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Thursday, September 8, 2011
September 8, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:58 PM :: 19061 Views

Report: 42% of young Adults Obese in Hawaii

Parker Ranch, A&B, Grove Farm, Castle& Cook all Rake In Megabucks from State Tax Credits

Incentives include $7.5 million in annual tax credits for investments in agriculture facilities, a $2.5 million loan guarantee program, expedited ag processing facility permits and allowance of employee housing on prime ag land.

There is also a controversial benefit that allows owners of prime ag land to urbanize land equivalent to 15 percent of the acreage protected for development, including housing. However, all applicants to date including Parker Ranch have waived rights to claim this benefit….

If approved, the designation for Parker Ranch land would follow four other such designations the commission has granted.

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. received commission approval in 2009 to protect 27,105 acres on Maui used by subsidiary Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. and 3,773 acres on Kauai used mostly by Kauai Coffee Co.

Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii Inc. won approval in March to designate 679 acres on Oahu, though 223 acres predominantly occupied by a reservoir and gulch providing irrigation water and drainage to other farmland was rejected.

In May, Mahaulepu Farm LLC, an affiliate of Grove Farm, won the designation for 1,533 acres on Kauai mostly leased to eight farmers and ranchers.

read … Parker Ranch seeks ag designation for 56K acres

Tax Credit lobbying: $10,500 in Bribes to 24 Hawaii Lawmakers Unaccounted For

A total of 11 legislators — all in the state House — disclosed receiving sets of Blu-ray DVDs valued at $360 from Hollywood-based Relativity Media during the legislative session. The film studio lobbied for legislation to boost state tax breaks for film production in the islands.

On its expense report, which was posted to the state Ethics Commission website Wednesday, Relativity said it gave out a total of 35 DVD sets as gifts. That means two dozen sets are unaccounted for.

Rachel Schwartz of Relativity, who prepared the studio's report, wrote that the company "unfortunately did not keep track of exactly who took the boxes — some of them went to legislators, some went to assistants and other staff." The studio says it spent $10,150 on the DVD gifts.

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

read … $10,500 in Bribes

Thumb on Scale: City adds 30 to 200 pounds in figuring vehicle weights

On the initial registration of a new standard-equipped passenger vehicle, motorcycle, motor scooter, mo-ped or truck, the city director of finance is allowed to add on additional pounds, as set forth in Section 249-1, without having to actually weigh each vehicle.

For a standard passenger vehicle, the net weight has been determined to be the shipping weight established by the manufacturer, plus 100 pounds; the net weight of a new standard-equipped motorcycle, motor scooter or mo-ped is the shipping weight plus 30 pounds; and the net weight of a new standard-equipped truck is the shipping weight plus 200 pounds.

read … Tax Increase

SA: Keep wary eye on new land-use panel

The issue is the establishment of a new state agency, the Public Land Development Corp., which seeks to improve management of state lands, in large part through partnerships with private entities. It was born in the passage of Senate Bill 1555 last session and has barely taken its first breath. The board has just begun meetings and has yet to hire its executive director.

… Hawaii environmentalists…became especially concerned when reading about the law's provision for the corporation's key exemption "from all statutes, ordinances, charter provisions and rules of any government agency." Those exemptions cover "special improvement district assessments or requirements, land use, zoning and construction standards for subdivisions, development and improvement of land; and the construction, improvement and sale of homes thereon." The caveat is that the "public land planning activities of the corporation shall be coordinated with the county planning departments and the county land use plans, policies and ordinances."

That's quite an opening, put in the hands of a corporation directed by legislative appointees and key department heads of the state administration….

Dela Cruz points to examples of resources that could provide more opportunity for public enjoyment and economic development than they do now. In his own district, he imagines Lake Wilson with a fishing lodge and Haleiwa Boat Harbor as more of a commercial draw. He holds up photos of the underused Mauna Kea State Park that could be realized as a site for Olympic training. And partnerships could improve the chances of successful development of state lands near Honolulu's planned rail system, too.

read … Land Use

Sacrificial Lamb: Jamila Resigns From Planning Commission

Andrew Jamila has resigned from his seat on the Honolulu Planning Commission.

