Monday, November 30, 2009

"Between a rock and a hard place"

In Representative Isaac Choy's December issue of "Prevailing Winds," he discusses the possible solutions to closing the state budget deficit and the difference in opinions that he may have with his constituents. At the end of his message to the community, Choy writes:

As your representative, the important thing is to communicate to you how I make these choices. Since there are no right or wrong solutions to the budget deficit problems, I base my decisions on my own values. For example, furlough days. I believe that our economic and social future depend on our children. The world seems to agree with me as they chastised Hawaii for sacrificing our children's education. Many of you have told me that the priorities in my value system are not the same as yours.

Yes, our priorities may be different, but the underlying feeling about our country, state and community is the same. We all want this problem solved quickly and with the least amount of pain.

If you would like to be subscribe to the email list, contact Carole at, and you may also visit his newsletter page for archived issues at

Kikiaola Boat Harbor

Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Rep. Roland Sagum (District 16 - Niihau, Waimea, Koloa) released the following statement on November 20th as a means to draw attention to the problems at Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor on Kauai. The Honolulu Advertiser followed up with a story on Saturday, November 28th.

“I am deeply concerned about the lack of progress on the dredging of Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor. As of today, the state’s contractor, American Marine Corporation, has been unable to get the needed permit from the County of Kauai to dispose of dredged material on the property mauka of the harbor. Despite best efforts from the state Division of Boating of Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), the County has been unable to respond in a timely manner.

While the County has said that Department of Health (DOH) approvals would be required for a dewatering site adjacent to the harbor, this is no longer the case as the contractor proposes to transport the dredged material directly to a stockpile area on the mauka site. Thus, the project awaits an approval from the County to utilize the mauka area which according to Eric Yuasa, State Engineer at the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, the DOH permit may not be required.

The delay has become so serious that I am afraid we may lose American Marine Corporation as the state’s contractor. This would be a tremendous setback, but I believe it can be avoided if the permitting issues are resolved immediately.

Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor is an important resource to the boaters of Kauai. It is the “Town Center” of West Kauai. This project has dragged on for an inordinate amount of time and the harbor’s structural problems only become compounded due to lack of action. The situation is dire, and I do not want to see the harbor become totally unusable. Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor has needed maintenance dredging for over 50 years.

I implore all parties to address and resolve this matter with the urgency it deserves.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Even More Thankful House

Continued from yesterday's post, more responses from House members and their staff about the things they are thankful for.

Maureen Andrade, Office Manager, and Rep. Henry Aquino, D-35 (Pearl City, Waipahu)

"Rep. Aquino is off island but I know that he is thankful for the Lords Blessings and for the Love from his family and friends and that although times are hard, we still find ways to share with the less fortunate…sharing ALOHA always! As for me, I’m most thankful that the Lord has blessed my kids and grandkids with love and respect and that he has blessed us with more time to share with my dad…who could ask for anything more!!!!"

Gil Keith-Agaran, D-9 (Kahului, Wailuku, Puunene, Spreckelsville, Paia)

"I'm thankful for my Maui family, law partners and staff, friends and clients who supported me this past Session on Oahu, although I'm tired of being reminded I didn't have many billable hours for nearly five months this past year."


And to send you off to a joyous Thanksgiving Day spent having lunch or dinner with family and friends, Rep. Roy Takumi gives us an anonymous poem to think about before diving into the bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy!

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
- Unknown


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Thankful House

This has been a tough year for the country, the state, the legislature, government in general, and especially the people that it serves. Many of you muster the strength to weather the tailspin of the state budget, the capricious economy, and other obstacles that life throws at you. As the days lead up to Thanksgiving we are all reminded of the aspects of our lives for which we are most grateful. We appreciate the things we have while giving to those who may not have as much.

This Thanksgiving, the members of the House of Representatives and their staff would like to share with you the things they are most thankful for this year. We'll be posting their responses throughout the week, and after you read them, please feel free to express what you are thankful for in the comment box below. Aloha!

Pat Mau-Shimizu, House Clerk

"I am thankful for a second chance at life and the ability to plan for the future. I am thankful for a greatly improved quality of life. I am thankful for a supportive family, and a network of loyal and caring friends and colleagues in the State Capitol. And I am most thankful for my kidney donor, and her generosity and all of her sacrifices on my behalf." (Born again: September 24, 2009)

Rep. Marcus Oshiro, House Finance Chair, D-39 (Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, Launani Valley)

"I am thankful for God giving me a life of modest desires but rich in experience and a loving wife to share it all with."

