Archive for September, 2011

March 13

September 21st, 2011
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The state GOP will hold presidential caucuses on March 13 to determine the delegate split to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Jonah Kaauwai, the party’s chairman, said Wednesday that the caucuses will be organized like a primary election with voting sites in all 51 state House districts. Voters must be party members to participate, but can sign party cards on the day of the caucuses.

Republicans voted at their state convention in May to convert to a caucus system to award delegates, hoping presidential candidates would campaign in the islands and that the event would help with party building. Under the party’s rules, presidential candidates must pay a $5,000 filing fee to appear on the caucus ballot.

Hawaii-born Barack Obama drew record turnout of more than 37,000 to the Democrats’ presidential caucuses in 2008. Previously, only a few thousand Democrats usually participated in the caucuses. The enthusiasm for Obama, however, failed to drive turnout in the November general election, which was slightly less than in the 2004 presidential election.

One for the road

September 21st, 2011
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued a civil defense emergency this month and suspended state laws and regulations so the state Department of Transportation could perform emergency slope repair on Kuhio Highway on Kauai.

The proclamation was the governor’s fifth use of his emergency powers since taking office, following two proclamations on the tsunami, one on nene relocation, and one to remove unexploded ordnance. The state civil defense law is intended to help the state respond to enemy attack and natural and manmade disasters, and some have questioned whether the governor has misused his emergency powers.

Dan Meisenzahl, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said the department asked Abercrombie for the emergency proclamation after engineers determined the slope along Kuhio Highway could collapse and isolate residents in Haena.

He said it would have taken too long to follow regular state procedures used for such repairs. “There was a chance we could lose the road,” he said.

In

September 20th, 2011
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John Carroll, an attorney and former state lawmaker, will announce on Wednesday that he will run in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Carroll previously ran unsuccessful GOP primary campaigns for governor against Linda Lingle and James “Duke” Aiona. His afternoon announcement is scheduled at state GOP headquarters.

Lingle has said she will decide this fall whether to run in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former congressman Ed Case are competing in the Democratic primary to replace U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who will not seek another term next year.

Coup

September 20th, 2011
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Several members of the Hawaii Republican Party’s executive committee want to remove party chairman Jonah Kaauwai.

From their letter:

Unfortunately, a majority of members of the Party have lost confidence in the leadership of the current chair and his ability to guide the Party to success in the upcoming election year. Governor Linda Lingle, a potential candidate for US Senate; Congressman Charles Djou and candidate for CD1; Congresswoman Pat Saiki; the entire House Caucus including House Minority Leader Gene Ward, Representatives Corinne Ching, George Fontaine, Aaron Johanson, Barbara Marumoto, Kimberly Pine, Gil Riviere, Cynthia Thielen; and many other potential candidates and members of the HRP have stated their loss of confidence in the chair and have openly asked Jonah to step down. In private, many have tried to speak with Jonah about mutually beneficial action steps that would not adversely affect the Party or Jonah and his family.

Kaauwai said he is in discussions with other Republicans about how to proceed. “I want to do what is best for all Republicans in the state,” he said.

In a written statement, the chairman also said the party’s focus in the past was on “a few elite candidates,” a clear reference to Lingle.

The focus of my Chairmanship has from day one been to create a long lasting Republican Party built and unified upon unwavering principles. During past leaderships, our focus had been on a few elite candidates, thereby sacrificing our principles, sacrificing legislative candidates and the grassroots base of our party. The result has been that although we had a Republican Governor in office, during elections/races, Democrats ran for dozens of state offices unopposed. In order to change this outcome, we must become a populist principled party that is focused on the only mission that matters: electing Republicans into all offices.

The question is then, how do you build the Hawaiian Republican Party? Under my guidance, The Hawaii Republican party has had qualified candidates running in almost every elected office in the state. There is no doubt in my mind that is how you build a party. Building a large and strong party that truly brings a two-party system to the state and gives the people of Hawaii the opportunity to vote for Republican ideas at every level is where the future of Hawaii lies. By growing party organization from the ground up, by building up and supporting candidates at every level, we will build a long term, vibrant Republican presence in Hawaii. It is not however, in centering on one or two candidates alone as has been the norm.

Some people think attacks on me are anti-Christian or even anti-Hawaiian. I will not accept or allow anti-religious or anti-ethnic bias of any kind in the Hawaii Republican Party. We are building an open, transparent Hawaii Republican Party that brings true choices and true Republican values to the people of our Islands.

`Uncommon but necessary’

September 19th, 2011
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The Abercrombie administration has put up a new FAQ to respond to concerns about an emergency proclamation that suspended nearly two dozen state land use and environmental laws for five years to help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remove unexploded ordnance.

