Nevada: Romney 43%, Gingrich 25%
FTC Complaint: HECO Stifling Geothermal to Boost Rates, Profits
University of Hawaii May Fund Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz
Whipsawed by New Fees and Charges: Taxpayers Beware
OHA Holding Another Round of Ceded Lands Settlement Meetings
After Letting HMC Die, Organ Transplant Bill Signed into Law
Maui TEA Party: How to Unite Hawaii's 'Conservative Coalition'
DoE Seeks Non-profit Sponsors for Summer School Lunch Program
HB2652: Cuts Funding for Public Access Cable TV
Abercrombie Releases $13 Million for Agriculture, Water Irrigation Projects
Drought: Hawaii County Designated Disaster Area
Case to Hirono: I Voted to Raise Taxes Too!
Former congressman Ed Case has taken exception to a claim by U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono in a campaign advertisement that she was the only candidate for U.S. Senate to oppose tax cuts for the wealthy first approved under President George W. Bush.
Case was not in Congress when the first round of tax cuts passed in 2001, but he voted against the second round in 2003, when the tax cuts cleared the House 222 to 203.
While the Hirono campaign cites a few subsequent Case votes to extend portions of the Bush tax cuts, the fact is Case voted against the foundation for the tax cuts.
Both Case and Hirono, the Democratic contenders, are on record now against extending the Bush tax cuts.
Related: Case vs Hirono: Both Voted for Higher Taxes and War in Iraq
read … Raise Taxes
Redistricting snafu gives more edge to incumbents
Borreca: Two years ago, Garner Shimizu ran and lost his race to be the new Republican representing the Moanalua Valley-Salt Lake state House district. Now Shimizu, 52, wants to run again, but he doesn't know where.
Shimizu isn't lost -- he, like the rest of the state's possible political candidates, waits on the Reapportionment Commission and the courts to redraw the election maps.
Last month the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the proposed reapportionment plan was invalid and the bipartisan commission has been working on a new one.
"The plan which was thrown out would put me in a new district, and I would have been in competition with another Republican who ran two years ago.
"Out of respect, I won't run against him," says Shimizu, who is now resigned to wait until the revised election maps are drawn.
While that is happening, candidates are fretting, time is a-wasting and the deadline for filing for office is becoming a moving target.
The candidates were supposed to be able to start filing for state legislative offices last Wednesday, but without an approved reapportionment plan, the state couldn't process the applications.
State officials are now hoping to have something drawn up by Feb. 23, leading the more cynical to believe that Catch-22 is actually the first section of the state Constitution.
"It is affecting everything," reports GOP state Chairman David Chang.
read … Thanks to Malama Solomon
Bob Jones: Why Young People Don’t Invest in Hawaii Democrats
Bob Jones: My wife reminded me of the time when then Gov. Ben Cayetano chatted informally with reporters at Washington Place and was puzzled why so many of Hawaii’s young people don’t invest in the Democrats who brought them to what we have today. One reporter replied that “while my parents’ generation was able to buy homes in Kaimuki and Manoa, my generation is struggling to find good jobs and to pay for housing.”
read … Democrats getting old
Report: 2013 Pro Bowl likely headed for New Orleans
HNN: With the future of the Pro Bowl seemingly in jeopardy, sources are reporting that the 2013 all-star contest featuring the NFL's best will likely be played in New Orleans... If at all.
On Sunday morning, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN that the future of the Pro Bowl has been a topic of discussion amongst league officials following the negative reaction from the game this year. Goodell says that he and NFL Player's Association head DeMaurice Smith have even had informal conversations about canceling the Pro Bowl altogether.
(They are considering running a NFL-produced gay wedding fashion show in the same time slot with Neil Abercrombie as MC.)
read … Thanks, Neil
Poll Shows 42-Point Lead For Hannemann
CB: Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann is leading his closest competitor by 42 points according to a new poll commissioned by his campaign for Congress.
The QMark poll shows Hannemann with a 57 percent lead, and City Council member Tulsi Gabbard with 15 percent of voters’ support.
