KOS: “Hirono would be the first non-theist to serve in the Senate”
Hirono: Statehood evokes different emotions in all of us
Berg: Ansaldo will Cost Taxpayers $250M on Maintenance
Regaining Confidence Key to Economic Outlook
Abercrombie pledges to Raise Taxes Again: “The Problem is People”
Even in the middle of a private interview, the subject gets him so excited that Gov. Neil Abercrombie leaps to his feet exhorting his listener to understand.
The problem is people. We are living longer, there are more of us and those in public employment have been promised benefits that Hawaii can no longer afford with the existing budget, says Abercrombie.
His arms are raised above his head and the hands spread far apart.
"It is not the spending, it is the costs. The costs are exploding, the spending is chasing the costs. I am not talking about new programs, this is just to stay in place," Abercrombie said during an interview a few days ago.
According to his estimates, by the end of the 2010-2020 decade, one-third of the state's general fund will be needed to cover medical insurance for state retirees.
"One-third of revenues, we can't sustain that," Abercrombie said, adding that the state will not pay it….
If the state's budget crises are now stable, they are still ill enough to be in the emergency room and Abercrombie sees himself as the doctor performing triage, deciding which patients or programs can survive and whether they need immediate surgery or just bedside care.
"Who can be saved, in what order and you don't blink," he proscribed.
Reality: Act 100: How Hanabusa and Cayetano launched Hawaii Pension crisis
read … Mounting
Cayetano, Heen, Roth, Slater: How the city misled the public on Rail
The city has paid more than $2 million in taxpayer money to 10 different public relations firms to promote its heavy-rail project. Here's what they have not yet told you….
The mayor, City Council members and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) board all lack expertise and experience with rail systems, so they must rely on others. Crucial information about the proposed rail project can be traced to one of three sources: Parsons Brinckerhoff, which has already received more than $100 million in contracts from the city and stands to receive another $300 million to $400 million if the project is built; InfraConsult, a firm formed by three former Parsons Brinckerhoff employees, which the city hired to provide oversight on Parsons Brinckerhoff's work; and Wayne Yoshioka, who was recruited by Mayor Mufi Hannemann from Parsons Brinckerhoff to head up the city's Department of Transportation Services, and whose wife continues to work at Parsons Brinckerhoff….
The city has tried to create the impression that heavy rail is a "done deal," such as by conducting a fake groundbreaking earlier this year. The FTA has limited the city to relocating utilities, so starting construction now without that agency's approval would eliminate any chance of federal funding. Moreover, Congress has yet to approve full funding for the project. And finally, our lawsuit alleges that the city, in rushing the project, violated federal law. If we prevail, the rail project will be halted.
read … How the city misled the public
Water board seeks public's input before possible 70% rate increase
A public hearing on the proposed rate increases will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at the Board of Water Supply headquarters, 630 S. Beretania St. The agency’s board of directors will make the final decision on the proposal.
Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, a former City Councilman who is running again for Congress, also penned a scathing letter about the Board of Water Supply, calling it "out of control."
Related: Djou: Honolulu Board of Water Supply is out of control
read … Water Board
ORI was Top Recipient of Honolulu HUD Money
According to HUD, ORI Anuenue Hale received more Community Development Block Grant money than any other organization in Honolulu, and its 16,500-square-foot Wellness Center, which opened in April 2010, was supposed to serve at least 50 clients a day.
On a monitoring visit in April, HUD staff found only five participants in the Adult Day Care program and said further efforts to monitor projects were hampered because staff was uncooperative and unwilling to produce documents, leading to the order that ORI and the city either get into compliance or repay the $7.9 million spent on the center….
(Congrats to the Star-Adv editors who managed to get this article done without a single mention of Ernie Martin. That’s the kind of journalism which keeps them earning the Big Bucks!)
