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Tuesday, September 01, 2015
September 1, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:25 PM :: 4808 Views

VIDEO: Suit Gives Voice to the Silent Majority of Hawaiians

Full Text: NextEra Makes its Case for Merger

Auditor: Hawaii Health Connector Sent $21.6M to a House in Virginia

Hawaii Community Colleges Ranked

Auto Theft, Fuel Cost, and Commute Time Make Hawaii one of Worst States for Drivers

Eight Legislators to Face Criminal Charges--Rep Tokioka agrees to plea deal

KGI: The case was unique, in that it was the first time a state attorney general has prosecuted a lawmaker for improperly filing a campaign finance report.

Now that the investigation of Tokioka is over and the plea deal has been officially reached, the attorney general’s office publicly acknowledged for the first time on Monday that it had in fact asked the lawmaker to take a lie detector test, as first reported by The Garden Island. The lie detector was in relation to an aspect of the investigation that the attorney general’s office did not ultimately pursue, and Takata said the detector “detected no deception” from Tokioka.

The Garden Island also previously reported that the attorney general’s office asked at least four other lawmakers to take a lie detector test, but that those other lawmakers declined the request. The attorney general’s office declined to comment, and said that it could not say whether there are other ongoing investigations.

But according to Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao, there were eight cases, including Tokioka’s, that were referred over to the attorney general’s office for criminal investigation that stem from campaign finance issues in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

A source who has knowledge of the Tokioka case said the Kauai lawmaker was used as an example so prosecutors could set a precedent for future prosecutions....

read ... Campaign Spending

Renewable? 100% Does not Really Mean 100%

Borreca: ...Newsweek captured the misinformation best as it gushed, “Hawaii’s utilities must generate 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.”

That is not accurate; what Hawaii must do is comply with a new state law that says the “renewable portfolio standard shall be 100 percent on Dec. 31, 2045.”

The renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is a formula, which, if you must know, is: (Utility renewable energy + rooftop solar)/net sales = RPS.

Net sales are defined as gross demand minus rooftop solar.

Henry Curtis, Life of the Land executive director and long-time local energy observer, said the new law “is being marketed as something that it does not do.

“Oil, coal and natural gas can still be used to generate electricity in 2046 and beyond.”

Yes, even though coal, oil and gas are not renewable, they will still be in use in Hawaii in 2045 even if Hawaii makes it to 100 percent....

“The RPS percentage is a fraction, with the numerator equal to the amount of renewable generation on the system and the denominator equal to utility sales. One thing that is not clearly understood is that the numerator and denominator are not defined in the same terms. The numerator is generation. The denominator is sales,” explained Carl Freedman, Regulatory Reform Working Group Chair of the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum.

It all seems complex to the extreme, but the result, as Curtis explained, is that a renewable standard does not mean renewable energy.

“An RPS of 100 percent occurs when the kilowatt- hours of rooftop solar generated equals the kilowatt- hours of fossil fuel derived electricity sold by the utility.

“Ironically, the more rooftop solar produced, the higher the amounts of fossil fuel-derived electricity that can be sold by the utility,” Curtis said in an interview.

State Rep. Chris Lee, the Kailua Democrat who chairs the House Energy Committee and helped write the new energy law, said it is still working well....

R: With help, small island states ditch diesel for cheaper, cleaner energy

read ... Sometimes in Hawaii we do math differently

Anti-Cane Burning Activists: We are Planning A&B's Future

MN: ...A&B has reported in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings and elsewhere that legal or other restrictions to sugar operations will not affect its bottom line. It ranked No. 5 in this year's Hawaii Business Top 250 companies, with a whopping $61.4 million net profit. That's up from No. 17 last year. (Translation: Our lawsuit helps A&B exit this business.)

The Maui News has confused who is responsible for the future welfare of A&B workers and erroneously placed its interests into conflict with the rest of the community. Worker health is a subset of our entire community's health. The Maui News should instead be asking this question: What is A&B's long-term plan for its 750 workers? (Translation: Our lawsuit helps A&B unload those workers at minimal cost.)

