VIDEO: US Chamber of Commerce Backs Lingle for Senate
Legislature to Impose 70% Tax on Tobacco Substitute?
Catholic Bishops Rep: Obama Mandate 'Hawaii Compromise' Maybe Worse
Prediction Wrong: Electric rates down—not up
SA: Residential electricity bills fell in February on every island except Kauai, the state’s two major electric utilities reported today.
Hawaiian Electric Co. said a typical 600-kilowatt-hour bill for Oahu residential customers fell to $200.41 in February from $204.17 in January. The effective rate for electricity in Honolulu dropped to 32 cents per kilowatt-hour in February from the 32.6 cents last month.
HECO also operates Maui Electric Power Co. in Maui County and Hawaii Electric Light Co. on Hawaii island
Maui Electric Co. customers saw rates fall to 35.8 cents per kilowatt-hour this month from month’s 37.6 cents. The typical Maui bill fell by $10.35 to $222.24.
Hawaii island residential rates fell to 40.6 cents a kilowatt-hour from last month's 42.1 cents. The typical bill fell by $9.32 to $253.52.
On Kauai, the rate rose to 41.40 cents per kilowatt-hour. Last month the rate charged by the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative was 40.30 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The main driver behind the monthly decline in rates was not lower prices for fuel oil, which remain high in the Asia Pacific market, according to HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg. Instead, the drop in rates was primarily due to a quarterly reconciliation HECO does to confirm its operating costs based on which generators were run and for how long, he said.
SCARE TACTICS: Big Wind, Big Cable: To Stampede Legislature, HECO Trumpets High Rates
read … They Must have Screwed Up
Aina Koa Pono Up to Its Eyeballs in Retaliation Against Champley
CB: Abercrombie nominated Champley, a respected veteran of the utility industry, to the position in August. He replaced a commissioner who resigned and whose term expires in April 2015.
But the commissioner may not get to carry out his full term.
Abercrombie has yet to submit Champley’s name to the Senate for confirmation and it’s unclear if he will do so. The governor’s spokeswoman, Donalyn Dela Cruz, said that a decision should be made by the end of the week.
She said the governor is waiting to see if Champley is "in line" with his energy policy but declined to elaborate further….
Shortly after Champley joined the PUC in August, the commission unanimously rejected a contract between start-up Aina Koa Pono and Hawaiian Electric Co. to produce biofuel on the Big Island.
One of Abercrombie's top advisers, William Kaneko, is a former lobbyist for Aina Koa Pono. And Melvin Chiogioji, one of the founder's of AKP, is considered politically influential. He couldn't be reached for comment for this story.
The commissioners ruled that the contract was “excessive, not cost-effective, and thus, is unreasonable and inconsistent with the public interest.”
The ruling angered Aina Koa Pono which wrote a harsh rebuttal.
Kenton Eldridge, co-founder of AKP, wouldn't comment this week on whether his company is behind the move to get rid of Champley. Asked whether he personally had any conversations with the administration about the PUC ruling, he said “absolutely not.”
UPDATE Feb 10--Abercrombie caves, decides to appoint Champley
read … Retaliation
Hawaiian Electric Industries earns $138.2M in 2011, up 22%
PBN: Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. on Wednesday reported a profit of $138.2 million, or $1.21 per diluted share, for 2011, a 22 percent increase from net income of $113.5 million, or $1.21 per diluted share, in 2010.
Latest Excuse: HEI has earnings boosted by utility operations
read … Out of your Pocket
HB2689: Shake-Down Operators Split over How to Extort Money from Geothermal Development
HW: Last Thursday, the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection had a busy session hearing several controversial bills relating to geothermal energy.
Chairman Denny Coffman introduced HB2689, which seeks to exempt slim-hole, or exploratory, geothermal test wells from any sort of environmental review as is currently required under Chapter 343 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.
Gary Hooser, director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) gave testimony in opposition of HB2689. “We don’t like blanket exemptions,” said Hooser before the committee. “We think each action–each project–should be evaluated to its own standards.
“All we’re asking for, fundamentally, is that someone in the state look at the projects and be willing to say, ‘Yes,’ or ‘No,’” Hooser added.
The bill does paint a mental image of geothermal contractors coming to Hawaii and drilling test holes with reckless abandon in hopes of hitting some sort of renewable energy gold mine. But Guy Kaulukukui, the deputy director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), disagrees.
