Abercrombie announces final vetoes, 14 bills become law
Democrat push to disenfranchise Military fails to gain support of Hawaii, Maui Advisory Councils
Big Island (Democrat) lawmakers and other neighbor island (Democratic Party) groups urged the state Reapportionment Commission Tuesday to reconsider its decision to include nonresident military members and their dependents,
along with nonresident students and incarcerated felons, (Another Star-Advertiser lie. The Hawaii County Democrats call for disenfranchising only the military.) in the population count for purposes of redrawing state political boundaries.
Meanwhile, at a separate meeting Tuesday of the Hawaii island and Maui Reapportionment Advisory Councils, members declined to consider a formal request asking the state commission to reconsider.
Now check out how Star-Advertiser Democrat BJ Reyes hijacks this quote:
After getting word that more accurate information on their addresses might be available, Thomason said a revote could be considered.
"If we can get more precise in our count, maybe we can get a revote," he said. (What that means is, if there really was an accurate description of so-called “non-resident military”, some members might choke, but there isn’t so they won’t.)
Democrat Proclamation: Democrats call disenfranchisement of Military Personnel “Fair, equitable representation”
CB: Hawaii Redistricting Panel Braces for Legal Challenge
HR: Democrats vs Democrats Over Reapportionment Decision
HI Gov. Abercrombie signs health law some saw as threatening Prepaid Act
The measure eliminates a section of state law calling for Hawaii's health system to be repealed when federal legislation provides for better health coverage.
Abercrombie's administration says he signed the bill after receiving opinions from federal departments that the state can retain its health law along with federal health requirements.
SA: Isle health care act preserved
Hawaii Lawmakers Got Free Tickets from Ko Olina, Mitsunaga to Governor's Inaugural Ball
…the Ethics Commission has said it's looking into several "questionable gifts" during the reporting period from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011.
"After looking at the disclosure statements, the (commission) staff has raised questions about a number of the gifts as to whether they should've been accepted," the commission's executive director Les Kondo told Civil Beat.
He declined to comment on the inaugural ball tickets specifically. But he said the commission will consider "questionable gifts" at its next monthly meeting on July 20.
Tsutsui, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz and Rep. Ty Cullen disclosed in December receiving tickets to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's inaugural ball fundraiser, valued at $250, according to their gift disclosures.
- Cullen: Ticket valued at $250 from "Local 3." The ticket was the largest of the 49 gifts Cullen received.
- Dela Cruz: Ticket valued at $250 from architectural, engineering and construction management services firm Mitsunaga & Associates. The ticket was the only gift Dela Cruz reported for the year.
- Tsutsui: Ticket valued at $250 from Ko Olina Resort of Kapolei. The ticket was the only gift Tsutsui reported for the year.
HFP: Pay-for-Play Contractor top donor to Abercrombie Inaugural
HFP: Attack ads "coordinated' with alleged Pay-to-Play engineering firm
Abercrombie’s HSTA Contract: Teachers' drug tests limited
The state abandoned an effort to implement random drug testing for Hawaii's public school teachers in its "last, best and final" offer imposed July 1.
But the new terms do spell out, for the first time, the penalties for teachers who fail alcohol or drug impairment tests conducted under a "reasonable suspicion" policy.
According to the state's imposed offer, which also includes wage reductions and higher health care premiums, teachers face suspensions of five to 30 days for positive tests, and will be asked to voluntarily resign after a third positive.
Teachers who admit to being impaired before an observation test won't face a suspension, but will be required to submit to testing for up to a year.
The Department of Education has had a "reasonable suspicion" policy for teacher drug and alcohol testing since 2007, the same year the union agreed to random drug testing.
But the procedures the DOE can take in the event of failed tests were never outlined in the teacher contract.
Sovereignty Scammers Arrested, One Held because no drug rehab space available
The five Maui defendants in a federal conspiracy and fraud prosecution have been ordered by a judge to stop filing unsigned documents.
U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright complained that documents filed since the grand jury indictment in May have been "incomprehensible and nonsensical."
