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Monday, February 10, 2014
February 10, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:46 PM :: 3346 Views

UPDATE: Did McManaman Quit Abercrombie Administration or Not?

Republicans Build Momentum in Legislative Races

Is inequality actually lower in Honolulu?

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted February 10, 2014

Blake Oshiro Charges 'Health Spa' expenses to taxpayers

CB: Gov. Neil Abercrombie, his deputy chief of staff and two security guards flew to Washington, D.C., last June to talk to congressmen and military leaders about Chamber of Commerce affairs and other interests.

The five-night trip cost Hawaii taxpayers $14,000.

The governor took a trip or two a week last summer on state business, traveling to the neighbor islands, mainland and Asia. State records show his five trips in June and six trips in July cost taxpayers approximately $27,000, including airfare, lodging, security detail and the expenses of accompanying staff members.

The D.C. trip was by far the most expensive, according to documents the governor's office released under a public records request. Most of the cost was for airfare ($2,350 for the governor to fly first class) and three rooms at the Hilton at $230 per night.

His deputy chief of staff, Blake Oshiro, also charged expenses from the hotel’s health spa (He likes the masseurs) and dining lounge, documents show, even though the state considers meals and entertainment to be non-reimbursable personal expenses.

read ... Taxpayer-Funded Peak Experience

Hawaii Electric Rates up 56% in Three Years

CB: Hawaiian Electric Industries 2012 Annual Report to Shareholders. That report says that in 2009 the average revenue per kilowatt hour (kwh) sold for residential use was 23.87 cents, and by 2012 it was 36.88 cents. That is an increase of 54 percent.

In 2013 the average price was 37.27, a 56 percent increase since 2009.

The report also showed the average revenue per kwh sold for commercial use was 21.54 cents in 2009 and that it rose to 34.51 by 2012, an increase of 60 percent.

Hawaii generally has the highest electric rates in the nation (some pockets of rural Alaska are higher but the state subsidizes the bills), nearly double the next highest state, New York, according to the Energy Information Agency’s latest information, from last year.

Hawaii’s average retail price of electricity in the residential sector was 37.27 cents per kwh, meaning a typical Hawaii resident using 600 kilowatt-hours of energy per month would have to pay around $222, contributing to why the cost of living in the state is so high.

New York’s average of 18.89 cents per kwh brings the average residential bill to just $114; Washington had the lowest, at 8.81 cents per kwh.

Hawaii’s electric rate is triple the national average of 12 cents per kwh.

2011: Big Wind, Big Cable: To Stampede Legislature, HECO Trumpets High Rates

read ... Green Energy Scammers Did This to Profit Themselves

Senate panel OKs 3 housing measures

SA: Senate Bill 2442 would provide $100 million to the state's Rental Housing Trust Fund, providing money for construction of more than 580 micro apartments and affordable rental units for low-wage workers and seniors, according to testimony from the state's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism....

Another bill, SB 2267, would put $15.8 million toward building micro apartments. Those units are defined as being at least 220 square feet in area, with a separate closet and bathroom, and a kitchen sink, cooking appliance and refrigerator. They cost an average of $150,000 apiece to build, half of what average rental units cost, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said in written testimony in support of the bill.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority would receive $60 million to build a housing complex just for seniors if another bill, SB 2541, passes. Such a public housing complex would be the first of its kind in the state.

Other bills the Senate Means and Ways Committee considered, but deferred, would expand housing programs for homeless people and prevent shelters from compelling homeless people to buy food there in exchange for services.

read ... Housing

Style beats Substance: Is Tulsi Gabbard Hawaii's Invincible Rep.?

CB: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced her bid for a second term last month. Despite the lousy track record of accomplishment for the 113th Congress, she looks forward to serving in the 114th....

With more than $800,000 in cash sitting in her campaign coffers, no credible Democratic primary challenger on the horizon and only token Republican opposition in the general election, Gabbard, who turns 33 in April, has quickly established herself as the invincible Hawaii incumbent.

Most folks in Hawaii pay little attention to what their congressional delegates do. Though he was elected governor in 2010, it's likely that few voters could explain what Neil Abercrombie did during his 20 years in Congress.

...she is already close to being a national figure in only her first term in office. She's an increasingly familiar face on the Sunday political news programs. She works out at the gym with Republican Paul Ryan and tweets with rising Democrat Cory Booker.  She also posts Instagram selfies from Maui, Manhattan and even the Sea of Galilee....the young representative travels a lot....

