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Tuesday, February 18, 2014
February 18, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:31 PM :: 3247 Views

9th Circuit Court: Honolulu Rail Project On Track

KOS: Ward Poll Shows Aiona is Winning on His own Popularity

Abercrombie Names former BLNR Chair Wilson to Supreme Court

Survey: UH Manoa Offers 13th Best Return on Investment in US West

Hawaii Among 10 Least Expensive Insurance Markets

Ethics Comm. to Discuss 8 Bills Before Legislature

OHA and Kakaako Makai

UH Med school leads nation in funding

Today at the Legislature

Rail: Effect of Ansaldo Restructuring 'Remains to be seen'

SA: How such a restructuring would affect the 20-mile elevated rail transit system — whose first stretch is now being built in West Oahu — remains to be seen.

"Any purchase or restructuring of Ansaldo Hono­lulu's partners should not create any additional delay," Enrico Fontana, project manager for Ansaldo Hono­lulu, said in an email Monday. "Ultimately, Ansaldo Hono­lulu JV is contracted and responsible for the core systems for the Hono­lulu rail transit project. Our excellent work product here in Hono­lulu is probably one of the reasons fueling buyer interest."

Asked about potential impacts, Hono­lulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director Dan Grabauskas said in a statement, "There has been speculation of a sale or restructuring for a couple of years and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."

Finmeccanica SpA in recent years has endured legal woes, credit downgrades and $3.2 billion in losses in 2011 — including the nearly $1 billion AnsaldoBreda loss that year.

The defense and aerospace firm's troubles prompted the board overseeing Oahu's rail project to request last year that AnsaldoBreda and Ansaldo STS travel to Hono­lulu and assure in person that their firms could do the job.

During that meeting, in March, executives of the two firms told HART officials that Finmeccanica had rebounded from the 2011 losses and that the city had several layers of protection to ensure its train system is completed. Those include a bond from Chartis, an insurance firm, and a legal obligation by Finmeccanica, they said.

Background: Bad Company: Honolulu Rail Car Supplier Ansaldo Breda May be Sold, Liquidated

read ... Shuffling of firms building isle rail possible

Democrat: Aiona's Popularity Shows Need for Cleansing of Voter File

NJ: ...Schatz's campaign and other Democrats disputed the poll, which showed Hanabusa ahead, 48 percent to 40 percent. For the primary matchups, Democrats aligned with Schatz's campaign pointed out that 82 percent of all the registered voters surveyed participated in that question, even though far fewer than 82 percent of eligible registered voters are likely to cast ballots in the primary.

Even though Schatz is the incumbent, including unlikely voters would benefit Hanabusa, they argued. As a twice-elected representative for half the state's residents, Hanabusa has higher name identification than Schatz. As a result, lower-information voters -- whom the Schatz camp says are unlikely to vote but are being surveyed in the Star-Advertiser poll -- would be more likely to support Hanabusa.

The Schatz campaign did provide some support for their theory: They released a month-old internal poll showing Schatz with a slim, four-point lead over Hanabusa. But, like the Star-Advertiser poll, they found Hanabusa with more name-ID, and Schatz did markedly better among voters who were familiar with both candidates.

In the gubernatorial race, Democrats feel that the poll, which shows Abercrombie trailing former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the man he clobbered four years ago, by eight points, is equally flawed. But even internal polling is no easy task in Hawaii: In addition to the mix of ethnicities that make up the electorate, the state and other outside groups have done little work to maintain records of voters there that can be mined for information about vote frequency and other characteristics that help pollsters determine whom to call.

"The voter file is terrible. It's in terrible shape," said one Democratic pollster with experience in Hawaii. "Nobody's really spent the money to make it good. So that's a problem."....

read ... Terrible Shape

Cayetano: A lot of Angry Voters out There

Borreca: Roll call: Gov. Gill? Gov. Fasi? Gov. Anderson? Gov. Heftel? Gov. Saiki?

Not there, are they, although the early statewide polls all had Tom Gill, Frank Fasi, D.G. "Andy" Anderson, Cec Heftel and Pat Saiki beating the incumbent governor or heir-apparent lieutenant governor.

That is all the warning you need when reading the first polls of a political year.

Early in an election year, incumbent Democratic governors in Hawaii are just a lightning rod for heat and controversy.

