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Saturday, October 1, 2011
October 1, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:38 PM :: 12644 Views

Double Taxed: Hawaii Tax Base Larger than Economy

The Legal Battle Over Honolulu’s Train to Nowhere

Paper or Plastic: Let us decide for ourselves

Council of State Governments Looks at Hawaii Justice Reinvestment

Maui County Settles Dispute with Merrill Lynch Over Student Auction Rate Securities

Deadly Fireworks Explosion: Safety Violations Lead to $415k fine

Prostitution Investigation focuses on Abercrombie’s Security Detail

The whistleblower claimed the supervisor was paid overtime for training sessions he never attended.

He also complained of favoritism, claiming that just a handful of the unit's deputies get lucrative, preferred assignments, like going on overseas trips with the governor, when the security detail earns extra overtime and per diem pay.

A few members of the governor's security team earn more than $100,000 a year with overtime, equal to more than twice base their base salary of about $50,000, according to officials with knowledge of the unit’s budget.

The whistleblower also told his superiors that he hired a prostitute for his supervisor, since the supervisor told him he would give him better work assignments in exchange for favors. He claimed he drove the supervisor to meet the prostitute in Waikiki during the day, while the supervisor was supposed to be at work.

The whistleblower complained the supervisor conducts side businesses, like marketing and promoting an energy drink while at his state job, and sometimes uses his state vehicle to go to side-business appointments, said a person familiar with the probe.

“It’s easy for some of them to get 50 hours of overtime in a two-week pay period,” said one state official familiar with the unit’s operations. “They sometimes add a couple of overtime hours on their timesheets for ‘pain and suffering’ because they've had an especially busy day, going to four or five locations,” the official said.

Read … Prostitution, Side Businesses, Overtime

Teachers: I will never campaign for anybody again, We’re almost better off Voting Republican

Here are some comments posted on the HSTA Facebook Page:

Linda Lupica I will never campaign for anyone ever again. Don't even bother asking this rep.

Glenn Tanaka dunno about being that extreme, but i sure as heck will be a lot more careful in choosing who I vote for.

Glenn Tanaka heck, we're almost better off voting Republican, because we know where we stand w/ them.
Won't be as much of a surprise when they try to screw us.

Ferdenan Damo Advocate teachers not politicians.

read … HSTA Facebook

Hirono Fundraising Falling Short as Deadline Approaches

“Since we launched our $25,000 grassroots fundraising drive on Tuesday, we’ve raised $18,940,” Hirono wrote. “That’s an amazing number, and I’m so humbled by the support -- amazingly low.”

Hirono asked supporters to help her go “over the top” by midnight.

read … FAIL

Public Housing Authority Director Stepping Down

Denise Wise has resigned as executive director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, continuing a pattern of turmoil at the top of an agency that oversees more than 6,000 residential units in more than 80 aging housing projects around the state.

Wise took office early last year, replacing another executive, Chad Taniguchi, who had held the post for less than four years. The agency has had eight directors in 14 years.

read … Public Housing

Unanswered questions remain about governor’s emergency declarations

…last December, just as Gov. Abercrombie took over from the departing Lingle administration, it appeared the problem had been solved by outgoing DLNR director and land board chair, Laura Thielen.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources was scheduled to vote during its December 9, 2010 meeting on a plan to authorize the chairperson of DLNR to issue right-of-entry permits to the federal government “to conduct environmental investigations, remediation, and response activities” involving unexploded or discarded military munitions.

A background report prepared by DLNR staff explained the background of the issue and details of the recommendation….

But at the December 9, 2010 meeting, the land board deferred action on the recommendation of incoming land board chairman, Bill Aila, who was attending his first meeting, minutes show. Although Aila said at the time that the matter would be taken up at the next meeting, that didn’t happen. It doesn’t appear to have been considered again by the board before the governor made his emergency declaration.

When the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations wrote to the governor and asked him to withdraw the emergency proclamations, the response came just two days later from Attorney General David Louie. I expected Louie’s letter to address the proposed solution presented to the land board in December, and at least explain in detail why it was taken off the table. Instead, it is never mentioned.

read … Unanswered questions remain

Hawaii’s Ancient IT Holding Back 2010 Financial Report, Elevator Inspections, Federal Funds

Here are the services that SAIC found are not being met or are reduced:

*elevator inspections
*Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act compliance
*incoming animal and agricultural inspections
*desk top systems and support
*server implementations
*system implementations
*Federal reporting requirements
*controls for Personally Identifiable Information (PII) protection
*cyber security assessments

The consultant also found that the state has still not finalized its comprehensive financial report for fiscal year 2010. Fiscal year 2012 began in July.

read … Wangs and Filing Cabinets

Illinois Eight Democratic Primary: Duckworth raised at least $368,504

Duckworth and primary rival Raja Krishnamoorthi no longer can use Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Il.) to raise money off of, since the Tea Party favorite announced he will run in another race….