While The Maui News is doing some investigative reporting, it might want to ask: What are A&B's long-term plans for the 32,000 acres currently in sugar cane? (Translation: Our lawsuit allows A&B to start profiting from this Hawaii real estate.)

These questions need answering since it seems like anything that happens in this world is always the next reason why A&B will consider shutting down its sugar operations. A responsible corporation makes contingency plans to take care of its workers. When A&B's plans are known, the county and state can then minimize any disruption caused by A&B's business plans in a thoughtful and proactive manner....  (Translation: We are working for A&B by suing them.)

Background: How A&B Wins Big From Environmental Litigation

read ... Stop Cane Burning, Start Planting Condos

Takai Plan: Loot Highway Funds to pay for Rail

HNN: U.S. Rep. Mark Takai, living up to his name, said on Monday the state needs to spend money faster or risk missing out on new appropriations from Congress. (Translation: I can't do the job.)

"If we're going to bring in more federal funds to help with highway projects, we cannot show our colleagues on the mainland that we have all of this surplus money," said Takai.

The state had $940 million worth of unused federal highway aid back in 2011. A spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said the project backlog is now down to $621 million, but Takai is still concerned. In a letter to Acting Federal Highways Administrator Gregory Nadaeu, Takai requested that the FHA grant the State of Hawaii the authority to use federal Highway Trust Fund dollars to make the required improvements to Kamehameha Highway in Aiea/Pearl City and Farrington Highway in Waipahu as now required because of the construction of the rail project.... 

The move would help the cash-strapped rail project since the city wouldn't have to take care of the work through the HART budget.

SA: Highway cash can aid city’s rail, says politician

read ... 'Expensive' Rail Ripoff

Millionaire Eco-Hypocrite to Co-opt Public Land on Diamond Head?

CB: ...Hawaii officials told Angus Mitchell to remove public land encroachments more than two years ago or face daily fines. But his lawyer is seeking after-the-fact approvals....

“It’s not in anybody’s interest to make their own decisions on how to use our conservation lands. That’s what the Land Board is for.”

(Suggestion: Build a homeless tent city there.)

read ... Hypocrite

DoE 1,100 Homeless Families Send Kids to Schools

KHON: ...So far this year, more than 1,100 families, many with multiple children, say they have no place to call home, and the number is growing.

“By the end of the year, usually it is about 2,000-3,000,” said Cheryl Saito, homeless concerns liaison with the Hawaii Department of Education.

Those thousands of families, representing many more thousands of children, are just the ones taking the time to fill out the form and get to school....

read ... 1,100 Families

UH Admin Racks up $18M in Deferred Maintenance to Justify Awarding $50M to Contractor

SA: ...The proposal — to use bond financing for a $50 million design-build contract to put up the building — makes good fiscal sense in any long-term strategy. Funding a replacement for a building that, unfortunately, has not had sufficient upkeep and rehabilitation for its entire history represents the better of two bad options.

Yes, it’s difficult to justify saddling the university with more debt, particularly with its track record of poor oversight and cost overruns in its capital improvements program.

But at least with the proposed design-build contract — with a single contractor and its subcontractors handling the entire project — there is clearly the potential for better coordination and the prospect of fewer mistakes. Some elements of construction, such as site preparation, could begin more promptly, without waiting for a separate building contract to be set.

And it should prevent the throwing-good-money-after-bad syndrome afflicting UH and other state facilities with a lot of deferred maintenance.

The cost of replacing the building would be offset because repairs — many of which likely will do little more than postpone the need for replacement — can be avoided. These are items on the to-do list with an estimated cost topping $18 million. And the building’s design should incorporate the many technological improvements enabling better efficiency with utilities, potentially saving much more in operational expenses....

read ... How its done

DoTax to Hire Private Bill Collector to Chase down Tax Debtors

SA: ..."We want to be aggressive with this, and we realize there are a lot of old amounts out there," she said. "Quite frankly, we're so short-handed in collection that it's a matter of resources, of course."

The contract will be structured so that the collection agency receives a share of any amount it manages to collect, she said. The collection agency contract would supplement the efforts of about three dozen state employees in the tax department's collections section.

