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Saturday, July 9, 2011
July 9, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:47 PM :: 8028 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Soak the rich: 26,000 Hawaii residents hit with $40M/year in new taxes

HUD giving away $50K to Hawaii Mortgage deadbeats: Deadline for free money is July 22

Abercrombie seeks applicants to roll Hawaiians

Abercrombie signs 16 bills into law

Berg: Makaha Town Meeting July 12

HSTA files labor challenge against Abercrombie and BOE

The "prohibited practice complaint" was filed by the HSTA at about 4:20 p.m. this afternoon with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, alleging the state walked away from negotiations 10 days before the contract lapsed….

Pay for more instructional days per school year and longer class hours per school day is a major unresolved issue, as is compensation for race to the top school improvement goals. Transfer and cost of health insurance is also an issue -- the complaint alleges nearly 5,000 teachers will see their share of health premium costs more than double….

As for furloughs which the administration said would be on non-instructional days, the complaint says "at no time did the parties negotiate or mutually agree upon non-instructional dates for each year."

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HSTA strikes out against 180-day law

The union also takes issue with what it calls "unfunded mandates" from the state that established a minimum number of days for the school year and increased the amount of time teachers are require to spend instructing students in the classroom….

The complaint also describes Dietz losing his temper when HSTA requested more time to consider some of the state's proposals: "this is serious f------ s--t," he said, hitting the table with his notebook.

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Wife of Congressman in Prison as Honolulu Council seeks alternative to Bribery-Tainted Sludge Processor

The city had begun design and planning for the new digester and sought $26 million for it this year, but Councilman Romy Cachola worked to get the funds deleted from the budget out of concerns over the plant's operator, Synagro Hawaii, and safety issues raised about the fertilizer pellets….

Steinberger described the resolution as an "anti-Synagro" measure that questioned whether the bioconversion process was legitimate. He also defended Synagro Hawaii as a good corporate partner locally while acknowledging that the parent company, Texas-based Synagro, has addressed issues by its previous owners, including a bribery scandal several years ago….

(Several years ago??? Scandal is still unfolding and snagged the wife of US Rep John Conyers.)

Shapiro: Plenty of sludge to shovel despite a short workweek

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Democracy smashes Luddites: KIUC members affirm Free Flow contract

By a more than two-to-one margin, members of the island’s sole electric provider have directed their elected co-op’s leaders to stay the course.

Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative on Friday announced the results of a member-driven vote on whether to overturn its Board of Directors’ recent decision to contract with Free Flow Power to explore hydropower on six island waterways.

The ballot initiative produced 5,404 votes in favor of continuing the contract and 2,098 votes against. Voter participation was more than 30 percent. Comparatively, voter participation for the Board of Directors election last March was 25 percent, down from 28 percent the previous year.

Luddites demand A vote on the vote

Meanwhile, Jonathan Jay, a program host at KKCR, is gathering member signatures to overturn the board’s decision on how it conducted the vote.

Community members and organizations have criticized KIUC for not providing its members with fair and balanced information in voter materials. The co-op has strongly advocated in support of its board’s decision, urging members to vote “yes” on the ballot while implying that a “no” vote may mean the end of future hydropower development on Kaua‘i.

Jay has argued that the July 8 deadline for members to submit ballots, a deadline set by the board, did not allow enough time for members to educate themselves on the issues prior to voting.

“We are going forward undeterred, collecting signatures and will submit them on Monday,” Jay said.

So far, he has collected 200 of the 250 necessary member signatures to file the petition, which would require a member vote on the member vote.

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Abercrombie snags second Resignation

Lawrence Tseu, who serves on the Stadium Authority, has verbally informed the governor’s office through a secretary that he will resign, according to Donalyn Dela Cruz, the governor’s spokeswoman. Tseu joins Matilda Yoshioka, a member of the Public Housing Authority, who informed the governor that she would resign last month.

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Bill waiving environmental regulations for border security would cover all of Hawaii

A measure discussed today in Congress would exempt efforts to secure the border from environmental and other regulations.

