OMG! The 2012 election is 18 months away and already people are running for Congress!

5:10 p.m. Neighbor Island News

The Garden Island reports that Kauai County Councilman KipuKai Kualii has responded to community concerns over a possible conflict of interest stemming from his participation in a Office of the Prosecuting Attorney departmental budget review meeting last month:

Kualii said he does not believe he committed an ethics violation by participating in OPA’s budget review session or any other part of the budget talks. He did recuse himself from budget deliberations on the YWCA Family Violence Shelter and the YWCA Sexual Assault Treatment Program line items, due to his employment, he said.

“I would imagine that had the VOCA funds been on the budget, the county attorney would have advised me to recuse,” Kualii said.

West Hawaii Today reports that West Hawaii’s four council districts accounted for 76.8 percent of property values this year, up slightly from last year as property values countywide dipped 4.4 percent:

With their four of the nine council districts accounting for what some West Hawaii council members see as a disproportionate share of property taxes, most favored a top-to-bottom review of the county property tax structure considered Monday by the council Finance Committee.

The committee voted 5-4 to advance a nonbinding resolution requesting the review to the council with a positive recommendation when it meets today. It’s sponsored by Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann.

The Maui News reports that 200 people rallied recently for U.S. immigration reform, “sharing stories of families torn apart, of people trying for decades to get family visas and of indiscriminate enforcement” of illegal immigrant laws:

Terri Erwin, lead organizer of Faith Action for Community Equity, or FACE, said that while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are supposed to prioritize enforcement against dangerous criminals, targets on Maui include single mothers, parents and “people who are going about their business.”

Maui residents who have been subject to immigration enforcement are “not dangerous criminals,” she said.

3:10 p.m. Updates from the Dans

Dan Inouye has announced that the Honolulu Department of Community Services will get $1 million “to further programs designed to help young people earn their high school equivalency while also providing job training opportunities,” according to a press release.

The funds come through a YouthBuild grant from the Labor Department. The program helps out-of-school youth get their diplomas or GEDs while providing occupational training in the construction industry.

Dan Akaka, meanwhile, released a statement today noting that he voted in support of the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, though it fell short of the 60-vote threshold required to move the bill along.

“Gas prices in Hawaii are the highest in the nation,” he said. “With the economy still turning around, working families in Hawaii have had to cut back while oil companies report record profits. These oil companies clearly do not need billions of dollars in yearly government handouts.”

2:30 p.m. GOP Blames Dems for Moody’s Downgrade

The Hawaii Republican Party issued a statement in response to today’s decision by credit agency Moody’s to downgrade Hawaii’s general obligation bonds, which could affect interest rates and borrowing costs:

“Today’s decision by Moody’s is the result of one-party rule and continued reckless fiscal behavior by Hawaii’s Democrats. The Abercrombie administration has shown a near total lack of leadership in guiding our state and the Democrat controlled legislature is equally complicit in the financial mismanagement of our government. Although many of the economic challenges outlined in this report began during the previous administration, Governor Lingle’s responsible fiscal management preserved Hawaii’s Aa1 bond rating,” said Jonah Kaauwai.

“Hawaii deserves better. Today’s downgrade of our state’s bonds by Moody’s is yet another clear indication as to why we must change our political leadership in the 2012 elections.”

11:25 a.m. Gov. v. Nurses

The Hawaii Republican Hawaii has tweeted (@gophawaii) out a tweet that begins, “Governor Abercrombie tells nurses it is their fault they dont get paid more because they did not go to the…”

The tweet includes a link to a YouTube video of the governor arguing with nurses shortly after he delivered a speech on Maui over the weekend.

The video quality isn’t so great — it appears to have been taken with a cell phone — but the audio is crystal clear. Worth a listen!

7:56 a.m. Gov to Announce Homeless Plan

Neil Abercrombie and Marc Alexander will announce a 90-day action plan to address Hawaii homelessness today.

The press conference is at 12:30 p.m. in the Capitol’s fifth floor Executive Office.

The conference will be streamed live.

Case’s D.C. Open House

Ed Case is holding an “open house” with wife Audrey today in Washington this evening, “to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.”

Suggested contributions are $250 to $2,500.

Akaka Signs On to Mortgage Servicers Bill

Dan Akaka has joined 10 other senators in introducing the Regulation of Mortgage Servicing Act.

“My office has received countless requests for help from local families frustrated by delays, confusion, broken promises, and conflicting advice from their loan servicers,” the senator said in a statement. “These families are simply trying to find a way to stay in their homes, and the added hardships they have endured are inexcusable. This legislation will help families and loan servicers to communicate and work more effectively toward their mutual benefit.”

Dan Inouye is an original sponsor of the bill.

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