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Friday, February 3, 2012
February 3, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:50 PM :: 14811 Views

New Lingle Advert -- Bipartisanship: It's in Hawaii's Best Interest

Note: Civil Beat was Offline this Morning

Cayetano advocates reassigning rail tax revenue to buses, sewers

SA: Tax collections earmarked for the city's $5.27 billion rail project would be better spent propping up the city's aging sewers and waste-water systems, mayoral candidate and former Gov. Ben Caye­tano said, adding that he believes Gov. Neil Abercrombie would be receptive to discussing his plans for those funds.

Cayetano is running against incumbent Mayor Peter Carlisle and former city Managing Director Kirk Caldwell. The former two-term governor is the only one opposed to the rail project.

Speaking Monday to a supportive crowd at a Downtown Exchange Club of Hono­lulu luncheon, Caye­tano said he "had a little talk" with Abercrombie about his proposal for the money from the half-percent general excise tax surcharge on Oahu.

The surcharge dedicated for the rail project is expected to raise $3.15 billion before it expires in 2022, although an estimated $278 million already has been spent.

If elected, Cayetano said he would approach the governor and the Legislature about using some of the GET surcharge funds for city projects.

"I would say to them … ‘I would like you to consider, let me use $1 billion, maybe less, to improve the buses and the bus system,'" Caye­tano said. "‘Give me a half-billion for sewers, a half-billion for water systems and you keep the rest.' (Maybe that means they would impose the same tax increase on the other counties as well.)

read … Down the Sewer

Geothermal, Public Works, Rail Development to be Exempted from All Land Use Regulations?

SA: Local Republicans have framed entire careers out of demanding that we free ourselves from the oppressive yoke of overregulation. For instance, in his opening day speech last month, the Senate's lone Republican, Sam Slom, sympathized with local businesses suffering "the highest taxes, strictest regulations and most burdensome mandates."

What, then, are we to make of a new round of proposals that would allow the state and developers to simply ignore vast sections of the state's regulatory codes?

One bill, House Bill 2756, would exempt developers from all "state and county laws relating to planning, zoning, construction standards for subdivisions (and improvements of land)." The bill was aimed at speeding up development along where the city wants to put its elevated rail line.

Another suggestion, HB 1893, says the state's economic recovery is in jeopardy.

"The purpose of this act is to promote economic revitalizations by temporarily removing a barrier to the expeditious construction of certain state and county projects," the bill explains.

The idea, according to the author, House Speaker Calvin Say, is that the Legislature and the governor want to use state construction projects to flood the market with new construction jobs, thereby employing more people and generating a big, positive cash flow. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has been calling for this for more than a year….

Interestingly, the state also employs the person responsible for interpreting those environmental protection laws, former state Sen. Gary Hooser, head of the Office of Environmental Quality Control.

He reports no overt pressure coming from higher ups, but Hooser is a politician who knows how to read an unwritten text.

"No one has told me, you have to read between the lines. I met with administration people on geothermal issues and they made it clear they wanted to exempt exploratory geothermal wells," Hooser says.

read … ‘Approved’ Projects get Favoritism

Honolulu Prosecutor Still Has Problems With Prisoner Plan

HR: Kaneshiro did support a recommended change to the law which would give state judges more discretion in sentencing second-time drug possession offenders. The law now requires prison time, but the study recommended allowing judges the option of probation.

“I’m not opposed to everything,” Kaneshiro said.

But he cautioned that treatment programs must be expanded and made available to repeat drug possession offenders.

Kaneshiro opposed a proposed change to state law that mandates five-year probation sentences for many lesser felony offenses.

In many localities around the country, three-year terms are standard for such offenses.

Proponents of the three-year maximum note that a probationer is most likely to re-offend within the earliest period of supervision and by the third year, supervision is unnecessary for most offenders.

Kaneshiro argued that probation officers frequently will “bank” such cases, relaxing oversight in the final years of supervision if the probationer has committed no violations….

