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Friday, April 22, 2011
April 22, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:18 PM :: 6900 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Killing the 180 Day School Year: HSTA caught in a lie

GOP: Legislature putting Prepaid Health Care Act at risk

Berg: Cut the Golf Subsidy, no new taxes

TEA Party: Support Sen Slom’s No New Taxes Budget

Applicants Sought for Chair of Hawaii Reapportionment Commission

Former California Mayor Jumps Into Hawaii Election Legislation Controversy

Don Horner: “Just like Walter Dods”

Don Horner doesn't sit on the board of every nonprofit and key organization in the state.

It just seems that way.

If running the state's largest bank, holding down 24 directorships or advisory positions and raising two boys as a widowed father isn't enough, the chairman and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank now has two more high-profile positions on his resume. In February he was appointed by Gov. Neil Aber­crom­bie to the state Board of Education to fill a vacant position and then reappointed earlier this month as chairman. On Monday he was named by Mayor Peter Carlisle to the 10-member board that will oversee Hono­lulu's rail transit proj­ect.

But the 60-year-old Hor­ner said yesterday he doesn't feel he's spreading himself too thin….

"The way our succession planning works is just like it worked for (former First Hawaiian CEO) Walter Dods," said Hor­ner, who has been at First Hawaiian for 33 years.

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Shapiro: Legislature should democratize itself before meddling in city elections

HB 638 would require voters in city special elections to mark three ranked choices instead of voting for one candidate, and the candidates with the least votes would be eliminated until somebody ended up with a majority….

Whatever the motives, there’s no evidence of a serious problem that needs to be fixed; two of our last three presidents were elected with less than a majority in three-way races and Ben Cayetano was elected Hawai‘i governor that way.

The proposed Rube Goldberg system would add unnecessary complexities when it’s already difficult to get voters to participate in these elections and mark their ballots correctly.

If the Legislature wants to bring more democracy to replacing elected officials who leave office in midterm, it should worry first about reforming its own system on the state level.

Legislative vacancies aren’t filled by elections at all, but by party bosses putting up three candidates from which the governor must choose with no voter involvement.

A House-Senate conference committee is scheduled to markup the bill … Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in room 325.

SA: 'Instant runoff' sought for counties' elections

RELATED: Honolulu Council Unanimously Opposes Instant Runoff Voting

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Hanabusa Still hasn’t moved into District, wants District to move to Her

Hanabusa told KITV 4 News she's about to (still hasn’t) put her home in Ko Olina on the market, but she has to sell that before she buys a house in the first Congressional district she represents….

Hanabusa said her current home in Ko Olina could become part of the 1st Congressional district she represents, because of re-districting based on the latest census figures.

VIDEO: http://www.kitv.com/video/27634032/detail.html

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Solomon, Galuteria push State Akaka Bill in Conference Committee

A conference committee is considering merging that bill, Senate Bill 1520, with another measure, Senate Bill 1, that creates a commission tasked with preparing a roll of qualified Hawaiians for a convention.

Committee conferees will reconvene Monday morning to consider a Conference Draft 1 that blends the two bills into one.

The draft calls for an unspecified amount of money over the next two fiscal years to pay for the roll commission, money that would be matched by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Sen. Malama Solomon, co-author of SB 1 — the roll commission measure that was deferred in House Finance April 5 — said $65,000 would come from the Legislature and $65,000 from OHA.

Solomon asked House conferees on SB 1520 to consult with House Finance "for their manao" on the funding. Rep. Faye Hanohano agreed that she and her colleagues would look at the Senate's proposal.

Another issue to work out is OHA's desire to name some of the roll commission's nine members.

"We have no problem with that," said Solomon. "The question is, how many do you want? What's reasonable?"

Solomon is determined to see the bill's passage through.

"That's why the roll call becomes important," she said. "It gives us a better opportunity to get federal recognition as a nation — that's all a roll call does."

REALITY: Malama Solomon’s meth connection

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Borreca: A balanced budget is nice but it's not really required

…is there an actual law that says, Thou Shall Balance the Budget?

