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Saturday, February 08, 2014
February 8, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:07 PM :: 2645 Views

Did McManaman Quit Abercrombie Administration or Not?

Taken: HI convict pleads guilty to stealing $200,000 in gov’t welfare

HB1624: Religious Freedom Not a Priority for House Judiciary Committee

SB2149: Combat Fraudulent Liens and Mortgage Filings

Natalie Iwasa Makes City Council Run Official

Guilty: Mainland Bisexual Moves to Maui, Adopts and Rapes Foster Boys

Report: PV customer credits Driving Up Electric Rates

SA: The relatively high price Hawaiian Electric Co. and its subsidiaries pay customers for surplus solar energy produced by their rooftop photovoltaic systems is proving costly for the utility, according to a report prepared for the state Public Utilities Commission.

Under its net energy metering program, HECO and its subsidiaries credit residential customers for their excess solar energy at the full retail rate, which in January ranged from 33.7 cents a kilowatt-hour on Oahu to 39.5 cents a kilowatt-hour on Hawaii island.

By contrast, HECO is currently negotiating contracts to buy utility-scale solar and wind energy from independent power producers at around 16 cents a kilowatt-hour. The cost of generating electricity from burning oil, HECO's most common source of power, is about 23 cents a kilowatt-hour at current oil prices....

"The NEM program may ultimately shift costs to other non-participating customers to the extent that NEM program costs exceed the value provided to the system," according to the report.  (Translation: Higher utility rates.)

HECO estimated that lost electricity sales due to the net energy metering program on Oahu, Hawaii Island and in Maui County totaled 381 million kilowatt-hours last year, about 4 percent of the total 10 billion kilowatt-hours sold.

The lost kilowatt-hour sales meant that the HECO companies were not able to collect an estimated $38.5 million that would have gone to pay for fixed costs, such as power plant maintenance and new utility poles. HECO ultimately recovers that amount from ratepayers.

read ... Costly

Maui News: Arakawa Deserves Credit for Business-friendly Atmosphere 

MN: One other thing we believe Arakawa deserves credit for - and was not mentioned in Wednesday's speech - is changing government's relationship with business. Under his leadership we hear time and again that county government is no longer viewed as a business adversary.

Whether it is permits or signs, the attitude now seems to be "here is how you get into compliance," not "get into compliance or we'll shut you down." Through his appointments, the mayor has let small business in particular know that county government wants to help them succeed.

As the mayor prepares a bid this fall for another term, he seems to be on solid footing. The reason is simple - the county is on the right track.

read ... Credit

Dozens testify to restrict power of HCDA

SA: Dozens of testifiers -- many wearing bright-red "Save Our Kakaako" T-shirts -- showed up in force this morning at the state Capitol where a House committee will vet several bills proposing to restrict the powers of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which regulates development in Kakaako....

Seven of the bills are before the House Water and Land Committee, chaired by Rep. Cindy Evans, this morning.

The bills run the gamut from an all-out repeal of the HCDA to zeroing out the authority's budget and imposing a one-year moratorium on the approval of plans in Kakaako.

Other measures would create a contested-case process so individuals can challenge HCDA decisions and empower citizens to sue to enforce the authority's rules, and impose legislative oversight over the authority's functions. Another bill would restructure the HCDA's board of directors.

read ... HCDA

State may yank 990 acres from UHWO for TOD

SA: The University of Hawaii stands to lose control of 990 acres of agricultural land in Kapo­lei mauka of its new West Oahu campus as lawmakers consider transferring the property to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

A joint panel of the state Senate Higher Education and Water and Land committees voted this week in favor of Senate Bill 2907, which would transfer fee title ownership to the department that manages some 1.3 million acres of state land.

Lawmakers are still debating whether to also take away undeveloped portions of the 500-acre makai lot where the University of Hawaii-West Oahu campus now sits on about 80 acres.

Legislators have criticized UH for not making use of the lands, especially in light of the Kapo­lei school's financial troubles.

As Explained: DelaCruz Land Swap Bill Brings Rail, Big Cable together in One Deal

read ... State may yank land from UH

More than $1 billion in rail contracts scheduled to arrive in 2014

PBN: For the companies working on Honolulu’s $5.16 billion rail transit project, the money keeps rolling in.

