Archive for March, 2009

The taxman cometh

March 30th, 2009
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State Department of Taxation officials remind you that the deadline to file state income tax returns is Monday, April 20.

And taxpayers will have one less means of getting their returns in — the department no longer plans to offer curbside drop-off services after regular business hours for last-minute filers.

In a news release, the department says the action is being done “due to the significant decrease in the number of people using the service in prior years.”

But procrastinators shouldn’t fret (too much). Drop boxes will be available in front of the tax office building at 830 Punchbowl St., near the entrance to the building, and also on the adjacent Halekauwila Street entrance.

Tax returns will be considered filed on time if they are placed in the drop boxes by midnight, April 20.

For assistance on tax questions or filing state returns, taxpayers may call 587-4242 or toll free at (800) 587-1540.

The deadline to file federal tax returns is April 15.

When the lights go down in the city

March 27th, 2009
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(This is not about Journey, but I couldn’t resist the headline =)

The lights are going down in this city on Saturday night.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced today Honolulu is again participating in the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour 2009.

Earth Hour

Citizens are asked to shut off all non-essential lights and appliances for one hour, starting at 8:30 p.m.

“It’s a simple display of concern for the environment and for the conservation of energy,” Hannemann said in a news release.

Earth Hour is held on the last Saturday in March — 8:30 p.m. local time — and is billed as a call to citizens, businesses and municipalities to shut down unnecessary lights, appliances and other electronic devices to call attention to the need for climate change.

The event debuted in Sydney, Australia in 2007. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that two million people switched off their lights that hour, followed by more than 50 million people in 2008.

Seven times more municipalities have signed on since last year’s Earth Hour, which drew participation from 370 cities.

Key landmarks expected to go dark or dim tomorrow include:
>> New York City’s Broadway theater signs, Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building
>> The Las Vegas strip
>> The Opera House in Sydney, Australia
>> The Eiffel Tower and Elysee Palace in Paris
>> The Acropolis in Athens, Greece.
>> The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
>> Niagara Falls
>> The Great Pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt
>> The London Eye Ferris wheel
>> The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Locally dubbed “Honolulu City Lights Out,” this is the second year the city has participated and encouraged others to join the event.

More information, including an opportunity to register your participation and support, can be found online at: www.earthhourus.org

More endorsements

March 26th, 2009
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Oops! Dropped the ball on these endorsements in the City Council District 3 special election. Both were announced on March 16 (the same day the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Superferry came out).

J. Ikaika Anderson picked up two big union endorsements last week — from the 21,000-member International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 142, and the 40,000-member Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA), the state’s largest public worker union.

Anderson is among the 11 candidates in the special election to succeed Barbara Marshall, his former boss, who died Feb. 22 of colon cancer. Anderson had been an aide to Marshall at City Hall since her election in 2002.

“The Oahu PAC committee felt that Ikaika Anderson is the best person to continue Barbara Marshall’s vision and goals,” HGEA Oahu Political Action Chairperson Diane Nakashima said in a notice to HGEA members.

ILWU Oahu Division Director Dave Mori, in a news release, said: “We are well aware of Ikaika’s strong commitment to the people in his community as a fourth generation Windward resident. Ikaika has shown great leadership—and we believe he’s the best candidate for the job.”

Anderson, who also is supported by Cliff Ziems, Marshall’s widower, has picked up endorsement from close to two dozen local union organizations, according to his Web site.

Earlier this week, John Henry Felix picked up the endorsements of the United Public Workers (UPW) Oahu Division Political Action Committee, the UPW Private Sector Division Political Action Committee and the UPW Retirees. He also has been endorsed by the Hawaii Carpenters Union.

District 3 includes portions of Kaneohe, Kailua and Waimanalo on Windward Oahu.

The voter registration deadline for district residents already has passed and ballots for the mail-in special election are being sent out April 1. Mailed ballots must be received by the City Clerk no later than 6 p.m. on April 23. Absentee walk-in voting at City Hall is set for April 6-21.

