Archive for October, 2011

Hybrid

October 31st, 2011
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Dinesh Sharma, a senior fellow at the Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology at St. Francis College in New York, has written a new book on President Barack Obama’s multicultural background in Hawaii and Indonesia.

Sharma interviewed the Hawaii-born president’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and others for a biography that focuses on the psychological and sociological factors that shaped him.

The author describes Obama as “truly America’s hybrid president.”

Monthly 10

October 28th, 2011
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The entry of former Gov. Linda Lingle into the 2012 Senate Race has put Hawaii into Politico’s “Monthly 10,” the Washington publication’s monthly ranking of the most competitive contests in the country.

Lingle is in the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka, who is retiring. Also in the race on the Republican side is former state Senator and Air Force pilot John Carroll, while U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former Congressman Ed Case vie for the nomination on the Democrats’ side.

Hawaii’s Senate contest makes its debut in the Politico rankings at No. 6:

Linda Lingle is to October what Elizabeth Warren was to September: a new candidate whose near-flawless rollout attracts favorable media coverage and instantly reshapes a Senate race. The Star Advertiser dubbed Lingle’s debut “a textbook example of how a major campaign rolls out a kickoff.” Her candidacy is a coup for GOP recruiting efforts and widens the playing field even further in 2012. She’s also made it clear to leaders in Washington that she’s determined to separate herself from the GOP’s national and tea party brands. Whether she succeeds will determine whether the race stays hot in the coming months.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/67016_Page2.html#ixzz1c7vIuk8p

CAFR

October 27th, 2011
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The state Department of Accounting and General Services has posted the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal year 2010.

The report was delivered to the governor and the state Legislature on Oct. 12 — nearly 16 months after the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2010.

The Abercrombie administration has said it would make an effort to get closer to the target of completing the annual reports six months after fiscal years close.

Extra Credits

October 26th, 2011
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Proposals to expand film credits for movie and television production in the islands are expected to be back before the Legislature next year.

The expanded tax credits were among the measures that died toward the end of the 2011 session.

But the success of recent productions such as “Hawaii Five-0” and the state’s ability to attract significant projects such as the most recent “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie and the forthcoming George Clooney film “The Descendants,” has lawmakers and industry leaders clamoring for more help to grow the local industry.

Said Chris Lee, founder of the University of Hawaii’s Academy for Creative Media:

“I think you have to look at the fact that we’ve had great success in this industry and now how do we build on that. … I think there’s enough data points from other places that have had success in managing the business, instead of just servicing the business, that we can get there.”

Lee was among the panelists who discussed the state of Hawaii’s film and television industry with House lawmakers today.

Other panelists included: Georja Skinner, administrator of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Creative Industries Division; Karen Meyer, director of the Castle High School Performing Arts Center; Carol Kaapu of Pure Rain Productions, Brenda Ching of the Screen Actors Guild of Hawaii; and Don Sand of ProSuccess Films.

The informational briefing was held by the House committees on Culture & the Arts and Economic Revitalization & Business.

All agreed that more must be done in the area of workforce development, to grow, attract and retain film and television industry professionals in the islands. Current tax credits for film and TV production could be expanded to provide added incentive for such development.

Proposals that died in the Legislature last year would have increased existing film production tax credit to 35 percent from 15 percent on Oahu and to 40 percent from 20 percent on the neighbor islands, with 5 percent bonuses for productions involving computer-aided special effects and animation.

Changes also would have provided tax credits for new production facilities, rebates to help with a local crew training program, and exemptions from hotel room taxes for productions longer than 30 days.

Relativity Media LLC and Shangri-La Industries were among two major Hollywood entertainment companies seeking the additional tax breaks in Hawaii. The bill gained the support of actors such as Cuba Gooding Jr., who tesitfied before a Senate committee during session, and former President Bill Clinton, who wrote a letter in support.

Rep. Angus McKelvey, chairman of the House Economic Revitalization & Business committee, said he would reintroduce measures to expand the tax breaks.

Said McKelvey:

The fact is, that this is a major industry, it’s a recession-proof industry, it’s the only industry that’s grown and Hawaii has — under its existing credit program — managed to successfully attract film production. But we have the potential, if we do it right, to turn this from four to five  film projects a year into a major industry.

Slow start

October 25th, 2011
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Esther Kiaaina, chief advocate for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, raised just $22,000 in the past quarter for her Democratic primary campaign in the 2nd Congressional District. The total includes her own $10,000 donation.

Rafael del Castillo, a patients’ rights attorney, reported no contributions during the past quarter.

Kiaaina and del Castillo lag far behind former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard in early fundraising for the primary.

Recognize

October 25th, 2011
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U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, has slipped language into a draft of the interior appropriations bill that would federally recognize Native Hawaiians like American Indian tribes.

A Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill has stalled in the U.S. Senate for a decade, and advocates are shifting strategy, trying to advance key provisions of the bill in pieces. The bill is known as the Akaka bill for its main sponsor, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

The language in the interior appropriations bill builds off a state Native Hawaiian recognition bill approved by lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Neil Abercrombie this year.

“The Hawaii congressional delegation is committed to federally recognizing Native Hawaiians in the 112th Congress, with the strong support of the governor and Hawaii State Legislature,” Peter Boylan, a spokesman for Inouye, said in a statement. “We will continue to pursue a variety of options to effectuate passage.”

Inserting the language into a spending bill may make it easier to advance than forcing another debate on a stand-alone Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill. But opponents have already flagged the language. One told Hawaii Reporter that allowing Hawaiians to be recognized as an Indian tribe would involve “all the public expense and jurisdictional nightmares that go with that status.”

