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Sunday, March 20, 2011
March 20, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:27 PM :: 11139 Views :: Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

SB1282/HB1055: Bills would “repeal norm-referenced testing” in the DoE

Hawaii’s Bernard von NotHaus Convicted of Minting His Own Currency—could get 15 years

Borreca: Hirono vs Hanabusa for Senate?

(The old boys are begging Inouye to save them from doom by focusing on the Hawaii Senate race instead of the National Democrat Senate races which would determine whether Inouye is in the majority or not….)

There are 23 Democratic senate seats up for election next year, with six rated as tossups.

According to early handicapping out of Washington, if three or four of those six races go to the GOP and everything else remains the same, the Senate could be split either 50-50 or move into the GOP column, along with the U.S. House.

And while Inouye will presumably continue on as president pro tempore, he will not be in the majority and will not head the Appropriations Committee….  (This language is right out of the Inouye PBS interview)

>>>TOTALLY Related Video Clip: Boss, Boss, de plane, de plane!<<<

If former Gov. Linda Lingle runs, she will run with money, experience and standing in comparison to a state Democratic machine that appears unfocused at best.

Democratic political veteran and state Senate Vice President Donna Mercado Kim has formed an exploratory committee for a Senate campaign in a field that also already is likely to include former Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case.

Already Democrat Rep. Mazie Hirono is rumored to be considering the run for the Senate. If she does go, there is speculation that it would tip freshman Rep. Colleen Hanabusa into the race. That would leave 75 percent of Hawaii's congressional delegation with open seats.

It could bring about an era of political testing with unknown outcomes like Hawaii has not seen in generations.  (GOOD!)

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Schatz in DC to Cash in on Tsunami

Schatz plans on meet with several federal agencies to pursue funding for Hawaii. He's hoping for an unspecified amount of assistance for homeless prevention, Medicaid reimbursement, and reimbursement for law enforcement expense related to the upcoming APEC conference.

Schatz also wants to check in with FEMA to see if Hawaii will get federal monies to assist with tsunami recovery. He'll work closely with several individuals from the Obama administration, plus he'll take part in Lieutenant Governor's meetings on policy and state-relations.

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Japanese tourists still coming to isles –strong Yen is factor

A week after the tsunami hit, the number of visitors from Japan has declined, but it hasn't fallen off a cliff.-- But so far, the impact is looking more like a soft landing.

The flights have been "relatively full," Wagner said, although it's unclear why. Japanese news outlets have reported a surge in the number of Japanese and foreigners trying to leave the country as concerns mount over the country's damaged infrastructure and nuclear emergency.

"In terms of future bookings, we've seen very small dropoffs in bookings so far. But it is early," Wagner said. "The number of cancellations and no-shows has been relatively small ... we've so far seen a very modest effect, but as you know, it's still early yet."

Hawaiian is still sticking to its plan to expand to a second route, to Osaka in the southwest of the country.

Before the earthquake, the surge in Japanese tourists was fueled by the strength of the yen, which was trading around 81 to the dollar on Friday. A strong yen encourages Japanese to take trips abroad….

(There goes Abercrombie’s latest excuse for GE Tax hike.)

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Ratepayers to be stuck with bill for $1B cable project to bring wind electricity to Oahu

The tragic quake and tsunami in Japan, with the catastrophic damage to nuclear power reactors, should have convinced even the most avowed nuclear power advocate that lifting that constitutional bar is now a political impossibility. (If not, we want to take the opportunity to crush you into dust, because we can only rule if there is no opposition.)

E-W Center--Nuclear as energy solution in today’s Star-Advertiser

And so (as if nuclear was ever really considered) the state and its federal government and private partners are working at an intense pace to otherwise expand Hawaii's energy portfolio, an effort prodded by the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.

Unfortunately, the state is not doing enough to empower small-scale users who want to make the leap into renewable energy.

Some late efforts are being made to revive the prospects for an approach called "on-bill financing," an initiative that would allow customers to more easily pay off the large up-front investment required for solar water heating and other energy-saving appliances. The failure of Senate Bill 242, enabling customers to make payments in small increments on their electricity bill, dimmed these prospects, which is a shame.