Tommie Suganuma, Legislative Services Manager to Rep. Cindy Evans

"First of all I am thankful to the Lord. Without his guidance and protection I may not have taken the opportunities he placed in front of me, but I am thankful he did and that I did. I am thankful for my family and their loving support and understanding, I am thankful for having an awesome boss (Rep Evans), I am thankful for the session staffers I have had the privilege of working with (Lolan, Muriel, Dean, Micah, Kylie, Bill, Tom, Terii, Brian, and especially Baron), and lastly, I am thankful for the many friends I have made at church and here at the capitol, and working with such a dedicated bunch of people, whom sometimes don’t get the thanks they deserve."

Arlina Agbayani, Office Manager for Rep. Jessica Wooley

"I’m thankful that I have a job, my family and my health."

Rep. Karl Rhoads, D-28 (Palama, Chinatown, Downtown, Lower Makiki, Shridan)

"I’m thankful that my wife still thinks I’m funny after 15 years of marriage." (And just in case you're wondering, Rep. Rhoads' wife, Cindy, confirmed in an email that he still can make her laugh.)

Time to clean up the school furlough mess

The following opinion piece, written by Rep. Roy Takumi, was printed on October 30, 2009 in the Honolulu Advertiser.

One day I came across Karley, my granddaughter, sitting in the middle of a mess in the living room. When asked "Who did this?" she said, "Isaiah," her oldest brother and favorite target when needing someone to blame. It's not surprising she wouldn't fess up; after all, she's only 2 years old.

What's surprising is how we got into this mess of achieving the dubious distinction of having the fewest classroom days in the country. After all, adults, not children, made this mess.

Oh, I've heard all the arguments. Some say, "It's only fair that we all have to share the pain." But by insisting that everyone has to be furloughed the same number of days may be fair to the adults, it certainly isn't right for our children.

Others say, "It came down to a dollars-and-cents issue." But to save a few cents we have abandoned our common sense. Furloughs shortchange our children's future and represent a collective failure by all of us — including me. It raises disturbing questions about what we value and what we believe is important.

I don't want to sugarcoat our situation. The budget deficit is real, but we are not alone. Forty-seven other states are facing budget gaps totaling at least $350 billion over the next two years. Yet states such as Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Oregon have bigger deficits than we do but did not enact furloughs to the degree that we did.

I'm not interested in pointing fingers. I am far more interested in where we go from here. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's suggestion that all the stakeholders work it out is a critical first step (The Honolulu Advertiser, Oct. 25).

But it won't go anywhere unless there is a willingness to reopen the negotiations. The governor needs to take the lead on this.

Once this happens, then the greater community — parents, students, unions, businesses, non-profits, legislators, congressional delegation, BOE, DOE — needs to reach a consensus on how to get our students back into the classroom. Every option — drawing down of special funds, seeking federal assistance, targeted tax increases, wage cuts, exchanging noninstructional days and holidays, rearranging the school calendar — needs to be on the table.

Let me put it in practical terms.: If teachers were willing to accept a combination of a small wage cut (for example, a 1 percent cut would save two furlough days) and a few furlough days that fall on holidays, this would reduce the cut in classroom days by three or four. We could also require that every school exchange a certain number of noninstructional days. As it stands, less than a third of the schools have requested this. If the governor is open (along with the Legislature) to using a portion of the Hurricane Relief Fund or consider a slight temporary increase in the GET, a few more days would be saved.

No one has the silver-bullet solution, but I believe we can reach a consensus that is based solely on what is in the best interests of our children.

Still, this is only a short-term approach. We also need to seriously debate longer-term strategies for moving to a more efficient, effective and focused system. This means closing low-performing schools, consolidating schools that no longer serve communities due to shrinking enrollments, funding universal pre-school, and increasing alternatives for learning such as on-line instruction and charter schools.

We also need to closely scrutinize every government service that is currently provided and make the hard decisions on which services are less critical and which are necessary. We should not let the governor simply lay off employees without public input.

That day when Karley couldn't quite take responsibility for what she did was what educators call a teachable moment. It was a moment when I as an adult had to explain to her that when you make a mess, you are responsible for cleaning it up.