Jamila was not present at today's Commission meeting. Commission Chair Rodney Kim said he'd received the letter of resignation and thanked Jamila for his service. (In a vote later in the meeting, Kim was replaced as chair by Gayle Pingree. Kaiulani Sodaro will be vice chair.)

A month ago, Jamila was fined $650 by the Honolulu Ethics Commission for repeated transgressions, including the failure to disclose a conflict of interest as he voted on matters — even after he received a warning not to do that.

read … Jamila Resigns

Disability Mom: Abercrombie Makes Medicaid Population Second Class Citizens

Hawaii's governor, the first Democrat elected in eight years, has publicly defended his decision to segregate the state's Medicaid population as second class citizens….

Like Obama, Neil Abercrombie rode to victory last November on a great tide of hope for the future. And like Obama, he has apparently decided to side with Big Business against the civil rights of his voters….

One practical result is that children as well as adults with disabilities have the ability to appeal life-threatening denials of medically necessary services by their Medicaid plan. The majority of cases that reach this level involve children of all ages with disabilities, fighting for the right to live at home rather than in institutions. These home medical services are expensive, although less than what the state would pay for institutionalization.

In May, the White House unexpectedly pushed through an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief with the Supreme Court, taking the position that the protections of Federal law do not extend to Medicaid beneficiaries.

Disability law experts like Sara Rosenbaum and Simon Lazarus immediately warned of the potential “spill-over effect” if beneficiaries of the country’s “safety net programs” like Medicaid were suddenly denied the protections of the court.

Governor Abercrombie’s comments were made during an August 22 meeting called to explain why he signed a piece of legislation eerily similar to that amicus brief.

Hawaii’s S.B. 1274, signed by the Governor in July, accomplishes exactly what Lazarus warned of: it carves out the state’s entire Medicaid population (270,000) and denies them access to the protections of federal law.

The Governor openly admitted the purpose of SB 1274 was saving the state’s Medicaid contractors money on legal fees. Patterns of Medicaid providers violating federal regulations (and civil rights) he dismissed as mere “glitches”. (More information about SB 1274 as well as a link to a recording of the Governor's comments can be found here.)

read … Second Class

Labor Board asked to void HSTA subpoenas of legislators, governor

A deputy attorney general asked the Hawaii Labor Relations Board on Wednesday to quash subpoenas issued to Gov. Neil Abercrombie and six prominent state lawmakers in the teachers union's challenge against the state over a new contract.

Deputy Attorney General James Halvorson argued that the Hawaii State Teachers Association has not shown that it is unable to obtain from other sources the information it seeks from Abercrombie. He contended that lawmakers have absolute immunity under the state Constitution for any statement or action taken in the exercise of their legislative functions.

SA: School panel member says talks were friendly

read … HSTA Subpoenas 



Hirono: Stimulus Wasn’t Big Enough

MT: In your opinion, what's the single most pressing issue facing the U.S. today?
HIRONO: Jobs. Getting our economy going.
MT: And how do we do that?
HIRONO: I have supported infrastructure investment. The stimulus bill [from 2009]—I wish more had gone into that. Two hundred forty million dollars of the $1.4 billion sent to Hawaii was for infrastructure.

read … Hirono

Hirono Team Rebukes Dangerous Atheist Supporter “Raatz”

Rep. Mazie Hirono is often cited as the first Buddhist to serve in the United States House. Recent references to the U.S. Senate candidate have suggested that if she wins the seat she seeks in 2012, she’ll be the first “non-theist” in the Senate. (One example we saw was this post by ‘Raatz’ from the political site the Daily Kos.)

Can Buddhists — even non-practicing ones — really be described as non-theistic? (And what should the jail term be for questioning Hirono’s theism? What was the jail term for questioning Duke Aiona’s theism?)

We checked with Janet Gyatso, a professor in Buddhist studies at the Harvard Divinity School (and therefore a God whose word must be accepted unquestioningly). Gyatso said she sees a number of problems with such a designation, first because of how wide-ranging a term “theism” can be….

