Tulsi Gabbard Office Manager tied to Chris Butler Cult
Survey: Hawaii Ranks 5th for Economic Health
Solomon Pushes for Approval of Overpriced Geothermal Contracts
Survey: Honolulu Traffic Gets 18% Worse
Dead on Arrival: Obama’s FY 2015 Budget includes $250 million for rail
Hawaii Democrats Statewide Caucuses March 5
UHERO: Climate Change Behind Push for Water Conservation
'Sovereign Council' Scores $675K to Sell Obamacare
Caldwell Brings in Outside Planners to Redevelop Blaisdell Center
Mainland Enviros Cheer Hawaii's On-Bill Financing Solar Scheme
Bronster: Papaya Farmer files lawsuit over GMO Law
HTH: According to the complaint, filed by Honolulu-based attorneys Margery S. Bronster and Rex Y. Fujichaku, the plaintiff cultivates a variety of papaya that was genetically engineered for resistance to the ringspot virus, a disease responsible for the decimation of the isle’s papaya industry in the 1990s.
Despite the fact papaya is exempted from the ban, growers are still required to register with the county. The suit claims the registration and disclosure process is “burdensome and intrusive,” requiring commercial growers of genetically engineered crops to submit “confidential information and trade secrets to the county Department of Research and Development, including the exact locations of these crops (which are indistinguishable visually from conventional crops); the name of the owner and/or lessee of the property; and detailed, commercially valuable and proprietary information regarding the grower’s breeding, production and cultivation practices.”
Additionally, the complaint says third parties would be able to obtain that information “unless the County’s Department of Research and Development makes a discretionary choice to withhold this information because its disclosure would ‘frustrate the ability of the County to obtain accurate information.’”
“There are a variety of reasons that Bill 113 should be held invalid in its entirety,” the suit alleges, “including because its ban on testing and cultivation of (genetically engineered) crops sharply conflicts with federal and state law.”
However, the lawsuit concerns only the registration/disclosure provision, because of today’s registration deadline.
read ... Margery Bronster, Attorney
'Clean' Energy: Hawaiian Dredging accuses Hu Honua of stealing Computers, Information
HTH: The suit claims Hu Honua and Paragon, the latter a Fullerton, Calif., firm, locked Hawaiian Dredging out of the construction site of the wood-burning power plant Feb. 7. That was eight days after Hawaiian Dredging filed for a lien against Hu Honua and Maukaloa Farms LLC, owner of the 25-acre property, claiming more than $35 million in unpaid bills. The suit states Hawaiian Dredging terminated its contract with Hu Honua on Dec. 23 because of the latter’s “failure to timely compensate Hawaiian Dredging for work performed on the project ....” It also alleges that on Feb. 9, counsel for Hu Honua notified counsel for Hawaiian Dredging that its entry rights to the construction site were revoked.
According to the filing, after Hawaiian Dredging was locked out, Hu Honua and Paragon “broke into the locked offices on the project site where Hawaiian Dredging had been conducting its work and took laptop computers and hard drives belonging to Hawaiian Dredging containing confidential and proprietary trade secret information and attorney-client communications and attorney work product materials to support Hawaiian Dredging’s claims in the arbitration and judicial lien proceedings” and downloaded that information.
Allegations include that the defendants “continued to intentionally enter Hawaiian Dredging’s offices trailers and containers at the Property … by cutting off locks … and replacing them with new locks to preclude Hawaiian Dredging’s access.” The suit claims “Hawaiian Dredging sought to recover equipment, vehicles, computers, electronic files, materials, and other items belonging to Hawaiian Dredging from the property and made a demand for the return of the same.”
Hawaiian Dredging was allowed access Feb. 19 “for the limited purpose of retrieving certain items belonging to Hawaiian Dredging.” At that time, the contractor discovered the missing computers and electronic files, the suit states. It further alleges that on Feb. 26, Hu Honua’s legal counsel “conceded” Hu Honua “downloaded Hawaiian Dredging’s electronic files ‘to a hard drive’” and since “refused to voluntarily surrender the same.”
read ... About 'Clean' Energy
Middle class, poor increasingly footing cost of island’s electrical grid
HTH: The middle class and poor are increasingly footing the bill for Hawaii Island’s electric grid when wealthier homeowners, businesses and government agencies opt out by installing photovoltaic systems, the county energy coordinator said Tuesday.
