Ansaldo Debacle: HART, Council, Ariyoshi all Looking at Rail Re-bid
Using Public Services not a Free Lunch
14,000 Abandoned Wind Turbines in USA
Wind Farms Interfere With Military, Civilian Radar
US Civil Rights Commissioner to speak on End of Victimology
Harimoto: Any Delays will be the End of Rail
…observers on both sides of the issue acknowledge the rail project could be vulnerable to a loss of critically needed federal funding, and any delays because of a lawsuit could aggravate that risk.
The financial plan for the project assumes the federal government will give a huge boost to the Honolulu rail by injecting $1.55 billion in federal New Starts funding, money that has not yet been formally committed to the project.
The delicate effort to secure those federal funds is mixed up in the continuing political turmoil in the U.S. Congress, and rail supporters such as City Councilman Breene Harimoto believe the Honolulu rail project simply can't afford to be sidetracked now.
Harimoto warned the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit Thursday that "if we have any delays in this project, my personal belief is it will be the end of rail. Any delay will be fatal."
Against that background, prominent opponents of rail have attacked the project with a lawsuit that is scheduled for a hearing in federal court on Nov. 30. They also pushed out new media messages designed to remind the public of old doubts and concerns about the entire rail effort.
Delays: Council majority urges city to delay final rail approval, HART reviewing $1.4 billion Ansaldo contract
SA: Scrutiny of rail deal worth delay
Berg: Voters deserve another crack at city rail proposal
read … Court fight may decide if rail stays on track
FBI Raid on HPD Major tied to Investigation of Samoan Prison Gang
ILind: in an article about the Honolulu Police Department major indicted on drug charges after an FBI raid on his home, was a reference to a federal investigation of the Hawaii prison gang, United Samoan Organization.
It was just dropped into the story as an aside, but isn’t that news in itself?
When I searched the Star-Advertiser website for other mentions of the USO, only one appeared. It was a December 2010 interview in which activist Kat Brady talked about the group’s background and the problem of gangs in Hawaii prisons.
When we first started sending people abroad, we might have had one gang at Halawa, and it wasn’t hard-core. But when we sent our people over there, all the prisons are organized by ethnicity. So when our guys went to Texas, they were like “Who are you? Mexicans?” No, so they didn’t know, so our guys got together, and that was sort of the birth of USO, the United Samoan Organization, which is probably one of the biggest gangs we have, started by our guys on the continent. So when they came back, guys in Halawa (Correctional Facility) were afraid of them, so they started a gang, so now we have four gangs. And the sad part is we created this by sending people abroad, because those gangs are now spilling over into the streets.
That’s a bit different from another online account, which said the gang originate at Halawa.
In 1998, Samoans formed a prison gang called “USO Family” or “USO” (United Samoan Organization/or “Brother” in Samoan). At one time USO was only Samoan, but now it’s a mixed race Security Threat Group with approx. 200 members in Hawaii and other correctional facilities. The USO Family prison gang started in Halawa Prison, Module 2, in 1998 by a group of nine Samoans and grew fast. When HI-DOC started shipping Hawaii inmates to the mainland, USO Family started to appear as a dominant force on some prison yards. According to one source, USO Family has high ranking gang members from major gangs in Hawaii, even some L.A. area gang members.
I recall a mention of USO in a Defense Department study of gangs in the military, which described the United Samoan Organization as “the largest organized gang in the state of Hawaii.”
read … USO
Kakaako, OHA Settlement, new hotbed of land activity and political intrigue
Borreca: HCDA has become the mighty club swung by Abercrombie the Governor, as he hopes to define the Honolulu's shoreline, pay the Office of Hawaiian Affairs $200 million and develop a 650-foot condominium tower on the site of the old Pohukaina School….
The 25 acres that the state wants to give to OHA are now mostly abandoned, but if you stand among the wreckage and look to Diamond Head, or to the ocean or the mountains, it is immediately obvious that the glorious vistas are at an unequaled intersection of sun and sea.
Back in 2005 the HCDA tried to let A&B build parks and condos and shopping malls on the property. Suddenly everyone except A&B realized that there would be scores of apartment buildings and people stomping around taking in all the swell views and possibly shushing away the common folk. Up sprang the Friends of Kewalo Basin, headed by now-retired Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Ron Iwami, to protest the plan.
The red-T-shirt clad protesters did such a good job looking on with stern disapproval at the Legislature that a new state law was passed telling HCDA it could not put residential anything in the entire makai portion.
But of course, the commercial zoning was left intact….
