Update on the Federal Court Rail Project Challenge
Public Health Emergency Preparedness: Hawaii Scores Near Bottom
Sause Building New Barge to Service Hawaii
With Hawaii Army Guard mentoring, Afghan forces take independent strides
VIDEO: Inouye honored in Capitol Rotunda
Hirono Fights to Block Early Hanabusa Appointment
POLITICO: Rep. Mazie Hirono’s history-making arrival in the Senate next month — as Hawaii’s first female senator, and the hallowed chamber’s first Asian-American woman and Buddhist — is no longer a given.
The death this week of beloved Sen. Daniel Inouye has created the possibility of a quick, lame-duck appointment and swearing-in of fellow Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a one-time political rival who also happens to be female, Japanese American and a practicing Buddhist.
Translation: Hanabusa could skip ahead of Hirono in the history books.
Hirono allies are now lobbying top Hawaii Democratic Party officials to ensure the appointed senator is sworn in on the same day as the duly elected one as a matter of basic fairness. Under that scenario, Hirono, who was elected to succeed retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, would be the senior senator from Hawaii since she’s served longer in the House.
“There is a concern among a certain constituency that if the newly appointed person is sworn in before Mazie, it doesn’t seem fair on its face,” Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Dante Carpenter told POLITICO on Wednesday.
“Some of her campaign supporters are concerned it would give an undue advantage,” he added. “It doesn’t smack of fairness in an institution that is supposed to be the fairest of the land.”
For a state known for its beaches, balmy weather and Aloha Spirit, a quick Hanabusa appointment could further chill what one elected Hawaii Democrat described as an already “frosty” relationship. Hirono edged Hanabusa in a 2006 House primary, a race that would give Hirono four extra years in Congress. At a ceremony for Inouye in the Capitol Rotunda Thursday morning, Sen.-elect Hirono stood with senators, while Hanabusa stood across the room with her fellow House members.
“When she and Mazie encounter each other on the Hill, they barely acknowledge each other,” said the Democrat.…
Added a Democratic Hill aide: “Dan Inouye controls the state even from beyond the grave.”
In an interview, Hirono, 65, a Japanese immigrant and former state lawmaker, said she had no preference who gets the Senate nod, saying she expects Abercrombie “to do what is best for Hawaii.”
Asked whether she was concerned about the possibility Hawaii’s other senator could become more senior than her, Hirono replied: “They’re expecting us to be sworn in on the same day.”
If or when Hanabusa is tapped for the Senate slot, expect a Democratic free-for-all for her House seat. Case, Hannemann, former Gov. John Waihee, and Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang are possibilities. On the Republican side, Djou and former Gov. Linda Lingle, whom Hirono defeated in her Senate race, could jump in the race.
FULL TEXT: Sen. Inouye's letter to Gov. Abercrombie
Related: Hanabusa: I wouldn’t go to dinner with Mazie Hirono, Hirono Cold, Aloof, Prefers to be Alone
CB: Was Ed Case Right About Senate Transition?
read … Mazie Hirono rival Colleen Hanabusa could make history instead
Schatz Will Apply for Senate Nomination, Inouye Cronies Threaten Abercrombie
SA: …Other names mentioned as possible successors include Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who has not commented on the possibility, although a source said he also would apply.
If Schatz is appointed, state Senate President Shan Tsutsui (D, Waihee-Wailuku-Kahului) would be in line to succeed him as lieutenant governor. (Thus setting up Progressives in all the big seats for years to come and old-boys nowhere.)…
Whether Abercrombie goes with or against the wishes of Inouye could affect his political future, Hart added.
"If Neil doesn't want to run, he can do what he wants," Hart said. "If he wants to run, does he really want to risk alienating the Inouye machine?
"Think about it: The guy (Inouye) is going to be like the (32nd) person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol and this is his last wish."
read … Progressives Dreams
Isle delegation's power decreases to nil, Hirono not Up to the Job
SA: U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono knew she was expected to carry the legacy of retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, a Democrat who gracefully embodied the aloha spirit of Hawaii in the Senate.
But the death of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye this week of respiratory complications leaves Hirono and the temporary appointment who will replace the senior senator with much more urgent responsibilities….she has never had the expectations that are placed on her now….
