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Friday, June 24, 2011
June 24, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:46 PM :: 10952 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

Progressive Network touts Hawaii tax increases and State-owned Bank proposal

Pension Reform: Abercrombie raises Retirement Age

Cash Flow Problem: Honolulu Council to borrow $100M for Rail

Abercrombie signs budget, asks Departments to identify programs for elimination

Berg: Hundreds attend town hall meeting on Rail in Ewa

Study: Hawaii Economic Outlook Ranks 46th 

 

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER GENE WARD CHOSEN TO ATTEND STATE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS 

Romney, Huntsman Campaigns could draw 70,000 Hawaii Mormons to the Polls—40,000 are not registered voters

Borreca: If religion and politics are banned subjects in polite conversation, then next year's presidential race with two Mormons running for president could be America's continuing X-rated dialog.

In Hawaii, there are strong Mormon pockets on Oahu, but it is not really enough to make a difference in a statewide race, says Jack Hoag, a well-known Mormon.  (Yes it is enough to make a difference.)

"There's a heavy tilt of votes in Laie and to a lesser extent in Hauula and Kahuku areas, with pockets of Waianae, but with only about 70,000 ‘registered' LDS in the state, of which perhaps 25,000-30,000 are voters," Hoag says.

In last year's gubernatorial contest, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann had to defend his own Mormon beliefs, but the religion itself did not become as much of an issue as did Hannemann's conservative views of same-sex marriage.

The two ex-governors, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Jon Huntsman of Utah, are both Mormons running for the Republican presidential nomination.

TOTALLY RELATED:

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Abercrombie: “I am the biggest obstacle”

Rather than wait for Abercrombie spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz to filter through questions submitted on note cards,  (no surprise questions here, eh!) the two individuals stood up and demanded answers on homelessness.

Abercrombie and homelessness coordinator Marc Alexander defended the administration's 90-day plan to begin eliminating homelessness…

Lastly, the governor struck a note of humility. Asked what the biggest obstacle was to getting his ambitious plans fulfilled, he responded, "I am the biggest obstacle. ... I start with me."

Abercrombie said he had "shortcomings," and that he would "subsume them" so that he could be "the river, the catalyst" to move his office into action.

KITV: Gov. Comes Under Fire From Friendly Voter At Forum

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Governor dances to tune of “F*** You”, Progressives not impressed

Several young slam poets were given a platform to speak to the audience.

Students sang and danced, with the governor joining in for a few steps of Cee Lo Green's "F*** You."

But the entertainment squeezed the amount of time for audience questions. Several activists, particularly progressives who feel a kinship with the liberal Abercrombie, have complained that his administration has not been as accessible to their ideas as they had expected.

Some of these activists left last night's meeting unfulfilled, even though Dela Cruz promised all of the questions submitted would be answered.

"I voted for these people. I know these people. This is the least responsive governor's office I've ever known here," said Mary Osorio, a gerontology case manager who lives in Palolo.

Bob Erb, a Waikiki activist for the homeless, was also disappointed. "More rhetoric to say. ‘Look at how good I am,'" he said. "I don't see anything happening."

(Abercrombie is getting one thing right: “Challenged to explain what his administration was doing immediately to reduce the number of homeless people on the streets, the governor said he has urged nonprofits and others to stop feeding the homeless in parks….”  Too bad this policy will go away when APEC goes.)

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Aila: BLNR members do not have to resign

“But I think the record so far of the appointed board is pretty good, and I’d just like that opportunity. There’s a lot of things that, as you can see tonight, people are anxious about, they’re a little bit scared, they’re a little concerned that we’re not going to be able to move on things like housing that fast enough.

“So I just simply wanted the opportunity to be able to put forward our vision.”

Earlier Thursday, William Aila, Abercrombie’s choice as director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the chairman of the land board, said the board’s six other members do not have to resign and would likely stay on until their terms expire.