Will Rolston, addressing the county Energy Advisory Commission, said Hawaii County intervened in a state Public Utilities Commission case (Docket 2013-0141) trying to determine the best model for encouraging alternative energy sources while helping utilities such as Hawaiian Electric Co. protect their substantial investments in electricity infrastructure.
“The low-income population is really taking the hardest hit on this,” Rolston said. “It affects rates because the fixed costs have to be recouped.”
At issue is a process known as “decoupling,” which the PUC defined as a regulatory tool that separates a utility’s revenue from changes in energy sales. This encourages energy efficiency and renewable energy. The decoupling mechanism, instituted by the PUC in 2008, in theory, adjusts rates up or down to meet the utility’s revenue targets.
But with rates set at specific amounts, and fewer ratepayers to share the burden, the cost ultimately falls on those who can’t afford the upfront costs of solar or are renters or live in high rises where they have no place to put the panels.
“All the people who are going off the grid because they have the opportunity to do that affects the rates of everyone else,” noted Energy Advisory Commissioner Steve Burns. “The lower-income person has a disproportionate rate increase. … This sounds like a fairness issue.”
As Explained: Decoupling: How HECO's "Money Printing Machine" Causes High Electric Rates
read ... About 'Green' Energy
Ian Lind: Hawaiians Suffered With Rise of Democratic Party
Lind: Here’s the problem that I see. Hawaiians have experienced a prolonged period of downward relative social mobility. They might be better off than before, but have lost ground relative to other ethnic groups. In my view, this decline doesn’t date back to 1893, or 1898, but to the post-WWII period.
After all, in the first decades of the 20th Century, following annexation, Hawaiians made up the largest segment of the islands’ electorate. Many Hawaiians, probably a majority, followed leaders like Prince Kuhio and John C. Lane, into the Republican Party, even during those decades when the Big Five and the Caucasian elite dominated the islands’ politics and economy through the GOP.
During the decades that followed, up through World War II, Hawaiians benefited greatly from political patronage, and dominated the ranks of police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other government employees.
That changed in the post-war years, as the Democratic Party gained power by building a political coalition around the Japanese-American voting block. Although many Hawaiians also worked hard for Democratic victories, the ethnic makeup of the government workforce clearly changed, to the detriment of the Hawaiian community.
read ... Sovereignty Debunk
Military Cuts begin at Wheeler
SA: The Pentagon released a $496 billion defense budget request Tuesday and a planning road map that call for a smaller Army and retirement of OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters — more than 25 of which are based at Wheeler Army Airfield.
Further impacts on Hawaii were not immediately clear, although more cuts are expected.
The active Army is scheduled for a massive reduction from its wartime high of 570,000 to between 440,000 and 450,000 soldiers — or even a smaller force of 420,000 if sequestration persists into 2016.
The U.S. military will modernize but become smaller over the next five years, and will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale stability operations in foreign countries, the new Quadrennial Defense Review said.
read ... Just the Beginning of Life without Dan
Legislators Vote Against Free Speech in Election Campaigns
SA: Lawmakers have also moved legislation that would make kindergarten mandatory.
In a nod to the financial demands facing the counties, the House has sent a bill to the Senate that would lift the $93 million-a-year cap on hotel room tax revenue that goes to the counties. The cap, imposed to help the state get through the recession, has frustrated county mayors who have to budget for the local costs of tourism, such as roads, parks and public safety. Under the bill, counties would get 44.8 percent of the hotel room tax revenue collected by the state, a share that should exceed $93 million annually.
Several bills would guide development in burgeoning Kakaako, including legislation on affordable housing, height limits, administrative appeal and judicial review of high-rise condominium projects.
Lawmakers also advanced a bill that would give the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs residential development rights on land in Kakaako transferred to OHA in a $200 million settlement with the state in 2012 over former crown land revenue.
In the House, lawmakers moved bills that would ban smoking in public housing units, abolish sentences of life in prison without parole for juvenile offenders and lift the statute of limitations on first- and second-degree sexual assault crimes and the continuous sexual abuse of children younger than 14.
The House also pushed through bills that would establish income tax credits for manufacturing costs and new hotel construction and public financing for state House election campaigns.
In a symbolic move, the House backed a constitutional amendment that would ask voters whether free speech should include political spending to influence elections.
read ... Who needs the First Amendment?
Obamacare Funds Kahuku HS Health Clinic Targeting Teens
CB: At a typical school-based health center students can be treated for acute illnesses and chronic conditions; screened for dental, vision and hearing problems; and counseled on healthy habits and ways to prevent injury, violence and other threats.
