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

5:09 p.m. Reapportionment Panel Will Count Military, Felons, Students

Hawaii’s 2011 Reapportionment Commission has voted 8-1 to include military personnel and their dependents as well as sentenced felons and students as part of political district populations.

Read the full story.

—Michael Levine

4:11 p.m. Daily Kos Opines on Senate Race

In The Daily Kos elections digest today, the progressive political blogger weighs in on Hawaii’s 2012 U.S. Senate race:

Oy … I really don’t like where this is going. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa says she’s still thinking about running for Senate and will decide by August. With fellow Rep. Mazie Hirono already in the race, it’s hard to see how Hanabusa wouldn’t compete for the same pile of votes and risk giving the nomination to DLCer Ed Case in the Democratic primary. Meanwhile, another Dem. Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, is refusing to rule out a run (either for Senate or the House), saying only: “I’m not talking about elections at this time. I’m focused on doing my job.”

The Daily Kos got the Schatz quote from Civil Beat’s recent Q&A with Schatz.

“DLCer” appears to be a reference to the Democratic Leadership Council. Judging by recent posts, Markos Moulitsas seems not to care much for Case.

1:42 p.m. Gov: ‘Get Civil Unions Underway’ First

The governor today said he wants Hawaii to focus on establishing civil unions in Hawaii before he considers legislation regarding gay marriage.

Asked if the he will encourage the Legislature next session to follow in the footsteps of New York lawmakers who recently adopted a bill allowing gay marriage, Abercrombie told Civil Beat that civil unions needs to take precedent.

“First thing is to encourage us to get civil unions underway,” Abercrombie said. “And we’ll have to see what evolves out of that. But first thing’s first.”

Abercrombie said that, institutionally, Hawaii is not yet prepared for civil unions, but that officials are trying to prep the system in a “sensible and comprehensive way.”

Civil unions take effect Jan. 1, 2012.

—Robert Brown

1:15 p.m. UPDATED: ‘Justice Reinvestment’

Neil Abercrombie today announced a new initiative to improve Hawaii’s justice system.

Known as “justice reinvestment,” the program aims to reduce the number of prisoners sent out of state, lower recidivism and prevent crime. The initiative is a partnership between the state, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the Pew Center on the States and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

“We are committed to bringing Hawaii’s prisoners home, and this partnership will help us develop a comprehensive, multi-faceted plan to see that this happens,” Abercrombie said in a press release. “Justice reinvestment will help us identify where our dollars are best spent on treatment needs that will reduce the likelihood of inmates offending again once they’re released.”

The initiative has a three-step approach: analyze data and develop policy options, adopt new policies and put reinvestment strategies into place and measure performance of those strategies.

Among those backing the program are Peter Carlisle, Mark Recktenwald, Jodie Maesaka-Hirata and Sam Slom.

—Robert Brown

1:01 p.m. Neighbor Isle Gov’t News

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that a team of engineers working on the University of Hawaii‘s 2.2-meter telescope atop Mauna Kea “has continued to find problems with the lightning-damaged instrument”:

“We are still not operational,” said telescope director Colin Aspin of the UH Institute for Astronomy in an email in response to questions.

The cause of the malfunction has been traced to a direct lightning strike on the night of June 4-5, during a storm that brought a flurry of snow to the mountain’s summit.

West Hawaii Today reports that the handful of townhouses already built on the DW Aina Lea property in South Kohala will “rot on the hill” if the 3rd Circuit Court does not grant a motion to stay a Land Use Commission decision:

That’s what Bruce Voss, the attorney representing Bridge Aina Lea, which still owns more than 1,000 acres of the South Kohala property developer DW Aina Lea began purchasing in 2009, told Judge Elizabeth Strance during a hearing on the motion to stay, or delay, the commission’s final decision and order … reverting the property from urban to agricultural.

Strance took under advisement arguments from DW Aina Lea’s, Bridge Aina Lea’s and the state’s attorneys Monday afternoon. She did not say when she would issue her order.