And there’s more to come, as the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation prepares to award four major contracts worth a collective $1.1 billion this year, with another six contracts worth $168 million to be awarded in 2014 and beyond.

The largest of these is a $745 million contract to design and build the airport and Downtown Honolulu guideway that will be awarded in July. The smallest of the four is a $60 million contract to design and build four stations at the Honolulu International Airport, and in between are a $150 million contract for nine stations in the West Oahu/Farrington Highway/Kamehameha Highway that is to be awarded this month, and a $175 million contract for the Pearl Highlands parking structure and ramps that will be awarded in March.

read ... More than $1 billion

Sen. Kim warns UH, student fees not a bailout

SA: Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa) said she introduced a resolution Friday urging the Board of Regents and university not to raise the student-athletic fee above its current $50 per semester level.

Richard Mizusawa, president of the Associated Students of UH, said surveys showed the majority of students did not want the original athletic fee and an increase "is not something that we would want to support."

Mizusawa said, "We would want to know more of the reasons why it would be put on the students to pay for a deficit athletics is going through right now. We would want to be involved in conversation before this even happens."

Students currently pay approximately $380 per semester in various fees.

read ... Bailout?

Sen. Dela Cruz Advocates for New Agency to Facilitate Public-Private Partnerships

CB: Dela Cruz’s latest idea for a Public-Private Finance Initiative would create a new agency that would be limited to a single project in Dela Cruz’s district, Wahiawa.

Dela Cruz said he recognizes the bill might be haunted by the public’s suspicion of the now-defunct PLDC, but thinks this new, more limited organization could go a long way to making effective use of state land and coordinating amongst state agencies.

"What we’re talking about with this bill is a pilot project so that people can be more comfortable with the idea [of public-private partnerships]," he said.

The proposal, Senate Bill 3066, is scheduled to be heard by two committees on Monday.

read ... New Agency

Honolulu Officials Give Up on Central Oahu Nonprofit Embroiled in Scandal

CB: It looks like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will be asking Honolulu to pay back nearly $8 million in grant funds that went to a Central Oahu nonprofit that serves the elderly and developmentally disabled.

On Friday, the city issued a press release saying that it couldn’t come to an agreement with HUD over long-standing problems with nonprofit ORI Anuenue Hale, which is located next to the Dole Plantation.

This could mean the city will have to pay back nearly $8 million it gave to the nonprofit over several years to build and improve its facilities.

In a statement, Honolulu Managing Director Ember Shinn blamed the nonprofit for not working with the city and HUD on a solution that could have saved the city from having to give back the full $8 million.

LINK: Ori letter

read... Scandal

Niihau Fishing Bill Will Redefine Rights of Shoreline Property Owners

SA: ...a few bills have been introduced in the state Senate with the intent of protecting marine resources around Niihau, including a measure that designates waters two miles from shore as a marine conservation district for all people except Niihau residents.

A Robinson family representative told state lawmakers that over the years the Niihau fish stock has been depleted by two-thirds.

Don Heacock, a state fisheries biologist, said based on catch information that excludes akule and bottom fish, the commercial amount of fish caught in nearshore areas of Niihau hasn't changed in the past 20 years.

"There's a lot of fish in Niihau," he said.

The Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance for Conservation and Tradition Inc. has opposed limiting fishing to residents of Niihau, saying it would potentially redefine the rights of private landowners with oceanfront properties and reduce public access to ocean resources.

State Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairman William Aila Jr. has said he'd prefer Niihau's marine resources to be managed by administrative rules rather than statutes.

Text, Status: SB2125

read ... Scheme Exposed

Liquor panel too slack, DUI councilman complains

SA: Menor said the commissioners failed to properly vet the last administrator, Greg Nishi­oka, who left in August after pleading guilty to 47 ethical violations related to his private law firm.

"With respect to the last hire, it didn't appear that the commission did the kind of thorough vetting that they should have done," Menor said. "The commission failed to discover the fact that the previous administrator had problems with the Office of Disciplinary Council that oversees attorneys in Hawaii."...