On-bill financing could allow even renters to benefit from renewable-energy savings because their landlord could install the improvements and let renters pay for it on their bills. The Senate Energy and Environment Committee is giving the idea another look in the form of SB 1520, which will be heard Tuesday….

Senate Bill 367, has made some key improvements over earlier drafts.

Specifically, the financing provisions of the bill seek to lower the risk of the mammoth cable development by allowing the cost to be recouped through a surcharge on the bill of Hawaiian Electric Co. ratepayers. Many opponents rightly took issue with language that appeared to leave those ratepayers picking up the tab even if the wind project is rejected, rendering the cable useless. SB 367 makes it clearer that HECO customers won't pay unless the cable becomes commercially useful.

The Future: Wind Energy's Ghosts

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Clayton Hee: Sustainability=State Ownership  (PUBLIC)

“If Oahu, which has a million people, doesn’t have a sustainable slaughterhouse, the cost of beef and pork and other slaughtered animals rises exponentially,” said Sen. Clayton Hee.

The House Agriculture Committee passed a bill which would give the state ownership of a slaughterhouse in Kapolei. The measure now goes to the House Finance committee for its final hearing.

WWF 2006: Cuba - Only Country With ‘Sustainable Development’

NYT 2010: Cuba to lay off 500,000 State workers (Hint, hint…)

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Clients burn over kitchen's closing by State (PRIVATE)

First Commercial Kitchen, which produced sauces, salad dressings and other condiments, remains closed.

Since the Jan. 24 shutdown and product recall, many of its client businesses have had to pull their products from store shelves, find other kitchens or suspend operations….

But some of First Commercial's client producers say the state should have taken action to avert a shutdown and widespread recall.

Steve Geimer, owner of Arturo's Hot Flavors of Hawaii, said he is giving away or dumping $25,000 worth of his inventory of hot sauces and fresh salsas, even though they were taken off the recall list after testing safe.

"Nobody's buying it and retailers are not putting it back on the shelf," he said.

No illnesses have been linked to the recalled products, Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said….

Oshiro, the DOH acting Sanitation Branch manager, said Kam should have known better because he formerly worked at the Health Department.

"He was a sanitarian," Oshiro said. "That's why it's so shocking. He did our job. He knows what we look for."

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Captain Admits Young Bros causes extensive unreported Coral Reef Damage

Both operations are done by feel; there are no gauges. And Nellis and Laybourn agreed that the controls on each of Young Brothers' six oceangoing tugs have a different feel.

For safety and maneuverability, the line should hang deep, and when pulling easily at sea, allow for 2,000 feet between tug and barge. But when entering or leaving port, the line is kept short.

Especially at Kahului, Laybourn would like to know how deep his line is hanging, but there is no way, except by feel, to tell. "I have thought of putting a dive watch on it and reading the lowest depth when it comes back," he said, but he hasn't tried it.

If the line hits the reef, it can damage the coral, weaken or cut the line and, if it gets wrapped around a coral head, bring the barge to a halt. It seems that the 4,500-ton barge would break the coral before that, but Laybourn says it happens….

Since the barge can carry so much - nearly 9,000 tons - "They say we're still the cheapest form of transportation, cheaper than trucks or railroads," said Laybourn.

MEANWHILE: Anti-Superferry Protesters, Morita and Baker take over PUC to protect YB

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District Cooling in Hawaii—Importing a ready-made Profitable, Politically Connected, Non-Profit

District Energy and District Cooling have heated and cooled downtown St. Paul for decades, and neither makes a dime off of it. (Right there, you know this is going to lead to Hawaii.)

Both utilities are nonprofits — technically, charities established to help city government provide cheaper and cleaner energy for its businesses and citizens.

If all goes according to plan, they will break ground this fall on what could be a crowning achievement: an environmentally friendly downtown cooling district.

But it's not for St. Paul. The $253 million air conditioning system will be built 4,000 miles away — in Honolulu, Hawaii.

And the Honolulu project has the potential to be lucrative. (The peasants will finally be made to pay.)

A (POLITICALLY CONNECTED) nonprofit with a for-profit operation isn't unusual (KSBE DID THIS), but some District Energy critics have wondered if the nonprofits aren't overreaching.

