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Friday, January 7, 2011
January 7, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:29 PM :: 14999 Views

Hiram Bingham IV, the secret rescuer

Criminals in DoE, HSTA continue to openly violate 180 day law

Parent Melanie Bailey, who pushed for the new law last year, said teachers should be able to fit a few more minutes of extra instructional time into their existing work day, which would eliminate the need for them to be paid more.

"Schools on the Mainland are providing this amount of instructional time, and that's what schools in Hawaii need to do. We're not asking for anything unreasonable," Bailey said. "It's the right thing to do."

Besides instructional time, teachers get 30 minutes daily for lunch and 40 minutes for preparation, leaving them with about an hour of miscellaneous time that could be used for education, she said.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe said he's skeptical of claims that extra instructional time can be inserted into teachers' schedules, which also are filled with departmental meetings, planning, extracurricular activities and recess.

"If it's going to extend the number of working hours teachers have now, they need to be compensated for it," Okabe said.

Negotiations between the state and the teachers' union have already begun. Their existing labor contract expires in June.

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Abercrombie short $529M in 2012, tells legislature to fix it

Hawaii's new bearer of bad news is Kalbert Young, interim budget director for Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

This week he went before the assembled House and Senate finance committees to broadly explain that we don't have all the money we need, nor do we have any plans yet on how to get more money, but we have a long list of things we want to spend it on, if we do find some more money….

Right now the Abercrombie administration is planning to exceed the spending ceiling by $529.3 million in fiscal year 2012 and additional $97 million in the next fiscal year.

"The reasons for these excesses are due to the restoration of furlough savings adjustments and funds supplanted by the federal State Fiscal Stabilization Fund program and increases in Medicaid, debt service and fringe benefit costs," Young said in his testimony.

He has also mentioned bringing home those state inmates now in mainland prisons, which could easily add millions more to the state budget.

Add to that the decision by Abercrombie for the state to pick up 60 percent of the medical insurance costs for state workers and you have a growing budget. In total the expenditure ceiling will be busted by 10.5 percent.

Bottom line is that the Legislature will start writing a budget in two weeks, the House will have passed a state budget by March and when the Abercrombie budget arrives, it will be in competition with the one being worked on by the Senate.

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Democrats secretly vote to end Senate Invocations

The state Senate is considering whether to eliminate the invocations traditionally offered by clergy and other people of faith before floor sessions.

Senators — in a close vote at a private retreat last week — agreed to end the invocations, according to sources familiar with the discussion. But a final decision is not expected until after a private caucus among majority Democrats early next week….

The Senate invocation committee recommended a policy, rule and invitation letter that would allow invocations to continue under restrictions. The committee wanted to make clear that the purpose of an invocation is to solemnize the proceedings for the benefit of the Senate, not for the public….

But senators who attended the private retreat last week favored ending invocations rather than adopting the policy suggested by the committee.

The Honolulu City Council adopted a new rule on Monday that allows invocations that do not name any sectarian faith or proselytize or disparage any particular faith.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Marsh v. Chambers in 1983, ruled that prayers at the start of each legislative day are not a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The court found that such prayers are deeply embedded in the history and tradition of the nation.

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Palafox: Doctors, Hospitals not cost effective

"Real change happens when you hit rock bottom," Palafox said. "With everybody worried about their bottom line, now is the time for everyone to come together. The lack of dollars can help us rethink how we do things so we can spend less on health care and get far better results (for the corporatist State), which is good for business and good for people's health, that's for sure."

He advocates focusing on preventive steps and healthy lifestyles over better access to doctors and hospitals.

Not spending less here, eh? $126M Giveaway: Abercrombie quietly boosts spending on Public Employees’ Insurance

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Maui, Kauai Counties Expect Budget Surpluses

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho wants to end county worker furloughs six months early and the Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said he's hopeful the Valley Island can do the same.

That's because Kauai and Maui are experiencing budget surpluses, while Oahu and the Big Island predict budget shortfalls this year.

Maui County is in the best financial shape, according to projections from Arakawa, who said Maui predicts a surplus -- also called a carryover -- of about $60 million when its fiscal year is over June 30. That amounts to about 11%  of the county’s annual budget, which is roughly $524 million.

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2012 Warmup: Kenoi strikes back, Contractors buddies denounce Yagong

Two commissioners blasted the Hamakua lawmaker for being misinformed about the request from Yamada and Sons Inc. to operate a quarry near the county's Hilo landfill.
"I hope that elected officials would be more responsible in the comments that they make," said Commissioner Takashi Domingo, a Yagong predecessor who represented the council's 1st District for 20 consecutive years.

They should not "shoot from the hip without doing any research," especially when their comments impact a business and its employees, Domingo added

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Hawaii, the Islands of Missed Opportunity

many private-sector folks I know remain skeptical about several of the new Governor's close friends, advisors, and recent senior staff hires….

It's always been true in our small island state, that good jobs are hard to find and state contracts are literally impossible to get -- unless one is a member of one of the several well-known groups of insiders. The reality is, the Democratic Party is comprised of a number of distinct groups -- all competing for the same pieces of Hawai`i's rapidly shrinking pie. And if you didn't go to a local high school or attend one of Hawaii's several elite private schools, it's nearly impossible to pay your dues and be accepted. Despite the many local social obstacles, some of we outsiders somehow manage to create our own businesses and can at least eke out a living when the economy goes South. Others of course do thrive and, seeking to maintain their own status quo, they aren't likely to complain much out loud about the nepotism, cronyism, and the feeding frenzy often going on all around them when something like APEC comes to town. This leaves an awful lot of we small business folks -- Democrat, Republican, Independents and all the rest -- standing on the outside looking in while the pie is being cut and divvied out.