Reality: Resignation call after Audit reveals “ward heeler’s slush fund” overseen by Honolulu Councilman
read … Elder care site pressed to comply with federal grant terms
SA: With Only Six Schools Succeeding DoE needs to get Waiver from NCLB and still sucker Feds into thinking RTTT is real
In recent weeks it's become increasingly clear why Hawaii is likely to join the parade of states seeking a waiver. The law mandates that schools demonstrate that all of their students are proficient in math and reading by 2014, and only a handful of the state's 286 public schools appear within striking distance of that goal. Preliminary statistics show that six elementary schools — Haleiwa, Manoa, Waikiki, Mililani Ike, Momilani and Noelani — had 90 percent or better of their students testing as proficient in reading or math, or both….
Education officials in most states, as in Hawaii, are eager to avert a train wreck of demoralizing sanctions and funding consequences that failure would bring, but they are adopting the same wait-and-see stance.
The state needs to craft an alternative — a combination of progressive academic targets and a means of tracking students — that both satisfies U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and is attainable within the state's budgetary constraints….
If that wasn't enough, Tanimura said the state must worry about its $75 million Race to the Top award, the competitive federal grant Hawaii won with a proposal for education innovation and reform. Exactly right: The state DOE doesn't want to jeopardize that program by telegraphing unintentionally any avoidance of rigor.
Tanimura credits the No Child law with compelling much more precise systems for following student progress: Rather than tracking merely aggregate performance by entire schools, states now can analyze smaller groups, such as English language learners, and understand better where corrections are needed.
read … DOE correct in waiting on NCLB waiver
HSTA Contract Critical Juncture for Labor power in Hawaii
Q: Why is mediation more realistic (for HSTA contract negotiations)?
A: Because of the HGEA (Hawaii Government Employees Association) "most favored nations" deal, and because the arbitrator's not going to have direct or final say over the arbitration award that's final and binding. And if it's more than what the HGEA (settlement) was, then he's got a problem, he's got to give it to the HGEA as well.
Q: Would you say the other unions are watching this all unfold?
A: Oh, yeah. And in fact, UHPA (University of Hawaii Professional Assembly) intervened last week, so they're right in the middle of it. And I talked with (United Public Workers State Director) Dayton Nakanelua Friday afternoon (Aug. 5), and of course his negotiations are still going on. He's watching it, like, daily….
Q: And now, would you call the public-sector unions the last bastions of labor strength?
A: Yes. ... The thing none of us expected here was, OK, Lingle was a Republican, and she said, "We're going to cut across the board to balance the budget, and get used to it, that's the way it's gonna happen." What we didn't expect: this kind of behavior from a liberal, lifelong Democrat that's been elected to every position he's had with union support. The HSTA was the first to endorse Abercrombie. So that's what's odd, that he would be the first guy to cut the teachers' pay -- not talking about furloughs.
Related: VIDEO: Abercrombie argues with retired teacher in Hilo, Four of a Kind: UPW, UHPA get big Fat Pay Raise—and HSTA suit could give one to HGEA
read … Labor lawyer sees union power in Hawaii at a critical juncture
VIDEO: Hundreds gather at town hall meeting featuring Newt Gingrich
On Saturday night Gingrich met with Maui residents at the Door of Faith church in Wailuku.
What was expected to be a small gathering turned out to be a packed house
"We're clearly talking to 'Candidate Gingrich' now and I love being here, but we're also campaigning all through Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. We're on the way, we'll be in New Hampshire again this week and we'll be campaigning very intensely from now till Christmas," Gingrich says.
read … Gingrich
Fontaine is a good representative for Maui
In the past, I have written letters critical of the Republican Party of Hawaii. I have the opinion that its lack of success in Hawaii is due to three things: a lack of good candidates; its negative past history in Hawaiian politics; and a national GOP whose policies are in direct conflict with the beliefs of the people of Hawaii.
But I think George Fontaine is a good state representative for Maui. He seems to focus on the needs of the community and not just the politics. He has a positive attitude and seems to be able to work well with the majority party. He has a track record of working on Maui and knows the community.
MN: Fontaine has demonstrated integrity and compassion
read … Fontaine
Will Deployment Help Djou’s Campaign?