H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, would exempt the Department of Homeland Security from 36 federal regulations, many of them environmental laws, within 100 miles of the coast. That range would cover all of Florida, as well as Hawaii, Delaware and most of New England.

The measure was on this morning’s schedule for the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. It is intended to “prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from taking action on public lands which impede border security on such lands.” Regulations exempted include the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

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Con Man Strikes Again while on Parole — Bilks Elderly Victim of $682,000

He was placed under the supervision of a state probation officer who reported to the court in 2008 that Maria had successfully completed his deferral term. The theft charge against him was dismissed.

But in 2006, while Maria was under supervision, federal postal authorities alleged publicly that Maria was using a Waianae post office box “in furtherance of a fraudulent scheme.”

An administrative judge banned Maria from continued use of the PO box based the results of an investigation conducted by the Postal Inspection Service, the state Office of Consumer Protection and the state Attorney General’s Office. See the ruling here: post office ruling.

The judge’s description of Maria’s activities closely parallels details of the more recent federal criminal case now pending against Maria.

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Hawaii lawmaker to introduce "Caylee's Law"

A Hawaii lawmaker is joining others across the nation in introducing "Caylee's Law" which would make it a felony for family members who do not promptly report a missing child, abuse, neglect or death of a child.

Representative John Mizuno says he will propose the measure at the start of the 2012 legislative session….

Mizuno says the current law does not require family members to report child abuse, neglect, or when a child goes missing to police or the department of human services.

Similar bills are being considered in about a dozen other states.

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Hawaii's first Convoy of Hope event brings free services, food and compassion

Scott Sonoda, an outreach pastor with First Assembly of God-Red Hill, knows what it's like to hit the bottom and feel beaten by despair.

"I was incarcerated before. I am an ex-drug addict. I've been down and out. People need hope and to be given the opportunity for a second, third and fourth chance," said Sonoda, who now oversees ministries dealing with homeless people, prisoners and youth.

That's why Sonoda was asked to coordinate 1,000 volunteers, and dozens of churches and organizations, to produce Hawaii's first Convoy of Hope event in two weeks. Dubbed "A Day of Compassion," the 10 a.m. event July 23 at Aloha Stadium is aimed at providing more than 7,000 people with food and services they cannot afford.

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Electric customers could get a financing break with new law

It directs the Public Utilities Commission to research and implement, if viable, a program called "on-bill financing". On-bill financing would eliminate the dreaded, often pricey up-front costs for electric customers to buy things like energy-efficient appliances or solar hot water.

"That's really the biggest hurdle," says Blue Planet Foundation spokesman, Jeff Mikulina. "People want to do the right thing but it's, ‘How do I pay for this? How do I go about the process?' And this will really make it accessible and easy and affordable for folks."

The non-profit conservation group, Blue Planet Foundation, will work with the PUC to help cover the costs of the new law.

(Prediction: Mortia’s PUC will sabotage this in order to keep space available on the grid for Big Wind.)

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$10B solution for Hawaii Electricity

the creation of offshore ocean thermal energy conversion plants capable of producing 100 megawatts could be built at a cost of $1 billion apiece. If 10 of the plants, which would look similar to an oil rig and be located about four miles offshore, were in operation, all of Hawaii's power needs could be met, he added.

"Just 10 could power all of Hawaii and we would have no other need for power," he said. "Hawaii is a perfect location for this. It's one of the best places for ocean thermal energy conversion because it's all right here."

Ocean thermal energy conversion is a process used to produce electricity by using the temperature difference between deep, cold ocean water and warm tropical surface water, Eldred said.

Electricity is produced in a closed cycle by warm seawater passing through an evaporator that vaporizes the working fluid, which in the current research project is ammonia. The vapor then passes through a turbine, which turns a generator to make electricity, before going through a condenser that uses cold seawater to return the vapor to a liquid before being reused, Eldred said.

