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Thursday, September 13, 2012
September 13, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:57 PM :: 4702 Views

Senate Committee Approves New Revision of Akaka Bill

West Molokai Homeowners 98% Against Windfarm

Apple: I Requested Freitas, Let the Commission Do What Has Been Asked

Lawyer to Abercrombie, Dela Cruz: Stop Lying to the Public about PLDC

Governor Releases $147 Million for Education, Health and Other CIPs

$789M of Small Purchases: Tighten oversight on schools' buying

SA: The term "marginal," rarely a compliment, is especially disquieting when it's found in a report describing the controls a government department exercises over how it transacts business. It leaps off the page of a Department of Education internal audit recently released about the way the agency handles procurement and contracting processes. DOE officials need to follow scrupulously the corrective actions the auditors recommend.

Failure to do so, according to the report, could cause a continued deterioration in accountability leading to an "unacceptable" status. Even though operations haven't hit that rock-bottom level yet, "a marginal rating indicates that there may be a potential for loss to the auditable area and ultimately to the DOE" — already quite compelling as an alarm bell.

Some of the vulnerabilities opened in initiatives aimed at giving faculty and staff more flexibility in meeting educational needs — buying supplies on short notice, for example — an allowance with good intent, one that most employees fulfill responsibly.

There is plainly too much flexibility built in the system overall, however. Just for starters, "small purchases," which can be approved at the school and office level, are defined as those costing under $25,000. In all, the DOE spent $789 million on such purchases over the period of the audit, July 1, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2011. Those are purchases, individually and certainly in the aggregate, that are too large to escape careful scrutiny.

read … Tighten oversight on schools' buying

Abercrombie on PLDC: “Pay no attention to the usual suspects”

PR: Abercrombie also had a few words for the critics who want to repeal the PLDC as a threat to public land and the environment: “Pay no attention to the usual suspects that appear at meetings to vilify my directors and to diminish and try to demoralize people at this time as to what might be taking place.”

read … The Most Usual Suspect of All

AARP Rallies at Hawaii Dem HQ to Turn out the Vote

CB: "Who is president and who are members of Congress have taken on a huge significance this election," said executive director Barbara Kim Stanton. "We are at a crossroads for which direction we are going in and what changes are proposed. This is a wake up call for our safety net programs."

Stanton said there is a lot of confusion about the entitlement programs, especially as the two are used in political campaigns. So AARP Hawaii wants to break through the confusion and highlight the facts.

AARP has already held some 30 workshops statewide to explain how Social Security and Medicare are funded, how long they will remain solvent and to suggest the pros and cons of possible funding solutions for both programs.

Civil Beat attended Wednesday's workshop at Ward Warehouse, which featured a policy analyst from the national AARP. Workshops are set for Pearl City on Friday and Kailua on Saturday.

read … Turning out the Dem Vote

Gabbard Meets Pelosi, Little Hope for Serious Committee Assignments

CB: One early indication of influence would be the committees to which a member is assigned. Everybody coming to Congress, Clyburn said, wants to score a seat on either Ways and Means or Appropriations. But those seats are hard to come by, and even harder to come by for freshmen members of the minority party.

"She didn't discuss committee assignments with me at all," Clyburn said. Asked where he thought she might land, he said, "I think that anybody coming to Congress from Hawaii, the unique relationship and the unique role that Hawaii plays and the history that it has in the defense of this country, I would think that Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, that kind of thing would all bode well for her."

Colleen Hanabusa sits on the Armed Services Committee, as did Neil Abercrombie before her.

read … About the sad results of being in the minority

Dead Rail Continues to Kill Live Businesses

SA: An owner and a manager of two small businesses in Aiea that are being displaced by the Honolulu rail project say the city is pushing them out without paying them fair compensation, and both businesses are expected to close.

Jason Chong, 50, said he invested $250,000 in borrowed money to launch his Kiawe Grill BBQ & Burgers location along Kamehameha Highway, but now the city is telling him he must vacate the space he leased in the building by the end of the month.

"People like us, we don't own the property, it's like we have no right to be here," Chong said. "It's worse than China, worse than North Korea, what they're doing to us."