Except for Kaneshiro, others testifying were unanimously in favor of the legislation, although the Hawaii Paroling Authority said some fine-tuning may be necessary.

read … Honolulu Prosecutor Still Has Problems With Prisoner Plan

Dog-n-Pony Show: Star-Adv Takes Side on Tenure

SA: The problem in Hawaii and elsewhere has been that the protected status is awarded too soon, after only two years, and with the quality bar set too low. In the context of a national movement for tenure reform, the state Department of Education has included worthy changes in its improvement program funded by a Race to the Top federal grant.

But these amendments, which would have required that teachers work three years on probation before becoming eligible for tenure and would have set tougher performance-based requirements, were rejected when the members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association voted down the latest contract.

While it's understandable that lawmakers now want a hand on the reform reins — Hawaii is near the bottom of the pack nationally when it comes to rigorous standards for tenure — governance of hiring and faculty management really should rest in contract negotiations between the DOE as employer and the HSTA as employee representative.

Tenure is an element of working conditions and the law protects that as a subject for bargaining. Beyond the legal reasoning, however, it's educators, not lawmakers, who have the expertise to handle this issue.

That's why House Bill 1668 and its companion, Senate Bill 2993, should not be passed. As currently written, the bills seek to end teacher tenure altogether, which House Education Chairman Roy Takumi promised would not be a part of any bill his committee ultimately approves.

The bill's original form has sparked a furious response from teachers, who on Wednesday swamped the House panel with testimony; SB 2993 will be heard at 2:15 today in conference room 225.

read … Okabe gets help with HSTA reelection

The Bank Where Legends Lead

MW: As the Executive Heir of Charles Reed Bishop, John Bellinger, Walter Dods and most recently Don Horner, new First Hawaiian Bank CEO Bob Harrison has some giant shoes to fill and a tradition of community engagement to uphold.

read … Meet the New Boss

HECO to Businesses: Accept Intermittent Outages, Pay Less

SA: Hawaiian Electric Co.’s business customers can save thousands of dollars a month on their electric bills by participating in a new program that allows the utility to turn off power to nonessential facilities on short notice during critical energy situations.

Businesses that sign up for the Fast Demand Response program will receive a monthly credit whether or not their power is turned off. They will receive an additional per-kilowatt hour credit if their power actually is interrupted.

read … Third World Electricity

Legislators Pushes to Legalize Bribes over $25

SA: State employees are prohibited from accepting gifts — including free tickets and meals — intended to influence or reward official action. Leslie Kondo, executive director of the state Ethics Commission, has interpreted the law to ban gifts worth more than $25 unless there is a state benefit….

Keith-Agaran deferred action on the bill — House Bill 2457 — until next week after asking the state attorney general's office to explain in more detail why the term "widely attended" was used to characterize permissible charitable events.

At a Thursday hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, lawmakers prodded Kondo to justify his interpretation of the gift ban.

Kondo first got their attention last year when he told lawmakers they could not accept free tickets from lobbyists to the annual Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs dinner. William Kaneko, the institute's executive director, is Gov. Neil Abercrombie's campaign manager and personally asked lawmakers to clarify the law. Kondo subsequently frowned on lawmakers who received free DVDs from an entertainment firm and complimentary bottles of wine from a solar company. He also told lawmakers they could not accept invitations to a private "Taste of Ag" event, a decision revised when the Ethics Commission agreed to let them attend if they paid $50 to cover the estimated cost of the food.

"The current law, I feel, the way it's being interpreted is causing problems. This may not be the answer," state Rep. Tom Brower (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana) said of the bill, "but somewhere in the middle?"

State Rep. George Fontaine (R, Makena-Kihei) said the bill was written too broadly and could give lawmakers the ability to go to high-priced events for free. "It could be anything," he said. "It could be a casino night."

As they did last session, good-government groups urged lawmakers to leave the gift ban alone. Lawmakers and state employees, several activists said, can attend events that are open to the public by purchasing their own tickets.