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SA: Build Waikiki Park only if Homeless are blocked

What he did see, initially, was encouraging: Thanks largely to Sweatt and his wife, Helen, a 700-signature petition convinced the city in 2003 to nix a high-rise senior living facility and condemn the land for "an open-space park." The city paid $2.57 million for the square at Seaside Avenue and Aloha Drive, a block mauka of Kuhio Avenue.

That, unfortunately, is as far as it's gotten. The city has since been using the property as a storage and staging yard for Waikiki construction projects, saying it has saved $620,000 annually by not having to lease storage elsewhere. It says the park dream will have to wait until 2015 before it can be revived….

What cannot be part of the vision, though, is another public park where homeless people are allowed to take over. Neighborhood vigilance must play a part in preserving the hard-won site.

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Dope Doctor claims he was coerced into guilty plea

Federal Public Defender Peter C. Wolff Jr. took the witness stand Friday to defend himself against allegations that he pressured a former client into pleading guilty.

The client, former Kauai physician Harold C. Spear III, pleaded guilty in two federal cases in 2009 to unlawfully prescribing powerful pain medication to people here and on the mainland based solely on telephone conversations with them. In one of the cases, he pleaded guilty to prescribing drugs to an undercover officer in Alabama without ever meeting the officer.

He wants to withdraw his guilty pleas and go to trial to challenge the charges.

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'Extinct' plant found on Big Island 

It was presumed extinct in 1994, but was discovered last summer in a North Kohala upland forest.

About 30 oha wai adults and seedlings have been located.

The Kohala Watershed Partnership has received a federal grant to protect and restore the endangered plant.

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Robots to remove ordnance from Hawaii sea floor

HONOLULU — The Army plans to remove decades-old unexploded munitions from the ocean floor off the coast of Waianae over the next three weeks.

Normally the military has divers take potentially dangerous munitions out of the ocean, but this time it is testing the use of a remotely controlled robot to do the job.

The target is an area so littered with munitions that it is commonly known as “Ordnance Reef.”

The weapons range from small arms munitions to large caliber projectiles and naval gun ammunition. They’re believed to be from the World War II era and were likely dumped in the ocean after the war. The military threw out its old weapons in the sea up to 1970 because it thought doing so was safer than burying them in the ground or burning them.

“Sea disposal was an internationally accepted practice. Not just for munitions, but for municipal waste and everything else. So DOD was doing what everyone else was doing,” said J.C. King, the assistant for munitions and chemical matters at the Army. “It was a good idea at the time — maybe not so much now.”

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Why the federal-hiring system is broken

The WaPo editorial board’s support of federal hiring reform as laid out in a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) was too credulous [“Better federal hiring,” July 4]. The elimination of the “skills essays” would simplify applying for federal jobs but complicate the overall hiring process by making it harder to discern who’s genuinely qualified.

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Space Station, Shuttle visible from Hawaii starting at 7:15pm

NASA calculates that the International Space Station will appear above the horizon from the west-northwest shortly after 7:15 p.m., as viewed from Hilo, and appear as a very bright, fast-moving point of light as it moves toward the east over the next 3 minutes. It will appear to reach a maximum elevation of 49 degrees above the horizon.

Atlantis, in hot pursuit of the space station for the last time, will appear minutes later, but not as bright. It will be visible shortly after 7:23 p.m., also from the west-northwest, and take about a minute and a half to transit the sky, reaching a maximum elevation of 26 degrees before sinking over the horizon.

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Hawaii soldiers awarded the Presidential Unit Citation emblem

The squad's leader, Sgt. Larry Freeman remembers the three and a half hour battle like it was yesterday.

"Even to this day I can still see wolf hounds that was wounded, and still fighting, shoot in the face, still fighting," said Sgt. Freeman of the 1st battalion, 27th infantry. "We were outnumbered so bad that we didn't think we could get out. We were on a search and destroy mission."

Only seven soldiers from the battalion made it out alive.

With the presidential citation these men, and all future members of the unit will receive a special emblem symbolizing the heroism and history.

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