GOP's Lingle May Keep Senate Pro-Choice Next Year
Abercrombie's nervous communist Czar: Cap and Trade, and the cost to Hawaii
Banks, Brokerages to Reap Profits from Kawailoa Wind Project
SA to HSTA, let Members vote on Abercrombie’s Offer
SA: At some point, the time for talking comes to an end, and in the case of the Hawaii State Teachers Association labor dispute with the state, that moment arrived long ago….
HSTA leaders believe the offer should be the basis for further talks, but plainly that process has played out fruitlessly for long enough. It's time for the union to put that offer up to a vote by members, allowing enough time for the rank and file to become fully versed in the details.
In the background of all the drama is the fate of a $75 million grant issued to the state by the U.S. Department of Education as part of its Race to the Top education reform initiative. Hawaii's proposal has been flagged for being too slow to implement certain reform steps. In a further blow to federal confidence, teachers in January voted down a contract that included a performance-based evaluation, tenure and pay system, a key element among Hawaii's Race to the Top improvements.
With a U.S. DOE team due to visit next week, everyone ought to agree that this stalemate needs to be brought to a swift end.
As explained: Faking it for the Feds, Abercrombie Prepares to Impose Another ‘Last, Best, and Final Offer’ on HSTA
read … Preparing to impose another contract
Carlisle: We will Raise Taxes to Build Rail Without Federal Funds
Shapiro: Mayor Peter Carlisle says he'd build the $5.27 billion Oahu rail project even if $1.55 billion in federal funding falls through, using additional local resources if necessary.
This has clearly been the policy in the push to start heavy construction this month without a final federal commitment, but nobody told the public so until Carlisle's spokeswoman was asked for a direct statement of his intentions.
On whether he'd press ahead without federal funds, press secretary Louise Kim McCoy said, "Yes, because after decades of planning, there is no viable alternative to address Oahu's traffic congestion that will only get worse without rail."
But she said the train might not extend all the way from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.
"The project may have to be scaled back dramatically to make sure we avoid unacceptable debt," she said. "There are currently four phases of the project, and we could delay building the latter phases until there are sufficient funds."
Asked what local funds would make up the difference, McCoy said, "If the $1.55 billion in federal funds does not come through or is decreased, the HART financial plan lists several backup options, such as other federal funding opportunities, lease financing arrangements for rail vehicles, value capture financing and extending the (general excise tax) surcharge," she said….
He said a truncated system that starts in a Kapolei field and doesn't extend to the urban Honolulu destination of most commuters would be little used and "a financial disaster of epic proportions."
"This is why critics have dubbed the project as ‘the train to nowhere,'" Cayetano said.
read … Limbo
Gabbards get no-bid contract from Dept. of Health
UPDATE May 5, 2012: Detailed Response from DoH
ILind: The State Department of Health announced its intention last month to award a $25,040 no-bid contract to the Healthy Hawaii Coalition, a nonprofit group founded and controlled by Senator Mike Gabbard and his daughter, Honolulu City Councilmember Tulsi Gabbard.
The two-year contract from the Clean Water Branch, Environmental Management Division, is “to develop and
present an educational program for elementary school children to encourage behavior changes that will result in healthier watersheds.” It is funded by an EPA Clean Water Act grant.
The contract was disclosed in a February 13, 2012 notice posted in a section of the State Ethics Commission’s web site, required whenever a state agency wants to award a contract valued at more than $10,000 to a state officer or employee without competitive bidding.
Senator Gabbard, who is president of Healthy Hawaii Coalition, also chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, which appears to have jurisdiction over at least some DOH programs and interests….
read … Gabbards get no-bid contract from Dept. of Health
Van Jones joins Abercrombie, Espero and the Gabbards at Rally for State Bank
HR: Van Jones, President Barack Obama’s former green jobs adviser who heads the “Rebuild the Dream” organization, keynoted a rally and a “mass action event” at the Hawaii State Capitol Tuesday night to promote “economic fairness” and “economic justice.” (see the video here).
Environmental activists groups, a union, and the University of Hawaii organized the five-hour event to promote legislation that would establish a State Partnership Bank, or a “clean” and “green” bank, to fund green energy projects….
…in some proposals being floated at the capitol, the governor chairs the bank, union leaders serve as directors, and Democrat lawmakers appoint the remaining board. Republicans, who make up just 9 of 76 seats in the legislature, oppose the establishment of a state bank because they say the institution will be financed by taxpayers, will be led by political insiders and will loan money to people for projects that no private bank would authorize….
Council Member Tulsi Gabbard spoke at the March 20 rally and thanked her 'pops' - Sen. Mike Gabbard - for passing the state bank legislation out of his energy committee that day. She is a Democratic candidate for Congress….
Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) Hawaii, a group of community organizers affiliated with various local religious groups, co-chaired the event. Other sponsors included Kanu Hawaii (Omidyar-backed group), Sierra Club, UNITE HERE Local 5, University of Hawaii, Blue Planet, and Surfrider Foundation….
Also in attendance at the rally that attracted around 400 people were several Democratic lawmakers, including Tulsi’s father, Senator Mike Gabbard, who earlier that day passed the bank legislation out of his energy committee, as well as Senator Will Espero and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
Fox: Van Jones rallies Hawaii crowd in support of green projects, against Wall Street
CB: Hawaii Could Be First in Nation to Establish 'Clean Economy Bank' For Energy (Omidyar website cheers State Bank)
read … Van Jones Rallies with Hawaii's Community Organizers for 'Economic Fairness, Justice' - and a State Bank
While OHA Settlement Advances, Bill to Grant Development Rights Maybe Deferred
PR: A separate bill would give OHA greater flexibility to develop high-rise apartments on two Kakaako parcels. Several senators support the bill to enhance the potential value of land in the region.
Abercrombie told House lawmakers on Tuesday that he has not tied the bill to the settlement. “I don’t want to complicate your job,” the governor said.
Several community activists who oppose residential development near the Kakaako waterfront urged lawmakers to drop the bill, arguing that it complicates passage of the settlement.
Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran (D, Kahului-Paia), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, deferred action on the bill until Thursday. He said afterward that the bill might not advance.
“There is a lot of opposition, so I lean towards deferring it,” he said.
read … No development = No value
SB2858: Abercrombie Attacks OIP, Public Records Access
That risk of closing off public access is contained in a Senate-passed bill that this week is wending its way toward the House Finance Committee.
That committee should summarily kill this bill, Senate Bill 2858, as amended. Sponsored by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the bill raises the frightening specter for Hawaii residents: One government attorney fighting another government attorney, with the taxpayer paying for both of them, while they unnecessarily clog up the already overburdened courts and while the public requester is still being denied records to which he or she is entitled under the law.
SB 2858 would eviscerate a unique feature of the open-records law: the Office of Information Practices (OIP). The Legislature declared that OIP was intended "to provide a place where the public can get assistance on records questions at no cost and within a reasonable amount of time." Establishing OIP in 1988 was so innovative that several other states have copied Hawaii's model.
OIP's opinions were declared to be binding on government agencies in order to perform this service for the public. The Legislature declared: "A government agency dissatisfied with an administrative ruling by OIP does not have the right to bring an action in Circuit Court to contest the OIP ruling. The legislative intent for expediency and uniformity in providing access to government records would be frustrated by agencies suing each other."
SB 2858 would reverse this longstanding legislative intent. The bill would permit a state or city/county agency to sprint to court when it was unwilling to release a record that OIP directed it to disclose to the public under the open-records law….
In addition, SB 2858 is so carelessly crafted that it covers parts of another statute — Hawaii's open-meetings law.
read … SB2858
Lacking Illegals, Hawaii Legislators Propose In-Sate Tuition Incentives
SA: Hokoana pointed out that in a recent review, UH found just five students now attending any UH campus who might qualify under the measure….
Advocates suspect that students from the Philippines would be among the largest group taking advantage of in-state tuition at UH under the legislation. Other groups that could most benefit include students from Tonga, Mexico or Latin American nations.
Monisha Das Gupta, a UH ethnic studies professor, said if the legislation passes, the university will have to do a good amount of outreach to ensure that students and schools know about the change.
Das Gupta said UH's estimate that 1,300 students would be likely to attend under the measure is far higher than what others are anticipating. She puts the number at more like 200, "and that's being very optimistic," she said.
There are an estimated 40,000 undocumented immigrants in Hawaii, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. About 12 percent, or 4,800, are believed to be 18 to 24 years old. While the college-going rate for all Hawaii high school students is about 50 percent, Das Gupta said it would be much lower among undocumented immigrants because many are from families that have low incomes and are struggling.
Even in-state college tuition would be out of reach for some, she said.
(The Marcusans want illegals precisely because they are illegal.)
Related: Illegal aliens get past TSA, jet off to Hawaii with forged ID
read … Need More Illegals
Ultimate Christmas Tree Bill Gives $20M to ‘Free’ Clinics
AP: Proposed changes to the Medicaid Quest program's eligibility criteria could leave up to 5,000 Hawaii residents without health insurance in June.
The state Department of Human Services wants to reduce eligibility for participation in government subsidized health insurance programs for those with an income level below 133 percent of the federal poverty line, down from the current 200 percent eligibility ceiling.
In anticipation of federal approval, state lawmakers have been exploring ways to alleviate the burden on community health centers, which will likely see an increase in uninsured and underinsured patients.