Kos: Tulsi Gabbard's Recent Fundraising Still Shows Heavy Donations from Mike Gabbard Donors and Staff
read … Poll Shows 42-Point Lead For Hannemann
Poll - Hawaii Voters Lack Confidence in Department of Education
CB: Nearly 60 percent of Hawaii Voters have no confidence in the Department of Education delivering on its Race to the Top promises, according to a new Civil Beat Poll.
And although Gov. Neil Abercrombie has blamed the teachers union for the lack of progress, the poll indicates neither side has an edge in voters' eyes.
The automated telephone survey of 1,358 likely voters found they place blame for the problems facing Hawaii's educational system equally on the government and union. Asked who is "most responsible" for the problems, 35 percent answered government, 32 percent said the union, 25 percent cited both and 8 percent were unsure.
When it came to Race to the Top, 59 percent of voters said they have no confidence in the state. Just 25 percent said they had confidence, with 16 percent unsure. The margin of error is +/- 2.7 percent.
The poll was conducted on Jan. 18 and 19, just before teachers resoundingly rejected a new six-year contract that the state said would have helped it allay the concerns of the federal Department of Education that not enough progress is being made on meeting the state's commitments….
Full Text: Civil Beat Poll - January 2012 Education issues
read …Poll Results
Hawaii Could Lose Race to the Top Funding
KGI: … because of the state’s “unsatisfactory” performance in fulfilling its promises, Hawai‘i schools could get its funding cut.
“The Race to the Top is another thing that I feel is like No Child Left Behind,” said Christine Farina, a teacher at Kapa‘a High School. “It has great intentions, but it is not thought through clearly, and it’s putting unrealistic goals and expectations on everyone. Students, teachers, everybody.”
Part of the the Race to the Top plan relies on an infrastructure of data that tracks student growth. A teacher’s pay is then linked to student performance.
“We are all striving to do the best we can and to make sure students are successful as possible,” Farina said. “Now, they are trying to link our pay to that data. And tell me what profession that’s happening in? It’s like saying to a doctor, if you don’t have 100 percent of your patients cured, then your pay is going to be reduced or you may lose your job. … You have to take into account the differences in people, their levels. Are we talking about special education and special needs kids at the same time? It’s very frustrating.”
Price: The Law Of Small Numbers
SA: School bus costs must be trimmed
read … Kauai
SB2012: State Projects to Allow Favoritism, Shoddy Construction
State senators will consider streamlining permits and procurement to help unleash $500 million worth of bond-financed state construction to tackle repair and maintenance backlogs and stimulate the economy.
The money would be directed at deferred maintenance at public schools, hospitals and other state buildings, along with alternative-energy upgrades. Senators will discuss at a Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing on Friday whether to exempt the projects from county permits provided that the construction meets federal, state and county code. They may also expand the threshold for projects that qualify for a more relaxed procurement process to $1 million — up from $250,000 — but would funnel the projects through an electronic procurement system that offers public transparency.
The aggressive investment in state construction is the Senate's flagship legislation this session — senators symbolically designated it Senate Bill 2012 — and senators hope that private-sector trade unions, contractors and business interests will back the proposal.
The state House and Gov. Neil Abercrombie have also shown interest in streamlining state construction as an economic stimulus tool. The dash toward streamlining has given some regulators and environmentalists pause, however, since permitting and procurement requirements are safeguards against substandard work and favoritism.
read … Shoddy Favoritism
Cayetano and UHPA: From F-You to Stop Rail?
CB: "This lady came up to me and she had something in her hand, and she said 'Fuck you,' and she hit me right between the eyes."
That's how Ben Cayetano this week described a memorable encounter with protesting University of Hawaii professors when he was governor.
It was ugly. He had to be hustled away by security.
But now, more than a decade later, he's going back to the professors on his own two feet and asking them to help him win the Honolulu mayor's race.
Cayetano revealed to Civil Beat this week that on Saturday he'll speak to leadership of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the professors' union. UHPA Executive Director JN Musto declined to comment.
The news is surprising for a couple of reasons. First is the history of animosity. Second is that UHPA, which does jump into state races, doesn't generally wade into county contests.
Cayetano, 72, said he thinks he can convince professors to back his candidacy because the Honolulu rail project, though a city initiative, could damage state finances.
read … Stop Rail?
