VIDEO: Hawaii Board of Education Meeting Dec 20, 2016
KIUC Nominating Committee Selects 6 Candidates for Board Election
Rehabilitation: Jury Rules in Favor of Kauai Warden
Luke, Tokuda Oppose Fast-Tracking Honolulu Rail Bill
CB: A federal agency may have given Honolulu an April 30 deadline to pull a rail financing plan together, but a key state lawmaker said this week she isn’t feeling any pressure to approve enabling legislation by that date….
Sen. Jill Tokuda on Monday dismissed suggestions that the Hawaii Legislature fast-track a GET bill in the 2017 session, which begins Jan. 16.
“Rail obviously is top of mind for many individuals, and that being said, an important issue like rail — like any other issue — means that we really have to dedicate the time to discussing it and to making sure that we focus in on every part of those details,” said Tokuda, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “So in terms of fast-tracking it, I don’t think we want to say, ‘Yes, we’re going to fast-track any part of those discussions.’ We want to make sure that meaningful public discussion takes place on weighing the options before us.”
Tokuda’s position is similar to that of her counterpart in the House of Representatives, Rep. Sylvia Luke. The House Finance Committee chair has said she wants to see a financial plan from the city and HART that makes sense.
Tokuda said, “I think it would not be fair to the issue or to the public to say we’re going to fast-track it because, again, it’s such an important issue to the public. I think it’s one that begs answers to many questions that have been ongoing and that have been lingering for so long that I don’t think even myself or anyone that I’ve spoken to on any side of the issue says we should fast-track it at this particular point.”
read … Slow Death
Cool Schools? Prices Skyrocket—Fewer than 50 Classrooms Complete
SA: …The ongoing struggle with the “cool the schools” program of air conditioning and heat abatement, despite the allotment of $100 million for the job, illustrates the problem. Ige expressed his own frustration with how slow the progress has been in getting the job done: fewer than 50 classrooms cooled since summer.
What he has to explain is how adding $62 million to that stash would bring relief to students any more quickly. Without a plan for overcoming the AC bottleneck of getting contractors on the job, it’s hard to see how that extra allocation is defensible, even in a year with a budgetary surplus….
Background: Full Text: Contractor Offered Cool Schools at $5990 per Classroom—Was Ignored by DoE
read … And Now Ige Wants More
Elefante Calls for Chief to Resign
SA: A legislator, city councilman, former police officer and criminologist are among those who are calling for a change in leadership at the Honolulu Police Department after its top executive, Chief Louis Kealoha, was placed on paid leave Tuesday following confirmation that he was the target of a federal criminal investigation.
The Honolulu Police Commission is scheduled to discuss Kealoha’s status at its Jan. 4 meeting, and Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Tuesday urged the body to take “decisive action” and not allow the situation to drag on.
Others expressed similar sentiments but went a step further, calling for Kealoha to quit or be removed. Some said his effectiveness as a leader has been too compromised, while others said the criminal case has eroded public trust in the department and would continue to do so in the months ahead.
“I think it’s in the best interest of the public and the department for the chief to step down,” City Councilman Brandon Elefante, who heads the Council’s Public Safety Committee, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, while lauding Kealoha for his many years of service.
State Sen. Will Espero, a critic of Kealoha’s leadership, also called for the chief to step down, saying his being the target of a criminal investigation — not to mention the civil lawsuits he’s dealing with — would be too distracting for HPD.
“With that alone, the Police Commission needs to understand the seriousness of the matter and find a police chief who can lead the department from here on out,” Espero said…..
Big Q: What do you think about Police Chief Louis Kealoha’s situation? – 72% Resign
read … Some urge that the police chief quit or be ousted
Why Do We Insist On Complicating Workers’ Comp?
CB: More committees.
That’s the latest response to a decades-long problem with the state’s workers’ compensation program as detailed last week by Civil Beat’s John Hill.
In an effort to streamline the current paper-based system, a new group convened by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has been tasked with bringing the system into the digital age. But that won’t make doctors who don’t see these patients suddenly open up their practices to take care of injured workers….
SA: Minimum wage has pernicious effects
read … Complicating
FCC Opens Public Comment Period for Sandwich Isles
IM: To many people, Sandwich Isles represents everything that is wrong with corporate welfare.