Union endorsement

March 24th, 2009
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Former City Councilman John Henry Felix has picked up a second union endorsement in his campaign to return to the Council and succeed Barbara Marshall to represent her Windward Oahu district.

Felix’s campaign announced today that he has received the endorsement of the United Public Workers (UPW) Oahu Division Political Action Committee, the UPW Private Sector Division Political Action Committee and the UPW Retirees. The union represents public and private sector employees.

“We know John Henry will provide the necessary leadership our community needs during this time of economic uncertainty, and we encourage all voters in District III to elect him,” Dayton M. Nakanelua, state director for the United Public Workers, said in a news release sent by Felix’s campaign.

Felix earlier received the endorsement of the Hawaii Carpenters Union.

Among the only other endorsements in the race, Cliff Ziems, Marshall’s widower, has thrown his support behind J. Ikaika Anderson, who worked as an aide for Marshall the past six years.

Marshall died Feb. 22 after a battle with colon cancer.

Today was the voter registration deadline for Windward Oahu residents wishing to take part in the special mail-in election.

Ballots are beign mailed to registered voters on April 1, with absentee walk-in voting at City Hall set for April 6-21. Mailed ballots must be received by the City Clerk no later than 6 p.m. on April 23.

Lingle goes after HawTel

March 20th, 2009
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Gov. Lingle released this statement at 7:25 tonight:

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle issued the following statement relating to Hawaiian Telcom’s motion filed in Bankruptcy Court to pay employee bonuses.

“The decision today by Hawaiian Telcom to ask the bankruptcy court to approve $6 million in bonuses for its employees is unconscionable, and we will oppose it in court.

“Hawaiian Telcom is the critical communications backbone for our state, and its action to pay millions in bonuses puts the company in a precarious position that jeopardizes its long-term viability, as well as threatens Hawai‘i’s economic recovery.  

“The fact that company president and CEO Eric Yeaman himself turned down a bonus shows that he clearly recognized bonuses were wrong and counterproductive to Hawaiian Telcom’s efforts to restructure its finances and operations.  He could have and should have put an immediate stop to this outrageous action.”

 

Charles in charge

March 19th, 2009
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Gov. Linda Lingle expressed this concern, now it’s coming from City Councilman Charles Djou.

Both say they believe the Hawaii Supreme Court’s ruling on the Hawaii Superferry is too broad, and could apply to any piece of legislation that favors one entity over others. Lingle says this is the case when the legislature passes tax credits for agriculture or high tech companies, Djou is taking it a step further.

Djou, an attorney, says it could potentially affect state laws that apply only to a city or county. If the Supreme Court refuses to reconsider its unanimous ruling, Djou says that as chairman of the Council’s Legal Affairs Committee he will hold public hearings to examine voiding all state laws that apply only to the City and County of Honolulu.

He believes those laws include the legislation adding a half-percent surcharge to the General Excise Tax on Oahu to pay for the city’s proposed rail transit system.

“The Hawaii Supreme Court oddly pronounced that the Superferry special legislation is unconstitutional because it applied to only one entity; that same logic should apply to all state mandates that only apply to the City,” Djou said in a news release. “If the Supreme Court refuses to reconsider their erroneous ruling, I will push for a hearing on all state laws the City can now legitimately void as similarly unconstitutional.”

Honolulu Corporation Counsel Carrie Okinaga issued this statement late this afternoon:

“The facts of the Superferry case were very unique, and differed considerably from the circumstances under which the county surcharge legislation was enacted. We do not believe the recent ruling will have any bearing on the validity of the surcharge or the rail transit project it is funding on Oahu.

“We’re analyzing the ruling for any potential impact on other matters, like everyone else. But, given the unique facts underlying the Superferry decision, we believe a measured approach is warranted.”

Lesson learned

March 17th, 2009
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It’s more of a state issue, so when we asked Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann for his reaction to the Superferry decision, we asked him what his administration has learned from the process and how he will apply that knowledge as the rail transit project moves forward.

