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Monday, March 5, 2012
March 5, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:53 PM :: 13936 Views

Conference: Abercrombie Admin Renews Push to Impose Medical Homes

Hawaii Credit Unions: State Bank ‘Enormous Risk’ to General Fund

Race to The Bank: HSTA Gets 36.9% Raise, Threatens Suit to Block Accountability

Hawaii Industrial Jobs Up 0.5%

HB2121: End State Solar Tax Credits for State-Funded Projects

Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted March 5

SB2267: $100M in Bonds for Al Hee’s Sandwich Isles Communications Scam Company

ILIND: SB 2267 (up for 3rd reading) would allocate $100 million in special purpose revenue bonds to Clearcom, a company owned by Al Hee, brother of Sen. Clayton Hee.

Clearcom is a sister company of Sandwich Isles Communications.

In addition, several other bills to exempt broadband-related projects from various environmental laws or reviews would benefit Clearcom.

There’s obviously something important going on here, but no news coverage that I can find.

Related: Enough for 35 Pro Bowls: Abercrombie’s $140M gift to Dante Carpenter, Sandwich Isles Communications: Political Connections Pay Off

read … Political Connections Pay Off

Complete List of Bills Up for Third Reading Friday

ILind: Here’s a list of Senate bills awaiting third reading before Thursday’s “First Crossover” deadline. The problem is that it was sent to me by a friendly senator. I don’t think the list is available to the public yet, although the internal legislative computer system, accessible to legislators and staff, will provide the list on request….

I was reminded that the bills that were ready for the first decking deadline on Friday are listed on the orders of the day for the Friday sessions. But that’s pretty “inside baseball.” Wouldn’t a direct link be much more friendly to the public? … a digest of third-reading bills to be considered in caucus tomorrow doesn’t appear to be accessible to the public, although there’s obviously nothing confidential there.

ILind: More on bills up for 3rd reading

read … Secret legislation

LWV: 8% of State Population Extracted –We need Reapportionment Reality Check

by Janet Mason V-Chair LWV -- The April 1, 2010 US Census is the most reliable estimate of everyone living in Hawaii on that date, yet the current reapportionment plan excludes many people who live here. And some districts have many more residents than others. It's time for a "reality check."

The April 2010 U.S. Population Census found there were 1,360,301 people living in Hawaii. Estimates from this year’s State reapportionment showed 108,767 people were “extracted” from this resident count for reapportionment purposes. So there are many more people living in Hawaii than there are people represented in our reapportionment plan, and Hawaii is the only state that does this on such a large scale. Kansas extracted one-half of one percent of its population while we extracted eight percent of ours.

The residents of Hawaii “extracted” from our apportionment base weren’t assigned to a district anywhere in the United States for purposes of representation at the State level, because all other states rely on the census count to determine representation and these 108,000 residents of Hawaii aren’t included in the census count for any state except Hawaii. This isn’t fair to these citizens. It isn’t just. It isn’t right. All residents of Hawaii should be included in the reapportionment plan.

A related problem has to do with the fact that those “extracted” from the reapportionment plan are not evenly distributed throughout our State, which results in unequal representation in government. The “equal protection” clause in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees every resident of the United States federal congressional representation as well as state representation.

read … Reality Check Needed On Reapportionment Plan

89-day pacts let retirees return to city, state jobs

SA: Since late 2010, former Honolulu Managing Director Robert Fishman has drawn a regular paycheck from the city while getting a state pension.

Through the first three months of this year, he is scheduled to earn $62.31 an hour, working 30 hours a week, assisting the managing director's office, according to city documents. That pay rate, if applied over a full year, would top $97,000 — for a part-time job.

"This is more about helping and giving. This is not a lot of money for me," said Fishman, who retired in 2004, has extensive management experience in the public and private sector and agreed a year and a half ago to help Mayor Peter Carlisle with his new administration.