Seabright's order was filed one week after three of the five defendants failed to appear to make pleas.
Since then, all three have been collared and two agreed to abide by court bail requirements. The third, John Oliver, remains in custody, according to prosecutor Lawrence Wong.
Bench warrants were issued for Pilialoha Teves, Mahealani Ventura-Oliver and her husband, John Oliver, when they failed to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang last month.
Two defendants appeared and pleaded not guilty, Peter (also known as Petro) Hoy and Leatrice Lehua Hoy.
The Olivers face 25 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, money laundering and false claims, and the others face a lesser number of counts in the same alleged scheme….
The Hoys are represented by Dana Ishibashi. Teves is reported to be represented by Richard Gronna.
After the bench warrants were issued, Ventura-Oliver and Teves were arrested and later released on bail, after advising the court they would follow all bail conditions.
Oliver was arrested June 30. On July 6, the court set bail, ordering that he reside at Mahoney Hale, a halfway house for rehabilitating alcohol and drug users. But since there has not been a place for him, he remains in jail.
RELATED: Naming names: Who are the alleged Sovereignty-mortgage scammers?
Abercrombie agrees to pay losing bidders
The last batch of bills signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie included one of the hold-your-nose gems of this year’s Legislature — HB 985, which allows the state to reimburse some losing bidders on public works projects for the cost of preparing their bids.
The measure, which Abercrombie approved without comment, allows the state to spread around more money without evidence of public good to contractors who also happen to be generous campaign contributors to legislators and the governor.
The bill was introduced by Maui Reps. Angus McKelvey, Gil Keith-Agaran, Joe Souki and Kyle Yamashita, along with Kailua Rep. Pono Chong.
The reimbursements would apply to design-build contracts on projects worth $1 million or more, with the top three pre-qualified bidders eligible for repayment on the cost of preparing conceptual design drawings.
Third Appointee Resigns At Abercrombie's Request
A third board member asked by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to resign said Tuesday that he plans to do so.
Eric Beaver of the Public Housing Authority told Civil Beat that he'll be accommodating the governor's request, making him only the third of 28 former Gov. Linda Lingle appointees to step down.
But most are resisting the governor. To date, 18 appointees who received letters from Abercrombie plan to stay put….
"I’m thrilled that we have a governor who wants to help solve or address some of the housing issues through his "New Day" plan," said Beaver. (Is he joking?)
Rail Lobby sighs with relief as Agencies Decline to Cut Bond Ratings
The taxpayers for the City and County of Honolulu got some good news the other day as the administration gets ready to issue additional general obligation bonds (GOs). Whenever municipal bonds go up for sale, the different rating agencies, in this case Fitch and Moody's, take a fresh look at the financial condition of the issuer and its ability to not only service the debt but also to repay the bonds.
Both agencies gave Honolulu pretty close to top ratings: Moody's Aa1 and Fitch AA+, just one notch down from "triple A."
Bus fare hike on school board agenda
If your child rides a yellow school bus to classes, you might be shelling out some more green.
A proposal before the state Board of Education's Finance and Infrastructure Committee Tuesday would raise bus fares 20 percent for quarterly and annual passes.
The cost of the annual pass would go from $225 to $270, while a quarterly pass would rise from $60 to $72.
In spite of all the talk, Hawaii in bottom 25% for so-called Green Jobs
Hawaii ranked 38th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in its number of "green jobs" as a percentage of the total work force, according to a study released today by the Brookings Institution.
The study calculated that there were 11,113 such jobs in Hawaii last year, or 1.7 percent of all jobs in the state. The national average was 2 percent. The report, titled "Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment," was produced in association with the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, a Cleveland-based consulting firm.
The authors of the 68-page report devoted several pages to explaining how they defined (new age eco-cult terms such as) "the clean economy" and what constituted a green job.
They summed up by saying, "The clean economy is economic activity — measured in terms of establishments and the jobs associated with them — that produces goods and services with an environmental benefit or adds value to such products using skills or technologies that are uniquely applied to those products."
