Say NO on SB 2521 ~ Do Not increase Food costs for Hawaii
BoE Reaffirms Commitment to Hawaiian Language and Culture
FDA: ‘Natural Supplements’ Industry Victimizes Korean Community with Hidden Chemicals
Hawaiian Electric Reports 2013 Earnings
Growing Inequality? Hawaii Ranks #8 in USA
Today at the Legislature
Abercrombie: Wilson Promises to be Activist Judge
SA: "I asked all of them how they saw themselves in terms of their role as a justice," Abercrombie said of the potential nominees at a news conference at the state Capitol. "Michael's instantaneous reply was, ‘The Supreme Court is our public conscience.'
"I agree fully. And I'm confident that in bringing this point of view to the Supreme Court, it provides a solid philosophical foundation as a point of departure in facing his duties on the court. The Constitution and our kuleana — responsibilities — to it will be in good hands with Michael David Wilson." ....
Wilson, whose parents and mentor, retired Associate Justice James Duffy Jr., attended the ceremony, said he was truly humbled by and grateful for the nomination. "I very much look forward to the opportunity to speak with the Senate from here on," he said.
State Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua), chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, said the committee is doing its initial research on Wilson in preparation for a confirmation hearing.
Hee said Wilson's background is a little different from other judges', citing his service in former Gov. Ben Cayetano's Cabinet and an unsuccessful run for Honolulu mayor....
"I'm sure people — if this one goes as others have — will begin to weigh in," he said. "I imagine most would be in support. But I'm not naive to think that we might get something in opposition."...
he was a leader in Hawaii's Thousand Friends, an environmental group, and helped with the fight to protect Sandy Beach from development. He ran for Honolulu mayor in 1992.
Wilson was appointed by Cayetano as director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. He served for four years but was not reappointed for a second term. Instead, Cayetano selected him as the state's consumer advocate.
read ... Opposition
Mile Wide, Inch Deep: Poll Shows that GMO Labeling is Backed by Know-Nothings
SA: Most people say they know a little about the subject, but they still want a law to be enacted....
Lauren Zirbel, executive director of the Hawaii Food Industry Association, has warned state lawmakers that a GMO labeling requirement would likely drive up Hawaii's already high food prices. Mainland and foreign manufacturers, if forced to label, may also choose not to ship products to Hawaii given the state's relatively small consumer market.
"We're just not going to get the national distributors and manufacturers to label specifically for the state of Hawaii," Zirbel said. "So in that way it will be almost impossible for us to follow through on that mandate."...
Support for GMO labeling was broad-based — 76 percent want the Legislature to take action.
"I think we have to acknowledge that much of the electorate is not very familiar with the issue," said Rebecca Ward, president of Ward Research Inc., which conducted the poll for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now. "And it's easy at this point to say, ‘Yes, we ought to have a law.' But there hasn't been much education about it."
read ... Mile Wide, Inch Deep
Organic Profiteer: Sen Ruderman Rakes in $1M/year Profits from 'Natural Foods' Store
CB: But this year’s financial disclosure statements show the real money is in the business world. Sen. Russell Ruderman made more than $1 million last year from Island Naturals Market, his organic food store on the Big Island.....
Rep. Jessica Wooley had pukas in her report too. She disclosed her income as a legislator and that her husband is an attorney for Earthjustice, but not how much money he makes in that position.
read ... Anti-GMO Hype Pays Megabucks
DLNR: Hanohano Blames Malihini for 'Genocide'
SA: The state Department of Land and Natural Resources on Tuesday complained about the behavior of state Rep. Faye Hanohano, portraying the representative as "abusive in authority, racially discriminatory and inappropriate" to the department's staff.
In a letter to state House Speaker Joseph Souki, William Aila Jr., the department's director, detailed several incidents in which Hanohano allegedly made disparaging comments toward department staff at committee hearings.
Hanohano, who is Native Hawaiian and the chairwoman of the House Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Committee, allegedly made remarks about how land was stolen from many Hawaiians, implied that a department staffer was responsible for genocide and complained about malihini (newcomers) making policy decisions....
He said members of the department staff have felt disrespected because they believe Hanohano was acting with "angry spirit and discriminatory intent."
read ... Hanohano Again
Mainland Homosexuals Spent $509,900 to Marry Hawaii
SA: Equality Hawaii, channeling resources from several gay rights and civil liberties organizations, directed more than $509,900 worth of lobbying to help pass a gay marriage law in a special session of the state Legislature last fall.