His response:

“From the outset, we have recognized that both the Draft Environmental Impact Statement as well as the Final Environmental Impact Statement are crucial components of our rail transit project planning.  So we have been, and will be, very meticulous in the preparation of those documents in order that we get an affirmative and timely decision.”

Special election debate

March 13th, 2009
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Hawaii Public Radio

Windward Oahu issues take center stage on Hawaii Public Radio on March 23 as the candidates vying to fill the District 3 City Council vacancy take part in a live debate.

So far, HPR says eight of the 11 candidates seeking to succeed Barbara Marshall have agreed to participate. They are: Ikaika Anderson, Tracy Bean, John Henry Felix, Wilson Ho, Steve Holmes, Sol Nalua‘i, Tom Pico and Pohai Ryan. Also running in the special election are Paul Akau, Leona Kalima and Keoki Leong.

The two-hour debate before a live audience is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at HPR’s Atherton Studio. Moderated by HPR political reporter Wayne Yoshioka, the debate will be broadcast live on KIPO 89.3. Olelo Community Television plans to record the debate for rebroadcast at a later date.

Audience members and public radio listeners are invited to submit candidate questions to news@hawaiipublicradio.org. Due to limited studio space, reservations are recommended by calling 955-8821 during business hours.

Marshall died Feb. 22 after a battle with colon cancer.

To fill her seat, the City Clerk is holding a special mail-in election.

Ballots will be mailed following the voter registration deadline of March 23. The deadline for ballots to be received by the city is April 23. Two weeks of walk-in absentee voting are scheduled to begin April 6.

Statehood Celebration Starts Next Week

March 12th, 2009
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Late today, Gov. Lingle’s office released details for Hawaii’s celebration of 50 years of statehood, cue the fireworks:

The 50th Anniversary of Statehood Commission today announced the convening of a special joint session of the Hawai‘i State Legislature to commemorate the date 50 years ago on March 18, 1959, when President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the bill that allowed Hawai‘i to be admitted as the 50th state of the United States of America.

The Presidential signing of the Hawai‘i Admission Act paved the way for Hawai‘i residents to vote on the Statehood bill, which they approved on June 27, 1959.  Two months later, on August 21, 1959, President Eisenhower made Hawai‘i’s statehood official by signing a proclamation welcoming Hawai‘i as the 50th state of the Union.

In observance of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Hawai‘i Admission Act, both houses of the Hawai‘i State Legislature will convene a joint session in the State Capitol House Chambers on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, from noon to 1:30 p.m.  The event will be webcast live at:  www.hawaii.gov/statehood. The public is invited to attend.

“As we officially kick off our Statehood Commission events, we should all take a step back and look at this milestone as an incredible achievement,” said Kippen de Alba Chu, chair of the 50th Anniversary of Statehood Commission. “The signing of the Hawai‘i statehood bill is a testament to an extremely diverse community working in harmony for the greater good.  It is the peaceful expression of once radical ideas in the push for equality and basic human rights for all of Hawai‘i’s people, regardless of ethnicity, national origin, or religion.  When we talk about a melting pot and an example for others to emulate, Hawai’i is not an experiment but living proof that it works, and it works well.”

“The historic signing of the Hawai‘i Admission Act 50 years ago culminated decades of hard work and collaboration, as well as the hopes and aspirations of the people of Hawai‘i that their children and grandchildren, as American citizens, would enjoy in perpetuity the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution,” said Governor Linda Lingle.  “The Admission Act also recognized the lasting contributions Hawai‘i’s people, cultivated through our diversity and rich heritage, would bring to the union.”

The joint legislative session will feature remarks from Governor Lingle, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, and House Speaker Calvin Say, as well as musical performances by Danny Kaleikini, Danny Couch and Arshiel Calatrava, an 8th grade student at Kalākaua Middle School.

Hawai‘i’s living former governors and first ladies are expected to attend, including former First Lady Nancy Quinn; former Judge Jim Burns, the son of former Governor John Burns; former Governor George Ariyoshi and former First Lady Jean Ariyoshi; former Governor John Waihe‘e and former First Lady Lynn Waihe‘e; and former Governor Ben Cayetano and former First Lady Vicky Cayetano.  The current and former members of Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegation have also been invited, as well as former legislators who served in the Legislature in 1959 when Hawai‘i first became a state.  