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Finger pointing Begins: Developer Jeff Stone, DHHL blame KS for the failed educational project, KS blames DHHL, Stone

Kamehameha Schools sought to change the original deal agreed to in early 2010 so that it could receive potentially lucrative affordable housing credits from DHHL, said Stone and DHHL. Kamehameha Schools' pursuit of Plan B and other alternatives led to Stone's decision last week to cancel the project, Stone said.

Under the original plan, Stone was going to donate 300 acres of land for the project — giving 66 acres to Kamehameha Schools and 234 acres to DHHL.

The plan called for 400 affordable homes to be built by DHHL for Hawaiians connected with educational enrichment facilities that Kamehameha Schools would develop for Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian children along the Leeward coast.

Under Plan B, Kamehameha Schools offered to buy all 300 acres from Stone for $8 million, negating the developer's gift. Also under Plan B, DHHL would build the homes and give the affordable-housing credits it earned to Kamehameha Schools.

Such credits, according to those familiar with them, are hard to value but conceivably could be worth up to $120,000 apiece, or $48 million for the 400 homes.

Kamehameha Schools could use such credits to help satisfy a state requirement to provide affordable housing as part of its plan to build up to 2,750 condominium or apartment units on land it owns in Kakaako.

Stone said he objected to Plan B because he wanted to give the land to the project, not sell it, and because he did not envision the affordable-housing credits being used….  (What’s the REAL reason, Jeff?)

Nahale-a of DHHL said due diligence reviews of its part of the deal, including soil studies and consultation with beneficiaries, took longer than expected and caused the agency to miss the deadline. DHHL requested an extension to Aug. 30.

Paulsen said Kamehameha Schools was willing to accept the gift under the original agreement by the February deadline, and would have completed that deal had DHHL been ready to take its piece of land.

Stone didn't grant the extension. He said he turned down the request because Kamehameha Schools would not agree to it as it was already pursuing Plan B.

SA: Kamehameha Schools had big plans for land

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Raw Sewage: Council Creates 3-5 year Moratorium on new Development in Urban Honolulu

The city plans to start trucking raw sewage sludge from urban Honolulu to treatment plants in Kailua and Ewa Beach to relieve its over-capacity digester at the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The trucking is a temporary fix to a problem that could result in a moratorium on new sewer hook-ups — effectively halting new construction and development — in the urban Honolulu core in the absence of a permanent solution for the state’s largest wastewater treatment plan.

But the City Council earlier this month deleted $26 million to fund the second digester at the request of the councilman for the district, Romy Cachola.

Cachola referred questions about his position to a memo he wrote to the council outlining his objections, and said he planned to introduce a new measure in the coming days that would address the situation at Sand Island.

The document included attachments, such as a March 16 memo to Mayor Peter Carlisle outlining Cachola’s concerns for public health and safety, the visual impact of a second digester and the costs involved. Other attachments cite problems that Houston-based Synagro has had in other markets, including a bribery scandal in Detroit.

It also included a memo from Carlisle to Council Chairman Nestor Garcia that said a moratorium on new sewer connections could be implemented as soon as this year and “would not be lifted until a permanent solution is funded, permitted, designed and constructed at the Sand Island [Wastewater Treatment Plant],” and that the moratorium could last three to five years.

“If there are large-scale developments out there that could have an impact before 2015 then we would have to reassess whether we could allow them to move,” he said.

Such a moratorium would affect the most populated area of Oahu, from Kuliouou to the east to Red Hill to the west, including downtown Honolulu, Kakaako and Waikiki.

Several large redevelopment projects are on the boards for the area, including Kamehameha Schools Kakaako redevelopment, the Howard Hughes redevelopment of the Ward properties and Kyo-ya Co.’s redevelopment of the Princess Kaiulani and Moana Surfrider hotels.