The Garden Island reports that community members can now learn more about county Department of Water projects online:

David Craddick, DOW manager and chief engineer, said the content on the new micro-website linked to the DOW’s site was developed in response to public queries regarding the status of Water Plan 2020.

The plan is a comprehensive, long-range planning effort that the DOW started in 2001 to ensure safe, affordable and sufficient drinking water in the 21st Century, county officials said.

11:29 a.m. Join Newsmaker Q&A with Schatz at Noon

Civil Beat goes mano-a-mano with the LG for a 30-min. Q&A.

Got questions about APEC? Labor contracts? Health care? The 2012 elections?

Join us live here.

11:22 a.m. Akaka Plans Launch of Twitter Site

Staff for Dan Akaka provided an update for Civil Beat today regarding an article that ran yesterday about the use of Twitter by Mufi Hannemann.

The article noted that the good senator has only 49 followers (@SenatorAkaka) on Twitter, well behind other Hawaii pols. Spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke explains the account was only created this month and certified by Twitter just this week.

“We may be late to the game on the particular site Twitter but similar content exists on Senator Akaka’s Facebook page, which has 2,286 fans,” he said. 

A formal launch of Akaka’s Twitter account is planned soon.

Update: As of today, Akaka was up to 69 followers; they include Adrienne LaFrance and Dan Inouye.

10:20 a.m. HGEA Nurses Reach Impasse with Contract Negotiations

Contract talks are at an impasse between the state and the approximately 900 professional nurses covered by the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

Six of the seven HGEA bargaining units approved a new two-year contract in April, with the nurses holding out for a better deal. Their existing contract expires Thursday.

The state’s largest union sent a letter last week to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, informing the board that negotiations have stalled, an HGEA spokeswoman said.

Within 20 days of receiving the request, which was dated June 21, an arbitration panel would be selected. Once the panel is formed, a hearing would be held within 30 days.

—Nanea Kalani

EMILY’S List Backs Hirono

The Hill reports that Mazie Hirono has received the endorsement of EMILY’s List in her U.S. Senate bid.

The influential, progressive PAC — the acronym stands for “Early Money Is Like Yeast” — is a score for Hirono. Colleen Hanabusa had the group’s backing when she ran for Congress last year.

“(Hirono) has consistently championed the rights of women and families in Hawaii and we need her strong voice in the Senate holding the line against the Republican war on women,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement. “The EMILY’s List community was proud to support her in the past, loves her fighting spirit, and looks forward to helping her make history as the Senate’s first Asian-American woman in November.”

Press Conference: ‘Justice Reivestment’

Gov. Abercrombie is scheduled to announce this morning an initiative “to improve Hawai’i’s criminal justice system, known as Justice Reinvestment,” according to a press release.

Abercrombie, Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, Mark Recktenwald, HPD and the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office will be on hand, as well as Marshall Clement, the project director from the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

Meeting: Reapportionment Commission

It’s a big agenda for the 2011 Reapportionment Committee this afternoon at the Capitol.

Should the military and dependents be counted in political districts? Convicted felons? Students?

Post-Session Forum in Wahiawa

Marcus Oshiro will hold a discussion tonight at Wahiawa District Park’s Hale Koa Room to talk about community issues and the recent legislative session.

DBEDT Enterprise Zone Seminar

DBEDT will conduct a seminar this morning to instruct local Hawaii-based companies on how to reduce their cost of doing business in the islands.

It will be held in the Mauka Meeting Room of the Koolau Ballrooms (near Koolau Golf Club) beginning this morning and lasting until noon.

“This should be an excellent presentation that could benefit lots of our local businesses,” said Pohai Ryan in a press release. “In these difficult economic times, it is especially important that our business leaders are educated on the options that are available to help their business thrive and expand. The Enterprise Zone Program can do just that.”

Catch up on previous coverage:

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