The current proposal before the Legislature is characterized by House Health Committee Chairman Ryan Yamane as "the ultimate Christmas tree bill."
The committee on Tuesday forwarded an amended version of Senate Bill 2777, which would give more than $20 million in state funding to community health centers and other providers that offer direct patient services.
The proposed funding is spread among nonprofit and state agencies that provide medical care and social services, operate senior centers, run nutritional programs, assist with family planning and meet other needs.
Yamane, D-Waipahu-Mililani, emphasized that the bill is only intended to fund direct treatment and isn't a way for providers to recoup costs for services that have already been provided.
read … Ultimate Christmas Tree Bill
Solar's 80% Plunge Hurts Utilities From Hawaii to Spain
SF Examiner: In Hawaii and India, project developers are beginning to match the rates customers pay to Hawaii Electric Industries Inc. and Tata Power Co., and they'll gain that edge in parts of Europe this year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts….
President Barack Obama today visits the largest U.S. solar plant in Boulder City, Nevada. In New York, Nobuo Tanaka, former executive director of the International Energy Agency, and Richard Kidd, deputy assistant secretary for energy of the U.S. Army, will debate when renewable energy can compete without subsidies at a conference hosted by New Energy Finance. (Answer: As soon as Obama can drive up the cost of conventionally-generated electricity.)
Fotowatio expects its next plant near Caceres, a city in southwest Spain founded by the Romans before Christ was born, will sell power at about 16 U.S. cents (12 euro cents) a kilowatt-hour, compared with the 21 cents utility Iberdrola SA gets in a regulated rate that's loaded with charges for transmission, clean-energy and coal subsidies, and a nuclear moratorium…. (Like Hawaii, all of the utilities in this story have sky-high electric rates.)
Read … Bubble Bursting
Hee: Churches Must be forced to Conduct Gay Union Ceremonies
CB: Hee made sure everyone who came to testify on HB 2569 had their chance. He then called for a vote, and the measure passed without the expansion of religious exemptions.
But the vote was not unanimous, and several senators voted "yes" with reservations. Gabbard and Republican Sen. Sam Slom voted "no."
HB 2569 now goes to the Senate floor for a full vote and will almost certainly end up in conference committee, where the fate of a bill can change suddenly and dramatically.
read … Bow to the Gay Lords
House Discusses Giving Atheist $100K payoff
HR: Today, Attorney General David Louie asked the House Judiciary Committee to approve paying a $100,000 settlement to Kahle and the cameraman, Kevin Hughes, in the civil case.
According to Louie, “some sort of scuffle” broke out between Hughes and deputy sheriffs after he and Kahle had been removed from the Senate.
Kahle then “bolted” towards Hughes and was tackled and arrested by sheriffs, Louie said. (For us peasants, this is called ‘resisting arrest’ for the atheist lords, it is called ‘payday.’)
Hughes continued filming but “in the melee, his camera was shoved into his face causing minor injuries and damaging the video camera,” Louie told lawmakers.
If the settlement is approved by the House, it will be transferred to the Senate for further consideration.
read … House Considers $100,000 Payment to Public Prayer Protestor
Atheists Demand ‘Islam Day’ Proponent Remove Samoan Church from Building in Housing Project
HNN: Pastor Taavao Alualu told Hawaii News Now he opened the Solid Rock Fellowship Assembly of God in 1996 in a building on the grounds of what used to be called Kuhio Park Terrace (now called the Towers at Kuhio Park). He said at the time the building was so run down nobody wanted to use it.
"The place was all rubbish. In front of the building was all graffiti, parties, drug dealing, and gangsters. We prayed for it and I asked the management office if we can use it. They said the place is too old. It is not safe," Alualu said.
Alualu said he agreed to renovate the building in return for permission to operate his church and other programs there.
"I spent $37 grand, $37 plus grand, to renovate the building and then use it for citizens patrol, food bank, prayer meeting, and to talk to outreach to the young people," Alualu said.
Hakim ‘Islam Day’ Ouansafi, who was named Executive Director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority in December, 2011, is investigating.
Separation of Church and State? Hakim “Islam Day” Ouansafi to Direct Hawaii Public Housing Agency
read … Group wants church evicted from state property
Lifelong Crook with Fifty Convictions Runs Rampant in 10th Floor of Courthouse until Tackled by Judge
SA: The man was identified as Steven Michael Hauge, 55. He was arrested and charged on counts of disorderly conduct, obstruction of government operations and fourth-degree criminal property damage, Schwartz said. He was being held at Oahu Community Correctional Center after not being able to post $1,500 bail.
State Sheriff Shawn Tsuha said Hauge had been going from courtroom to courtroom on the 10th floor screaming.
Tsuha said that a judge and court bailiffs confronted Hauge when he grabbed a Hawaii flag posted behind the judge and broke the staff when he was swinging it around. "He was quite upset about something," Tsuha said.