The number of veterans in Congress is at the lowest level since World War II, according to a January report by CNN. But there are plenty of groups that support electing service members to Congress, which may give Djou a fundraising edge.
read … Will Deployment Help Djou’s Campaign?
Fool Calls for Renewed Push to Disenfranchise Military Personnel
If the commission does not alter its vote on this matter, neighbor island citizens will have to go to court to seek justice and equality for permanent residents residing on the Big Island. In the meantime, to comply with time constraints, new district maps will be drawn. If the court rules in favor of justice for the growing population of the neighbor isles, those district maps will have to be redrawn — a giant waste of time and money because eight commissioners ignored the law….
If you think that justice should prevail over politics, let the commission know it should follow the law. Attend a meeting, or send an email message to Chairwoman Victoria Marks at Carolyn.L.Roldan@hawaii.gov. Stand up for fair representation for all the
islands (people) in our state Legislature.
Stand up for the Troops: A list of the commission's public hearings is at http://hawaii.gov/ elections/reapportionment/2011/documents/public_hearings_2011-08-09.pdf.
Inouye: National Guard deserves seat at Pentagon table (but do the troops deserve a vote?)
read … State redistricting panel is off to a bad start
Hawaii's genetically modified papayas attacked—eco terror feared
Thousands of papaya trees were chopped down on 10 acres of Big Island farmland under the cover of night last month, and farmers fear the destruction was the work of activists protesting genetically modified fruit.
Police have no leads and few clues beyond the tree stumps and all the fruit left to rot.
"It's hard to imagine anybody putting that much effort into doing something like that," said Delan Perry, vice president of the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association. "It means somebody has to have passionate reason."
related: Papaya attack coincides with Worldwide Week of Eco Terrorism
read … Hawaii's genetically modified papayas attacked
Ibarra Rules that RENOVATIONS require SMA Permit, orders demolition of Keauhou Church Building
Judge Ronald Ibarra rejected the plan to renovate three buildings on a Heeia Bay property owned by the Hawaii Conference Foundation, the investment arm of the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ.
"We're very pleased with the decision," said Frank Jung, the lawyer for appellants John Dagres and Judith Fitzgerald….
He said the work to be done on the ministerial intern building requires an SMA permit. In the decision, he wrote the proposed work went well beyond the repair and maintenance that would be allowed without such a permit.
The church group wanted to replace the roof, add a kitchen and install an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant bathroom and ramp in that building.
Ibarra (the judge who presided over the Hokulia shakedown) also ruled the 912-square-foot ministerial intern building shouldn't even be allowed on the property.
read … Keauhou church plans struck down
Lunalilo Trust pursues growth
But in the past decade, Lunalilo Home's financial stability was shaken somewhat after the home was closed from 1997 to 2001 for a $4 million renovation that took longer than anticipated.
The main building, which was built in 1918, received needed renovations. But no former residents returned for a variety of reasons including deaths and getting comfortable elsewhere.
Asam said trustees faced tough and unpleasant choices about how to keep Lunalilo Home solvent given the difficulty of rebuilding a resident population critical for sustaining operations costing about $2.5 million a year.
Trustees obtained court approval to deviate from some terms in Lunalilo's will, and opened the care home to non-Hawaiians. The trustees also stopped accepting residents who couldn't pay the cost for full services.
Resident fees range from $4,000 and $5,000 a month, which is toward the low end of care homes in Hawaii for services including room, meals and nonmedical physical care.
To fill beds temporarily and generate revenue, Lunalilo Home started a respite care program that allowed other caregivers to take a break and have Lunalilo Home provide 24-hour care for up to 30 days.
Other ways Lunalilo tried to restore revenue included converting a former laundry building into a 25-person adult day care facility, starting a food delivery service and cooking meals for Hawaii Meals on Wheels.
"It helped pay some of the bills, and I think really saved the place from further deterioration of its finances," Asam said.
read … Lunalilo Trust pursues growth
Kauai AIDS Clinic Finds Substitute for Federal Funds
Jackson seems stoic on the funding cutback. “We are looking at 22 percent cuts in CDC prevention funding each year for three years, and that’s a relatively small amount of our total budget.”
