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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
February 29, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:23 PM :: 15802 Views

Trashing Tricare: Obama to cut healthcare benefits for active duty and retired US military

Romney Sweeps Michigan, Arizona

HB2874: House Finance Votes to Freeze Community TV Funds

Mission Houses Archive puts 19th Century Hawaii Journals, Newspapers Online

Union: Build Rail or You Will Die

CB: When the firefighters union endorsed Kirk Caldwell for mayor Monday, part of the rationale was that the rail project will reduce traffic, clearing the way for fire trucks to save lives.

“If we can’t get there fast enough — as everyone is aware, minutes make a difference whether you live or die — it’s very clear that if we don’t do something about the traffic, people will continue to die,” Hawaii Fire Fighters Association President Robert Lee is quoted as saying in this morning’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required).

Only one problem: Traffic will be worse with rail in 2030 than it is today.

Anti-rail mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano jumped all over it.

“Mr. Lee may be surprised one day to learn that his firefighters will be stuck in worse traffic congestion in the future with rail, then it is today without rail,” Cayetano said in a press release.

SA: HGEA, UPW endorse Caldwell for mayor

CB: Grabuskas was ‘Fatted Calf’

read … Cayetano vs Caldwell

HGEA Scores $5M and more to come as First ‘Favored Nation’ Payoffs Go To Union

KHON: About 1,250 state workers will have their pay restored by 5 percent as of this Thursday, March 1.

It's among the first steps in the state making good on an HGEA's "favored nation" contract clause giving HGEA workers parity with any union that got a better deal.

In this case, March 1 marks the end of a 5 percent labor cost savings to bring HGEA workers on par with their UPW counterparts in several departments.

"What the state has agreed upon at least initially would be what we characterize as the no brainers, what you clearly agreed upon with UPW should be applying to us under the favored nation provision," said HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira….

The total pay-differential tab from March through the end of the fiscal year June 30 is not yet known. For instance, Department of Agriculture has just 19 such employees and it will cost just $13,000 more now through June, money they say their special funds have on hand. Still being negotiated is how to make-good on pay differentials for these same employee groups from July 1 through Feb. 29; and how to handle departments like DCCA where they are completely special- or fee-funded but don’t have UPW colleagues to point to.

But the bigger state bills, and benefits to HGEA as a whole, are yet to come when the rest of the favored-nation parity is finalized. A big one: health premiums, since UPW paid a smaller – 40% instead of 50% of premiums -- while negotiating from July through November, while the HGEA had moved to the 50-50 split, at least $115 difference per employee per month.

“It's millions of dollars just for the change up of the health fund between the 50-50 split and the 60-40 split,” Oshiro said, “so it's a substantial amount of money. I think north of $5 million is a safe bet." ….

Also effective Thursday, March 1, all HGEA state and county workers’ salary schedules in the state departments, Judiciary, University of Hawaii, Department of Education and the City & County of Honolulu will revert up to June 30, 2009 levels. It’s not a pay hike, but any premiums like overtime, temporary assignment, call-back, differential pay, and vacation payouts for those retiring or leaving state jobs will be 5% better.

Still being negotiated:

  • How to balance the UPW and HGEA pay vs. furlough give-backs. In the original contract, HGEA took a 5% pay cut and got 9 paid days off. UPW gave up 5% in labor savings but did so through 13 days of directed leave without pay this fiscal year and 13 next fiscal year. HGEA says because of this, its union members are entitled to four more paid supplemental days off by June 30 taken at the employee's discretion.
  • 5% pay restoration for special-funded positions and departments in which there are no UPW employees, and any remaining 100% federally funded HGEA positions not yet covered in the March 1 restoration list.
  • Retroactive compensation differential for special-funded positions from July 1 through February 29.
  • Coverage of the health premium differential 60-40 vs. 50-50 for a five-month period.

