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Thursday, December 03, 2015
December 3, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:01 PM :: 4222 Views

Open Letter to OHA: Defund Nai Aupuni

Full Text: US Supreme Court Affirms Injunction Against Nai Aupuni

Full Text: Hawaii Supreme Court Invalidates Telescope Building Permit

The Nai Aupuni Ship is Sinking

Hawaii Hotels Will Collect $271M in “Resort Fees” This Year

Politicians and pals of convicted criminal Al Hee push judge for lenience

SA:  Friends, family members, employees, well-known political figures and business executives have submitted letters totaling 200 pages to U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway urging her to go easy on Honolulu telecommunications executive Al Hee as he faces several years in prison for tax fraud.

Included in the outpouring of support for Hee are letters from former Public Utilities Commission Chairwoman Mina Morita, former Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice James Duffy, state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, former state Rep. Heather Giugni, communications strategist Barbara Tanabe and Bill Kaneko, an attorney and campaign manager for former Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Attorneys for Hee had sought to keep the letters private, filing them as part of a confidential sentencing report. But during a Monday hearing, Mollway ordered attorney Michael Purpura to publicly release them….

PDF: Letters of Support for Al Hee

Many of the letters describe how the writer personally benefited from the money Hee was stealing from Native Hawaiians.  Most writers are Hawaiian ‘haves’ who believe that Hee should be allowed to continue stealing from Hawaiian ‘have nots’ and who are grateful for the ways in which they benefited personally from Hee’s criminal acts.   

Highlights:

  • Heather Giugni p9
  • Robin Danner p 51
  • Pelatron CEO Thomas McClellan p 61
  • Sen Brickwood Galuteria p 64
  • Hermina Morita p 94
  • James Duffy p96
  • Bill Kaneko p129
  • Rockne Freitas p157
  • Rev David Geirlach p159
  • Leiopua p166
  • Janeen Olds p175
  • Gil Tam p185
  • Barbara Tanabe p188

SA: Please Ignore the Pleas for Hee at Dec 15 Sentencing

Flashback: Kakaako: How to Buy Hawaii State Senators--Legally

read … Political Connections Pay Off

Only 4,500 Sign up for Coverage as Obamacare deadline looms

SA: …With only two weeks left to sign up, fewer than 4,500 of the nearly 40,000 Hawaii residents covered under the Affordable Care Act have re-enrolled.

The Centers for Medicare &Medicaid Services, the U.S. agency in charge of Obamacare, said Wednesday that 4,450 people in Hawaii signed up for coverage during the first month of open enrollment in November….

There is also a tax penalty Hawaii residents could face if they do not have health insurance in 2016. The penalty, which is added to one’s federal income tax, is $695 per adult, $347.50 per child under 18 years old (with a maximum of $2,085) or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater.

Connector Executive Director Jeff Kissel, who is leaving the post Friday, warned earlier this month that at least 30,000 local residents were at risk of losing coverage at year’s end due to significant wait times in signing up on the federal exchange.

Ai said, “One of the purposes of health care reform was to try to get people insured so they don’t have to resort to emergency care, which would pretty much be their only option if they’re uninsured and cannot pay the bills. Having this gap … would kind of send us back to where we were before.”

Gov. David Ige’s administration decided to abandon the troubled Connector, which has struggled to meet enrollment targets since its launch in October 2013. The nonprofit spent $130 million of $204 million in federal money granted to the state to build the exchange….

Related: Hawaii Health Connector Sold only 8,802 Individual Obamacare Policies—Total

read … Nobody Wants Obamacare

Nextera hearings: Customers to fund $30B ‘green’ goal

SA: NextEra Energy Hawaii President and CEO Eric Gleason said Wednesday a portion of the estimated $30 billion it will cost Hawaii to reach its goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045 will be paid by ratepayers.

Gleason made the comment in response to a question on the third day of a scheduled 12 days of Public Utilities Commission hearings into NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries.

Gleason said that all costs related to getting to 100 percent renewable would come from ratepayers except projects done by individuals.

“If there is a customer that does their own project … that is separate,” Gleason said. “Not all of the $30 billion would be spent by the utilities and therefore recoverable in commission-approved utility rates.”

Also Wednesday, PUC Chairman Randy Iwase rejected a request to release to the public emails sent between Hawaiian Electric executives about the NextEra deal….

73% ‘No’ – Approve NextEra Merger?

read … Pay Up

Solar Contractors Fighting to Keep Electric Rates High

CB: The Alliance for Solar Choice has become one of the louder voices in Hawaii in recent months, in particular as a leading critic of the proposed merger between NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Industries.

