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Tuesday, July 12, 2011
July 12, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:54 PM :: 10756 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Abercrombie Admin. claims HSTA Negotiators Agreed to Terms, Releases Full Text of Contract Changes

Thielen: Environmental Assessment required to truck Sludge from Sand Island to Kailua

Hawaii Next? Civil Union Laws Can Spell End of Child Welfare Services for Faith-based Groups

Democrats call disenfranchisement of Military Personnel “Fair, equitable representation”

A Singular Woman: Obama lied about Cancer-Stricken Mother not having Health Insurance

For me but not for thee: Punahou Obama praises school choice

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How they voted July 11

Police, Prosecutors to discuss Cybercrime at Capitol

As veto deadline looms, Abercrombie signs Eleven Bills into Law

Voting Rights: Democrats may sue to block Military Personnel from Reapportionment Count

Neighbor island reapportionment advisory councils meet today to consider challenging a vote last month by the state Reapportionment Commission to include nonresident military members and their families along with nonresident students and incarcerated felons in Hawaii’s population count for purposes of redrawing state political boundaries to reflect population shifts in the most recent U.S. census.

The inclusion of those nonresident populations — about 70,000 people — would prevent Hawaii island from gaining a state Senate seat, based on overall population growth since 2000.

A joint meeting today of the Maui and Hawaii County advisory councils plans to focus on whether legal action is needed to exclude those populations, as has been done in the most recent reapportionment decisions.

Neighbor island lawmakers and others are expected to testify.

In testimony prepared for the meeting, Hawaii island state Sen. Malama Solomon (D, Hilo-Honokaa) argues that the state commission — with only one of nine members coming from a neighbor island — appears to be acting “Honolulu centric.”

“I believe this decision is not about our friends in the military, but about retaining a Senate seat for Oahu, which in turn denies the residents of the fastest growing districts of our state on Hawaii island the right to a fourth senator,” she wrote.

News Release: Democrats call disenfranchisement of Military Personnel “Fair, equitable representation”

HTH: "It's not news to us," Commission Chairwoman Victoria Marks said about a possible lawsuit. "They've said as much in prior remarks to the commission."

Related: Malama Solomon’s meth connection, 38.9%: Hawaii has most deviant Legislative Districts in Nation, Reapportionment: Democrats don’t want to count Military Personnel, do want to count Felons, Victory for Civil Rights: All Persons shall be counted for Hawaii reapportionment, Voting Rights? Star-Advertiser pushes to disenfranchise Military Personnel, Reapportionment Commission rejects Multi-Member Districts, hears testimony in favor of counting Military Personnel, Voice Recorder confiscated during Closed Meeting of Reapportionment Commission

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Abercrombie Energy Plan: Cancelled, inoperative, ignored

When he ran for office, Abercrombie rightly called a revitalized energy plan "Hawaii's most important economic enterprise."

But today, after six months in office, key portions of Abercrombie's plan are either canceled, inoperative or simply ignored by his own administration.

When asked to discuss his plan last week, Abercrombie declined, saying that Richard Lim, the state director of business and economic development department, was responsible for the energy plans.

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Rep Mele Carroll: Free iPad from Clinton Movie Mogul Cronies was “sign that the studio cares about Hawaii”

The Hawaii lawmaker who accepted an Apple iPad from a Hollywood film studio executive says she viewed the gift as a "good gesture" and a sign that the studio cares about Hawaii.

State Rep. Mele Carroll took an iPad, valued at $500, from Ryan Kavanaugh, founder and CEO of Relativity Media. The company lobbied for and supported legislation seeking to boost state tax breaks for film production in the islands. The company hired well-known Maui attorney Anthony Takitani as its lobbyist.

"At first I thought about not accepting it, because I don't usually take gifts," Carroll told Civil Beat. "In my heart, I know why I took it — it's a tool, and I thought it was a good gesture. I took it as a message: that he's not here just to benefit himself. He was truthfully finding a way for me to reach my constituents. I took it as a good gesture, not as a payment."

Carroll was one of 11 lawmakers who accepted two dozen Blu-ray DVDs from Relativity Media, valued at $360, according to a Civil Beat analysis of gift disclosures. One of the lawmakers who got DVDs was chair of the committee that advanced the bill early in the session.

