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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 5, 2009

Real robots pay us a visit

By David Shapiro

High-profile conventions are giving tourism a boost as we "flASHback" on the week's news that amused and confused:

• Gov. Linda Lingle welcomed the Robotics Pan-Pacific Championship to the Convention Center. What's her attraction to robots? They must remind her of the Legislature she always wished she had.

• A Jehovah's Witnesses convention brought in 33,000 people who spent $100 million. The next big convention is the GOP's national winter meeting. The Republicans won't spend as much as the Witnesses, but they'll talk more about religion.

• The Lingle administration and the teachers' union say there's still a "gap" in their talks to end "furlough Fridays." It's a gap between how much opportunity the students are losing and how little the grown-ups care.

• A Hawai'i appeals court ruled it's OK for parents to whip their kids. How progressive of us. We close the schools and educate our keiki with belts.

• The Elections Commission accepted the resignation of Hawai'i's chief elections officer amid concerns that budget cuts could close a third of voting precincts next year. If they don't straighten this out, our majority who don't vote won't know where not to show up.

• City Council members shot down a 2010 property tax credit known as a "circuit breaker." Next year's taxes are going to be more like back-breakers.

• A city housing worker accused of living illegally in low-income housing was suspended without pay. A Volcanic Ash reader wonders if he qualifies for the public housing now that he's out of work.

• Legislative watchdog Larry Geller got a Chinatown food vendor cited when he posted Internet video of rats in the produce. Geller spends so much time at the Capitol that his camera is programmed to zoom in on vermin.

• A judge refused to dismiss animal-cruelty charges against a Mäkaha woman who killed a peacock with a baseball bat after rejecting her attorney's legal precedents. They should have invoked the infield fly rule.

• A University of Hawai'i study of the state's high-technology tax credit found it poorly designed with benefits that are difficult to quantify. Stamp that law "Made in Hawai'i."

And the quote of the week ... from city Councilman Ikaika Anderson on proposals to space bed and breakfasts up to 1,000 feet apart: "I think that's setting public policy by pulling numbers out of thin air." That's not the worst place I've seen government numbers pulled out of.