“For all of us who continue to work for Hawai‘i’s future, it is fitting that we stop and reflect on the important events that have brought us to where we are today,” said Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.  “In addition to providing Hawai‘i’s people the full rights and benefits of citizens of our nation, statehood also permitted us to operate under a constitution of our own drafting and to fully determine the direction our state would move in. We can all be proud that as a result of the action of President Eisenhower 50 years ago, the Hawai‘i we enjoy today is a Hawai‘i of our own making, reflecting a commitment to our people, our environment and our precious host culture.”

“I stand with great pride and aloha for our state and its people as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Hawai‘i’s Statehood,” said Speaker of the House Calvin K.Y. Say.  “I am most proud of the fact that over the past 50 years, we have maintained our unique culture and distinctive character, preserved the natural beauty of our land, served as a role model as the most ethnically diverse state in the nation, and shared a historic moment with our newly elected President of the United States who was born and raised in these islands.  The most exciting thing for me, however, is the knowledge that our people share a love for Hawai‘i that transcends all differences, and we shall work together in unity to ensure that the best years for the state are before us.”

Prior to the start of the joint session, the 111th Army Band will perform in the Capitol Rotunda from 11:30 a.m. to noon.  At 11:55 a.m., two Hawai‘i Air National Guard F-15s will conduct a flyover of the Capitol.  

An archival display of historic items and photos from 1959 will also be on display in the Chamber level of the State Capitol.

Following the joint legislative session, the public is invited to participate in self-guided or docent-assisted walking tours of the downtown Honolulu’s Capital Cultural District, which is included in the proposed Honolulu Capital National Heritage Area currently being considered by Congress.  Free maps featuring downtown Honolulu’s historic landmarks will be distributed.  Among the highlights are the Hawai‘i State Capitol, Washington Place, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Hawai‘i State Art Museum, ‘Iolani Palace, Ali‘iolani Hale, Mission Houses Memorial Museum, Honolulu Hale, Hawai‘i State Library, Kawaiaha‘o Church, Hawai‘i Theatre and Chinatown.

The 50th Anniversary of Statehood Commission has planned a comprehensive year-long series of events and programs, with a special focus on education, to honor the 50th anniversary of Hawai‘i’s admission to the United States.  

Maverick Tweeter

March 10th, 2009
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McCain Twitter

He didn’t get the big prize, but that hasn’t driven Sen. John McCain into obscurity.

Quite the contrary. McCain is proving that maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or, at the very least, you can teach him how to Twitter.

Whether it’s actually McCain tweeting or an aide (he does admit to  Twittering on his Blackberry,”but not without a little help”) is left for you to decide.

Whoever is tweeting is filling us in on the mundane aspects of Senate life (“on my way to policy lunch” and “votes starting on the floor”) and also giving us insight into other matters (“meeting with Richard Gere to talk Tibet” and “on Hannity now”).

For the past few weeks, the ol’ maverick has been posting somewhat regular Top Ten lists of what he calls the “porkiest” projects included in the omnibus spending bill in Congress.

These include (from various days):

#1. $951,500 for the Oregon Solar Highway

#7. $95,000 for the state of New Mexico to find a dental school location

#10. $3,806,000 for a Sun Grant Initiative in SD

Hawaii hasn’t been spared from his Tweets.

Some recent posts:

9:04 AM Mar 5th from web
#4. $95,000 for Hawaii Public Radio

7:46 AM Mar 4th from web
#7. $7,100,000 for the conservation and recovery of endangered Hawaiian sea turtle populations

10:56 AM Mar 2nd from web
#5. $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii – During these tough economic times with Americans out of work why shouldn’t we “float” a Hawaiian voyage for others?”

And if you’re wondering, there are several Tweeters claiming to be Sarah Palin. You betcha!