State lobbying disclosure reports filed with the state Ethics Commission show that Equality Hawaii spent more than $101,600 of the money on media advertising.
The reports covering lobbying from May through December were due at the end of January. Equality Hawaii asked for an extension to complete its report, which was filed Sunday....
The marriage equality campaign was financed primarily by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, which raised about $220,000, and Freedom to Marry, a New York-based gay rights advocacy group founded by attorney Evan Wolfson, which devoted more than $115,750.
The American Unity Fund, a Virginia-based advocacy group led by Margaret Hoover, a national Republican strategist, contributed about $62,500. The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group based in Washington, D.C., donated $54,800. The Gill Action Fund, a Colorado-based advocacy group founded by entrepreneur Tim Gill, gave $25,000.
Hawaii Family Advocates, a conservative group that opposes gay marriage, had also asked the Ethics Commission for an extension. The group, which is led by James Hochberg, an attorney, reported spending about $23,300 on lobbying.
The largest amount of spending by gay marriage opponents, according to the lobbying disclosure reports, was by the National Organization for Marriage, which spent more than $118,950, mainly on television advertisements.
read ... Imperialist Penetration
FBI Investigates Kauai Police Commissioner for Bookmaking
HNN: FBI agents searched 37-year-old Bradley Chiba's home in Lihue on Super Bowl Sunday on the suspicion he was booking illegal bets on football games....
Chiba could not be reached but according to a person familiar with the case, he remains on the Police Commission but will be excused from his duties.
He also faces an internal investigation by the state prison officials. Chiba works full time as manager of the prison system's Kauai Intake Service Center, which conducts pre-trial evaluations and assessments of crime suspects.
Chiba remains employed by the prison system but a receptions told Hawaii News Now that he is now on leave.
read ... Bookie Books em at KISC?
Feds Grab for Control of all West Hawaii Water Resources
Park officials took council Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability Committee members to the park’s northern fish pond, bounded by an 800-foot-long rock wall, to illustrate the balance between fresh and salt water along the coastline. Then officials asked for the council’s support of the park’s request to designate the Keauhou Aquifer, which provides the groundwater for the park and all of West Hawaii from Makalawena to Kealakekua, as a Water Management Area. That designation would require the consideration of any potential impacts new development would have on cultural resources and Native Hawaiian practices, such as those that are perpetuated at Kaloko-Honokohau.
The committee took no action Tuesday....All park officials needed from the council Tuesday was a measure of support for the designation process to continue.
“There’s nothing in the water code that says you have to wait for a crisis before designating,” National Park Service hydrologist Paula Cutillo said. “We are not saying there is not enough water for growth and to protect these resources.”
The designation does raise concerns for some Hawaii Island residents. Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi and Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter both expressed reservations about the designation. Onishi was particularly worried that the designation would negate water rights for projects that have not yet been developed, but do have other state and county approvals.
“The applicant needs to know for sure if they have the rights, if they are grandfathered in,” Onishi said.
Water Commission Resource Manager Roy Hardy said that depends. In some designated areas, projects with water rights were considered existing uses. But in the most recent area, in the Iao region of Maui, only projects actually drawing water were considered to be existing. Those projects with water entitlements that haven’t started construction would then have to reapply for water units, Hardy said.
Poindexter said she appreciated the National Park Service’s expertise and data, but wanted to be sure local knowledge wasn’t excluded when making water usage decisions.
The water commission has yet to decide whether to proceed with the petition for the management area. If it does, park service officials said, the commission will conduct formal fact-finding and hold a public hearing.
read ... Federal Control
Rail opponents give up fight after Two court decisions
KITV: In a 25-page decision, the Ninth Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco affirmed a lower court decision that the city adequately studied alternatives to rail.
Click here to read the full decision.
Rail opponents that included businessman Cliff Slater and former Gov. Ben Cayetano sued to stop the project, claiming the city did not adequately study potential alternatives to fixed rail, such as managed lanes or bus rapid transit.
In its ruling Tuesday, the appeals court also said the city "made a good faith and reasonable effort to identify known archeological sites along the proposed project route and developed an appropriate plan for dealing with such sites that may be discovered during construction."
