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Wednesday, May 6, 2015
May 6, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:43 PM :: 4536 Views

Rail Tax Hike: How They Voted

HB321: Gamesmanship and Shenanigans

Hawaii seed industry estimated at $159M--Down 14%

Unanimous House Rejects HB888: Bill Would Have Prohibited Gun Owners from Drinking at Home

Kim Out: Marijuana Last Straw as Senate Committee Chairs Overthrow President

Advanced Industries? Hawaii at Bottom of Heap

12 Subpoenas: AG investigation into Kenoi heats up

HNN: The Attorney General's office has issued about a dozen subpoenas directed at Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi's questionable spending, Hawaii News Now has learned.

The subpoenas seeks credit card statements detailing Kenoi's trips to Honolulu hostess bars and local restaurants as well as travel records for his trips abroad, according to people familiar with the probe. One of the subpoenas asks for raw videos of an interview Kenoi gave to local media last month.

"It means that the Attorney General's Office is really taking this seriously. I think there was initially some concern that perhaps folks were going to let this slide," said Colin Moore, a University of Hawaii political science professor and political analyst for Hawaii News Now.

"The attorney general's office does see this as a breach of the public trust."

Since taking office in 2009, Kenoi has racked up more than $120,000 on his government credit card, including a number of high-priced, personal items....

"We are in communication with the Attorney General's office and expect to be served with subpoenas this week," Boylan said.

The move comes as Kenoi is shutting down his political campaign. Kenoi, who is term limited and can't run for mayor again, has said that he does not plan to run for office again.

Critics say that doesn't go far enough.

"I'm delighted that he has recognized that he has used all of his credit with the public," said Big Island resident Lanric Hyland, who has filed an ethics complaint against Kenoi.

"The pono thing for him to do is to resign."

read ... Heat

Dozens of Maui County Employees Implicated in P-Card Abuse

KHON: ...As Always Investigating gathered county spending records, sources came forward telling us to be sure to ask for certain people’s cards because of major Maui County investigations into misconduct and misspending.

So we headed to Maui.

We tracked the money trail on multiple public workers and found that tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been misspent for years.

They’re not rookie mistakes. Long-time employees are involved, including one who’s set to retire as part of the investigation.

“As with any system, there is always a way to abuse the system because we’re dealing with people. Anytime we have internal checks and the fact that we’ve been able to catch the abuse says that our system is working well,” said Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa.

It’s a system that one-by-one lets charges continue passing muster somehow in the whole check-and-balance process.

Eventually all that spending built something the county never would have approved if they’d known the end result....

read ... More P Card

Rail Tax Spotlight Shifts to Ige, Council

SA: The rail spotlight now shifts to Ige, who will decide the bill's fate. He could sign it into law by July 14, take no action by that date and let it take effect without his signature, or alert the Legislature by June 29 that he plans to veto the bill.

Ige maintained through much of the Legislative session that he did not see why an extension would need to be passed this year. However, asked last month whether he still held that opinion, Ige said he would watch for what the Legislature decides. He added that "any measure should really be focused on the approved project, so the 20 miles that the public has embraced and the funding agreement is focused on."

If Ige signs the bill, the Hono­lulu City Council would then have to vote in favor to enact the surcharge.

The measure would leave in place the state's controversial 10 percent fee to administer the tax, which has so far diverted more than $163 million to the state's general fund instead of the rail project. The fee stands to divert at least $200 million more.

HB 134 would also give the state "air rights" above the rail system. The move would give the state control over future development there, and it raises questions about whether proceeds from that development will help fund the system.

Rail officials first announced in December that the 20-mile, 21-station rail system faced massive cost increases and cash shortages that would leave them powerless to finish construction without more money. They blamed the problem on delays — some of them self-inflicted and others caused by lawsuits — that pushed the project into a red-hot local construction market. Lagging GET revenues further compounded the problem, they said.

Ever since then, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, arguably rail's strongest local advocate, has spent what he estimated to be nearly 90 hours at the state Capitol lobbying legislators for an extension. He actually started touting the idea of increasing the GET extension last year as a way to fund the elevated rail system's operations and maintenance.

On Tuesday, after watching the Legislature's final debate take place, Caldwell praised its members' "political courage and bravery" for authorizing a tax extension. However, Sen. Sam Slom, the chamber's lone Republican and an avowed opponent of the rail project, took a jab at Caldwell's constant presence in recent months. Slom said Caldwell appeared to be "camping out" at the Capitol.

"I thought he was homeless, Madam President — he was here every day," said Slom, who's clashed with Caldwell at hearings on the measure.

