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Tuesday, September 27, 2011
September 27, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:57 PM :: 10434 Views

National Journal: Good News For Hawaii Republicans?

Hawaii GOP Chair Resigns, Issues Call for Unity

Hawaii's Congressional Delegation: How they voted September 26, 2011

Hawaii Republicans, Democrats on Equal Financial Footing

Republicans had $8,829 cash on hand as of June 30, according the most recent financial report on file with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.

During the first six months of the year, the party brought in $35,181 in contributions. It spent $47,532 during the same period.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii has a little more cushion, financially.

The Dems had $14,282 cash on hand as of June 30, according to the party's most recent financial report. The party collected $37,567 in contributions between Jan. 1 and June 30, and spent $54,291 during the same period.

read … Cash Strapped?

New Day: Abercrombie’s BoE Balances Budget on Back of Special Ed Teachers, Students

Hawaii's special education teachers learned more than a month into the school year that the money they count on every year to reimburse them for basic supplies will not be coming — now or ever. Many of them had already spent money out of their own pockets for supplies.

For the last 10 years, the state's 2,000 special education teachers have each received a $1,690 classroom supply fund. They and their schools use this money to buy pencils, workbooks and other items. They also use it to buy ink and the paper needed to print out lengthy forms required by law for students with special needs, like Individualized Education Programs.

"We always depend on that money, year in and year out, for consumables," said Justin Hughey, a special education teacher at King Kamehameha III Elementary School in Lahaina. "Special ed teachers usually have to buy a different curriculum for their students, and even though we still usually spend some of our own money throughout the year, we depend on this for all the essential stuff."

But the $3.3 million program ended abruptly this year, with only retroactive notice to principals, complex area superintendents and teachers.

From now on, the memo says, special education teachers will have to rely on the money their schools receive through the Weighted Student Formula.

What they’re not cutting: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year

read … Hawaii Special Ed Teachers Lose Supply Fund

Borreca: Cayetano’s Second Term Better than Abercrombie’s First, but Cebu beats all

If there ever was a Hawaii governor who knew hard-scrabble economic times, it was Ben Cayetano. His eight years in office were all about struggling to keep your head above water in the fierce tides of economic recession and stagnation.

Cayetano's 1996 "Restoring Hawaii's Economic Momentum" prepared by Seiji Naya, the former state business and economic development head, may be a useful guide….

In his report, Naya highlighted the success of his department in bringing together local planners and developers to help Cebu in the Philippines develop its historic waterfront to be modeled after Aloha Tower Marketplace.

Today while Aloha Tower is still just barely hanging on, the Cebu waterfront sports a beautiful new development aided by a new casino. (Did he just say casino? Cayetano’s second term fell behind the Philippines, and Abercrombie’s first term is even worse, and legal gambling is the solution.)

One Philippine economist noted that "economic success of Cebu is the result of positioning, serious planning, an industrious population and local governments which understand the needs of business."

Unlike the diaphanous (?) exhortations of Gov. Neil Abercrombie that if everyone paddles together we will be okay, Cayetano came out with a solid six-point plan, including the No. 1 job: "Removing government barriers to economic activity."

read … Falling Behind the Philippines

Aloun Farms Buys 559 Acres Near Rail Route

CB: A previous version of this article omitted three of the top 25 landowners — Aloun Farms, A M Enterprises LLC and Aloha Cargo Agency Services. The error occurred because we used an older version of the parcel map when determining land ownership within 2,500 feet of the rail line. The error was uncovered when we examined ownership near each station and discovered a landowner that should have been on the original list. It turned out that use of the old map meant that some 400 parcels didn't match up with ownership data.

read … UPDATE

Berg proposes GE Tax increase for more roads and bike paths

It's a controversial idea - raising the state’s general excise tax in order to create better commuting options for Oahu residents.

No, this is not another debate about rail transit. Honolulu City Councilman Tom Berg has introduced a resolution (11-249) that urges state lawmakers to authorize another half percent increase to the general excise tax in order to build new roads and bike paths.

“We're not spending the money we need on roads and bike lanes,” Berg told Khon2. “Everything's sucked up into this rail.”

read … GE Tax

State revises count of kids who died in custody

The state attorney general's office now says three children died of abuse in Hawaii's Child Welfare Services system in the past decade — not one, as legislators were told last week — and some child advocates were stunned Monday to learn that deaths in state custody are not reported in Hawaii's Child Death Review.

