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Wednesday, December 28, 2011
December 28, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:14 PM :: 12253 Views :: Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Jihadi Wanna-be Names Names in New York and Hawaii

Organ Transplant, Bio-Fuel Tax Credits, Fee Increases may be Fast-Tracked by Legislature

Public Hearing on Leeward Oahu School Impact Fees

Island Democrats prepare to challenge “open primary” election law

ILind: In November, Oahu Democratic Party Chairman Tony Gill appealed to the board of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the faculty union, to support a federal lawsuit challenging Hawaii’s open primary.

Gill, who also serves as UHPA’s legal counsel, told the board of directors the open primary “allows voters from one party to unfairly influence the outcome of another party’s primary if they so choose,” according to a report of the meeting mailed to all UH faculty.

In a closed primary, voters must declare their party preference before voting in the primary election of their designated party. Hawaii had a closed primary system until it was overturned by the 1978 Constitutional Convention, which proposed a constitutional amendment doing away with the party preference requirement. The amendment was approved by voters, and we’ve been an open primary state ever since.

According to the UHPA board report:

Mr. Gill explained that the freedom of association provision of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution supports a process that allows political parties to determine who can vote in their primary and that Hawaii’s primary election law is out of compliance with the freedom of association provision in the U.S. Constitution. In order to rectify this error, a lawsuit must be filed and Mr. Gill asked UHPA to consider supporting this federal litigation.

After what was described as a “lengthy discussion,” UHPA voted to cover up to $20,000 in out-of-pocket expenses related to the legal challenge.

Related: Hawaii Democrats debate closed primary (backgrounder), Hawaii Republicans challenge state's open primary system

read … Party-line voter registration is coming!

Bankrupt Hospitals Now Say 500 Workers Laid Off

KITV: "About 600 new graduate nurses are added to our supply of nurses every year," said Gail Tiwanak, the executive director the Hawaii state Center for Nursing.

That's been the trend over the last 5 years. Now it seems there is a mini-glut of trained nurses hitting the job market. And with close to 400 experienced nurses losing their jobs, administrators say it will add to difficulties of new nurses.

"There are still not as many openings in the community for new graduates as there are for experienced nurses," Tiwanak said.

She expects the new nurses may have to wait up to a year to get that first RN job locally. Hawaii Pacific University, has the largest nursing program in the state. The private college, along with the University of Hawaii, used to send their nurses to HMC east and west for their clinical training. Both, have now made arrangements for their students to be placed at other settings in the community for the spring.

Reality: HB 608: Legislators Could Have Saved HMC Organ Transplant Center Last Year—Bill Was Killed at Last Minute

Read … Thank a Legislator

Excessive OT for Ambulance Workers Highlights Strain on Pension System

CB: In the course of examining whether Honolulu's ambulance fleet adequately meets the island's needs, the audit uncovered excessive overtime use by employees. In some cases, workers earned between 200 percent and 350 percent of their regular salaries in overtime.

The upfront overtime costs — $16 million over three years — were sizable. But the pension costs for these employees could cost taxpayers much more.

That's because retirement benefits are based in part on an employee's highest three years of pay, which covers all compensation including overtime.

read … Spiking Pensions

Hanabusa One Year Serving Campaign Donors

Shapiro: » From Gov. Neil Abercrombie on criticism of his tax and budget proposals: "I am the governor. I'm not your pal. I'm not your counselor. I am the governor." And with that attitude, the least popular one in the nation, with 30 percent public approval….

» From U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa on her new job: "The goals for my first year are really to serve the people of the state of Hawaii." That seemed like a fair way to split her term -- one year serving us and one year serving her campaign donors.

read … Volcanic Ash

Website slams Obama's Hawaiian vacation

HNN: Some Americans are bothered by President Barack Obama's decision to take a million-dollar vacation to Hawaii during these tough economic times.

A new website, Wasted In Hawaii: President Obama's Hawaiian Binge, now gives the public an opportunity to vent their frustration.

The website includes information on the cost of President Obama's trip as well as an interactive tool that allows users to send messages to his Twitter account.

read … Wasted in Hawaii 

WSJ: HSTA Contract is Major Stumbling Block

WSJ: Delaware, Rhode Island, Georgia, Maryland and Hawaii got permission to push back by a year efforts to link student test scores to teacher evaluations that, in some cases, were to be used for tenure decisions.

New York was held up by a court battle with the New York State United Teachers union over a proposed evaluation system.

The delays and adjustments could give ammunition to critics of Race to the Top and affect future funding for the program, which has come under attack from House Republicans who object to a competition that rewarded states only if they adopted Obama-favored initiatives….

