five bills are expected to be voted on tomorrow.

Gov on the Budget

Late yesterday Neil Abercrombie released the following statement on the budget, (House Bill 200), which passed the state Legislature:

“I’ve always said that we will work with the budget we have. We will seize this opportunity to transform government and move forward with our New Day plan.”

Where’s Neil?

Here’s Neil:

• “New Beginnings: Community Engagement in Public Education Town Hall,” Kapiolani Community College Cafeteria, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Maya Soetoro-Ng will be on hand as well.

Hanabusa 60, Civil Beat 1

Civil Beat received this lovely email this morning:

Happy Birthday, Civil Beat!

It’s my boss’ birthday too … she turned 60.

Here’s to many more years — enjoy guys!

Ashley T. Nagaoka
Director of Communications
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa

Other celebrity birthdays on May 4 include Lance Bass (1979), Randy Travis (1959), Pia Zadora (1954), Dick Dale (1937) and the late Audrey Hepburn (1929; d. 1993).


Catch up on previous coverage:

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