Precisely as Predicted: Four of a Kind: UPW, UHPA get big Fat Pay Raise—and HSTA suit could give one to HGEA

Thanks, Neil: $126M Giveaway: Abercrombie quietly boosts spending on Public Employees’ Insurance

read ... Favored Nations

Slom: Lawsuits Still Possible over Reapportionment

SBH News: Reapportionment Clouded. The 9-member Hawaii State Reapportionment Commission, assembled after the U.S. Census every ten years, remains mired in legal challenges. New state district lines are still unclear leaving both incumbent and new candidates without clear direction. The bi-partisan Commission held hearings last year and came up with a final redistricting plan in September, 2011. However, politicians on the Island of Hawaii, desiring an additional State Senate seat (there are currently three), took the Commission to the State Supreme Court.

The Court ruled in their favor, saying that the Commission must redraw the lines, give Hawaii Island another seat, and in the process, disenfranchises nearly 100,000 military deployed here. (48 other states count all military present on April 1; Kansas has some restrictions, but only Hawaii seeks to exclude all non "permanent resident" military). Lawsuits still possible.

read … Lawsuit?

Legislators Consider Creating Gaming Commission

KHON: Since January, state lawmakers have dismissed proposals that would pave the way for legalized gambling. One would have given the Hawaiian Homes Commission the authority to allow gambling on Hawaiian Home Lands.

Another would have permitted a standalone casino in Waikiki. A gambling commission would analyze the financial and social impacts of legalized gambling. It would also assess the viability of different forms of gambling and determine what percentage of each dollar put into a gambling system would go to the state and other stakeholders.

(Clue: If they have a commission, it will lobby to create an industry to oversee.)

DN: Gambling bill died. But you guessed it, it’s alive again. Never bet a bill will stay dead.

Read … Gaming Commission

Finance Ctte Defers Bill Exempting Gov’t Projects from Enviro Review

SA: The state House Finance Committee agreed Tuesday night to defer a bill that would have allowed the governor and county mayors to exempt certain state and county construction projects from the environmental review law….

the Sierra Club Hawaii chapter, the state Office of Environmental Quality Control and others were alarmed that lawmakers would consider exempting state projects from environmental review, even on a temporary basis. The Sierra Club also complained that the bill was re-referred from subject matter committees with jurisdiction over the environment and economic development — where it had not been scheduled for hearings — directly to the House Finance Committee.

Rep. Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa), the chairman of the House Finance Committee, said lawmakers listened to stakeholders on the issue. He said several other bills that would streamline procurement and permitting to help speed up state construction have advanced.

Read … No Exemption from 343 but ….

Charter School Reform: Crooks, Cronies, Social Climbers all gather around for today’s vote

SA: A bill to overhaul Hawaii's charter school system is up for a vote today in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, after legislators were urged to make changes in view of turmoil on a few charter campuses.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs told legislators that the stakeholders in public schools that convert to charter status should have a say in their governance, pointing to flare-ups at two campuses managed by Ho‘o­ka­ko‘o Corp., a Hono­lulu-based nonprofit that is supported by Kamehameha Schools….

Ho‘okako‘o, made up largely of business and nonprofit executives, said replacing Kamaile's leadership was necessary to qualify for a federal grant, but gave no rationale for the exit of Wai­mea's principal, John Colson. Ho‘o­ka­ko‘o's board, chaired by Keith Vieira of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, later described it as a resignation subject to a confidentiality agreement, but staff and parents say Colson would not have abandoned his students voluntarily midway through the academic year.

The charter school legislation, Senate Bill 2115 SD 1, has been amended in the Education Committee to strengthen provisions for approval by stakeholders before conversion to a charter. Those changes came in response to the recent conversion of Laupahoehoe School on Hawaii island into a charter, which has prompted all its classroom teachers to request transfers to other district schools.

In its testimony, the Hawaii State Teachers Association called on legislators not to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state, saying (insert latest excuse here) the proposed revamping of charter legislation was driven by "mistakes made in charter school practices and the lack of accountability," and the cap should not be lifted without first ensuring the new law has the intended results.