Sen. Laura Thielen (D, Hawaii Kai-Wai­ma­nalo-Kai­lua) joined Slom in voting no because she said the Legislature was getting "played." In voting yes, the Senate would surrender a chance to hold the city more accountable as it spends proceeds from a tax that hits the poor the hardest, Thielen asserted.

read ... Played

Hundreds Rip Federal Scheme to Take Control of Hawaii Waters

KGI:  The presentation about federally proposed changes to the humpback whale sanctuary could hardly be heard over the profanity-laced protest of Mitchell Alapa....  his temper was indicative of a widespread anger in the testimony of captains, fishermen, surfers and local business owners, who made it clear they will do whatever it takes to fend off what they view as the increasing oversight of state waters by a federal government they don’t trust.

“I know that tensions are high, and that’s why we’re here,” said Sanctuary Superintendent Malia Chow, who led the first of three public hearings on Kauai this week.

At issue is a new management plan for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The crux of the proposal is a sanctuary boundary expansion to include 235 square miles of new state and federal waters around Kauai, Niihau and Oahu, bringing the total sanctuary area to 1,601 square miles. The plan would also extend the sanctuary’s focus from just whales to other marine species and generate new opportunities to work closely with community groups on priority resource protection issues....

All told, the plan calls for a 16 percent expansion of sanctuary waters around Kauai, with add-ons in Haena, Hanalei and Kilauea.

In Haena, the western boundary of the sanctuary would be extended to include the full Haena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area. In Hanalei, the sanctuary border would broaden to include portions of the Hanalei River. The plan for the Kilauea coast is to create a designated area to pilot traditional Hawaiian marine management approaches alongside modern science-informed techniques to restore the degraded coral reef.

Then there’s the three nautical miles around Niihau that’s drawing fire from locals who fish there....

“You say there’s going to be no fishing regulation, but is that forever — yes or no?” said Haleakala Anakalea, 33, of Hanalei. “I think it’s not. I think you say there’s no fishing (regulations), but five years from now it could change. And that’s how everything starts. Overdevelopment, all this stuff, it starts with little steps and it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and all of a sudden you lose all the things that we used to have. And that’s why a lot of people are upset. That’s why I’m upset, because I feel like it’s enough already.”

Dave Stewart, 59, of Hanalei called the proposed sanctuary expansion a prime example of overregulation, saying the island’s marine life already has sufficient protections.

“I just don’t want to see the entire North Shore of Kauai be run by a federal agency and (watch it) gain control of the entire area and its resources with little public involvement,” he said. “C’mon — Three two-hour meetings and then that’s our life for the rest our lives and our kid’s (lives)?”

He paused to regain his composure.

Speaking lower and slower, he continued: “After hundreds of years of managing our own resources, you guys want to come in and manage our resources for us. That’s sad.”

Related: Feds Grab for Control of 1,601 square miles of Hawaii Waters

read ... People Not Fooled

Still No Love for Public Interest Bills at Hawaii Legislature

CB: The State Ethics Commission introduced a package of nine bills with House and Senate versions. Not a single one was passed.

read ... Interest

Legislature passes health exchange funding bill

AP: Both chambers passed a bill Tuesday that would send the Hawaii Health Connector $2 million to use for operations.

Some lawmakers have been worried about a partial federal takeover of the exchange. That's because all state-run exchanges operating as part of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act must be financially sustainable this year. But without a cash infusion the Hawaii exchange won't be sustainable until 2022.

An earlier plan for the state to back $28 million in bonds or loans fizzled.

Background: Worst in Nation Hawaii Health Connector Looking for Another $28M

read ... Health Exchange

Maui moves closer to forming own utility

PBN: The county’s Office of Economic Development has budgeted $30,000 for a firm to analyze the best utility and ownership structures that will support the transformation of the island's electric grids into 100-percent renewable energy smart grids and microgrids.

Maui’s Office of Economic Development intends to start the analysis this summer with a contract being awarded to a firm on June 25 and a report due back to the office by October 30, although the contract may be extended by up to six months.

The county is considering alternative forms of utility ownership because of concerns related to the proposed $4.3 billion acquisition of Maui Electric Co. parent, Hawaiian Electric Co. by Florida’s NextEra Energy Inc.

Maui County officials say that these concerns include whether quantifiable ratepayer benefits will be provided, whether the growth of rooftop solar photovoltaic systems or other consumer distributed energy resources will continue to be stifled and whether the sale will support Maui’s desire to achieve 100 percent renewable energy.

The county has identified three utility business models that can form the basis for its utility of the future, including the current model, a new utility business model made up of only the existing poles-and-wires business operations, with power generation assets being split off into an unregulated company and a new poles-and-wires utility with an independent grid operator.

Maui began considering the formation of a municipal utility or nonprofit cooperative a couple of years ago, as first reported by PBN.