(So they claim that 98.3% of Hawaii’s economy has no environmental benefit??? How do they define environmental benefit? Obviously this is entirely subjective.)
The report cited five examples in Hawaii of employers that qualified under its criteria: Hawaii Coffee Co. Inc., which uses organic farming methods; Makai Ocean Engineering, which does research on wave and ocean power; R.M. Towill Corp., which provides professional environmental services; Rising Sun LLC, which designs and installs photovoltaic systems; and Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo, which specializes in environmentally sustainable architecture and construction services. (Subjectivity epitomized.)
Attorney: Nobody in their right mind will use new isle foreclosure law
An increasing number of Hawaii attorneys representing mortgage lenders are saying that a new state law intended to help homeowners avoid foreclosure has too many flaws and will go unused.
Three attorneys speaking at a Hawaii State Bar Association meeting Tuesday said a chief reason they will avoid the law is excessive liability for violating vague or even minor provisions of the law enacted in May.
Potential consequences for making a mistake in following the new law were cited by attorneys Frank Hogan, Gary Okuda and David Rosen. The lawyers envision filing foreclosure cases in state court instead of what had historically been an easier and faster nonjudicial process that was overhauled by the law known as Act 48.
"Nobody in their right mind is going to use Act 48," Okuda said.
RELATED: Fannie Mae ends use of non-judicial foreclosure in Hawaii
Abercrombie Admin refuses to disclose details of $40,000 Renovation of Governor’s Mansion
The folks running the gov's office haven't been forthcoming with the details, but we're still curious: What did the $40,000-plus in renovations for Hale Kia‘aina, the governor's residence, actually buy?
Considering that few residents, in these lean times or even otherwise, blow that much dough sprucing up their digs only eight years after it was built, folks may wonder. The work done was described as carpentry, painting and electrical work….
SA: Open the books on wind-energy plans
In a move that provided more spotlight at this stage, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa rightly complained he was not included in the information provided to the PUC regarding the project. Honolulu-based environmental group Life of the Land said it was offered copies of information only at steep, unaffordable prices.
The three-commissioner PUC agreed unanimously last week to allow Maui County and Life of the Land to intervene in the case, rejecting HECO's argument that they be kept at arm's length in various dockets. One of those includes a proposal that HECO charge ratepayers $3.9 million for studies examining transmission of wind-created energy into HECO's Oahu grid….
Obviously, interest in a project estimated to cost more than $1 billion goes far beyond Maui and environmentalists and should be of importance to the general public. But be advised: The lay person will need diligence to absorb the technical aspects of the project as well as persistence to locate the information. In a letter to the editor last month, PUC Chairwoman Hermina Morita noted that anyone can view the commission's website for information about the proposal — but the website is bureaucratically unfriendly; last week's decision is difficult for typical online searchers to find without knowing the document's number.
Still, the decision to allow access to Maui County and Life of the Land is a step forward for a commission accustomed to making quasi-judicial decisions behind bureaucratic doors. Given the enormous scope of Big Wind — its costs to HECO ratepayers as well as to neighbor islanders — this project needs to be vetted in the most transparent, accessible forum as possible. The public must pay attention — and, through Maui County and the environmental organization, now stands to benefit from a greater degree of openness than might otherwise have occurred prior to a final decision.
CB: OIP is a Paper Tiger
The Office of Information Practices, the state agency charged with acting in the public interest and enforcing the state's open records law, is a paper tiger.
State and county agencies can ignore its opinions with impunity — with only the possible threat of embarrassment by exposure in the media as a stick. And even if agencies ultimately decide to go along with OIP, they can make records all but unobtainable by charging a ridiculous price for them, the way the university did to the professor.
That's not the way it was supposed to be when the Hawaii Legislature created the agency in 1988, nor is it consistent with the spirit of the state's open records law.