Pedophiles: Legislators Renew Push to Loot Catholic Church, Exempt State
SA: Last year's state Legislature unanimously approved a bill to lift Hawaii's threshold for filing civil lawsuits in such cases, but Gov. Neil Abercrombie vetoed it. Sponsors of that bill have made changes suggested by the state Attorney General's Office, which now indicates the administration does not oppose it as long as the changes stick.
Unlike last year's bill that sought to eliminate the statute of limitations entirely, this year's bill would extend the cap beyond the present two years. It also would allow a victim to file a lawsuit not only against the perpetrator but also an institution, agency, firm, business corporation or other public or private entity that "had a degree of responsibility or control" of the situation. And unlike last year, the current legislation would exempt the state government from such lawsuits.
The current bills are "definitely a watered-down version," said state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, sponsor of the main Senate bill, identical to House versions. Still, she added, "It's definitely a step in the right direction."
Five Hawaii Catholic priests have been removed from duty for allegedly sexually assaulting minors, according to a 2004 study released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The study reported that 4,329, about 4 percent of the American clergy since 1950, have faced such allegations….
A 2002 California law that lifted the statute of limitations on sexual abuses for a one-year window resulted in nearly 1,000 claims against the Catholic church in that state. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed in 2007 to pay $660 million in settlement with people alleging sex abuse by clergy.
BTW: This is the same legislature which employed convicted child molester Leon Rouse. Maybe his victim in the Phil should sue the State of Hawaii for shielding him.
read … Pedophile Bill
Queens Will Lose $8M providing Organ Transplant over Next Five Years
In a deal made with the state, the Queens Medical Center agreed to house an organ transplant center while also paying for half of the opening and operational costs. The transaction causes the hospital to lose roughly $8 million over the next five years, but it is a financial loss the hospital said is paid for with the gift of human life. (The losses demonstrate that Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement is slanted against ‘extraordinary’ lifesaving interventions.)
IZ: Solutions for health care need to consider doctors
Obama Admin Claim: Health reform law saves $6.9M for Medicare recipients ($6.9M is saved on routine medical care but $8M is not available to help Queen’s Hospital break even on extraordinary medical care. Get the message?)
read … Queens Transplant Center
Star-Adv Cheers as Usual Suspects Try to Get Doctors to Kill Off Expensive Old People, Handicapped
SA: …decide how to end their own lives under certain conditions, says John Heidel, president of the Interfaith Alliance Hawaii and founder of Religious Leaders for Assisted Dying.
Heidel shared his perspective as a United Church of Christ minister in the continuing conflict about legalizing euthanasia Wednesday at the alliance's monthly Interfaith Open Table at Harris United Methodist Church. Also speaking were Scott Foster, spokesman for the Hawaii Death with Dignity Society, and Juliet Begley of Compassion and Choices Hawaii, a national advocate for aid in dying….
read … Assisted Suicide
Senators Push Single-Payer State Government LTC Insurance
Members of the Hawaii state Senate Human Services Committee have voted 3-0, with one excused absence, to support setting up a task force that would study the idea of setting up a mandatory, public long-term care insurance (LTCI) program that might pay a small daily amount and supplement existing public and private long-term care (LTC) programs.
Sen. Suzanne Chun-Oakland, D-Sand Island, the lead sponsor of the bill, S.B. 2321, is the chair of the Senate Human Services Committee.
In the House, members of the Health Committee and members of the Human Services Committee have advanced an amended version of the bill, H.B. 2696, that was introduced by Rep. Della Au Belatti, D-Tantalus.
A Hawaii LTC commission has concluded that "only a minority of Americans will ever have private long-term care insurance, even in an optimistic economic environment," but the commission also found little support for the kind of mandatory, universal LTCI programs operating in countries such as Japan and the Netherlands, according to the bill preamble. (Netherlands has assisted suicide. What a coincidence.)
read … Single Payer
Hawaii Officials Looting Taxpayers to Build First Hawaiian Bank Equity
AP: Replenishing the state's reserve funds would send a positive signal to credit rating agencies. (The resulting lower interest rates would increase the equity value of already-issued State bonds which pay a higher interest rate. Don Horner’s First Hawaiian Bank and others who hold State of Hawaii bonds millions of dollars with every drop in interest rates. For instance, $100M worth of Hawaii State bonds bearing 4% interest are suddenly worth $133M if the marketplace is willing to accept 3% interest. The bondholder’s profit is $33M.)