Board of Education Chairman Don Horner also advised lawmakers to postpone any move to allow new authorizers of charter schools in the state, citing his board's "lack of capacity" to meet expectations outlined in the bill say otherwise in light of its deal with the HSTA to snag RTTT funds….

Read … Stakeholders get more say in revised charter school bill

A Plan to Return Hawaii's Mainland Inmates

CB: If all goes as planned, officials from the Hawaii Department of Public Safety predict that 1,000 local prisoners incarcerated in two Arizona prisons could be home by 2015.

About 750 would remain, but Public Safety says the addition of bed space at facilities on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island — beginning as early as 2016 — could house the Hawaii prisoners and relieve overcrowding at other island prisons.

A lot of stars have to align for that to happen, starting with the passage of Justice Reinvestment bills at the Hawaii Legislature — the aim of "JRI" is to reduce the prison population and save money — as well as the approval of $49 million in capital improvement projects to fix up prisons across the state.

There are a lot of hurdles down the road, too, including having a healthy economy that allows for more CIP spending to build new prisons or rehabilitate old ones. Local residents will also have to become comfortable with prisons near their backyards.

(Or we could just open the gates and let them run rampant.) It would do wonders to reinvigorate the sovereignty movement.)

HR: State Unveils Plan for New Prisons Here

read … A Plan to Return Hawaii's Mainland Inmates

Carlisle Speech Outlines Campaign Message

Shapiro: With his State of the City speech last week, Mayor Peter Carlisle served notice on election opponents Ben Cayetano and Kirk Caldwell that he'll be no pushover in his fight for re-election.

Speaking with the polish of an experienced trial lawyer delivering his opening argument, Carlisle made a game defense of the $5.27 billion Oahu rail project that has become his signature, painting himself as the hope for the future and his critics as gridlocked relics of the past.

He boasted about a successful APEC summit, the city's A bond rating, energy and technology initiatives, 263 lane miles of roads paved, 122 wastewater projects done and 275 affordable-housing units built.

He claimed to have the city on a utopian path of being able to pay for rail, sewers and other major infrastructure while chipping away at unfunded health and pension liabilities for public workers, reducing borrowing and keeping taxes in check.

Break it into 30-second sound bites and you have the framework for the well-funded TV ad blitz the Carlisle campaign will run.

ILind: Fact Check: Mayor–”Rail will ‘keep the country, county.’”

Read … Carlisle must win voters with action, not just words

‘Organic’ Food should be labeled for E Coli, Rat Lungworm

…it may even be wise for the consumer to know the extent of fecal and drug-resistant bacteria that are found on cuts of meat (and produce) brought into their kitchens….

For example, we currently have foods that are labeled GMO-free, albeit stamped with the "organic" logo. Yet, because organic foods often lack common commercial pesticide and microbial cleaning, they may also pose a risk in terms of human health (from contaminating E. coli, Salmonella, local rat-lung worm, etc.)….

Read … Label

Geothermal: OHA Cronies Present Cash Demands

SA: (Edited to enhance truthfulness) The people of Hawaii need to understand two things: One, the rich geo- thermal resources of Hawaii belong to the community us OHA cronies. Two: There are alternatives to the profit-maximization, monopolistic models of the past—we are the new monopoly.

By law, Native Hawaiians and the general public hold title to the geothermal resources of the state. Therefore it is imperative that the community as a whole retain a meaningful stake in pay us if any or no geothermal development that will takes place.

Token payments and one-time royalties will not suffice. This is critical to energy sustainability and to ending continuing the practice of the people of Hawaii paying twice and three times what people on the continent pay for their electricity.

It should be a requirement that auxiliary benefits such as steam that accrue from geothermal development are made available to us OHA cronies….

Read … Gimme gimme gimme

Stolen Valor: ‘Vote Vets’ is Actually Front Group for Sierra Club

Tulsi Gabbard, who's running for the open seat in Congressional District 2, proudly displays her endorsement by, which she calls "the voice of America's 21st century patriots" and "one of our nation’s leading veteran advocacy organizations." The press release on her website reminds us that Gabbard is a veteran herself, having served two deployments to the Middle East.