Jerry Iwata, real estate acquisition manager for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, said the city has been negotiating with the tenant businesses in the building at 98-080 Kamehameha Highway since April to try to reach agreement on a new lease.

Three businesses on the property have declined to sign a lease or pay rent, and the city reckons among them they now owe $89,000 in back rent. In a show of "good faith," HART has also been paying common-area maintenance fees for these tenants, fees that now total about $11,600, Iwata said.

read … from hell’s heart I strike at thee

Anti-Rail Litigant Seeks Cultural Practitioner Position With HART

KITV: On Halekauwila Street, crews are digging through the layers of dirt, carefully scouring for any bones or other archeological finds.

"No particular finds as of this date. We found a lot of field deposits which we expected to find, but so far, there have been no outstanding archeological discoveries," said Matt McDermott, Cultural Surveys project manager.

That was the report to the Oahu Burial Council Wednesday, the first since the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled the archeological survey on the rail route shouldn’t be piecemealed….

Paulette Kaleikini, who successfully sued the city to halt the construction work, said her family was ignored when they offered to help reinter any remains. She spoke out when the issue of paying cultural practitioners was brought up at the council meeting.

"We do it for free. We do it out of concern for the iwi kupuna," said Kaleikini.

Legally, the city doesn’t have to have a cultural monitoring system in place, but the state's own land board chair has first-hand experience.

"Cultural monitoring provides additional transparency between the developer or government and the community. And in the case of Waianae, I participated in it, and it worked out well," Aila said.

When asked if he would like to see it for rail, Aila said he thinks cultural monitoring is something every developer should consider.

read … First report since Supreme Court ruling to halt rail construction

Friday's hearing will determine fate of proposed Haleakala telescope

PBN: A hearing on the controversial telescope planned for Maui, which is being challenged by the Native Hawaiian group Kilakila O Haleakala, will decide whether a conservation district use permit to build it should be granted. Kilakila O Haleakala wants to protect the mountain’s natural and historic resources.

The hearing will be comprised of 30 minutes of arguments from each side, and the board will evaluate other evidence the two sides have submitted before making its ruling, said David Kimo Frankel, an attorney for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which is representing Kilakila O Haleakala. There is no deadline for the board to reach a decision.

But the stakes are high.

read … Will This Hearing Decide the Fate of MRC Greenwood?

Freitas Supporters Leave Search Committee

HNN: Three University of Hawaii Manoa coaches who signed a letter asking for UH to immediately appoint acting Athletics Director Rockne Freitas to the position permanently plan to resign from UH's AD search committee, sources said.

Committee co-chair and head football coach Norm Chow plans to step down from the panel, as do women's volleyball coach Dave Shoji and women's basketball coach Laura Beeman, sources said. UH was expected to issue a news release with that development as early as Thursday, a source said.

The official reason being given for their resignations was that their practices and games during the fall conflict with the committee's meetings, sources said. But the coaches came under fire for tainting the fairness of the selection process by joining dozens of other coaches in supporting Freitas for the AD job before a search process had even begun, and some people called for their resignation.

The committee held its second meeting early Tuesday morning at a location away from the UH Manoa campus, sources said. None of the three coaches attended that meeting, a source said. The three were not immediately going to be replaced, a source said.

read … Freitas Fans

'‘Mental Health Hawaii’ Pushes Gay Bullying Programs

Mental Health America of Hawaii has spent the last four years listening to 10,000 Hawaii youth — and the adults who interact with them — talk about suicide….

The school bully beast your son and calls him a ‘homo.’. The school counselor talks to your son and tells him, “Its good to be gay.” Do the math. They’re both on the same team.

What they didn’t mention in the article: The transsexual agenda for Hawaii schools

read … Suicide

Hanabusa Backs Warantless Wiretap Bill; Hirono Misses Vote

CB: The House of Representatives late this afternoon voted to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act. If approved by the Senate, the controversial law would extend for five more years the federal government’s power to, without a warrant, read private emails and listen to telephone calls from anybody believed to be abroad.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was among the 74 Democrats who joined with 227 Republicans to pass the measure, 301-118. More Democrats, 111, voted against the bill than voted for it.

Mazie Hirono skipped the vote.