TASC recently released a public opinion poll that purported, among other things, to show that people in Hawaii are opposed to the merger and that Gov. David Ige and the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission nosedived in the approval ratings when they came out against net metering, a program that allowed those with solar energy systems to get super cheap electric rates compared to those without solar.

But political experts questioned the poll as strongly biased, especially because of the way the questions were worded.

TASC, which recently sued the PUC for its decision to end net metering. is funded by big solar companies — notably Sunrun. Its spokesman in Hawaii is Robert Harris, the former director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, now director of public policy at Sunrun.

NextEra officials have argued that solar companies and TASC are opposing the merger because its not in the best interests of their business. Solar companies need electric rates to stay high so people will want to buy their solar systems, the argument goes….

read … Keep Rates High

Iwase: Lack Of Transparency At NextEra Hearing Is ‘Going To Smell’

CB: “It is like walking into a bathroom after it’s been used. It’s going to smell. What can I do about it? Bring Glade in? I can’t spray the place,” Iwase explained to journalists near a Blaisdell bathroom at the end of the day. “It is going to smell. I understand that.”

Iwase was referring to the possibility that public hearings on an issue of great import to people in a state with the nation’s highest electricity rates might repeatedly go private to address legally sensitive issues….

A day earlier the chairman of the commission reluctantly ordered out of the room everyone who had not signed a non-disclosure agreement so that questioners could refer to documents that Hawaiian Electric and NextEra have designated as “protected.” …

Iwase confirmed that the evidentiary hearings could go behind closed doors over and over again, given that hundreds of documents have been designated as “restricted” or “confidential” by the parties in the merger. At least 10 more witnesses are expected to testify in the coming weeks, and theoretically any of them could face questioning in secrecy….

At another point in his testimony, Gleason said, “We’re taking a leap of faith that Hawaii is a place where we’ll be fairly treated.”

read … Smell

Star-Adv Pushes GE Tax Hike on Airlines

SA: …Airlines For America, an industry trade organization, has compiled state-by-state comparison data making a compelling case.

According to its study, Hawaii’s economic reliance on the airlines is the highest by far of any state. The organization calculated that nearly 186,000 jobs in this tourism destination owe their existence, directly or indirectly, to commercial aviation. That amounts to 21.6 percent of jobs in the state being attributable to airlines….

LN: Are interisland airfares too expensive for families?

read … Higher Fares

Lawyer: Ethics Comm Must investigate Planning Department Relationship with Haseko

CB: …In planning stages for many years, the development was sold, in part, on the promise to potential buyers that Haseko would develop a marina on the property that would provide access to the open sea. After selling more than $1 billion worth of homes, with individual homeowners paying as much as $100,000 extra because of the marina, Haseko announced in 2011 that instead, it would build a land-locked lagoon.

Homeowners filed a class-action suit, saying the downgraded amenity would make their homes less valuable (a point that Haseko disputes). A jury agreed, awarding the plaintiffs $27 million in damages in September; but the award was subsequently thrown out. The case is now being appealed.

An attorney representing the homeowners sent a 53-page document to the Honolulu City Council and city Ethics Commission last month asking for an investigation of the DPP’s relationship with Haseko.

“I write to you because many people believe that our city is run by and for developers,” wrote attorney Terrence Revere. “Unfortunately, the documents I have reviewed in the civil case confirm that there is an absurd relationship between (DPP) and Haseko.”….

read … Planning

State Ethics Panel Wants To Make Disclosures Easier For State Officials

CB: The Hawaii State Ethics Commission has been talking for more than a year about how to improve its online electronic filing system.

The current system by which lawmakers and other government officials file required disclosure forms on finances, gifts, lobbying and travel is clunky — requiring, for example, users to submit PDF documents, either printed out or as electronic attachments.

Executive Director Les Kondo wants all ethics forms to be made available electronically, speeding up not only how long it takes to complete and submit them but also their review by Ethics Commission staff.

The commission currently processes about 4,000 disclosure reports annually….

read … Easier

Hawaii Shippers Council expects Hawaii legislature to discuss Jones Act reform next year

PBN: Hawaii Shippers Council is hopeful that a new resolution to reform the Jones Act will be introduced into Hawaii State Legislature in the new session. If passed, the resolution would help state leaders pressure Congress to modify the federal law.