OHA's attorney, Bill Meheula, says the property in play is already valued at $200 million without changing the zoning to residential. The final decision for the state of Hawaii/OHA deal will have to be made by the Legislature, which is free to tinker with the boundaries or other parts of the deal.
Left unsaid is the unfairness of putting this sort of temptation in plain view of our legislators. This new plan is the confluence of every argument about Native Hawaiian sovereignty, intelligent land use, preserving open space, the traditional Hawaiian practice of maxing out your property and lawmakers trying to cut another deal.
Do I have to remind you that the Gavan Daws/George Cooper book, "Land and Power in Hawaii," was not written about the Boy Scouts?
read … Kakaako
Cataluna: Abercrombie is a Loud Fire-Breather
For the past year, Donalyn Dela Cruz has been in the most high-profile and possibly most challenging media relations job in the state, serving as press secretary for Neil Abercrombie, a governor struggling with low voter-approval ratings and a brutal economy. She is the voice of a man who himself is very vocal and is on the front line for critical questions lobbed at his administration.
"A good day for me is when I've read stories that tell both sides and when the public can gain from that information," she said.
A bad day, though, has her every bit as fiery, though perhaps not as loud, as her famously fire-breathing boss.
read … Covering for the Hippie
Hawaii employer payrolls are not expected to reach pre-recession levels until After Abercrombie’s Term is Up
Job growth, the lifeblood of any economic rebound, has been slow to recover in Hawaii since the end of the recession two years ago.
The economy lost an estimated 60,000 payroll jobs during the downturn, including 40,000 during the 11/2-year recession and another 20,000 in the 12 months that followed, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
IHS Global Insight, a Boston-based economic forecasting firm, estimates it will take until the second quarter of 2015 for Hawaii's job count to return to pre-recession levels, as much as six months longer than the national average.
Hawaii's anemic job growth was highlighted in a report last week that showed the state's unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent in October, the fourth consecutive monthly increase. The unemployment rate has declined only marginally since peaking at 7 percent in 2009.
read … Hawaii employer payrolls are not expected to reach pre-recession levels until 2015
Hint to DoE: Audits can help companies prevent embezzlement
Chris Van Marter: Companies should conduct frequent, random, unannounced audits. Audits should be completed by outside accountants or auditors.
Checks should require at least two signatures. Never pre-sign checks.
Don't use signature stamps. Don't use computerized signatures on checks. Monthly bank statements and credit card statements should be mailed to an address that is inaccessible to the officer manager and bookkeeper, and other employees who are responsible for money-related transactions and record keeping.
Those statements should be scrutinized monthly and compared to the company's books to ensure that the information is consistent and accurate.
Don't let one person handle payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, etc. Divide these tasks among several employees.
(Somebody should tell the BoE, eh?)
read … Audits for Thee but not for DoE
Hawaii to eliminate work incentives for people moving off welfare
For the past decade, Hawaii has made modest payments to low-income families when a parent stops receiving welfare and begins working. The programs are designed to encourage welfare recipients to find and keep jobs so they won't have to rely on government assistance.
But tight budgets are forcing (BS!) the state to eliminate these work incentive programs at the end of next month, taking away a cushion more than 1,000 families have relied on to help pay the rent, utilities and other expenses.
The state Department of Human Services said it would have to cut welfare cash assistance payments if it didn't discontinue these work incentives….
The state spent $6.5 million on four different work incentive programs during the fiscal year that ended last June.
HNN: Hawaii ex-welfare recipient work incentives cut
Related: Washington Monument Gambit
Plenty of money for THIS: $126M Giveaway: Abercrombie quietly boosts spending on Public Employees’ Insurance and this … Mafia-Connected FirstWind Got $117M in Federal Loans for Kahuku Windfarm, and this … Abercrombie decides Forests Worth $14B of Your Money, Orders $11M spent to Create 150 HGEA, UPW Positions
read … Welfare to Work
1,422 Homeless on Big Isle
A report released by the University of Hawaii on Tuesday said about 14,200 homeless statewide used a shelter or contacted an outreach agency in the fiscal year that ended June 30, down 3 percent from the previous year. Big Island homeless in those categories also dipped a little, with 1,422 this year, compared to 1,555 last year and 1,120 in 2007.
read … Homeless
First public bathroom opens in Chinatown
This is the first day of a 90-day pilot project involving two public restrooms that will now be open on weekends.
The bathrooms are at the River of Life Mission, and are available to anyone, including the homeless.
Right now, there are no public restrooms in the area.
So the Chinatown Business and Community Association is funding the project.