Fishman is among a group of special so-called double dippers in Hawaii. More than 150 employees with the city and state are working part or full time through 89-day employment agreements while continuing to get their full state pensions, which they earned because of their earlier careers.

read … 89-Day Contracts

Too Busy with RTTT, DoE Skips NCLB Waiver Application

SA: The state Department of Education had planned to file its application for a waiver last week along with 26 states, but will instead file a waiver request in a third round of review in September.

… the state needs the extra time because of issues surrounding Hawaii's $75 million Race to the Top grant, which is at risk of being lost because of a host of delays. Federal reviewers will visit the islands this month for an in-depth review of the state's progress in meeting reform efforts under Race to the Top.

Hawaii is the only Race to the Top winner that has yet to request a waiver to No Child Left Behind provisions. Hawaii was one of 10 winners (nine states and the District of Columbia) awarded Race funds in a second round of grants in 2010.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the waiver program as a way of addressing some of the biggest concerns with NCLB, which is overdue for congressional reauthorization and has been widely criticized for labeling too many schools making progress as failing.

Under the law, some of the state's top public schools are facing sanctions for failing to meet annual proficiency targets, a situation that is frustrating teachers and principals and confusing parents.

Hawaii is also concerned about the law's requirement that all students be at grade-level proficiency in math and reading within two years.

Last year, 62 percent of Hawaii's 286 schools failed to meet No Child's benchmarks for student reading and math proficiency, from 49 percent the year before. For most schools to meet adequate yearly progress last year, 72 percent of students had to test proficient in reading, and 64 percent proficient in math.

read … State education reform focus delays federal waiver request

Public access TV officials object to laptop funding source

SA: A representative from Oceanic Time Warner Cable was one of few to testify in support of the bill.

"Oceanic believes that a critical factor to achieving Hawaii's broadband goal is adoption," Jeannine Souki said. "Funding additional laptops in the education system will increase broadband usage in schools and at home where there is currently no usage."

The bill now has the potential to cross over to the Senate for further consideration.

Related: Attack on Community TV: Does $50K+ job with Oceanic Time Warner create conflict of interest for Tokioka?

Related: HB2874: House Finance Votes to Freeze Community TV Funds

read … Lapdogs for Laptops

While the world changes, Civil Defense still stuck in Cold-War 1950s

SA: by Ed Teixeira The state Legislature recently missed an opportunity to bring Hawaii's antiquated civil defense system into the 21st century. Senate Bill 2146, which proposed to establish a multi-agency task force to recommend needed changes to Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapters 127 and 128, was deferred on Valentine's Day by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Government Operations, and Military Affairs, chaired by Sen. Will Espero….

read … 1950s

CENSORSHIP: KPUA Hilo Drops Rush Limbaugh From Air

KOS: Hilo, Hawaii March 5, 2012: New West Broadcasting announced today that it is discontinuing the Rush Limbaugh program on KPUA AM 670 in Hilo, Hawaii effective immediately.

Chris Leonard, President and General Manager of New West released the following statement this morning:

“We have always encouraged spirited discussion about national and local issues on KPUA and from time to time those discussions may be deemed by some to be objectionable. We are strong believers in the first amendment and have recognized Mr. Limbaugh's right to express opinions that often times differ from our own, but it has never been our goal to allow our station to be used for personal attacks and intolerance. The most recent incident has crossed a line of decency and a standard that we expect of programming on KPUA whether it is locally produced or a syndicated program like the Rush Limbaugh show.

(Make one nasty comment about an abortion activist and you will be silenced. Meanwhile UH Hilo Faculty is infested with 9-11 trooothers and anti-Semites. And they are PAID to spout their filth.)

While much of the national debate regarding this issue is now being framed in political terms, the decision for us is one of decency and responsibility. Regardless of one's political views on the issue being discussed, we feel the delivery was degrading and the continued comments over several days to be egregious. As a result, we are discontinuing the Rush Limbaugh program on KPUA effective immediately.”

