Watching and reporting about Hawaii from Washington Place to Washington, D.C.

4:07 p.m. Slom to Address Kona Tea Party

The Kona Tea Party will host Sam Slom at the Kona Vista’s Pavilion on the Big Island at 1 p.m. tomorrow — yes, Saturday.

“Meet the only Senator who always votes against tax increases and is on the front lines protecting citizen rights,” according to a notice for the talk.

Topics will include the following:

The Federal government’s assault of individual and States rights with regard to the Transportation Security Administration; why millions in taxpayer money has been spent to conceal President Obama’s records; Senator Slom’s budget proposal for program and department cuts, no raids on special funds (like the hurricane fund), no tax increases while saving money; his success in the past legislative session that struck the 25% GET tax increase.

2:56 p.m. Poi-Pounding Bill Now Law

Neil Abercrombie has signed Senate Bill 101, exempting the preparation of hand-pounded poi from some Health Department requirements.

The bill was among 25 measures that the governor signed.

They also include Senate Bill 1076, which makes it unlawful for any employer or labor organization with more than one hundred employees and a collective bargaining agreement to bar or discharge from employment, withhold pay from, or demote an employee solely because the employee uses accrued and available sick leave.

2:09 p.m. Hirono Amendment in Bill She Opposed

Mazie Hirono issued a press release yesterday noting that she won bipartisan support for an amendment she introduced to the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill “that restores $3 million in funding to the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program.”

The press release notes that Hawaii currently has four authorized projects under the program, with federal funding commitments of $34 million.  

“This program supports our state and local governments’ ability to improve agricultural water delivery systems for farmers in Hawaii — especially along the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island and in upcountry Maui, and in developing flood protection infrastructure for Hilo and Lahaina,” Hirono said in a statement.

Colleen Hanabusa joined her colleague in the 288-132 vote on Hirono’s amendment. As Hirono’s press release states, the amendment “was one of only three Democratic amendments to the bill, which passed by a recorded vote.”

What the press release does not explain is that Hirono (and Hanabusa) ended up voting against the bill. The vote was 217-203, heavily along party lines.

Hirono had her reasons, though.

On Tuesday, she explained in a press release that she opposed the appropriations bill because it would cut $650 million from the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program; $12 million from the Emergency Food Assistance Program that suports food banks; and 20 percent of the budget of the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides food packages to over 600,000 low-income seniors.

12:30 p.m. More on Dela Cruz’s Side Gig

Following up on Derrick DePledge‘s Star-Advertiser item about how the governor’s spokeswoman has taken a side job writing and producing a new Hawaii travelogue show, Donalyn Dela Cruz shared with Civil Beat more about the position.

Dela Cruz had done work for “Passport Hawaii” producers Richard Valazquez and Micahel Harris but severed her ties when she was hired by Neil Abercrombie after the November election. In February she took the State Ethics Commission training program and learned of the disclosure requirements required of public officials.

In March she asked Neil Abercrombie and Amy Asselbaye if there might be a potential conflict if she returned to the part-time TV work, as its sponsors include Hawaiian Airlines, Starwood Hotels and the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce — that is, groups that often have business with the state.

Her bosses saw no conflict and gave Dela Cruz the green light.

“I am not ashamed to say that I am a hard worker and make sure I give 100 percent to everything that I do,” she told Civil Beat. “And anyone who knows me knows that I need to have a creative outlet, too. I also have to make my ends meet, and that means I have to work more than one job. But I know how to juggle my commitments.”

11:21 a.m. Neighbor Isle Gov’t News

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that Billy Kenoi‘s veto of the amended Big Island operating budget has set up a “potential showdown” between his administration and the County Council, two weeks before the start of the next fiscal year:

“This review concluded some of the most important council budget amendments are apparently illegal because they violate the separation of powers requirements of the Hawaii County Charter,” Kenoi wrote Wednesday. “These legal and other defects in the council’s budget amendments could have been avoided. It is my sincere hope that my administration and the Hawaii County Council will be able to work together on the budget in a more collaborative partnership in the future.”

But yesterday, Councilman Pete Hoffmann said it was the mayor who failed to work with the Council:

I’m extremely disappointed,” Hoffmann said. “I had hoped that the mayor, who speaks many, many times on cooperation and his efforts to do this and that, on any number of subjects, but particularly the budget, and here we are again where the mayor had an excellent opportunity, just an outstanding opportunity, to show cooperation with the council. And he chose not to do it.”