Most of the centers rely on state funding or private donations, while a few are subsidized by the federal government through the Affordable Care Act. The federal legislation set aside about $200 million for construction and equipment at school-based health centers between 2010 and 2013.
It was this grant program, along with grassroots community advocacy, that facilitated the recent creation of the Kahuku school clinic. In 2011 Kahuku’s Koolauloa Community Health and Wellness Center got $500,000 through the Affordable Care Act....
school-based services are all but nonexistent in Hawaii, according to Linda Juszczak, president of the national School-Based Health Alliance.
read ... Keiki Care
Reforming Juvenile Justice
SA: House Bill 2489 would appropriate funds to the Family Court Division of the Judiciary and the Office of Youth Services (OYS) to reduce juvenile delinquency recidivism through evidence-based practices and mental health and substance abuse treatment programs; House Bill 2490 would enhance our state's juvenile justice system by concentrating secure bed space on serious juvenile offenders.
read ... reform
Revising Public Workers Laws
Bob Jones: Count me – the son of a union family – among those who would support some version here of Wisconsin’s Act 10, which curbs the clout of public-worker unions.
...Wisconsin’s new Act 10 ... bars public-worker unions from bargaining on pensions, health coverage, sick leave and vacations. Any wage increases they want cannot exceed inflation.
There were plenty of squawks when Gov. Scott Walker proposed and got that from the legislature, but he and the lawmakers are still in office. Meanwhile, Wisconsin union members are quickly dropping out. Why pay dues if the union can’t do very much for you?
One thing an Act 10 definitely accomplishes is to give political leaders much more control over their budgets. In Hawaii, the state bargains for itself and the counties, and thus encumbers the budgets of both if it either agrees to union demands or is forced to by binding arbitration. Other needs may go unfunded.
We have a two-tier system. Some unions bargain and can strike. Others have their demands heard in a binding arbitration session. The arbitrators generally only determine if the state/counties have the money – not whether they may have competing needs for it. Public-sector unions like that arbitration system. It’s mainly gone their way. Gov. Ben Cayetano tried to get lawmakers to move back to the settle-or-strike system. He failed.
President Roosevelt abhorred government worker strikes, and so do I and many of you. A teacher or refuse-worker strike is a strike against children and good health practices. If Wisconsin’s Act 10 survives, that may embolden other states....
read ... Revising Public Workers Laws
Legislators Vote to Cut School Hours
SA: State lawmakers have passed measures in both chambers to set the public school year at 990 instructional hours over 180 school days.
Both the House and Senate have advanced bills that would repeal a 2010 law that scheduled an increase in the school year to 1,080 hours by 2016.
The Department of Education supports the bills, saying they would save the state money. The Hawaii State Teachers Association opposes them, saying instructional hours should be determined by collective bargaining rather than legislation.
read ... Lawmakers move to keep school years shorter
State Hospital favoritism complaints prompt anti-nepotism bill
SA: Some State Hospital employees, including managers and supervisors, have two, three even four relatives on the payroll there. Employees who've complained of mismanagement and violent assaults on staff by violent mentally ill patients said favoritism and nepotism add to the dysfunction at the troubled facility.
"We treat all of our employees equally," said Hawaii State Hospital Nursing Director Leona Guest , who told Hawaii News Now in December she has a son and daughter who have worked at the hospital for years. ...
State law currently bars state employees from taking official action involving only their spouses or dependent children, but Hee's proposal goes much further.
The measure, if passed by lawmakers this legislative session, would make it illegal to advocate for, employ, promote or supervise 27 types of relatives, including siblings, cousins, grandchildren, in-laws, step relatives and even reciprocal beneficiaries.
read ... Nepotism
Hawaii Has Fewest Taxing Bodies of Any State
RI: Every five years, the United States Census Bureau quantifies the "structure and organization of state and local governments." It counts independent school districts, regional jail authorities, transportation authorities, and more. Here's the rundown of states which have the most taxing bodies -- Illinois ranks highest, with 6,963 units of local governments, and Hawaii comes in 50th place with just 21 local governments.
read ... Reboot
Solomon: Thielen and Ruderman are 'Like That'
PR: She said that "Sen. Thielen has a way of getting really personal, and so does Sen. (Russell) Ruderman, when it comes to my legislation. It's like I'm trying to do something underhanded. So they're always using those kinds of loaded words.
"I just told them I didn't appreciate that. I don't think that you can facilitate a good discussion if people are going to be constantly using loaded words."