The Sierra Club Hawaii chapter and seven other environmental groups on Monday called on Gov. Neil Abercrombie to withdraw the proclamation. Donalyn Dela Cruz, the governor’s spokesman, said the governor would not withdraw the proclamation.

From the FAQ:

Why did the state choose to declare an “emergency proclamation”? Aren’t emergency proclamations usually used for natural disasters?

The Governor’s emergency powers are not reserved only for natural disasters. Under the Hawaii Revised Statutes section 127-10 and chapter 128, the Governor has emergency powers to deal with natural and man-made disasters or emergencies; to maintain the strength, resources, and economic life of the community; and to protect the public health, safety and welfare. This particular situation called for an uncommon but necessary use of the Governor’s emergency powers.

The state needed to give the Army Corps of Engineers permission to enter state land to look for and dispose of munitions found on the land.  This is a unique situation where neither the Army Corps nor the state could know where munitions would be prior to the Army Corps of Engineers entering the property.  Because the state could not anticipate what the environmental impact would be, an environmental assessment could not be done until munitions were actually found.  The state considered the risk to public health, safety and welfare to be too great to require the Army Corps of Engineers to wait for an environmental assessment to be done before disposing of any munitions found on state land.

The only option after careful consideration by the Attorney’s General Office and the Department of Land and Natural Resources was to use an emergency proclamation.

Labor letter

September 16th, 2011
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On Labor Day, former congressman Ed Case sent letters to labor leaders asking to meet personally with each union’s leadership before endorsements are made in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. He wrote that he had a strong record on jobs and labor when he served in Congress. He also shared internal poll numbers that showed him ahead of U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono in the primary and former Gov. Linda Lingle in a hypothetical general election matchup. His poll showed Hirono trailing Lingle.

Case’s request was in response to the prospect that the labor movement was moving toward a joint early endorsement of Hirono. Here was his pitch:

I ask now because I understand a few union leaders have suggested to the rest a joint early endorsement of Hirono. This would deny me the opportunity to present my candidacy, correct some clear misstatements on my actual record and positions, and answer your questions, and would deny your members their input on a critical decision that will impact labor both nationally and at home for a generation.

With respect, I don’t believe that’s fair.

County Maps

September 15th, 2011
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Members of the Honolulu City Council Reapportionment Commission are working on a schedule for three public meetings on their proposed plan for drawing up Oahu’s nine Council districts.

The meetings would be in Windward and Leeward Oahu and in the downtown area.

Commissioners voted Tuesday to work with existing district lines and adjust them to accommodate the island’s population shifts.

“It’s basically to keep the communities together – no major shifts,” County Commission Chairwoman Albi Mateo said. “That’s what the commission felt was fair.”

The plan to modify existing boundaries was chosen over three other proposed maps. One plan started at Kaena Point and carved the island moving East along the Koolaus; a second began at Makapuu Point and carved districts moving west. A third plan started at both ends of the island and met in the middle.

The county commission has until Jan. 2 to come up with its redistricting plan for Oahu.

New district boundaries, which are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population changes from the most recent U.S. census, show Oahu’s population growth pushing west into the communities of Kapolei and parts of Ewa and Mililani. Census figures have shown slower growth in areas of central Oahu, including Pearl City and Aiea, as well as in urban and east Honolulu and windward Oahu to Kahuku.

Recommended

September 14th, 2011
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Just days after taking over as interim director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, William Aila, Jr., was asked to approve a staff recommendation to give him expanded authority to grant right-of-entry permits so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could access land and remove unexploded ordnance.

Staff and the state Office of Environmental Quality Control also determined that the Army Corps of Engineers would not need to do environmental reviews in cases where engineers discovered and were faced with emergency action to detonate unstable munitions.

The item was on the land board’s Dec. 9 agenda. Laura H. Thielen, the former department director, had signed off on the recommendation and said Wednesday that she would have urged the board to adopt it if she was still in charge.

Aila, however, said he deferred the matter after the state Attorney General’s office raised concerns about the potential exemptions to the state’s environmental review law.

In June, Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued an emergency proclamation suspending nearly two dozen state land use and environmental regulations for five years to help the Army Corps with munitions cleanup, a far more expansive move than what DLNR staff had urged in December.

Read the DLNR staff submittal here: http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/chair/meeting/submittals/101209/D-Land-Submittals-D7.pdf

Emergency

September 13th, 2011
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s decision to issue an emergency proclamation in June to help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contain discarded military explosives has drawn comparisons to then-Gov. Linda Lingle’s proclamation in 2006 on the homeless.

After Lingle kept extending the emergency, state lawmakers responded with a bill in 2008 that would have restricted the governor’s emergency powers. The bill passed the state House and Senate but was vetoed by Lingle. The Senate voted to override the veto, but the House declined to attempt an override, so the bill failed.

