Lawmakers from 13 States Talk Finances; Poll Numbers Released in US Senate Race; More Controversial Sludge Talk; Alleged Human Trafficking Trial Resumes

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Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige

MONEY MONEY MONEY: Lawmakers from 13 states met Monday at the Sheraton Waikiki. They outlined fiscal concerns related to federal funding for their states. Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige told the Council of state governments West attendees that like other states, Hawaii had developed significant budget problems over the past fiscal year.

“We’ve made a 20% reduction in our operating budget, but this budget cycle drained our ‘rainy day’ fund to zero.” Ige said.


The meeting continues Tuesday.

U.S. SENATE RACE POLL NUMBERS RELEASED: The Merriman River Group conducted a statewide poll of registered voters about their support for major candidates in the 2012 U. S. Senate race.

Former Congressman Ed Case, a Democrat who served in Congress from 2002 to 2007, paid for the poll. They said they show his campaign ahead of Congresswoman Mazie Hirono in the primary, 53% to 37%.

If pitted against former Republican Governor Linda Lingle in the general election, the poll shows him winning by 48% to 38%.

If Hirono challenged Lingle in the general, the poll shows Lingle winning by 48% to 43%.


MORE SLUDGE TALK: The city administration and Department of Health held an informational briefing last night on the controversy over where the city will haul excess sewage sludge from the Sand Island Waste Water Treatment Plan. The city needs a second digester there, but council members removed its funding.

For the next 30 days, the city will truck loads of sludge to the Honouliuli plant in Ewa.

Wastewater treatment plants in Waianae and Kailua were considered. However, Waianae is still impacted by the floodwater from the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill overflow; and the Kailua plant, which is next to a school, park and housing project, has several problems related to capacity issues. Foul odors still linger in the air.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen said city’s trucking plan is a waste of money and the funds should be put into the city’s second digester at Sand island instead.

Mike and Alec Sou at their Kapolei-based vegetable farm Aloun

ALLEGED HUMAN TRAFFICKING TRIAL RESUMES: The federal trial will resume in the Aloun Farms case Tuesday.

Brothers Mike and Alec Sou are charged with 14 counts of forced labor and visa fraud charges related to 44 men they brought from Thailand in 2004.

The case, which Hawaii Reporter uncovered in 2007, has gained national and international attention.

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