“It’s not in the best interest of the developer to drill everywhere,” says Kaulukukui. “We know that every well that they sink costs them money, so they are going to be very efficient in the number of wells that they sink. They are going to do research before they attempt to do that.”
Others in support of the bill included Arthur Seki of Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) and Mililani Trask of Indigenous Consultants LLC.
Robert Harris of the Sierra Club was among those opposed.
read … Money
Senate Committee Advances Anti-Spiking Bill
CB: the Honolulu Police Department and SHOPO police union submitted opposing testimony. More unions have since chimed in with “late” testimony — all in opposition: the United Public Workers, Hawaii Government Employees Association, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, and the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association.
The state Attorney General and governor’s office submitted late testimony in support.
read … Senate Committee Advances Anti-Spiking Bill
Matsumoto: We must deal quickly with underfunded retiree health fund liability
SA: There is an elephant in the room and no one wants to acknowledge its presence.
The problem is that it won't go away anytime soon.
That elephant is the rapidly rising retirement health care liability for state and county employees, which is administered by the Employer-Union Trust Fund (EUTF).
In 2007, the EUTF was determined to be underfunded by $10.3 billion. By 2009, the underfunding grew to $14.7 billion.
The EUTF has not released the most recent actuarial analysis but that deferred liability is likely to have grown by several billion dollars. In the meantime, the public employers (the state in particular) have not taken steps to fix the problem by adequately prefunding the liability.
read … Retirees
Honolulu Council Budget Chair Questions Rail Department on Cost, Reasons, for Radio Blitz
PBN: Honolulu City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi (District 5) is questioning why the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit board launched a city taxpayer sponsored radio blitz promoting the planned $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel Honolulu rail project.
In a February 6 letter to Kenneth Toru Hamayasu, the Interim Executive Director for Honolulu Authority For Rapid Transportation, Kobayashi said she has received calls from residents asking about the commercials asking "to what is the basis behind the radio advertisements at this point in time." ….
Ishikawa said the cost for the radio spots, including production and airtime is $145,000.
read … Kobayashi
Fighting to Stop Honolulu's Proposed Rail Debacle
HR: As many of you may know, yesterday the Federal Transit Administration issued a Letter of No Prejudice, which allows the city to start limited construction on the rail. They are allowed to spend up to $180 million in open farmland near East Kapolei.
The city requested $20 million to build a pre-cast yard but were denied that by the FTA.In November, 2011 Judge Walter Tashima came to Honolulu to hear the city’s motion to dismiss. At that hearing Judge Tashima asked both parties to avoid filing a preliminary injunction. The city agreed, and said that they would not do anything that would cause irreparable harm. And, that if they lost the lawsuit, they could undo any work done in the interim and had the funds to do it.Unfortunately, the taxpayers of Honolulu, you and me, will be footing the bill for this work as well. It could be at least another $200 million wasted.
read … Fighting to Stop Honolulu's Proposed Rail Debacle
DoE: Accused Child Molester Supervises His Victim During Trial
SA: Waipahu High School's track coach was back at school organizing practice Wednesday after he appeared in court earlier in the day, charged with three counts of sexually assaulting one of his female runners over two years.
The girl, a senior, continues to run as a member of the Marauders' track and field team because she hopes to do well enough to earn a college scholarship after qualifying for the state finals in cross-country this year, her father said.
"I tried to talk her out of running (because of the allegations), but she's been running since she was a freshman," the girl's father said Wednesday. "Running's her passion."
Department of Education officials said late Wednesday night that teacher and track and field and cross-country coach Erik Y. Tamura, 37, of Wahiawa will be placed on paid leave as of today. The girl's father has questioned why Tamura has been allowed to continue to supervise the girl he allegedly sexually assaulted over a two-year period.
read … Your Glorious DoE at Work
Working at School Could Be Solution for DoE’s 180-day law
CB: Remember yesterday’s exciting discussion about Hawaii students working in the school cafeteria and on campus to help keep things running?
A Civil Beat op-ed by a teacher was indignant at the thought, but it turns out a lot of parents and community members appear to support it because of work’s educational value.
Education Week reporter Sean Cavanaugh writes that lots of states are moving toward alternative means — including community service — for instruction.
read … States Moving Away From ‘Seat Time’ For Instruction
Inside Hawaii's Juvenile Detention Home
CB: Hawaii's juvenile detention home still has the glow of a building that's less than two years old. The hallways are clean, wide and filled with light. But when it comes to its inner workings, things are still very much a work in progress.