"There is no express requirement for a balanced budget in either the state Constitution or the applicable statue," a 1997 opinion from then-Attorney General Margery Bronster reads.

Bronster went on in her advice to Earl Anzai, who was budget director at the time, that "in operation, a balanced budget is required."

That opinion, however, is a tad murky.

The Constitution and state law are clear that the governor must send the Legislature a budget plan and "submit bills to provide for such expenditures and for any recommended additional revenues or borrowings by which the proposed expenditures are to be met."

The Bronster opinion said if there is not enough money to pay for the proposed budget, "revenue enhancements to cover the deficit must be proposed, or reductions in expenditures must be proposed to balance out the anticipated revenues."

That balancing, however, is the governor's job….

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Fontaine: Conference Committee could slip 1% GE Tax hike into HB793

HB 793 SD1, in its earlier version, would have raised the general excise (GE) tax by one percent. In the present form, this bill suspends certain GE tax credits. Keep an eye on this one, because there could be an effort to raise the GE tax again. The GE tax is a pyramiding tax that affects everyone in our society, including the poor. An increase in the GE tax is bad for the economy because some businesses may have to lay off employees. Many businesses will also have to increase their prices to cover the increase in the tax.

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Bill would lets 1000s of Criminals out of Prison Early

This bill, currently at the Legislature, would conform a decades-long practice of not only the Department of Public Safety (DPS) but prosecutors, defense attorneys and state judges, which treated multiple sentences imposed at different times to run concurrently, unless specifically stated otherwise.

Here’s One of them: 19 Convictions in 17 Years — And Still on the Street

Senate Bill 106 HD1: capitol.hawaii.gov

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Green Energy Scammers offer UH $6M Bribe

DLIR has partnered with the University of Hawaii community colleges to provide green jobs certificate programs in five core areas: renewable energy, energy-efficient building construction, energy-efficient assessment services, biofuels and reforestation. (A $6 million federal grant provided the funding.)

In construction, for example, certification in new building standards like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design requires training by the professions and trades to ensure that our local workforce is properly certified and prepared for the job market.

Advancing Hawaii's clean energy economy requires coordinated action on education and training by policymakers, educational institutions, employers, investors, labor, and the community — all working together (which is the definition of Corporatism)

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SA: Lower barriers to solar power

The issue arises at a time when use of rooftop solar panels in a photovoltaic system is at an important crossroad. The amount of energy generated from residential photovoltaic systems in Hawaii has doubled nearly every year in the past five, according to the Hawaii Solar Energy Association. That should continue to grow at that pace for the state to reach the goal of getting 40 percent of electricity sources from sustainable sources.

The state Public Utilities Commission allows Hawaiian Electric Industries of Oahu, Maui and the Big Island to require a study to be conducted on the effect of the addition of any solar electricity system in circuits for neighborhoods where at least 15 percent of the total capacity already comes from alternative sources.

That includes wind, which is even more unpredictable than the sun.

Eleven of Oahu's 465 circuits already have reached that point, along with 18 of the Big Island's 140 circuits and three of Maui's 90. Those neighborhoods effectively have reached their limit on use of solar since the cost of a study demanded by HECO ranges from $15,000 for a single-family home to $40,000 for a commercial power customer is beyond affordability. Not surprisingly, no homeowner or business has agreed to pay for a study in those 11 Oahu circuits since they reached the 15 percent threshold.

(Thanks to “decoupling” HECO automatically profits when it makes an ‘investment’ in wind—even if the wind project does not pay off.  HECO does not receive any guaranteed profit when homeowners invest in their own solar systems.  Hence the opposition.)

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Land officials vote to revert Aina Lea land

The state Land Use Commission on Thursday affirmed its decision to revert land owned by Bridge Aina Lea and DW Aina Lea to agriculture. …

Bridge Aina Lea attorney Bruce Voss said his clients will continue to try to have the commission's ruling overturned and plan to recover damages from the commission's decision.

"The commission's action today was both foolish and unlawful," Voss said. "The commissioners who voted to change the property to agriculture use intentionally harmed the people of West Hawaii who want jobs and affordable housing."