Gyatso described assigning a label to someone else’s religious beliefs as “dangerous.” (And deserving of sentence to reeducation camp.)

Asked about how the congresswoman self-identifies, religiously, a spokesman for Hirono offered this response: “Congresswoman Hirono is Buddhist.” (Which is more than Abercrombie ever said.)

read … Dangerous Raatz

Progressives still Worming their way towards Disenfranchising Military

Nonresident populations groups could be extracted from the state’s overall population base with varying levels of certainty, if the state commission tasked with redrawing the state’s political boundaries were to reverse a previous vote to include such groups….

During public meetings last night and tonight to hear public input on the proposed reapportionment maps drawn up by the commission, staff members said the most recent available data made it possible to do the extractions — although data is more accurate on some groups than others.

Reality: Military to be Disenfranchised so Meth dealer’s friend can keep Senate Seat?

read … Did you think this was over?

Study: HECO can use unlimited Solar—But only from Very large Arrays, Homeowner installations limited

One of the drawbacks to solar power is that the amount of electricity produced by grid-tied photovoltaic systems can fluctuate widely during a short period because of clouds, making it difficult for utilities to keep a steady flow of power to their customers. As a result, HECO limits the amount of solar or other renewable energy that can be connected to an individual circuit within its grid.

However, the study suggested that larger PV systems can generate more power than previously thought even when clouds are present because not all of the panels are likely to be shaded simultaneously.

"One new insight is that with very large arrays of solar panels, there is a smoothing of the fluctuation compared to the sharp spikes and plunges that can happen when a cloud passes by a single panel or small rooftop array," NREL officials said in a news release published last week.

(This all ends with the expiration of federal subsidies December 31, 2011.)

read … Only for Large Arrays

CSC Approves Public-Funded Campaigns without Unconstitutional Equalizing

The state Campaign Spending Commission has determined that there is enough money to operate the public-financing pilot project for Big Island county council races next year.

The commission will not offer an “equalizing funds” provision next year, however, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that providing matching funds to help publicly financed candidates compete against wealthier opponents was unconstitutional.

read … Unconstitutional

It Begins: Anti-Globalization Circus to Descend on Hawaii to protest APEC

The anti-globalization Moana Nui 2011 will focus on the Pacific Peoples, Their Lands and Economies. The alternative conference is sponsored by Pua Mohala I Ka Po and the International Forum on Globalization (November 9-11, 2011)

The Moana Nui 2011 web site states that the Pacific rim “nations are an increasing focus of geopolitical competition and economic stresses. Struggles for national sovereignty and cultural viability bring about rapidly expanding campaigns toward economic self-sufficiency. These campaigns challenge the legacies of colonialism, continued militarism in the region, growing trade and development conflicts, and corresponding environmental degradations. Whose interests are advanced in these struggles? (A: Wildly posturing UH Manoa Ethnic Studies Perfessers desperately trying to remain relevant) Whose views are served? (A: Wildly posturing UH Manoa Ethnic Studies Perfessers desperately trying to remain relevant) What are the dominant economic interests in play? (Green Energy Scammers) How do we take control of our future? (Follow the model of the anti-Superferry protesters) Which is the best way forward—convergence or resistance?” (Follow the model of the anti-Superferry protesters)

Local speakers will include Jon Osorio, Kyle Kajahiro, Mililani Trask, Mayumi Oda, Walter Ritte Jr., Arnie Saiki, Dr. Noelani Goodyear, Terri Keko’olani, Koohan Paik.

Foreign speakers are flying in from the US Mainland, South Korea, New Zealand, Hawai`i, Japan, Philippines, Okinawa, Rapanui, Guam, India, Malaysia, and Russia/Siberia.

In 1996 Sierra Club Books published an anthology of essays edited by Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith, The Case Against the Global Economy, and For a Turn Toward the Local. Jerry Mander and Koohan Paik were the authors of “The Superferry Chronicles: Hawaii’s Uprising Against Militarism, Commercialism, and the Desecration of the Earth.” The New York Times stated that Mander is “the patriarch of the antiglobalization movement”.

read … Circus

APEC Warmup: Hyatt Waikiki Hotel Workers Strike, Wake up Neighbors at 3AM

For the second time in their ongoing contract negotiations, union workers at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki are on strike.

