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Thursday, December 15, 2016
December 15, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:18 PM :: 1851 Views

Full Text: Police Chief Sued for Racketeering

Caldwell Raises Property Taxes 5.9% By Jacking up Assessments

Why They Fired Bob Lindsey

OHA Employee Satisfaction Survey--The Fix is In

Report Compares Hawaii Head Start Programs to National Averages

One More Time: State Tries to Reason with Anti-GMO Lunatics

EPA files complaint against Syngenta for farmworker safety violations on Kauai

Hawaii again nation’s healthiest state—Mainland Health in Decline After 8 Years of Obama

Judge overturns BLNR’s approval of TMT sublease

HTH: …In another major setback for the Thirty Meter Telescope, a Hilo Circuit Court judge today invalidated the state’s approval of the project’s sublease for Mauna Kea, attorneys for the plaintiff announced.

Judge Greg Nakamura ruled the state Board of Land and Natural Resources violated the constitutional rights of E. Kalani Flores by not holding a contested case hearing when it consented to the agreement between the University of Hawaii at TMT International Observatory in 2014, according to the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.

State officials and TIO representatives weren’t immediately available for comment, but David Kopper, attorney for plaintiff E. Kalani Flores, said the ruling would require the Land Board to go through a contested case if it wants to renew its consent.

“They (UH and TIO) can do whatever they want but it’s not legally enforceable unless you have this consent from the board,” he told the Tribune-Herald. “There is no consent at this time.”

Previously in the case, Nakamura had remanded the sublease to the Land Board for additional review. That occurred last March but it doesn’t appear the state took additional action.

“To me it confirms that Native Hawaiian cultural practices have a right to be involved in these agency decisions,” Kopper said of the ruling. “And their interests are no less important than other commercial interests.”….

A TIO board member said last month that the organization intends to resume construction either on Mauna Kea or the Canary Islands, its alternate site, in April 2017….

UPDATE: The sublease is between TMT International Observatory and the University of Hawaii at Hilo, which holds a master lease for much of the mountain. At the time, the Land Board said the decision was a matter of internal management, not subject to the quasi-judicial hearings....

Despite the additional setback, representatives for the state attorney general’s office, UH and TIO avoided making any statements about how much the project will be impacted since a written ruling hasn’t been issued. That could take weeks.

read … Judge overturns BLNR’s approval of TMT sublease

Telescope: Sacred Means No Discussion, No Compromise 

PBS: PETER APO: One of the challenges that we have is that, when you use the word sacred, it means no discussion. So, they won’t come to the table to discuss anything, because there will be no compromise. The TMT will not be built. So that makes it a little bit difficult to talk about anything.

MILES O’BRIEN: If the TMT moves on from Hawaii, Mauna Kea will still remain a powerful perch to study the cosmos for decades, but it could be the beginning of the end of an era of leading edge scientific discovery here….

Background: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money

read … OHA Rent

Board directors at public isle companies are paid well for Political Connections

SA: …According to an analysis of company reports, the pay for being an independent adviser to Hawaii-based companies with public stock was as much as $396,000 last year.

That sum was awarded by Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. to retired Hono­lulu attorney Jeffrey Watanabe, a veteran of local public company boards.

Even advising a relatively small public company that holds four board meetings a year can be worth as much as a full-time middle-class job, or about $60,000.

In Caldwell’s case, he earns about $180,000 as a board director of Territorial Savings Bank parent Territorial Bancorp Inc. That’s more than the $136,428 he makes as mayor….

Caldwell joined Territorial’s board in 2007 after many years working as an attorney with a firm that advised the bank. After Territorial sold stock to the public, its board compensation committee, which included Caldwell, decided to award stock to board members under an “equity incentive plan.” … As a result, Caldwell’s director pay jumped from $44,312 in 2009 to about $182,000 in 2010….

Of course such board positions, which some may view as plum, are reserved for a well-accomplished connected set.

The folks sitting on local public company boards include top executives in the fields of accounting, law, banking, education, retail and real estate development….

Hawaiian Electric had the most revenue among Hawaii public companies last year, at $2.6 billion. HEI’s director pay ranged from $144,000 for Punahou School President James Scott to $396,000 for Watanabe.

Other HEI directors include retired Navy Adm. Thomas Fargo, KTA Superstores CEO Barry Taniguchi and Hawaii Community Foundation CEO Kelvin Taketa….