"Some of the streets smell like urine and stuff and they're trying to clean it up, open up places where they can use the bathroom instead of doing it on the street", said Michael Marchant of the River of Life Mission.
The association is paying for a security guard and a janitor.
read … Making it that much easier to stay on the Street
CoFA Money Chase: Guam Senator Demands to know where Annual CoFA Reports Are
Senator Frank Blas Jr. is urging Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo to find out why the Department of Interior has failed to submit all but one of the annual reports required under the Compacts of Free Association.
Blas's request comes in a letter he sent FRIDAY to Congresswoman Bordallo urging her to raise the question in the oversight hearings she has said she plans to hold on the recent GAO report on the "Compacts of Free Association: Improvements Needed to Assess and Address Growing Migration."
READ Senator Blas's letter to Congresswoman Bordallo HERE
read … CoFA
Hoku Ke`a Telescope Parts Shipped back to Mainland for Re-Work
The troubled Hoku Ke'a telescope atop Mauna Kea could be operational by next summer, its director said.
Josh Walawender, an associate professor in physics and astronomy, has completed an evaluation of the 36-inch telescope and has developed a plan to make it useful for scientific observation.
The University of Hawaii at Hilo received a grant from the National Science Foundation in 2002 to commission the telescope, but it wasn't installed until spring 2010.
Despite promises from its previous director that the telescope's operational status was just a month or so away, the telescope still has not produced any useful scientific data. Walawender was hired in April to find out why….
The heart of any telescope is its optical systems. In the case of the Hoku Ke'a, its 3-foot-wide primary mirror collects light from celestial objects and the 1-foot-wide secondary mirror reflects the light to scientific instruments. Or at least that's how it's supposed to work.
"We're having the optics tested, and if needed they have to be touched up," Walawender said. "We have to see how the tests look like. So we have just shipped the optics to a company on the mainland to do the tests and to do whatever fabrications are needed."
He said the company involved is not Equinox Interscience, which manufactured the telescope components.
The telescope was showing signs of astigmatism and other optical aberrations, Walawender said. Astigmatism "basically takes your perfectly round, point-like star image and squeezes it into a line." This was largely fixed, but there are other optical issues that could not be resolved without independent testing.
read … Equinox
Police Shut Down Parade by Jerry Chang’s Motorcycle Club
Every year since 1996, the club or its predecessor has invited all bikers and classic car owners to the parade and toy giveaway.
More than 2,800 gifts were donated by between the 500 and 600 motorcyclists and roughly 100 to 125 vehicle owners who were part of last year's event, Fontes said.
"It's really nice to see the kids get up to the stage to get their bicycles. Their faces -- they're so happy," said Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi, who has assisted with the gift collections for the past three years.
"To see it stop kind of loses that feeling, yeah," he said.
That's what will happen, Fontes said.
To avoid impacting motorists heading to the Hilo International Airport, Fontes said he offered to change the roughly 10-mile-long parade route to start at the airport and turn right on Kanoelehua Avenue before heading to Keaukaha.
That change, which required state-mandated liability insurance Fontes had arranged to buy, would allow drivers to go through the intersection while the 45-minute procession passes, he said.
But when police limited participation to 300 motorcyclists and 50 vehicles, Fontes said he pulled the plug on the Dec. 11 parade.
read … Police put damper on Toys for Tots parade
APEC: Star-Adv Gives one Last Boost to anti-Capitalist Propagandists Masquerading as Artists
Keiko Bonk replaces the prayers in flags from the Tibetan and Nepalese tradition with QR codes — those patterns of dots or squares that smartphones can decode. Each is accompanied by a simple assertion, such as "corporations are not people" and "economy is not sacred." Because QR codes are part of corporate advertising tactics that link to websites, Bonk is playing with the idea that the forces we engage and worship are economic entities, not spiritual ones.
Eating in Public also uses recognizable elements to inform its work. The collective's public workshops encouraged participants to print anti-APEC slogans on old T-shirts. Two are on display here. One is a tie-dye pattern that evokes Mickey Mouse (and thereby Disney's Aulani resort) with the equation "APEC = land-theft" printed over it. The other features a blond female lifeguard obstructed by the words "welcome APEC welcome PILAU." If these sentiments seem hostile or surprising, Eating in Public's free "SAME ENEMY SAME FIGHT" (Dim and Dull Unite!) booklet offers visitors a broader context than the general media.
read … Cheap Propaganda for Limited Minds
Honolulu Recycling Program Relies on Behavior Modification Techniques
The city wants to get in there, she said, and ferret out the answers to improve Oahu's recycling rates and reduce contamination -- items put in the wrong carts, which costs the city more to sort things out.
