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NextEra Would be 'Major Player' in Hawaii Politics--But Will they Comply With One Party System?
SA: NextEra Energy Inc., the company looking to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries, has given thousands of dollars in political donations to the state’s top officials.
The Florida-based company gave campaign contributions to eventual Gov. David Ige and then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the 2014 gubernatorial election. The energy company contributed $9,000 to Abercrombie, according to data from the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission. NextEra Energy PAC and NextEra Energy Infrastructure contributed $6,000 and $3,000, respectively, to Hawaii’s then-governor in July 2014.
NextEra Energy Transmission contributed $1,000 to Ige’s campaign in September.
In the 2014 election cycle, NextEra Energy contributed $10,000 to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The data also show HEI contributed more than $20,000 to his campaign.
Reports filed with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission show HEI’s political action committee, HEI CEG, donated more than $20,000 in the 2012-2014 election cycle to state and local candidates, with $5,775 going to Ige.
The donations to Hawaii lawmakers are meager compared with the amount of money NextEra has contributed in other states. In Florida, where NextEra’s utility subsidiary Florida Power & Light is based, the company spent more than $7.5 million in the 2014 general election, according to data from Florida’s Division of Elections.
Florida Power & Light contributed approximately $1.1 million to Let’s Get to Work, Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s political action committee.
The Office of Public Counsel, the state organization that represents the people of Florida in utility-related matters, said NextEra is known for contributing significant amounts to local politicians.
“They are known in Florida for making quite a bit of political contributions to all the elected officials in Florida,” Public Counsel J.R. Kelly said. “They are a major player in the political arena — local and state and federal, too.”
NextEra’s recent campaign contributions in Hawaii are just a glimpse of what is to come, Kelly said.....
In 2013, NextEra Energy Transmission gave $500 to state Sen. Rosalyn Baker (D, South and West Maui), chairwoman of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. NextEra Energy Infrastructure contributed $3,000 to Abercrombie in 2012.
NextEra’s campaign contributions and history in Florida were a concern for some Hawaii lawmakers last session. The state House passed a nonbinding resolution, one of the first indications of some state lawmakers’ opinion of the company, accusing NextEra Energy of not acting in good faith as it seeks to buy HEI. The resolution, HCR 227, was adopted by the House on April 9. ...
read ... Comply
Can Sanity Win an Election in Puna?
SA: In an unusual confrontation between established island Democrats, two-term County Councilman Greggor Ilagan from Puna is running for the state Senate seat now held by Russell Ruderman, setting up a potentially fierce primary contest that would be a study in political contrasts.
Ilagan supports continued geothermal development on the Big Island as a source of alternative energy. He was also one of three County Council members to vote in 2013 against a ban on farming of new genetically modified crops on the island; Ilagan said he could find no scientific evidence that GMO crops are unsafe.
Those are hot-button issues in Puna and at the state level, and Ruderman has taken near-opposite positions on both. Ruderman is the operator of a chain of organic food stores on Hawaii island, and strongly supported the GMO ban. He opposes additional geothermal development on the island
read ... Sanity vs Insanity
Abercrombie's Justice Reinvestment Goes Nowhere
CB: JRI’s adoption represented Hawaii’s boldest foray into criminal justice reform, a movement that has taken hold nationwide in recent years with bipartisan support in the belief that an incarceration-based system has had enormous moral and financial costs.
More than three years later, JRI isn’t living up to its lofty expectations.
According to the Council of State Governments Justice Center, JRI was projected to help reduce the state’s inmate population by more than 900 by the end of fiscal year 2015 — and eventually lead to a reduction of 1,010 inmates by fiscal year 2018.
But, as of May 31, Hawaii’s inmate population stood at 5,998 — merely 62 fewer inmates than in June 2012....
read ... Justice
Newly hired instructors staying put longer here
SA: A growing number of beginning teachers in Hawaii public schools are staying on the job longer, past the critical five-year mark experts say most likely determines whether a teacher will stick with or part with the profession.
Of the 785 teachers hired in school year 2010-11, 60 percent were still employed last school year, marking the highest five-year retention rate in at least a decade, state Department of Education data show. (The data do not include public charter school teachers.)
The state says it employed 12,700 teachers across 255 schools last school year. The department hires anywhere from 800 to 1,200 new teachers a year.
Hawaii’s five-year teacher retention rate dipped to a low of 44 percent for the cohort of teachers hired in 2004-05 but otherwise had hovered near the national average of 50 percent over the past decade before seeing an uptick three years ago....
read ... Hired
Should children stay with their parents if they are homeless?
HNN: Children growing up on the street is unfortunately becoming a common sight across our island. An issue that has many wondering why these kids are allowed to live this way.
According to the Department of Health Services, being homeless does not equal child abuse and neglect. Unless a child is in someway harmed or in danger, the state believes it's in the child's best interest to stay with parents.
In our Homeless in Hawaii poll we asked folks on Oahu, "Should child protective services allow children to remain with families who choose to live without permanent shelter?" ... Only 35 percent of those surveyed feel that children should be taken away from their parents if they're unsheltered. Fifty-five percent said those families should be allowed to stay together. Ten percent didn't know....
At the age of three, one of Kimo Carvalho's first memories has to do with a scar that to this day is still on his thigh. "It happened at a crack dealing house with strangers I didn't know. I actually got burned by somebody who was cooking crystal meth and my mom wasn't around," said Carvalho....