The Hawaii Shippers Council has been campaigning to reform the Jones Act for over five years. However, that hasn't stopped it from powering on as the Council’s noncontiguous trades Jones Act reform proposal is still being actively discussed and they expect it to be a point of discussion next year.

“In a nutshell, our proposed reform would exempt the noncontiguous domestic shipping trades from the U.S. build requirement of the Jones Act for large oceangoing self-propelled ships,” Michael Hansen, president of the Hawaii Shippers’ Council said.

Trades from Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are included in the proposal.

The U.S. build requirement is the primary cost driver, Hansen explained. The cost of building a new ocean-bound ship in the U.S. is now five times the cost of constructing a comparable ship in Japan and South Korea…..

read … Reform

Hawaii Reduces Deficient Bridges by 63%

LLM: …According to the GAO report, structurally deficient bridges decreased by 21 percent between 2005 and 2014, and functionally obsolete bridges decreased by 6 percent. Within the National Highway System, there was a 20 percent drop in structurally deficient bridges and a 2 percent decrease in functionally obsolete bridges.

More than 40 states reported a decline in structurally deficient bridges, with Hawaii reporting the highest rate at 63 percent. The number of structurally deficient bridges increased 52 percent in Arizona, the largest hike in the nation. For functionally obsolete bridges, more than 30 states reported decreases. South Dakota experienced the largest decrease at 36 percent, and Nevada reported the largest increase at 27 percent.

State agencies own more than 90 percent of NHS bridges and nearly half of all bridges. Local agencies own approximately 5 percent of NHS bridges and the remaining half of all bridges not owned by state agencies….

PDF: GAO Report

read … 63% Improvement

Kauai Anti-GMO Activists Still Can’t Find Any Victims

KE: In a strange reversal of events, anti-GMO activists are trying to drum up supposed victims of westside Kauai “pesticide pollution” to satisfy a news team.

In a Facebook post yesterday, anti-GMO activist Laurie Cicotello wrote:

NBC is planning to come to Kauai to do a piece re west side pesticide pollution. It will be on Nightly News and Dateline or Frontline.

We need exposed/affected residents/fieldworkers.

This is a great opportunity for nationally and possibly internationally getting the word out.

Please PM Marghee Maupin if you would be able to be interviewed or if you have any suggestions. Thank you.

Now, if people actually had been the victims of westside "pesticide pollution," wouldn't you have them in place before you pitch a national news team on the story, rather than try to find some victims to satisfy the spin you've already created?

Wouldn't those supposed victims of westside pesticide pollution already be well-known to the anti-GMO groups — especially Marghee, who presents herself as the health care advocate for westsiders? I mean, wouldn't she have the health records of folks, and thus be able to easily identify them — and document her claims — without having to do a call-out on Facebook?

Come to think of it, why hasn't Marghee or anyone else from the anti-GMO movement — including its Kauai leader, Gary Hooser — been able to provide any documentation of anyone affected by "pesticide pollution?” Surely, if people are suffering from “pesticide pollution” Marghee and the others would be able to provide blood and/or urine tests showing elevated levels of pesticides.

Especially since none of the environmental tests done on the westside have documented any pesticide pollution whatsoever….

Related: Monsanto uses less than 1% of Total Hawaii Pesticides

read … Musings: Calling All "Victims"

Iolani cancels Christmas excursions Due to Excessive Number of Muslim Terrorists in Europe

SA: …the school began re-evaluating the trip after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. A few days later, a news report cited a warning from the FBI about possible terror strikes at historic monuments in Italy at the Vatican, Rome and Milan. Then came a worldwide travel alert issued by the U.S. Department of State, warning travelers of “increased terrorist threats” from the Islamic State group, al-Qaida and other groups.

“These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and nonconventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests,” the department said in the alert that expires in February. “Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis. … U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.”

“All of that added up,” Cottrell said. “We would be creating the situation that they were warning us against: 60 American kids in the second-largest basilica in Rome on Christmas Day. There would be something like seven cardinals from the Vatican at a known time and a known location.”

Because travel arrangements were made directly between families and a travel agency, the school couldn’t cancel the actual trips. It canceled the school-sponsored performances, meaning families could still take the trips on their own. But with the travel dates in a couple of weeks, there’s little possibility of refunds for those who choose not to go.

“This puts families in a predicament. It was expensive,” Cottrell said.

The school has decided to cover the airline change fee — a $300 value — so that families can use the airfare for other travel, he said. ‘Iolani, which charges $20,900 in tuition, also plans to help families cover the cost of other trip expenses. Sixty students and 59 parents or siblings were initially scheduled to go….

read … Muslims

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