At least five of the studio's executives submitted testimony in support of House Bill 1308 and Senate Bill 1550. The measures, neither of which became law, sought to make existing tax credits more generous — up to 35 percent on Oahu and 40 percent on the neighbor islands — for film and television productions done in Hawaii. Relativity Media says it has released 126 films — including "The Fighter," "Despicable Me," "The Social Network," — generating $15.3 billion in worldwide box office sales.

It's against Hawaii law for lawmakers to accept a gift if it's obvious that the gift is meant to influence or reward the lawmaker. The state's Ethics Code requires lawmakers "disclose annually a gift or gifts that exceed $200 in value received from a single source."

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Clock Ticking on Labor Board decision on HSTA Contract

All the union is asking is to return to the negotiating table, Okabe said. "We don't feel like that's an unreasonable request."

The union's official complaint filed with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board seeks relief from the imposed contract and asks the board to direct the state back into negotiations. The state has 10 days to file a formal response.

On Monday, Abercrombie published a rebuttal to HSTA's claims, in the form of an FAQ. His administration claims that HSTA rejected an offer for a federal mediator back in February, and in June never presented a counter-offer to the state's "last, best and final" offer. By not recommending the state's offer to union members, it relinquished the teachers' right to vote on the deal, Abercrombie said.

He says the state imposed the new employment conditions on teachers in order to ensure that students could start school in August and to keep Hawaii on course for Race to the Top. (Not a word about RTTT in the imposed contract.)

Matayoshi's response was similar: "Our singular focus continues to be preparing for the upcoming school year."

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Alleged Fraudsters to benefit from Carlisle’s New Towing Contract?

Among the likely bidders is Stoneridge Recoveries, which is targeted in a fraud investigation for its handling of tows in Oahu's busiest and most lucrative zones. The city should reconsider its decision to hire just one tow company for all of Oahu over the multiple vendors it currently uses.

Five venders now handle towing of vehicles from accidents scenes, parking violations, stolen-vehicle recoveries and other tows spread among 13 zones. The busiest have been zones stretching from downtown to Makapuu, Stoneridge's territory.

The area had been handled by Oahu Auto, which charged higher fees for difficult tows in fewer than a fourth of its accident tows, according to its owner. In contrast, Stoneridge charged the higher fees in all but one of its 500 accident tows from 2009 to early last year and reviewed by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, according to people with the overcharging investigation.

The administration of former Mayor Mufi Hannemann recognized the problem and won a seven-year court battle to allow rebidding of the Stoneridge contract. Now, Mayor Peter Carlisle has chosen instead to consolidate all 13 zones in the entire island.

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Judge rejects “nonsensical” documents filed in Maui sovereignty scam case

Judge Michael Seabright has rejected several “incomprehensible and nonsensical” documents filed on behalf of John Oliver, one of the defendants in the federal criminal case alleging fraud by a group Hawaiian sovereignty activists on Maui.

Court records show Seabright directed the court clerk to refuse to accept any documents that are not signed by the defendants in the case or attorneys representing them….

The source of the disputed documents is unknown, but the defendants have previously been assisted by Eric Lighter, who has a reputation for filing long and often frivolous documents in court cases….  Lighter is currently awaiting trial on federal fraud charges in California.

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Act 221 Scammers: OHA’s Geo Project to run cable from Big Island to Oahu

(After paragraphs of ranting on behalf of the Big Wind scammers, Jay Fidell ends with this….)

Last Thursday, Mililani Trask, another activist, made an ambitious geothermal proposal to the House and Senate energy committees. The good (profitable) news is that geothermal will also use a cable to reach Oahu. The bad news could be that if the proposal picks up steam (pun), Big Wind could be eclipsed. Molokai and Lanai don't have geothermal, so if they want benefit packages, they'd better act now.

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In the Shadow of the Train, Landowners Stand to Gain—but DR Horton has “Plan B” just in case….