The Universal Service Fund (USF) is a mechanism whereby interstate long distance carriers are assessed a fee to subsidize telephone service to low-income households and high-cost areas.
Politically-connected Sandwich Isles received over $25 million in payments, from telecommunication companies to serve less than 2,500 phones, at a subsidy of $10,000 per phone.
Sandwich Isles corporate executives billed expenses to the company at rates more than six times larger than similar companies within their field.
Sandwich Isles founder Al Hee was busted, and is now serving time in a federal prison for tax evasion.
Robin Puanani Danner, Chairman of the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homeland Assembly (SCHHA), defended Sandwich Isles, and opposed efforts to terminate Sandwich Isles contracts to serve Hawaiian Homelands.
The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau is now seeking comments on its proposed termination of Sandwich Isles access to USF funds. Sandwich Isles is suing the State for interfering with their lucrative business practices.
The FCC asked the Wireline Competition Bureau to seek comments from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC), the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL), and the public.
Comments are due by February 3, 2017. Comment letters should identify the issue as WC Docket No. 10-90; CC Docket No. 96-45.
Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) at: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/.
read … FCC Opens Public Comment Period for Sandwich Isles
Pesticides: Anti-GMO Activists Announce Angle of Attack Against State’s Latest Attempt to Explain Reality to Them
CB: “The state’s initiatives address acute exposure to pesticides, but long-term exposure to low levels poses the greater risk.”
(Translation whatever the State is doing must be opposed so we can continue to raise money from morons.)
read … Angle of Attack
Anti-Agriculture Activists Target Cattlemen
KE: First, the anti-ag activists complained about Maui sugar, filing numerous smoke complaints, and ultimately a lawsuit, all aimed at shutting down Hawaii's last sugar plantation.
Now that sugar is dead, and HC&S is striving to keep the land in viable ag production, they're complaining about the decision to run cattle on some of the acreage.
In a letter to the editor of Maui News, Stephen Beidner, who variously lists his address as Kula and Paia, writes:
Raising cattle on Maui will foul our air, water and land. Grasses grown to feed the cattle on poisoned sugar cane land will poison the cattle and the humans who consume the final products. Are we going to replace the sugar museum with tours of slaughterhouses?
Surely we can use this precious land for something better, like growing real food: fruits and vegetables.
Oh, yeah. Mo bettah to let the invasive species take over so the albezzia, African tulip trees and guinea grass have to be removed with heavy equipment before the land can be returned to production. Or turn into gentleman's estates, hotels and shops. Because those uses have zero impacts. Ya, right.
Turns out Stephen, a member of the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii, was one of those complaining about the cane smoke and dust. But is he willing to actually get out there and grow the fruits and vegetables he envisions? So much easier to bitch and tell someone else to do it as he tries to impose his own dietary choices on everyone else.
read … Never Satisfied
Anti-GMO Power Grab: Luxury Realtor Attacks Maui Council Chair
MN: A complaint against Maui County Council Chairman Mike White was filed with the Board of Ethics on Tuesday questioning White’s declaration to continue to serve as council chair for the next two-year term before formal public hearings or votes on leadership by the full council, according to a news release sent by the complainant.
(Luxury realtor) Mark Sheehan of SHAKA (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Aina) Movement and SAFE (Sustainable Action Fund for the Environment) argues that White used the chair’s office, time, resources and the Maui County Council government website to issue a press release “declaring unequivocally that the Maui County Council had organized for the upcoming term and that he will again serve as Chair for the next council session.”
In an emailed statement, White said that Sheehan’s complaint is “highly political and unsubstantiated.”
“He is the head of the same political action group that raised thousands of dollars, much of which hid donor names from campaign spending reports, to promote candidates that were opposing myself, Councilmember Hokama, Couch, Carroll, and Crivello in the last election,” White said. “Instead of trying to work together for the people, they are obviously trying to get a head start on the 2018 election.”….
The first meeting of the Maui County Council will be Jan. 2, during which the full council will vote on leadership positions. The meeting is open to the public and testimony will be taken at 2 p.m….
MW: OPINION: A Slow, Yet Steady Fall from Grace
read … Luxury vs Agriculture