This is also a teachable moment for us adults. We made a mess. We are responsible for cleaning it up.

Let's get to work.

Representative Roy Takumi, D-36th (Pearl City) is chairman of the House Education Committee. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good Schools = Good Leaders

Rep. Roy Takumi, chairman of the House Education Committee, recently attended a three-day conference to examine school leadership development strategies with other state lawmakers, education policy analysts, school principals and experts in education leadership.

He is featured in a video interview discussing what he will take away from the conference, what role the state legislature plays in education, as well as what kinds of innovative initiatives have come out of Hawaii.

When asked about the role of the legislature in education leadership development, Rep. Takumi said the role the state legislature plays in education varies by state, but in general lawmakers must be "educated about what is important to run a school,"resist temptation to micromanage the school system," and "support the professionals where they need to be supported."

You can read about the conference on the NCSL site and watch the entire clip of Rep. Takumi's interview here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rescind education budget restrictions

The following opinion was published in The Honolulu Advertiser on November 22, 2009:

By Rep. Marcus Oshiro, Chair
House Finance Committee

It was heartening to learn last Sunday of a possible solution coming from the governor's office rather than a steady stream of "it's not our fault." The recent announcement that the governor would support using the rainy day fund — also known as the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund — to pay for teacher furloughs is a positive development. The governor gets an "A" for effort. Now the proverbial devil is in the details.

However, there is a more immediate and transparent solution to pay for any portion of the furlough days. The governor has the power to rescind her restriction on money already appropriated to the Department of Education. The current restriction is $134 million for FY 2010 (Governor's Executive Memorandum 09-05; dated Aug. 20, 2009). Rescinding a restriction does not require a special session of the Legislature and more delays. All it requires is a memo from the governor. Once executed, she demonstrates her commitment to finding additional funds and that should bring the teachers, BOE, and superintendent back to the bargaining table to fix the problem. If getting the children back to school is the No. 1 priority, then cuts can and will be made to other programs and services in state government. There is no free lunch.

The governor's current solution involves spending about $50 million to cover furloughs for both fiscal years 2010 and 2011. But the immediate need is to find money to pay for the furlough days through June 2010. Based on the governor's proposal, this would require about $18 million to $25 million of the $134 million restriction being imposed on the DOE. A more thorough discussion of the furlough days for fiscal year 2011 can occur during the regular session. Likewise, the pros and cons of proposed amendments to the "rainy day" fund.

The governor's proposal to use the entire "rainy day" fund is not new. She proposed the same idea a year ago when she sought to use it to balance the 2009 budget. The fiscal crisis was bad and getting worse, and prudence dictated other alternatives. As a result, the Legislature came up with the option of transferring $97 million from about 20 special funds instead of using the "rainy day" fund to balance the 2009 budget.

Although the Legislature disagreed with using the "rainy day" fund to balance the 2009 budget, a portion was eventually used to fund critical adult mental health services in the Department of Health and the operations of the Hawai'i Health Systems Corp. The sentiment to use $8 million to pay for mental health services statewide and $14 million for hospitals especially on Hawai'i, Maui, and Kaua'i, was so great that using the fund for these programs received strong bi-partisan support and unanimous approval.

The "rainy day" fund was, literally, the last place we went to make critical funding decisions, which was more a responsible and responsive approach.

Other more immediate alternatives to using the "rainy day" fund are available. Consider the following:

• Already 95 schools have taken action to restore teaching days and more schools are filing petitions under the BOE's extended deadline to craft their own solutions.
• Hawai'i Education Matters, a group of concerned parents, has an innovative idea for substituting non-instructional hours with teaching hours that could be a win–win solution for everyone. The proposal would require a renegotiation of contracts, but it is a textbook example of what anthropologist Margaret Mead expressed regarding a small group of thoughtful people coming up with creative options.
• The governor already has the authority to transfer money from other special funds.
• The governor can rescind her budget restriction that created the furlough days in the first place.

I'm not opposed to a special session — it simply may not be necessary. No delays. No waiting for the Legislature to pass a bill. No unnecessary spending of taxpayer dollars for a special session. If the goal is to end the furlough days as quickly as possible, a one-page memo from the governor can release or transfer the money needed to end schools furlough today.

