Archive for September, 2011


September 30th, 2011

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, completing a campaign promise, has sold her Ko Olina home outside of her urban Honolulu 1st Congressional District.

Hanabusa’s residency became a political issue during her successful campaign last year. Even though federal law does not require members of Congress to live in the districts they represent, only the states, Hanabusa said she would find a home inside her district if elected.

The congresswoman rented a Kakaako apartment earlier this year. She and her husband, former state sheriff John Souza, are looking at buying a home in Nuuanu.

From her campaign:

While current State Reapportionment Commission proposals would place Ko Olina in the First Congressional District, Hanabusa felt it was important to make the move anyway. “I made a commitment to move,” Hanabusa said, “and I think some people would question whether having the district come to me, so to speak, would be the same thing. It’s important to me that I fully live up to my promises.”


September 29th, 2011

A consultant hired to assess the state’s information technology found that many state services are not being performed or were less timely because of excessive backlogs, a lack of staff, or a lack of technical support.

SAIC was hired by the Abercrombie administration this year as part of the administration’s effort to improve the state’s outdated and ineffective information technology. The consultant acknowledged that the report echoes many of the findings and recommendations of previous reports on the state’s IT struggles, but claims the difference is the support of the governor and the state Legislature for change, the state’s hiring of a chief information officer, and the establishment of a state Office of Information Management and Technology.

Here are the services that SAIC found are not being met or are reduced:

*elevator inspections
*Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act compliance
*incoming animal and agricultural inspections
*desk top systems and support
*server implementations
*system implementations
*Federal reporting requirements
*controls for Personally Identifiable Information (PII) protection
*cyber security assessments

The consultant also found that the state has still not finalized its comprehensive financial report for fiscal year 2010. Fiscal year 2012 began in July.

From SAIC:

Every Department recognizes that IT truly does support “doing more with less;;” but as staff and budget reductions have occurred, the ability to utilize IT to improve the productivity of the remaining staff has been far too limited. Departmental services and mission objectives are not being delivered as required and in many cases this is due to the fact that IT does not effectively support this delivery. We found that services could be more effective if IT solutions were more accurately tied to current business needs/requirements of the Departments as well as economic and staffing realities within the State.

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, the state’s chief information officer, said in a statement that IT transformation could take a decade to complete.

A complete transformation of technology – from where we are today to where we want to be –will probably take eight to 10 years of working collaboratively with all stakeholders to realize the full benefits. However, our actions will fundamentally change the way the government works in Hawaii. Given the state’s budget constraints, we need to prioritize our next steps in order to maximize the funding opportunities and resources that currently exist.

Second home

September 28th, 2011

Tammy Duckworth said Wednesday that while she still maintains her ties to Hawaii, the McKinley High School and University of Hawaii-Manoa graduate considers Illinois home.

“I always get tons of support from the islands. This is my second home, and – certainly – the political support has always been there in terms of asking for advice and everything,” said Duckworth, who is in Honolulu for a fundraiser for her congressional campaign in Illinois.

Duckworth, a wounded Iraq War veteran who worked on veterans’ affairs in the Obama administration, described the open U.S. Senate seat in Hawaii as “crucially important” with the political balance of the Senate in doubt next year.

“Hawaii really has an opportunity to play a role on the national stage with the elections here, so definitely I’m keeping my eyes on what’s happening here at home,” she said.

Duckworth’s preference in the Democratic primary between U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former congressman Ed Case? Hirono.

“Mazie has been a dear friend and she certainly has been someone that has given me advice over the years, and I certainly respect her work in the House,” she said.


September 27th, 2011

Tammy Duckworth, who was briefly mentioned as a possible candidate in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, is holding a fundraiser in Honolulu on Wednesday for her U.S. House campaign in Illinois.

The McKinley High School and University of Hawaii-Manoa graduate, who was wounded in combat in Iraq and served in the Obama administration, said in a news release that Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii’s congressional delegation plan to host the fundraiser.


September 27th, 2011

For people trying to understand Hawaii Republican Party finances, it helps to look beyond state campaign-finance reports.

The GOP reported an $8,829 surplus in its state report covering fundraising from January through June. But the party also files monthly financial reports to the Federal Election Commission. The latest report, filed in September and covering the party’s finances through August, shows a $93,703 debt

Several members of the party’s executive committee who pushed for Jonah Kaauwai’s resignation as chairman cited the debt as one of the factors in their loss of confidence in him as a leader.

Staggering Terms**

September 27th, 2011

In creating new boundaries for the state’s political districts, the state Reapportionment Commission also was tasked with designating 12 of the 25 state Senate seats as two-year terms.

