POSTED: Thursday, April 02, 2009

Legislature wants clarification of high court's Superferry decision

The state Legislature is readying a request asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider its decision that forced the Hawaii Superferry to shut down.

The Legislature's reconsideration motion seeks clarification of the decision.

In a statement, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said, “;We think that given the impact this decision could have on the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government, we would have the opportunity to present our arguments and concerns.”;

The concern is that the court ruling could limit or restrict existing and future legislation, Hanabusa said.

Hanabusa, an attorney, said an “;expansive reading (of the court ruling) could unnecessarily chill the power of the Legislature to address the most pressing concerns of the people of Hawaii.”;

Group decries treatment of migrants

A group of religious leaders from Maui and Oahu held a demonstration in Honolulu to deliver a letter asking President Barack Obama for immigration reform.

Standing near the building that houses U.S. immigration officials on Ala Moana Boulevard yesterday, some in the group of 16 people complained of alleged racial profiling by Maui police and a lack of compassion in federal enforcement raids that have split families.

The letter bore the names of more than 50 religious leaders.

“;The raids on Maui are done inhumanely,”; said the Rev. Tasha Kama, chairwoman of the immigration committee of Faith Action for Community Equity. “;Separating mother and child, husband and wife — these things are morally wrong and should not happen in the aloha state.”;

Kama charged that immigration enforcement officials have also harassed a Hispanic person who had a proper visa by repeatedly visiting his home while looking for an undocumented worker.

Group member Susana Arvizu charged that Maui police have been stopping immigrants to find out whether they have proper immigrant papers, and are targeting Hispanics. “;They don't ask for licenses and registration,”; she said. “;They ask for papers.”;

The Rev. Eddie Kelemeni, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church, said Tongans who are undocumented workers have turned themselves in to try to resolve their status. He said the Tongans are usually sent back to Tonga but that he would like them to be able to obtain work visas.

Maui Police Chief Tom Phillips said Maui police officers have been instructed they do not have the authority to enforce immigration laws.

Federal immigration enforcement officials were unavailable for comment.

Cable services briefly interrupted

A power failure at Oceanic Time Warner Cable's facility caused nearly 160,000 of its customers statewide to briefly lose Internet, digital phone and digital TV service yesterday.

Oceanic estimates perhaps 50 percent of its Oahu customers may have lost Internet and phone services, and some digital TV channels were lost across the state.

The power outage occurred at 8:26 a.m. yesterday, and full service was restored in 45 minutes.

Oceanic says analog TV was the only service that was not affected.

Oceanic Vice President Alan Pollock apologized for the inconvenience and said the company was able to identify the problem and get services back up quickly.

Smoking habit grows most costly

A federal increase of $1 per pack of cigarettes took effect yesterday — pushing the average retail cost of a pack in Hawaii to $6.15, the state Department of Health pointed out.

The higher price of cigarettes should make it easier to quit, the agency said in a news release.

Seeking support can help smokers quit, said state Health Director Chiyome Fukino.

Aside from the rising cost of cigarettes, smoking has severe health consequences, causing lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, ulcers and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas, the Health Department said.

For help kicking the smoking habit, call the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline at (800) QUIT-NOW (784-8669).