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Monday, May 25, 2015
May 25, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:37 PM :: 3183 Views

Best state in America: Hawaii, for making the ultimate sacrifice

HART Worried About Ige Veto, So Rail's Pretend operating cost pretend to rise by $13M/year

SA (Edits in parenthesis to enhance accuracy.): Officials have increased their estimates for how much it will cost to operate Oahu's rail transit system once it's up and running.

Previously, in a 2012 report, they had projected an annual cost of $116.7 million to operate the rail line in 2021, about a year after the rail system fully opens.

Now, documents provided to the state's finance director revise that figure upward. In a draft report, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation anticipates it will cost $130 million to run rail in 2021.

Anticipated higher electricity costs — and more consumption of that energy by the rail system — are partially to blame for the estimated $13 million increase for 2021, HART officials say. Inflationary costs are steeper than what had been estimated for the project's 2012 financial plan, they add.

HART leaders emphasize that the latest revisions are preliminary figures  (See! Told you!), and that they released them in draft form to help (stampede) state lawmakers weigh whether to extend Oahu's rail tax during their most recent legislative session.

"We're constantly checking numbers and trying to revise them," (a grinning) HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas said recently. "(This sounds better if I claim) We were asked to give the most current information we have even though it isn't final. Some of this stuff (crap) is still just a work in progress, (but it pays off for us so we go with it.)"

(Bottom Line: They are still trying to convince Ige to sign the Rail Tax hike.)

read ... Lets Pretend these numbers aren't just part of a sales pitch

As Ige Considers Rail Tax Hike, Another Zip Mobile Breakdown, Weekend Traffic Jams Scheduled

KHON: The state’s ZipMobile broke down again Friday for the third time this year, but luckily for Oahu motorists, crews managed to quickly fix it well before the afternoon rush hour traffic.

read ... Tax Hike Coming

Obama’s radical health care ‘solution’ is about to implode

WT: Obamacare seems about to implode, and the implosion could be a great contribution to those who would reform America’s health system in a systematic way. The nation will have to get it right the second time around.

Hawaii’s exchange is the latest of the 13 states to hit the wall with a state-run exchange to dispense medical insurance. That’s despite taking $205 million in federal funding to set it up and keep it standing, part of the $4.5 billion federal effort to save the exchanges. Only 37,000 customers enrolled in Hawaii’s exchange — far fewer than the 70,000 needed to make it work. The Hawaii legislature refused to contribute another $28 million after not a single person signed up during the extended enrollment period. The exchange has closed down from time to time to fix problems with its website.

Hawaii’s dilemma is only part of the national dilemma. Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to say whether Congress, in enacting Obamacare, intended for the federal subsidy to be paid to individuals insured by state exchanges, or to limit the subsidy to insurance bought through federal exchanges.

Flashback: Congressional Delegation Blocks Obamacare Exemption to Avoid “Awkward Political Narrative”

Read ... Meltdown

Anti-GMO Activists' Dust Verdict a gift to Developers: Will Subject Agriculture to Similar Harassment Suits Statewide

SA: Fifteen Waimea, Kauai, residents who say they can't enjoy their homes because of red dust from fields operated by DuPont Pioneer recently won their legal battle in federal court against the seed company, but whether the remaining 185 plaintiffs will be awarded damages still hasn't been determined.

The recent unanimous jury verdict in support of the Waimea residents is believed to be the first verdict involving (undermining) the Hawaii Right to Farm Act, the residents' attorney said....

"This verdict will help define the standard for generally accepted (litigation) practices in Hawaii in the future and Waimea plaintiffs hope this result will help (sue to) 'protect' (LOL!) other communities from similar harms," attorney Patrick Kyle Smith, who represented the Waimea residents, said in an email....

The federal jury verdict could also be appealed by DuPont Pioneer, although spokeswoman Laurie Yoshida said no decision has been made.

In closing arguments, company attorney Clement Glynn told the jury the Hawaii Right to Farm Act gives farmers the basic right to farm without fear of being sued by neighbors and discussed the importance of agriculture for the state's economy.

Enacted in 2001, the law states: "No court, official, public servant or public employee shall declare any farming operation a nuisance for any reason if the farming operation has been conducted in a manner consistent with generally accepted agricultural and management practices." ... (So the antis found a work-around an a brainwashed jury willing to accept it.)

The verdict serves as a model for residents who face similar nuisance problems regarding dust, he added.

"It gives a good case to cite for a good course of action," he said.

David Forman, director of the environmental law program at the law school, said he is not aware of any other verdict in a case where the defendant asserted defenses under Hawaii's Right to Farm Act.

"If the decisions stands following any potential appeal by Pioneer, the verdict will serve as a powerful tool promoting settlement of similar future claims as an alternative to incurring the significant cost of litigating those issues again," said Forman in an email. "Although the decision does not constitute binding precedent in such future cases, it does provide a compelling and persuasive authority that other courts may choose to rely upon."