Xcel Energy, for instance, last year questioned whether it was proper for District Energy to seek $17 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to expand its signature hot-water heating network down University Avenue while construction of the Central Corridor light-rail line is under way.

But District Energy officials say public interest in renewable energy, such as a $2 million solar thermal project it unveiled Friday on the roof of the St. Paul RiverCentre, shows it can play a bigger role among the state's utilities. They appear to relish the opportunities presented by both the proposed Central Corridor and Honolulu projects.

"It's a great opportunity to become evangelists, if you will, and promote energy efficiency our very profitable religion," Mahlum said. 

(Read the rest. these guys are ready-made to rake in the bucks in Hawaii politics)

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Enviro scammers: Bag taxes are Fun! (SB1363)

Washington, D.C., is often cited as a joint government and industry success story.

What made the difference? A little over a year ago, the nation's capital began charging shoppers 5 cents for every plastic or paper disposable bag they used when buying food or alcohol. The money collected goes to (pay us enviros big bucks to pretend to) clean up the Anacostia River.

The state Legislature is considering a similar measure that would encourage consumers to break the single-use bag habit. Senate Bill 1363 would establish an "offset fee" for each non-reusable checkout bag provided to a customer. There would be common-sense exceptions for raw meat and other damp items, fresh produce, baked goods and prepared food for take-out, among others….

A remarkably diverse group is supporting this bill. Grocery chains like Safeway and Times Supermarket, (because we are not banning plastic bags altogether) environmental groups like the Surfrider Foundation (who expect to be PAID out of the tax recipts), and industry organizations like the Hawaii Food Industry Association all support this measure. We all recognize that our natural environment is our most precious resource, and that this proven solution will have many long-term benefits (to us enviro-scammers). We ask the public's support for this program (because you guys are the only ones who are being totally screwed by all of us.). In the meantime, you can start helping (us brainwash the public) now by recycling and reusing the paper and plastic bags you collect as you shop.

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Union Bosses continue to Loot Unity House Assets

Unity House, which has more than 20,000 beneficiaries, cut total program spending from nearly $1.6 million in 2008 to $620,320 in 2009, according to tax returns. ($31 per beneficiary…a fig leaf to cover their personal investment club)

The net value of Unity House assets in 2007 was $27.8 million but plummeted to $14 million in 2008, according to tax records. Over the last two years, Unity House's net asset value has improved, reaching $25.4 million as of Sept. 31, according to Boersema.

Still, some negative financial pressure has remained, including a default by Unity House on a $5.5 million loan it used to buy the Lotus at Diamond Head hotel in Waikiki….Last month the lender, MK Pacific LLC, filed a foreclosure lawsuit to repossess the hotel. Boersema said Unity House has arranged to refinance the loan and keep the hotel….

In 2008, Unity House legal expenses totaled $744,373, according to tax records. In 2009, legal expenses were $637,473.  Some of the legal costs stem from a 2004 federal probe that involved the Internal Revenue Service seizing control of Unity House and prosecutors filing criminal charges alleging mismanagement against Tony Rutledge and his son, Aaron, in their management roles.

During the takeover, a court-appointed receiver stated that "speculative and unwise investing" combined with unrestrained spending contributed to the organization's net worth falling from about $49 million in 2001 to $29 million in 2004.  (No kidding?)

Local 5 piggybacked on the federal indictment with its own lawsuit in 2005, alleging that millions of dollars of Unity House money was diverted by the Rutledges for personal benefit. This case was settled last year.

In the federal case, Tony and Aaron Rutledge agreed to a plea bargain in 2006, clearing them of all charges pertaining to Unity House but imposing a lifelong exile from the organization for Tony Rutledge. Shortly thereafter a federal appeals court ruled that the government takeover was improper. Unity House ultimately had to reimburse Tony Rutledge for his legal defense.

Last month, Aaron Rutledge sued Unity House to recover $150,000 he expended defending himself in the federal case that among other things alleged he breached his fiduciary duties as Unity House executive vice president. Rutledge also is suing for $150,000 in damages and attorneys' fees in his pending case….