Commissioners, since late 2008, have taken Bridge Aina Lea and DW Aina Lea officials to task for failing to meet self-imposed construction deadlines. The commission in April 2009 voted to revert the land to agriculture, then gave developers a reprieve a few months later, setting a final deadline of November 2010 to build 385 affordable housing units. DW Aina Lea's Robert Wessels assured the commission he could obtain financing and get the buildings constructed. But when the deadline came, only a portion of the units were built, the county had not issued any certificates of occupancy and infrastructure was not yet complete.

The project has a long history before the commission, going back more than 20 years to Signal Puako Corporation. They sold to Puako Hawaii Properties in 1991, which subsequently sold the land to Bridge Aina Lea in 2005.

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Crisis? Maui Council gives $243K to Nonprofit that has already banked $300K of taxpayer money

County planning officials said the Wailuku Main Street Association provided a valuable service and that approving the organization's request for $243,000 - an increase from the $218,000 it received this year - would be a "good investment" of taxpayer dollars.

Council members acknowledged that concerns had been raised about the group but said they weren't in a position to decide who was right, and put their trust in the Planning Department's oversight.

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Lawmakers advance 2-year extension of shield law

The conference committee of House and Senate negotiators agreed Wednesday on language of the bill extending the journalist shield law for two years, until July 2013.

Media lawyer Jeff Portnoy has said 36 states and the District of Columbia have permanent shield laws, but he says Hawaii’s law is stronger than others because it also protects online bloggers.

HB 1376: capitol.hawaii.gov

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Transit Authority: Council Must pay for What We Spend

Told that city Rapid Transit Division chief Toru Hamayasu had responded to a question about how the city should pay for the operation of the transit system for the next two decades by saying it was "a question for the City Council," Harimoto said he was "speechless."

"I think that just brings home the concern about HART," Harimoto said. "They have their kuleana. But if the city council has very little oversight, then we get into the situation where they do their thing, in essence, the city is left holding the bag for the operating subsidy. And I don't mean to be too negative but that kind of drives home the concern when you say what RTD said.

"In this case, because the subsidy does come from the city, the City Council has to vote on the subsidy. So if we have no oversight of what's going on — especially with this issue of the budget, if we have no say on the budget — so, no say over HART itself but we have to fund the operations, there is some disconnect there."

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New Tech School Model frees Nanakuli from DoE Failure model

"We are exactly where we should be after a year," said Leeward Complex Area Superintendent Lisa DeLong in a report to the former elected Hawaii State Board of Education on April 7. Teacher Maggie Desmond and some students from Nanakuli also testified on behalf of the model.

The model, designed and guided by the nationwide New Tech Network, relies on project-based learning paired with technology and turns upside down the traditional school model of one teacher lecturing at the front of the classroom. Think Waianae's Searider Productions Academy — which is in fact now a part of the 62-school national New Tech Network.

Both Nanakuli and Waianae are applying the model with cohorts in this year's freshman classes, together enrolling about 300 students. The schools have a large low-income student population and have struggled lifting student achievement. At a time of fiscal austerity, the possibility of doing more without having to add more teachers is enticing.

Desmond said that even though Nanakuli's 155 New Tech students have to wear uniforms and spend seven more hours in school per week than the other students, they seem to enjoy being there. The New Tech teachers volunteered to spend that extra time with the students and received an exception to the teachers' contract, which limits the number of minutes they can spend instructing each week.

The students benefit from a greater amount of self-examination, self-direction, teamwork and analysis. Teachers benefit from the amount of time and stress they are spared by not having to assign every step-by-step task. The school system benefits by using its personnel more efficiently. A team of two teachers can easily direct an entire classroom of 60 students in the new tech model.

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Student Veterans At UH Snub their Own Forum

Student veterans at the University of Hawaii are frustrated over failed attempts to get their own campus center. But now they're rebuffing (unbearably smug) administrators' (condescending) efforts to understand and better meet student veterans' needs.

The Student Veterans Organization at UH Manoa plans to boycott an April 26 campus conference entitled "Responding to Student Diversity: Understanding Servicemembers and Veterans," according to an email from SVO president Catherine Drouillard.  (So this ISN’T a veterans forum.  It is a forum for Manoa liberals to “respond to” and “understand” veterans as part of “diversity”.)