Former Gov. John Burns had alarming friends, former Gov. George Ariyoshi headed a remorseless political machine, Lt. Gov. John Waihee had no money and Gov. Ben Cayetano owed everything to the public employee unions that drove us into a recession.

At the end of the election, however, those alarming friends, machine-voting Democrats, unpaid true-believers and voting public employees put the incumbents and Waihee into office after polls predicted defeat....

Cayetano thinks Abercrombie could be in more trouble than the poll predicts.  "The big difference in the 2014 election is the Democrats have a choice in the primary: Abercrombie or Ige. Frank Fasi once told me that ‘it's the people who are angry who remember when they vote. …'" Cayetano said. "As the recent poll revealed, there is a significant anti-Abercrombie vote. A lot angry voters out there."

read ... A lot of Angry Voters

Preschool, GMOs, Kakaako, and Homelessness: More Poll Results

Friday Deadline for Kauai County to Respond to Suit against Anti-GMO Law

KGI: “The office consulted with the Office of Disciplinary Council for guidance on whether it was appropriate for them to defend the new law,” Tokioka wrote in an email. “After consultation, the County Attorney’s Office determined that it was ethically advisable to disqualify itself and declare a conflict.”

After a county review committee rejected the only offer it received for pro-bono representation from former Kauai Bar Association President Teresa Tico and Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law President Peter Schey, county officials said they would select special counsel from a list of 17 pre-qualified legal firms.

The prescribed date for the county to respond to the lawsuit was Friday, but as of press time, no selection was known to be made.

Reality: Hooser: It doesn't matter if Kauai GMO Law is never Enforced--All That Mattered was Getting it Passed

read ... Default Judgment Acceptable

Anti-GMO Activists Still Talking about Ousting Kauai Mayor

KGI: Honolulu-based lawyer Richard Wilson said he is prepared to file a complaint on the matter because he alleges Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. violated the statute during an audit investigation two years ago.

“I would suspect, at some point in time, it’s going to go to the courts,” he said.

The statue deals with public officials who willfully refuse to answer a court, judge, board or officer’s questions regarding the government, property or affairs of the state or any other political subdivision.

Carvalho invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a 2012 interview regarding a county gas card audit investigation, according to county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka.

Statute 78-9 calls for officials to vacate office, if they refuse to testify or answer questions on the government’s affairs.

But Carvalho’s attorney, Eric Seitz, said the statute gives the mayor a right to invoke the Fifth.

Even so, he called the statue an outdated relic straight out of the McCarthy era that unconstitutionally opens the door to public witch hunts, which is how he classified Wilson’s claim.

“That’s the genesis, that’s the basis of these,” he said of the statute. “To be used as weapons to go after people when they don’t have any legit grounds for doing so.”

Background: Anti-GMO Activists Claim Kauai Mayor’s Office has been Legally Vacant since 2010

read ... But they don't have a candidate, LOL!

Hawaiian Immersion Schools Flood DOE Lawn to Rally for Policy Changes

CB: ... rallying in support of changes to school board policies on Hawaiian education. ...  The sweeping amendments to policies 4000, 2104 and 2105, which are available online and pertain to a wide range of programs, are slated for discussion and adoption later today. They aim to better accommodate the learning needs and goals of students in Hawaiian immersion schools as well as strengthen general Hawaiian education programs in all public schools.

read ... Hawaiian Immersion Schools

Fired Honolulu Police Officer’s File Destroyed Before Discharge Revealed

CB: One officer, Christopher Caswell, failed a drug test while another, Ethan Ferguson, falsified records and lied to investigators about transporting a female runaway, who was underage....

After viewing the Honolulu Police department summary filed with the Legislature in December, Civil Beat requested the disciplinary files of Caswell and Ferguson.

... HPD Spokeswoman Michelle Yu said her agency has already destroyed Ferguson’s file because of the records retention schedule. Caswell’s file was still available for $15 in fees and the department is processing Civil Beat's request.

Brian Black, executive director for the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, hopes new legislation will help address the issues related to HPD’s record retention schedule.

Black highlighted the destruction of Ferguson’s file in his recent testimony in support of Senate Bill 2591, which is related to the annual misconduct reports.

read ... Destroyed

Political Radar: Arguments for Public Funding not Square with Record

PR: The state House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill last week that would create a public-financing program for state House candidates. The bill is scheduled before the House Finance Committee on Wednesday....