Former state Rep. Alex Santiago, who helped create the Child Death Review Program in 1997, expressed disappointment that the program's report does not contain specific information on children who died while in state custody. The attorney general's office said that 29 children have died while under state protective care since 2000, mostly from medical conditions.

CB: Hawaii Lags On Foster-Child Death Disclosures

read … More Secrecy Problems

Feds Still Have 'Serious Concerns' About ORI Plan

A federal agency still has "serious concerns" about the city's plans to bring a Wahiawa elderly care center into compliance with grant requirements, according to a letter obtained by Civil Beat.

Four months after raising questions about Honolulu's compliance with federal grants requirements, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said the city must continue to freeze funding for ORI Anuenue Hale.

High-level city officials are working quietly with HUD to prevent the city from having to return $7.9 million in federal grant money, while HUD continues to raise questions about whether the city can meet its requirements to prevent repayment. The federal agency's latest concerns are outlined in a Sept. 9 letter.

Related: Sept. 9 letter

Drugs: Convicted Cocaine Dealer replaces Advertiser columnist as Ernie Martin’s Campaign Treasurer

read … ORI Freeze


Malama Solomon: “You didn’t gimme a district, so I’m Suing”

Hawaii County groups that say their island deserves a fourth seat in the state Senate based on population growth during the past decade have 45 days to challenge the matter in court.

The groups are challenging the constitutionality of new maps for the state's political boundaries approved Monday by the state Reapportionment Commission. They say the plan is based on a population count that includes too many nonpermanent residents, such as military members and students.

"I have spoken with my clients, and we are ready to proceed," said Hawaii island attorney Stanley Roehrig, a former state representative. "We're going to file a petition to review this matter."

The petition, on behalf of state Sen. Malama Solomon (D, Hilo-Honokaa) and members of the Hawaii County Committee of the state Democratic Party, would be filed with the state Supreme Court.

(Note to Justices: Justice means not only saying “no” to Malama Solomon’s power grab, but also saying “no” to any count which excludes any human beings….)

Drugs: Malama Solomon’s meth connection

CB: Redistricting Panel Deals One Senator Bad Hand

read … Solomon Suit

Styrofoam: Civil Beat Doubles Down on War Against Restaurant Industry

It was just three days ago that Civil Beat posed the question, “Why Do We Use So Much Plastic Foam in Hawaii?”

We wanted to know if others shared our concerns, so we asked for your feedback. Turns out you do. (They are so easily manipulated.)

Thanks to all of you who shared the article through Facebook, Twitter and email. It became clear very quickly that this was an issue that Civil Beat readers want investigated. Between our own questions and the ones submitted by you – we have plenty of investigating to do.

read … We're On It – Why So Much Plastic Foam In Hawaii?

Kona HHSC hospital faces budget cuts

Kona Community Hospital must cut about $1.1 million from its budget this year, after the governor's office ordered Hawaii Health Systems Corp. to cut payroll costs by 5 percent.

The order came down about two weeks ago, CEO Jay Kreuzer said.

"We do not anticipate any reductions in force," he added….

read … Kona

Telescope Shakedown Scammers Questioned

E. Kalani Flores of the Flores/Case ohana testified first on Monday, followed by Pisciotta.

Flores, an associate professor of Hawaiian lifestyles at Hawaii Community College, testified on the spiritual significance of Mauna Kea, which is also known as Mauna a Wakea, the mountain belonging to the legendary sky father Wakea. TMT officials prefer to call the mountain Maunakea.

Flores said that the university never asked permission to build the TMT in the realm of Wakea.

"No one ever consulted those of that realm," he said. "No one has ever asked permission." He gave a brief overview of the Hawaiian concept of the piko as a portal linking people and places to higher powers.

"It is this piko on top of the summit where energies and life forces flow from higher dimensions and the Creator and are then transferred into the Earth," Flores said in his written testimony. The construction of the telescope would block this flow of energy, causing substantial, significant and cumulative adverse impacts, he said. (But $50M a year would make it all OK.)