This language clearly gives the OIP the power to order government agencies to make records available. Yet, that power isn't being wielded today, at least in part because of a 2009 Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals decision. That case involved not just the UIPA but also the open meetings law, known as the Sunshine law, which doesn't give the OIP the same strong powers as the open records law.
The result of the appeals court decision appears to be confusion — and a weakened OIP.
Cheryl Kakazu Park, OIP's director, defends her office, but says she's going to seek clarification of its powers from the Legislature next year. She says she sees agencies voluntarily comply with OIP advice.
Homelessness Industry Thrilled as Abercrombie Policy pushes Homeless into Chinatown
The number of meals served at IHS' men's shelter jumped to 15,045 in June from 13,652 in April. And the number of meals served at IHS' women's shelter saw a similar increase, 5,599 in June compared with 4,972 in April, Mitchell said.
In June, 22 people also attended an orientation to volunteer at IHS. "That's the largest number of people we've had in five years," IHS spokeswoman Kate Record said.
The nearby River of Life Mission in Chinatown has seen a similar increased demand for food.
In May, River of Life Mission served 14,100 meals, compared with 11,700 in May 2010. In June the organization served 14,900 meals compared with 12,400 in June 2010, said the Rev. Bob Marchant.
REALITY: Kapiolani Park: Homelessness industry takes Hawaii tourism hostage, Defeating the "homelessness industry" before it gets a grip on Hawaii
Defense Lawyers Dispute Prosecutor Kaneshiro
“The same attorneys took exception to Kaneshiro’s position that his office doesn’t need to inform defense counsel if a prosecution witness has given inconsistent statements about a crime….
And attorneys also questioned the accuracy of Kaneshiro’s assertion that the prosecutor’s office under previous head Peter Carlisle had a jury trial conviction rate of just 33 per cent….
In 2005, the Honolulu Advertiser published the results of a study that showed the felony trial conviction rate for Carlisle’s officer that year was 67 per cent. The same story said several times that the corresponding acquittal rate was 33 per cent.
Carlisle, now Honolulu Mayor, has not responded to requests for comment on Kaneshiro’s statements. Several of the 34 deputy prosecutors who left the office after Kaneshiro was sworn in have since gone to work in Carlisle’s administration.
Kaneshiro said some of the deputies departed because they preferred to plea-bargain cases and didn’t want to argue them in court.
Details of the ethics complaint filed against Kaneshiro are unknown because proceedings in the Office of Disciplinary Counsel are confidential.
Kaneshiro said Monday that the complaint was filed against Kaneshiro by a former high-ranking deputy prosecutor, Kevin Takata, who was forced out of the office after Kaneshiro was elected.
Police Chief: Some Cyber Criminals Not Very Smart
What is a cyber criminal? Internet experts say it's a person fully indulged in hurting society, whether it's committing financial fraud, encouraging terrorist beliefs or satisfying a lust for sexual deviation.
"This diabolical criminal genius doesn't have to be from a Stanford University, an MIT, a Cal Tech or an Ivy League college," Gary Yabuta, Maui police chief, said. "In fact, he doesn't even have to be very smart."
Experts told a panel of state representatives that identity thieves, pedophiles, cyber bullies and terrorists can easily access personal information behind a cloak of anonymity….
"The bottom line is there are a lot of tools out there for the criminals to use that can make it very, very difficult for us to attribute a certain transaction to a particular defendant," Chris Van Marter, Honolulu deputy prosecutor, said.
City prosecutors are urging state lawmakers to strengthen existing statutes relating to computer crimes, and follow the lead of some other states in crafting a bill that would require other jurisdictions to honor court orders, such as subpoenas, issued in Hawaii.
CB: Eric Ryan launches new Website Attacking Kym Pine
Whois search: http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search/kympineisacrook.com
Can shipping containers help solve our homeless problem?
Honolulu city councilman Tom Berg is proposing a change to the city Land Use Ordinance so homeless people can be moved into converted shipping containers on land zoned for agricultural use. It is an idea Hawaii News Now first told you about in May.