Drouillard declined to explain the reason behind the boycott, but her organization and the Oahu Veterans Council are clearly frustrated with university officials. Both groups have lobbied the university since last fall for a veterans resource center on campus, but the administration has not yet provided the space.

The late Fred Ballard, former president of the Oahu Veterans Council, said there are about 400 military veterans at UH Manoa.

"The (student veterans) have been working very hard to obtain suitable space on campus to establish a veterans' center where veterans can meet to support each other, therefore hopefully reducing the anxiety and stress of leaving the service and attempting to integrate back into the civilian community," Ballard wrote in a letter to the UH Board of Regents in October. He added that the student group's efforts have been "largely ineffective because of civilian counselors and employees' lack of understanding veterans and their families' needs."

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Suits Allege “Deplorable” Conditions at Mayor Wright Homes

Lawsuits describing “deplorable and hazardous” living conditions at the state-owned Mayor Wright Homes project were filed in state and federal court today, alleging that residents, including severely disabled individuals, have endured years of rat, roach and bedbug infestations, leaky and broken pipes, and “an almost total lack of hot water.”

Lawyers for Equal Justice the filed class action suits on behalf of residents at the low-income housing project in Honolulu.

LEJ attorney Victor Geminiani said the Hawaii Public Housing Authority has known of the problems at Mayor Wright Homes for years but failed to address them.

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Robert Carson Godbey to be named Corporation Counsel for City & County of Honolulu

Godbey is well known for heading up the special investigative team hired by the state to analyze where the responsibility lies for the Ka Loko Dam breach on Kauai. Former Attorney General Mark Bennett, who hired Godbey to produce the Ka Loko report, told Hawaii Reporter: “Bob Godbey is a great lawyer and choice. He is an excellent lawyer and he will be a great corporation counsel.”

Godbey Bio: http://wetserver.net/ggr/attorney_detail.jsp?docid=2

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Sierra Club: Bag tax Honors Our Religion on Earth Day

The intent of this bill is to change minds, not to pick people’s pockets. (In other words, use State power to convert people to our religion.) The “fee” placed on the paper and plastic bags is a completely avoidable. That being said, this bill is a creative means to tackle an environmental problem while simultaneously generating revenue to help the state with its deficit problem.

It’s astonishing the level of support SB 1363 has garnered.  From major retailers like Safeway and Times….

REALITY: SB1363 10-cents-per-bag Tax: Greens, Big Business, Big Government team up to Rip Off Consumers

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Sierra Club takes stance against Anaina Hou permits

This is not a Grove Farm or A&B development, hence the opposition.

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VP Dan Quayle in Hawaii

Former Vice President Dan Quayle is visiting the Big Island of Hawaii this week, staying with his family at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

Best known for serving as the 44th Vice President of the United States at age 41, he also served in the United States Congress in 1976 at age 29 and in the United States Senate at age 33. On January 20, 1989 he took the oath of office as the 44th Vice President of the United States at age 41.

Since leaving public office, Quayle has written three books including Standing Firm, A Vice-Presidential Memoir, (which was ranked on the New York Times bestseller list for 15 weeks); The American Family: Discovering the Values that Make Us Strong; and Worth Fighting For.

Now in the private sector, Quayle is Chairman of one of the world’s leading private investment firms, Cerberus Global Investments, LLC (Cerberus) and President of Quayle & Associates.

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Civil Beat Endorses Censorship

…but only against conservatives

1) Did Council Member Tom Berg Misuse City Letterhead?  Elected officials use City or State resources to announce their participation in many types of non-campaign public activities, but Civil Beat suddenly gets all bent out of shape when Councilmember Tom Berg uses City Letterhead to issue a news release announcin his participation in the April 15 TEA Party rally.

2) Civil Beat's Inouye Article Sparks Civil Tweets  Dan Inouye won reelection with nearly 80% of the vote, but those who criticize him must be whipped until they agree to “BeCivil”.  This is the ideology of the One Party State.


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