"It makes the nonprofits look bad. It makes the legislators look bad, and it opens the way to corruption of our entire system," said Barbara Polk, legislative chairwoman of Americans for Demo­cratic Action-Hawaii. "It's a minor corruption but minor corruptions are important, too."

HR: Governor Abercrombie Wants Ethics Code Changes

read … Small Bribes

Kondo Challenges Task Force Member’s Paid Lobbying

Leslie Kondo, the executive director of the state Ethics Commission, sent a stern letter on Thursday warning a member of a mortgage foreclosure task force to stop lobbying for pay on task-force related issues.

Kondo has held that task force members are state employees subject to the ethics code and are not allowed to lobby for pay while they are serving. He said his interpretation is intended to prevent “influence peddling.”

Marvin Dang, an attorney who serves on the mortgage foreclosure task force and has represented the Hawaii Financial Services Association, believes Kondo’s interpretation of the law is overly broad.

read … Ethics Comm. Throws Down Gauntlet

House Vice Speaker Manahan announces bid for City Council

SA: State House Vice Speaker Joey Manahan said today that he will run for Honolulu City Council.

“I am committed to the race,” he said after an evening fundraiser at a Chinatown restaurant.

Manahan will run in Council District 7, which covers Kalihi, Salt Lake, Pearl Harbor and Foster Village.

read … Manahan

After One Month, Abercrombie-Appointed Rep Resigns

SA: State Rep. Tom Okamura, who was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in January to fill a state House vacancy in Aiea, has resigned for health reasons.

Okamura, 63, replaced former House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, who left office last year to become Abercrombie's deputy chief-of-staff.

Abercrombie’s staff and many Democrats at the state Capitol were surprised by the resignation.

Okamura, who had previously served in the House for two decades, chose not to seek re-election in 2000 because he was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. But he sought the appointment to replace Oshiro and was selected by the governor over two others recommended by the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

read … Fatigue?

Occupy Removes Tents, Thomas Sq Park is Cleansed

SA: City crews stood by to remove any belongings left on the sidewalk along Beretania Street and Ward Avenue. But at about 9 a.m. two city dump trucks and city crews drove away to help cleanup the sidewalk around Aala Park, where about 17 removal notices were also issued to homeless campers on Wednesday.

Only four tents remained on the sidewalk in front of Thomas Square at 8:45 a.m.

Owners were told they had until 9 a.m. today to remove tents, furniture, suitcases, bikes and other personal items or the items would be confiscated and taken to the Halawa base yard and stored for 30 days. Unclaimed items would be sold or destroyed.

Protester Chris Smith said he removed some personal items so they wouldn’t be confiscated. But he said he has no plans to leave the park.

"I'm here to make a stand, not to play games with them," said Smith, who said he came to Hawaii on Nov. 1 to help organize the local protest movement.

KHON: Occupy Honolulu among sites cleared of stored property

HNN: Occupy Honolulu protestors return to Thomas Square Video included

read … De-occupied

Kauai mayor tight-lipped on reasons for upheaval at KPD

SA: Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho acknowledged today that the Garden Island's police chief and two assistant chiefs were placed on leave this week in response to an unspecified "employee-generated complaint" to his office and to the Kauai Police Commission.

"The county will not reveal any information about the content of the complaint, nor will we confirm or deny any information presented by others about the matter while the investigation is ongoing," Carvalho said, reading from a statement. This "is not the first time an employee has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation, and it should not be construed to be disciplinary in nature," Carvalho said. "Reputations are at stake, and we must refrain from making premature judgments."

KHON: Kauai mayor addresses complaint made by 27-year KPD veteran

read … Tight-Lipped

Kill the Bill: Crowd Swarms Council Hearing, but Hawaii Council Passes New Building Code

WHT: An unruly crowd chanting "kill the bill" forced two recesses of a County Council meeting Wednesday and brought a dozen police officers to council chambers.