Hear it online:

KHON: KPUA cancels Rush Limbaugh radio show in Hilo

read … Daily Kos

State Launches Audit of Student Transportation Program

CB: State Auditor Marion Higa initiated the audit in January, auditor Rachel Hibbard said. The office has not settled on its specific objective and scope yet.

Higa said in November that the strangely coincidental rising costs and absence of competition wouldn't have shown up in the annual financial audits her office performs on the Hawaii Department of Education.

"The things that you're asking about would have to be part of a management and performance audit," she said then, explaining that such an audit had not been performed on the entire department since 1973.

While doing a comprehensive audit of the $2.5 billion Department of Education would take significant resources and time, Higa said she has the authority to conduct management audits of any offices or programs within the department at her own discretion.

"That might be something to think about," she told us in November.

Student Transportation Services Director James Kauhi told Civil Beat that he has been dealing with numerous investigations that have started in the last few months. The auditor's is just the latest.

"Never mind the fact that we're having to answer everybody else's questions on top of all of this," he said.

Kauhi's program has already been under scrutiny by lawmakers who last year threatened to zero out regular school bus funding unless district officials could provide a satisfactory explanation and a plan for lowering student transportation costs. It also caught the attention of the FBI, who last year began investigating possible collusion in setting prices.

read … Transportation


Why is my electric bill so high?

DN: The simplest way to lower rates is to calculate the true costs associated with generation, transmission and distribution of several different scenarios and then to pick one solution that minimizes costs to ratepayers.

That is called planning.

But a key component of the HECO-DBEDT created Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) Energy Agreement was that all PUC regulatory proceedings focusing on planning (known technically as IRP) were suspended from 2008-12.

From October 2008 until today there have been no planning dockets.

For four years the utility has focused on ramming through their preferred future.

Profits are soaring, payments to HEI’s elite are spiking, cutting wages for union members failed, electric rates are soaring, and people are getting upset. Good news for the company, not so good for ratepayers.

The HCEI Energy Agreement refused to define clean energy, and had a number of questionable policies and assumptions….

Remember the last reapportionment fight (2001) when one of the two HECO employees serving as a Reapportionment Commissioner wore their utility shirt to the meetings. They were there to safeguard certain legislative seats.

HECO isn’t hurting.

But they are concerned about their future. So forcing ratepayers to pay for costly gold-plated upgrades to transmission cables, telecommunication systems, and computers will mean that even if ratepayers stop buying utility-based electricity due to the high cost, HECO will continue to make money.

Taxpayers will have to pay for the utility’s stranded investment costs.

Since we are both ratepayers and taxpayers, we will pay and pay and pay.

read … Henry Curtis


Is Avoided Cost to blame for high electric rates?

DN: Robbie Alm (HECO) spoke to the Democratic Party Environmental Caucus on July 18, 2011. On the tape at 21:10 he said that the high cost of Power Purchase Contracts (PPAs) are the reason that electric rates are so high:

"The next ones over are out major PPAs. And you'll see something in common with a number of them, and that's how much they look like each other. That is called "avoided cost contracting." And since the 1970s it has been a legal requirement with renewable energy that when we sign a contract with a renewable producer that they get paid whatever we have to pay for oil. So oil goes up their contract goes up; oil goes down their contract goes down--but it tracks oil. You'll see this particularly on the Big Island: it doesn't matter how much of that renewable energy I just showed you, it hasn't helped their bills there because almost everything on the Big Island is avoided cost contracting."

The other thing in common about these contracts is if you go down to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to read them, the pricing information is all redacted. This is to prevent anyone in the public from understanding them.

read … Is Avoided Cost to blame for high electric rates?

Imiloa Panics – Earmarks are 50% of Revenue

HTH: Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii is looking to boldly go where the planetarium and cultural center has not gone before — into a future devoid of federal "earmarks."

Executive Director Kaiu Kimura said last week that with earmarked federal funds expiring when this fiscal year ends in June, she's looking to other sources of revenues to keep the $28 million facility aloft.

