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Saturday, September 15, 2012
September 15, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:58 PM :: 4170 Views

Island Heavy Rail Calamity: San Juan Repeats in Honolulu

Update on the Federal Court Challenge to Rail

Voters to Decide on Two Constitutional Amendments

Fitch Cheers Honolulu Sewer Rate Hikes, Assigns AA Rating to Bonds

Maui Chamber of Commerce Endorses Lingle

Hawaii Among Four States With Charter Schools 100% Unionized

Hawaii in the Crosshairs as White House details ‘destructive’ spending cuts

Asking For It: Abercrombie, DLNR to Host Community Meeting on Kauai

Martin: Will Rail AIS Delay Federal Funding Agreement?

SA: Grabauskas said the delegation to Washington plans to brief FTA officials on the progress the city is making toward completing the archaeological survey as well as progress on continuing engineering and design work on the project.

"It is important for us to continue to communicate closely with the FTA as the project proceeds, and we're looking forward to our meeting in Washington," Grabauskas said in a written statement. "Our main goal is to discuss our Full Funding Grant Agreement submittal, which is on track and moving through the approval process."

Martin said he wants to affirm the City Council's support for the project.

"I am also interested in determining FTA and Congress's assessment of the recent (archaeological inventory survey) decision and whether this may unduly delay their review and approval of our Full Funding Grant Agreement," Martin said in a written statement.

Carlisle's office did not respond to a request for a comment on the Washington trip.

The Hawaii group is scheduled to meet with FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff on Thursday.

read … Yes it will

Construction delays could threaten rail project’s contingency funds

KITV: "Even if there are, the contingency funds used to be a full billion in 2006," said Prevedouros. "It has shrunk down to $600 million and down now to about $100 million. That is very alarming."

The transit authority has long maintained the $996 million in contingency funding identified by the project's environmental impact statement would be drawn down close to zero as construction continues through 2019.

"As allowed by the FTA, the contingency fund total has been gradually reduced over the last several years as the project progresses, and estimated costs become more concrete," said Ishikawa.

In April, 2011 the contingency stood at $865 million, or 21 percent of the total project cost. By September of that same year, it was down to $815 million. Currently, as noted in the latest monthly report, it stands at $643.6 million.

To date the city has issued $3.13 billion in rail-related contracts.

Read … When the World is Running Down, Take the Best of What's Still Around 

Hirono Misses Three Days of Votes

NJ: Hawaii Democratic Senate nominee Mazie Hirono only voted on Thursday, our review of this week's roll call votes shows….

Meanwhile, Hirono skipped votes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The congresswoman looks relatively well positioned in her contest with GOP nominee Linda Lingle in Democratic-leaning Hawaii -- but it's a long flight between the Mainland and the islands, and Hirono stayed out west until she showed up in Washington yesterday.

Related: Pritchett's Pen: Lazy Mazie

read … No need for Hirono supporters to get out of bed Nov 6

Star-Adv Pushes AARP Democrat Get Out the Vote Effort

SA: The reason citizen education matters here is plain: Both these programs have been considered the third rail of politics for decades, and elected officials have needed a nudge — a hard shove, really — to touch it. And now that the national debt has pushed the issue to the front burner (we Democrats can really scare seniors into voting for us.)

Previous Coverage: AARP Rallies at Hawaii Dem HQ to Turn out the Vote

In Contrast: Star-Bulletin comes out against voter registration drive

read … Have your say on Social Security and Medicare

Abercrombie’s DHHL Cancels Homebuilding Program

SA: The program run by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement provided low-cost financing and organized groups of families to buy materials in bulk and use family labor to reduce construction costs for the four-bedroom, two-bath homes. The homes, built on Hawaiian Home Lands, were sold to program participants in Kapolei for $185,000 and in Ana­hola on Kauai for $160,000.

Plans for an additional 30 homes will have to be shelved as a result of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands not continuing the contract first awarded in 2009 during the Lingle administration, Robin Pua­nani Danner, CNHA's chief executive officer, said Friday.

CNHA officials were informed via email June 27 that the contract was not being extended. Danner said she has been trying to get a meeting with DHHL officials since then without success.

"The clock ran out, and DHHL let the contract expire without any discussion or coordination, just an email telling us to send a closing invoice and to stop any work on the additional 30 homes authorized and in planning," Danner said….

Danner said things appeared to be going smoothly in April when she met with DHHL to give officials an progress report on efforts to recruit 30 applicants for the second phase of the program.

"We had a sit-down with DHHL to let them know where we were," she said. "The chairman's office was very engaged," she said, referring to then-DHHL Director Ala­paki Naha­le-a. The DHHL director also serves as chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission.

However, she said things began to change after Naha­le-a stepped down in May and was replaced by Jobie Masa­ga­tani, a DHHL deputy director from 1995 to 2002.

read … DHHL Back to the Bad Old Days

Mall Approved for DHHL Land

SA: A few residents from Ewa Beach and Makakilo testified against the estimated $350 million project before commissioners voted 7-0 to approve 67 acres for the 1.4 million-square-foot open-air mall.

