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Tuesday, December 06, 2016
December 6, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:33 PM :: 3044 Views

FCC Order: Sandwich Isles $76M Fines, Repayments

Council Reorganization Violates Sunshine Law?

Homeowners with Exemptions Reminded to File State Tax Returns—Or Else!

Video: Returning Power to Micronesians in Hawaii

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted December 5, 2016

New Chief for Bureau of Conveyances

Text Messages Show HD2 Legislative Appointment Rigged by Democrats 

WHT: The slate of finalists sent to the governor to pick a replacement for the late state Rep. Clift Tsuji was already decided before the public interviews and votes, according to a screen-shot of a text message obtained by the newspaper prior to Saturday’s voting.

The text message between Democratic Party District 2 Chairman Micah Alameda and Vice Chairman Derek Inaba named the winning candidate in each of three rounds. The message, bearing a 9:02 p.m. time-stamp, was obtained by West Hawaii Today from several sources early Saturday morning, before the voting began.

“Yes we are all set and good to go. Our entire crew is locked and ready. We have 9,” Alameda said in the text.

“Ok. So Moana round 1 Stacy round 2 and Chris round 3?” Inaba asks.

“Yes. All 9 have agreed!” Alameda answers.

The 13 Democratic Party officials of the district subsequently voted Moana Kelii, Stacy Higa and Christopher Todd finalists in the order outlined in the text message….

The county party changed its rules in 2014 to require the vote to take place in public after a grievance was filed by a losing candidate in a West Hawaii House District 5 election of candidates to replace retiring Rep. Denny Coffman. Even the county party chairman had been barred from witnessing that vote.

The text message making the rounds before the latest vote was enough to convince two seasoned former County Council members — J Yoshimoto and Dennis “Fresh” Onishi — to skip the interviews altogether.

“Why should we attend when it’s already a done deal?” said Onishi, who was term-limited and left his council office Monday. “This was already set up days before the interviews.”….

HTH: Ige 'Will Not Intervene'

read … The System is Rigged

Hawaii Supreme Court dismisses telescope opponents' appeal

HNN: The Hawaii Supreme Court has denied an appeal from opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope project atop Mauna Kea.

Meantime, the contested case hearing continues. But even with a long list of witnesses still to ahead, TMT officials -- and the Governor -- believe it will get done in time to get construction on the project started….

Meanwhile, the group building the Thirty Meter Telescope said last month that if it can't be built in Hawaii they would build it in Spain's Canary Islands. Something the Governor is not very concerned with….

The contested case hearing began on October 20th, but with delays they've only had 12 days of hearings and have only gotten through 8 of the more than 80 scheduled witnesses….

read … Hawaii Supreme Court dismisses telescope opponents' appeal

Gabbard: I oppose Telescope--Mauna Kea is Resolved—Going to Canary Islands

CB: …a Native American veteran called out from the crowd. He wanted her to address an indigenous struggle that has been playing out in her own backyard — the proposed construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea, the state’s tallest mountain and a place some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

“We cannot forget our brothers and sisters in Hawaii,” the man said.

Like the Dakota Access Pipeline, the battle over the TMT has resulted in large-scale protests over environmental impacts and indigenous people’s rights that garnered international headlines. Demonstrators occupied land and erected barricades to stop construction. Some were arrested.

Gabbard had not yet taken a public stance on the TMT. But in that moment she was put on the spot.  (And, lacking instructions from her Hare Krishna guru, her inner airhead took over….)

“The people there have stood strongly and spoken for the land,” Gabbard said. “That issue, it looks like, has resolved thanks to the position and the stands that they’ve taken.” (Huh?)

Her response didn’t please a Native Hawaiian in the audience who has emerged as a prominent figure in the Standing Rock protest….

“No,” boomed Andre Perez, interrupting Gabbard. “Mauna Kea is not resolved.”