Duckworth was in Hawaii earlier this week--where she attended high school and college--for a fund-raiser sponsored by the Hawaii congressional delegation.

Shapiro: “The economy must be improving if we can afford to buy other states' politicians on top of our own.”

read … Duckworth

Hanabusa gets her District to Move to her, Moves Anyway

The congresswoman rented a Kakaako apartment earlier this year. She and her husband, former state sheriff John Souza, are looking at buying a home in Nuuanu.

From her campaign:

While current State Reapportionment Commission proposals would place Ko Olina in the First Congressional District, Hanabusa felt it was important to make the move anyway. “I made a commitment to move,” Hanabusa said, “and I think some people would question whether having the district come to me, so to speak, would be the same thing. It’s important to me that I fully live up to my promises.”

read … Lives in DC now

SA: Complete full EIS for Army to train here

Training flights for Army helicopter crews scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan in January have been approved on Hawaii island. Nonetheless, in the wake of poorly coordinated efforts to ensure that the Army complied with state environmental laws, it makes sense for the state to seek a full environmental impact statement before future high-altitude training takes place on Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

read ... Pohakuloa

290 Hawaii Species now “Endangered”

It was a scramble, but federal officials have met a Friday deadline to act on 130 backlogged endangered species cases in Hawaii. Many of the applications have languished for three decades.

Hawaii's plants and animals are part of 731 cases nationally that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to take action on this year as a result of a lawsuit brought by national environmental groups, Wild Earth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity. …

As part of the settlement agreement, another 160 species in Hawaii will have to be acted upon next year.

read … EPA Tentacles Tighten Around Your Neck

Hawaii's workers enter crisis when disability checks lag

When he arrived in the clinic, Sam — not his real name — explained that despite every effort on his part, his TDI (temporary disability insurance) check hadn't come, he couldn't pay his rent and his landlord evicted him with 24-hour notice. About to be homeless, he became frantic….

Shortages at the Disability Compensation Division also limit its ability to protect the rights of workers injured on the job. Because they must now wait months or even years for a hearing, some unscrupulous carriers and their employer clients have taken advantage of the situation….

Injured workers in Hawaii also experience mounting problems in finding providers willing to care for them. Since 1995 the number of physicians willing to accept workers' compensation insurance has dropped precipitously from 8 out of 10 to 1 out of 10. Many providers cite administrative delays, problems gaining approval for care and difficulty receiving reimbursement for services rendered in good faith. This is particularly onerous because the reimbursement rates in Hawaii are at rock bottom compared with the rest of the country, while cost of living is at the top.

read … Workers Comp

24 civilian workers at Pearl Harbor arrested

Federal authorities have arrested 24 civilian contract employees working at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on outstanding warrants for felony and misdemeanor violations….

Three people are facing extradition to face charges in other jurisdictions. One will be extradited to California for aggravated assault, another to Maui for assault and one to Nevada for writing bad checks.

read … Pearl

Trash Haulers Make County Pay for them – Literally

The company that operates the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill says the City and County of Honolulu may be paying too much in tipping fees because some trash haulers and bulky item crews are not following proper procedure.

Waste Management General Manager Joe Whelan recently noticed the discrepancy while observing the landfill’s only scale. He said some three person crews would weigh their trucks with everyone onboard, but one the way out, two of the workers would get out of the vehicle.

“Of course then when the truck weighs out it weighs less,” explained Whelan. “So that means it counts as more garbage being disposed of then actually was.”

Last week WM issued a memo to the city alerting the Environmental Services Department about the practice. A copy of the memo was obtained by environmental activist Carroll Cox of the Carroll Cox Radio Show, who in turn gave it to Khon2. The memo says overcharges averaged a quarter of a ton per truckload when crews did not follow standard procedure while weighing in and weighing out.

read … Waimanalo Gulch Scam

$100/Day fines: Hawaii County forces Shutdown of Art Gallery

A little-known gem in the local art community no longer shines.

idspace, a private Kurtistown showplace, has shuttered its doors. An email from sculptor and idspace owner Stephen Freedman said the reason for the closure is "an angry person in the neighborhood (who) complained to the Building and Planning Departments of the County of Hawaii that we were running a 'commercial gallery' here at idspace."

"I never made a penny," Freedman told the Tribune-Herald on Wednesday afternoon. "That was never the intention."…

Freedman, who also publishes the online HI Art Magazine, was fined $500 by the county and notified that if he didn't close idspace by Oct. 5, he'd face fines starting at $100 per day with incremental increases for continued illegal operations….

idspace was in a small building behind Freedman's home, surrounded by a lush tropical garden. The walls of the former gallery are now a barren, sterile white, the room dominated by a Ping-Pong table….

"A property like this one is an agricultural piece of property and the dwelling on there is supposed to be a farm dwelling," he said. "... There's exterior signage, which is a no-no. ... Because he's doing some sort of commercial activity that is not ag, that puts him into the realm of needing to get a special permit. If it were just his own art, then that would be a hobby, and that would not be a problem."

read … Small Business in Hawaii

Turtle Bay union wins court decision

The ruling was made by the court's Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans, and was announced Friday by the NLRB.