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Kapolei Neighborhood Board: One Last Blast from Mufi’s Minions 

Here is a look at the last Kapolei Neighborhood Board meeting.  Chair Medea Timson is out after the NCO failed to cancel NB elections and she didn’t win reelection:

CB: Hoopili Wins Over Neighborhood Skeptics  -- Much of the board indicated they were true believers who had always supported Hoopili, and the majority of citizens in attendance sported shirts expressing support for masons, carpenters or other labor unions who support the project for the construction jobs it will create. So the votes are hardly a surprise.

CB: Berg, Neighborhood Board Bang Heads Over Rail -- The frustrations were summed up by board Chair Maeda Timson, who was running her last meeting after a 12-year reign. She said Berg was a "disgrace" for using taxpayer dollars on a one-sided meeting. Timson is leaving her post to focus on other pursuits — among them, Go Rail Go, a pro-rail advocacy group that she serves as president.

Timson remarks were cheered by dozens of attendees, the majority of whom were wearing shirts expressing support for a variety of construction worker unions. They were there mainly to express support for the job-creating Hoopili project, but many appear to support rail as well….

Berg couldn't catch a break from the crowd, even drawing jeers as he expressed his support for the Hoopili project that many had come to push for. When he said that he'd continue to support the project if re-elected — he first secured his seat in December by drawing 18.5 percent of the vote (4.3 percent of registered district voters) in a 14-person runoff — the crowd audibly groaned and laughed derisively.

For his part, Berg kept a sense of humor. When one citizen thanked Timson for her 15 years on the board, much of which were spent dealing with "people like Tom Berg," the councilman stood and played to the crowd, bowing as if he were the one being recognized.

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Honolulu Managing Director Doug Chin says HART Lawsuit May Be avoided

Honolulu Managing Director Doug Chin says the official formation of a new transit agency on July 1 could reduce tensions between Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and the City Council.

Carlisle this week vetoed the council's attempts to amend the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation budget. City Council members will discuss overriding Carlisle in a special meeting on Monday.

"Even if the council overrides on Monday, and we're hopeful that they don't, but even if that occurs, I don't think the story ends," Chin said. "HART will come into being on July 1, and I think from there, we're going to have a third entity that is involved that both sides believe in very much. I think we'll end up seeing a resolution out of this that's satisfactory to everybody."

Chin also predicted that Carlisle and the City Council would reach a compromise that could prevent the mayor from vetoing the council's budget in the first place.

CB: City Ad Promised HART Would Work 'Hand-in-Hand' With Council

SA: Council in gear to reject rail-bill vetoes

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Governor Signs Budget; Must Cut $50 Million More

Each department must identify five per cent reductions in spending, exclusive of the five per cent pay cuts already negotiated with the state’s largest public employee union, the memo said.

From that hit list, administration officials will select specific trims that reach the $50 million target figure to be implemented during the next two fiscal years.

The Department of Education must find $66 million in possible reductions – five per cent of its $1.32 billion general fund budget allowance, the memo said.

Abercrombie singled out the University of Hawaii and the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation for special attention in the memo, saying they each must identify between $10 and $20 million in potential cuts.

The five per cent reduction formula did not apply to UH and HHSC “because of their unique abilities” to raise money independently of the state general fund, Abercrombie said.

In addition to finding new revenue or imposing new spending cuts, the UH also must pay some $12 million owed in delayed pay raises to faculty members.

Legislators denied a UH request this year for funds to pay for those deferred raises, telling the university to find the money in its own budget.

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Privatization proposal “flew under the radar”

SB1555, which creates a Public Land Development Corporation empowered to select state land to be set aside for private development, was largely unnoticed as it passed through the legislature during the 2011 session….

Testimony on the bill focused mainly on the Ala Wai harbor development….

A 2-page analysis of the Ala Wai development proposal by Chuck Prentiss, former executive secretary of the Honolulu Planning Commission, warned the commercialization of the harbor and similar state lands could violate the “public trust” provisions of the State Constitution….

The final draft of the bill that emerged from conference committee retained the broad authority to privatize public lands, but dropped the specific directive to proceed with commercialization of the Ala Wai.