Local 5 workers walked off the job at 3 a.m. Thursday.

"I get their plight. I understand they want a new contract. I get it. But it's just infuriating when you're trying to get some sleep," said Ted Price, who lives in an apartment complex across the street from the Hyatt.

Union workers are planning to keep up 24 hour-a-day strike lines for the next 7 days.

read ... Unite Here Local 5

Edition hotel case extended

Marriott International, the ousted owner of the former Waikiki Edition hotel, will return to bankruptcy court in Honolulu today seeking an order to protect its confidential and proprietary information from owner M Waikiki LLC.

Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Faris, who heard first-day motions on Wednesday, continued discussion to 10:30 a.m. today after parties failed to reach agreement.

read … Waikiki Edition

Fall enrollment for UH system hits record high

UH enrollment hit a record high of 60,519 students, the university said Wednesday.

The number reflects a 0.5 percent increase, or 288 students, from the fall 2010 enrollment figure of 60,231 students at the system’s 10 campuses. The university’s fall enrollment has grown by 20 percent since 2006, officials said.

“Enrollment at our University of Hawaii campuses today is 10,000 students greater than it was five years ago

read … 60,519

Kamehameha Schools' lawsuit delayed

Kamehameha Schools' civil trial against a Big Island family that received a $7 million out-of-court settlement from the educational trust has been put on hold.

The trial was to have started Aug. 29 before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura. On Aug. 25, Nakamura denied a motion by the multibillion-dollar trust to reveal the identities of former student "John Doe" and his mother, "Jane Doe," at trial.

According to court records, the judge said the Does could be exposed to "some degree of harm" if their identities were made public in open court.

Kamehameha is suing the Does and Eric Grant, a Sacramento, Calif., attorney who represented the Does in their case against Kamehameha, demanding the return of $2 million of the settlement.

HR: Kamehameha Schools $2 Million Trial To Feature Anonymous Testimony

read … Kam Schools Suit

Parties ask for more time in Matee Chowsanitphon conviction review

Department of Justice attorneys and the attorney for middleman recruiter Matee Chowsanitphon in the now-dismissed Aloun Farms human trafficking case asked the federal court in Honolulu yesterday for two more weeks to work out the matters of restitution and sentencing.

Matee was on the witness stand in the separate Aloun Farms case as the trial ground to a halt amid revelations that the DOJ had improperly instructed the grand jury that taking recruiting fees in the 2003-2004 time frame of the trial was illegal. Matee had pled guilty to visa fraud in 2009 with the same understanding, and was ordered, in addition to other penalties, to pay restitution to Thai workers involved. The federal court, at the request of DOJ attorneys, ordered that the restitution payments be held in abeyance and that the DOJ file its position by yesterday.

LINK: motion (pdf)

read … Conviction Review

Civil Beat hires Editor known for Attack on Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Patti Epler has joined the Civil Beat team as deputy editor. The position marks a return to Hawaii for the veteran journalist, who lived on a sailboat in Honolulu in the 1980s and worked as an assistant editor at Honolulu Magazine.

Patti led the reporting team at the East Valley Tribune in Arizona that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for its five-part seies, "Reasonable Doubt," which examined controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his focus on illegal immigration….

Most recently Patti has been working as a reporter covering energy and environmental issues at the Alaska Dispatch, a statewide online news site based in Anchorage. Before that she was the co-founder of The Arizona Guardian, an online news site covering government and politics in Arizona.

read … Arpaio

Maui County Nonprofits never get Audited

It appears that there's unhappiness with the current management of the Maui Humane Society. So much so a forum was established on the Internet,

While browsing the site I came upon the contract between the county and the society for fiscal year 2010. Generally, the contents of contract remain unchanged except for the dollar amounts in subsequent years. Assuming that is true with this grant, there are quarterly reports due to the Department of Human Concerns. But there's no oversight by the department, no review and analysis of the reports submitted. So, who reviews the reports submitted by the Humane Society - the Animal Control Board or the director of the department? I doubt it. It appears that the reports, if submitted, are filed away without any form of review or analysis.