Watanabe is also a director of Oahu Publications Inc., publisher of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser….

“Companies are looking for expertise,” said Eric Yeaman, president and chief operating officer of First Hawaiian Bank, who serves on three public company boards. (He managed to say this with out smirking.  That’s ‘expertise’.)

Yeaman is a director on three public company boards — Hawaiian Telcom, Alexander & Baldwin Inc. and Alaska Airlines….

retired Kamehameha Schools President Michael Chun is a director for Matson Inc. and Bank of Hawaii Corp. Fargo is a director for Matson and HEI. Walter Dods Jr., a retired First Hawaiian Bank CEO, is on the boards of Matson, Hawaiian Telcom and Hawaii oil refinery owner Par Pacific Holdings Inc. Watanabe, the retired attorney, is a director for Matson in addition to HEI, and last year retired from A&B’s board after reaching its age limit of 72.

read … Board directors at public isle companies are paid well

With Kenoi Gone, Hawaii County Cracks Down on Employee Alcohol Purchases

WHT: The Hawaii County administration has overturned a 17-year-old policy and instituted strict new rules governing the purchase of alcohol with taxpayer money.

A new alcohol policy issued Monday — just a week into the Mayor Harry Kim administration — replaces a 1999 policy that allowed alcohol purchases by the mayor or County Council for the entertainment of dignitaries, with written approval by the mayor or council chairman.

“We feel that this is something that needed to be addressed,” said Managing Director Wil Okabe. “It starts at the top.”

County Council Chairwoman Valerie Poindexter said Wednesday she’s drafting a similar policy for the legislative branch.

“I’m on the same page with them,” she said.

The new rules, from Finance Director Collins Tomei, come on the heels of alcohol purchases that were questioned during the tenure of former Mayor Billy Kenoi. The former mayor used his county-issued credit card, or pCard, for “exorbitant amounts of alcohol,” according to a deputy state attorney general who unsuccessfully prosecuted him for theft….

read … Kim administration, County Council cracking down on employee alcohol purchases

Plea Bargain for Rep Kanela Ing? 3 Months Suspended Drivers License

MN: …South Maui state Rep. Kaniela Ing is mulling a plea agreement on a charge that he drove his vehicle without insurance in January, as his case was continued Wednesday in Wailuku District Court.

Ing, 27, was on Oahu and not in court on Wednesday. His attorney, Ben Lowenthal, asked Judge Blaine Kobayashi to postpone the case to allow him time to discuss the details of the plea agreement offered by the prosecution with Ing. Details of the agreement were not released, but Deputy Prosecutor Terence Herndon said there was a time limit on the offer, which could be revoked.

Kobayashi rescheduled the case for Jan. 25 and noted that that would be the final continuance he would allow.

Ing, who was re-elected to his seat in November, has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Prosecutors have argued that Ing “intentionally, knowingly and recklessly operated or used a motor vehicle on a public street” without car insurance on Jan. 18. The first-time traffic offense carries a minimum $500 fine and a three-month license suspension.

Ing has a driver’s license stopper in the case, which prevents him from renewing his license….

Flashback: Rep Kaniela Ing Caught Lying About Arrest--Claims 'Conspiracy'

read … Plea deal in the works for state Rep. Kaniela Ing

Public Pushing Back Against HELCO rate increase

WHT: …Peter Bosted, a physics professor from Ka’u, implored stockholders in HELCO to pick up the tab, which he asserted has grown at least in part because of “poor decisions and botched planning” by the company.

He questioned why rates in Hawaii should swell when, according to his research, ratepayers already face the highest electricity-cost burden in the nation at three times the national average.

He also voiced concerns that a rate hike would further incentivize a mass exit from the grid, then suggested a shift in priorities….

Nalani Freitas, owner of Overstock N Discounts, referenced Ignacio’s mention of capital investments saying she isn’t interested with how much money HELCO has spent, but rather how much it has made. She questioned whether the company needed an extra $19-plus million per year in order operate as effectively as possible or simply to maintain a favorable profit margin.

Nani Ward — who works with the poverty-stricken via Ka’analike, a local nonprofit — expressed concern for Hawaii Island’s economically disadvantaged families, on whom she said the rate hike could prove onerous.

“These are the families that we talk to who make the choice — a very difficult choice — of paying rent, paying electricity, paying water or paying for their groceries,” Ward said. “This is an undue burden to put upon our residents in Hawaii.” ….

