Hawaiian Electric Bought out by 'Nation's Largest Clean Energy Company' for $4.3B
2015 Neighborhood Board Candidate filing period opens
HECO Finally Admits GEMS is a Rate Hike
UH Hilo Settles Lawsuit Over Handing Out Constitutions
Univ. of Hawaii Student Loans Up 100%
Hawaii Gun Rights at Stake as California AG Appeals Denial of Standing
Rep Ward: Is Governor Ige supporting Republican Issues?
Auditor: Proposed Marijuana Dispensary Bill 'Flawed'
Hawaiian Electric and Pacific Biodiesel agree on new contract for locally produced biofuel
Hawaii 30th Most Charitable State
We the Powerful! -- Discover the Public's Power in the Legislative Process
Pearl Harbor Remembrance
Star-Adv: OHA Lacks Integrity, Must Put House in Order
SA: ...even as OHA now describes itself as a transitional agency, it's going to need better organizational integrity to achieve its goals. The release last week of a finding that OHA had run afoul of open-government laws in its internal disputes makes that need for improvement especially apparent....
the federal-recognition approach was opposed by a large sector of the community, and so OHA adopted a more neutral role as facilitator of a Native Hawaiian enrollment process, creating an electorate that would decide on the form of governance.
The initial timetable pegged this fall for the election of delegates to a governance convention, but in August, the OHA board extended that timetable by six months.
The schedule still seems tentative but there's no escaping the fact that the board faces action on this front very soon.
Further, Trustee Colette Machado says she will step down as chairwoman when the new board convenes this month....
The board and its chief of staff must establish far clearer lines of authority and better communication than has been on display this year....
this kind of irregularity in operations must be corrected, too. The lapse indicates a problem with internal communications and coordination that can only distract OHA from the tasks at hand.
In the immediate future, those tasks include furthering some resolution — at last — in the longstanding debate over the future of Hawaiian sovereignty. But even if that discussion is postponed again, OHA's mission remains the betterment of conditions for Hawaii's indigenous population, and it needs to approach that objective with unity and openness.
Background: State: OHA Broke Sunshine Law to Rescind Kerry Letter (Full Text)
read ... OHA must put house in order
State Supreme Court to Consider Constitutionality of Gay Marriage Dec 18
HNN: Representative Bob McDermott says Senate Bill 1, which became Hawai'i's Marriage Equality Act, is unconstitutional. He voted against same-sex marriage and is taking his fight to the state Supreme Court on December 18.
"I believe SB 1 is unconstitutional because the people in 1998, and the intent of the voter reigns supreme -- their intent, which you can discern from the voter ballot instructions indicates they wanted opposite sex couples only, that's it," said McDermott, who says he believes this issue still divides Hawai'i.
"The solution is to put it in front of the people in an affirmation fashion -- if the folks want to decide that's the sort of community they want to live in, I'm okay with that," said McDermott. "Direct the legislature to put it on the ballot and let the people decide -- that's what we've always said, let the people vote."
HP: Hollywood Homosexuals Push Back Against Latest Homosexual Child Molestation Allegations
read ... December 18
Slow-Moving DoE 'Investigations' Keep Staffers on Paid Leave for Over Year
SA: The state Department of Education on average places one employee a week on paid leave while it investigates various complaints of alleged misconduct, and roughly 1 in 4 of those investigations takes longer than a year to complete.
Fifty-six DOE employees were on paid leave while under investigation as of Oct. 31. Eleven of those cases have dragged on for more than a year, human resources officials told the Board of Education on Tuesday.
The data raise questions about the department's criteria for placing employees on leave and its ability to conduct timely reviews.
"At the end of the day, we have one of two scenarios: We have 11 individual people sitting at home, fully paid, who either are guilty — so taxpayers paid a year of salary for someone who's guilty — or they're innocent, and their reputation's been damaged for that 12 months that they were sitting basically at home," board Chairman Don Horner said. "Either way, that's not a very good situation."
read ... Some staffers stay on paid leave for over a year
Linda Schatz hired by homebuilder Forest City
PBN: Linda Schatz, the wife of U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, has been hired by Forest City Hawaii, one of the largest homebuilders in the state, as development manager, the company said Tuesday.
She began work on Oct. 13 and is primarily responsible for the marketing of Forest City's $140-million Kapolei Lofts rental residential neighborhood, which began grading work on Oct. 27.
Linda Schatz worked in the commercial real estate division of Kamehameha Schools from 2008 to 2013 and was involved in planning its Kakaako master plan. Schatz studied architecture at the University of Hawaii, earning a doctorate of architecture in 2009. Her thesis was on transit-oriented development in Iwilei.