The widespread delays are causing concerns beyond the Education Department. Chiefs for Change, a group of 10 state superintendents who advocate for education overhauls, sent Mr. Duncan a letter in August saying the winners "must be held accountable" for implementing plans on time.

Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit group that advocates judging teachers on performance, said she isn't surprised by the delays. "A lot of the states promised the moon and now, some of them are having trouble delivering," she said.

Hawaii officials have sought permission to postpone almost every major component of their plan. Federal officials had gone along, until last week when the department sent the letter demanding that state officials get permission before spending any Race to the Top dollars. Federal officials also will send a team into the state in early January 2012 to assess the progress.

The major stumbling block is the state's inability to reach contract agreement with the Hawaii State Teachers Association. Hawaii promised in its application to link student test scores to teacher evaluations and use them for tenure and merit-pay decisions. They planned to launch the new system in the lowest-performing schools. All of that has been delayed.

Rockford Il Register: “Hawaii is far away from where it should be

read … Wall St Journal

Omidyar Site: If Bridge Aina Lea is Appealed, Higher Court Could Create New Precedent

CB: The developers — Bridge Aina Lea and DW Aina Lea — challenged the LUC's decision in court, saying that the LUC didn't follow an appropriate process in reclassifying the land back to agriculture. Judge Elizabeth Strance ruled in their favor, requiring commissioners to switch the land back to urban.

If Attorney General David Louie does appeal the decision, a higher court ruling could set a statewide precedent and strengthen — or even weaken — the land use commission's ability to force developers to abide by conditions imposed on them when projects are approved.

It’s a case that land use attorneys, government officials and developers, in particular, are watching closely.

“The whole development community is buzzing about this – everyone knows about it,” said David Callies, a land use attorney and law professor at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson law school.

Now why might Omidyar, the part-owner of ML&P, want the LUC to have the power to destroy Bridge Aina Lea? Because it would be yet another tool for large landowners like ML&P to smack down competitors and keep their monopoly on land development in Hawaii.
No conflict of interest here, eh?

Background: A Primer on Bridge Aina Lea Case

read … Bridge Aina Lea

Star-Adv Says Let the Criminals Run Free

SA Editorial: City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro opposes "the idea of releasing inmates if it is based solely on the need to save money or because of the lack of prison space." Fair enough. But as the study notes, there are systemic deficiencies that sometimes meant incarcerations longer than what is shown effective for protecting public safety.

Hawaii has added years in prison for parolees who have engaged in technical, noncriminal violations, such as failing a urine test, while other states have recommitted them for no more than one to three months. Coombs said smaller caps for low-risk inmates are more effective.

(Notice that the SA Editors left out the part about giving short jail terms IMMEDIATELY upon the first violation. Short terms after multiple violations is even worse than the system we have now.)

Indeed, state Circuit Judge Steven Alm's Project HOPE — Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement — has received national recognition for sending probation drug violators to jail for short periods instead of to prison. The Justice Center noted that in one year, HOPE probationers were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime, 72 percent less likely to use drugs, 61 percent less likely to skip appointments with their supervisory officers and 53 percent less likely to have their probation revoked.

(Again the SA Editors leave out the part about HOPE probationers being returned to jail FOR EVERY VIOLATION. They are trying to convert HOPE into its opposite in pursuit of a liberal let-them-all-out policy. The Star-Advertiser is so predictable.)

Related: Judge Steven Alm: Justice Reinvestment and the future of HOPE Probation

read … Let the prisoners out

Tax Credit Scammers: Solar is Married to tax Credits, Wind is Object of Derision

Fidell: But somewhere along the line, it got static. There’s nothing to take over if and when we don’t have tourism and real estate development, the land based economy. There was a hope in the early 2000’s that we would have a tech or “innovation” industry, but in our wisdom we dumped on that and now there is only a smattering of it. We forgot or got bored and in any event we moved on. Witness the tumbleweed on Ilalo Street.

As tech went quiet, energy sprung up in 2008. It was the new tech, the tech that tech should have been. There was excitement about the Clean Energy Initiative and its glamorous goals, and about words like wind, solar, geothermal, biofuel, wave energy, OTEC, algae and others too that stirred the imagination. All were laden with promise. It was a new time.