Nishimura v. Williams

October 24th, 2011
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Former state Rep. Hermina Morita and Kauai Democrats were vindicated on Monday when the state Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled that Republicans should not have been allowed to field a replacement candidate against Morita last year.

The appeals court found that David Hamman failed to properly fill out his candidate paperwork and was never an official candidate before the filing deadline. The court ruled that elections officials should not have given Republicans the three days allowed under state law to find replacement candidate Harry Williams.

Hamman acknowledged at the time that he deliberately filed and withdrew before the filing deadline to give the GOP more time to find a challenger to Morita. Hamman instead ran for state Senate.

Morita defeated Williams. She later resigned to take a spot on the Public Utilities Commission. Hamman lost his Senate race.

30 days

October 23rd, 2011
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Gary Hooser, the director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control and a former state senator, told supporters on Sunday that he would decide within the next 30 days whether to run for Congress.

In an email message, Hooser contrasted himself with former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who has already declared in the Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District.

The progressive Hooser casts the more conservative Hannemann as too close to corporate interests, using the rhetoric of the Occupy Wall Street movement:

History is clear — it was not an excess of government but rather the lack of government oversight, and an excess of corporate greed that caused the great financial collapse of 2008.  It is well past time to take our government back from the corporate interests that now hold the reins of power in Washington DC.

Government has failed to protect the people and government has repeatedly simply fallen into line behind the wishes and desires of those who have the money.  Our government allowed the big banks, investment houses and insurance companies reap billions of dollars in profits using highly speculative methods and then when their house of cards began to fall – government bailed them out.  In addition big oil continues to pollute, pharmaceutical companies continue to sell us more drugs even while blocking health care reform, and the Halliburtons of the world reap obscene profits off the death and destruction of our wars.

I have spent over 20 years owning and operating a small business and over 12 years serving in public office.  I understand the need for businesses to generate a profit and operate without unnecessary interference from government, but I also believe in government’s role in protecting the rights of everyday working people and our natural environment.  I am willing to ask the tough questions, increase government oversight when appropriate and hold big business accountable.

My prospective opponent in the Congressional race is of the opposite bent.  There is no question that Mufi Hannemann has been a close ally to corporate interests for his entire political career and benefited from their generosity in return.   He is a friend and a strong advocate for those same corporate interests that have protected the wealth of the top 1% while ignoring the plight of the 99%.  Take a look at his fundraising records and you will find a veritable who’s who of powerful corporate insiders.

I would fight tirelessly on your behalf.  My goal is to not just reduce the impacts of budget cuts to vital health, human services and environmental protections but to seek ways to improve these benefits and protections.  If government is to provide incentives to business then it should go to support small business and local entrepreneurship.  I will not hesitate to cut corporate entitlements, wasteful tax credits and increase taxes on the top 1% if that is what it takes to accomplish this.

Mufi Hannemann will not go against the businesses and benefactors that have groomed and supported him for all these years.  Of this you can be sure.

Most political analysts consider Hannemann the favorite in the primary and he had an impressive fundraising quarter. Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard has picked up some labor endorsements and may emerge as an alternative to Hannemann among moderate and independent voters. Gabbard also had a solid fundraising quarter. Esther Kiaaina, chief advocate for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and Rafael del Castillo, a patients’ rights attorney, have also declared.

Hooser, if he runs, would appeal to the progressive wing of the party. The former Kauai senator would also stress his Neighbor Island background in a district that covers rural Oahu and the Neighbor Islands.

Jonah Kaauwai, a former state GOP chairman, is thinking about a Republican campaign in the 2nd District.

Unpopular

October 21st, 2011
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s job approval rating has plummeted since March, a new survey shows.

The Hawaii Democrat’s job approval is just 30 percent, down from 48 percent in March, according to Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh, N.C., firm. The firm found that he had the dubious distinction of the worst job approval rating among governors.

Most significantly, Abercrombie’s support has fallen among Democrats, the poll shows. Just 43 percent of Democrats approve of the governor’s job performance, down from 66 percent in March.

“I think Abercrombie’s issues might be part of the reason for Linda Lingle’s image resurgence over the last six months,” according to a post by Tom Jensen of  Public Policy Polling. “Folks who might have burned out on her by the end of her time in office may now be looking at her in comparison to their feelings about Abercrombie and coming to the conclusion that she wasn’t so bad.”

The automated telephone poll was taken among 568 voters from Oct. 13 to Oct. 16. The margin of error was 4.1 percentage points.

A Hawaii Poll taken for the Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now in May had Abercrombie’s job approval rating at 50 percent.

“Polls are not our focus,” Donalyn Dela Cruz, an Abercrombie spokeswoman, said in an email. “The governor’s focus is on looking at all avenues to boost our economy. We’re making progress in education and energy and we will continue to build upon that momentum.”

Roses, thorns

October 20th, 2011
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President Barack Obama still has solid job approval ratings in Hawaii, but his level of support has slipped since March, according to a new survey.

Public Policy Polling found Obama’s job approval rating at 56 percent, down from 64 percent in March. The Raleigh, N.C., polling firm said the president still remains more popular in Hawaii than in any other state it has polled this year.

The new survey also shows Obama with substantial leads over his top Republican rivals in Hawaii. The president is up over business executive Herman Cain 63 percent to 30 percent – a 33-percentage point gap — and up over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 59 percent to 32 percent – a 27-point gap.

Obama beat U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., by 45 points in Hawaii in 2008 — 72 percent to 27 percent.

Political analysts estimate that if Obama gets into the 60 percent to 65 percent range next year that it will be difficult for former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, to win the U.S. Senate race over U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono or former congressman Ed Case, the Democratic candidates.

The Public Policy Polling survey was taken through automated telephone calls with 568 voters from Oct. 13 to Oct. 16. The margin of error was 4.1 percentage points.