Perez, an Air Force veteran, told the crowd that he was one of many Native Hawaiian demonstrators who was arrested on Mauna Kea last year. He noted the project is the subject of an ongoing contested case hearing before a judge appointed by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources and that the telescope could still be built.

“It’s not official yet,” Perez said. “We’re still struggling to protect Mauna Kea. Let’s not lose sight of that.”

Gabbard agreed with Perez. But she also noted that the TMT International Observatory Board of Governors is seeking a backup location outside of the U.S. In October, the board announced the Canary Islands of Spain would be the alternative site should Hawaii decide not to issue permits for the project….  (That’s what she means by ‘resolved.’)

“I understand that she wants to try to use her political status to try and help this issue, and that’s great, I respect that and I appreciate that,” Perez said. “But it will not look good to the people of Hawaii if she doesn’t take the proactive approach that she’s taking here for important indigenous issues in Hawaii, because she’s a representative there.”  ….

read … She later said she personally opposes the project.

Tulsi Gabbard Master of Self-Promotion

KE: Tulsi Gabbard has again shown herself to be a master at self-promotion, positioning herself prominently in the Standing Rock conflict at a time when she can make the most of the media attention.

Shoots, she even managed to get her picture in — though not on the cover of — Rolling Stone, where she holds forth on the "meaning" of the Army Corps of Engineers decision to conduct an EIS on alternative routes for the contested pipeline.

Nothing like eclipsing the natives, who surely they know more about the issue than she, for her own political gain. Heck, she was only there for a weekend. Just long enough to make a video for her Facebook page, give interviews and capitalize on the end to the standoff….

Meanwhile, what has Tulsi done to address the very real and serious water conflicts in her home state of Hawaii? Oh, that's right. There's no national media spotlight for her in the Islands. Only the fawning coverage of Civil Beat, which followed her to North Dakota….

KGI: Tim Bynum Anti-GMO Martyr?

read … Musings: Unpleasant Realities

Star Adv vs Gabbard: TMT issue unlike Dakota pipeline

SA: To begin with, both conflicts underscore an increasingly assertive activism among (those who claim to represent) indigenous people — the Sioux in North Dakota, Native Hawaiians here….

And at Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources’ ongoing contested case hearing on the TMT application, a long list of intervenors have the potential to stall the worthy project. That could go on for so long that TMT’s sponsors will site the telescope elsewhere, as they’ve said they could do, moving TMT to their Canary Islands alternative….

At Standing Rock, the Native Americans assert that constructing the pipeline as proposed by Energy Transfer Partners would desecrate ancestral lands and potentially foul Sioux water with leaks. The tribe doesn’t perceive any economic benefit to be gained from allowing this risk to a critical water supply. (Whereas OHA is getting paid.)

Energy Transfer Partners posits the promise of economic development for the area from the project — but that could result from an alternative route as well.

In the case of TMT, the construction does not pose the same kind of persistent environmental threat. The proposed telescope is by far the largest, but it is in an area long developed as a campus of scientific endeavor, with other astronomical installations.

It’s a site ideally suited to its purpose, for its accessible location that also provides atmospheric clarity that approaches the ideal.

Further, there are commitments from Gov. David Ige to reduce the combined footprint of the existing telescopes. And there already have been efforts to link Mauna Kea astronomy to educational opportunities — at the Imiloa Astronomy Center and in other venues — and a wider understanding of Native Hawaiian culture.  (Translation: And OHA has been paid for quite a while.) ….

Finally, there’s the simple fact of what constitutes desecration. To this point, the “protectors” have not made a persuasive case that a telescope — one that opens the heavens to exploration, something the Native Hawaiians did for centuries — is something from which protection is required.

It would advance human knowledge, and enhance future opportunities for Hawaii residents — most of whom still hope fervently that this future will materialize….

read … OHA Got Paid

Harry Kim:  Mauna Kea Should Become ‘Peoples Park’

WHT: Mayor Harry Kim signaled his intent to shape the future of Mauna Kea during his first inauguration in 12 years.  (Wow.  In one speech, Harry Kim provides more leadership on Mauna Kea than Billy Kenoi did in two whole terms.)