(Woo-hoo.  Bring on the bulldozers.  Subdivisions don't make dust.  Anti-GMO = anti-agriculture.  Learn this.)

read ... U.S. verdict in Kauai dust case seen as 'persuasive'

Telescope Builders Knew OHA Shakedown Was Coming

SA: A 2007 report by a Colorado firm hired to provide an independent evaluation of the risks involved in developing the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea warned of serious headwinds, the high probability of litigation and a complicated and lengthy regulatory process.

The report also described a perceived poor history of stewardship of Mauna Kea and a "great mistrust" of the University of Hawaii by Native Hawaiians developed over many years — "heavy baggage" that the TMT would have to carry and overcome.

"Should TMT decide to pursue a Mauna Kea site, it will inherit the anger, fear, and great mistrust generated through previous telescope planning and siting failures and an accumulated disbelief that any additional projects, especially a physically imposing one like the TMT, can be done properly," the report said.

The Keystone Center report, commissioned by TMT funder Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, detailed some of the potential tripwires and showstoppers facing the proposed next-generation TMT, billed as the most powerful optical telescope in the world, capable of seeing more than 13 billion light-years away.

As Explained: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money

read ... They aren't surprised by any of this, why are you?

Tap private sector to fix Handi-Van

SA: Problems with Honolulu's public transportation system for disabled people have persisted for so long that it's time for the city to at least test a different approach.

As a much-needed audit into the Handi-Van system proceeds, the city also should explore the possibility of trying a limited pilot project that provides service outside the current system. Perhaps the city could start by inviting a variety of private transportation companies to advise about how best to provide the timely service that has proved elusive under the current operation....

Seven months after the installation of a new computerized reservations system and an overdue upgrade and expansion of the Handi-Van fleet, transit officials acknowledge that major operational improvements they had expected and promised have not fully materialized.

What still seems to be lacking is a core commitment to top-notch customer service like that evident among private-sector transportation companies that compete for customers. In the tourism industry, for example, satisfied passengers mean repeat business.

read ... Tap private sector to fix Handi-Van

Kauai Council Chair Distances Himself from Hooser's Swiss Lies

KE: I do wish Gary would hold up a mirror, and not just before he goes on camera in those atrocious shirts.

No, I mean when he says stuff like, “So long as the agrochemical companies remain in denial and attack mode, we will get nowhere.” And bitches at Syngenta's Josh Uyehara for “[calling] me out in our local newspaper rather than meet with me personally to discuss issues and differences he might have” after Gary went all the way to Switzerland to talk shit about Syngenta.

Gary took a trip financed by undisclosed donors — yup, there's that money thang again — to attend the Syngenta shareholders meeting in Switzerland, where he gave a short, andlargely erroneous spiel — what he termed “a simple ask of our good neighbor:”

We asked them to withdraw from their lawsuit against Kauai County, to honor and follow our laws as passed by our local government.

Even if they've been thrown out of court as illegal.

Which is why Council Chair Mel Rapozo sent a letter to Syngenta CEO Michael Mack, clarifying that Gary's visit was neither officially directed nor sanctioned by the Council, and all wrong about the law-breaking stuff. In his reply, Mack thanked Mel for affirming that Syngenta “is operating in accordance with the law on the island of Kauai.”

Mack went on to say Syngenta has been on Kauai for 40 years — jbu,  that's longer than Hooser — and takes its role as “a good corporate citizen seriously,” which is why it voluntarily participates in the state's good neighbor program.

And there we are, right back where we started, with bucolic paradisiacal fantasies crashing headlong into the reality of neighbors.

read ... Musings: Neighbors

How militarized are local police departments?

KITV: There are no armored tanks used by local law enforcement agencies in Hawaii, but the Honolulu Police Department does have an armored vehicle known as a Bearcat that it uses for bomb threats, personal transport and hazard detection.

In a statement, HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said, "Our equipment is comparable to that of other large police departments."

As well as plenty of smaller police departments, like Hawaii County, which got a Bearcat back in 2007. It was paid for by Homeland Security grants.

Maui police had to use $280,000 of taxpayer money for their Bearcat in 2013. Kauai County police picked up one last year, again paid for by residents....

What about grenade launchers and high-caliber weapons? HPD has some of those as well.

SSD officers use semi-automatic weapons and sniper rifles. They also have access to launchers that can shoot less lethal munitions or chemical weapons, including pepper or tear gas.

HPD got thousands of rounds of that less-lethal ammunition, including pepperball ammo and stinger munitions, in preparation for APEC back in 2011.

read ... Militarized

Charter nears deal for Time Warner Cable

AP: Charter Communications Inc. is close to buying Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, two people familiar with the negotiations.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because of the private nature of the deal talks.

One of the people said the deal will be announced early Tuesday morning.

Charter had wanted to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. earlier, but Time Warner Cable chose a $45 billion offer from Comcast Corp. instead.

Comcast walked away from the Time Warner Cable deal after regulators pushed back against it.

read ... New Deal

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