Imagine the coincidence then when into our email dropped a news release from the Center for Responsive Politics, the well-regarded campaign finance watchdog group, with its latest investigation into who is really fueling these political action committees. Today's installment of the series that CRP is calling The Shadow Money Trail is all about, which it turns out gets much of its money not from veterans but from environmental groups.

"An organization begun six years ago by Iraq war veterans received nearly $4 million from environmental groups in 2010, a year during which it spent $3.2 million running ads that targeted congressional candidates and urged passage of a climate bill," the story begins.

The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection were among the conservation organizations giving hundreds of thousands of dollars each to the VoteVets Action Fund, an arm of

read … Vote Enviros

Cayetano, Waihee, Hee Line Up Against Hoopili

CB: The fight over a master planned community in Ewa that would displace more than 1,000 acres of prime agricultural land pits two former Democratic governors against Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Former Govs. John Waihee and Ben Cayetano are scheduled to testify against the 11,750 home development known as Hoopili when opponents begin presenting their case before the state Land Use Commission starting Thursday. The hearings, which began in October, will determine whether the project can move forward. The project also was opposed by Republican Gov. Linda Lingle when she was in office.

Their testimony is expected to be a major source of support for intervenors in the case, including the Sierra Club, Friends of Makakilo and Sen. Clayton Hee.

read … Ho`opili

Non-Hawaii Owners of Vacation Rentals in Uproar

CB: The two House bills at issue were introduced by Rep. Cindy Evans, while the Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Josh Green. Both are Democrats representing the Kailua-Kona side of the Big Island.

House Bill 1707 was moving through the legislative process but was tabled Thursday. It would have required nonresident owners of vacation rental apartments or townhouses to rent the property through a licensed real estate broker or salesperson who must collect all taxes for rental of the property.

But a similar measure, House Bill 1706, awaits a final House floor vote before crossing over to the Senate, perhaps as early as this week.

HB 1706 requires owners of residential units who reside on a different island or out of state to provide the managing agent or resident manager of the condominium project with contact information of a rental agent located in the state "who is responsible for the management of the unit." That means the nonresident owner would basically have to hire a local rental agent, something that critics say would cost them thousands of dollars a year.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 2089 has a vote scheduled for Wednesday at the Capitol.

It requires any nonresident owner who operates a transient accommodation located in the nonresident owner's private residence to employ a property manager approved by the Hawaii Real Estate Commission.

SB 2089 has the support of the Department of Taxation, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting and several sales and property managers….

"There is a serious leak in the State's tax revenue pipeline," wrote Mark Marchello of Whalers Realty Management Company in Kaanapali. "This invisible leak is bursting in to the tens of millions!"

Related: "Nonresident" Property Owners Must Employ Property Managers For TVRs?

read … Forced to Sell?

Senate committee approves resolution to sell Kauai land to tenants

SA: The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee passed a resolution today urging Grove Farm Co. to consider a "win-win solution" to sell Koloa Camp land to tenants facing eviction on Kauai.

Grove Farm recently rejected an offer by local developer Peter Savio to purchase the land and sell it to the tenants as he did for Poamoho Camp tenants on Oahu in 2004. Savio testified that he is still willing to work with the landowner and tenants to facilitate the process should Grove Farm change its position.

read … Fee Simple!

Hawaii nonprofits want caps on tax deductions repealed

PBN: Hawaii nonprofits are pushing new legislation to undo part of a 2011 law that they say places a disincentive on charitable giving for some local residents.

Specifically, the nonprofits, led by the Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations, are asking lawmakers to eliminate the cap placed on how many itemized deductions certain taxpayers can claim on their charitable donations — a provision of Act 97 that was meant to save the state money during its budget crisis.

Senate Bill 2544 would repeal that part of the 2011 law containing the cap on those deductions, which applies to the upper middle class.

read … Nonprofits

SA: Give Tax Credits to Billionaire Movie Moguls

SA: Lawmakers and the state and county film officials find themselves under the gun to extend the life, at the very least, of the tax credit authorized in Act 88. That credit expires in 2016, and advocates say that planning will soon be under way for future projects beyond that date.