The commission has been trying to restore its image following troubles over the past decade. Before Nishi­oka, Administrator Dewey Kim was placed on administrative leave for a secret investigation until he quit six months later. In 2005, Wally Weatherwax resigned as administrator after the commission voted to strip him of his duties. During Weatherwax's time at the helm, eight former investigators received prison time for taking bribes.

Flashback: Ron Menor Jailed 48 Hours for DUI.

read ... Ron Menor

10,000 Rental Units Needed for Homeless

PBN: How can Hawaii’s nonprofit sector better work toward improving the issue of homelessness on the streets?

I think one of the positives is that many of the provider agencies that are working on homelessness — I really mean this — I think they are collaborating at a level that they’ve never collaborated before. There is a new initiative between the government and a number of providers who are all coming together to try to look at the complexities, what needs to be addressed and how it needs to be addressed. Out of this initiative comes a much better systematic approach. One area still discouraging is the enormity of the problem and still somewhat limited resources being identified to go toward it. Even when you take the rental housing trust fund, for instance, and you start thinking about how many affordable rental units are needed in Hawaii, estimates I’ve seen are somewhere over 10,000. Right now there is legislation on funneling more money for that fund — talk is around $100 million, but the reality is that $100 million may give us 800 rental units, not 10,000.

What do you think is the most important piece of legislation under consideration this session at the state Capitol?

I think one of the most important things is that rental housing trust fund and the need to get more dollars in there for more affordable rental units. Then when you think of seniors, there is the kupuna care legislation, and with economic justice, we’re working on something called shallow subsidies so that families who have fallen on hard times for a few months have some dollars to help them through that period so they don’t end up being more impoverished. And of course, the minimum wage increase — that’s something we are supporting at Catholic Charities Hawaii.

read ... Jerry Rauckhorst talks about caring for Hawaii’s most vulnerable

DoD to Defend Oahu Electrical Grid Against Attacks by Green Energy Scammers and Terrorists

SA: State civil defense officials said Friday they're launching a project to improve the security and resiliency of Oahu's electrical grid.

The state Department of Defense will work with Hawaiian Electric, IBM, U.S. Pacific Command and other entities on a study exploring options.

"Essentially, this effort will ultimately be focused on building a more secure grid for Hawaiian Electric customers, while ensuring the most reliable power sources," Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong, the state adjutant general and director of state civil defense, said in a statement.

Researchers will analyze weather patterns to better understand how cloudy days and lack of wind will affect the power supply. This is becoming more important as the island generates more electricity with solar panels and wind turbines.

They'll also strive to understand how to better protect the grid from attacks like one that hit Silicon Valley one day after the Boston Marathon bombings.

read ... Attacks

Anti-GMO Lawyers Not Quite Pro-Bono

KGI: On Jan. 27, Teresa Tico, former head of the Kauai Bar Association, and Peter Schey, head of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, responded to the county’s solicitation for pro bono legal services.

Echoing previous statements, Tico said Thursday that she and Schey believe the bill related to pesticides and genetically modified crops is “sound.”

“We would really love to defend this bill,” she said. “I believe it’s an important bill, not only because it deals with pesticide regulation but it’s about community based management.”

However, their offer did not come without ethical and financial concerns.

The county attorney defines pro-bono to mean “professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment as well as donation of all related litigation and collateral costs and expenses, including but not limited to court costs, court reporter costs, travel and per-diem expenses, copying expenses, legal research expenses, communication expenses (and) expert fees.”

Questioning that the definition may violate a lawyer’s obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct, Tico said she contacted the Office of Disciplinary Counsel on Oahu for an opinion.

“I was informed by ODC that the County’s definition … violates Rule 1.8(e) of the Rules of Professional Conduct which prohibits lawyers from paying litigation costs without the client’s agreement to reimburse the costs,” she wrote in her offer to the county.

And even if there were no violation, Tico said that as a solo practitioner she does not have the financial ability to pay all litigation costs.

read ... Not Quite Pro-Bono

Compact Impact: Guam Frustrated With Abercrombie's Lack of Leadership

KAUM: Clark says he met with state policy advisor Kendra Oishi along with the Office of Insular Affairs' Kristen Oleyte and Tom Bussanich, who joined via telephone. Hawaii and Guam have shared notes through the years over matters dealing with Compact impact including the reporting template set by the OIA. These reports outline the impacts of the Compacts and recommendations for corrective action, but as Clark as reiterated time and again, the OIA has been critical of the template but has refused to regenerate a new one.