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DoE attacks affordable housing: Developers to be assessed impact fees for new schools

WAILUKU - Landowners who want to build new housing units in Central, South and West Maui will soon have to pay new "impact fees" for the construction of new school facilities.

The state Department of Education announced Wednesday that it would immediately begin collecting the fees, which range from $5,373 to $5,778 per single-family home, and from $2,055 to $2,451 for each new multifamily unit.

Previously, developers could be required to pay school impact fees as a condition of county or state land-use approvals. But a 2007 law gave the DOE the power to collect the fees directly in areas that are expected to see a rapid growth in school populations. Maui is the first place in the state to see the new fees implemented, with West Hawaii expected to be the next in line.

No. Hawaii Co already rejected this scheme:

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School transport contractors collude to jack up prices

HONOLULU -- They raised the fares and reduced the service areas, but school buses are still costing the Department of Education $20 million more than they were budgeted for.

State senators said they wonder if the companies are working together to avoid competition.

Schools officials said they don't have any evidence the bus companies are conspiring but said they are frustrated that for the past several years, each time routes are offered for bids to the 12 local school bus providers, only one of the companies has bid, usually the one that already serves that area.

TOTALLY UnRELATED: Robert Iwamoto trust sued over Maui Ponzi scheme

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New economy: Robin Danner in Guam to score piece of Military Buildup

Guam - Chugach Alaska is sharing the Hafa Adai spirit hosting an island style fiesta for their president, Barney Uhart. He was joined by president for the Council for Hawaiian Native Advancement in Hawaii, Robin Danner.

There were also other off-island guests who were visiting Guam to experience the culture and more importantly to focus on the upcoming Guam buildup. They met with several key business leaders during their visit to Guam.

SA: Hawaii key in U.S. plans for Pacific region

HR: Federal Contract Preferences – A Boon For Native Hawaiian-Owned Companies

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Old Economy: HBO chief's Big Isle project bankrupt

A company formed by former HBO Chief Executive Michael Fuchs to develop an estimated $100 million luxury home subdivision on the Big Island has filed for bankruptcy.

Fuchs made the Chapter 11 filing Wednesday, a day before a foreclosure auction was scheduled to dispose of the unsold parts of the subdivision at Mauna Lani Resort called Ke Kailani.

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New Economy: After constructing “Green” energy economy, Hui tries to buy HELCO

If successful, Kuokoa CEO Roald Marth said the company would sell American Savings Bank.

Kuokoa is being led by Chairman Richard Ha, who is owner of Hamakua Springs Country Farms on the Big Island; President Ted Peck, who has resigned his position as the state’s energy administrator; and CEO Marth, who is a venture capitalist with an international reputation. Peck’s last day as Hawaii’s energy administrator is Friday.

Kuokoa Inc. was formed four months ago and has about 25 investors, according to Marth, who declined to identify them.

CB: Local Hui Aims to Buy Out Hawaiian Electric

SA: HEI stock spikes briefly after start-up company talks takeover

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New Economy: “Green” energy: Burning money to generate electricity

Republicans not kicked out of Senate Studio

Senate leaders have decided to preserve an  ‘Olelo studio on the fourth floor of the Capitol that legislators use to film communications with their constituents.

House Republicans objected after being told the space would be converted to a hearing room for the Judiciary and Labor Committee.

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Congresswomen Hirono and Sanchez meet with Hawaii's Hispanic community

It was the type of call our local Hispanic community has always wanted to get -- but never used to because we've never had "a seat at the (community) table." Many Latino and Latina VIPs have come to visit Hawaii for business or pleasure, but our community was rarely apprised of the visits.

Why? Because, at least in the 24 years I've been here, our Hawaii Hispanic community, in general, has been invisible to the mainstream society here.

We have traditionally been comprised of various diverse cultural groups -- Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Colombians, Brazilians, etc -- that functioned in vertical "silos" or "stovepipes" with very little cross-cultural, macro-level contact between the groups.  (Omitted: Paniolos and Portuguese.)




  • (In other words: if we organize ourselves as a community voting bloc, the Democrats will give us recognition and stuff.)

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    Gov. Abercrombie, you’re gonna have your hands full

    That poor man. He honestly believes that more information will satisfy a bunch of loony conspiracy theorists who can’t believe a man with a Kenyan father has been elected president of “their” country. No information will change Theresa’s mind.

    MORE: Boehner Bursts Birthers’ Bubbles

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    Public Housing Tenants Vent Frustrations Over Washing Machines

    Residents at Kauhale Ohana in Waimanalo used to run their washing machines outside.

    "Yeah and this was their drainage," points out Maire Pedro, Tenants Association President.

    But residents were told last month that had to stop.  An inspector with The state Department of Health found that the water draining from the machines were emptying into a storm drain that eventually leads to the ocean.

    "It's been a hard week for the tenants," says Pedro.

    (If they were rich, this would be called a greywater system and they would be given  medal for saving the environment or the turtles or something.)

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    Obama Hawaiian Vacation Tops $120K/Day

    When was the last time you went on vacation? I hope even if you are one of the vacation deprived, you’ve been able to relax with family and friends this holiday season.

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