Hamamoto: Panic Monger Busted by Kawamura
A day after Gov. Linda Lingle and state schools superintendent Pat Hamamoto clashed over a plan to use federal stimulus funds intended for education to help close the state's budget deficit, state budget director Georgina Kawamura accused the schools chief of unnecessarily causing panic and Hamamoto remained unconvinced that schools will not end up being shortchanged.
Kawamura insisted the school system will not lose money under the governor's plan and that the Lingle administration is following federal guidelines on how to spend the stimulus.
But the Obama administration has already rejected one other state's attempt to use the federal stimulus money creatively and, with so much at stake, two members of Hawai'i's congressional delegation urged caution.
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie (who is running for Governor) said Hawai'i's application for federal education money will have to match the intention of the stimulus package, which clearly says the money must be used to improve student achievement. (which is the best argument for keeping it out of the DoE's hands)
Kawamura said Hamamoto acted unprofessionally by speaking publicly before discussing contingency plans with the administration. Lingle has proposed using federal stimulus money meant for public education to help close the deficit. The governor would swap the federal money for state money at the state Department of Education.
Hamamoto said Wednesday that if the federal money does not arrive by the first week of May, the department could be forced to close schools 24 days early. But Kawamura said the administration would likely float the department money to prevent such a scenario from happening.
Kawamura, who is normally unflappable and restrained, was obviously perturbed yesterday.
"They wanted to create panic and anxiety in our public," she said of Hamamoto and the department. "They wanted to show how irresponsible they are in managing budgets."...
"I feel like the old woman who lived in a shoe," Hamamoto said. "She had so many children and didn't know what to do."... (Uh resign? Dissolve the DoE into a 100% Charter system?)
SB Editorial repeats Hamamoto's lies
Lingle's plan to strip $90 million from the state Department of Education's current budget and restoring it with future federal grants is risky. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education has said that money intended for stabilizing education but diverted by states to other purposes "will affect their ability" to obtain additional stabilization money.
Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto has said the diverting of education funds could force Hawaii's public schools to shut down on May 6, a month before the end of the normal school year. The issue should be clarified next week with the issuance of federal guidelines for the use of the education portion of stabilization grants.
Contractors lining up to bid for Honolulu rail's $550M first phase
Seven teams of contractors are vying for a $550 million to $600 million deal to design and build the first phase of Honolulu's elevated commuter rail from East Kapolei to Leeward Community College.
City transportation director Wayne Yoshioka wouldn't disclose the identities of the teams during testimony to the City Council Budget Committee earlier this week.
Early next month, an evaluation committee will narrow that list to four teams that will be chosen to actually bid on the first phase of the $5.4 billion elevated commuter train that eventually will connect to Ala Moana, Yoshioka said.
The city plans to award the contract sometime this fall if it receives needed federal approvals. Under current plans, the city will use a limited form of private partnership called design-build for the first 6.5-mile segment of the 20-mile rail. That arrangement makes contractors responsible for designing a system that works.
The three losing teams will each receive $500,000 to help offset the costs of competing for the design-build project. That's an unusual practice for Honolulu.
(Without the names of the contractors we cannot correlate the results to which ones gave contributions to Hannemann and/or Abercrombie)
Maui wind power plant looks to grow
Developers of the first wind farm on Maui want to expand, adding a 21-megawatt sister facility, despite some endangered bird species found dead at the existing site.
The proposed addition, requiring several approvals, including a state conservation- district use permit, would be just west of the existing 30-megawatt Kaheawa Wind Power project at Maalaea.
Carcasses of two adult nene birds and a Hawaiian petrel were found at the existing wind power site between July 1, 2007, and June 30, according to Kaheawa Wind Power report.
A dead Hawaiian hoary bat was found at the site in September, according to federal officials. The deaths were within the numbers allowed for "incidental take" under a state Department of Land and Natural Resources permit.
"We're well within the take limit," Kalipi said.
The state license to Kaheawa Wind Power allows up to 60 dead nene during a 20-year period and 40 for the Hawaiian petrel.
The wind venture also has authorization for incidental take of up to 40 'a'o, or Newell's shearwater, and up to 20 Hawaiian hoary bats during a 20-year period.
(No protesters here? See dead fish story from Kauai.)
Gay marriage effort shifts back to New England
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont was the first state to outlaw slavery. Neighboring New Hampshire declared its independence from England before any other colony. Maine led the way with Prohibition. These days, Yankee activism has another cause — gay rights. (Antonio Gramsci is VERY pleased with this writing...Google "Antonio Gramsci" and find out why.)
Military denies involvement with fish kills
“There were classified military operations in the area during that time frame. I cannot provide details of these operations, but I can tell you definitively that no rodenticide or chemicals were involved, nor were there any underwater sonar, acoustics or explosions,” said Jan R. Walker of DARPA external relations in a written statement provided by Clements. “In short, the tests did not involve any activities that could harm fish or marine mammals.”
(Now we know why they've been stringing this dead-fish story along for weeks now....Its another chance to weaken the US Navy in the face of Chinese submarines...and North Korean missiles. Note the absence of protest over dead birds on Maui.)
Yesterday: Garden Isle
In response to recent assertions that military activity could have affected marine life, causing large fish kills, Tom Clements, spokesperson for the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana, said no activities out of the ordinary were conducted when the fish were reportedly affected.
“Nothing occurred outside of the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement; nothing unusual,” he said.
Clements added that PMRF has a “very busy schedule” and over the past three decades, activities have virtually remained the same.
When asked if he agreed with speculations that military operations could have coincided with the fish kill, he said, “The key word is speculation; I will not speculate on gross speculation.”
Dr. Carl Berg, marine biologist and water quality expert, however, is unconvinced that certain military operations didn’t have something to do with the incident. (note double negative)
He believes that certain “classified operations” were occurring around Ni‘ihau at the same time.
“It can’t possibly be a coincidence,” he said. “It just doesn’t happen.” (And this guy has a PhD???)
His main concern is that if rodenticide cannot be linked to the deaths, why hasn’t another answer been found? (And we're going to keep pretending to look while pointing the finger at the US Navy. BTW North Korea will be launching its missile next week. Sure hope THIS one isn't aimed at Hawaii. If is lands here it will kill a LOT of fish.)
Hotel tax coveted by state
Hawaii County stands to lose $18 million yearly under a state proposal that County Council members say would have "catastrophic" consequences -- from tax increases to employee layoffs.
House Bill 1744 would let the state stop giving Hawaii's four counties revenue from the tax on hotel rooms, known as the transient accommodations tax or TAT.
For six straight years starting July 1, statewide payments now totaling nearly $100 million a year would be diverted into the state's general fund, according to the bill.
Lawmakers aim to rein in biocontrols
Big Island lawmakers have introduced resolutions calling for a ban on biological control agents such as the Brazilian scale insect that would attack strawberry guava.
Hamakua's Sen. Dwight Takamine and Rep. Mark Nakashima introduced the Senate and House versions of the resolution March 18, calling on the state Department of Agriculture and the Department of Land and Natural Resources to implement a five-year moratorium on release of biocontrol agents targeting plants that serve as food sources -- including strawberry guava, avocado, mango, passion fruit and other plants that some gather wild as a source of food.
"While there are concerns the waiawi (strawberry guava) is invading native forests, I think eradicating it by hand is a viable option," Nakashima said.
"I think the motivation is a lot of grant money involved, but that's not a good enough reason to release this insect," he added.
(Science grants create green Democrats, hand eradication grants create union Democrats.)