The hearing was sought because the LUC approved the site for development of a regional sports complex in 1999 under a previous state plan that included adjacent land. But that old plan was abandoned, and led to nearby development of the University of Hawaii-West Oahu campus, the Salvation Army Kroc Center and Hawaiian homestead subdivisions.

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands acquired the 67-acre site, and arranged in 2006 to lease the property to Florida-based mall developer DeBartolo Development LLC.

read … Mall

Homecoming at Marine Corps Base Hawaii

HNN: Hangar 105 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe erupted into cheers when a plane full of more than 100 marines and sailors disembarked around 7:30 Friday morning.

It's the day marines of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron HMH 362 have been waiting for - a chance to stop holding their weapons, and instead, hold loved ones.

"Feels great, said Captain Michael Sedrick holding two of his four children in his arms. "It's something you think about everyday for 7 months. And to finally get home and do it. It's very surreal at times. Feels good though."

For some, it's the first time they'll hold their children.

"I'm speechless right now, said Sergeant Salvador Duenas holding 5 month old daughter, Ayanna Gisel. "It's amazing. It's a great feeling. I'm happy to be home."

"I can't describe it," sighed Duenas' wife Bianca as she watched her husband hold their baby who was born while he was deployed. "It's amazing. I've been waiting for this, since the day she was born.

And all of the returning service members are glad to be home alive after moving troops and equipment on CH 53-D Sea Stallion helicopters inside Afghanistan's dangerous Helmand province. Especially, Staff Sergeant Andrew Peterson who's expected to receive a Purple Heart next week for being wounded in action.

Peterson held his 8 month old son, Gavin, as he recalled the event.

He said he was the acting right gunner and crew chief just 18 days into the deployment when he was shot by the enemy while his crew was extracting ground marines that they'd inserted early to conduct a drug raid on suspected Afghan compound.

read … Homecoming

Greenwood Cancels Faculty Awards, Recognition Ceremony

HR: The University of Hawaii typically holds a lavish and festive awards ceremony - or a convocation - each September, where several dozen faculty and staff members are recognized.

Last year, UH President MRC Greenwood said about the September 27, 2011 event: "The ceremony provides a rare opportunity for faculty, staff and administrators to gather as a system and pay tribute to the dedication, excellence and service of UH employees."

But this year, with just days notice and little explanation, Greenwood cancelled the 2012 Convocation scheduled this month.

In a September 12 letter to the Board of Regents, vice presidents and chancellors, Greenwood said the event was cancelled due to "scheduling conflicts, the availability of key venues, and other complicating factors."

She justified the decision in part by saying "many of the award recipients had already been previously recognized at ceremonies held at their respective campuses" - UH has 10 - adding she "regrets" being unable to work out a solution to hold the event this year.

The 2012 awardees are being notified by a personal letter from Greenwood that also includes a letter acknowledging their award….

Earlier this week, Greenwood also cancelled the meetings she requested with senators on the special investigative committee - also with little notice and no explanation.

read ... Climbing into her Bunker

Honolulu Lawyer Agard Faces Three Years in Federal Prison

HR: Andrew A. Agard faces a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in January by U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi.

Agard admitted filing a false return for the 2006 tax year, reporting that he had gross receipts of $294,000 when the accurate number was $630,000, according to prosecutors.

According to his website, Agard is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii and has been a practicing personal injury attorney for the past 20 years.

read … Headed to Prison?

Rep Mele Carroll receives fine for failing to file spending report — again

MN: The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission determined this week that state Rep. Mele Carroll violated campaign spending laws when she failed to file a timely report earlier this year.

The commission has imposed a $462.50 late fee. Carroll - who represents the 13th House District that includes East Maui, Lanai and Molokai - will have 20 days to seek a contested hearing of the fine, said Gary Kam, the commission's general counsel.

The Maui News previously reported that Carroll failed to file a report on time for the six-month reporting period that ended June 30. The fine amount represents 25 percent of her contributions during that six-month reporting period.

read … Headed for easy reelection

OHA Cronies Press Land Board to Stop Haleakala Telescope

CB: Hawaii's Board of Land and Natural Resources heard final arguments on Friday about whether construction on a 14-story solar telescope atop Haleakala on Maui should be allowed to proceed.

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. is challenging a conservation district use permit that the board issued to the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Astronomy in December 2010.

Attorney David Kimo Frankel, on behalf of his client, Kilakila o Haleakala, reiterated arguments that the telescope would have major impacts on scenic views and Native Hawaiian cultural resources. Haleakala contains numerous burials and other sites considered sacred by Native Hawaiians.

He cited the university’s own environmental impact statement, as well as testimony from Haleakala National Park Service officials and others that said impacts would be significant.

The university’s EIS for the project says that the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope "would be seen as culturally insensitive and disturb traditional cultural practices," and that it would cause "major, adverse, short- and long-term, direct impacts on the traditional cultural resources" that couldn't be mitigated.

read … Until they get paid off 

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