WP: House votes to renew controversial surveillance law

read … Hanabusa Backs Bush

State pays $83K in work comp for another dead person, More Cases Under Investigation

HNN: The state Labor Department says it has paid tens of thousands of dollars in workers compensation benefits to another dead person.

The state said that more than $80,000 was improperly paid on behalf of a Big Island man, who died two years ago.

The discovery comes after Hawaii News Now reported the case of California woman who allegedly collected $400,000 in workers comp payments by forging the signature of her dead father.

"The alarm bells should go off," said state Sen. Sam Slom, (R) Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina, a longtime advocate of workers compensation reform.

"Anytime there's legislation about toughening up on fraud and corruption, the state doesn't seem too interested and the unions come in to testify against it."

In the Big Island case, the state says an unidentified person submitted phony eligibility documents.The case has turned its files over the state Attorney General's office and sources say the FBI, IRS and Social Security Administration are beginning to look at this and other Hawaii cases.

State Labor Department Director Dwight Takamine says steps are being taken to prevent future fraud. The department will soon require notarized documents for people receiving benefits.

The department has said that fraud represents a small portion of its overall case load. Of the more than 6,500 contested case hearings handled by the state between 2006 and 2010, there were just 26 cases involving charges of fraud.

The alleged fraud involves the state fund for people receiving permanent total disability benefits.

Many of these are people who are seriously injured and have not worked for years. There are about 366 people covered by this form of benefits and about 50 of them live on the Mainland.

Yesterday: $400K: Hawaii Pays Dead Man Workers Comp for 22 Years

read … Another One!

Campaign Spending Commission: Public Campaign Funding Used for Goat, Pig, Circus, Umbrellas

CB: Hawaii County Council candidates are spending their publicly funded campaign contributions in some interesting ways this election.

Greggor Ilagan, running for the District 4 seat, spent $875 in June on an imu goat and pig from Cornucopia Hawaii.

Bradley Westervelt, seeking the District 6 seat, donated $300 in July to Hawaii's Volcano Circus, a nonprofit that coordinates juggling and clowning classes.

His opponent in the race, Brenda Ford, spent $120 in May on hair styling and makeup for photos. She went on to win the Aug. 11 primary with 46 percent of the vote.

Screws, candy, and $800 worth of umbrellas are also among the eyebrow-raising purchases made by candidates receiving public funding this summer.

Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission Associate Director Tony Baldomero told commissioners at their monthly meeting Wednesday that these expense reports are being heavily scrutinized.

"This is public money," he said. "Just as important as how much is given out is how they spend the money."

Some of the commissioners said they had never even heard of an imu goat, which is presumably a goat cooked in a Hawaiian-style underground oven….

In all, eight Hawaii County Council candidates received $215,344 in public funds. The bulk is spent on advertising, but curious expenses are creeping up in the "other" category.

Baldomero said the "interesting" campaign expenses will continue to be set aside for further review.

LINK: Meeting Minutes

read … Your Tax Dollars at Work

Awana, Carroll Fined by Campaign Spending Commission, Criminal Charges Considered

CB: The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission slapped state Rep. Karen Awana with a $6,800 fine Wednesday after she failed to report contributions and expenditures or respond to the office's requests for more information.

The commission, gathered for its monthly meeting, had considered criminal action but decided to handle the repeat offender administratively. Last summer, the commission fined Awana $1,900 for improperly filing her reports….

The commission fined state Rep. Mele Carroll $462.50 — 25 percent of her total contributions — for filing a campaign report late.

Commission officials said they called and sent her numerous letters about the violations, but never heard back. They also noted at least 11 delinquent reports dating back to July 2008, and $3,755 in previous fines.

Carroll had $2,204.39 on hand as of Aug. 11, according to her Aug. 31 spending report.

She has represented House District 13 — which covers Kahoolawe, Molokini, Lanai, Molokai, Keanae, Wailua, Nahiku and Hana — since 2005. She ran unopposed in the primary, according to the election results.

(The Message: “I don’t even lift a finger to do anything and you still reelect me.”)

read … Hawaii Reps. Awana, Carroll Fined for Campaign Spending Violations

BIVN: VIDEO: Yagong vs. Dill, tempers flare at ethics hearing

 

 

Hawaii County Ethic Board Chair Accused of Trying to Shake Down Councilmember

 

"There's a potential for a conflict of interest," John Dill, chairman of the Board of Ethics, told Yagong, who appeared before the board Wednesday morning.