While speaking Monday at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo, the mayor said he wants to see the mountain — the site of a dispute over the proposed construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope — become a park, which he later called a “people’s park” while talking to reporters.

LINK: “Peoples Park” Berkeley, CA

While offering few details of his idea, Kim said he still wants the mountain, which is owned by the state and considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians, to be home to telescopes, and he maintains his support for TMT, if done with the “right mentality.”

“I stated the purpose of the park,” Kim told the Tribune-Herald. “It will be an international monument in regards to the symbol of Hawaii.”

He added: “In regards to all things of science — for one purpose, to make us a better people and better stewards of this land.”

Kim after the ceremony said his vision involves the park being managed by a group of citizens. The mountain currently is managed by the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Office of Mauna Kea Management, which includes a board of island residents.

During his speech, Kim said Hawaii can be an example of harmony for the world.

“I don’t understand why we have to go to the courts to resolve anything,” he said, regarding ongoing legal challenges for TMT. Kim said people need to listen to each other with their souls and that it’s time to “recognize wrongs and go from there.”

He said he will meet today with Henry Yang, chair of the TMT International Observatory, and intends to discuss his idea. He said he also is reaching out to UH and Gov. David Ige.

A UH spokesman said late Monday that he had not heard of the idea and couldn’t provide comment…

VIDEO: Harry Kim Clarifies Mauna Kea Statements

HTH: Telescope director welcomes Mauna Kea park proposal

read … A Mauna Kea ‘people’s park’? Kim to seek new designation for mountain

How rail’s rising costs, financial changes could affect taxpayers

KHON:  An updated financial plan put the price tag at $9.5 billion, an increase of nearly a billion dollars in just a few months….

The mayor now says it appears rail payments will continue long after the project is built.

Up until now, taxpayers were under the impression the general excise tax and federal grants would cover it, with the exception of short-term borrowing here and there….

the cost of rail including debt service jumped about $1 billion from the last estimate HART disclosed just this fall, from $8.6 billion with interest to $9.5 billion. HART only has $6.8 billion it can count on so far, and assumes it will have to borrow much of it.

HART says the base cost of getting rail to Ala Moana still stands at an estimated $8.2 billion. The difference in the latest tally comes from the earlier fall estimate calculating interest only for another decade, rather than how long they’ll really keep having to pay the interest tab unless a giant lump-sum somehow materialized to pay off the balloon in 2027, kind of like a mortgage with a big balloon payment left to the end.

The $9.5 billion estimate paces out the payments, assuming they’ll get another G.E. tax surcharge extension at the Legislature, with the city getting 90 percent and the state getting 10 percent, but HART says it’s just one of many models.

Always Investigating asked, if $9.5 billion is the outcome of staying the course essentially, what is the higher end from there should we get lesser share than the 90 percent or a shorter extension?

“You know, I’d really hate to guess on what it might be,” said Brennon Morioka, acting HART executive director, CEO. “It’s really going to depend on what kind of mortgage you’re going to get.”

“The assumption of how long a debt service you’re dealing with is a material assumption, then you need to disclose that up front to the board so they understand it and the public understands it,” said HART vice chairman Terrence Lee.

Lee said he was surprised when told the billion-dollar jump came when staff felt instructed by the board to stop calculating interest expense at the $8.6 billion mark, even though the source of a large balloon payoff at the end was not clear.

The previous board and administration tells Always Investigating it was not a board directive, but was discussed between staff and certain board members, and says the payoff cutoff coincided with the 2027 G.E. tax sunset….

Rail…already is being scrutinized for snapping steel cables and cracking plastic shims….

read … How rail’s rising costs, financial changes could affect taxpayers

HGEA, HSTA Regaining Control over Schools

CB: …The Every Student Succeeds Act replaces No Child Left Behind, a law that some principals felt was restrictive and punitive, said Michael Harano, principal of Washington Middle School in Honolulu.