Hawaii officials just have to figure out how fast they want to do it.
A successful bond sale in December puts the state in a position to recapitalize its Emergency Budget and Reserve Fund and Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund faster than anticipated, after both were tapped to balance the budget. However, since the Council on Revenues recently adjusted its economic forecast downward, administrators and lawmakers are trying to determine how best to deal with the reserves.
read … Hawaii officials considering how quickly to build up reserves, and rebuild its credit rating
Poll: 80% Concerned About State Pension Debt
CB: The word "pension" didn't deserve a mention in Gov. Neil Abercrombie's State of the State text this year.
But last year he told the public of the need to "achieve a resolution of the crisis of unfunded liabilities in pension funds and runaway health costs."
It seems like they may have got the message.
More than 80 percent of likely voters in Hawaii are concerned about the state's pension system, according to The Civil Beat Poll.
With the state's taxpayers owing about $9 billion more in benefits than the Employees' Retirement System has on hand, 61 percent of voters said they are very concerned about the situation, with 21 percent saying they're somewhat concerned. Just 14 percent of voters said they're not concerned, with 5 percent unsure.
The automated telephone poll1 was conducted on Jan. 18 and 19 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percent. Civil Beat surveyed 1,358 likely voters about a range of issues, from the U.S. Senate race to the pension system. (Read the complete results of the pension poll at the bottom of this article.)
Civil Beat also asked in general terms about a proposal before the Hawaii Legislature to limit the growth of the unfunded liability by putting a cap on overtime hours in calculating pensions.
The poll found that 69 percent of voters favor excluding overtime hours in pension calculations, with just 21 percent saying they should be included, and 10 percent unsure.
Two bills before the Legislature, HB2488 and SB2750, address the pension spiking issue.
read … Pension
Obama Debt Exceeds GDP for First time Since WW2
CB: What Lingle got right is the fact that the federal debt had surpassed the nation's GDP. When Lingle addressed the business group, debt was estimated to be $15.236 trillion. The most recent estimate of GDP at that time was $15.199 trillion, according to the Commerce Department.
Since then, the federal debt has swelled to $15.295 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. And the latest estimate of GDP shows that it too has grown, to $15.294 trillion.
Contrary to what the former governor claimed, this is not the first time in history that the federal debt has surpassed the value of the U.S. economy.
Federal Office of Management and Budget records1 show that the federal debt outpaced the country's GDP for three years, the last year of World War II and the two following years.
In 1945, the gross federal debt represented nearly 118 percent of the GDP. The next year, debt was about 122 percent of the nation's GDP. In 1947, the nation's debt was 110 percent of its GDP. (So Obama has spent all of America’s wealth, without having a two-front world war victory to show for it. He did, however, get a whole bunch of Americans on Food Stamps.)
Charlene on Green: Who Owns America's Debt Certificate: US Gov, China, Japan, UK, Barack Obama: Bad for Blacks, Bad for Banks, Bad for Business, Bad for America
read … Obama Burns Treasury
91% Glad Occupy is Being Evicted from Thomas Square
AM: The other shoe finally drops on the gaggle of protestors who were nesting on the corner of Ward and Beretania. The persistent, yet message-challenged, occupiers had maintained their homeless-look-alike encampment for weeks before finally being given the boot by the city. The whole affair brings back memories of Al Capp's 60's cartoon protestors S.W.I.N.E., Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything.
SA: Protesters' camp cleared anew
CB: Occupy Honolulu Evicted From Thomas Square
read … De-occupation
Aloha Stadium to Help Fund UH Athletic Program?
Senate Bill 2991, a proposal to have the stadium authority pay UH 25 percent of all revenues that UH generates at Aloha Stadium. It’s not the first time a proposal like this has come up.
The Senate bill was introduced by Senate Education Chairwoman Jill Tokuda and Senate President Shan Tsutsui, and a companion bill in the House was introduced by Reps. Scott Nishimoto, Mark Nakashima and Mark Takai. That one passed its first committee hearing today.
read … Aloha Stadium to Help Fund UH Athletic Program?
