December 31, 2008

Creating a felony by County ordinance?

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics,Neighbor Island Politics — Doug @ 9:06 am

I am curious about this West Hawaii Today article about road rage. I don’t recall this ever being done, and I wonder if it can be done at the County level.

Council Chairman J Yoshimoto, Hilo, said Monday he plans to work with the Police Department to create an ordinance that would possibly make road rage a felony offense.

He said he has heard many stories from residents about some motorists becoming enraged on the highway and intimidating other drivers that prompted him to pursue additional penalties for those guilty of such infractions.

Police Chief Lawrence Mahuna — who will retire on Wednesday — said he recently spoke briefly with Yoshimoto about the subject.

Mahuna said there is a state law that covers aggressive driving [Really? I could not find one.], which is considered a misdemeanor, but nothing on the books that specifies “road rage.”

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find the Revised Ordinances of Hawaii County online. Is there such a thing? [META: Is there a County with a more amateurish web presence?! Sheesh.] However, the Honolulu ROs are here, and the relevant Chapter for Honolulu does not spell out specific offenses and penalties (beyond describing where certain speed limits are in effect). Basically, I am under the impression that there is no County-level penal code—in any County. This would make even more sense for felonies, which are punished by imprisonment of more than a year, since the Counties do not have their own prisons, only jails.

The HRS is somewhat schizophrenic on this matter. First it says the Counties can write “rules of the road” beyond the HRS, but then the next section of the HRS delineates exactly what powers are granted to the Counties.

Can Hawaii County create a felony by ordinance? I dunno.

December 30, 2008

Russian thinks we’ll be an Asian colony by 2010

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 10:09 am

The Wall Street Journal reports that a Russian academic has predicted the United States will meet the same fate as the Former Soviet Union, although not for the same reasons.

Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces — with Alaska reverting to Russian control.

Hawaii, in Panarin’s fantasy, will “go to” either China or Japan. Others have alternative predictions.

Think Panarin is right? Then bet on it, er, I mean, invest to suit!  [Hat tip to Charley Foster for the inspiration, triggered by a post he wrote way back in March.]

December 27, 2008

Lucky I live Waipahu

Filed under: General — Doug @ 5:59 am

The power flickered at about 6:20, then out at 6:45 Friday evening. Looked around and saw that Makakilo still had power, but when I cranked up my emergency radio/light and tuned in to KSSK I learned that only the customers in the immediate vicinity of the Kahe power station had electricity. This was said to be a promising situation, as that remaining generator could speed up the process of bringing the rest of the Oahu grid. Then Kahe died, too. So, I turned off the radio and went to sleep. I reckon that was about 8:30.

I woke up at about 2:30 and thought it would be fun to go for a run in the total darkness (wearing a blinky LED for safety) since I didn’t feel like sitting around in a dark apartment listening to the “music” played by KSSK. While stretching and lacing up my shoes my power came back. That was at 2:44. I went for the run anyway.

From my place on Paiwa Street most of Waipahu had power until I got to the “Pupu district.” It was dark from there to Kunia Road. There are few streetlights past there (I run on old Farrington Highway), but those few were on until about Kapolei Knolls where they were out again. At about 7 miles, I turn around at Makakilo Drive, but West of there it looked all powered up. Shortly after turning back those streetlights between Knolls and Makakilo Drive flickered back on. Running East, I could see that the power extended (at least) to Pearl City. Central Oahu looked dark, but I don’t know how much I can normally see the lights of that area anyway.

Evidently it was dumb luck that I moved into the region where most of Oahu’s power is generated, as it sounds like my former neighborhood is unlikely to have power this morning. …Except for the Obama vacation compound down by Aikahi. Heh.

Now I’m gonna have some breakfast and jump back in bed. I’m tired!

December 26, 2008

Money just sitting there, unripe for the taking

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 11:20 am

The Star-Bulletin editorializes today about Governor Lingle’s plans to balance the budget by transferring money from various extra-General Fund accounts into the General Fund. But there is a catch.

Gov. Linda Lingle’s formula to avoid fiscal shortages would re-purpose $36 million designated for refunding beverage container deposits to consumers and recycling businesses, and another $9 million from cell phone surcharges collected for a network that pinpoints emergency call locations.