Boersema said full-time officers took a small pay cut last year  (that is really big of them)

REALITY: Mel Kahele, Waimanalo Gulch, and other baggage

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BOE chief pitches ads on campus--Toguchi proposes selling advertising space at public schools as a way to raise cash

The ads would not market specific products, but instead promote positive messages — healthy eating or good study habits, for instance — while displaying corporate logos.  (First the DoE becomes land developer, now advertising magnate.)

A similar idea in 2005 was quickly quashed by opponents, who said schools should be free of commercialism. They said allowing even limited advertising on campus would set a dangerous precedent.  (Because everybody knows that only socialism is allowed on campus.)

Board Chairman Garrett Toguchi now says it's time to take another look at ads on school grounds given the difficult fiscal climate.

Proposed changes to the "commercialism" policy for schools were approved by a BOE committee last week and could go the full board later this month.

More DoE News: Failing students see squalor--Visiting the homeless is meant to get Waipahu kids in gear (And yet ‘adult’ politicians and non-profit profiteers want us to treat the homeless as if they have no choice.)

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Kauai Budget climbs as tax assessments fall

Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s office this week announced a proposed increase of 12 percent in the 2012 operating budget to $165 million, although property tax revenues are expected to continue their decline an estimated 6 percent to $76.6 million for the next fiscal year.

During current fiscal year, which ends June 30, property taxes comprise $81.5 million of the county’s $147 million total operating budget, or 55 percent. This is 89 percent of all revenues going into the county’s General Fund.

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Hawaii Dope Doctors giving Medical Marijuana to Minors

Legal users soared to more than 8,000 over the past decade from 255 in 2001, the program's first year.

It's a burgeoning business for doctors, who charge as much as $300 to certify medical marijuana patients….

Matthew Brittain, a licensed clinical social worker and substance abuse counselor on the Big Island, has built a niche for himself referring potential medical cannabis users to doctors. Brittain has about 600 active patients and charges as much as $100 for referrals and handling the paperwork….Brittain, …is a certified medical cannabis user for a… (insert condition here).

Out-of-state doctors are also benefiting from the increase in Hawaii patients. Doctors from the Hemp & Cannabis Foundation, based in Portland, Ore., make frequent trips to the islands. The company charges $250 for a marijuana certificate, including the $25 state fee….

"Is there a true doctor-patient relationship, or are they just paying a fee to smoke marijuana?" Kamita asked. "There are some questionable practices."

Kamita said the bulk of marijuana permits are for residents in their 20s and 30s, most of whom cite severe pain as their medical condition.

"We know that the ages are younger and we're getting more and more minors … which concerns us," Kamita said. "Because the term is so broad, doctors are interpreting it in their own manner. We don't see what their diagnosis is. It's not what the original (law) was intended for. It was touted as this would be a last-resort type of drug, but that's not the case."

Dr. Jim Berg, a Big Island physician, has issued the most marijuana certificates since the law was passed, according to state records. The Narcotics Enforcement Division records showed Berg had authorized 2,957 certificates as of June 2010.  ($300 x 2,957 = $887,100 -- MJ causes ‘wallet waddle’)

ILind: Doper Newspaper shuts down 

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MELE minds music's business

The Music and Entertainment Learning Experience program at Hono­lulu Community College is where they're doing it.

The program, MELE for short, is affiliated with the music education program at Belmont University's Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business in Nashville, Tenn. Belmont provides curriculum to HCC via live interactive video, and Curb has contributed $250,000 through the Mike Curb Family Foundation to help build a recording studio at the college.

(This article was written from top to bottom without mentioning that Governor Linda Lingle initiated this program.  Excellent work Star-Advertiser!  This is why they pay you the Big Bucks!)

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Legislature, Landed Aristocracy seek to silence discussion of PASH rights

"Although the land company has posted 'No Trespassing' signs on their land, it hasn't stopped locals — who have visited this waterfall for generations — from walking to it," he writes. "In fact, according to the local newspaper, community activists contend that access has occurred for so long, a 'prescriptive easement' exists.  (This is a reference to PASH rights) …

Marissa Sandblom, vice president of Grove Farm, said the company has been subject to legal threats but she would not discuss specifics. She said the company used to allow a private tour operator to take visitors to Kipu Falls, but has otherwise discouraged access through "No Trespassing" signs. (Wants a monopoly)

Okudara said there is no prescriptive easement on Grove Farm land near Kipu Falls. A prescriptive easement can occur when people openly and continually use other people's land without permission for at least 20 years, but the easement must be legally established.  (Sure, just ask Hokulia about that.)