This won't be the first time the state has turned to a private collection agency, a tactic used in many other states.

Years ago the Department of Taxation used private collectors to pursue smaller accounts, while collectors employed by the state focused on the larger accounts.

That approach was judged by the department to be relatively ineffective, Zielinski said, possibly because the collection agency had little incentive to invest time and resources in chasing down debtors who owed relatively small amounts to the state.

Another problem was that the private collectors required far more assistance and interaction with state employees than had been anticipated to gather information related to the accounts, Zielinski said. That meant that state employees were required to invest more time and effort than expected in working with the collection agency....

read ... DoTax

Bills would extend help to businesses coping with rail construction

KITV: ..."We had no idea it was going to affect us like this,” Linda Matsuo, owner of Shiro’s Saimin Haven in Aiea, told KITV4. “If I knew ahead of time I would've been picketing the city,” she added with a chuckle. “I would've joined a revolution to stop this."

The situation isn’t much better in Waipahu where Steven Wong opened Honolulu Kitchen in April. Despite strong word of mouth about Wong’s deep-fried Manapua, sales dropped soon after rail construction ramped up.

"My business dropped maybe like 20 to 25 percent,” said Wong. “Fortunately, you know recently, they've been opening up the cones for us again, and I noticed maybe a drop of 15 (percent)."

Although the Shop and Dine on the Line program announced last week by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has helped some businesses drum up sales, many say it’s still not enough. Now, two lawmakers have stepped in by authoring bills that could help businesses stay afloat as rail construction continues through Farrington and Kamehameha highways.

A bill introduced by state Rep. John Mizuno would create a fund for small businesses with 25 or fewer employees whose sales are off by 25 percent or more. The most a business could receive under Mizuno's proposal is $25,000, or 60 percent of annual business loses, whichever is lower.

Meanwhile, another bill introduced by City Councilmember Carol Fukunaga, Bill 67, would cut in half property taxes for affected business owners. Although Mizuno’s bill won’t be heard until January at the earliest, Fukunaga’s measure faces first reading this Wednesday before the full council.

read ... Bills would extend help to businesses coping with rail construction

Christians Help Kakaako Homeless into Apartments

HNN: Melelani Corwin and her boyfriend, Benji Item, lived in their orange tent on Ilalo street for a year and a half. Monday they left Kakaako.

"We're getting an apartment today, thanks to this church, thanks to this pastor.  We've been blessed," Corwin said. The couple will move into a group home in Waianae....

Corwin and Item are from Monterey, California. They've been homeless the entire time they've lived here. 

"The landlords allow homeless people to come until they get on their feet," said Thomas Couch of House of Angels Ministry....

Cleanup crews from Waikiki Health Center told Hawaii News Now they're finding discarded needles, syringes and human waste around the Kakaako camp....

read ... Some homeless leaving Kakaako

Maui County Council Hides Minutes from OIP

MN: State and county lawyers are facing off in a legal rumble over whether the Maui County Council can keep secret minutes from a closed-door Aug. 14, 2013, strategy discussion regarding an investigation of the old Wailuku Post Office demolition.

Both the state Office of Information Practices and the county Department of the Corporation Counsel are asking 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill to issue summary judgments in their favor. The OIP wants the county ordered to release unredacted executive session minutes to allow its staff to determine in camera, or in private, whether the county can claim attorney-client privilege to keep the undisclosed minutes under wraps.

The county opposes that, arguing that the OIP has no legal authority to do so and that the state agency has provided no assurances that privileged material would be kept confidential....

MN: Keeping the doors closed

read ... Secrets

$173M Proposal to Wall off Ala Wai Canal

CB: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accepting comments until Oct. 7 on a $173 million plan for construction of concrete canal walls, pump stations and floodwater repositories along streams in Manoa, Palolo and Makiki....

The recommended concrete wall along the canal would be up to 4 feet high for 1.7 miles along one bank and 0.9 miles along the other bank.

CB: Flood Mitigation Plan for Ala Wai Canal Deserves Attention

read ... $173M

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