Senate Democrats had announced last week that Hirono would be assigned to the Judiciary, Energy and Veterans' Affairs committees. (ie similar to Akaka) But Inouye's death opened up the chairmanship of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, and the potential nomination of U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as secretary of state, would lead to adjustments in the committee lineup, so it is possible Hirono might get another assignment.
Political insiders say it would be unfair to expect Hirono — or any new senator — to replicate Inouye's influence or Akaka's aloha. But Hirono will not get the same grace period she might otherwise have enjoyed if she had been able to experience the Senate under Inouye's wing for a few years.
One of the themes of Hirono's successful campaign against former Gov. Linda Lingle was that a Lingle victory and a Republican Senate would weaken Inouye's power. That power is now gone.
"I don't think that a delegation that works as strongly as we do starts at zero," Hirono said. (Negative numbers anyone?)
Charles Freedman, a veteran Democratic strategist, described Washington as "a pretty tough town with jagged edges."
read … The Reckoning
Star-Adv: Rail Funding Sends Signal to Judge
SA: About those hurdles: The one in clearest view is set in federal court. Last week Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case that opponents hope will effectively halt the project.
The plaintiffs group — which includes former Gov. Ben Cayetano, longtime rail opponent Cliff Slater and Hawaii’s Thousand Friends — had sought an injunction earlier, arguing that the project violated federal laws aimed at protecting parks and historic sites.
But Tashima’s initial ruling Nov. 1 was more measured, ordering the city to supplement its study of possible historic-site protections and setting last week’s hearing. At issue is whether that order means delaying work on the whole project or, as the city prefers, only the downtown phase where the most sensitive historic sites, principally traditional Hawaiian burials, are located.
It seems almost certain that getting the federal grant approved in advance of Tashima’s decision was a strategic move, a signal to the judge of congressional and top-level administrative support for the project. And, if that’s so, getting the project past what may be the point of no return would be Inouye’s final push for rail, which he had avidly backed.
read … Political Interference with the Judiciary
Saddle Road completion could be in jeopardy Loss of Inouye might mean less funding
HTH: The final leg of Saddle Road, linking the cross-island route from Hilo to the Waikoloa resorts, is one of several Hawaii Island projects that could find its funding in jeopardy following the death Monday of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye….
But another local recipient of Inouye’s earmarks in the past, Imiloa Astronomy Center, has already weaned itself from the dedicated source of federal funding and is managing without it….
Another project that does depend on federal funding, however, is the next phase of Ane Keohokalole Highway, which runs parallel to and about one mile mauka of Queen Kaahumanu Highway from Palani Road to Hina Lani Street in Kaloko. Also known as the midlevel road….
Kenoi said he’ll continue to seek funding for the project. (Wandering lost in the desert looking for water.)
read … It Begins
Insane, Shocking: Kauai County revenues down, expenses up
KGI: payroll costs increased $3 million and General Fund transfers to various departments totaled $16.9 million. Employee benefits, which in FY 2009 were at $22.1 million, increased to $27.8 million in FY 2012.
The county has failed in ensuring that federally-funded employees complete a semi-annual certification, according to Isobe. There is also a problem with accountability and transparency reporting for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which happened across the state, he said. (That’s OK, Dan will bail us…. ooops)
Other problems with federal funding involved control over matching funds and reconciling federal expenditures, Isobe said. Such problems included being unable to reconcile amounts documented in federal reports; failing to include in report expenditures the county’s share; and meeting a cost-threshold of $10,000.
And as far as procurement processes, the auditors revealed irregularities with county’s Anti-Drug Program entering into an independent contractor agreement with an individual and her company.
The auditors found that prior to the execution of the contractor, there was no determination of availability of funds, as required by the Kaua‘i County Charter, and the tax clearance and certificate of good standing was not obtained.
Council Chair Jay Furfaro said he was “shocked” to find out that all counties in Hawai‘i use a manual system to reconcile payroll.
Rapozo said that in 2009 the county allocated $395,000 for the administration to develop a payroll personnel system, and the money remains unused in the current budget.
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said that it’s “insane in and on itself” that the county still does manual reconciliation and does not have a standard processing for all departments.
Isobe wasn’t sure of how much the county lost in over-paid vacation and sick leave.