CB: I Worked To Build Compassion — In Retirement, I Could Use Some

read … Public offers comment on proposed HELCO rate increase

AUW: Rapid Rehousing Mostly Prevents Dehousing

SA: When the homeless are moved off the streets, there are many individuals and families on the verge of replacing them — and many of them ultimately do….

AUW is finding its money going further, in terms of recipients, than it had expected. The agency received a $5 million grant from the state in a campaign focused on getting homeless people housed. The nonprofit charity agency set an original goal of helping 2,900 individuals who are homeless or at risk of falling into that state.

Instead, the count is up to 3,410 people who have received aid so far, and that’s with $1.9 million still unspent.

The project started with the goal of splitting the funds between housing those on the streets and those who may be perilously close to joining them there. Instead, the agency found housing those currently homeless to be harder than bringing financial reinforcement to those on the edge, so that only 27 percent of the funds have been going to them.

Background: Rapid Rehousing

read … AUW effort shows limited progress

Assisted Suicide Back on Legislative Agenda as Insurers Seek New and Innovative Ways to Save Money

HNN: Sen. Karl Rhoads will renew the debate over "death with dignity." changing the practice of medicine….

"It should be your decision on whether you want to end your life, depending on how the circumstances are physically," he said.

(Clue: It already is your decision.  With the exception of quadriplegics, everybody who wants to can kill himself painlessly without involving a doctor.  What Rhoads is doing is changing the practice of medicine.)

opponents are expected to come out in force, as they have in the past.

Among them: Duke Aiona, president of Hawaii Family Advocates.

"Call it what you may, but it is assisted suicide," he said, adding that he believes on focusing on pain management and hospice care and not a law that would put life-ending drugs in the hands of terminal patients….

But physician Craig Nakatsuka fears if a bill is passed, many elderly will end their lives prematurely.

"I can tell you story after story of my own of supporting patients who are in despair, truly wanting to end their lives. And with our support never bring that up again," he said.

read … Death

HSTA Tries to Push Back Against CNHA Support of Matayoshi

CB: Poor inclusion of Nā Hopena Aʻo: The board passed Education Policy E-3 outlining the Nā Hopena Aʻo Learning Objectives in 2015, and for the past year, I have been following and working with multiple partners to help implement HĀ in my school and across the state.

I was very happy to see Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi throwing her full support behind the new objectives. Therefore, I was extremely upset with the poor inclusion of HĀ in the Strategic Plan.

There is a small explanation in the beginning and then again in the illustrated guide of the three goals. If the board was truly invested in changing the culture of the department to align with the HĀ goals, they would have applied them into the rest of the plan.

• This should have waited: The BOE made a terrible decision by rushing this Strategic Plan through instead of waiting for a few upcoming events, including:

• Accounting for governor’s ESSA plan: The Strategic Plan was released before the final draft of the governor’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan, which will outline the state’s plan to measure school success to be presented to the Federal Department of Education. If the ESSA plan just chooses the same measurements as the Strategic Plan and if that plan is vetoed, both documents will have to be amended. The ESSA plan is also a great example of how to write HĀ objectives into a concrete plan.

• Conflicts with upcoming contract negotiations: Both the HSTA and the Hawaii Government Employees Association, which represents the Hawaii principals, are renegotiating their contracts. HSTA plans to push for more teacher control of their content and classrooms, which may draw conflict from what has been laid out in the Strategic Plan.

What This is About: CNHA: Keep Matayoshi

read … HSTA vs CNHA

Zero Tolerance Policy Leads to 34 Expulsions for Air Guns – None for Real Guns

HNN: …Air guns were to blame for all of the expulsions from public schools under the Department of Education's firearms policy in the 2015-16 school year, a new report to the state Legislature shows.

Some 34 students were expelled under the mandatory expulsion guidelines in connection with 27 air gun incidents.

The state's definition of air gun includes BB guns, pellet guns and paintball guns. Some air guns can look nearly identical to real guns.

The legislative report said seven of the 34 expelled students were in elementary school. The rest were in middle or high school….

PDF: Full Report to Legislature

read … Air

Game Over: Kauai County Votes 6-0 to repeal anti-GMO bill

KGI: …The Kauai County Council voted 6-0 on the first reading of Bill No. 2643, which seeks to repeal Bill No. 2491, also known as Ordinance 960. Councilman Arthur Brun, an employee of Syngenta, recused himself from the vote.