Molokai, which is part of Maui County, already is looking into forming a rural electric co-op similar to the model used by Kauai, where a co-op has been in place for more than a decade.

Lanai, which is also part of Maui County and is owned by Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison, is looking into a microgrid project to support its energy needs.

Related: Big Island Group Proposes Electric Co-Op

read ... Maui Utility

Hawaii legislation sets 100 percent renewable energy goal for the state

PBN: House Bill 623 sets the goal of the state reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

The bill, which increases the goal to 30 percent renewable by the end of 2020, 70 percent by the end of 2040 and 100 percent by the end of 2045, will boost the state’s energy industry and save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in years to come, the Hawaii House Representatives said.

“As the first state to move toward 100 percent renewable energy, Hawaii is proving to the rest of the country that renewable energy can be cheaper, cleaner and can help consumers to cut their electric bills down to near-zero,” state Rep. Chris Lee, D-Kailua-Waimanalo, who introduced the bill, said....  He then burst out in uncontrollable giggles and had to be ushered from the room by worried-looking staffers.

Reps. Pouha and Tupola HB 623 – Clean Energy

read ... Smoke n Mirrors 

Tranny birth certificate bill passes

HNN: Right now, people in Hawaii are required to undergo gender reassignment surgery if they want to make that change. But the state House and Senate approved a bill Tuesday that removes the surgical requirement, sending the bill to Gov. David Ige....

Republican Sen. Sam Slom says everyone's born as a man or woman and the state's heading down a sketchy slope.

Rep. McDermott addresses HB 631 – New Birth Certificate

read ... Coning to a Ladies Room Near You

HB1366 State to Buy Fancy $90M Office Building

PBN: Hawaii lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill that allows the state government to enter into negotiations for the $90 million acquisition of the 25-story Alii Place office building near the state Capitol in Downtown Honolulu to house state agencies.

House Bill 1366, which now goes to Gov. David Ige for his signature, appropriates $500,000 in state general funds to conduct due diligence, appraisal and other costs by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources in connection with the transaction to buy the leasehold interest in the land and the building.

News Release: Kona Judiciary Complex Approved by the Legislature

read ... Hawaii lawmakers OK state purchase of Downtown Honolulu office building

2 former Waikiki Aquarium directors say facility is mismanaged

HNN: Two former directors of the Waikiki Aquarium told Hawaii News Now it suffers from dysfunctional management that has led to rapid turnover in key positions and may have resulted in some of its animals dying recently, a charge the current man in charge denied....

Leighton Taylor, director of the Waikiki Aquarium from 1975 to 1985, said, "We're really concerned that that place is going under."

Bruce Carlson, who was in charge of the aquarium from 1985 to 2002, described the situation there as "a sad state of affairs."

Taylor described the aquarium as "kind of neglected, ignored, misled and animals are dying there."

Carlson and Taylor attribute the recent animal deaths to staff turnover under Rossiter. During his 11 years at the helm, two men filled the animal curator post for about one year each before being fired. The most recent was terminated about four months ago. Otherwise, the aquarium has relied on employees to fill-in as acting curators for most of the last decade.

"Each of them was terminated in relatively short order. That's shocking," Carlson said, noting he fired just one person in 15 years as director. "They've been without a curator more often in the last decade than they've had a curator. And that's a big red flag right away," Carlson said, since the curator is responsible for overseeing the safety of the animals and staff.

A third man who was hired as associate director and education director in 2011 was on the job just six months before being fired, sources said.

read ... Mismanaged

Kenoi releases $438.8M budget seeking 30 new positions

WHT: The new proposed budget, at $438.8 million, is 5.25 percent higher than last year’s budget and about $4 million higher than a proposed budget released earlier this year....

An additional $962,000 was added to Public Works and $195,000 to the Fire Department to achieve these goals. Another $474,000 is allocated for fringe benefits for the new positions.

WHT: Ag tax bill postponed in the face of opposition

read ... Pandering to Unions

Lingle Joins Superstar Team Fixing Broken Democrat Illinois

ST: Confirmation of her salary as Rauner's chief operating officer comes as the Winnetka Republican has been defending paying high salaries to members of his Cabinet.

And it comes as Rauner has said rank-and-file workers in Illinois, such as some prison employees, are paid more than their counterparts in other states.

Rauner has called Lingle a "superstar" and says he's willing to pay big salaries to experts who will help fix the state.

"People should be compensated based on talent," Rauner said in March. "We could pay everybody the same and have lots of mediocre folks."

Lingle served two terms as governor of Hawaii from 2002 to 2010 and left politics after making a losing bid for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

She joins a team with six-figure salaries that Rauner has assembled in his first 100 days in office.

The top paid aide is Beth Purvis, who is being paid $250,000 as Rauner's education czar.