Of the more than 500 entities that own at least an acre within 2,500 feet of the route, Ohana Military Communities LLC and D.R. Horton-Schuler Homes are the two largest stakeholders. They're followed by the City and County of Honolulu, the State of Hawaii, the state's Department of Transportation-Airports Division and the federal government.

Ohana Military Communities is the local land ownership arm of Forest City, a national residential management company for the military that handles off-base housing for the Marines and Navy in Hawaii. Executives did not respond to requests for an interview about what rail means for the company.

D.R. Horton-Schuler Homes owns a huge parcel on the Ewa end of the rail line. The company is developing more than 1,500 Leeward Oahu acres into a community called Hoopili that it hopes will one day contain nearly 12,000 homes, five new schools and enough retail space to provide 7,000 new local jobs. Most, but not all, of Hoopili's 1,550 acres are within 2,500 feet of the rail line and were covered by Civil Beat's analysis.

"We call ourselves a transit-ready project. We're planning for it, but that's not to say that our project doesn't work without rail," said Vice President Cameron Nekota when asked what the train means to Hoopili and his company. Even if rail doesn't happen, the community can work with buses. But D.R. Horton is rooting for rail to happen.

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Kailua lawmaker is trying to fend off sewage

The city cannot begin trucking of raw sewage into Kailua, or other communities, until an environmental assessment is completed to examine secondary impacts, a state lawmaker contends.

In a letter to the city, Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua-Kaneohe) cites a 2009 ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court stating that an assessment is required by law when there could be secondary impacts.

Thielen’s letter was in response to the city’s announced plans to begin trucking raw sewage sludge to waste-water treatment plants in Kailua, Honouliuli and Waianae to help relieve the over-capacity Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant in Honolulu.

Related: Thielen: EA required to truck Sludge from Sand Island to Kailua

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Hawaii: Gays to get Civil union certificates faster than Straights

While New York plans to begin offering same-sex marriage within weeks of passing a law, Hawaii is taking 10 months to prepare for the start of civil unions in this state.

Civil unions in Hawaii begin Jan. 1, but in the meantime the state is creating an Internet-based system that will get those certificates to couples more quickly.

The new online application process will cut down on the six- to eight-week wait that newlywed couples currently endure before receiving marriage certificates, Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the Department of Health, said Monday. Eventually, the department plans to use the electronic system for marriages as well as civil unions.

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4 HPD Officers to Face Charges in Overtime Investigation

In June, Judge Ed Kubo dismissed the charges against the men without prejudice. Prosecutors refiled the charges within weeks.

The officers are all charged with conspiracy to commit theft in the 3rd degree and tampering with government records.

All four are in the D.U.I. enforcement unit.

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Kaneshiro dumps plea bargains, sends more cases to Court

“We cut back on the plea bargains — giving away all these cases — and we also made the attorneys go to trial,” said the prosecutor.

“Prior to me coming here, the jury trial conviction rate was 33 per cent,” Kaneshiro asserted.

“What we found is that with more people going to trial, the conviction rate is higher now,” said.

Former Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle, who is now mayor of Honolulu, had no immediate comment on Kaneshiro’s statements.

Kaneshiro admitted that his insistence on taking cases to trial is not a popular position with state criminal court judges, who have complained to his deputies about the new ban on plea-bargaining. Criminal court dockets will become increasingly clogged as cases are not resolved before trial.

Crowded courts are not Kaneshiro’s problem, he said.

“If there’s too many cases in court, then the court’s going to have to adjust. Our job is to take cases to trial,” Kaneshiro said.

And if more defendants are convicted and receive stiffer prison sentences, then the already crowded prison system will just have to find a way to handle the overflow, the prosecutor continued.

“The prison system, the Department of Public Safety, is going to have to take care of that,” he said.

Kaneshiro was the director of the Department of Public Safety under Gov. Ben Cayetano when the prison overcrowding problem was solved by shipping inmates to Mainland private prisons.

“What I did was, I sent the inmates to Arizona, to the Mainland and I opened up prison space here. As a result we got people being sent to prison again and right after that the crime rate started going down,” he said.

That stance would appear to put Kaneshiro at odds with newly elected Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who wants to end the practice of Mainland incarceration of Hawaii inmates.