Meanwhile, in a separate 14-page ruling, Judge A. Wallace Tashima said building a $960 million tunnel along Beretania Street would cause more harm to historical properties, such as the Oahu Rail and Land Company building on the cusp of Chinatown, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"It was not arbitrary and capricious for Defendants to have concluded that the Tunnel Alternative would use the OR&L parcel; therefore, the Tunnel Alternative is not a feasible and prudent avoidance alternative," wrote Tashima.
read ... Double-Header
Pacific Resource Partnership’s media campaign targets Kakaako
PBN: The pro-rail PRP recently launched a 60-second television commercial promoting the benefits of “Live, Work, Play Neighborhoods,” such as Kakaako.
The spot aims to help viewers visualize the opportunities “integrated communities,” which enable residents to take advantage of more affordable housing options and the benefit of living within walking distance of jobs, shops, restaurants and other amenities and services in their neighborhoods, PRP said.
“What’s more, by revitalizing urban areas we’re able to find a balance between permitted growth and the preservation of the natural environment, culture, local identity and quality of life,” PRP Executive Director John White said in a statement. “And when these revitalized areas are integrated, the benefits are tangible — less time spent commuting, more time with family and money saved in fuel, parking and household energy costs.”
Filmed in Kakaako, the TV spot features computer-generated images of ground-level city landscapes and cinematic portrayals of life in Honolulu.
read ... Kakaako
HHSC: $109M for Electronic transition of Health records
MN: Beginning March 1, Maui Memorial Medical Center will be transitioning from a paper-based records system to an electronic medical records system that officials say will improve patient care and safety and could even earn the hospital about $4 million in federal funds....
Lo did not have specific cost numbers for Maui Memorial's transition but said overall that the HHSC has a budget of $109 million for the fiscal years 2012 to 2016 to make the transition to electronic records for 12 of its facilities statewide, including Kula and Lanai Community hospitals.
East Hawaii facilities, Kona Community and Kohala hospitals, already have made the transition to electronic medical records, but with great difficulty, according to published reports. The HHSC had originally budgeted about $58 million over five years for the project, but after its experiences in East Hawaii, that figure eventually grew to more than $100 million.
Pat Saka, Maui Memorial chief administrative officer, said that the East Hawaii hospitals are using a different system than the one being installed at Maui Memorial and that those hospitals consumed only a portion of the $109 million budgeted.
Eventually, the entire HHSC system will be connected electronically. No date has been set for the conversion at Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital, Saka said.
read ... Electronic transition for records ‘massive’
Morita: Abercrombie Preparing to Dump me as PUC Chair
CB: Hermina Morita, who was tapped by Gov. Neil Abercrombie three years ago to lead the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, won’t be nominated for a second term, according to the senator who chairs the committee that oversees the commission.
Sen. Roz Baker, who heads the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, told Civil Beat Tuesday that she asked to meet with the governor after hearing reports that Morita wouldn't be reappointed, but he refused.
"He didn't give me the courtesy of a meeting," she said. "His staff came down and told me that Mina wouldn't be reappointed."...
Morita also says she likely won't be reappointed. "While I acknowledge the governor’s prerogative to appoint members of the commission, I am disappointed that I may not be considered for reappointment," she said in a text message to Civil Beat late Tuesday. "Since becoming the chair in March 2011, my mission has been to build a capable, knowledgable, fair and independent PUC to serve the public interest. Hawaii’s ratepayers and the utilities that the PUC regulates deserve no less."
...people involved in energy policy have said privately that the governor has been frustrated by the PUC’s slow pace in pushing forward his energy agenda. Some have also wondered whether Morita is qualified to tackle the increasingly complicated technical and financial issues associated with Hawaii’s energy policy.
Meanwhile, some of the PUC’s decisions have angered energy developers, some of whom are close to the governor.
The PUC twice rejected a contract from Aina Koa Pono to develop a biofuel plant in the Kau region of the Big Island, calling the price of the fuel too costly for Hawaii ratepayers.
William Kaneko, who chairs Abercrombie's re-election campaign, is a former lobbyist for Aina Koa Pono.
Baker said that she believes the PUC's rejection of the contract was a key reason in the governor's decision not to reappoint Morita.
read ... Not Willing to Squeeze Consumers Hard Enough
Kahuku Wind Project Faces Blowback
HPR: On the North Shore of Oahu, where sugar cane once grew, a different type of crop has sprouted up in recent years: wind turbines. 29% of Hawaii’s renewable energy now comes from wind power.
read ... Blowback
The Future Electric Utility Ratepayer
IM: Located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco is Marin County. Marin Residents can sign up for electricity from the local utility or the local CCA.