Reality: Thirty Meter Telescope Selects Mauna Kea -- Let the looting begin!, Telescope: The Shakedown begins

read … TMT

Aloun Farms middleman wants charge set aside

Matee Chowsanitphon made the request in view of the federal prosecutors dropping charges against the Sou brothers Aug. 4 during the fourth day of their trial.

The setting aside of Chowsanitphon's conviction would mean he would not have to pay $48,000 in restitution to 24 of the Thai laborers brought here to work at the Sous' farm.

Related: Human Trafficking: Did the US DoJ Purposefully lose the Aloun Farms Case?

read … Escaped Slavers

Chinese visitors to U.S. could reach 5 million by 2015

China's outbound travel market to the U.S. could grow to 5 million visitors in 2015 from less than 1 million last year if visa restrictions are loosened and more direct flights are added.

That was the message from China's highest tourism official, speaking to the Hawaii Tourism Authority and members of the U.S. Travel Association on Monday, the closing day of the fifth annual China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit.

"We hope that the U.S. can bring more convenient visa procedure, and we exchanged opinions on that," said Qiwei Shao, chairman of the China National Tourism Association, who was in Kailua-Kona for the event along with Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), and more than 60 regional tourism directors from the U.S. and China.

read … Visitors

Disney Projects $1.2B in Aulani Sales

Annual fees are based on the number of points it takes to buy a time share at Aulani. The new rate is $5.73 per point, up from an original $4.31 per point. The higher fee equates to between $722 and $7,380 a year depending on the time of year and unit size and view.

Purchase prices for a time-share unit based on an annual week's stay at Aulani range from $15,120 to $154,560. Purchase prices weren't adjusted.

Disney stands to take in about $1.2 billion from Aulani time-share sales based on estimates of 25,000 one-week interests at the project, which has 481 time-share units.

That excludes annual dues, which can be adjusted from year to year

read … Timeshare Billions

State picks 1 food bank out of 2 for Garden Island

Young said Hawaii Food Bank's lower per-pound cost of food distribution and its abundant food supply were two of the reasons the state selected the organization. Hawaii Foodbank's distribution food costs on Kauai were less than 1 cent per pound compared with about 56 cents per pound at Kauai Independent, Young said….

On the same day the state sent its proposal to the USDA, Kauai Independent's board of directors placed longtime Executive Director Judith Lenthall on paid administrative leave and said it will conduct an independent investigation. Lodico declined to say why Lenthall was placed on leave and what prompted the investigation, but did say the decision was unrelated to Kauai Independent's use of $779,000 in federal grants that had to be returned to the USDA in 2007.

read … Scammers Busted

Conservation groups drop seabird suit against Kauai utility

They alleged the utility violated the Endangered Species Act by refusing to implement measures to protect Hawaiian petrels and Newell’s shearwaters colliding with power lines.

Hui Hoomalu i Ka Aina, the Conservation Council for Hawaii, the Center for Biological Diversity and the American Bird Conservancy filed the suit. Earthjustice is representing them.

A few months after the lawsuit, the utility was indicted on 19 counts of violating the Endangered Species Act and The Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

(And why aren’t they suing wind farm developers?)

read … Birds


Seed crop industry up only 5 percent in isles

Hawaii’s seed crop industry continued expanding last season as companies spent more money on operations, though the pace of growth slowed and shipments of seeds declined, according to a government report.

A preliminary estimate by the Hawaii office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service last month pegged the value of local seed crops at $247 million in the 2010-11 season, up 5 percent over a revised value of $236 million for the prior season.

The modest growth reflected maturing of an industry that grew at rates between 23 percent and 37 percent in each of the previous six years.

Fred Perlak, president of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, noted that last season’s growth occurred despite a tough economy and still makes seeds the biggest agricultural commodity in the state.

HR: Value of Hawaii Seed Industry Rises to New Record High of $247 Million

read … Seeds


City to cede 911 tapes of June 3 spree

City attorneys agreed Monday to release to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser at least some of the Honolulu Police Department's 911 taped conversations related to the June 3 highway shooting rampage that left one dead and two wounded.

But the city lawyers intend to keep confidential other 911 tapes involving calls from the victims.

They also said they don't want to immediately turn over any tapes to the newspaper because of a pending request to seal evidence, including any 911 tapes, by defense lawyers for the man charged in the shooting.

read … 911 tapes


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