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Friday, November 26, 2010
November 26, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:56 PM :: 4863 Views

Residency Challenge filed against Kioni Dudley Council Candidacy

Three Republicans seek Ewa-Leeward Council Seat

FULL TEXT: Hawaii $1.1B settlement agreement with Citigroup

Party Unity? Caldwell ignored by “Abercrombie people”

He said he'd wait about a year before deciding whether to again challenge Mayor Peter Carlisle in the 2012 mayoral race. Caldwell also dispelled rumors that he's taking a Cabinet position with governor-elect Neil Abercrombie.

"Nothing from the Abercrombie people," Caldwell told Civil Beat today. "No calls. No mention of anything."

"If there's an opportunity for me to serve in my community, I'm going to jump at it," Caldwell said

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Borreca paints picture of “distant, ambivalent” Aiona 

Ask Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona about competition and he responds like the trained athlete that he is. But ask him about whether he enjoys the game of politics and the response is different.

If politics is about competition and election to office is the ultimate victory, Aiona in an interview this week appeared distant.

"If you define politics the way most people do in the 21st century, I would say it is not natural to me, it is not within my nature. It is not something I was bred with and something that I grew up doing and felt comfortable doing," Aiona said.

Although Aiona agrees that politics as an end to helping improve Hawaii is important, he still is ambivalent about the campaign. The 55-year-old Republican former attorney and judge acknowledged that he didn't really decide on his run for governor until his second term.

He also admits that neither he nor the administration of GOP Gov. Linda Lingle had tried to pump up his image to run for governor.

The Lingle administration, Aiona says, had not planned to feature the lieutenant governor in roles to help him becomes governor. Successful Democratic lieutenant governors running for governor, including George Ariyoshi, John Waihee and Ben Cayetano, all accomplished specific tasks that helped further their eventual campaigns.

"If that were the intention, we probably would have done things differently, but that was never the intention," Aiona said.

RELATED:  Aiona: “Maybe run again for Governor in 2014”

Also see Slom’s criticism of Aiona campaign in next article.

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Volunteers to help Sen. Slom track Senate committees

Q: All things considered, you seem to be in remarkably good spirits.

Every day you have to smile when you go to work. You put your game face on, because everybody else has enough problems. They don't want to hear you whining and moaning, "Oh, I'm the only one ... oh, I don't have this and I can't get that." Well, then don't take the job. Nobody forced me to do this.

(To track happenings in) the 14 (Senate committees), I'm going to rely a great deal on volunteers and people who have indicated, "We want to help you. What can we do?" OK, now I have some specific things. I want to make sure that all of the committees are covered to the best of our ability every day.

One of the things I'm going to be doing is holding weekly press conferences (to raise issues or concerns). We hope the regular media shows up, but whether they do or don't, we're going to make sure it gets out to other sources. It will be on the Internet, we'll get it to neighborhood boards. I'm calling on organizations to help -- church groups, unions -- whoever wants to help is fine with me.

Q: Do you have any specific legislation that you plan to push this session?

A: Yes, I do. First of all, I'm going to be back with the term limits, initiative referendum and recall. Everybody points to California and says, "Oh, my God, look at all the things they're doing." Well, we've got to be the complete opposite. We're the only state in the union that has neither statewide unlimited initiative referendum or recall. The only recall we've really seen was when Patsy Mink did it at the City Council. The initiative on the rail was very limited in what it could do. ... Fiscal notes: Oftentimes a bill will be introduced and there will be a nominal amount given -- say, $50,000 -- that they know full well is just what it takes to get the program started. ... A fiscal note requires that you put the total fiscal impact on that bill when you sign that bill. That's part of the transparency and disclosure that we need.

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SA: Improve access to Legislature

In recent years, bills have been posted in full on the Legislature's website -- -- but often they have not reflected most-recent changes. In some cases, the groups point out, "major changes are made to large and complicated bills, and citizens do not get the opportunity to examine the amendments in depth" before further action is taken.

Worse yet, the groups complain that in some cases a proposed amendment is available only in hard copy at a Capitol office, even though it is made immediately available at the end of a hearing. That means it was prepared in advance of the testimony so could have been posted online. Too often, the Legislature's website provides the wording of a bill on its way to the House or Senate floor without including changes that have been made in committee, even though immediate posting of the changed bill was easily possible.

RELATED: Full Text: 18 Hawaii Groups call for greater openness at Legislature

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Coming to Kauai: Taxation Department cracking down on cash transactions

Since February, state agents have visited more than 700 sites statewide, with the exception of Kauai, which they've yet to reach, Randall said. That effort has triggered 88 citations. He did not know the corresponding fines were.

In Hilo, violators couldn't produce a GE license or lacked sales records and receipts, he said. They included farmers market vendors and businesses.

"I remember they came down several months ago," said Keith De La Cruz, owner of the Hilo Farmers Market.