From the bill:

§127-10  Disaster relief [during suspension of preceding sections.] for disasters not caused by enemy attacks. [During any period in which sections] (a)  Sections 127-1 to 127-9 [are not] shall be in effect[,] and available to provide relief for disasters not covered under chapter 128, and the governor and political subdivisions may exercise any and all of their powers [that relate to disasters resulting from enemy attacks, in order] authorized under this chapter to provide [other disaster] relief[.] for these disasters. All provisions of law that relate to disasters resulting from enemy attacks [during such period] are made applicable to other disaster relief, including without limitation, provisions making or authorizing appropriations or expenditures[.]; provided that to exercise the powers authorized under this chapter and chapter 128 for disasters that are not caused by:

(1) A fire, flood, tidal wave, volcanic eruption, earthquake, pandemic illness, or other natural causes and major disasters caused by acts of man, including but not limited to massive oil spills, nuclear accidents, airplane crashes, and civil disturbances; or

(2) An enemy attack or act of terrorism,

the governor shall first find and declare through an emergency proclamation that tangible and measurable harm or damage has resulted or is about to result as a consequence of the disaster and that the disaster relief could not otherwise be achieved through legislation enacted in the next occurring regular session of the legislature or a special session of the legislature called by the governor for the purpose of providing for the relief.  If disaster relief can be achieved through legislation enacted in the next occurring regular session of the legislature or a special session of the legislature called by the governor for the purpose of providing for the relief, then the governor shall not execute any action to further provide for disaster relief under this chapter.

(b)  Any relief provided under this chapter for a disaster not enumerated in subsection (a)(1) and (2) shall not extend beyond the adjournment sine die of the next occurring regular session of the legislature after the governor declares that the disaster relief is necessary, unless expressly authorized by the legislature through the adoption of a concurrent resolution or by the enactment of law.  The governor shall submit a report on the governor’s findings and recommendations on whether to extend any disaster relief provided under this chapter, and any enabling proposed legislation or appropriations to authorize the continuance of any disaster relief provided.  If the legislature does not adopt a concurrent resolution or enact legislation to execute or extend disaster relief, the governor shall not execute disaster relief actions under this chapter or extend the provision of disaster relief for a particular disaster beyond the adjournment sine die of the legislature during the session in which the legislation was considered.

As used in this section ["other]:

“Other disaster relief” means the preparation for and the carrying out of all functions, other than functions for which military forces are primarily responsible, to minimize and repair injury and damage resulting from disasters caused by fire, flood, tidal wave, volcanic eruption, earthquake, or other natural causes and major disasters caused by acts of man, including but not limited to[,] massive oil spills, nuclear accidents, airplane crashes, and civil disturbances[.]; provided that the term does not include the remedying of periodic or longstanding societal inequities or circumstances that may arise over the course of time that could otherwise be contemplated and remedied through the enactment of law under the legislative process.

“Tangible and measurable harm or damage” means harm or damage that may occur in the immediate future or that has already occurred and that, unless immediately acted upon, would otherwise be irreparable, result in the imminent loss of life, or pose an immediate health or safety hazard to humans or the environment.

Several state lawmakers said on Tuesday that they wished Abercrombie had consulted them before issuing his emergency proclamation on discarded military explosives, which suspended nearly two dozen state land use and environmental regulations for five years to help with the munitions clean up.

State Rep. Henry Aquino (D, Pearl City-Waipahu), the chairman of the House Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee, was not aware Abercrombie had issued the emergency proclamation until hearing from the news media this week. The governor’s staff posted the proclamation on the governor’s website along with other executive orders, but did not release a public statement.

Aquino said he understands the governor’s concern about the potential dangers posed by abandoned military explosives. “It would have been nice to be consulted, let’s put it that way,” he said.

`Chilling effect’

September 12th, 2011
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State Senate President Shan Tsutsui and House Speaker Calvin Say have asked state Attorney General David Louie whether the state Ethics Commission is correct in defining members of task forces as state employees subject to the ethics code.

In their Aug. 30 letter, Tsutsui and Say claim the commission’s interpretation could have a chilling effect on the Legislature’s ability to gather information and of task force members’ constitutional right to petition government.

Leslie Kondo, the executive director of the Ethics Commission, has warned members of task forces not to act as paid lobbyists on task force related matters.

From Tsutsui’s and Say’s letter:

As you know, gathering information is a primary and constitutionally protected legislative function. To this end, the Legislature frequently creates advisory task forces and working groups that seek to include individuals from the private sector. The Legislature values the input it receives from those who have interest or expertise in the subject area.

If individuals from the private sector who participate in these panels are now to be considered “employees” of the State for the purposes of the Ethics Code, we are concerned with the chilling effect on both the Legislature’s ability to gather information and on the constitutional right of these individuals (and their actual employers) to petition government.