The measure that appears to take the most targeted approach, with an eye on how the credit affects state tax revenues, is House Bill 2869, which Wednesday cleared a key threshold, approval by the House Finance Committee.

The debate is far from over — a competing version is moving through the Senate — but the broad outlines of the House version seem the soundest.

Senate Bill 2111, for example, spells out quotas for local hires. In the first two years of the credit, at least half the production cast and crew must be legal residents of the state. Given that one of the purposes of the credit is to grow Hawaii's film workforce, which is still relatively small, producers might balk at such specific language.

And here's what both bills lack: a provision to provide transparency on the tax-credit dollar amount that each project gets. (Gee, what a surprise….)

Related: Secret Tax Breaks Fund Hawaii Film Production

Read … Grow isle talent with film tax credit

Committees Pass Measures to Change Regents Selection

CB: The Senate Judicial Committee passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would go on ballots this November, and the Ways and Means Committee approved a bill that wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment, but would give the governor more control over selecting nominees.

read … Now that a Democrat is in the Gov’s Office …

Bargaining Begins Feb. 29 for 18,000 CWA Members at AT&T West

ATT News Release: Negotiations covering about 18,000 workers at AT&T West, members of the Communications Workers of America, will begin tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 29. The current contract expires on Apr. 7. CWA District 9 Vice President Jim Weitkamp will open the negotiations.

The negotiations cover workers in California, Nevada and Hawaii.

read … ATT NEWS

Joanne Georgi Running for KIUC Board

KGI: They need to cut all unnecessary costs, such as Currents magazine. The information we need could be inserted into our bills, reaching all the members, not just some. There should be an annual survey on customer satisfaction and what KIUC could do to improve it. They could eliminate the $10.58 transmission line fee. The Department of Water does not charge us for the water lines into our home. Why does KIUC?
Read …

Bynum, 40 others Face Misdemeanor Ag Zoning Violations

KGI: Bynum is facing misdemeanor charges related to allegations of zoning permit code violations at his Kapa‘a residence.

His attorney, Daniel Hempey, entered innocent pleas on both charges in district court on Dec. 21.

County First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jake Delaplane is handling the case on behalf of the state.

The case is one of about 40 agricultural-land zoning cases being handled by the prosecutor’s office as misdemeanor offenses in district court.

Bynum faces two misdemeanor charges of creating a division in a family or ranch-style dwelling, and for using a structure in a manner not permitted on agricultural land.

Bynum said the construction by a contractor was in accordance with county Planning Department requirements, and that any problems during inspections were corrected and resolved.

read … Zoning Misdemeanor

Kaua‘i County will approve 252 TAU certificates over next 5 years

KGI: “Three years ago the people of Kaua‘i voted for balance, sustainable development. They voted for responsible government and for a meaningful enforceable (county) General Plan,” North Shore resident Carl Imparato told the commission on behalf of the Kaua‘i Group of the Sierra Club.

Imparato said the Sierra Club would like to commend the department and the commission for “faithfully implementing the 2008 charter amendment and Ordinance 912.”

TAU applications must be submitted with a complete application for a zoning permit, use permit, and variance or subdivision approval for a project, according to county long-range planner Marie Williams. Once allocated, a TAU certificate will only be issued after all required permits have received final approval.

Read … TAUs

Isle parks generate $122M

The lion's share of NPS visitor spending on the Big Island, $88.26 million, was generated by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the only national park in East Hawaii, which also supported 1,162 jobs in the local economy.

Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park was the second-largest economic generator, at $20.87 million. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and Puukohola Heiau National Historical Site generated $6.6 million and $6.46 million, respectively, for the parks and the surrounding communities. The study did not count park admission fees. Park payrolls were tallied separately.

To download the report visit and click on Economic Benefits Report.

read … Park Dollars


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