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Maui Democrat Netra Halperin just thrilled about Abercrombie’s plan to let lots and lots of criminals loose

Justice Reinvestment researchers have begun analysis. They are looking at prisoner and probationer files to ascertain if the correct level of custody was implemented for the offense (a recent audit of 2,400 out of 6,000 prisoner files found gross overclassification), which geographic areas most inmates come from and what alternative sanctions or treatments would be the most effective in ensuring that when inmates leave custody

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Suspected Murderer coming to Hawaii 

On March 12, Rothwell told a friend at lunch she was going home to call things off with Perry. She would never be seen again. Perry left abruptly for New York that night.

"To my knowledge nothing has been recovered that can be positively identified as Kelly," Scharrett said.

Though detectives say they don't think Rothwell is alive, the case is not yet classified a murder. The Florida detectives went to New York last month to try to question Perry and others who know him. Police say Perry refused to talk and ran out of an Elmira police station when he saw them there. Police call Perry a suspect in Rothwell's disappearance.

"Two weeks before Kelly went air-quote "missing," he was at their gym at their health club cancelling their membership and he specifically told the person he was working with there that he was moving to Hawaii," Scharrett said.

Detectives corroborate that and say Rothwell never mentioned moving to Hawaii to friends and family they interviewed.

But it appears Perry is on his way.

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Defeated at the Polls, Luddites try another trick to Kill Kauai Hydro Projects

Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative on Monday received a petition calling for a member meeting on the Board of Directors’ May 29 decisions relating to the member vote certified Friday.

In that vote, KIUC members affirmed by a more than two-to-one margin the board’s decision to engage Free Flow Power to assist in exploring development of new, small hydroelectric projects on Kaua‘i, and for the cooperative to hold a special meeting of the membership to discuss that process.

Jonathan Jay organized the second member petition.

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Investigative Report on Condition of Breached Ka Loko Dam is Released

More than five years since the breach, the Ka Loko Reservoir Report Phase II, which details the current condition and safety of the reservoir and dam on Kauai’s North Shore, was released.

Pflueger and his family, via the Mary Lucas Trust, still own the property under the reservoir and dam. But the property is in disrepair, the 231-page report said.

Prepared by the private company AECOM on the state’s behalf, the 2011 report documents than century old earthen reservoir and dam continue to seep fresh water. The dam still has no spillway to allow any excessive rainwater that collects there to be released safely and the slopes of the dam and reservoir are covered with trees and shrubs, which have dropped branches and debris into the water system’s ditches.

The report also notes the presence of dam “fill” in the area of the breach.

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Rep. Hanabusa joins Defense Energy Security Caucus

Hanabusa, a Democrat representing Hawaii, says the Department of Defense is the world's largest industrial consumer of oil.

She says the department has a large research and development budget that could be used to take the lead on sustainable energy initiatives.

Hanabusa says increasing energy efficiency improvements will save both taxpayer money and the lives of troops who are killed transporting fuel across supply lines in the Middle East.

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325,000 “Green” Cars in next 19 years

As we transition to electric vehicles, there's a good, visual example of the issues we face right now. The large, round blue mosaic down at the state capitol rotunda has 650 thousand tiles, and each one of those tiles represents a passenger vehicle on Oahu. Experts are saying, to meet Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative goal by 2030, about half of the tiles - or in real terms, the cars - will have to become green.

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Star-Advertiser leaks Tom Berg Emails to Civil Beat

In a Saturday morning email to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's editor, managing editor and webmaster, the District 1 council member said the paper prohibited him from commenting because of the content of his commentary: "It appears that since my comments involve the rail, your newspaper has sought to censor me so that truthful information and facts are omitted by design....."

The newspaper responded quickly. It told Berg it doesn't filter comments by the word "rail" but that its commenting system does filter comments that include links because it's not feasible to check them out. That's what prevented some Berg comments from being posted, the paper told him. On top of that, when Berg tried to submit the same comments repeatedly, the system may have flagged his submissions as spam.

"I noticed you are regularly linking to your online newsletter. That may have triggered the spam filter because the computer doesn't differentiate between your newsletter and, say, a commercial site," Assistant City Editor/Reporter Craig Gima told Berg in a Sunday morning email that the site's webmaster forwarded to Civil Beat in response to questions.