Berg believes farmers may be willing to pay to convert shipping containers into small dwellings, complete with bathrooms and kitchenettes. Once built, he envisions homeless people moving into the converted containers for up to five years during which time they would work as farmhands.
Affordable Senior Housing 47% Vacant In Ewa
Nearly half the units at a new affordable rentals apartment project for seniors in Ewa are still awaiting tenants.
The $40 million dollar Franciscan Vistas Ewa project, just off Renton Road in Ewa, features 149 apartments with affordable rents for anyone 62 and older. More than 70 units are still available for rent, a month after the last building was completed.
Clayton Hee thinking about intervening in Hoopili Docket
Sen. Clayton Hee told Civil Beat Tuesday he's seriously considering intervening in the docket, and already has approval from Senate President Shan Tsutsui to use an attorney assigned to Hee's Judiciary Committee to help. While he can't and won't speak for the full Senate, Hee would certainly add clout to the opponents' camp.
While he limited his testimony before the Land Use Commission on June 30 to the procedural matter at hand and developer D.R. Horton-Schuler-Homes' dependence on the as-yet-not-guaranteed rail project….
Current LUC Executive Director Dan Davidson told Civil Beat Monday that there's a 15-day window for would-be intervenors to file, and those petitions to intervene could be decided at the commission's first meeting in August.
Friends of Makakilo is already in, but the group's organizer Kioni Dudley could use some help. The Sierra Club, the state's largest environmental advocacy organization, is also mulling its options. Director Robert Harris told Civil Beat that it's a matter of "logistics" and specifically whether to hire an attorney to do the work.
Anti-Superferry Protester Lance Holter Cries because Hanabusa fails to Shut down US Oil Drilling
the mantra of "drill here, drill now, drill everywhere" has become part of the right-wing political lexicon. It's as if the resent catastrophic Gulf oil spill never happened. For example, during the recent House budget bill process, Hawaii's U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa attempted to place an amendment for an approved disaster response plan, in the event of a catastrophic oil spill, into the House Resources Committee for new and expanded offshore drilling leases. (Clue: There is a big difference between leasing and drilling.) The Republican-dominated Resources Committee nixed her idea and the bill went on to the Senate without it.
Obama threatens to cut off Veterans healthcare unless nation continues mortgaging itself to Saudi Arabia, China
The stalemate over the nation's debt limit could affect roughly 70 million checks sent to veterans, the disabled and senior citizens. The news worried seniors at the Kapahulu Center. They're among the roughly 220,000 Hawaii recipients who depend on Social Security.
"It will make it really difficult because that pays my medical insurance also," said 80-year-old Toshiyuki Watabayashi.
(Isn’t it wonderful having a Manoa liberal in the White House?)
Suspected Murderer, Fraudster Moving to Hawaii?
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.
In May, Perry was arrested and charged with larceny and insurance fraud for allegedly faking an injury as a New York corrections officer and collecting more than $100,000 in workers compensation. The New York judge in that case has granted leave for perry to come to Hawaii from July 13 to August 15 to visit his new girlfriend, an Army medical specialist stationed in Honolulu.
"What would give him purpose to go back?" Scharrett said. "Why would he? I mean, to face charges? Why would you do that? It makes no sense."
WSJ: Cerberus keeps grip on Kyo-ya, Royal Hawaiian
Cerberus Capital Management LP this week restructured more than $1.3 billion of debt on a portfolio of six huge resorts, pushing back its due date for at least two years, in another sign that lending markets are open to deep-pocketed borrowers willing to put up some cash.
The restructuring of the debt, which came due Monday, means that Cerberus will retain the so-called Kyo-ya resort portfolio, which includes the 1,700-room Sheraton Waikiki Hotel in Honolulu, the 550-room Palace Hotel in San Francisco, the 530-room, pink-hued Royal Hawaiian hotel in Honolulu and three others.
Target set to open new store in Hilo
Target announced on Tuesday that it will open its new Hilo location on Wednesday, July 20.
A special Maile Lei blessing will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19.