The biggest chunk of money – $40 million to cover expenses for the current fiscal year, and another $35 million for fiscal 2010 – would be drawn from the “rainy-day fund,” a reserve that comes from the state’s share of a tobacco settlement.


Transferring rainy-day money requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Lawmakers should go along with the proposal even though it would leave a balance of only $15.7 million.

The two other transfers, however, present difficulties in view of a Supreme Court ruling [PDF] that says funds designated for specific purposes cannot be used otherwise. Legislators should, if necessary, rewrite the laws that set them up to conform with the ruling and consider abolishing some of them.

Amending the various laws creating special funds to conform with the ruling is much easier said than done. I am not a lawyer, but I have read the ruling and it would be difficult, maybe even impossible, to “un-ring” the bells that led the Court to rule as it did.

In a nutshell, the beverage container fund was established by the Lege, but (like the Insurance Regulatory Fund which was the subject of the recent ruling) the actual fees going into the fund are set by the Executive Branch. Meanwhile, the cell phone fund is explicitly defined as not being general fund revenue. Only the Legislature may impose taxes (which the ruling carefully defines and differentiates from user- and regulatory fees). Once fees are collected and deposited into a special fund, the ruling makes it pretty clear that special fund money can’t simply be transferred into the general fund without violating the separation of powers doctrine.

[The Court] blanch[es] at the State’s basic contention that a user or regulatory fee, if initially assessed as such, can be transferred to a general fund when the same assessment would have been invalid had it been assessed initially with the express understanding that the funds would be transferred to the general fund. If [the Court] adopted such a position, seemingly nothing would bar the legislature from dipping into the fees collected by any state regulatory agency that were deemed to be “in excess of the requuirements of the fund.”

So, unless the Constitution is amended to retroactively grant taxation powers to the Executive Branch [as if...], I see no legislative way to finesse these transfers in such a way that they could withstand judicial scrutiny. [I could be wrong, of course. If you know of a way, then, please, leave a comment.]

Prospectively, however, reconstituted special funds could be created and (once deposits are made) become available for transfer if the Lege (instead of the Executive) imposed the various fee structures of these new special funds. The legislative process to make that happen would be extremely tedious, politically volatile and, most importantly, would not help the current budget situation. i.e. The existing special fund balances will remain unavailable for transfer.

December 23, 2008

Nominees to fill House District 9 are provided to Lingle

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 6:47 pm

The Hawaii House blog introduces the three Democrats nominated to fill the seat left open upon the death of Representative Nakasone. Do all of these folks already live in District 9, or can they wait until actually selected to establish residence? I dunno. The law says that they must, so I assume the Party would not have nominated these three if they did not. I’m a bit surprised that Holter (County Chair) and Keith-Agaran (BLNR Chair, former Department Head and Deputy) both live in the only district that finds itself in need of an appointment. Dumb luck, I suppose. Not very surprised that those two were nominated, though.

Filimoe’atu, is probably the long-shot candidate if the only yardstick is name recognition, but being less of a Democratic Party “insider” may actually improve her chances of being appointed since the Governor is unlikely to be keen on naming Holter or Keith-Agaran.

I have no idea who would have the greatest support among the people of that district, but even that factor could be either a positive or a negative when you consider that the Governor will (or, if you doubt her partisan credentials, would be expected to) appoint the Democrat least likely to win election in 2010.

I reckon the major (or wannabe) power-brokers are not going to submit written comments to the Governor regarding this matter, but it would be interesting to review whatever comments are submitted. I’ll try to remember to make such a request after the January 9 (?) comment deadline is past.

December 20, 2008

Hello, again, world!

Filed under: General — Doug @ 4:01 pm

The hard disk at my old webhost bit the dust on Friday, and there were no backups.  Truly a nightmare.

My friend Heather was able to methodically download the monthly archives (minus all the comments, sadly) from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.  Thanks, Heather!  Still, I had to sign up with a new webhost today and now I am trying to recreate this blog the way it was.  Links and widgets may take a while for me to figure out.  On my old blog I never messed with this kine stuff because  Ryan Ozawa handled it for me!

I miss the poi pounder background graphic and I have no idea where it was stored on my old blog and how to recreate it here.  Ryan?

UPDATE:  I figured out how to restore the poi pounder.  Now all I need is actual content, haha.

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