Berg's response, two minutes later: "Thanks- I am back online without any problems...MAHALO!!!!" He told Civil Beat Monday evening that the problem had been "fixed."

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Eric Ryan: Monkey see, Monkey do

(The usual….)

Brace yourself for endless attacks by someone that the Democrat machine chewed up, digested, and evacuated like yesterday’s plate lunch; someone who thought he was at the right hand of Mufi only to find himself unemployable by Mufi’s successors at City Hall when the music stopped.

The nuclear gorilla (or is it atomic monkey) wants a bigger cage because the shibai is starting to pile up.

(Yawn, stretch.)

Something interesting: Police, Prosecutors to discuss Cybercrime at Capitol

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HSDC seeking input on $13M earmarked for VC funding

The Hawaii Strategic Development Corp. is requesting information (about campaign contributions) from venture capital funds and Hawaii technology companies on where it should deploy $13 million of investment capital.

The capital(cash) which is coming from a Treasury Department initiative(your pocket) will be assigned to the HSDC for use as venture capital funding(political payback). The HSDC wants to find opportunities to place the money in venture capital funds or other investment entities that will develop and mentor (the) Hawaii-based technology companies (whose executives give the most), according to a company announcement.

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End of space shuttle creates opening for Hawaii

Hawaii is particularly well situated to play a role in this new era. It already serves as an important tracking and control station for commercial satellites orbiting the Earth. Within the next few years, we will witness the dawn of commercial suborbital spaceflight.

At first, tourists and scientists would ride to space and back on vehicles such as Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. Within a decade we could see point-to-point suborbital flights taking passengers or cargo from Europe to Hawaii in a small fraction of the time it takes today. This could have huge benefits for time-critical applications such as human organ transplant. The Honolulu and Kona airport runways are already capable of receiving the SpaceShipTwo, and, indeed, a Hawaii spaceport is on the drawing board. Given our unique geographic location, Hawaii may very well become a hub in a future global network of high-speed point-to-point suborbital travel.

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Hawaii, 8 other States support Sprint against ATT/T-Mobile Merger

Nine states requested AT&T and Sprint reveal information they gave the Federal Communications Commission, underscoring increasing scrutiny over AT&T’s pending merger with T-Mobile.

The states — including Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington — also mandated the companies hand over data revealing customer information, so they can better judge the level of competition in their respective wireless markets.

The subpoenas come after Sprint asked the states to investigate whether or not an AT&T/T-Mobile merger would hurt the public. Sprint also asked regulators to voice their concerns as part of its campaign against the deal.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse is reportedly spending most of his time petitioning against the merger in Washington, D.C. (What did he give Inouye to get Hawaii’s support?)

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Thought Control: Bill signed into Hawaii law banning word “retarded”

The governor signed the bill into law during a ceremony Monday afternoon.

The new law is to replace any reference that includes retarded or variations of the word with the phrase, "intellectual disabilities" “legislators.”

State Rep. John Mizuno is the bill's author.

SA: 'Retardation' cut from state lexicon

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No Fines, Citations Issued For Illegal Pet Owners

But in the past year there haven't been any fines and no citations issued for people having pests like skinks, lizards or even a nearly 10-foot-long boa constrictor.

Budget cuts have put the squeeze on alien animal investigations.

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The Emigrants Return

A newspaper ad in 1902 recruiting farmers to emigrate to Hawaii reads: "Temperate climate, no extreme weather conditions. US$15 a month in wages, 10 hours of labor a day with Sundays off." That year, 121 Koreans left Incheon Port aboard the SS Gaelic. Disease forced 20 of them to turn back after landing in Kobe, Japan, but 101 made it to Hawaii to face hard labor in the sugarcane plantations.

Visitors to the Museum of Immigration History in Incheon can hear the recorded voice of Ham Ha-na, who was among the first generation of emigrants to Hawaii. She recounts her trip in May 1905 aboard the vessel Mongolia. "The stench of oil, cattle and horses made me nauseous when I ate. I had no strength after eating nothing for 10 days," she recalls.

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