2 members part with civil rights panel on Akaka Bill
Two members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission have filed a formal disagreement with the commission's recommendation that Congress turn down the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill.
San Francisco attorney Michael Yaki and Arlan Melendez, chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony in Nevada, said they have "grave concerns" about the commission's stated opposition to the so-called Akaka Bill.
Yaki said the majority of the commissioners "don't understand native Hawaiian history, nor are aware that in Hawaii the multicultural residents of Hawaii routinely recognize the special indigenous status of native Hawaiians as the host of culture of the 50th state."
The Civil Rights Commission had said the bill would set up a race-based separate government for native Hawaiians, which was not acceptable under the U.S. Constitution.
Senate race fodder
Sen. Daniel Akaka is using the signing of a federal tax bill as an opportunity to fire off another salvo against Rep. Ed Case, his opponent in the Democratic primary election for the Senate.
President Bush signed an extension to the 2005 tax cut bill on Friday, noting, "One of the most important decisions we made was to cut the taxes on dividends and capital gains."
Akaka, who joined with Sen. Daniel Inouye and Rep. Neil Abercrombie in voting against the bill, said it "will hit middle-class families twice because it did not extend the college tuition tax credit that has helped families pay for college."
Voting for the measure was Case, Akaka's primary opponent. Akaka, in a written statement, noted that Case voted with the GOP majority in support of the bill.
"This bill will primarily provide more tax relief to the very rich," Akaka said.
Case had previously said he voted for the measure because it included adjustments to the alternative minimum tax, which Case supported.
HSTA backs Akaka
In other Senate campaign news, Akaka won the endorsement of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
The HSTA represents 13,000 public school teachers.
"We look forward to campaigning vigorously on Sen. Akaka's behalf," said Roger Takabayashi, president.
Akaka was endorsed, Takabayashi said, because "Akaka's votes have delivered many benefits to education, including reductions in class sizes, funding for school construction ... and the largest single increase in federal education funding on record."