Three years after a scathing report detailed grave deficiencies at the old detention home on Alder Street, a second report released last week noted many positive developments at the new Kapolei facility. Yet the report also highlighted problems with chronic understaffing and sick leave abuse. There are still no written policies in place and training is inadequate.
read … Inside Hawaii's Juvenile Detention Home
SA: Cybercrime Legislation Raises Free Speech, Privacy Issues
SA: "While some individuals use the Internet to harm other people, others use the Internet to play practical jokes on one another," state Chief Public Defender Timothy Ho testified this month to a House committee. "There is a fine line between a practical joke and harassment."
Should it be harassment or cyberbullying, Ho asked, if someone posted a funny video on Facebook or YouTube at a school eating contest, causing one of the contestants to be embarrassed or humiliated? The relatively clear threshold, as it is in other legal situations, would be in the accused's intention beyond a reasonable doubt.
More complicated, though, are practices of retaining cyber records to track down those who have committed crimes. One bill before the Legislature would allow electronic communication service providers to voluntarily disclose information to law enforcement officials during emergencies.
Hawaii's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union rightly asks that the bill make clear that law enforcement agencies must obtain probable-cause warrants to seek cellphone locations except in emergencies.
Another bill would allow judges to demand electronic records in criminal cases, including companies operating outside Hawaii, even though cellphone and Internet service providers are not required to retain such records. Legislators should abide by a request by the state Judiciary to table the bill until a study can be made.
Increasingly, the Internet and cellphones are loaded with personal data, sharing names, addresses, phone numbers, even a person's instant location, which helps companies direct advertising to individuals.
read … Cyber crime laws must stay current
Rep. Ward Addresses Internet Sales Tax HB1634
Representative Gene Ward address Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 198-12
H.B. No. 1694, H.D. 1 RELATING TO TAXATION. (Use Tax; Internet Sales; Out-of-State Sellers; Affiliates) AS AMENDED, PASS SECOND READING, REFER TO FINANCE
Internet (Amazon) Tax. Unless preempted by federal law, requires the collection of use taxes by sellers of tangible personal property who enter into agreements under which a person in the State refers potential purchasers to the seller, including by an internet link or web site, or performs related services in the State on behalf of the seller. This includes those who engage in business in the state or sell tangible items to people in the state. Electronic and catalogue purchases would be taxed regardless of the seller's location. Contact: email@example.com
watch … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YASc5RRiqPY
House Defers OHA-Kakaako Bill, Will Follow Senate’s Lead
CB: Chang said the House will instead wait to see the Senate version of the proposal, which calls for giving $200 million in Kakaako land to OHA. House version
To that end, two Senate committees are delaying their decision making from Friday until Monday (Feb. 13), giving them more time to tinker with language in the bill.
SA: House defers OHA-land bill in favor of Senate's version
read … House Defers OHA-Kakaako Bill, Will Follow Senate’s Lead
Clayton Hee Pushes for Creation of Another Hawaiian Studies Center at UH Manoa
Senate Bill 3071 would appropriate money to “establish and resource” Hookulaiwi: Aha Hoonaauau Oiwi (center for Native Hawaii and indigenous education) within the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Why is it important? The bill, sponsored by Sen. Clayton Hee….
read … SB3071
HB2703: State to Mandate Agricultural Production Double?
On Feb. 1, the Hawaii State House Agriculture Committee heard testimony on HB2703, dubbed the Food Self-Sufficiency Bill. Drafted by stakeholders including folks in agriculture, environmental non-profit groups (Sierra Club, Kanu Hawaii, Kokua Hawaii Foundation and the Hawaii Food Policy Council) and government sectors, the bill calls for the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to develop a food sustainability standard and requires the state to double the amount of food grown for local consumption by 2020.
read … Soviet style
Time with Kymberly Pine - Chef Edward Kenney - Hawaii's Local Farmers
Chef Edward Kenney graduate from Kapi'olani Community College's Culinary Institute of the Pacific and Executive Chef of Town (Kaimuki) and Downtown (HiSAM) talks with Representative Kymberly Pine about Hawaii's local farmers. contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
watch … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByaspyEhYgg
Fine could rise for texting while driving
KHON: Texting while driving a commercial vehicle in Hawaii could result in a fine up to $2,750.