Under the old act, students had to be tested every year from third to eighth grades in math and English, and once in high school. They also had to be tested in science at least once in elementary, middle and high school.

Schools were required to improve their students’ performance – in fact, the act required that students be 100 percent proficient in reading and math by the end of the 2013-14 school year – and their test results were tied to educators’ evaluations….

ESSA will transfer power back to the states to decide how schools should be held accountable and supported, how educators should be evaluated and how students should be tested.

“Now as a state, we feel that we have a better say in what we’re going to do – how is education going to be reformed,” Harano said….

Under ESSA, students will still need to be tested in the same grades and subject areas that NCLB required, but states can determine when and how they administer those tests, in addition to what kind of assessments they use…. 

read … Principals Push For A Louder Voice In Public Education Reform Efforts

Public Hearings Set on HELCO 6.5% Rate Hike

IM: The Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is coming to Hilo on December 13 and Kona on December 14.

The PUC wants to know if Big Island residents are happy with the amount they are spending on their electric bills, and whether residents are willing to pay 6.5 percent more….

read … Opportunity to Comment on HELCO`s Proposed 6.5% Rate Hike

License Amounts to $1M Tax on Non-Commercial Fishermen

WHT: A feasibility study on a non-commercial marine fishing registry, permit or license (RPL) system that was released Friday has laid the most stable groundwork to date for moving forward with an RPL system in Hawaii.

Bruce Anderson, DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources administrator, said an RPL system would be beneficial for several reasons, chief among them as an avenue to generate funds….

…the licensing fee would be…probably falling in the $10-$20 range on a yearly basis. There are more than 100,000 non-commercial fishers in Hawaii, meaning at least $1 million would be generated from licensing fees annually.

The DLNR manages the commercial fishing license program, but would need to expand to handle an RPL system of such massive scale. Anderson said it’s likely the costs would run somewhere between $200,000-$300,000 annually to manage a computer-based, online RPL system, which would still leave a considerable amount of money for improved management….

Anderson said the administration is not proposing a bill for the 2017 legislative session, although any legislator could put forth legislation at any time. Should the DLNR decide to propose legislation, it won’t do so before discussing the matter thoroughly with stakeholders across the state.

He added that even if legislation was proposed on the first day of the 2017 session, it would still be at least two years before licensing would take effect….

read … Fishing for a solution: License system examined as fishery concerns grow

Prisons Full of Mentally Ill once placed in Lunatic Asylums

SA: The average education level for an imprisoned person in Hawaii is the sixth grade, and many imprisoned people suffer from serious mental health problems. The Honolulu Police Department reports that 61 percent of its arrests involve people who have mental health and substance abuse problems, and that 43 percent in its cellblocks are homeless….

Related: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?

read …  Invest in ways to keep people out of prison

Ever Heard of a Wire Transfer?  HVCB Puts $1M Check in Mail—It gets Stolen

HNN: …the Honolulu Police Department is investigating after a check, written for $1M was stolen last month.

The HVCB sent the high dollar check to New York to pay for an ad campaign promoting Hawaii.  But sources say, it was stolen along the way and was cashed in Arizona. 

Police are trying to figure out who took the check and determine if they simply got lucky,  finding the million dollar one, or if the thieves knew the check was coming.

HVCB issued a statement late Monday afternoon, saying the agency is not being forced to absorb the loss.  Their bank is taking the hit instead…. 

read … $1M

Another Hanabusa Operative Becomes House Sergeant at Arms

CB: There will be a new security point man at the Hawaii state House come January.

Rod Tanonaka will assume the job of sergeant-at-arms Jan. 3, replacing Kevin Kuroda who held the position since 2003.

Kuroda announced his retirement last month to address personal and family concerns….

Tanonaka previously served as chief of staff for the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai and prior to that held the same post for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa during her first term in office….

Video: Hanabusa’s thugs take out atheist-2010

read … House Names Sergeant-at-Arms

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