Now three years later, we’ll still studying everything but wind and solar. Geothermal is awaiting political leverage, biofuel is fragmented, and wave energy, OTEC and algae are still being studied. Solar is married to the tax credits, and in some if not many places wind is the object of downright derision.

read … A mournful tale of Crony Capitalism

Fireworks: Snobs Take Fun out of New Years

SA: A highly restrictive fireworks law has put a damper on the first New Year's Eve -- traditionally Hawaii's biggest annual fireworks celebration -- under the new city ordinance, say fireworks shoppers.

"It's sad 'cause the kids say, 'Where's all the other stuff?'" said Kanani Haole, 43, of Waimanalo, who was shopping for fireworks at the Don Quijote store on Kaheka Street. "We'll have to find other means to entertain us."

The new law, which went into effect Jan. 1, bans all fireworks on Oahu except firecrackers with a permit. The ban includes all novelty consumer fireworks, such as sparklers, ground bloomers and fountains. Aerial fireworks were already banned unless part of a professional display.

MN: Oahu’s novelty fireworks ban sparks sales on Maui

read … Fireworks Ban

Large part of Waikiki will be razed for Queen’s development

PBN: The International Market Place, Waikiki Town Center and the Miramar at Waikiki Hotel will be demolished and redeveloped into a new three-level retail, dining and entertainment center beginning in 2013 — a long-awaited project expected to cost up to $300 million and revitalize an aging but iconic six-acre block in Hawaii’s main tourist hub.

Just ignore this: Governor’s New Communications director Is Chairman Of Unity House, Owner of Troubled Nightclub, Gambling Advocate

read … Say bye-bye to The Shack, Black Pearl, and Zanzibar

Hawaii Supreme Court Rules ‘Known or Obvious Danger’ Defense Not Viable

IJ: The Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled the “known or obvious danger” defense is no longer viable under state law as a complete bar to an injured plaintiff’s premises liability claim.

Michele R. Steigman sought to recover damages after suffering a slip-and-fall accident while she was a guest of Outrigger Enterprises’ Ohana Surf Hotel. The case went to trial, and a jury found that Outrigger was not negligent.

Steigman’s appeal to the Intermediate Court of Appeals resulted in an affirmation of the trial court’s final judgment.

Steigman’s attorneys argued that the ruling goes against a comparative negligence law passed by Hawaii’s legislature in 1969 and modified several times to line the pockets of the state’s rapacious trail lawyers.

read … Supremes

Hawaii Primary Late But Not Latest

CB: Hawaii’s primary date isn’t the latest of them all. That distinction belongs jointly to Delaware, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, all states that plan to hold congressional primaries on Sept. 11, 2012.

In past years, Hawaii held its primary on the second-to-last Saturday in September. The state bumped up its 2012 primary to comply with federal laws designed to help ensure overseas residents receive their general-election ballots in time to vote.

Ohio will hold the nation’s first congressional primary on March 6, 2012.

read … Hawaii Primary Late But Not Latest

Iannucci reflects on era of change at KPD

KGI: In 2008, Iannucci chaired the commission and currently is the longest serving commissioner. He reflected on a time of extraordinary change.

Iannucci’s tenure began in 2005, at a time when the Kaua‘i Police Department faced ethics violations, a federal investigation and the resignations of police chiefs and commissioners under fire. Today, he said the commission functions quite well, and there is solid leadership at KPD with an internal affairs office in place, and an ongoing accreditation process to meet national law enforcement standards.

“It is not yet a perfect department, but we are in a way much better place today operationally and structurally,” Iannucci said.

Read … Five Side Men

Another Homeless Camp Murder

MN: Investigators want to know who killed Williams Sublett, originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Sublett's body was found on Sunday on a Kahului Beach near Amala Place, just east of the Maui Wastewater Treatment Plant.

According to MPD, Sublett suffered multiple injuries to his head.

Sources tell Hawaii News Now Sublett appeared to have been homeless.

(Lets all pause to remember the ACLU and others in the homelessness industry who prevent us from forcing these homeless people into shelters where they are less likely to murder each other. They are soooo humanitarian.)

read … Homelessness

Civil Unions Rev “Anticipating Kinks”

The Rev. Kyle Lovett of the Church of the Crossroads underwent the Health Department's online application training for civil union clergy licenses last week, and said she was impressed that so many other potential officiants were also being trained….

Lovett, the Rev. Jonipher Kwong of the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu and possibly two other officiants will preside over a civil union ceremony for four same-sex couples just after midnight Sunday that organizers hope will be the first official ceremony of its kind in the islands….

"I am anticipating a few kinks…" Kwong said. (That’s to be expected….)

Related: The Unitarian Church and Obama's Religious Upbringing

read … Anticipating Kinks


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