That proposal is before the House Transportation Committee Wednesday morning, along with House Bill 2355, which would make unauthorized texting while driving punishable by at least a $100 fine.
House Bill 2609 would also require commercial drivers to have their licenses with them while driving commercial vehicles. The intent is to bring Hawaii's into compliance with federal law.
read … Texting Fines
Occupy Protesters try to Beat Rap
SA: A motion made by defense attorney Eric Kvam to have the case dismissed was continued until March 7. If the motion is denied, trial should begin shortly thereafter before District Judge Linda K.C. Luke.
The six who were arrested are Jamie Baldwin, 23; Megan Brooker, 26; Lucas Miller, 29; Randal Perez, 28; Luke Satsuma, 19; and Nickolas Wooden, 23. Wooden lives in Kapahulu; the other five said they live in Makiki.
read … Occupy a jai Cell
Ex-police officer found guilty of sex assault is a fugitive in Morocco
SA: Former Honolulu police officer Michael Tarmoun, who failed to show up for sentencing in state court last October for sexually assaulting a Waikiki prostitute, is back in his native Morocco, said Keith Kiuchi, lawyer for A-1 Bail Bonds.
"The bondsman has located the defendant, given the prosecuting attorney the location, down to the street where he is in Rabat, Morocco," Kiuchi said.
read … Morocco
Porn site prompts UH to ask for tougher computer crime law
HNN: The UH wants lawmakers to consider amending a bill on unauthorized computer use to include fraudulent use of Internet domain names.
"We believe that individuals who willfully and purposely attempt to profit through misleading the public by misrepresenting governmental organizations should also be held accountable as the wrongdoers they are," wrote University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood in written testimony to the State Senate Committee on Economic Development and Technology.
The committee's chair, State Sen. Carol Fukunaga, said Wednesday she planned to work with the university to amend the bill to incorporate UH officials' concerns.
While the UH has not developed specific language for a bill, Greenwood said, "One approach might be to update Hawaii's decade-old statutes on ‘cybersquatting' to include the fraudulent use of domain names, such as the kind of malicious representation we are now seeing."
read … UH Cybercrime Bill?
Sexting could become a crime
HNN: Senate Bill 2222 prohibits adults from asking minors for nude pictures and it would also outlaw minors from sending nude pictures of themselves to adults or other kids.
read … Sext
Hawaii Should Publish Government Legal Notices On the Internet
CB: There's an old adage: When somebody says it's not about the money, it's about the money. (That cuts both ways.)
Hawaii newspaper publishers, usually quick to urge prudent spending by government, have jumped to the defense of a long-standing — and archaic — requirement that legal notices be published in print newspapers.
Hawaii lawmakers are considering two bills — SB2219 and SB2233 — that would eliminate that mandate and allow the state just to post the same information online, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars, at a minimum.
(Internet publication goes after revenue stream of print publication.)
CB: Honolulu Newspaper Exec Says Google ‘Ineffective’ for Searches on Government Websites
read … Competitive Edge
Hazing trial of Kaneohe Marine so far fails to make points necessary to convict
DN: During opening statements the prosecution displayed images of the battle scene, a roughly triangular area in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, about the size of a football field. The jury was told that witnesses will demonstrate that Sgt. Johns woke up Lew and that Johns was pissed. Lew was yanked out of his foxhole and subsequently sent on two trips to deliver supplies with sandbags on his shoulders. Lew was made to dig a foxhole.
The defense offered that one of the central issues in the case is whether a squad leader in Helmand Province has the ability to order a soldier to dig a supplemental fighting position under battle conditions. He described Sgt. Johns as a battle-tested, experienced Marine, one of the five-percenters—a Marine who could be trusted with this dangerous mission. The attorney noted that there was intelligence that the position could be overrun by Taliban. He said that Sgt. Johns and his men saw more battle in a short time there than many soldiers will see in their entire careers—this was not Camp Victory in Iraq.
He noted that Sgt. Johns depended on Lew, but that Lew fell asleep not one, two or three times, but four times. When Johns depended on him, Lew was sleeping. He said that Lew fell asleep when there was intelligence the camp could be overrun, endangering the lives of his fellow Marines.
read … Hazing trial of Kaneohe Marine so far fails to make points necessary to convict
Global Cooling: Himalayas have Lost no Ice in 10 years
(So sad for all those poor deluded folks who actually believe in global warming.)