More than $220,000 of the $317,000 in fourth-quarter receipts came from individual contributions, many of them the usual suspects in Hawaii business, labor and legal circles.

About one-fifth of her recent contributions came from political action committees of companies like Matson Navigation and First Hawaiian Bank, labor groups such as the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees, and defense interests that include Boeing and BAE....

What Abercrombie Did: Neil Abercrombie 2009: A year of corruption

read ... Invincible?

The Unraveling of Hu Honua Biofuels

IM: A community group, Preserve Pepe’ekeo Health & Environment, filed legal appeals.

The SMA suit is still pending. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just issued a ruling against the Hawaii Department of Health permit.

In the meantime, three creditors have filed suit against Hu Honua alleging that they are owed nearly $37M....

The EPA ruled against DOH on two sets of issues regarding the use of the synthetic minor permit without considering startup/shutdown emissions and counting emissions from emergency generators.  This defect applies to both criteria pollutants (carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen) and hazardous air pollutants (HCL). 

read ... The Unraveling of Hu Honua Biofuels

Liquefied natural gas site proposed, Sierra Club Opposed

SA: Hawaiian Electric Co. is in talks with the Navy about a plan to build the state's first liquefied natural gas import terminal at Pearl Harbor as part of the utility's effort to find a cheaper source of fuel for power generation.

HECO has been seriously considering LNG as a potential fuel source since at least mid-2012 when Gov. Neil Abercrombie asked utility officials to investigate the feasibility of using natural gas as a replacement for fuel oil during the utility's transition to renewable energy.

Preliminary plans call for a near-shore floating terminal at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam where LNG would be unloaded from ships and converted from a liquid back into a gas and transported through a pipeline to HECO power plants, according to the Navy and HECO.

Natural gas has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of generating electricity in Hawaii when compared with oil, according to a 2012 study commissioned by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. The study by Facts Global Energy projected that LNG could provide fuel savings in the Oahu power sector of 40 to 50 percent through 2030 when compared with oil.

Natural gas also burns cleaner than the oil that accounts for about 75 percent of HECO's electricity production.

Hawaii is the only state in the nation that does not use natural gas for electricity generation....

The Honolulu-based Blue Planet Foundation and the Sierra Club are opposing plans to bring liquified natural gas to Hawaii. Among the concerns expressed by the two groups in documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is that bringing in LNG runs contrary to the state's push to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel.

read ... Lawyers Salivate

Federal agency wants $8 million returned

SA: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is expected to put the squeeze on the city to return about $8 million in disputed grant money after the Caldwell administration's announcement late Friday that negotiations with Wahiawa nonprofit ORI Anue­nue Hale have ended.

City Managing Director Ember Shinn told the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday that ORI has been unresponsive and that if the city ends up needing to return any money to HUD, it would conversely seek reimbursement from the nonprofit.

"If HUD is successful in an enforcement action, and it ends up being a judgment against the city, the city has the basis to go after (ORI) for the $8 million," Shinn said.

Attorneys for the embattled nonprofit and its founder, Susanna Cheung, disputed Shinn's accusation of noncooperation and said it was city officials who walked away from negotiations after ORI refused to agree to pay all money owed to the federal government.

read ... $8M

Police Release Names of Vandals Who Allegedly Smashed Door at Iolani Palace

HNN: The incident happened at around 8:10 a.m. Saturday.

According to the Honolulu Police Department, 21-year-old Drew Paahao and 30-year-old Koa Alii Keaulana, were arrested after they allegedly entered the historic site by kicking open a door, breaking the door and window....

FB Photo: Koa n Drew

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources lists the landmark as a State Monument. DLNR Chair William Aila told Hawaii News Now that the department is seriously considering filing a civil action against those responsible for the damage.

"We are devastated that one of our original etched glass doors has been destroyed," said Chu. "It is an irreparable loss of a treasure. We are working closely with HPD."

read ... Vandals cause 'irreparable' damage

More than 100 people express frustration over Niihau proposals

KGI: A slew of bills have been introduced this legislative session related to the island — proposals from establishing no-fishing zones and regulating the harvesting of opihi in nearshore coastal waters to making the privately owned piece of land a new, independent county from Kauai.

On Friday, Kauai community members came out in force at Wilcox Elementary School to make it clear that they feel they’re being left out of the discussions.