At issue was the county building code, which went through its seventh draft as the council tried to find common ground between the public and the Department of Public Works, while meeting state and federal deadlines for an updated code. The council later in the evening passed the new code 7-2, with Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong and South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford voting no.

Yagong said the abrupt recesses — one of which lasted almost two hours as uniformed police officers flowed into chambers, ordered the crowd outside and reviewed a video of testimony that sparked the outrage and caused fear among council members — was unprecedented in his years in county government.

"How fortunate we are to live in a democracy where people are free to express their opinions," Yagong said when the meeting was reconvened. "But no matter what, we always want to provide a place where people feel comfortable, where people feel safe."

Puna Councilman Fred Blas in particular felt targeted when R.J. Hampton, aide to former Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole, singled him out in a diatribe from the testifiers' table, saying he was a "cancer" with an agenda to benefit his own property holdings and letting his constituency down by not advocating on their behalf.

read … Kill the Bill

Kenoi raises $144,000 in six months

HTH: Kenoi says his election strategy is based on running a tight county ship and proving to voters that he's worth four more years.

"Our focus is on running the County of Hawaii government, not the campaign," he said. "Our focus is on continuing to work with the Legislature" to save the county's $17 million portion of Hawaii's Transient Accommodations Tax.

The latest reports filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission show that between July 1 and Dec. 31, the Friends of Billy Kenoi hauled in $144,218. The campaign also spent $48,602 during that time, mostly for fundraisers that were held in Honolulu and across the Big Island.

Heading into 2012, the campaign reported raising a grand total of $328,133 since the 2010 election year, with no debts and a $154,796 cash balance.

The amount raised by Hawaii County mayoral hopeful and County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong pales in comparison. Yagong announced his candidacy in mid-January, after the closing date for the newest spending report.

Yagong raised only $500 between July 1 and Dec. 31, leaving a campaign balance of $144. His $500 donation came from Peter Vana, the founder of Hilo-based Kavana Homes.

read … $44,000 more than Malu Motta Got

Representative Gene Ward Addresses HB1840 - State Owned Bank

Representative Gene Ward addresses HB1840 - State-owned Bank Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 52-12 H.B. No. 1840, H.D. 1 RELATING TO STATE-OWNED BANK.


Rep. Riviere and Marumoto address HB 2018 - Mortgages


Representatives Gil Riviere and Barbara Marumoto address HB2018 from the House of Representatives floor. Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 43-12 H.B. No. 2018, H.D. 1 RELATING TO FORECLOSURES.

(Foreclosures; Unfair or Deceptive Act or Practice; Title Transfers) AS AMENDED, PASS SECOND READING, REFER TO FINANCE

Excerpt from Capitol TV:

Rosanne Barr Announces Presidential Campaign

AP: Roseanne Barr said today she's running for the Green Party's presidential nomination — and it's no joke.

The actress-comedian said in a statement that she's a longtime supporter of the party and looks forward to working with people who share her values. She said the two major parties aren't serving the American people.

"The Democrats and Republicans have proven that they are servants -- bought and paid for by the 1% -- who are not doing what's in the best interest of the American people," Barr said.

Occupy Wall Street protesters popularized the "We are the 99 percent" slogan in their fight against economic disparity and perceived corporate greed.

read … Green Barr

HECO to Businesses: Accept Intermittent Outages, Pay Less

SA: Hawaiian Electric Co.’s business customers can save thousands of dollars a month on their electric bills by participating in a new program that allows the utility to turn off power to nonessential facilities on short notice during critical energy situations.

Businesses that sign up for the Fast Demand Response program will receive a monthly credit whether or not their power is turned off. They will receive an additional per-kilowatt hour credit if their power actually is interrupted.