"If we're capturing 60 percent of newspaper but only 20 percent of plastic, there might be some confusion about what is a No. 1 or a No. 2 plastic -- but that's guessing," she said. "It's important not to guess and speculate but go in and probe. How many people are using the bins, where might there be confusion or where might there be some values that might be preventing them from giving us all of their recyclables?"
Phase 2 of the city's review of the program, a behavioral survey, is tentatively set to begin this month and extend through March. Questions to answer: What are people's recycling habits? Where can the city improve the messaging to reach more people?
"We could tell them increasing the recycling rate means more city revenue, easing the burden on tax dollars," Jones said, "but maybe that's not a motivating factor for the households."
(In fact the deed is more important than the result, hence the emphasis on curbside recycling while H-Power improvements were delayed and delayed and on the Sister Islands there is no waste-to-energy recycling at all.)
read … Propaganda of the Deed
The Downside of ‘Buy Local’
MN: In the apocryphal story, the former Hawaii economic development agency head asked “What if all the detergent used by everybody in Hawaii was made by one factory located in Hawaii (or, more specifically, why not build a small detergent factory on Maui for 160,000 residents)?” This simple question was posed not in 2011, but in the mid-1960s, barely a decade after Statehood that ushered a New Age for Hawaii, like a Technicolor Dream shifting from the Black-and-White Territory of Hawaii (T.H.) Dark Ages. It seems so easy (and would fulfill Maui sustainability ideals of local sourcing and less use of fossil fuels and transportation), but the challenges of a tiny factory for one item – detergent – is daunting.
To begin, very few factories (making anything) are built in the U.S. The trend is to shut down factories, not make new ones. There are fewer and fewer people around us who are experts in building factories and operating factories. The phrase “economies of scale” mean that it is cheaper in the long run to build one huge factory on the Mainland to supply several Mainland States + Hawaii with detergent.
The second issue is about Maui as a player in a competitive market (a “planned” economy evokes the worst of Russia/Communism and bare shelves at stores). What if “Maui-Brand Detergent” was priced higher than Mainland-imported detergent – and few bought the Maui brand? This is not unlike some local products, like delicious local Maui onions and milk from Up-Country local cows. In other words, will a MBA “Maui-Brand Detergent” business plan result in profit or bankruptcy over the next three years?
In order to pursue a policy to make Mauians adhere to local-only products, the Maui County government cannot ban all imported detergent (imagine fishing boats smuggling crates of detergent at Sugar Beach). Nor can Maui County slap a tariff on imported detergent; other Mainland States (where detergent is manufactured) may put tariffs on Maui products, and a domestic economic war ensues (all this is a half-joke). Following economist Adam Smith’s ideal, consumers vote for the best product by purchasing it in numbers exceeding all other competitors.
read … Back to the Future: One Idea from the 1960s
Luddites Triumphant: Maui Bottled Water Plant Killed
He said controversy and "negative PR that was generated by the rumors" about the project scared away some potential investors.
"It's unfortunate, because it really was a good project," he said.
Buzz about Liserre's plans caused a stir earlier this fall when community members speculated about the scale of his water-bottling operation and questioned whether it would involve exporting a scarce resource off-island.
Liserre eventually confirmed he was proposing to develop a 4-acre plant that could bottle up to 220,000 gallons of water per day, but state water officials said permits for wells on the site would likely not allow pumping of that volume.
Liserre said he still hopes to develop his aquaponics project - a system in which water circulates between hydroponic plants and an aquaculture tank for fish or other aquatic life - but has no interest in bottled water any longer.
read … Waihee bottled-water plant idea scrapped
Victorino proposes sweeping changes to Maui water legislation
Council Member Mike Victorino said he believes that the time may be past for the county to tell developers, "show me the water."
In a bill introduced to the Maui County Council on Friday, Victorino proposes making significant changes to the law that requires developers to prove that they have a viable source of water for their projects before breaking ground - including a provision for the law to expire after two years.
"I really wanted to take a real hard look at the 'Show Me the Water' bill," Victorino said Friday. "That was (passed) four years ago, when Maui was in a different time."
The proposal is expected to be discussed by the Water Resources Committee at 9 a.m. Nov. 29 in eighth-floor Council Chambers of the Kalana O Maui building.
With no major new county sources coming on line since the Pookela Wells in 2000, the water requirement has led developers to invest in their own private wells and water sources - giving them control over how that water is distributed, he said.