NLRB had found that Benchmark and Oaktree violated federal labor law in numerous ways.

In one instance, resort security called police and removed union representatives and Turtle Bay employees from the public beach fronting the resort after a wedding party complained that a union rally was disruptive.

The violations occurred largely between 2004 and 2005, during a period of labor unrest at the resort on Oahu's North Shore.

A labor contract covering about 360 Turtle Bay workers represented by UNITE-HERE Local 5 had expired in 1999 and was extended repeatedly until November 2003, when union members began working without a contract.

During the unrest, the union launched a consumer boycott of the hotel and picketed resort grounds. Resort officials sought a temporary restraining order against the union and claimed that the union was harassing guests and resort contractors.

read … Disrupt, then Sue

Hawaii law firm helps Mississippi whistleblower expose bid rigging scheme

As for how Gary Galiher's firm came to be contacted all the way back in 2006.

"A sophisticated computer, somebody like our plaintiff, very, very smart. And he wanted to get capable counsel and I think the call came at four in the morning and we talked to him," he says.

Galiher's firm reached an agreement worth nearly $23 million in the case. The bid rigging revolved around a contract worth a potential $3.2 billion.

read … Whistleblower

Obama’s Unitarian Church Imports Gay Activist Back to Hawaii

“The church is firmly committed to promoting diversity disorder of all kinds — ethnic, racial, sexual orientation and religious.”

Working in California for the past three years, Kwong gave his first sermon Sept. 11 at First Unitarian. He has extensive experience with nonprofit groups, financial management and fundraising, interfaith organization and social activism, the church said.

read … Unitarian

City prosecutors drop case against topless protesters

The prosecutors said today that they were dismissing the citations “in the interest of justice” after consulting with the Honolulu Corporation Counsel lawyers and learning of their concerns on the “possible over-breadth” of the ordinance….

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii earlier maintained that the ordinance was unconstitutional and they would challenge the charges.

(And now the ACLU doesn’t have its test case designed to bollix up APEC enforcement.)

read … Drop Topless

Hawaii Hells Angel Arrest Coincides With San Diego raids

SAN DIEGO COUNTY — About 250 law enforcement officers arrested several members of the Hells Angels and their associates in raids around the county Thursday, an FBI official said.

The 26 arrests capped a two-year long investigation by the San Diego County Violent Crimes Task Force into methamphetamine-trafficking and violent crimes, FBI spokesman Darrell Foxworth said.

AP: Former Hells Angels leader arrested in Hawaii

read … Paradise’s Devils

UH Manoa Perfesser: Drugs can make you Monkeys Enlightened, Conscious, and Progressive like me

These include: 1. Near Death Experiences, 2. Religious Conversions, 3. Hitting bottom in Alcoholics Anonymous type organizations, 4.Hallucinogen induced Ego death and Transcendence, 5. Some Holotropic Breathwork altered states, 6. Certain ancient meditation practices, and 7. Some tribal 'coming of age' initiations.…

"The final result of this, once in a lifetime rite of passage, is a permanent transformation of the individual, including significant expansion in their intelligence, which," Dr. Morton says, "is witnessed in all such individuals. They are changed from bright but suffering primates, into wise and happy human beings." A detailed description of the transformation process is found in the book, “Neuroreality”.

read … This is what they all think

New details in singer's alleged sex abuse case

Singer Cecilio Rodriguez is still locked up in a Los Angeles jail cell awaiting trial for sexual assault charges on two children.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office says the girls were young at the time of the crime. One was between 7 and 8 years old. The other was 9 to 10 years old. Now they are 21 and 22 years old. That's important because in California if the victim was under 18 at the time of the crime, and the prosecution begins before the victim turns 28, then they can still prosecute. Otherwise the statute of limitations kicks in.

The victim's say the molestations happened between 1996 and 1999 but they weren't reported until a few months ago….

The state Department of Public Safety says in the past 10 years (January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2010) a total of 579 sex offenders were released from Hawaii's prison. Six of them or less than one percent returned to prison for new sexual assault convictions. However that does not account for those arrested but not convicted, or who committed misdemeanor sex offenses that did not require new sentences.

read … Peodphilia Alleged

New Fast and Furious docs released by White House

WASHINGTON - Late Friday, the White House turned over new documents in the Congressional investigation into the ATF "Fast and Furious" gunwalking scandal.

The documents show extensive communications between then-ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office Bill Newell - who led Fast and Furious - and then-White House National Security Staffer Kevin O'Reilly. Emails indicate the two also spoke on the phone. Such detailed, direct communications between a local ATF manager in Phoenix and a White House national security staffer has raised interest among Congressional investigators looking into Fast and Furious. Newell has said he and O'Reilly are long time friends.

Newly-released White House documents (pdf)

read … CBS News Investigates


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