The CCA contracts with renewable energy companies up and down the West Coast to produce renewable electricity. Marin residents can sign up for CCA energy plans that provide 50% or 100% renewable energy. The electrons still flow on the utility grid and the utility is compensated for leasing their line.
One option for future Hawai’i ratepayers would be to sign up for plans that offer different amounts of renewable energy: 30%, 60% or 100%. Another option would be to sign up for Big Island plans that have 0% or 100% geothermal energy.
Thomas L. Friedman (Hot, Flat and Crowded) suggested a Plan called “Bargain Power-Nights and Weekends.” Customers could produce their own solar energy for use during the day, install small batteries for their evening needs and have their batteries recharged by the utilities at night and during the weekends. This would enable the utility to retire peak power generators and would allow customers to install less costly batteries.
Friedman suggested another Plan called “Day-Trading for Electrons.” The utility charges more for electricity at times when demand is the greatest and less for electricity when demand is lower. Smart devices in homes and businesses would be able to interface with the grid and to buy electricity when it is cheap.
NOTE: Most of this is predicated on intermittent supplies such as solar or wind which are neither clean, nor 'sustainable,' nor cheap.
read ... The Future Electric Utility Ratepayer
HB2116 Help Young Energetic Criminals Get Back out of Prison Even Quicker
CB: HB 2116, introduced by Representatives Karen Awana and John Mizuno, would eliminate life in prison without parole as a sentencing option for children. The bill appropriately reflects the notion that children are different from adults and that this difference should be acknowledged when holding them accountable, while ensuring public safety and fiscal responsibility.
This sensible proposal unanimously passed the House Human Services Committee and is currently awaiting a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
Specifically, HB 2116, would give guidance to judges to consider the unique characteristics of youth before sentencing a child who has been transferred to adult court. The bill would also allow individuals who were transferred and sentenced as children in adult court to file a petition for a sentencing review after they have served a minimum required term of no more than 20 years imprisonment if they express remorse for their crimes and demonstrate that they have been rehabilitated....
About the author: Jody Kent Lavy is director and national coordinator at the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, a national coalition and clearinghouse that coordinates, develops and supports efforts to implement fair and age-appropriate sentences for youth. She previously served as public policy coordinator at the ACLU National Prison Project and spent three years monitoring Los Angeles County jails for the ACLU of Southern California.
read ... Soft on Crime
Big Island Rally Remembers Murder Victims
WHT: About 40 people gathered Tuesday morning on the Hilo Bayfront, holding placards bearing names of individuals killed by domestic violence, and waving to passing motorists.
Among those at the sunrise march and vigil organized by county Prosecutor Mitch Roth’s office were four family members of Brittany-Jane Royal. Royal, a 25-year-old California woman, was strangled to death last May on a Kalapana lava flow by her 22-year-old boyfriend, Boaz David Johnson, according to police. Royal’s body was found tangled in fishing line.
read ... Remembering victims of domestic violence
California Mother of 6 Stole Dead Father's Disability Payments for 21 Years from Hawaii Government
HR: Lynsie Katherine Williams, 58, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered to repay the state of Hawaii $398,258 on Thursday, Feb. 13, after she admitted she stole her dead father’s disability payments for more than two decades.
read ... 21 Years
Federal Contractors Relieved at Metcalf Ruling
PBN: In 2002, the Kailua-Kona-based defense contractor, which won a $50 million contract to design and build 212 duplex housing units for the U.S. Navy at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Windward Oahu, allegedly was forced to spend more than $76 million over four years to finish the project.
Metcalf Construction sued to recover those costs, saying that the government’s action breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing.
In the ruling, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ultimately denied Metcalf Construction any recovery, and awarded damages of $2.4 million to the government on a counterclaim for project delays.
However, on appeal, Metcalf Construction, which was joined in support by the Associated General Contractors of America, Associated Builders and Contractors, The Design-Build Institute of America and the American Institute of Architects, won its case when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., reversed the previous decision.
The federal appeals court clarified legal principles "that are critical to the fair administration of contracts with the federal government," said Robert J. Symon, a partner with the law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings who represented Metcalf in the appeal. "The decision also alleviated the concerns of many others in the government contract and construction community who were very critical of the lower court’s ruling and its negative impact.”
read ... Metcalf Ruling