PBN: HECO program to ID ‘nonessential facilities’

read … Third World Electricity

Outlook dim for filling isle industrial vacancies

SA: A real estate report says demand isn't likely to increase this year on Oahu

SA: Land commission hears familiar debate in Koa Ridge case

read … Industrial Vacancies

Executive director of the Hawaii State Bar Association Supports Organ Transplant

SA: the bar association is barred from testifying on most issues, other than judicial nominees (the confirmation of Maui Circuit Court Judge Mimi DesJardins was the first review process finished on her watch).

But as a private citizen, Mau-Shimizu, a kidney transplant recipient now two years post-op, is happy to rally behind legislation supporting the creation of a new transplant center, replacing the one at the now-closed Hawaii Medical Center-East. She remembers the anxiety of those years when she waited on tenterhooks for her operation.

"I didn't know if I was going to be able to see my daughter graduate from college, or law school," she said. "For the 400 people on the wait list right now in the state of Hawaii, for a kidney, it's really tragic that there are people donating organs, and it's going to the mainland."

read … Patricia Mau-Shimizu

Next Hype: San Francisco Academic Demands Sugar be Regulated as a Toxin

MN: A self-proclaimed nutrition expert at the U. of California at San Francisco, Lustig, demands that government regulate sugar as a toxin. As usual with the food police, he betrays little understanding of what people eat and why.

read … About the next round of hype

Woman wins $9,867 in small-claims suit over Honda hybrid mileage

AP: Peters, a former lawyer, hoped to inspire a flood of lawsuits by the other 200,000 owners of the Hybrid Honda Civic model sold in 2006. She said that if all 200,000 owners of the cars sued and won in small claims cost, it could Honda Motor Co. $2 billion.

She launched a website,, and said she was contacted by hundreds of other car owners seeking guidance in how to file small claims suits if they opted out of a class-action case already filed.

The upside of small claims court is that there are no attorneys' fees and cases are decided quickly. Individual payments are far greater than in class-action cases.

Honda's proposed class-action settlement would give aggrieved owners $100 to $200 each and a $1,000 credit toward the purchase of a new car. Legal fees in the class action case would give trial lawyers $8.5 million, Peters said.

Legal experts had said it was unlikely that all owners would take the small claims route because of the time and energy involved in pursuing such lawsuits. But it was a unique approach that could have an impact.

Carnahan held two hearings on the claim in January.

Peters claimed her he car never came close to the promised 50 mpg and that it got no more than 30 miles per gallon when the battery began deteriorating. She still owns the car and wanted to be compensated for money lost on gas, as well as punitive damages, amounting to $10,000.

A Honda technical expert who testified at an earlier hearing said the company was required by federal law to post the sticker estimating the highest mileage the car could get. But he said the mileage varied on how the car was driven. The company said Peters was not deceived

read … Hybrid Fail


HONOLULU -- The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Engineering Division and FEMA Region IX will co-sponsor a free workshop on the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) Elevation Certificates (EC) between February 27 and March 1, 2012, on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island (Kona). The workshop is targeted at meeting the needs of land surveyors, architects, engineers and county officials who submit and/or review FEMA's elevation certificates.

"The National Flood Insurance Program's Elevation Certificate is an important tool to verify that people's homes are built above the anticipated flood levels to ensure their safety," said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson. “Maintaining safe and secure communities throughout the Islands is paramount in Governor Abercrombie’s New Day Plan to invest in Hawai‘i’s people.”

An elevation certificate is used to determine the proper flood insurance premium rates. It can be used to document elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain regulations; and it may be used to support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or Letter of Map Revision based on fill (LOMR-F).

This training will include an introduction to elevation certificates and review several case studies in Hawai‘i that were submitted to the counties for review and approval. Participants will learn, step by step, how to complete the EC form and ensure accuracy in the future. Workshop dates are: O‘ahu -- February 27, Kaua‘i -- February 28, Kona, February 29, and Maui, March 1.

For details and to register for this valuable training, please visit and click on the 2012 Elevation Certificate Workshop Registration under the "Latest News" section. Please contact Kristen Akamine at 808-587-0281 or Jerome Academia at 808-587-0254 for further information.

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