The bill, which was introduced in 2013 by former councilmembers Tim Bynum and Gary Hooser, sought to regulate the use of GMOs and pesticides by requiring mandatory disclosure of GMO and pesticide use by large agricultural businesses, and prohibiting open air testing of experimental pesticides and GMOs. It was passed 6-1 by the council but was later vetoed by Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, but the council later overrode that veto.

The bill was overturned in the federal court. And on Nov. 18, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the court’s ruling that the Hawaii Pesticides Law preempts the county’s laws.

… Councilman Ross Kagawa said, “The game is over. They’ve played twice in fact. Two judges ruled, and let’s move on. Let’s kill this bill and help in ways we can. Let’s work with the state and federal government.”

Because the bill was ruled invalid, it was on the agenda as a housekeeping matter….

read … Repeal and Relief

Maui/Kauai: Same old Anti-GMO Tricks

KE: …Hooser uses the flawed Joint Fact Finding report to again fan the flames of fear and shore up his own totally baseless claim:  “The data gathered during the JFF process indicate that Westside residents suffer from numerous health conditions at higher rates than residents living anywhere else on Kauai.  The science is clear. The pesticides and chemicals used by these companies are dangerous; harm at varying degrees is occurring to health and the environment.”

In fact, the JFFG found the exact opposite: the science isn't clear, and harm is not occurring in any degree. What's more, the Westside health conditions can be caused by many factors, with pesticide exposure the least likely source.

Hooser goes on to write: “ Closure will only occur when the chemical companies fully disclose their pesticide usage, agree to reasonable buffer zones around schools, hospitals, homes and other sensitive areas, and the comprehensive testing of soil, air and water as has been recommended by the state/county JFF report is conducted.”

Huh? The seed companies are voluntarily disclosing pesticide use and have created buffer zones. The state is preparing to conduct environmental testing and monitoring programs, and has set aside money to do so.

The only thing preventing closure is Hooser, and The Garden Island's crappy coverage.

Meanwhile, Mark Sheehan of SHAKA is beating the same drum over on Maui. In his guest editorial he claims that Mayor Alan Arakawa is “callous and indifferent” to public health and environmental issues before writing: “While in the neighborhood he might want to talk to some of the distraught moms who still worry about their children’s long-term health and wonder why neither the county nor the state can do anything to protect them.”

You mean, other than all the many laws, regulations and processes that are already in place to protect them? Especially since no one in the entire state has actually come forth with any documented illness caused by, or even linked to, exposure to pesticides used by the seed companies.

Like Hooser, Sheehan is both fact- and truth-challenged, madly spinning the federal court decision that invalidated all three Hawaii GMO and pesticide laws….

read … Fanning the Flames

Hilo Biofuel Schemers in Default

HTH: …Chuck Barker of Hoku Kai Biofuels said the company is going through restructuring, with a new board and group of investors joining. Site work should resume after that is finalized, he said.

The company plans to use an existing 10-inch pipe to transport fuel from the harbor to storage tanks on the mauka side of Kalanianaole Avenue. The pipe and tanks previously were used by Shell Oil.

Repairs to the storage tanks began about two years ago but work stalled because of financial problems.

In July, Hilo Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura ordered the company to pay $116,076.62 to a contractor for missed payments.

A foreclosure lawsuit also was filed against Hoku Kai in mid-2016 for defaulting on a $2.3 million mortgage…..

read … Schemers

Negotiations Over Political Status of Guam, NMI

CB: …In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, where residents voted to join the U.S. in 1975, some political leaders are questioning whether America is living up to its side of the political bargain. Islanders gave up their sovereignty and lots of land in exchange for U.S. citizenship and federal funding, but they were also told that they would retain the right to self-government.

“It’s time to see if the right to govern ourselves is still intact,” says Felicidad Ogumoro, a local legislator in the commonwealth, who introduced a bill to re-evaluate the commonwealth’s political status.

Ralph Torres, the commonwealth’s governor, has been involved in talks with the U.S. Department of the Interior and top defense officials for the past six months over labor and military issues.

A key question is whether the military’s plans to set up new live-fire training ranges violates the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America, the document more commonly referred to simply as the Covenant that outlines the commonwealth’s relationship with the U.S.

Torres also recently signed Ogumoro’s bill creating a new political status commission to study that relationship….

CB: Guam: Many In This Military Outpost Welcome More Troops

read … Marianas?

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