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Wednesday, October 24, 2012
October 24, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:43 PM :: 4855 Views

After Debate, Nearly 70% Say Djou Wins

Hawaii: 3rd Fastest Growing Tax Burden

Hawaii Productivity Growth Lowest in US—Only 4.76% Since 1992

UH Manoa Scores 295th of 700 World Universities

Hawaii-based Travel Site Upset by $700M Tax Decision

ACLU: Guards Should Stop Listening to Hawaii Prisoners

Brickwood Galuteria, Serial Job Killer

Fitch: $890M Honolulu Bonds Rated AA+

Shapiro: It's incredible that weeks after University of Hawaii regents emerged from a secret meeting declaring unwavering support for UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, they're now holding secret meetings reportedly to discuss firing her.

It's time to end this academic carnage; our university's credibility can't survive if we keep sending high-priced administrators back to the mainland in body bags stained with the bloody fingerprints of meddling politicians.

The Greenwood drama is disturbingly similar to the grisly 2004 firing of Evan Dobelle from the same job.

The same key legislators are again leading the agitation — and again, they seem motivated by personal pique as much as policy….

Lawmakers are further angered that she's called them out for political interference that threatens UH independence guaranteed by the state Constitution.

Leading the legislative clamor have been Sen. Donna Mercado Kim and Rep. K. Mark Takai.

Kim's one-sided hearings aimed to embarrass Greenwood and the regents while allowing Dono­van to blame everybody but himself; Takai has been the loudest voice in the House for Dono­van's reinstatement and Greenwood's head.

The two also were leading agitators for Dobelle's ouster, publishing a commentary that accused him of improper spending and declared him a failure.

Their assault provided political cover for Gov. Linda Lingle's regent appointees to fire Dobelle three years into his seven-year contract, costing UH $3.2 million in severance.

A 2004 Honolulu Advertiser commentary said Dobelle angered Kim when he wasn't properly contrite after she upbraided him for attending a meeting sponsored by Hono­lulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, Kim's enemy from her City Council days.

The commentary also reported that Dobelle confidants said Takai became irked when the president refused him a UH job he asked for.

UH is doomed to perpetual mediocrity if we keep bringing in presidents at nearly $500,000 a year, only to have them undermined by the personal agendas of power-tripping politicians.

read … Bloody Fingerprints

UH Regents will revisit Donovan settlement at special meeting

HNN: Hawaii News Now has learned that the University of Hawaii Board of Regents plan to hold a special meeting to revisit the controversial settlement that gave Jim Donovan a communications job but removed him as the university's athletics director.

The regents made the decision during a closed-door executive session Thursday, in what sources described as a "close vote." A date and time still must be set for the special meeting, sources said.

The regents plan to talk about whether they properly approved the settlement, since the deal never went before a full vote of the regents, sources said.

The regents could also reconsider and vote on the settlement, sources said.

If the regents reject the deal, Donovan's lawyer could sue the UH and the rejection could be seen as showing a lack of confidence in President MRC Greenwood and UH Regents Chairman Eric Martinson, who OK'd the agreement.

Some regents want to hold a special meeting on the subject before the regents' next regular meeting on Nov. 15, which will be held at UH Maui, a source said. That's because those regents don't want to be criticized for trying to hide the issue by discussing it on a neighbor island where they would get less media coverage, a source added. Some regents are also asking for a public discussion of some of the issue, assuring that all of the deliberations won't be in secret.

(Capitulating to the Legislature?)

read … Donovan

Star-Advertiser Endorses Ching, Low

District 18 (Hahaione Valley, Aina Haina, Kahala): Independent businessman and Democrat Mark Hashem is the freshman incumbent, but Republican Jeremy Low, a research analyst, also has political experience as an aide to various Republican legislators. Low is clear about where he stands on leading issues, which is refreshing and welcome. Low deserves a chance to serve, boosting thoughtful GOP representation in the House.

District 27 (Nuuanu, Liliha, Alewa Heights): Our vote here is for incumbent Corinne Ching, a Republican and former educator first elected in 2002. Both Ching and Democratic challenger Takashi Ohno, a school teacher, are earnest and thoughtful, but Ching's valuable legislative experience and community service give her the edge.

SA: Some 1,729 regulars and first-timers show on the initial day of early walk-in voting

read … Lively races for urban House seats

Fund for Freedom Buys Lingle Ad Time

SA: Fund for Freedom Committee, a Washington, D.C.-based super PAC, has reserved television advertising time in Hawaii to help former Gov. Linda Lingle's Republican campaign for U.S. Senate.

The interest group has reserved ad time worth six figures, local television stations say, and the ads are expected to appear later this week to help Lingle against U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, her Demo­cratic opponent.

Fund for Freedom was formed this year as an independent expenditure committee that intends to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. The Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010 that the government has no anti-corruption interest in limiting such political spending, which allowed corporations, labor unions and other interest groups to spend freely.