State Rep. Marcus Oshiro is chairman of the House Finance Committee. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

Friday, November 20, 2009

House announces budget reductions

The Hawaii House of Representatives today announced its plan to deal with the economic and state budget crisis which includes salary reductions for permanent and session staff. There are no furloughs or layoffs. Effective between the dates of January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010, reductions will be as follows:

· A 5% salary reduction for all permanent full-time staff employed by the House.
· A 15% salary reduction in session staff funding levels for all House committee chairs.
· A 20% salary reduction in session staff funding levels for all other House member offices.
· A 15% salary reduction for session staff in all House agency offices.

The House also significantly reduced other administrative expenses, including technical support services, for a combined 9% reduction of the total House of Representatives operating budget. This amounts to a cost savings of $1,026,570. (The House budget will be reduced from $11,403,163 in 2009 to $10,376,593 in 2010.)

Speaker of the House Calvin Say and Majority Leader Blake Oshiro met with House staff members this afternoon to announce salary reductions.

“The House staff works very hard for the membership and for the institution, but given the state’s fiscal crisis, it is necessary to reduce our expenses just as we are asking every other state agency to do,” said Speaker Say. “This was not a rash decision. We deliberated on the best plan for the House and decided that salary reductions rather than furloughs would work best for our responsibilities, especially during the legislative session.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Should we be worried?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Arizona State Capitol Building for Sale
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Rep. Marcus Oshiro, House Finance Chair, forwarded this link on how the Arizona legislature is planning to "fix the state budget". Hawaii faces a potential $1 - 1.5 billion shortfall going into the 2010 session. Rep. Oshiro is leaving no stone unturned.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Speaker Say's Statement on Governor's Furlough Proposal

"I commend the Governor for advancing a proposal to reduce the number of furlough days for teachers. Implementation of the proposal apparently requires amendment of the teachers' collective bargaining agreement and an appropriation by the Legislature. The former, amendment of the agreement, requires approval by the parties to the negotiations, comprised of the HSTA representing teachers, and the Governor, Board of Education, and Superintendent of Education, collectively representing the State. By law, the Legislature is not a party in negotiations. In contrast, an appropriation requires legislative approval and, equally as important, the Governor's commitment to allot the appropriated funds to the Department of Education. Consequently, the proposal in effect requires the approval of the parties to the negotiations as well as the House and Senate.

As stated in my letter, dated November 6, 2009, to the parties, if they come to an agreement that requires legislation, I will do my utmost to have the House consider the proposal expeditiously.

If the parties agree relatively soon on a proposal that is ratified by the teachers and also agreeable to the House and Senate, then I will strongly recommend that the House convene in special session. I emphasize that such agreement will be a pre-condition to convening a special session."

Pilila'au 'Ohana Honored on Veteran's Day

From Representative Maile Shimabukuro,D-45 (Wai'anae, Makaha, Makua), who attended the Wai'anae Veteran's Day Ceremony to recognize the Pilila'au 'Ohana.

On 11/11/09, the relatives of Wai`anae Medal of Honor recipient Herbert Kaili Pilila`au attended the annual Veteran's Day ceremony. Each year the ceremony is hosted by the Wai`anae Coast's Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Ladies Auxiliary; Wai`anae and Nanakuli High School JROTC programs; the staff of the Herbert K. Pilila`au Army Recreation Center; and other volunteers.

Commander Rocky Naeole served as the master of ceremonies, and Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, Councilman Todd Apo, Rep. Karen Awana, and Rep. Maile Shimabukuro also spoke. Several speakers acknowledged the Wai`anae Coast's three Medal of Honor recipients: Shinyei Nagamine, Yeiki Kobashigawa, and Herbert K. Pilila`au.

Several speakers acknowledged the Pilila`au `ohana, who sat in the audience. As you can see from the photo, the Pilila`au's are familiar faces on our Wai`anae Coast. We are so grateful for the pride they have brought to our community.

After the ceremony, Ike Mahoe, Herbert K. Pilila`au's grand niece, wrote: "If there is anything else you would like to know about my granduncle or our family, please feel free to contact me at Mahalo for your time and all your kind words today. Our family appriciates you all."

Mahalo nui loa to ALL VETERANS AND ACTIVE-DUTY SERVICE MEN & WOMEN. We are eternally grateful for your sacrifice!!

