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”Don’t Dismiss Intelligence About Threat to Pearl Harbor”
Though many state and federal government officials are publicly dismissing a report in the Washington Times by well-reputed reporter and author Bill Gertz, those who know Gertz, and appreciate his accurate and insightful research into international security issues, are taking his report seriously.
Gertz, one of the nation’s best investigative reporters, authored a story entitled “Terrorists Aim at Pearl Harbor.” He says terrorists linked to al Qaeda have targeted U.S. military facilities in Pearl Harbor, including nuclear-powered submarines and ships, because of the symbolic value and because its military facilities are open from the air.
Gertz appeared in Hawaii media today, saying intelligence reports about the terrorist threat were sent to senior U.S. officials in the past two weeks and coincided with reports of the planning of a major attack by Osama bin Laden’s terrorist group. He is reporting officials told him the information on Hawaii was one of the reasons the recent security threat alert was heightened.
Gov. Linda Lingle today denied that the threats Gertz referred to were credible. But Gertz fired back on KHNL News and KHVH News Radio that local government authorities were likely not made aware of the pending threat, and because the threat was exposed, local and national government officials are back pedaling.
See the full article in The Washington Times: http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030303-104.htm
”Senator Pushes Bill That Could Help Fix His Campaign Finance Woes”
Government Affairs Chair Sen. Cal Kawamoto, D-Waipahu, is under investigation by the state Campaign Spending Commission for allegedly donating around $15,000 of his $300,000 campaign war chest to charities he is associated with in his community.
State Campaign Spending law says Senators cannot give away more than $4,000 to charities in a 4-year campaign cycle. It also prevents House members from giving more than $2,000 away in a 2-year cycle, and statewide candidates from giving more than $6,000 during their restricted campaign cycle … a practice Kawamoto adamantly disagrees with.
Now Kawamoto has introduced, pushed through, and changed without public input, legislation some say is self serving because it essentially removes the limits for contributions to charities. The bill, which was changed on Friday, Feb. 28, without any public testimony, opens up a loophole by changing the wording in the state law from “contribution” to “expenditure.” The bill will be up for third reading in the state Senate today, and should it pass, it will crossover to the state House of Representatives.
George Fox, a citizen who filed a complaint with the Campaign Spending Commission on Kawamoto’s expenditures after reviewing his file, says SB 459 SD1 allows well-funded legislators and candidates to seed the community through donations to non-profit groups, which he notes “obviously helps at election time.”
Bob Watada, executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, says legislators are prohibited from making excessive contributions to non-profits and community groups because it allows them to “buy votes.” He points out the practice, if legal, would also give incumbent politicians a big edge over new candidates without the resources to give away money in the community.
Fox is concerned Kawamoto’s actions and his bill, if passed and allowed to become law, will help him avoid any conflict with the state Campaign Spending Commission.
”Crossover Brings Exchange of Several Hundred Bills from One House to the Other”
Legislators will meet in both Houses today to review bills up for third and final reading. Those bills passed by the majority of 25 Senators and 51 House members will crossover to the other House on Thursday.
Democrats in the state Senate are expected to pull more than 100 bills for debate and discussion, the first time this has happened in many years. Typically Republicans pull this amount or more for debate, and are allowed to make their views heard, but then are outvoted by the Senate Democrat Majority.
This year, the process is likely to be more lively, as Democrats are more closely scrutinizing and debating the new Republican governor’s legislation.
”GOP House Members Criticize Democrat ‘Scheme”’
Democrats discouraged public input on a bill that will be heard in the House today, according to House Republicans, who point to House Finance Chair Dwight Takamine who kept HB 512 “under wraps” throughout the session. They say Takamine violated state law when he issued a hearing notice on the bill with just one-hour notice, rather than the required 24-hours notice, and kept the bill from a hearing in the House Health committee.
The bill will abolish the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation and puts its hospitals under the state Department of Health, something the neighbor island Republican Representatives adamantly oppose.
Rep. Brian Blundell, R-Maui, says the bill hurts the people on his island and other neighbor islands the most, because there is limited access to medical care.
“On Maui, we rely on one hospital,” says Blundell. “With travel becoming more difficult under threats of war and terrorism, it is essential that we maintain the high standards of care that Maui Memorial Medical Center has achieved through the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.”
He says the current system allows flexibility, whereas under one central department such as the state Department of Health, that would change.
”Release of City Budget Sparks Debate Between Council, Mayor”
Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris released his Capital Improvement Budget and General Operating Budget Sunday, opening his budgeting practices to criticism from City Council members already concerned with some of the mayor’s tactics used to balance the budget.
City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi says she immediately noticed the mayor’s proposed tax increase and numerous spikes in fees for city services and permits.
She says she will question city officials tomorrow during her first of a series of budget-related meetings reviewing the mayor’s proposed expenditures and revenue streams for FY 2004. The meetings will continue on this week and throughout next week.
City Councilmember Charles Djou, the zoning committee chair, agreed with Kobayashi’s assessment of excessive fees and a tax increase. He says both are unnecessary burdens on the taxpayers, who already pay the highest taxes in the nation (state and city combined).
Djou, who said he thought the mayor was taking the wrong approach by raising taxes and fees during tough economic times, rather than lowering them, was later attacked personally by Harris at a press conference he called to discuss recycling plans for Oahu and Djou’s comments.
The mayor essentially slammed Djou, a financial whiz, for being ignorant of the budget and city management process. Harris went as far as to blame Djou for many of the city’s woes that Harris says were imposed by state legislators, including Djou, who was in the minority party in the House of Representatives until this year.
”Rally for America”
A number of residents in Kailua, some who are married to members of the U.S. military, are organizing a “Pro-America Rally” in Kailua
tomorrow, Wednesday, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The rally will be held at Pohakapu Park, across from Castle Hospital, and should attract many people driving home from work who will pass the centrally located public park known best for its water fountain on the edge of the grassy area.
For more information, call Julianne Barcia at (808) 265-0469 or simply attend.
”Who’d Want to Adopt a Legislator? Answer Comes Today”
Who’d want to adopt a legislator