“This whole bill thing for Niihau just absolutely stinks,” said Don Moses, a 40-year Kauai fisherman.

The crowd of more than 100 was united in its stance.

“They are being rushed through without hearings, which seems very unfair,” Puanani Rogers added of the bills. “What is the rush? Is it because the Robinsons have an ulterior motive?”

Dan Ahuna, the Kauai and Niihau trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said he organized the “listening session” to make sure all Hawaiian beneficiaries are being heard on the matter....

In attendance Friday was Rep. Faye Hanohano, who introduced the House version of a bill that would have established a two-mile no-fishing zone around the island. That bill was ultimately deferred and Hanohano has since introduced a short form bill, SB 709, that would make appropriations to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to conduct public outreach meetings to adopt rules for statewide coastal management.

CB: Another Bill to Make Niihau a Separate County

read ... Frustration

Banning officers from drinking alcohol while carrying a loaded gun

KITV: Deputy Police Chief Dave Kajihiro said the Police Chief of Hawaii Association strongly opposes the bill, testifying that, "As the primary first responders in emergency situations, the safety of the public would be adversely affected with the reduced ability to activate personnel resource." ....

Undercover officers are exempt from the ban. The bill passed Friday's Senate hearing it will go before the judiciary committee next.

read ... Drunk and Loaded?

Pothead Losers Head for State Supreme Court

HTH: An appeals court has sided with a lower court’s ruling that the county’s voter-approved initiative making adult personal use of marijuana on private property the lowest law enforcement priority is unenforceable.

The ruling opinion issued Friday by the state Intermediate Court of Appeals affirms the Jan. 28, 2013, ruling by Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura, who dismissed a civil lawsuit against the numerous county officials, which alleged they failed to implement and enforce the initiative passed in 2008 by a vote of 35,689 to 25,940.

The suit was filed March 24, 2011, by a group of marijuana activists led by Michael Doyle Ruggles....

Ruggles said Saturday that he and the other plaintiffs, which include fellow activists Nancy Waite Harris, Kenneth V. Miyamoto-Slaughter, Wendy Tatum, Robert S. Murray, George Herman “Greywolf” Klare and Barbara Jean Lang, are “definitely gonna appeal it” to the state Supreme Court.

read ... Marijuana law appeal denied

Panel passes bill to Throw Tobacco smokers out of public housing

SA: Under the current draft of House Bill 2577, a tenant could be evicted following a single act of noncompliance, whereas the administrative rules set to be enacted by the housing agency would allow for three acts of noncompliance with eviction on the fourth.

(Ether way, the ousted tobacco smokers will make room to house crack heads.)

The authority plans to hold a public hearing on the proposed administrative rule change on Feb. 28 at its headquarters at 1002 N. School St. If the meeting goes smoothly, Ouan­safi said the rule could be implemented before July 1.

The Housing Committee voted to push the bill along in the legislative process, but several members noted reservations about whether the bill would interfere with the housing agency's rule-making procedure and how it would affect residents.

Rep. Richard Creagan (D, Naalehu-Captain Cook-Keauhou), a Hawaii island physician, said that even though he opposes smoking, he thinks a ban on smoking in public housing would negatively affect vulnerable residents.

"We have people who are addicted to smoking who are mentally ill who need to be housed," he told Ouan­safi.

read ... But Marijuana is OK

Senators Worry Marijuana Pipes are being used for Tobacco

SA: State legislators are looking for ways to regulate popular electronic smoking devices (which are used almost exclusively for smoking marijuana) by treating them like the product they were modeled after: (tobacco) cigarettes....

Green scheduled decision-making on the bill for Monday.

According to Senate Bill 2495, the nation's e-cigarette sales have doubled annually since 2008, with sales in 2013 projected to reach $1.7 billion. Additionally, the National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 1.8 million middle and high school students had tried these products in 2012, according to the bill.  (If only the e-cig marketers had marketed their product for MJ....lost opportunity!)

The Legislature last year passed a law to ban sales of electronic smoking devices to minors....

Sen. Rosalyn H. Baker (D, West Maui-South Maui), who introduced the bill and who is chairwoman of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, expressed caution regarding current studies.

"It's curious that the studies that you cite really remind me very much of what big tobacco said early on," she told Anderson, "because a lot of their products do have nicotine, and nicotine is clearly very addictive and is a gateway to other kinds of things."

read ... Comparison to tobacco not valid, e-cigarette proponents say

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