Malama Pono has a $600,000 annual operating budget, of which the CDC has contributed $116,000 a year. The CDC portion will drop over the next three years by 66 percent to about $40,000 annually.
The good news is that Malama Pono will make up for the lost funds from other sources, according to Jackson. “We’ll make it up through donations from fundraising, grants from foundations, and with support from other agencies. And we continue to have other state and federal funding for HIV/AIDS and Hep-C services.”
read … Malama Pono challenged by federal cuts
Star-Adv Charges $1500 for Obituary
Jim wrote up a narrative and asked the newspaper how much it would cost to publish on a Sunday. The answer: $1770.95. After a revision and a slight reduction in size, the amount dropped to “just” $1,522.26.
The quote was $95 per column inch, plus an additional $50 for the online version, and yet another $50 for a color photo.
Jim’s comment to me: “We paid far less than this to have the body cremated….
read … Cheaper to die than to print an obit
Hilo Claims Senior League World Series Title
Unbeaten Hilo triumphed over Tyler Texas team to capture World Series win….
The team will be arriving back in Hilo Sunday at 7:40 p.m. on their flight back from Los Angeles.
read … World Series
Pre-APEC, Korea Free Trade Enters Critical Stage
The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (Korus FTA) is entering the most critical stage in the coming month. In November, President Barack Obama heads to Bali, Indonesia for his first East Asia Summit (EAS) and then to Hawaii, where he will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. The White House needs the Korus FTA to pass in order to convince the rest of the Asia that Obama is serious about economic engagement with the region. …
It is a messy process, but the Blue House can take some comfort in the words of Winston Churchill, who remarked that the Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing after exhausting all the alternatives.
Related: Djou welcomes US-South Korea Free Trade deal
read … Threading the needle in Washington
NYT: Citing a Lack of Usage, Costco Removes E.V. Chargers
“We were early supporters of electric cars, going back as far as 15 years. But nobody ever uses them,” said Dennis Hoover, the general manager for Costco in northern California, in a telephone interview. “At our Folsom store, the manager said he hadn’t seen anybody using the E.V. charging in a full year. At our store in Vacaville, where we had six chargers, one person plugged in once a week.”
Mr. Hoover said that E.V. charging was “very inefficient and not productive” for the retailer. “The bottom line is that there are a lot of other ways to be green,” he said. “We have five million members in the region, and just a handful of people are using these devices.”
…Mr. Hoover said the company was aware of the state-funded upgrade program, but did not see a compelling reason to take advantage of it.
“Why should we have anybody spend money on a program that nobody’s thought through?” he said.
read … Nobody Uses Them
Honolulu Rail Contractor Surrounded as Gunmen Close in on Headquarters
Hundreds of euphoric Libyan rebels pushed to the western outskirts of Tripoli without meeting any resistance after they overran a major military base that defends the capital today. The trappings of Moammar Gadhafi's regime were crumbling fast, with opposition forces rising up from within his stronghold at the same time.
Associated Press reporters with the rebels said they reached the Tripoli suburb of Janzour around nightfall Sunday. They were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags. Hours earlier, the same rebel force of hundreds drove out elite forces led by Gadhafi's son Khamis in a brief gunbattle.
The elated fighters danced and cheered, hauling off truckloads of weapons and advanced full speed toward the capital in pickup trucks. Ahmed al-Ajdal, 27, a fighter from Tripoli, was loading up a truck with ammunition.
"This is the wealth of the Libyan people that he was using against us," he said, pointing to his haul. "Now we will use it against him and any other dictator who goes against the Libyan people."
Inside Tripoli, there was a second day of widespread clashes between what the opposition called "sleeping cells" of rebels who are rising up and Gadhafi loyalists. There were also large anti-government protests.
Libyan state television aired an audio message from Gadhafi tonight, his second in less than 24-hours. He sounded angry ….
Related: Troubled Honolulu rail Contractor owned by Gaddafi--Libyan Revolt causing Financial Losses
read … Shouting 'we're coming for you, frizz-head,' the opposition advances in Tripoli