"And that's what we're trying to get to the bottom of. And I'm sorry that you feel and have stated publicly this is a silly distraction, but really all we're trying to do is to preserve the integrity of the democratic process for the County of Hawaii voters. So that they have some shred of faith that their vote does count," Dill said.

Yagong then claimed Dill had a conflict of interest in Yagong's ethics case, because when Yagong's council office had a job opening, Yagong said Dill called him to ask him to hire his brother.

"Mr. Dill called my office, called me up personally to ask me to hire his brother," Yagong told the ethics board.

"This is an event that I cannot even recall," Dill said in response.

Yagong then said, "If you cannot recall this, Mr. Dill, then you should not be sitting as chairman of the ethics commission."

Later in the meeting, both men raised their voices as Dill banged on his gavel, trying to get Yagong to stop talking.

Yagong: Are you denying this? [The charge Dill asked Yagong to hire his brother]

Dill: Look, I'm going to cut you off right now.

Yagong: Are you denying this, Mr. Dill?

Dill: Yes, I am denying this.

Yagong: Oh, then you're going to be in more ethical trouble than anyone else that ever the ethics commission….

Then Kawauchi accused Dill of meddling in her office, which has been plagued by staffing, management and operational problems. During the Aug. 11 primary, 13 of 40 Big Island polling places opened up to an hour and a half late, prompting Gov. Neil Abercrombie to issue an emergency proclamation to keep all Hawaii county voting sites open an hour and a half late, delaying statewide results.

Kawauchi said in July, Dill wrote a letter on county letter head asking that she be removed as clerk and that the elections office be placed under the control of the state Attorney General's office.

"If you're going to ask Mr. Yagong about his operational relationship to the elections office, then we have to ask what your operational relationship that was brought before this commission," Kawauchi told Dill. "It was done personally by you, on county letter head ... Based upon communications that you had with persons that you did not identify."

"You have an ethics problem is what I think you've got, because you're trying to get into the operations of our office," Kawauchi said to Dill.

Dill responded, saying, "I wrote a letter requesting that others look into the operations of the office of elections as a private citizen, because of the concerns that were surfacing by the public at large in the elections."

"I'm a registered voter ... and that has nothing to do with you, Mr. Yagong," Dill added.

Then, another heated exchange erupted, with Dill banging his gavel once again:

read … About another Hilo Old Boy Getting Busted in Public For What they all do all the time

Setting the Record Straight on HOPE Probation: Memo from the Founder

SA: Currently, there are hundreds of HOPE probationers in substance abuse treatment on Oahu, including at the three largest programs: Hina Mauka, Salvation Army's Addiction Treatment Services (or ATS), and the Sand Island Treatment Center. And their respective Directors, CEO Alan Johnson, President Larry Williams, and Director Mason Henderson are all strong HOPE supporters….

Actually, the 2,000+ probationers in HOPE are now under meaningful supervision with swift and certain consequences for any violation of probation. Most are doing very well and substantially better than those on probation-as-usual.

This conclusion is supported by gold-standard, top of the line research by Dr. Angela Hawken of Pepperdine and UCLA. Probationers in HOPE were found to be arrested for a new crime 55% less often and were sentenced to serve 58% fewer days in prison in Hawaii or on the mainland, compared to the control group on probation-as-usual. A summary of Dr. Hawken's research can be found at at the Pew Center.

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

read … Substance Abuse Treatment

Cayetano’s record as Governor

HW: Cayetano governed during a period of serious economic problems and made relative few statements about the environment. In a State of the State address, he said, simply, “Every day, I am thankful I live in the most beautiful place on earth.” He called for “keeping wild places wild.” Two of his top-level appointments were crucial to his environmental programs. Foremost was attorney Michael Wilson, best known for leadership of the Save Sandy Beach Movement, who chaired the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Second was Dr. Bruce Anderson, deputy director for the environmental programs of the Department of Health. Anderson later became the department’s director.