Olin "Trey" Childress III, a former chief operating officer for the state of Georgia, is making $198,000 annually. Rauner's chief of staff, Mike Zolnierowicz, is getting $180,000 yearly.

The governor also has been paying Donna Arduin $30,000 per month to serve as a budget adviser. Arduin, who previously worked for Republican governors in California, Florida and Texas, is nearing the end of her four-month contract.

read .. Adult Supervision is Costly

Schatz' Brother Scores Cush Gig at DoE--Tops $160K?

SA: The state Board of Education has promoted Stephen Schatz to deputy superintendent of Hawaii’s public school system.

Schatz — a former teacher and administrator in Hawaii and California — was most recently assistant superintendent for the Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance.

He will be second in command under the superintendent overseeing the nation’s ninth-largest school district, with approximately 180,000 students and some 13,000 teachers.

Schatz worked for the Compton Unified School District in California as a teacher, vice principal and principal in various elementary schools before joining the Hawaii Department of Education in 2002. He previously was vice principal at Waialua High and Intermediate and principal of Pohakea Elementary.

Schatz was appointed in 2009 as complex area superintendent for the Honolulu District, and in 2011 as assistant superintendent for strategic reform to oversee the state’s multiyear federal Race to the Top grant.

He replaces Ronn Nozoe, who was tapped by the U.S. Department of Education....

The BOE did not disclose a salary for Schatz in announcing the promotion. His predecessor earned $160,000.

read ... Political Connections Pay Off

Kakaako Camp Doubles: Homeless Watch Big Screen TV in Tent 

HNN: Community concerns are mounting over the growing homeless population near Kakaako Waterfront Park by the Children's Discovery Center.Tent tracking data from social service providers shows that from Sept of 2014 to February of this year, the number of tents has nearly doubled from 76 to 121. Residents complain they can't use the sidewalk to walk to the park or the Children's Discovery Center without passing through the encampment. 

Critics say the trash is big problem with items spilling out into the roadway and that it's an eyesore in a community filled with beauty and growing hope of economic development. In fact, the tents are up around the corner from a site that had been under consideration for President Obama's Presidential Library.

Residents complain the Stored Property Ordinance (SPO) isn't being enforced. A city spokesman says enforcement of the SPO is being done in the area about once or twice a month, but a check of the City's Dept of Facility Maintenance website didn't show any citations issued for property along these related streets.

A lot of times, officials say the campers move their items before crews can issue citations and then return afterwards. However, on Tuesday our cameras captured tents that appeared to have been in place for a long time with many campers having elaborate setups, including one tent with a brand new large screen TV inside.

Social service providers say the Kakaako encampment is believed to be the other major homeless site, in addition to the one on Kapalama Canal in Kalihi, where the majority of the homeless population are migrants from the three island states that fall under the Compact of Free Association (COFA) treaty with the U.S....

Advocates for the homeless argue that the main solution lies with providing more affordable housing and funding for social service programs that are needed to help the homeless. Others add, that reducing the "handouts and freebies" some homeless receive and through enforcement of "compassionate disruption" laws like the Sit / Lie and Stored Property Ordinance will only then many homeless be able to find the incentive and motivation needed to seek appropriate shelter and social services that can help them get off the streets for good. 

To view photos of the Kakaako homeless encampment on a mobile device click here: http://bit.ly/1Rb8tuT

read ... Result of Unlimited Immigration

10 Years of airport viaduct homeless camp

HNN: “They will do their number two in the back there and even by our steps it smells. It reeks of urine,” said Lauano-Fauatea.

Lauano-Fauatea believes the camp is so well established because they're rarely forced to leave.

"They're not being cited for it or pay any fees for trespassing," said Lauano-Fauatea.

A man who was walking out from under the bridge didn't want to talk on camera, but told Hawaii News Now he's lived on a make-shift raft under the bridge for 10-years.

CB: Billionaire's Website--Help Keep the Homeless on the Streets

read ... Tweeker Camp

Organic Farmer Pesticide Poisons School full of Children on Big Island

WHT: Holualoa Elementary School students sheltered in place Tuesday morning after several students reported feeling ill from the odor of a pesticide being used on an adjoining property. (Latest incidence of mass-hysteria driven by anti-GMO activist 'teachers'.)

The property owner was applying the over-the-counter spray BotaniGard on coffee, according to the Hawaii County Fire Department.  (B-b-but...  BotaniGard is organic.... Oooops)

The noxious odor was reported around 10:50 a.m., and the school returned to normal activity at 11:30 a.m., Department of Education spokesman Brent Suyama said. No one required medical treatment.

(You probably know somebody who thinks 'organic' means 'no pesticide'.  Please take this moment to have a good hearty laugh at their stupidity.)

read ... Its Organic, LOL!

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