After spending a year in foster care Carvalho ended up with his grandparents. They officially adopted him in the 6th grade. He has had very limited contact with his biological mother since then. "The whole adoption process was really the best situation for me," said Carvalho. "I remember just feeling this sense of relief that I was being taken care of," said Carvalho.
read ... Children?
After Bickering Over 75 Cents, Maui County Plans to Post List of Lobbyists Online
CB: A simple request from a citizen leads to a colorful exchange with a county attorney and, eventually, a change in policy....
read ... 75 cents
PBS Newshour: 'Ugly Moments' after Solar Contractor Tricks Oahu Consumer
MIKE TAIBBI: So we drive up and you have these lovely solar panels on your roof. How’s that working out for you?
CARLTON HO: It’s not! ...
...Ho was left paying his regular electric bill: about $150 a month. Plus another $240 a month in payments for the $23,000 solar panels he’d bought but couldn’t use.... ($390 = 260% of $150)
MIKE TAIBBI: There have been some ugly moments, frankly....
read ... Solar Scammers
NZ Geothermal Developer Ends Relationship with IDG, Maori Get only 6% Ownership
GH: Eastland Group now plans to invest a further $97m over the next five years to develop Eastland Generation’s assets, including the $100m Te Ahi O Maui project, which already stands to increase the size of Eastland Group by a quarter.
All resource consent appeals surrounding the project have now been resolved and consents are in place to build a 20MW geothermal plant 2.3km east of Kawerau.
After renegotiating with former project partner, Hawaii-based Innovations Development Group (IDG), EGL has now increased its stake in the project by an additional 14 percent.
“The Project Development Agreement for Te Ahi O Maui was renegotiated, and the end result was that Eastland Group owns 94 percent and the iwi landowners 6 percent”, Mr Todd said.
“We have not disclosed other terms associated with the renegotiation. Eastland Group has no ongoing commercial relationship with IDG but the separation was amicable.” ...
Although deciding not to progress with a possible $10m stake in a proposed geothermal plant in Hawaii, in partnership with IDG, the company would continue to explore geothermal possibilities on a case-by-case basis.
read ... The Gisborne Herald
HPD officer faces drug charges, released after posting bail
HNN: Ahn, a ten-year veteran of the force, was charged with nine drug counts, while Masunaga faces eleven drug charges. Each was released Saturday after posting $40,000 bail.
This was the second time Ahn has been arrested in as many months....
Ahn had his police powers restricted after the July arrest....
read ... 2nd Time
Soft on Crime: 116 Priors, Now Wanted for Number 117
KHON: Honolulu police are on the search for a woman who has 116 prior convictions, and is now wanted on a warrant.
HPD is searching for Sheala Papas, also known as Stephanie Trumble.
“On February 1, 2013, at about 2:15 p.m., a female was observed by loss prevention at Macy’s Downtown carrying in two large bags,”
read ... 117th Time
Homeless Criminals Overrun Nimitz Businesses
KHON: Because of the situation, business has been hurting, but the Tactical Air Gun Games owner Lance Nonaka said he’s tried everything to fix the issue without much success.
“There’s been fights,” Nonaka said. “Our players have been threatened, they throw rocks at our players.”
The homeless encampment has always been an issue for Nonaka, but in February, he noticed something new — a structure with windows.
“We told him to vacate. He didn’t. We noticed it. Now, he’s got a roof.” (Now you know where your missing building supplies went.)
KHON2 noticed more than just this structure. There are dozens of tents, and on the other side of the property are more structures. Some of the homeless have built rafts to take them across the stream. (And to strip boats at Keehi.)
Nonaka said “they’ll toss their trash here, they’ll use our Porta Potty. We pay for all of that. When we secure it, they’ll use our staging area as a toilet.
“We’ve talked to DLNR (Dept. of Land and Natural Resources), who we lease from. They’ve referred us to HPD, who will refer us to the Sheriff’s department. Then they’ll refer us back to DLNR.” ...
Tactical Air Gun Games isn’t the only business in the area affected by the homeless encampment. An employee at a kitchen and bath remodeling service close by said they’ve had power tools and materials stolen from their property in the past.
read ... Predators, not Victims
Primary fishing grounds for bigeye tuna close early
WHT: Earlier this month, the National Marine Fisheries Service closed the Western and Central Pacific Ocean zone to Hawaii longline boats after the zone’s yearly quota of 3,502 metric tons of bigeye was met far earlier than expected.
And on Wednesday, the Eastern Pacific Ocean zone, which has a much smaller quota of 500 metric tons, was closed to vessels greater than 24 meters in length.
The Eastern Pacific closure means that about 20 percent of Hawaii’s longline fleet is no longer able to fish for bigeye, said Eric Kingma, international fisheries coordinator for the Western Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Closures happened in 2009 and 2010, he said, but not this early in the year.
“We really don’t know what that impact will be, because it’s never happened like this before,” said Charles Umamoto, chairman and CEO of wholesale distributor Hilo Fish Company.
read ... Closed
Council Continues to Harass Bird Owners
SA: Noise levels would determine whether a bird owner in a residential zone should be penalized for creating a public nuisance under a new proposal being offered by City Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga.
The proposed change to Bill 51 does not limit the number of birds that would be allowed in each household, nor would it require aviary enclosures to be a certain distance from a neighbor’s property, two provisions opposed by bird enthusiasts.
read ... Cheep
Chronic kidney disease takes heavy toll in Hawaii
SA: An expert says Hawaii is in a “public health crisis,”with Hawaiians among those most at risk....
read ... Chronic