…Publishing and news media interests are stunned that the bill has moved this far, because many believe it would violate free-speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Association of American Publishers, a trade group for book publishers based in Washington, D.C., and the Media Coalition, a First Amendment advocacy group in New York, have sent in written testimony of alarm. The Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter said that while the bill targets visitor guides, the definition appears broad enough to apply to conventional media as well.

"It's a terrible bill. It's an absolute violation of the Constitution," said Jeff Portnoy, an attorney who has represented the news media. "It has no chance of being upheld on a First Amendment basis.  (That must be the ‘legal threat’ mentioned by Grove Farm.)

RELATED: HB548: Trespassing Liability Taskforce to Exclude Publishers

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Kawaiahao burials dispute a defining moment for Hawaiians

It was bound to happen sooner or later — a collision between two belief systems, one rooted in centuries-old Hawaiian cultural kapu and traditions, and the other, also centuries old, the Christian religion.  (Uh…this happened in 1820.)

For decades, (ie, since SDS invented Sovereignty at UH Manoa in 1970) Hawaiian pastors have been able to deftly navigate between the two worlds in a strange accommodation and mutual tolerance of (fake revisionist) Hawaiian practices and Christian dogma.

Hawaiians have also retrieved and returned to holding reverent traditions cast out by the first missionaries such as hula, the family aumakua, and ceremonial chants acknowledging the Hawaiian pantheon of gods manifesting themselves in nature.

One of these deeply held Hawaiian traditions is the reverence and kapu placed on burials — to hold sacrosanct the dignity of ancestral remains to be left undisturbed in their final resting places.  (PURE REVISIONISM.  The pre-Christian Polynesians would take bones to capture the mana of the deceased.  If you possessed the mana, you wanted it to remain undisturbed.  If you did not possess the mana, you wanted to take it for yourself.)

From this belief sprang a complicated regime of burial laws, supported by federal legislation (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act or NAGPRA) that echo the same principles of public policy. (And it is a great way to shake down developers.)

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Protecting the Kona name

A bill that would prohibit using the word "Kona" on a bag of coffee unless its use is part of a trademarked name is moving forward in the state Legislature.

Introduced by Rep. Denny Coffman, D-North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau, HB 1552 crossed over to the Senate, where the Agriculture Committee voted Thursday for its approval. The bill has not yet been finalized.

He introduced a similar bill last year, but it didn't move forward, in large part because of opposition by the Kona coffee farming community. Some coffee farmers oppose any bill that isn't imposing more stringent blending requirements, such as requirements that at least 50 percent or 75 percent of the beans in each bag be Kona coffee. Bills to that effect don't gain traction, he said.

When those bills do come up, other coffee farmers testify that they will be unable to sell their coffee cherry unless blenders are available to purchase it and put it in lesser blends, he added….

Even if the bill becomes law, the state may not be able to enforce it.

Agriculture Department Chairman Russell Kokubun said his department supports the bill's intent, but with a caveat.

"Due to reductions in force, the department is no longer staffed to provide label development support or retail level label inspection or enforcement support as required by the bill," Kokubun said in written testimony submitted to the committee Thursday. "Given the lack of adequate staffing, the department is unable to fulfill the responsibilities mandated by this bill."

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KIUC Voters reelect incumbents

The official results of the 2011 board of directors election are as follows:

  1. Peter Yukimura 3,132 I
  2. David Iha 3,044 I
  3. Teofilo Phil Tacbian 2,908 I
  4. Ken Stokes 2,098
  5. Pat Gegen 2,074
  6. Kuuleialoha Santos 1,854
  7. JoAnne Georgi 1,582

(Meanwhile KIUC heads for doom as burden of fake “sustainable energy” plans grows ever-heavier.)

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