Cayetano’s first-term performance was scrutinized by an ad hoc citizen’s organization, The Price of Paradise Accountability Group, led by Dr. Dolores Foley, current chair of the University of Hawaii’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Members included Robbie Alm, senior president of Hawaiian Electric, mediator Peter Adler and designer Momi Cazimero. Their work is available on the web.

The Governor’s performance also was the subject of an extensive article by David Kimo Frankel in his capacity as staff director of the Sierra Club. Frankel concluded that while environmentalists, including himself, had often criticized Cayetano, as governor he had done much for the environment.

HW: Cayetano vs Caldwell: Who’s the real Eco-Candidate?

read … Cayetano’s record as Governor

Caldwell Led Charge for Superferry

HW: In a move to exempt the Superferry from the court’s ruling, Caldwell emerged as a prominent spokesperson for shielding the ferry project from the State’s EIS law. In an emergency session called by the governor, the bill passed both houses.

Legislative opponents of the Superferry exemption responded with a proposal to legislate environmental standards if the ferry was to function without an EIS. These standards included putting an environmental monitor on board, imposing a speed limit on the Superferry’s passage through whale grounds, banning the movement of plants and fruits, and washing the bottom of roll-off vehicles as a check on the spread of unwanted plant species.

Supporters of this bill included such environmental stalwarts as Hermina Morita (with a Sierra Club rating of 100), Cynthia Thielen (85), Scott Saiki (86), Lyla Berg (86) and Gary Hooser (86). Say and Caldwell led the House majority in voting this bill down by a 37 to 9 margin. After passage of the exemption and defeat of the environmental standards, Caldwell said he wished the Lingle Administration had conducted an EIS study but now it was too late, to which he added, “It looks like it could be relatively smooth sailing from this point on out.”

Caldwell’s numerical rating by Sierra Club fell to 43, in the range of Speaker Say (40) and Pono Chong (33), both of whom would be opposed by the Sierra Club in the 2012 election.

HW: Cayetano vs Caldwell: Who’s the real Eco-Candidate?

read … Superferry

NMI: Pension, Clean Energy Scams Lead to Articles of Impeachment

MV: The articles of impeachment also include those in connection with the release of a federal inmate to massage the governor in January 2010, a sole-source ARRA management contract, non-appointment of a Supreme Court justice, non-remittance of full employer contribution to the now cash-strapped NMI Retirement Fund, and the governor's lack of action against his former attorney general Edward Buckingham.
At least 14 “yes” votes are needed in the 20-member House to impeach the governor, and at least six “yes” votes in the nine-member Senate to convict the governor.
So far, only eight House members have gone on the record to say they will vote “yes” to the impeachment resolution, seven of them co-authors of the resolution.
Rep. Ralph Demapan (Cov-Saipan), chairman of the Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee, said his panel has already received tons of documents from agencies that have something to do with the secretive 25-year power purchase agreement that Fitial signed off with Saipan Development LLC. Among the articles of impeachment are in connection with this $190.8 million agreement.

MV: Resign or Be Impeached

read … About Hawaii’s Future

Hawaii Biofool Scammers Propose Tinian Algae Project

MV: “There is an investor that came all the way from Hawaii who’s interested in putting together algae farming for the production of bio-fuel,” he said.

“They are looking at Tinian as potential site for biofuel farming,” said Mayor Dela Cruz.

Asked about the investor’s initial capital outlay, Dela Cruz said about $6 million initially.

He said once the business is fully operational, its investment could go up to $300 million.

“They will have to put the refinery and bunkering station for refueling ships,” he added.

But Dela Cruz declined to disclose the name of the company.

He, however, said the investor wants to supply biofuel to the U.S. Navy on Guam.

Dela Cruz said the Hawaii investor is just “one of several other investors” who are considering Tinian as a place for investment.

read … Scammers Descend on Tinian

American Samoa gov moves to repeal death penalty

KITV: Gov. Togiola Tulafono has moved to repeal the death penalty, making life in prison the only punishment for those convicted of first-degree murder. He says at least 40 years must be served before parole or probation is possible.

The territory hasn't witnessed an execution in more than 50 years, when a man was hanged for killing another man with a machete….

His proposal comes two months after the attorney general's office withdrew the death penalty in a case against Siaumau Siaumau Jr., who is accused in the 2010 shooting death of a police lieutenant.

Read … Death Penalty

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