Thielen -- who also raised issues about other bills that moved through Solomon's committee, including a bill regulating solar projects on agricultural land -- declined to comment, noting that discussions between senators in private caucus are meant to be private.
(Ruderman, on the floor Tuesday, repeatedly described a bill that would help farmers sell products at retail outlets on agricultural land as "shady." Solomon's Senate Water and Land Committee was one of three committees to advance the bill.)
CB: Why Is There No Record of Many Legislative Hearings?
read ... Defective
Minimum Wage Poverty Threshold Requires Too Much Paperwork
PR: Some state lawmakers have privately questioned whether a "poverty threshold" for a $1 tip credit in the state House's version of a minimum wage bill would be workable. Businesses would have to calculate whether workers earn at least 250 percent of the poverty level, or about $33,500, before deducting the tip credit from the minimum wage.
But the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has told the House Finance Committee that such calculations should not be too much of a burden on businesses.
A new state law passed last year requires businesses to keep accurate records of worker pay rates and provide workers with specific wage information on pay statements. The new requirement took effect in January.
FB: Union Rally against Timeshare Conversion March 13
CB: Op-ed: The Minimum Wage Is a Women’s Issue
KGI: Minimum wage hikes advance
read ... Calculate
State of the City: Potholes, Sewers And Name-dropping
Boylan: A formula exists for “states of,” as in State of the Union, State of the State or, one of the variety Kirk Caldwell delivered last week, a State of the City.
All invoke political luminaries, past and present. All include a brag session: “Look at all the amazing things my administration did for you last year.” And all finish with promises of more wondrous accomplishments to come.
Mayor Caldwell followed the formula in his 2014 State of the City....
Price: The State Of Local Political Promises
Full Text: State of the City Address
read ... Potholes
Honolulu 7th Worst Airport in USA
VT: You would think that paradise would have the best of everything, but Honolulu International is an airport with an interesting past. Not only is it incredibly busy for its size, there have been a number of close calls in the past, including with military aircraft in the area, which can put a damper on any island getaway.
read ... We're Number 7
Rep. Hanohano's Use of Hawaiian Leads to Tension on House Floor
CB: Hawaii lawmakers were discussing a relatively innocuous bill to protect lifeguards from liability during Tuesday’s House session. But tensions quickly escalated when Rep. Faye Hanohano from the Big Island gave her comments in Hawaiian and Rep. John Mizuno, who was presiding over the session, asked her to translate.
She replied in Hawaiian. And then added, “I don’t want to translate.”
Mizuno quickly called a recess and conferred with the rest of the Democratic House leadership. When he called the House back into session, Mizuno recited from the House rules.
"Members should conduct themselves in a respectful manner," he said.
Rep. Gene Ward, a Republican, rose to come to Hanohano’s defense, explaining that the issue of translating Hawaiian had come up on the House floor a couple of years ago.
"The legal prevailing authority was that there was no need for a translation," said Ward, emphasizing that Hawaiian and English are both the state’s official languages.
read ... 'I Don't Want to Translate'
Transgender Student Recants Sexual Assault Report
AP: A transgender teenager who said he (sic) was beaten and sexually assaulted in a California high school bathroom recanted the story, police said Tuesday.
The 15-year-old student at Hercules Middle/High School "admitted he (sic) fabricated the whole story" during an interview with a detective, Hercules police Detective Connie Van Putten said.
The teen, who is biologically female but identifies as male, had told officers he (sic) was leaving a boy's bathroom at the school Monday morning when three other boys pushed him (sic) inside a large stall and attacked him (sic).
Officers took his (sic) statement and opened an investigation that included a sexual assault examination. But as the investigation continued, officers could not substantiate the facts of the victim's statement, including the time frame, and the boy (sic) lacked any physical injuries to his head, face and hands, police said.
The student finally admitted he (sic) had made up the story during the follow-up interview with a detective Tuesday, Van Putten said. She would not speculate on why he (sic) had lied.
read ... Transgender Student Recants Sexual Assault Report
Health Department requested leak detection at Red Hill in 2003
KITV: Concern over dozens of leaks at the Red Hill fuel storage facility in Halawa Heights prompted the Department of Health to write a letter to the U.S. Navy on Oct. 10, 2003 that demanded a leak detection system for each of the 20 tanks buried underground. The letter was written more than a decade before a leak of 27,000 gallons of jet fuel was detected Jan. 13 at tank No. 5.
Read ... Leak