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

3:18 p.m. Case Needs Cash

No news there — every politician does. In Ed Case‘s case, he wants to have a good showing for the current federal fundraising quarter, which ends June 30.

“A good result will continue our great momentum into our statewide campaign,” Case notified supporters today.

Case doesn’t say it, but a poor showing would suggest to potential rivals that his campaign appeal is weak.

2:51 p.m. Hirono, Akaka Pensions Noted

Roll Call reports today that at least two dozen members of Congress receive annual pension payments, “ranging from a few thousand dollars to nearly $68,000,” from their days as state legislators, officials, or judges,” including two from Hawaii:

Rep. Mazie Hirono, who served in the state House from 1981 to 1994 and as lieutenant governor from 1994 to 2002, received $45,000 from her state’s pension program in 2010.

Sen. Daniel Akaka has been receiving a pension from the state government for more than 30 years. In 2010 that check was more than $14,800, a number that has steadily climbed since Akaka left his post in the governor’s office in 1976.

Civil Beat reported Hirono’s pension last week.

12:29 p.m. Flying to Kalaupapa

The Molokai Dispatch reports that three airlines have bid to serve the remote Kalaupapa community with promises to lower airfare:

The Kalaupapa community has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation for affordable air fares to and from the remote peninsula, hoping for an airline that will be able to provide three flights a day with wheelchair accessibility. The community said they are not satisfied with Pacific Wings skyrocketing airfares, which currently provides regular flights to Kalaupapa.

Pacific Wing’s flights are priced around $500 for a round trip to either Honolulu or topside Molokai.

Abercrombie Spokeswoman on “Courtesy Ask” Resignation Requests

Just how many members of state boards and commissions has Neil Abercrombie requested resignations from?

The public knows from a Saturday article by Derrick DePledge and Kristin Consillio in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the governor has made those requests of the Stadium Authority, the PUC, the LUC, the BLNR and the Public Housing Authority.

In a Saturday morning email to Donalyn Dela Cruz, Civil Beat asked for the names of all the members the requests were sent to, and for a copy of the governor’s letter or letters. We also asked when the governor wants the resignations, and whether there may be other requests, given that the governor oversees more than 150 boards and commissions.

Here’s the response Civil Beat received from Dela Cruz Sunday morning:

Hi Chad,

I don’t have that information at this time. However, you can probably get a number of how many people received letters by going through the boards and commissions that you have listed. You’ll likely also find all of the names when you do your search.

Yes, this will take some time but it will be faster than what I can provide you at this time.

No time frame was given. It was a courtesy ask for the resignations.

Thanks,
Donalyn

Inouye Receives Japanese Honor

On Saturday the government of Japan announced that Dan Inouye has received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers.

The honor recognizes Inouye’s “continued significant and unprecedented contributions to the enhancement of goodwill and understanding” between Japan and the United States, according to a press release.

Inouye is the seventh American recipient of the award and the first foreigner of Japanese descent to receive it. He recently completed a visit with high-ranking officials in Japan.

Abercrombie Tells Stories

The administration has added a new feature to its official website in an effort to tell positive stories about what government can do.

A June 15 story highlights Respite, a Health Department program that provides temporary relief for families with disabled children or special needs:

It’s been years since Deborah Kobayakawa, a mother of a son with special needs, had a vacation.

But thanks to a state program called Respite that provides grants to families with children with special needs, Deborah and her husband will get a two-week vacation this summer where they’ll go to Portland, then to to visit Glacier National Park before driving to Alberta, Canada.

Another story, posted May 28, tells of a World War II veteran who volunteers at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery.

The stories — in text and YouTube format — are produced by Mark Wolf, the governor’s social media director, and written by Laurie Au, deputy director of communications. The stories are tweeted out over the governor’s Twitter account (@neilabercrombie, 8,864 followers).

“We just want to remind people of state workers and programs that are out there, to let us show you what government dollars are doing,” explained Donalyn Dela Cruz, who helps edit the stories. “We are trying to highlight more of these in hopes of reaching out to people.”

Hirono Gets Jones Act Support

Mazie Hirono says in a press release that members of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation believe the Jones Act “is critical to the national, economic, and homeland security needs of our country.”

The release, which recaps a June 14 hearing in D.C., includes this comment from Hirono, a member of the subcommittee:

“I just want to note for the record that in Hawaii Jones Act activities provide 23,000 jobs, just in Hawaii, and approximately $1.1 billion in wages and benefits to Hawaii’s economy.”

The Jones Act, first enacted by Congress in 1920, requires goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flagged ships owned and crewed by Americans. Some, notably Ed Case, have criticized the act for allowing no competition and thus driving up the price of goods in the islands

Neighbor Isle Gov’t News

The Garden Island reports that Kauai Island Utility Cooperative is asking ratepayers to decide whether to overturn a board of directors decision last month to enter into a contract with Free Flow Power to explore hydroelectric development on six waterways:

The ballot is the result of a 250-member petition initiated by taro farmer Adam Asquith, who argues against the choice of Free Flow, and by extension KIUC, to use the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions permitting processes for hydroelectric projects.

Asquith says it is a mistake to unnecessarily place the sustainability of Kauai’s waterways in the hands of a federal agency rather than in the state’s, which is more sensitive to the needs of Hawaii’s farmers, wildlife and cultural water interests.

An editorial in Sunday’s Garden Island is critical of the KIUC campaign and urges members “to wade through the propaganda, do their homework and cast a vote as an informed community member.”

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that Sam Slom told the Kona Tea Party over the weekend that the state budget is still not balanced “and is $300 million larger” than former Gov. Linda Lingle‘s last budget proposal:

And Slom, who describes himself as a conservative Jew, also lamented the ending of the invocation prayer before each session, saying it was “to the Senate’s shame.”

But Slom said he lodged a protest against the decision. Because he’s minority leader, he seconds the daily motion to end each session before lawmakers can go home. So while he has the floor, he says a short prayer every day of the 60-day session before lawmakers can leave the Capitol.

The Maui News reports that, as property taxes have gone down for homeowners in Maui County, data released by the county Finance Department show that an increasing number pay the minimum tax of just $150 per year:

Almost a third of all homeowners today pay the minimum, compared to only 5 percent eight years ago. In total, the number of homeowners who pay the lowest amount of property taxes possible has increased by 800 percent since 2003, to 8,461 households this year.

“The only thing I’ve really noticed is that my property tax bill is almost nonexistent,” said minimum-taxpayer Terrie Eliker, who noted that the county’s $300,000 homeowner exemption is more than the current value of her condo.


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