Hawaii and Korea Enter Smart Grid Development Agreement
MN: The project is in addition to another smart grid demonstration project that is currently taking place on Maui, which was brought forward through an agreement with Japan-based New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization in November of 2011….
MKE and its Korea Smart Grid Institute have been at the forefront of the Korea Smart Grid Roadmap, South Korea’s plan to develop and implement a nationwide smart grid by 2030….
The MKE and KSGI are currently leading more than 170 South Korean companies in the development and deployment of the Jeju Island Test Bed, a planned 6,000 household smart grid community demonstration project in South Korea.
The project has investments totaling more than $240 million between 2009 and 2013.
KSGI is also implementing a joint Korea-State of Illinois project to install energy-saving equipment in at least four Chicago buildings, with investments of more than $35 million….
The next step outlined in the letter of intent is for both parties to collaborate on a more defined memorandum of understanding by October 31, 2012, which will describe the project partners, scope, location and resource contributions.
read … Big Brother will Turn off your lights
Web Dossier Bill Stalled in Hawaii Legislature
CN: Submitted on Jan. 20 by Rep. Tom Mizuno and six other Hawaii lawmakers, HB2288 would require companies like AOL, AT&T, Verizon and Yahoo to maintain two years of Internet search history records of all Hawaii residents for "no less than two years."
The bill is barely two pages in length and states: "The required data for the consumer records shall include each subscriber's information and internet destination history information. Destination information shall include any of the following: Internet protocol address, domain name or host name."
Facing enormous opposition from other state representatives, local citizens, attorneys and the ISP Association, the House Committee on Economic Revitalization & Business deferred action on Thursday.
Supporters and opponents of the bill submitted 60 pages of testimony for a hearing on the matter earlier that morning.
read … Web Dossier Bill Stalled in Hawaii Legislature
Baker Refuses to Hear Kona Coffee Farmers Bill
SA: At the request of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, Hawaii island Sen. Josh Green introduced Senate Bill 2097, which would make mandatory what is now just a voluntary disclosure of the amounts of other coffee in the so-called 10 percent Kona blend now sold throughout Hawaii.
The Star-Advertiser published a balanced article on the "Kona" labeling issue ("Coffee Debate Brews," Jan. 25), followed by a lead editorial supporting the status quo ("Kona coffee doesn't need label change," Jan. 28).
Sen. Roslyn Baker, chairwoman of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, to which SB 2097 was referred, almost immediately advised the association's president that she would not hold a hearing on SB 2097.
read … Baker Refuses Farmers
Proposed legislation could ease paperwork for Farmers
AP: One proposal could also help local farms comply with federal food safety auditing standards, easing the burden on small farmers facing excessive paperwork, an advocate said. House Bill 1786….
Other legislation affecting school gardens includes House Bill 2245, which would establish a farm-to-school program in the Department of Agriculture to increase the procurement of locally grown fruits and vegetables….
read … Local Agriculture
Hawaii County Contracts 134% Higher Cost
Joel Osteen in Hawaii
HNN: "I tell people that faith is contagious. When you get around thousands of other believers that, just something happens on the inside. I think even on a smaller sense, that who you hang around with is very important, as well - who you connect with. Because I tell people, what you're going to be like 5 years from now - just see who you're hanging around with."
He heads up the non-denominational, diverse Lakewood church in downtown Houston, a renovated arena where the rockets basketball team used to play. 40-thousand congregants attend what is now America's largest church.
read … Joel Osteen in Hawaii
U.S. Marine commander inquires about alternative base transfer sites
Manichi: The U.S. Marines Corps Forces commander in the Pacific has asked a leading member of the ruling party's Okinawa chapter if there are other locations than Nago to which the U.S. Futenma air base could be moved, the local official said Saturday.
read … Okinawa
Army Unlikely to See Reductions in Pacific
S & S: The U.S. Army Pacific commander says he’s unlikely to see a reduction of the 62,000 soldiers in the Pacific area of operations spanning from Alaska to South Korea.
That reprieve from force cuts comes with increased attention from Washington, which will look to its Pacific troops to manage potential emergencies arising from North Korea’s regime change, as well as to help allay its Asian allies’ concerns about China’s growing military might.
read … Pacific