"It's been a little like pulling teeth in that regard," he explained.

Clark was initially under the impression Hawaii had taken the lead on an initiative two years ago to develop a new reporting template with OIA. However, that wasn't the case as Clark learned last month. Another shocking discovery - Clark was surprised to find out that Guam may actually be more advanced with its reporting template and that Hawaii didn't even have a task force established rather only a working group in place and was in the initial stages like Guam. "I'm disappointed that OIA wasn't able to highlight that for to Hawaii, I was assured that they were in constant communication with Hawaii and working with them to develop this template only when I met with the Hawaii officials, the ones who were working on this, they seemed unaware of the fact that Hawaii was actually supposed to be taking the lead here so there was obviously a communication breakdown here," he said.

Nov 2, 2010: Abercrombie admits responsibility for costing Hawaii millions under Compact of Free Association

Reality: Micronesians: “Its just better in Arkansas”

read ... Compact impact

Mass layoff at Kaiser Permanente Hawaii

KHON:  The workers were given a 45-day notice — some last week, others this week — and the company is trying to help some of them find new jobs.

In all, 101 Kaiser workers will lose their jobs statewide.

They include 66 security guards, 43 of which are full-time, plus 35 others in various positions including 16 patient transporters.  Kaiser is also eliminating 11 positions in the Occupational Health Department.

Some of the workers will get severance — it all depends on their position.

read ... Layoff

Kihei Rejects Naming HS After Patsy Pink

MN: "We just don't think this particular venue is right," said Lokelani Intermediate School Principal Donna Whitford....

Lehuanani Huddleston-Hafoka, who attended both the old Kihei School and Kihei Elementary School, submitted written testimony to the Senate requesting the high school be named Kihei High School because that the name represents the area.

She spoke highly of Mink and asked that the high school gymnasium or a future stadium be named after Mink instead.

"With the utmost respect to Patsy Mink and her family and to our public officials who do so much for us, please reconsider the name of our intended Kihei High School to be just that: Kihei High School," Hafoka wrote....

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee recommended passage of Senate Bill 2446, introduced by Oahu Sen. Michelle Kidani, which would name the Kihei high school the "Patsy Takemoto Mink High School."....

read ... Patsy Pink High School

Obama, Bethany Hamilton urge nations to allow religious freedom

AP: Hawaii surfer Bethany Hamilton got a standing ovation and President Barack Obama reaffirmed that freedom of religion is a central tenet of U.S. diplomacy at the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.

Obama cast his message as an international call for human rights, singling out countries that he said have fallen short, particularly when it comes to extending protections and freedoms to all faiths.

Obama told the nondenominational gathering of political leaders that some of that diplomacy is not comfortable, especially when dealing with nations that are strategically and economically important to the United States, such as China.

When meeting with Chinese leaders, he said, "I stress that realizing China's potential rests on upholding universal rights, including for Christians and Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims." Obama also offered prayers for Kenneth Bae, a U.S. missionary being held in North Korea, and Saeed Abedini, an Idaho pastor who is in custody in Iran.

Related: Waioli Tea Room Reopens, (Will be Targeted for forced Conversion by Gays, State)

DC: Obama says ‘freedom of religion is under threat’ as Catholics sue administration

HB1624: Religious Freedom Not a Priority for House Judiciary Committee

read ... While Denying it at Home

QUICK HITS:

Rep. Gene Ward Addresses HB 1499 – Freedom of Speech

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Think You're a Journalist? Read On

Pritchett: Leader of the Pack

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Federal and State governments fishing for compromise on shark fin laws

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Pritchett: Taxing Situation

Tsutsui slated to attend business event

Star-Adv: Obama Library Should be in Hawaii (yawn)

GPB: Obama's political roots are pure Chicago

Arakawa to discuss paratransit services

MECO says its toxic releases have declined over the years

Kahoma greenlighted amid council concerns

Oregon company is chosen to develop a six-story complex of affordable rentals

Autopsy to be conducted on inmate

Pearl Harbor contractor to pay $229K settlement

Solar Jobs: Hawaii Bucks the National Trend


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