SA: Linda Schatz, wife of U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, joins Forest City Hawaii as development manager
read ... Bought and Paid For
Bill 62 Will Extend Sit-Lie to Pedestrian Malls
SA: With the sit-lie ban in place on sidewalks in Waikiki and 15 other business neighborhoods across Oahu, Honolulu City Council members are turning their attention to a bill that would make it illegal to sit or lie down at six downtown Honolulu and Chinatown malls.
Bill 62, scheduled for a final Council vote Dec. 10, would extend the sit-lie ordinance to College Walk Mall (along the Ewa side of Nuuanu Stream between Beretania and Kukui streets), the unnamed mall mauka of College Walk (from Kukui Street to Foster Botanical Garden), Sun Yat Sen Mall (parallel to College Walk, Diamond Head side of Nuuanu Stream), Kekaulike Mall, Fort Street Mall and Union Mall.
The mall sit-lie ban would be in effect from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, who represents the Chinatown-downtown region, said she introduced the bill after attorneys told her that because there are no public sidewalks in malls, they could not be included in the islandwide business ban that Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed Tuesday at a news conference at Kekaulike Mall.
read ... more Sit/Lie
Ka Leo: Bring the Superferry back to Hawai‘i
KL: Kirsten Nakamura, a University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa sophomore, is from the Big Island.
“My family used to come up to O‘ahu almost every month back when it was about $50-$60 to fly from Hilo to O‘ahu. But now, it costs anywhere from $80-$100, so my family has had to cut back quite a bit on traveling. A Superferry would help reduce the traveling costs,” Nakamura said.
With the Superferry, residents would be able to explore Hawai‘i more conveniently. Students taking Hawaiian studies courses are encouraged to understand the Hawaiian culture. Venturing to the neighboring islands is difficult and limits their ability to discover. The Superferry could help residents and students become more involved in understanding the Hawaiian culture.
Because the islands are relatively close together (from eight to just over 200 miles apart), individuals buy expensive airplane tickets for short flights. Implementing an interisland Superferry could promote “competitive prices that may make Hawaiian Airlines tickets cheaper,” O‘ahu resident Kate Horiuchi said.
read ... Bring the Superferry Back
How A 96-Year-Old Law Has Jeopardized America's Ports
TH: Recent slowdowns at West Coast ports, the result of ongoing labor disputes, are jeopardizing the more than $2 trillion in cargo that pass though these ports each year.
The slowdowns are not the only way U.S. maritime shipping unions are holding back the American economy. Most Americans have not heard of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, but this piece of antiquated legislation increases costs for American consumers and discourages domestic business investment.
The Jones Act is a federal statute that requires all goods transported by water between U.S. ports to be carried on ships built in America, owned by citizens, and crewed by U.S. residents.
The law is named for the early-20th century Senator Wesley Jones, a Republican from Washington. Jones facilitated the law’s passage to secure his state’s role in transporting goods to Alaska. Is it any surprise that a senator from a coastal state, with many voters and potential donors employed by a large ship-building industry, was in favor of a law that kept out foreign competition? For the same reason, senators today from coastal states fight to keep this ancient law on the books. The shipping industry lobby is so powerful that when Senator John McCain (R-AZ) attempted to reform the Jones Act in 2010, he lamented, “I don’t think I would get 20 votes if I were to bring [Jones Act repeal] to the floor.”
Contrary to the claims of Jones Act supporters, the law does not increase economic growth. A select few benefit, but most consumers lose. Proponents of the Jones Act fail to see the wider picture and do not take into account higher consumer costs due to uncompetitive practices. More expensive products reduce demand, putting strains on consumer spending—the main driver of GDP growth....
read ... 96 Year old Law
Hawaii One of Only Four States Still Above $3/Gallon
TO: On Tuesday morning, the average gallon of regular unleaded in Oregon cost $3.01 and was falling rapidly, according to the AAA of Oregon and Idaho. In fact, by the end of the week, Hawaii, Alaska, New York and Connecticut are expected to be the only states with statewide averages above $3....
Over the past week, the national average has slid another nickel to $2.76. Missouri has the country's cheapest gas, averaging $2.46 a gallon. By Christmas, gas stations in states where pump prices are already low are all but guaranteed to dip below $2, according to the gas price-tracking site GasBuddy.com....
read ... Gas, Buddy
50MW LNG-Biofuel Peaker Plant Awaits PUC Approval
BMM: According to information released by Wärtsilä, the project requires approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. If approved the power plant is scheduled to be operational in 2017. In January, the U.S. Army filed a notice in filed a notice in the Federal Register announcing its intent to prepare a joint environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed lease of Army land at Schofield Barracks in Wahiawa, Hawaii, to the Hawaiian Electric Co. for the construction and operation of the plant.
Darren Pai, a spokesman for Hawaiian Electric, said there is not specific timetable for the PUC’s decision. “However, we are hopeful that the PUC will grant approval within the next several months so the project can be in-service as scheduled by late 2017,” he said....