Advocates' depiction of big special interest money -- a "tsunami of cash" -- propping up entrenched House incumbents does not square with the record.

Researchers at the state Campaign Spending Commission have found that the average cost to win a House race has not changed much since 1994. In the 2012 elections, winning House candidates spent an average $36,468, compared to $33,051 in 1994.

What about turnover?

Twenty five of the 51 House lawmakers from the 2008 session have left the chamber for one reason or another, a 49 percent turnover in five years.

read ... Political Radar

HB2590 Same Day Voter Registration Chaos

CB: House Bill 2590, introduced by Rep. Kaniela Ing, would allow... voter registration on election day...

The Office of Elections, Common Cause Hawaii and the League of Women Voters of Hawaii support HB 2590.... county clerks on Oahu, Hawaii and Kauai expressed concerns about the legislation’s impact on operations.

HB 2590 has a hearing Wednesday.

read ... Election Chaos

Hee: Only Police Should Have Drones

HNN: Unmanned aircraft systems, commonly called drones, are becoming an increasingly common site in Hawaii skies. But if Senate Bill 2608 becomes law many drones will be grounded.

"This bill is intended to provide a tool for law enforcement and for data gathering, primarily for law enforcement. It's not intended to be a drone in every garage," Sen. Clayton Hee said.

Hee introduced the measure that restricts drone use primarily to law enforcement. It is being challenged by those who believe the legislation is too restrictive.

"Our biggest concern is it appears to prohibit all use of unmanned aerial aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles with the exception of police use with a warrant," said Mark Fox, The Nature Conservancy's director of external affairs.

He said the Conservancy could use drones to track invasive plants that attack forests.  Drone retailer Travis Ryan said the bill would prohibit young people from flying drones.

"They can pick up a drone, fly it on the their iPhone. Technically, that is a drone. It says it right on the box. Does this bill basically eliminate kids from playing with their toys in their backyard?" he said....

The drone bill will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Room 016 at the State Capitol..

read ... Senate bill restricts drone use

Council revisits ethics proposal

WHT: Kenoi has proposed four changes, some of them modeled after the City and County of Honolulu’s code. The changes, aimed at stopping the most blatant appearances of conflicts of interest, forbid employees from contracting with county government or lobbying boards and commissions on behalf of private businesses.

The most significant proposal is a ban on companies holding contracts with county government where county employees, their spouses or dependent children have a controlling interest.

“People can choose to be either an employee of the county or a vendor of the county, but not both,” Kenoi has repeatedly said.

read ... Council revisits ethics proposal

Lockheed Martin Builds $475K Tech System for Governor's Office

CB: Hawaii’s Office of Information Management and Technology has paid Lockheed Martin a total of $474,544 over the last year and a half to implement its Intranet Quorum system, which includes software licensing and staff training, according to the state procurement office.

Even though the public is paying for the system, which is expected to be expanded to other state departments in the coming months, it’s strictly for internal government use, said Sonny Bhagowalia, who until last week led the technology office....

The Intranet Quorum system is supposed to help government employees manage this information much more efficiently and effectively. The software allows staff to log and electronically scan letters and emails that can be tracked daily, easily search a database of communications and generate customized correspondence reports.

The governor’s office is also using a new bill tracking system this year.

The Legislature maintains its own website that does pretty much the same thing. But Lockheed Martin’s Legmon system is supposed to help the governor’s office keep better tabs on state officials' testimony on bills and the progress of legislation.

“By using Legmon the governor’s office can achieve a holistic view of testimony across the executive branch allowing them to conduct the appropriate correlations, reviews and edits prior to final submission of the publicly available testimony," according information provided by the technology office.

read ... Lockheed Martin, Natch 

Open Data Institute Signs Up Hawaii Affiliate

ODI: Burt Lum, ODI Hawaii, and Executive Director at Hawaii Open Data, said: “Open data policy in Hawaii accomplished major strides in 2013, including the passage of two bills through state and city government. Like the internet itself, open data is a platform on which to build applications, drive innovation and foster civic engagement. Our establishment as an ODI regional Node is quite an honor and marks the next phase in the development of easily accessible, machine readable data with integrity.”

read ... ODI

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