West Hawaii Today reports that Hawaii County and a landowner trying to sell the county pristine Kau oceanfront property have been granted preliminary authority to remove a group of Native Hawaiians living there:

On Wednesday, 3rd District Court Judge Joseph P. Florendo Jr. granted motions for summary judgment to the county and Edmund Olson Trust against Hawaiian activist Abel Lui and other unnamed defendants who live on the property.

“We have to get the writ of possession,” said Deputy Corporation Counsel Laureen Martin, “and once we get that, we can proceed to eject Abel Lui.”

At issue are a 235-acre Kawa Bay parcel the county bought for $1.9 million two years ago and an adjacent 550-acre parcel the county is currently trying to buy from the Olson Trust.

View a Big Island Video News clip on the Kau situation here.

The Garden Island reports that Kauai‘s first woman prosecutor has announced her intent to seek reelection in 2012:

Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, who served two terms on the Kauai County Council, became county prosecutor in 2008 after running unopposed.

A graduate of Kapaa High School and University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law, Iseri-Carvalho has devoted more than 20 years of her legal career to public service, states a press release from the prosecutor.

9:29 a.m. Aloha to Aloha Stadium Authority?

Kudos to Ferd Lewis for the Star-Advertiser’s front-page article on Neil Abercrombie‘s abrupt request that the Stadium Authority resign en masse.

A spokeswoman for the governor confirmed that a letter was sent June 14 asking the nine members appointed by former Gov. Linda Lingle to resign.

The governor showed his hand about his concerns about the stadium in his State of the State back in January. He said he wanted to convene “a group of experts” and UH folks to decide the fate of the 36-year-old structure.

Do the governor’s designs on the authority have anything to do with retaliation for comments that authority chairman Kevin Chong Kee made criticizing the governor’s dismissive comments about the NFL Pro Bowl? Earlier this year the director of the Office of Information Practices, Cathy Takase, was dismissed after stating that the names of judicial nominees should be made public — something that contradicted the governor’s views on the matter.

Abercrombie said in his State of the State that he wouldn’t spend any more money to extend the life of the stadium. The stadium is already undergoing tens of millions of dollars in renovation work designed to keep the “rust bucket” going for another 20 years, work that was approved under the Lingle Administration, which appointed the current nine-member authority. That work is expected to last six years.

It’s also no secret that that the NFL has pushed the state to keep the stadium in shape in order for Pro Bowl games to continue in Honolulu.

Honoring Yamashiro

The governor has ordered all national and Hawaii flags at all state offices and agencies and the Hawaii National Guard to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset tomorrow in memory of Stephen Yamashiro.

In a statement, Neil Abercrombie called Yamashiro “one of the most influential political leaders and elected officials on the Big Island who played an essential role in transforming the Hawaii County economy from its sole dependency on the sugar industry to other diversified industries such as agriculture, astronomy, and tourism.”

Mufi Still Mulling D.C. Run

Mufi Hannemann tells Civil Beat that a run for either the U.S. Senate or House remains “very much a live option.”

“Sure, I am looking at it, and I have been encouraged by folks in Hawaii and in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “So I am still very much considering it and will make a decision on it. But, right now, I have not made up my mind.”

Hannemann said he was looking at both the race to fill Dan Akaka‘s seat as well as the contest for the U.S. House, though he did not say which contest.

Mazie Hirono is vacating her 2nd District seat and Colleen Hanabusa is contemplating leaving her 1st District seat, both to run for Senate.

“They don’t come up very often,” Hannemann said of the seats. “I have been encouraged by what I see so far. It’s still very much in the mix. But I need to put everything together and figure out if it is time to go forward.

Hannemann added that he had no specific timeframe for a decision, “but, obviously, I am very mindful that 2012 is right around the corner.”

However, he also said he really enjoys working privately in the tourist industry.

ACLU Marks 40 Years of Drug War

It was started under the Nixon Administration, but four decades on it’s still with us: the war on drugs.

The ACLU Hawaii, calling it 40 years of “collateral damage,” will mark the date with a rally and flag waving at the state Capitol this afternoon.

Tomorrow afternoon, the ACLU is sponsoring a forum at the Blaisdell Center.

The 
featured speaker is Scott Michelman, National ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project attorney, whose talk is titled “Trying Our Patients: Politics vs. Health in the War on Drugs.” Panel discussions are also scheduled.

Local 5 to Boycott Hyatt

This afternoon, unionized hotel workers will launch a consumer boycott of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, making the hotel one of 17 Hyatts being boycotted by UNITE HERE locals across the country.

While Local 5 has succeeded in settling most of its union contracts with Hawaii hotels, that’s not yet the case for more than 500 hotel workers at the Hyatt, where contracts expired June 30.


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