According to Pai, the competitive biofuel procurement process for the project has not yet started. Once that process is complete, the resulting fuel contract will be subject to approval by the Hawaii PUC, he said....
In addition to the proposed 50 MW plant, Hawaiian Electric also has a 110-MW biofuel-fueled plant in service at the Campbell Industrial Park on Oahu. Pai also noted the Hawaii State Department of Transportation is developing a 10-MW emergency generation facility at the Honolulu International Airport.
Background: HECO to Build 50MW Peaker Plant to Balance Erratic Alternative Energy
read ... PUC Approval?
Few show up to discuss land use
WHT: Land use is usually a contentious topic, but only about a dozen people showed up at meeting Tuesday evening in Hilo to provide input to a state agency seeking to improve the process.
The state Office of Planning will hold its next session from 6 to 8 p.m. today at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority conference room in Kailua-Kona.
It’s been almost 15 years since the office has held statewide meetings on land use regulation, said Leo Asuncion, the agency’s acting director. He said about 45 people showed up for a meeting on Oahu and about 40 at a Maui meeting.
The focus of the latest meetings is the Land Use Commission, a quasi-judicial body that’s often the target of criticism. In fact, the state Supreme Court ruled last week the commission didn’t follow the law when it took action that stopped work on the Aina Lea development in South Kohala.
Asuncion said he’s heard some say the process is too slow, takes too long and inhibits the development of affordable housing, while others say it doesn’t do enough to protect the environment. The agency is taking all suggestions at this early stage in the process, he said.
Background: Meetings to Discuss Changes to the State’s Land Use System
read ... Land Use
Hawaii Land Use Commission Disputes Developer’s Assurance on Hoopili
CB: LUC's executive director clarifies that the commission hasn't made any determination as to whether a traffic impact analysis report was properly accepted.
read ... Hoopili
Haseko Calls Disclosure of PR Plan ‘Embarrassing’
CB: ...But a judge rules against the development company that is being sued over its decision to build a lagoon instead of the marina homeowners expected....
read ... Haseko Embarrassing
Santa Monica Shows Why Rent Control Doesn't Work
CB: ...rent control would leave a pathway of destruction in its wake. Landlords would let paint crack and facades collapse, the lament went, and homes would sink into disrepair. Neighborhoods would decline because strapped landlords weren’t bringing in enough rent to care for their buildings. The absence of up-to-date market rents was also supposed to drive down property values.
A small billboard near a freeway onramp by the public high school referred to the “Soviet Socialist Republic of Santa Monica.”
Yes, that Santa Monica.
Anti-Soviet rhetoric aside, the comrades of that leftist bastion didn’t stand in lines for bags of rationed sugar or spend time staring mournfully at empty supermarket shelves.
There were a handful of dilapidated homes, but that was less the direct result of rent control than the virulent reaction of a few landlords who left their investment units empty and uncared partly to make a dramatic anti-rent control statement.
In rent-controlled Santa Monica, it wasn’t easy to find an available rental....
read ... A Pro-Rent Control Article, LOL!
Medicated marijuana users urged to renew certification
KITV: The medical marijuana program has been in operation for 14 years and, as required in Act 177, is being transferred to the Department of Health, effective Jan. 1, 2015. There will be a planned blackout period from Dec. 12 to 31, 2014 in which no certifications will be issued to prepare for this transition.
read ... Short Term Memory Loss
New Kauai Council Last in State to Limit Testimony to 3 Min Each
KE: If the inaugural meeting of the Kauai County Council meeting was any indication, it's going to be a scratchy two years for that panel.
Or as one observer described it, “a shit show.”
Councilman Mel Rapozo introduced new rules intended to make the meetings more cost efficient, with better order and decorum, which rankled Councilmembers JoAnn Yukimura and Gary Hooser....
Mel said voters had told him “they'd stopped watching the meetings already. It goes on too long, people ramble,” and when the meetings drag on, they become very expensive. Mel also objected to claims that he was trying to reduce public testimony time, noting that citizens in Honolulu, Maui and Hawaii counties get just three minutes to speak, while his rules give Kauai folks six minutes.
read ... Control of Mental Illness
Sidney R. Thomas becomes chief judge of Ninth US Circuit Court
WHT: Judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will convene in a special session this week to mark the elevation of new Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas of Billings, Mont.
Thomas, who assumed his new duties Monday, succeeds former Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of Pasadena, Calf., who had held the office since 2007.
A ceremonial passing of the gavel to mark the change in court leadership will be held Friday in San Francisco. The ceremony will be video streamed live for viewing via the Internet at 2 p.m. For more information on event streaming, click here....
Nominated by former-President Bill Clinton, Thomas was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 2, 1996.
read ... Chief