Several legislators said the potentially far-reaching provisions for privatization of public lands received little open discussion as SB1555 worked its way through the legislature.

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Hawaii PUC faces more uncertainty thanks to Abercrombie

Commissioners Carl Caliboso and John Cole are two of the 28 governor appointees who received standardized letters from Abercrombie last week asking them to step down. None of the members, who were appointed by Gov. Linda Lingle, is required to do so, and some of them already have indicated that they will decline the request.

Caliboso told PBN that he didn’t want to comment at this time regarding the request, while Cole did not immediately return a call for comment.

But, with dozens of cases pending before the PUC, and a new chair, Hermina Morita, who is widely respected within the energy sector and amongst her former legislative colleagues, but is new to the position, the possibility of having two fresh commissioners raises questions about the seamlessness of such a transition. And for businesses, such a shake-up could delay rulings in cases by a commission that already has a reputation for long delays and backlogs, and being understaffed.

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Kirk Caldwell calls for boycott of Walmart in order to boost Trial Lawyers income

Justice Scalia based his opinion on the fact that Walmart lacked a centralized policy for hiring and promoting its employees and that personnel decisions were left to its managers at each store level; that means there was no uniform discrimination.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing the dissenting opinion for the three women who sit on the high court and Justice Stephen Breyer, said, "(m)anagers, like all human kind, may be prey to biases to which they are unaware."

What about unspoken bias and unwritten policies? To say they don't exist is a failure to recognize the human condition….  (And to assume they do exist can make trial lawyers like me a whole lotta money.)

What can Hawaii do? Next session, the state Legislature can once again introduce, and this time pass, legislation ensuring full gender equity for the working women of our state.  (Ca-Ching!)

We, as consumers, can act now and send a message to Walmart in Hawaii that discrimination against its women employees, whether intentional or not, must be stopped, and, until it is, we will not shop at Walmart.

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Free Parking at all lots for Electric cars

Act 290 became Sections 291-71 and 291-72 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

That law says the free-parking requirement will extend to private lots by the end of the year: "All public, private, and government parking facilities that are available for use by the general public and have at least one hundred parking spaces shall designate one per cent of parking spaces exclusively for electric vehicles by December 31, 2011. … When the number of registered electric vehicles in the State reaches five thousand, the spaces designated for electric vehicles shall increase to two per cent of parking spaces. The number of spaces designated for electric vehicles shall continue to increase by one per cent for each additional five thousand electric vehicles registered in the State until the percentage reaches ten per cent of parking spaces."

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SB 1073: Legal Aid freed from Legislative Fiat

Senate Bill 1073 establishes three new surcharges for using Hawaii's courts, the proceeds of which will be used to provide more legal services for the indigent.

In the past, legal service providers who worked with needy "had to go hat-in-hand to the Legislature and look for grants and aid, which was unpredictable," Soifer said.

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Effectiveness of DUI courts buoys hopes of success here

Drug courts and the state's probation supervision program, HOPE, have both seen successes. Positive drug tests have been reduced by 83 percent since HOPE was started by Circuit Judge Steven Alm. Recktenwald hopes Hawaii can see similar success with drunken drivers.

Spearheading the effort is District Judge William Cardwell, often referred to as the DUI judge. Through the many studies and resource materials he's read, it turns out DUI courts, not penalties and higher fines, reduce repeat offenders.

In a study of three Michigan DUI courts, offenders were up to 19 times less likely to be rearrested for a DUI than a DUI offender in a traditional court, according to the National Center for DWI Courts.

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Card Check: Unite Here Local 5 gains control over 800 more workers

Local 5’s long-in-the-works growth strategy culminated with it organizing approximately 450 food-service workers employed by concessionaire HMS Host at the Honolulu International Airport in April, Local 5 spokesman Cade Watanabe told PBN.

Then, earlier this month, the union organized approximately 250 rank-and-file workers at the new Waikiki Edition hotel, which opened last October.