All 25 of the four-year terms are up for election in 2012. After that, 12 will be up again in 2014, the rest in 2016.

The process to split the seats was purely mathematical, commission staff members said.

First, it had to be determined which census blocks — the units used for drawing up districts — did not participate in a state Senate election in 2010.

Staff then determined the population of each census block in each new Senate district that had an election for state Senate in 2010.

Finally, the staff identified 12 new Senate district seats which had the smallest populations of participation in the 2010 senatorial elections. These 12 new Senate districts were designated to have two-year terms in 2012.

If you’re still following, the list of two- and four-year terms is below.**
Senate Terms (Revised)
**This list is corrected from the original version issued by the commission on Monday, Sept. 26.


September 26th, 2011

Jonah Kaauwai, the embattled chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party, formally resigned from the post this morning.

The Hawaii Republican Party announced his resignation in messages posted on the organization’s Facebook page and Twitter account.

Further details were not immediately available.

Word surfaced last week that several members of the party’s executive committee wanted to remove Kaauwai as chairman.

In a confidential Sept. 18 email to the GOP’s state committee, members of the committee said former Gov. Linda Lingle and other top Republicans have lost confidence in Kaauwai’s leadership.

The email cited a party debt of nearly $100,000 and questioned Kaauwai’s ability to build a grass-roots organization and recruit candidates so the party can be competitive in the 2012 elections.

Last week, Kaauwai said he had been in discussions with party leaders on how best to proceed.

In an email to party members this morning, Kaauwai said he made the decision to resign “with a heart full of mixed emotions.”

Although many of you have encouraged me to fight on and remain as chair, my decision to resign provides a solution to the current stalemate and division within the party.

In Abraham Lincoln’s 1858 address to the Illinois Republican convention, he stated that: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” As the leader of our party, the overall unity and the inclusion of all principled groups within the party has been my objective. It was never my intent to divide members, only to identify and include new ones.

The overall health of the party is more important than any one person, issue, or candidate.

Beth Fukumoto, the party’s first vice chair, is the interim state chairwoman. Fukumoto works in the state House Minority Research office and handles the GOP’s coordinated campaign.

Taking it to the Streets

September 23rd, 2011

The Honolulu City Council Reapportionment Commission has settled on its schedule for three public hearings to solicit comments on new maps for Oahu’s nine Council districts.

Meetings are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. on the following days:

Monday, Oct. 3, Castle High School Cafeteria
Tuesday, Oct. 4, Kapolei High School Cafeteria
Tuesday, Oct. 11, Honolulu Hale, Council Chambers 3rd Floor

Just as the state Reapportionment Commission, the county commission also voted to include nonresident populations such as military members, their dependents and students in the island’s base population count.

County commissioners also voted to work on a plan that uses the island’s existing district boundaries and simply shifting them to accommodate the population changes, rather than start drawing new lines from scratch.

Buffett rule

September 22nd, 2011

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono appealed to her supporters on Thursday to sign her open letter to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to schedule a vote on President Obama’s proposal to place a new minimum tax rate on the wealthy.

The proposal has been dubbed the “Buffett rule” for billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

The Hawaii Democrat, who is running for U.S. Senate, called Republican claims of class warfare “ridiculous.”

When billionaire investor Warren Buffett pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary, even he admits there’s a problem. So President Obama is right when he says that this is a matter of simple fairness and simple math — and I am proud to join him in pushing back hard against the GOP. But it will take more than our strong words and President Obama’s veto threat to end wasteful tax giveaways to millionaires and billionaires:

We must enact President Obama’s proposed “Buffett Rule,” which would ensure that millionaires and billionaires stop paying lower tax rates than the rest of us do.


September 22nd, 2011

Three years ago, when state lawmakers nearly restricted the governor’s emergency powers, they were mostly responding to then-Gov. Linda Lingle’s use of the state civil defense law to help build homeless shelters on the Leeward coast.

But when Senate Democrats first announced that the bill was part of their majority package, they also cited Lingle’s emergency proclamation in 2005 to help remove abandoned vehicles on Maui. Junkers had been piling up on Valley Isle roads because there was no vehicle storage facility.

At the time, then-state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser questioned whether Lingle was using the civil defense law for real emergencies. The Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter and other environmental and cultural groups are raising similar questions about Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s use of his emergency powers for unexploded ordnance and nene relocation.

From Hooser in 2008:

There have been situations where emergency powers were used to build affordable housing or emergency shelters and procurement issues are waived, prevailing wages are not paid, so there’s a lot of impact from using those. One could argue that there are emergencies in all areas — in prisons and in schools — (and) it kind of begs the question what’s an emergency and what’s not.

Hooser is now Abercrombie’s choice as director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.