During its first three months, the program cost $14,849, nearly all of which was for equipment, and raised $147,000 in "direct revenues," according to the department's December 2009 annual report to the state Legislature. Officials estimated $1.47 million in indirect revenues was generated.

"We'll be coming back (to Hawaii Island) eventually," Randall said. When, he added, will depend on finances.

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HSTA members upset by health insurance transfer back to the EUTF

ILIND: Although HSTA was able to get a somewhat better health plan for its members by splitting off from the other public sector unions, the union was also seen as undermining the other unions by skimming off lower risk members.

This view was confirmed by a 2009 audit conducted by State Auditor Marion Higa as part of the Legislature’s evaluation of the pilot program.

We found that the VEBA trust pilot program: 1) promotes adverse selection and increases premium costs for EUTF enrollees; 2) duplicates administrative costs borne by the State employer; and 3) cannot ensure transparency and accountability in providing health benefits for teachers and teacher retirees. Overall, the HSTA VEBA trust breaks up the EUTF health plan and negatively impacts the EUTF.

Both the audit and UHPA’s analysis are really required reading to get a better sense of the situation.

Of course, there’s a whole additional layer of concerns based on the history of our public employee unions and insurance contracts. I wrote about the issue last December, and that entry still provides a quick refresher course in relevant political history  (Gary Rodrigues/UPW and their insurance plan.)

EUTF Annual Report 2006-2007

UHPA: Update on Employer-Union Trust Fund

State of Hawaii: Update on EUTF/VEBA

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Computer software shows teachers whether students understand lessons

Hawaii public schools are using a new computerized system this year to track student progress so they can catch struggling learners before they fall too far behind.

As part of the system, teachers are giving students "formative assessments" -- minitests based on key benchmarks that appear on the annual Hawaii State Assessment.

The $2.6 million software system, which eventually could allow parents online access to their children's progress, is designed to help teachers change instructional methods if their students are not getting the material, before the class moves on to a new concept.

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After proposing massive tuition hike, UH requests $100 million in construction bonds from the Legislature

The University of Hawaii is asking the Legislature for the authority to issue an additional $100 million in construction bonds to be repaid with UH funds, including student tuition.

SA: UH president says projects help sustain isle economy

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Deferred acceptance allows many to keep their criminal records clean

When you try to track what happens to 49 people arrested on prostitution charges in three months, you discover a twist in our justice system.

As it turns out, the charges can simply disappear.

Prostitutes and the "johns" that pay them can tell an employer they've never been convicted of a crime — or even been arrested — thanks to something called a deferred acceptance of guilty plea. And first-time defendants almost always use it.

So long as defendants follow certain guidelines within a six-month period, such as remaining arrest-free and paying off fines and fees, it's as if they were never arrested in the first place.

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Ex-shelter director sent to jail

WAILUKU - A former executive director of a women's shelter on Molokai who stole about $7,000 from the nonprofit organization was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail and five years' probation.

Deputy Prosecutor Iwalani Mountcastle said the state strongly objected to giving Pierce a chance to clear her record, saying she received that opportunity in 1999 for a criminal contempt of court charge.

Mountcastle added that Pierce had designed a "sophisticated" way to take money while she was at the helm of the shelter by having checks made to herself and her now- deceased husband for things such as storage sheds, which were never bought, and repairs to the shelter, which were not all completed.

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Kekaha farm owner has plans for much more than shrimp

WAIMEA — Blessed with some of the purest seawater in the world and sunny growing conditions, the owners of the Kekaha shrimp farm have big plans for their small operation.

Currently producing white shrimp mainly for local consumption and broodstock for export around the world, Sunrise Capital, owned by the Mainland-based Integrated Aquaculture International, has plans to eventually produce everything from kahala, moi, oysters, clams, seaweed, even algae to produce jet fuel.

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Gas Co. will turn waste to fuel

The Gas Co.'s effort to branch out into renewable fuels will take a major step next week with the arrival of equipment that will allow it to turn local animal fat and other waste products into synthetic natural gas.

The Gas Co. is launching a pilot program with an initial target of producing 5 percent of its synthetic natural gas supply with the renewable feedstocks. The company hopes to expand the program and ratchet up production in coming years if the technology proves successful, said Jeff Kissel, the Gas Co.'s president and chief executive officer….

To hit its 5 percent production target in the pilot program, the Gas Co. will need about 1 million gallons of renewable bio-oil to annually feed into its processing facility, Kissel said.

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Chevy Volt 93 mpg

DETROIT » The Chevrolet Volt, General Motors' first foray into mass-market electric vehicles, will get the equivalent of 93 miles per gallon of gasoline in combined city and highway driving while powered by its batteries, the company announced Wednesday.

The compact car, which can go about 35 miles on battery power before a gasoline engine kicks in to generate electricity, will get 37 mpg when running on the generator alone, GM said. In a driving cycle that combines battery and generator power, the car will get 60 mpg, GM said.

ALSO: Utilities thrilled, worried over electric cars

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