"The county really should be the one developing, controlling the public trust of water," Victorino said. "This is one method of putting that onus back on us."
read … Another Way to Stop Developers
Kauai Council Backs Aquarium Trade Ban
Article full of bogus eco-factoids about the unspeakable horrors wrought by the 9 (count ‘em n-i-n-e) aquarium collectors operating between Hilo and Hanapepe….
read … Kauai Luddites
Swordfish Longliners Hit Turtle Cap; Bigeye Fishery Closed in West
November 18 brought a double whammy to the longline vessels operating out of Honolulu. The National Marine Fisheries Service announced that, beginning November 27, Hawai`i longline vessels will no longer be allowed to fish for bigeye tuna in waters under the jurisdiction of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. The date is when NMFS anticipates the Hawai`i fleet will reach its limit of 3,763 metric tons for the year.
Meanwhile, the NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office shut down the swordfish fishery, which hit its annual limit on interactions with leatherback turtles. At 9:33 a.m., PIRO posted a notice that 16 leatherback interactions had been recorded for the year, triggering the closure.
Both fisheries will be able to resume on January 1, 2012.
For details, see the Federal Register notice of November 18: Tuna Closure.
read … Environment Hawaii
'Carrot Mob' Descends On Honolulu Store
The first carrot mob in Hawaii gathered at the Wine Stop on King St. Saturday. Consumers gathered to increase business, encouraging the store's owner to make environmentally friendly changes. The Wine Stop owner said she will direct 80 percent of her sales from the event to retrofit the building's energy system
Read … Carrot and Stick Mob
National Guard Volunteers Clean up Illegally dumped tires in Waianae
Tires were the main haul as about 200 volunteers cleared debris from the stream bed that caused flooding along Waianae's Paakaea Road last January.
Officials from the federal, state and city governments set aside their disagreements about responsibility for the flooding to help lead the effort. Waianae Coast businesses, military personnel and high school groups, including 45 young men from the Youth Challenge Academy, also chipped in muscle and other resources….
The result of the collaboration: one 40-cubic-yard bin each of green waste, metal waste and construction waste; and four bins of tires.
read … National Guard does something about the Environment
FCC Proposing Leaving Local TV/Radio Ownership Caps In Place
According to a source familiar with the document, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has circulated a rulemaking proposal recommending the FCC scrap the radio-TV cross-ownership rules, but leave in place the radio and TV local market ownership caps and essentially preserve the FCC's attempted loosening of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules, which the FCC tried to do under Republican Chairman Kevin Martin. "It is more or less the same framework of the 2006 Quadrennial," said the source of the newspaper-broadcast change.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which is currently being circulated among the commissioners, may be voted without being on a public agenda meeting, according to the source -- there are apparently at least three votes for it -- but the final order will likely be scheduled for that public vote sometime next year, after a sufficient notice and comment period on the proposed changes.
Circulating the NPRM now gives commissioner Michael Copps a chance to weigh in on the NPRM before he exits by the end of next month.
Also as part of the NPRM, the FCC will ask whether shared services agreements and other joint TV station operating agreements violate those local market station limits the FCC is keeping in place.
Cable operators, led by the American Cable Association, have argued that agreements are a way to sidestep the rules and provide broadcasters with unfair bargaining power in retrans deals.
Related: Honolulu Community Media Council has its own issues with "media control"
read … FCC
PBS Hawaii back on the air after fire
PBS Hawaii returned to the television airwaves this afternoon more than 24 hours after being knocked out by a fire Friday afternoon.
The public television station returned to cable TVs about 2 p.m. and to over-the-air viewers about an hour later, said PBS Hawaii spokeswoman Roberta Wong Murray.
Insurance adjusters are expected to visit the headquarters on Dole Street Monday to assess what repairs need to be done, Murray said.
read … Fire
Fundraiser for law enforcement memorial in Hawaii
Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. without a memorial for its fallen law enforcement officers from all branches, but a fundraiser on Saturday night offered a huge boost for a permanent tribute.
62 law enforcement officers in Hawaii have been killed in the line duty. The latest one is Honolulu Police Department officer Eric Fontes. Now there is a push to raise private funds for a state law enforcement memorial.
"We looked into it, talked to some people at the capitol, and everything went great. Here we are tonight with 450 people raising money for this," said Joan Gribbin-Aiu, of the Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation.
read … Memorial
Information on civil unions now online
The state Department of Health now has information on Hawaii civil unions posted online.
The ability of couples to enter into civil unions will become law Jan. 1, and the online application process also will be activated online at midnight on that date. But paperwork will not be able to be completed in advance because the law is still not in effect.
For more information and a list of frequently asked questions, go online to www.hawaii.gov/doh/civilunion.
read … Civil Unions