Fund for Freedom's treasurer is Michael Adams, a partner in the Washington office of the law firm Dinsmore & Shohl LLP of Cincinnati, and general counsel to the Republican Governors Association.

read … $100K+

Rail: Heed Warning or Face Bankruptcy

SA: A new report on the city’s finances, issued on Oct. 17 by the respected global bond rating agency, Fitch Ratings, reaffirmed the city’s credit rating but also delivered a stern warning that the city may not be able to afford its current obligations, much less additional ones from rail, without raising taxes.

According to Fitch: “Overall carrying costs will likely rise over the next several years due to these higher debt service and pension requirements, and could limit the city’s ability to meet other spending demands if revenues do not keep pace.”

In effect, Fitch is advising the city that it would need to raise taxes to take on the obligations of the $5.27 billion rail program, i.e. “other spending demands.”

Other municipalities that did not heed the advice of their financial counselors have ended up in bankruptcy, such as Harrisburg, Pa. in 2011 and Jefferson County, Ala. in 2010.

read … Stan Shiraki, Malcolm Tom and Geminiano “Toy” Arre Jr

Cayetano Issued 204 Pardons, Waihee Approved 72% of Pardon Requests

HNN: In its fourth television ad heading into the general election, PRP highlights the governor's ability to set criminals free.

"But Ben Cayetano issued 203 pardons. More than any other governor, ever," the ad states.

Cayetano, did not dispute it.

"You know, I'm not ashamed of that. I'm proud of the pardons that I made," he said.

KHON2 confirmed with the Governor's office, that Cayetano did issue the most number of pardons. They provided a different number: 204. That was out of 397 requests. But others, had a higher pardon percentage. Governor Waihee had the highest percentage with 72%.

"I think unlike any other administration, my administration had to struggle really hard with prison space," Cayetano said.

read … Emptying the Prisons

Rail's design-build contracts put into question

KITV: To date, HART has issued three design-build contracts for the first two sections of the elevated guideway from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium, as well as a maintenance and storage facility near Leeward Community College. All three contracts are estimated to cost $1.05 billion. However, a ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court Aug. 24 suspended all construction until an archeological inventory survey is finished along the entire 20-mile route.

The September PMOC report points to the high court's ruling as having a "significant" impact on the rail project's anticipated budget and schedule for completion.

"The grantee's preliminary analysis indicates that the cost impact for the three design-build contracts could range between $64 and $95 million," the report concluded. "However, this does not include additional cost impacts due to escalation for future contracts and extended agency and consultant staffing."

Earlier this month HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas told KITV4 the Hawaii Supreme Court's decision, coupled with previous contract change orders, could cost city taxpayers as much as $114 million.

read … Question

Shiny Objects: DoE Using Computers to Distract from Budget Buster

SA: The Department of Education wants to provide every public school student with a laptop or computer tablet by 2015 as part of an initiative that would also include training teachers on the devices and buying digital materials that reflect new national Common Core standards for math and reading.

The department is asking for $42 million over the next two years to kick off the ambitious plan, aimed at standardizing curricula across the state, modernizing classroom instruction and phasing out printed textbooks….

Also in the proposed budget request, above and beyond the DOE's current base budget of $1.35 billion, was $12.9 million in fiscal year 2013 to tackle projected increases in enrollment, $5 million over the next two fiscal years for bonuses to teachers in "hard to fill" positions, and $8 million in each of the next two years for student transportation costs.

Altogether, the wish list items would cost an additional $40.5 million in fiscal year 2013 and an extra $35.7 million in fiscal year 2014.

read … A Laptop in Every Pot, A Chicken in Every Garage or something

Union Demands Hirono, Hanabusa Harass New Airline

PBN: The Transport Workers Union of America Local 577 noted that Las Vegas-based Allegiant plans to establish a base in Honolulu next month, and that the flight attendants being hired for the Honolulu base will be part-time.

The union recently sent letters to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Sens. Daniel Inouye andDaniel Akaka, and Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono, questioning whether Allegiant’s part-time scheduling of its flight attendants based in Honolulu “ ... is being implemented to avoid providing health-care benefits for flight attendants based in Hawaii.”

read … Tourism? No Need!

Geothermal Producer Offers to Cut Electric Bills

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is reviewing offers by two of its power producers to stop tying energy costs to the price of oil….

Beck said energy prices had been tied to oil because of a federal law from the 1970s that required utilities to pay avoided costs — the amount it would have to pay to produce the power on its own — for energy purchased from other producers. That essentially tied the rates to changes in the cost of oil, HELCO’s main source of power.

The law has changed over the last few years, freeing the utility to negotiate lower prices, he said.

That resulted in PGV’s last two contracts with HELCO, covering 13 of the 38 megawatts the utility has agreed to buy, being negotiated at lower rates.