Photo: (L-R) Bottom row - Kasey, Ka`ili, and Keola; Middle row - Julie and Maryellen Pilila`au; Top row - Ike, Maria, and Debbie. In relation to Herbert Ka`ili Pilila`au, the children are the great-grand-nephews and niece; Maryellen is sister-in-law; Julie and Debbie are nieces; and Maria and Ike are grand-nieces.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Healthy Start and Quest

Coming up on Monday, November 16th, the House and Senate committees on Human Services and the Senate committee on Health will hold joint informational briefings on the state's Healthy Start and Quest programs.

Healthy Start
11:00 a.m.
State Capitol, Room 329

At one time, Hawaii's Healthy Start program was recognized as a model for the rest of the nation to follow. It aims to reduce child abuse and neglect by providing comprehensive home visitation, child development screening and intervention, psychosocial assessment, and counseling.

This past year, Healthy Start was reduced from 13 program sites statewide to two program sites, one on Oahu and one on the Big Island. These cuts make compliance with federal mandates under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) difficult, and impacts the state's relationship with the Office of Special Education Programs.

1:00 p.m.
State Capitol, Room 329

The Department of Human Services has been asked to attend and provide a status on the implementation of the Quest Expanded Program. This is a follow up briefing.

Rep. John Mizuno is chair of the House Committee on Human Services
Contact: 586-6050

Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland is chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services
Contact: 586-6130

Sen. David Ige is chair of the Senate Health Committee
Contact: 586-6230

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Canned Goods, Vegas and Christmas Music

The public is invited to the "A Capitol Christmas", a free concert featuring a variety of Hawaii's favorite local music artists to be held in the State Capitol Rotunda. Concert organizers suggest that attendees bring in donation items such as canned goods and/or non-perishable foods. Those who bring in a donation will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas! This will be the second year that Patrick Koh and the House of Representatives have come together to hold the concert and food drive to help feed Hawaii's hungry during the holiday season. Free parking will be available in the basement of the Hawaii State Capitol after 5 p.m. For more information, call 808-688-7799.

Performers include Patrick Koh, The Krush, Tradewinds, Angeli Callo, Arshiel Calatrava, Simplisity, Pauoa & Pacific Heights, The Higher Ground Jazz Ensemble, Rachel Jones, The Christian Academy High School Chorus, Paul Cortes, Crooner's Inc., and More!

Friday, December 4, 2009
6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Where:
Hawaii State Capitol Rotunda

Photo (top left): Patrick Koh
Photo (bottom right): Angeli Callo

Reinventing Government committees formed

At its last meeting on November 6, 2009, the Reinventing Government Task Force established program area committees and assigned members as respective chairs. They are:

State Agency/Issue

Department of Education/Education - Chair Don Horner

Department of Transportation/Transportation - Chair Mark Fukunaga

Department of Land & Natural Resources/Land and Natural Resourses - Chair Laura Thielen

Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism/Economic Development - Chair Randy Perreira

Department of Human Resources Development/Human Resources - Co-chairs John Monahan and Walter Ozawa

Department of Human Services/Health and Human Services - Co-chairs Reginald Castanares, Lynn McCrory, Don Horner

Senator Donna Mercado Kim and Rep. Marcus Oshiro are to attend all of the committee meetings if possible. The previous post on Reinventing Government with the list of appointees and the establishing legislation can be found here.

"Peanut Butta Jelly"

Above, Rep. Marcus Oshiro performs a live reading of the poem "Peanut Butta Jelly" by Kenneth Lynn Quilantang, Jr. It was part of the Aloha Shorts program produced by Bamboo Ridge Press, which is broadcast on Hawaii Public Radio, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. on KIPO, 89.3 FM.
This particular program will air sometime in January 2010, but was performed live on tape earlier this month. For more photos, go to the Bamboo Ridge site here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009

The following was originally posted on Veteran's Day 2007.