For both companies, Local 5 was selected by the employees through card-check authorization, Watanabe said.

And next month, the union expects to add 100 phlebotomists employed by Kaiser Permanente Hawaii into its membership rolls….

The Waikiki Edition and Local 5 had a card-check neutrality agreement in place before the hotel even opened, which essentially meant that hotel managers would not stand in the way of the union trying to organize its workers by having them sign authorization cards.

“We’ve had the [agreement] for quite awhile, and we were talking to them prior to the hotel opening with regard to partnering together for them to represent certain positions,” General Manager Michael Rock told PBN. “We look forward to working with them.”

Local labor attorneys told PBN that the use of card-check neutrality agreements are the exception, not the norm.

“If you get 50 percent signing, without an election, that’s sort of taking away what normally the employers have a right to control,” said Paul Saito, a partner at the Honolulu law firm Cades Schutte.

What they’re into: LGBT & Hotel Workers UNITE HERE! - Sleep With the Right People

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Fannie Mae Hangs Up On Hawaii Press

Fannie scheduled a 10 a.m. conference call with representatives of Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), a non-profit that pushed for SB 651, what some call the nation's strongest foreclosure law. FACE wanted to ask Fannie about its recent decision to switch all of its non-judicial foreclosures to judicial foreclosures.

Staff for state Sen. Roz Baker as well as staff for Rep. Bob Herkes, both co-introducers of the bill, were invited to join in the call. So were representatives from Hawaiian Community Assets and Catholic Charities. A Maui homeowner going through the foreclosure process would also be listening in.

But FACE policy director Kim Harmon said the presence of two reporters on the call — Civil Beat and Honolulu Star-Advertiser's Andrew Gomes — was too much for the government controlled mortgage finance company….

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Hawaii appeals court upholds James Pflueger indictment in Ka Loko Reservoir case

The Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals has upheld an indictment against former auto dealer James Pflueger.

Pflueger, the former owner of Pflueger Inc., was charged with seven counts of manslaughter in November 2008. The state alleges that Pflueger altered the spillway of the Ka Loko Reservoir on Kauai

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Hawaii County worker with revoked license ran over bicyclist

Gustin "suffered severe and permanent injuries, incurred medical and rehabilitation expenses, suffered severe mental and emotional distress" after the collision, the lawsuit states. Gustin spent five days in the hospital with injuries that included a head injury, a punctured lung, a fractured arm and multiple spinal fractures, according to the lawsuit.

In the county's response to the lawsuit, the county admits Domino was a county employee and operating a county vehicle at the time of the crash.

The county, though, denies allegations it was negligent when it let Domino drive without a valid license

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Whipping Post: Pilot Project Establishes Tours of Honouliuli Confinement Site

A $38,565 grant has been awarded to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i to launch a pilot program offering tours of the Honouliuli confinement site on O’ahu. The site is currently under restricted access, and was used during World War II as a confinement area where Japanese Americans (no mention of the Italians and Germans—maybe they just don’t inspire enough shame for the lords of political correctness to play on) were detained.

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Muslims Arrested as they attempted to pick up Machine Guns to Attack Military Recruiters

Mujahidh pictured the headline - "Three Muslim Males Walk Into MEPS Building, Seattle, Washington, And Gun Down Everybody" - according to the court document. Authorities said the two planned to use machine guns and grenades in the attack. In audio and video recordings, they discussed the plot, including strategies to time their attack on military recruits, such as by tossing grenades in the cafeteria, the complaint said.

The attack would not target "anybody innocent - that means old people, women out of uniform, any children," Abdul-Latif allegedly said. "Just people who wear the green for the kaffir army, that's who we're going after."

Abdul-Latif was recorded in conversations with the informant where he spoke admiringly of the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, that claimed 13 lives. He referred to war crimes charges against five soldiers accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport last year, saying "he was not comfortable with letting the legal system deal with these matters," according to an FBI agent's affidavit filed in U.S. District Court. 

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