But the original contract, covering 25 megawatts of power, has remained unchanged. It was negotiated before the law was amended.

Currently, HELCO is spending 20 cents per kilowatt hour during peak hours and 15 cents per kilowatt hour during nonpeak hours under the original contract.

The cheaper 13 megawatts are purchased at fixed rates of about 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

read … 50% Cheaper?

OHA Candidates Haunani Apoliona and Cal Lee Fail to Show at Community Forums

HR: Last night my alma mater, the University of Hawaii Richardson Law School, hosted a forum for candidates in the race for Trustee-at-large of OHA (Office of Hawaiian Affairs).

I was especially proud to be associated with candidate Dr. Keli’i Akina.

However, it was disappointing that Dr. Akina’s main opponents once again failed to participate and face the public.

read … No Show

AKINA for OHA – Dinner Rally

Thursday, 10/25/12, 6:30-8:00 PM

OAHU VETERANS CENTER in Foster Village

1298 Kukila St. (Radford HS faces Foster Village)

read … More Info

Why So Many Hawaiian, Samoan And Filipino Youth In Justice System?

CB: The new report, titled Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Hawaii Juvenile Justice System, 2000-2010, is described by its sponsors as "the first comprehensive study of racial disparities in 17 years."

As with most academic studies, the juvenile justice system report is pretty wonky. It's loaded with text, charts, tables, graphs and appendices filling 130 pages.

But the report's main conclusion is clear: When it comes to Hawaii's juvenile justice system, there seems to be "a different dynamic" for white and Asian kids who get in trouble as compared with Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and mixed-race kids, with the latter group falling through gaps in the system.

Full Text: Juvenile Justice Report

read … Hawaiian, Samoan And Filipino

Budget Cuts: Army May Leave Strykers at Pohakuloa to Reduce Training Costs

SA: The Army said it is considering basing Stryker armored vehicles at Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island as part of a larger plan to pre-position equipment, on land or on ships, around Asia and the Pacific to improve training, engagement and response times, and to keep costs down.

The 19-ton Strykers could come from existing stock at Schofield Barracks, or from overseas with the end of the Iraq War and the 2014 end of U.S. involvement in Af­ghani­stan, officials said.

"Basically, the way the budget is going, nothing is off the table right now, and so there are a lot of ideas, a lot of plans out there that are being looked at," said Jim Guzior, a spokes­man for U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter. "It doesn't mean that we have even crossed the threshold of doing a feasibility analysis or cost analysis."

"But right now we're beginning to look at the possibility of positioning Stryker vehicles at PTA in order to reduce the transportation costs for training there," Guzior said.

read … Pohakuloa Training Area could be picked to host some of the Army's 19-ton Strykers

Queens Sues Kaiser in $4M Payment Dispute

CN: Kaiser showed Queen's a letter that claimed it purportedly was entitled to discounts based on Stratose's relationship with a third party, which had signed a PPO agreement with The Queen's Medical Center, the hospital says.

"In other words, the letter from defendant Stratose stated, in essence, that defendant Kaiser had purchased the discounts that were taken on plaintiff's services from defendant Stratose," the complaint states. "Defendant Stratose, in turn, purportedly accessed these discounts through (nonparty) HMN, an entity that signed a PPO agreement with plaintiff back in 2005."

The hospital claims that neither Kaiser, nor Stratose are entitled to discounts under its agreement with HMN.

read … Courthouse News

Hawaii Monitor: Patronage Games

ILind: CanAm administers the Hawaii Regional Center, the state’s EB-5 program, under the terms of an exclusive 5-year contract awarded in 2008 by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. The contract was approved and signed by then-director Ted Liu, a Lingle appointee.

CanAm was selected to rescue a program that had been floundering and was in danger of losing federal authorization.

Although the contract didn’t require the state to pay for CanAm’s services, it authorized the company to collect several types of fees, some on an ongoing basis, from both the immigrant investors and the businesses receiving financing.

A year after the contract was signed, CanAm was ramping up its Hawaii program when Liu suggested the company hire Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky as its local representative….

Liu’s recommendation, noted later in a company report, likely carried considerable weight. Following several conference calls and a meeting in New York, Krasnjansky was hired….

Just weeks after Maui attorney and former state Rep. Tony Takitani served as emcee for Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s inauguration ceremonies in December 2010, he was selected by CanAm to replace Krasnjansky as the company’s exclusive local representative.

Takitani, a veteran campaigner, was part of Abercrombie’s campaign team and kitchen cabinet, and is currently the governor’s official representative on the East-West Center’s Board of Governors….

In a telephone interview, Takitani said he didn’t know how he had been selected. “They called me one day and said that I was somebody that paid attention to things,” Takitani said. “They asked me to assist. It’s as simple as that.”

read … Patronage Games

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