Another hot topic was the county’s pCard, a program rolled out in February that allows departments to handle purchases of up to $1,500. The program… is about to expand…. “Documenting of pre-approval is not the best,” said Isobe
Visit www.kauai.gov and click on CAFR 2012 for the full report.
read … Revenues
Planning Decision Delays Waimanalo Gulch Decision
CB: At a hearing in front of the Honolulu Planning Commission on Wednesday, attorneys for the city, which has fought to keep the landfill open, and Ko Olina Resort, which has fought to close it, requested that deliberations over the landfill be delayed until January, when Caldwell takes office. The contested case before city officials could lead to a deadline for the landfill to stop accepting trash.
“With the change in the administration, it is difficult to have concrete guidance at this point,” Dana Viola, an attorney for the city’s Department of Environmental Services, told the commission.
The planning commission unanimously approved the delay.
read … Garbage
Occupy Lawsuit Could End Homeless Sweeps
SA: …lawsuit in U.S. District Court last week, claiming that city officials damaged, disposed of and seized their belongings without proper notice in raids at Thomas Square.
They also claim that the city law that prohibits people from storing belongings on public property is unconstitutional.
The plaintiffs had asked the court for a temporary restraining order pending the hearing for an injunction.
U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright canceled the TRO hearing after the city said it will abide by the ordinance with proper notice.
Since Mayor Peter Carlisle signed the ordinance into law a year ago, the city has used it to clear homeless encampments from sidewalks in Iwilei, McCully and Pawaa.
read … Helping the Homelessness Industry
Hawaii Ethics Commission Sends 'Ambitious' Set of Bills to Legislature
CB: Commissioner Leiolani Abdul said the proposed legislation was an "ambitious" package, noting some of the bills have been submitted in the past but failed to become law. Nonetheless, the commission decided to charge ahead and remain optimistic about the outcome.
The proposed legislation would require state task forces and more boards to file publicly available financial disclosure statements, which include sources of income and business interests. The seven additional agencies the commission wants to have adhere to the ethics code are: University of Hawaii Board of Regents, Board of Agriculture, Board of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii Labor Relations Board, Hawaiian Homes Commission, Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board and Public Utilities Commission.
Aside from wanting more state agencies and appointed groups of people to file financial disclosure statements, the commission is asking the Legislature to pass a bill adding a nepotism provision to the ethics code that would prohibit the appointment to public office or the employment of close relatives by legislators and employees.
Along the same lines, the commission wants to expand the conflicts of interest section to prohibit employees from taking official action affecting a business or other undertaking in which the employee knows or has reason to know that a parent, emancipated child, brother or sister of the employee has a substantial financial interest.
read … Ambitious
Hawaii personal income growth slows in third quarter
SA: Personal income paid to Hawaii residents totaled $61.5 billion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the July-through-September quarter, up from $61.2 billion in the previous quarter.
The figures are not adjusted for inflation, which erodes the value of personal income. The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is forecasting personal income in Hawaii to grow by 4.3 percent this year but by only 1.8 percent after inflation is taken into account.
Government transfer receipts, which includes Social Security and food stamps, led the way with a 0.9 percent increase in the third quarter. Dividends, interest and rental income grew by 0.5 percent increase, while salaries and wages rose by 0.4 percent.
The construction industry made the largest contribution to the first quarter increase in salaries, followed by retail trade, the military and state and local governments.
BEA: State Personal Income: Third Quarter 2012
Brookings: Honolulu Metro Monitor - December 2012
read … Growth Slows
The Atlantic: Tsunami sirens in Honolulu
Honolulu published data on the location of dozens of warning sirens around the island, and Code for America helped to build an app on top of the data allowing local citizens to "adopt" a siren in the same way that other communities have created adopt-a-hydrant programs. In this case, instead of volunteering to dig out hydrants during snow storms, Honolulu residents can take responsibility for listening to siren tests and reporting problems ahead of any Tsunami. As this map shows, about half of the sirens (those in green) have already been adopted:
read … Open Data
Suicide Doctor Plays Word Games
CB: “Opponents of aid in dying claim that it would allow doctors to “kill” people. In fact it allows only those already dying to request a prescription.”
How Things Are: Colette Machado: I look at Kalaupapa--Native Hawaiians will fight against Assisted Suicide
read … Aid-in-Dying is Not Suicide