Imiloa has 35 employees, 28 of them full-time, and a budget of $3 million.

"We're looking at 50 percent dependence on our own earned revenue," she said. "That's admissions, retail, restaurant, memberships. We're beginning to license out our own content for our planetarium shows." Imiloa's original trilogy show "Awesome Light" has so far been licensed to planetariums in Germany, Greece and Macao, Kimura said. Their signature planetarium show "Maunakea: Between Earth and Sky" has been translated into Chinese, and the facility is looking to attract Chinese tour groups.

Related: Obama Monopolizes Earmarks to Buy Congressional Votes

read … Bye-Bye Dan Inouye

HB2859 Fails: No Union for Grad Students

HR: Friday, March 2nd was the deadline for the House Committee on Finance to schedule a hearing for HB 2859 - a bill that would remove an impediment to forming a union by taking graduate students employed by UH off the list of state employees statutorily barred from inclusion in an appropriate bargaining unit.

Currently, graduate students are classified as “student help” and cannot organize. Sadly, the House Committee on Finance did not schedule HB 2859 for a hearing and now graduate student workers at UH are facing another year of advocacy before their pleas may be heard again before the House Committees.

read … Non Union

Hoopili Symbolizes Direction of Oahu's Future

CB: It wasn’t meant to be a bet. But for D.R. Horton, which paid $70 million for a 1,500-acre tract of farmland in Ewa — based on a plan to build 12,000 homes — it’s starting to look that way…..

Commissioners must decide by July whether to reclassify more than 1,000 acres of prime agricultural land for urban use. The project will displace two of Oahu's largest farms.

Hoopili developers say they never expected to come up against this resistance. (If that is true, they are morons.)

“How a state can classify land agricultural, and then the county come in with an overlay of urban, it confuses the developer, it confuses the people,” said Peter Apo, a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, during testimony against Hoopili. “Because it raises expectations on the part of the developer that even though that land is classified as agricultural, it’s OK to start pumping money down and cross our fingers that they will be able to get it reclassified.”

read … Hoopili

New drivers license requirements go into effect Monday

KHON: Residents will need to show proof of their legal name, birthday, social security number and legal presence in the country.

Documents like a birth certificate, passport, proof of citizenship or permanent residency will work, plus a Social Security Card, W-2, 1099 or Medicare ID. For example, a passport and Social Security Card, or a W-2 and birth certificate will work for the new rules.

KHON: EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Tensions run high at Kalihi DMV as patience wears thin

read … Real ID Act

Three Occupy Oakland protesters charged with hate crimes

Reuters: Michael Davis, 32, Nneka Crawford, 23, and Randolph Wilkins, 24, confronted the woman on the streets of Oakland in February after she told them not to riot in her neighborhood, the Oakland Police said in a written release.

"She was surrounded by three protestors and battered as they yelled vulgar epithets regarding their perception of her sexual orientation," Oakland Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said.

The female victim was not identified except as a 20-year resident of the neighborhood.

"Her wallet was taken during the crime," Watson said. "The victim broke away from the group and called police, who were able to arrest one suspect near the scene."

Watson said the other two suspects were arrested at a February 29 Occupy Oakland protest.

read … More Occupy Crimes

White House to Congress Dems: Expect no money

Politico: President Barack Obama has a bleak message for House and Senate Democrats this year when it comes to campaign cash: You’re on your own.

Democratic congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have privately sought as much as $30 million combined from Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee — a replay of the financial help they received from Obama in 2008 and 2010.

But that’s not going to happen, top Obama aides Jim Messina and David Plouffe told Reid and Pelosi in back-to-back meetings on Capitol Hill on Thursday, according to sources familiar with the high-level talks. It was a stark admission from a presidential campaign once expected to rake in as much as $1 billion of just how closely it is watching its own bottom line.

Messina and Plouffe told the two Hill leaders that there would be no cash transfers to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from OFA or the DNC

Read … Nobody Wants to Give Money to These Losers


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