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag.
Father Denis Edward O'Brien/USMC

To all of America's veterans, we say "thank you", even though we know words alone cannot express our appreciation for your service to our country. We join the rest of the nation on this day to remember the fallen and honor the sacrifices of 25 million veterans from the United States. On behalf of the Hawaii House of Representatives, we would also like to salute the veterans currently serving in our State Legislature:

The House of Representatives

Rep. Rida Cabanilla - Army Reserve Officer - Lt. Colonel
Rep. Jerry Chang - SGT E-5, U.S. Army, 7th Special Forces (Airborne)
Rep. Isaac Choy - U.S. Marine Corps
Rep. Ken Ito - U.S. Air Force, 1962 - 1966 (Veteran - Honorable Discharge)
Rep. Marilyn Lee - Navy Nurse, Full Lieutenant (ret.)
Rep. Joe Souki - U.S. Army
Rep. K. Mark Takai - Captain, Hawaii Army National Guard
Rep. Roy Takumi - Hawaii Air National Guard, 1970-1977
Rep. Gene Ward - Vietnam Veteran, Translator-Interpreter

The Senate

Sen. Robert Bunda - U.S. Air Force, Texas Army National Guard, Hawaii National Guard

Thank you Lon (that's Mr. Cupcake to you) Paresa, veteran and House Asst. Sgt-at-Arms, for sharing the above quote.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"We the Powerful" heads to Kauai

The Public Access Room (PAR) will head to the island of Kauai later this week to conduct a series of FREE workshops on the legislative process and how to get involved. The series is called "We the Powerful", and the workshops are designed to demonstrate how people can speak out at the legislature without having to fly to Honolulu.

Topics include:

Delivering effective testimony
Making sense of deadlines
Using the Legislature's website


Thursday, November 12 - 6:00 p.m.
Kapaa Library Conference Room

Saturday, November 14 - 10:00 a.m.
Koloa Library Conference Room

Monday, November 16 - 6:30 p.m.
Waimea Library

Tuesday, November 17 - 6:00 p.m.
Lihue Neighborhood Center, 3353 Eono St., Room B

Wednesday, November 18 - 6:00 p.m.
Princeville Library

Monday, November 9, 2009

BOE Blog

The Hawaii Board of Education launched its own blog back in July to provide news and commentary on public education issues. I perused a few of the blog entries, which highlight what is going on in the BOE, Department of Education, Hawaii Public Library System, and individual public schools, and found it to be a good resource for the public to stay informed and discuss current educational issues.

The BOE's public affairs officer, Alex Da Silva, is also on Twitter. You can follow him at

"Furloughs, Students and Politics"

Rep. Roy Takumi will be a guest on a live, call-in show, produced by the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. It's called "Furloughs, Students and Politics", hosted by Ibrahim G. Aoudé. Here are the details:

Air Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Time: 8:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Channel: Oceanic Time Warner Cable, Olelo, Channel 55


Rep. Roy Takumi (interviewed at the State Capitol)
Sen. Will Espero
Jonathan Okamura, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies-UHM
Noel Kent, Professor of Ethnic Studies-UHM.

Again, it's a LIVE broadcast, so CALL-IN your questions!

Rep Choy: "How many Girl Scouts are you going to arrest this year?"

That was Rep. Isaac Choy's question to the Hawaii State Tax Department on the department's initiative to zero-in on cash-only businesses.

The story in yesterday's Honolulu Advertiser is here.

The program was established through Act 134 which passed the 2009 legislature and was enacted in June of this year. The department has formed a Special Enforcement Section and is in the process of filling positions. The law now enables them to go after so-called cash economy businesses such as lunch wagons, farmers market vendors, swap meet vendors, mom and pop operations, and cookie sellers.

The intent of the law is to enforce Hawaii's tax collections, and tax officials estimate that they could collect as much as $100 million in additional general excise tax over the next three years. Rep. Choy, however, believes that the legislation is a bit "draconian" and may have to be tweaked this coming session. According to the story by reporter Sean Hao, the law requires that the seller register for a general excise tax license after ten transactions. A Girl Scout spokeswoman said that they will follow the intent and spirit of the law.
Former tax director Ray Kamikawa made the point that the Special Enforcement Section may be an ineffective use of state resources. Mom and pop operations will yield small amounts of revenues. The big money would come from drug dealers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Surfing toward the Olympics

Bradah Mel's Canoe Surfing and Stand-Up Surfing Championships announced today that they are helping to raise funds for the Dolan Brothers of Kailua, Patrick, 21, and Ryan, 19, members of the U.S. Olympic Kayak team, on a quest to reach the 2012 Olympics in London.

Proceeds collected will go toward the hefty travel expenses for both young men to get to national and international competitions. With Olympic funding cut-off this year, the boys and their mother, Ann, have had to do a lot of fundraising on their own.

"What Mel is doing for these kids is admirable," said Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, who represents the Waianae area. "The event brings the community together to support our local athletes."