This is yet another incident that calls for an independent auditor similar to the state auditor.

read … Auditor

Kauai Nonprofits work to Help Criminals avoid Jail Sentence, Wipe Record

Representatives of several organizations, some already working as community service sites with the judicial system, attended a Monday meeting to consider partnering with a new comprehensive diversion program.

P.O.H.A.K.U. (Productive Optimism Helps All Kaua‘i Unite) is already referring participants to start this fall in a culturally based education and community service and restitution alternative to a conviction and incarceration or probation.

Deleting a criminal record offers an incentive not possible with community service in the traditional sense, and in addition to its punitive element, the cultural version offers the participant and work site to both embrace the spirit of restorative justice.

KGI: State waiting for feds to sentence ‘Dial-a-doc’ Spear

Read … Get out of Jail Free Card

Now Free: Thousands of Historical Hawaii Journals

The journal archive JSTOR announced this week that it is going to make hundreds of thousands of articles from its archives freely available online.

The newly accessible archives opens a treasure trove of early printed works about Hawaii.

LINK: Hawaiian Shark Amakua 1917

read … Hawaii History

Pahoa Reuse-Recycling Center Shut Down Because people actually wanted to Reuse Material

"The Reuse center has been temporarily shut down. We had been trying to run it with volunteers, and it did not work," Hunter Bishop, executive assistant to Mayor Billy Kenoi, told Big Island Weekly.

The reason, in one word: greed. For several days before the shutdown, entries at the "Opala in Paradise" Facebook page complained about "hoarders" who were grabbing items the moment they arrived, possibly
to sell at a local farmer’s market. Some of the scavengers allegedly were even approaching cars before their owners could unload.

"There was a woman who was willing to be there most of the time, however there were problems controlling the flow of materials in and out," Bishop said. "People would want to take items as soon as they
came in to the center — take them, leave, come back, take them again as soon as they came in. It wasn’t a fair or desirable way to control the center."

read … reuse

ILWU storms port, hold guards hostage in effort to drive out competing Union

Hundreds of Longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview early Thursday, overpowered and held security guards, damaged railroad cars, and dumped grain that is the center of a labor dispute, said Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha.

Six guards were held hostage for a couple of hours after 500 or more Longshoremen broke down gates about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack, he said.

No one was hurt, and nobody has been arrested. Most of the protesters returned to their union hall after cutting brake lines and spilling grain from car at the EGT terminal, Duscha said.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union believes it has the right to work at the facility, but the company has hired a contractor that's staffing a workforce of other union laborers.

Thursday's violence was first reported by Kelso radio station KLOG. (This happened six days ago)

The train was the first grain shipment to arrive at Longview. It arrived Wednesday night after police arrested 19 demonstrators who tried to block the tracks. They were led by ILWU International President Robert McEllrath, who said they would return.

The blockade appeared to defy a federal restraining order issued last week against the union after it was accused of assaults and death threats.

read … ILWU

FBI Raids Obama’s Bankrupt Solar Company

FBI agents armed with search warrants descended Thursday morning on bankrupt solar company Solynrda.

The investigation comes after a request by the Department of Energy's inspector general, FBI spokesman Peter Lee told NBC Bay Area News.

Agents arrived at Solyndra at 7a.m. and were examining the factory. Solynrda has a skeleton crew of 100 workers on the scene, who are closing the factory down….

The announcement was a devastating blow to Mr. Obama who is set to deliver a speech on job creation Thursday evening.

Congress has demanded a hearing into the matter. Wednesday the company was reported to be for sale.

There are no reports of any arrests at this time.

Solyndra officials made numerous visits -- 20 -- to the White House, according to logs and reporting by The Daily Caller.

Solyndra officials in the logs included chairman and founder Christian Gronet and board members Thomas Baruch and David Prend, according to the Caller.

read … FBI Raids Solar Company


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