Hauge has an extensive record dating to 1977 with more than 50 convictions for a variety of charges from burglary and fraud to assault, according to online court records. (So why is he out?)
read … Soft on Crime
SB2155: NGA Rep Backs Charter School Reforms
When the board wrapped up its hour-long executive session, members heard from a charter school expert who works for the National Governors Association.
Stephanie Shipton told the board that a proposed law working its way through the Legislature would improve clarity and expectations.
“It is a broken system and this bill goes a long way to fixing it,” she said.
read … NGA
Hawaii Senate Passes Travelers 'Bill of Rights' Resolution Aimed at Curbing TSA Abuses
HR: After a series of abuses by TSA officials across the county, Hawaii Senators on the Transportation and Public Safety/Military Affairs committees, unanimously passed a "Travelers Bill of Rights" on Monday, March 19.
Based on Congressman Ron Paul's federal proposal, Senate Concurrent Resolution 15, authored by Minority Leader Sam Slom, R-Hawaii, urges the congress to rein in the TSA abuses and make the agency more accountable for privacy rights and personal civil rights. Slom is a member of a national legislative task force - the United States for Travel Freedom Caucus - formed in March 2011 to ensure TSA accountability.
The Hawaii resolution attracted the attention of Alaska State Rep. Sharon Cissna, who co-chairs the United States for Travel Freedom Caucus.
In testimony submitted to the Hawaii Legislature, Cissna, who served on Alaska's Military and Veterans committee in Alaska for more than a decade, writes the TSA current procedures "do not have verifiable oversight over their equipment and give very poor management and training to their employees." She added: "Security is not being served by the current program. We must demand better."
Cissna, R-Alaska, made national headlines when she took on federal airport screeners in February 2011, refusing to submit to her second "intrusive" search and body pat down in three months by the Transportation Security Administration.
read … TSA
Mosquito revisiting Oahu can spread dengue fever
SA: Health officials have discovered at Honolulu Airport a mosquito species capable of rapidly spreading dengue and yellow fever — a species not found on Oahu in 63 years. (It was wiped out by DDT. Now its back.)
read … Mosquito revisiting Oahu can spread dengue fever
U.S. Imposes ‘Measured’ tariff on Chinese solar panels
NYT: The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that it would impose tariffs on solar panels imported from China after concluding that the Chinese government provided illegal export subsidies to manufacturers there.
The tariffs were smaller, at 2.9 to 4.73 percent, than some American industry executives had expected. At that size, their effect on the market could be limited. But additional tariffs could be imposed in May, when the Commerce Department is scheduled to decide whether China is “dumping” solar panels into the United States at prices below their actual cost. A finding of dumping would result in additional tariffs that could be far larger than these.
But whatever the size of the penalties, Tuesday’s ruling is likely to further heighten trade tensions with China, and to have implications for renewable energy policy in this country
PBN: Hawaii Solar Installers to raise Prices
read … Tariff
Honolulu Again Pretends to Identify ‘Important Agricultural Lands’
CB: Now, Honolulu’s recently appointed agricultural liaison, Laura Thielen, tells Civil Beat that a project to identify the lands will soon be underway. She is currently in the process of picking a consultant for the project and this year's budget includes $200,000 for it, she said.
“We’ve put out a request for qualifications and received a number of submittals and are in the process of going through the selection,” she said.
The city has not allocated funds for the project for the coming fiscal year, but Thielen said that there was some flexibility in the mayor’s budget that could allow for additional funding.
The city of Honolulu’s efforts come after several years of complaints by county governments that the state’s directive amounted to an unfunded mandate. Laws were passed in 2005 and 2008 that gave guidance for implementing the constitutional amendment, but the Legislature only allocated $75,000 for all the counties to complete the work — an amount that county officials said didn’t even begin to cover the costs.
However, Sen. Clarence Nishihara, chair of the Agriculture Committee, told Civil Beat that if the counties really felt it was a priority then they would have found the money to do it long ago.
“I don’t think it ever came with the idea that the state was going to give them the money to do it,” he said.
Nishihara noted that there was never any penalty imposed in the law if the state or counties failed to identify the lands.
“That’s why we're are probably still waiting for it,” he said.
read … Dog n Pony Show
UH Manoa Faculty: No Confidence in Vice Chancellor for Research
CB: Faculty Senate says research center director should go.
read … No Confidence
Schofield team likely will not be sent again to Afghanistan
SA: For many of the 3,500 Schofield Barracks soldiers now returning from Afghanistan, a decade of war in two countries finally may be over.
Time to readjust and reset means the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, which lost 18 soldiers and had at least 257 wounded on the deployment, likely won't be going back to Afghanistan, soldiers said Tuesday.
read … Back from Afghanistan