The surfing event, which attracts the best paddlers and surfers from Tahiti, Brazil, France and Hawaii and other states, will be held at Makaha Beach on December 5 and 6, 2009 or (alternate dates depending on surf conditions and weather) December 12 and 13, 2009.

Bradah Mel Pu'u, an avid waterman and Wai'anae Coast lifeguard, has been holding the surf contest for the past four years as a fundraiser for his friend Leighton Look, who was paralyzed in a diving accident. Look passed away last September. He was a popular coach and competitor in the sport of outrigger canoe paddling. This year, the annual surfing event will be held in memory of Look, to keep his legacy and kind nature alive in everyone's hearts and minds.

Event planners are still seeking monetary donations or items for a raffle drawing that will be held at the event. "I understand that times are tight and it is hard to give a lot, so we are asking for any type of donation possible," said Pu'u. “For the raffle, water sports items such as a t-shirt, surf shorts, a boogie board, or surf board would be greatly appreciated.”

For more information on how to donate, please call Bradah Mel Pu'u at 487-9086.

Town Hall Meeting at 'Ahuimanu Elementary School

Come to a town hall meeting with Rep. Jessica Wooley at 'Ahuimanu Elementary School tomorrow, November 4, 2009, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Rep. Wooley is holding this meeting to hear community concerns and give residents an opportunity to bring ideas for legislation to the table for the 2010 Legislative Session and opine on important state and community issues facing Hawaii residents. Light refreshments will be served.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Samoa Relief Effort

By Rep. Joey Manahan

The Kalihi community has been working hard to help the tsunami victims in Samoa. We collected a truck load of food, clothing, towels, blankets, and beddings, all of which were delivered to the Women's Center at Kuhio Park Terrace.
Rep. Manahan with Tiva Aga and volunteers at the Kuhio Park Terrace Women's Center. The volunteers are residents of KPT.

From there, the women, headed by Doris Jackson and Tiva Aga will sort and pack the donated items and send them to Samoa based on requests which are coming in to their office straight from the victims.

Left to Right--Junior Yaranon (Community Volunteer), Ace Tufu, (Manager of Honolulu Community Action Program--HCAP), Tiva Aga (KPT Women's Center), Rep. Joey Manahan, Auntie Lani, and Doris Jackson of the KPT Women's Center.

The women's center is working with local schools in Samoa who are facilitating communication from families needing relief items. They are being shipped via container with the help of Matson Shipping as well as Hawaiian Air Cargo (depending on availability of space for Hawaiian). I plan to go to deliver some of the items myself toward the end of the month.

Rep. Joey Manahan

"We the Powerful"

The Hawaii State Legislature's Public Access Room will be on Maui this week, conducting a series of FREE workshops on the legislative process. Called "We the Powerful!", the purpose of the workshops is to discover the public's power in the legislative process. Here is the schedule:

Monday, November 2nd
7:00 p.m.
Kihei Community Center

Tuesday, November 3rd
6:00 p.m.
Kahului Public Library

Wednesday, November 4th
6:30 p.m.
Pukalani/Tavares Community Center

Thursday, November 5th
6:00 p.m.
Wailuku Public Library

Virginia Beck, the Assistant Public Access Coordinator at the Public Access Room will lead the workshops. PAR is a division of the Legislative Reference Bureau. For more information call toll free: 984-2400, ext. 7-0478.

Contact Us

An updated House/Senate telephone and fax directory is here.

Kalihi schools compete in Lego Robotics

By Rep. Joey Manahan

Rep Manahan with Kalakaua Middle Team
Kalihi area schools, Fern Elementary, Puuhale Elementary, Dole Middle School, and Kalakaua Middle School all competed against each other in the Lego Robotics competition held this year at Kalakaua Middle School. The schools receive a grant to purchase equipment, and they build machines which are put through an obstacle course.

Fern Elementary Team

They are judged on various tasks that are accomplished by the robots they design, and they are also judged on the robot's ability to maneuver and complete the obstacle course in the given amount of time.

Dole Middle School Team

The competition is both challenging and fun, and the students learn math and science skills as well as problem solving. The competition between the schools are preliminary rounds, which lead to a statewide competition held in the coming months at the Blaisdell Arena.

Puuhale Elementary Team

Both Senator Donna Mercado Kim and I were in attendance to support the students.

Senator Kim with Fern Elementary Team